R. Christopher Barden Defeats Junk and Pseudoscience in the Courtroom
Update: The testimony of Colin Ross, including his cross-examination, is now available. Click here to read it. The devastating cross-examination of Dr. Ross by DA Bobby Bell begins on p. 57 of the transcript.
It is encouraging to see that sometimes the good guys do win in the courtroom, in terms of defeating pseudoscience in mental health practice and diagnosis. Attorney and Psychologist R. Christopher Barden is known for his consistent track record as an expert witness, for defeating junk and pseudoscience in the courtroom. The latest defeat of junk science involves the Texas case of the “twilight rapist”, alleged serial rapist of older women, Billy Joe Harris who tried to get off on the insanity defense, claiming multiple personalities (called Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID in the DSM). Psychiatrist Colin Ross testified as an expert witness for the defense, but was defeated when Harris was found guilty of sexual assault of a 59-year old disabled woman, after a very brief jury deliberation. In other words, the jury did not buy the multiple personality defense. A recent press release states:
September 21, 2011
National law and science expert R. Christopher Barden said, “great teamwork with the Texas Rangers and Jackson County District Attorney Bobby Bell led a Texas court to exclude an insanity defense based upon “dissociative identify disorder (DID)”, a theory expert witness Barden told the jury was “unreliable, junk science.” With the DID defense excluded, the jury convicted Billy Joe Harris, believed to be a serial rapist, in five minutes. Dr. Barden noted that, “this case demonstrates the power of science-law teams in protecting the legal system from junk science testimony.” The case received national attention due to a series of Associated Press articles.Over the past 20 years, Barden managed hundreds of lawsuits in more than 30 states against “repressed memory” and “multiple personality disorder” therapists. Working with teams of national science experts and local litigators, this wave of successful lawsuits largely ended the “repressed memory-MPD” movement. Barden also testified as an expert witness for Colorado prosecutors to end “rebirthing therapy” by convicting two leaders of the movement in a case involving the negligent death of a young patient. Barden was also appointed a Special Assistant Attorney General of Utah in licensing prosecutions that ended one of nation’s largest “attachment therapy” clinics. Over the past 20 years, Barden has worked with Attorneys General and licensing boards in over 20 states to restrict or revoke the licenses of many of the leaders of the “repressed memory-MPD” movement. and other practitioners of dangerous “quack” therapies.
District Attorney Bell called R. Chris Barden to the stand. Barden, a psychologist and attorney from Minnesota, is involved in assisting the legal system with mental health and science issues…. “to get junk science out of the legal system we rely on the relevant scientific community,” Barden said. “these multiple personality notions are highly controversial and clearly not accepted as reliable by scientists.” Barden cited at least a half dozen articles published in professional journals concerning the rejection of dissociative identity disorder and multiple personality disorder.
Ex-Texan prison employee convicted of rape by Associated Press September 21, 2011 HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Edna, Texas – A former Texas prison employee suspected of a being a serial rapist who targeted older women was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting a disabled woman. Jurors rejected claims by Billy Joe Harris, 54, that he suffers from multiple personality disorder and found him guilty. Investigators believe Harris is “The Twilight Rapist,” so dubbed because most of the attacks happened just before dawn. The attacks rattled so many women that older volunteers at a Yoakum library in Southeast Texas began locking the doors during business hours and organizers at one community meeting gave away pepper spray as door prizes. Authorities found evidence of careful planning at the many crime scenes, including cut phone lines outside homes.http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/Accused_Twilight_Rapist_Convicted_In_Rape_Of_Disabled_Texas_Woman_130312513.htmlAccused Twilight Rapist Convicted A jury Wednesday in Edna convicted suspected serial rapist Billy Joe Harris, 54, on charges stemming from the sexual assault of a disabled woman, rejecting Harris’ claim that he suffers from multiple personality disorder….Jurors found Harris guilty after just five minutes of deliberation Wednesday on two sexual assault charges and one burglary charge in the rape of a woman in Edna. Authorities believe Harris is the Twilight Rapist, who’s linked to attacks of elderly women, most of which occurred just before dawn.http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/texas-man-suspected-of-raping-older-women-claims-he-suffers-from-multiple-personality-disorder/2011/09/19/gIQA1YD5fK_story.htmlTexas man suspected of raping older women claims he suffers from multiple personality disorder by Associated Press, WASHINGTON POST, National Desk Sept. 19, 2011 Edna, Texas — Billy Joe Harris, 54, a Texas man suspected of being a serial rapist who targeted older women told jurors Monday that he was abused as a child and suffers from multiple personality disorder….
Expert: Texas man accused in rapes mentally ill by JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, Updated 07:20 p.m., Tuesday, September 20, 2011 EDNA, Texas (AP) — A Texas man suspected of being a serial rapist suffers from multiple personality disorder likely brought on by abuse, a psychiatrist told jurors Tuesday…. Billy Joe Harris has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity…. Colin Ross, a psychiatrist testifying on behalf of Harris, told jurors he believes Harris’ multiple personality disorder was probably brought on by abuse he experienced as a child. … Robert Christopher Barden, a psychologist and attorney, testified on behalf of prosecutors, telling jurors that scientists consider multiple personality disorder “junk science” and he has worked for years to keep such unreliable notions out of the U.S. and state legal systems. “The idea of multiple personality disorder is really a bizarre theory. It’s highly controversial. Most scientists and psychiatrists are quite skeptical of these ideas,” Barden said.Expert witnesses disagree on validity of multiple personality disorder by Sonny Long, September 20, 2011 Edna, Texas … Billy Harris, 54, is on trial for sexual assault of a disabled woman and several other rapes and burglaries in Central and South Texas beginning in 2009. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. …. psychiatrist Dr. Colin Ross, of Richardson, was on the stand and testified that Harris has multiple personality disorder…. District Attorney Bobby Bell began his cross examination of Ross by getting him to agree that the areas of dissociative identity disorder and multiple personality disorder are controversial… Bell called R. Chris Barden to the stand. Barden, a psychologist and attorney from Minnesota, is involved in assisting the legal system with mental health and science issues…. “to get junk science out of the legal system we rely on the relevant scientific community,” Barden said. “these multiple personality notions are highly controversial and clearly not accepted as reliable by scientists.” Barden cited at least a half dozen articles published in professional journals concerning the rejection of dissociative identity disorder and multiple personality disorder. He also said the DSM diagnostic manual Ross referred to is simply a dictionary or catalog so that psychiatrists and psychologists are “using the same language.” … “National experts in science condemn MPD as the worst kind of junk science and a danger to the public. Controversial and experimental theories should not be allowed to contaminate the legal system,” said Barden.