Pensioner Cleared of Raping Girl Who Had ‘False Memory Syndrome’

Another extraordinary case has recently surfaced after a woman received psychotherapy and then claimed she recalled being raped 40 years previously. The jury rejected her accusations after hearing more of the background facts and of the extensive nature of the therapy she had been given.


Roger Mennell, aged 67, has never been in trouble in his life but has spent two years fighting the allegations which the woman made during psychotherapy sessions. She alleged he had raped and sexually assaulted her while visiting her family at a farm near Tiverton in the 1970s when she was seven or eight.

She told Exeter Crown Court how Mennell had used a knife to stab, cut open and kill a farm cat as a means of terrifying her into silence. She allegedly he said he would do the same to her family if she revealed his abuse.

Mennell, who now lives in South Devon, said he had only visited the farm once and had no physical contact with the girl. He said he was an animal lover who found the allegations ‘unbelievable and horrible’.

He told the jury:”I have not raped or abused anyone. The allegation that I took a knife to a cat is unbelievable and horrible.”

Miss Mary McCarthy, defending, told the jury the complainant may well believe she had been abused but they should question whether her memory was genuine or false.

She pointed out the woman told nobody at all for 20 years and only revealed her allegations in dribs and drabs during extensive therapy.

She said:”It may be this is an example of a case where someone comes to believe what has happened, no doubt through repetition with their family and also in therapy. She has come up with more things which she had repeated to others as important.”

“A lot of things came out in therapy and the jury have to consider if those are reliable memories or false memories. When people develop false memories they are often latched on to things that did happen but which are reconstructed in a different way.”

“What is the likelihood of these things happening over a three day weekend with the girl’s mother in the house and not having an inkling of what was happening and with another child running around.”


He was found not guilty by the jury after an hour’s consideration.


To read more please visit: Mid Devon Gazette website 

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