Letter to the Editor from Merrily Ripley

Date: 1990-02-04




Thank you for Richard Larsen's Jan. 14 article, describing the other victim of child abuse, the falsely accused (Issues).

Just a year ago my husband, a Port Angeles attorney, was falsely accused of sexual abuse by a former foster child. Charges were filed before we were aware of the allegations and before an investigation was done.

Life became a nightmare as our home was searched, the state attempted (unsuccessfully) to remove our children from our home, an attempt was made to close the adoption agency I founded and direct and the press, in both Port Angeles and Seattle, assumed his guilt.

As with the Stroms, people who knew us and Ted's excellent reputation as a husband and father knew he couldn't have committed the abusive activities. They rallied around until, ultimately, the child's stories became unbelievable as she alleged more and more people had abused her and charges were dropped just before the trial was to begin.

As with the Stroms, the dismissal did not mean the end of pain. We will never be the same emotionally or financially.

I, too, am against child abuse, but shouldn't charges of such a sensitive nature be carefully investigated? Should a responsible and respected citizen's reputation be considered before he is assumed guilty by the press? Should children making false accusations face consequences? Should help or treatment be made available to them?

The reality is that in America, those charged with abuse of children are guilty until proven innocent. This must change, as well as the outdated notion that children do not lie.

By the way, The Seattle Times was the most responsible of the many media sources that covered our story. We appreciate that.

- Merrily Ripley, Port Angele


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