Transcribed from "Australia 60 Minutes," Channel Nine Network 

(Aired on August 5, 1990 in Australia)

Produced by Anthony McClellan; Reported by Mike Munro

Transcribed by Patricia Barrera,
Always Causing Legal Unrest (ACLU)

This writing is archived on the internet at 

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Reporter: Six weeks ago (17 June 1990) we brought you a story that a number of people, including some in high places, wanted to keep secret: the case against Mr. Bubbles. In that report, parents named Tony Deren as the man who had sexually assaulted their children. Deren's wife ran the kindergarten they attended. Tonight we investigate another crucial aspect of this disturbing case. You remember, police listed seventeen young victims, and more than fifty (54) criminal charges were eventually laid. But when the Mr. Bubbles case went to court, not one of the children was called to give evidence. The charges were thrown out, and Tony Deren was set free. 
     One of the key Deren witnesses was a hired gun from the United States, a psychologist named Ralph Underwager, who says he's an expert in child sexual abuse. He testified that the children's evidence had been contaminated, and they were too young to know what the truth was. But just what is Mr. Underwager's expertise? And how much respect does he command in American courts? We went there to find out. And we should warn that at times in this report, the language has to be quite explicit. 

(Camera scene switches to Underwager's house)
Underwager: You're a bastard. 

Reporter: No I'm not. 

Underwager: You're a bastard. You're a bastard. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: This is Ralph Underwager. Psychologist. He was paid $25,000, and gave crucial evidence in favor of Tony Deren. Evidence which helped Deren walk free. 

(Back to what is being said at Underwager's house)
Underwager: Your people can leave now. You go out the door now. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: When we wanted to question Underwager about his involvement in the Bubbles case, the questions got too harsh. 

(Back to what is being said at Underwager's house) 
Underwager: You go out the door now. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: But first, a reminder of the case against Mr. Bubbles. 

(Scene switch)
Mother of one of the children: Jocelyn said that they were undressed, and that they got into a bath tub that was full of bubbles, and that they played in the bath tub. 

Reporter: Did Mr. Bubbles ever get into the bath himself? 

Mother of Jocelyn: Yes, he did. She said that he got in without any clothes on. They'd get undressed and get in the bath while he had a shower. He'd have a shower before he'd hop in the bath with them. 

Reporter: Mr. Bubbles? 

Mother of Jocelyn: Yes. 

(Scene switch) (Voice over)
Reporter: Always the same story. Three and four year olds being lured into bubble baths with a man who sexually abused them. 

Professor Kim Oates: Having examined them, and talked with them, I'm absolutely convinced the children were sexually abused. 

Reporter: There's absolutely no doubt? 

Oates: No doubt at all 

(Voice over)
Reporter: That's the evidence Professor Kim Oates wanted to give in court. But he was never asked. As head of the Child Protection Unit at the Camperdown Children's Hospital in Sydney, he's known around the world as an expert in detecting child sexual abuse. 

(Back to what is being said with the Professor) 
Reporter: So we have eighteen children who were examined, five of whom your staff say were definitely sexually abused, and all of them from the same preschool. What's your reaction to that? 

Oates: Well, I think if you look at the incidence of significant child sexual abuse in the community, significant enough to lay physical findings in the preschool age group, I think it's extraordinary. 

(Switch to talking to the mothers of the children)
Reporter: Did Jocelyn ever say whether Mr. Bubbles hurt her? 

Jocelyn's mother: We asked her that question and she said no, he didn't, but he has very strong hands. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: This is Jocelyn's medical report from the Children's Hospital, and it's very clear: "There has been trauma specifically directed at the genitalia." 

Jocelyn's mother: You can't let people walk around scot-free, abusing children. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: As word spread, more and more children were taken to the local police station, after initial questioning by their distraught parents. Questions which brought bizarre answers; and led police here, the kindergarten the children attended, Seabeach Kindergarten. The children told parents and police how they were taken from here for parties. Special parties hosted, by Mr. Bubbles. 

(Switch to another scene)
Police Officer: Do you know Mr. Bubbles? 

Child: Yes. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: This reenactment is from the official police transcript. 

Officer: Did Mr. Bubbles touch you between the legs? 

Child: On my taz? (child's term for genitalia) 

Officer: Yes, did he touch your taz? 

Child: (Starts crying) Mr. Bubbles was naughty to touch my taz. (Not too audible here)

Reporter: This is Debbie's medical report. Once again, it was positive; there was sexual abuse. 

(Switch to interview with Debbie's mother) 
Debbie's mother: I was entirely spun out on that because I, at that point, had been trying to tell myself that, no, this wasn't happening, it wasn't true, who would interfere with my child. 

Another child (wasn't identified): I put some things in his body, and he put some things in my body, but I didn't want him to. 

Reporter: Cindy's medical report confirms she was abused. The doctor found signs consistent with traumatic dilatation of the anus. 

(Scene switch)
Officer: What does Mr. Bubbles look like? 

Another child (wasn't identified): He's big. He has black hair everywhere, on his belly. 

Officer: Have you ever had a sore for any length? 

Child: Yes. 

Officer: Why was it sore? 

Child: Mr. Bubbles did it. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: As her mother, what was your reaction to all of this? 

Mother: Kill him. Just, if I could get hold of him. I mean, I'd go, I'd, I'd, I just hope he rots in hell, I really do. 

Reporter: Elaine's medical report. Again, positive. Vaginal penetration. 

Mother: I mean, it's just devastating, absolutely devastating. Parents might as well put them out in the street, say, here, have a child for the day. Do what you want to her. 

(Voice over)
Reporter:: So who is Mr. Bubbles? If you ask the children of the parents we spoke with, you get the same answer. 

Jocelyn's mother: I held her in the lineup at Mona Vale Police Station, and she identified the man out of the seven people in the lineup as Mr. Bubbles. 

Reporter: Let me show you a photograph. Is that the man that Jocelyn identified? 

Jocelyn's mother: Yes it is, that's Mr. Bubbles. 

Reporter: And it's also . . . ? 

Jocelyn's mother: Anthony Deren. 

One of the children's mother: The police constable showed the photos again, and she said yes, there's the bubble man to that particular photo. 

Reporter: And that man was . . .? 

Mother: Mr. Deren. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: This is Boroko Court House, Port Moresby, New Guinea. In 1972, Deren was brought here, charged with the aggravated assault of two young girls. He'd interfered with them in a swimming pool. Something Deren admits. And both charges were proven. 

(Interview with Deren)
Deren: And I must say, it's a scar on my life. Probably it will stay there for the rest of my life. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: Tony Deren made this confession on the Hinch program. 

Deren: Well, actually there were two girls, between the ages ten and thirteen, and I sat in the swimming pool, playing games with the children, and I seemed to have this, uh, need to touch young girls in their private parts. 

(Scene switch)
A woman walking through the playground: Coming back here now feels extremely strange, I've got goose bumps all over me. I feel terrible, it's still very sad. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: Julie Mitchell is now twenty-three. She says she was another victim of Tony Deren. 

( Scene switch. Reporter shows Julie a photograph.)
Reporter: Is that Tony Deren? 

Julie: Um. Yes, he seems to have put on a little bit of weight since I've known him. 

Reporter: But there's no doubt in your mind that is the man. 

Julie: No. 

Reporter: How do you feel looking at him now? 

Julie: Terrible. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: After the break, we'll return with the case against Ralph Underwager, the man who helped set Tony Deren free. 

Reporter: There's no doubt scores of questions remain unanswered in the Mr. Bubbles case, and some of them relate to Ralph Underwager, the expert witness Tony Deren paid to testify on his behalf. Ralph Underwager was imperative to Tony Deren's defense. As a supposed independent expert, he testified that the evidence of the Bubbles children had become contaminated. And, they were too young to understand their duty to tell the truth. But, here in America, we've certainly discovered Underwager's reputation and credentials aren't all they're cracked up to be. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: Mr. Peters, are professional witnesses like Ralph Underwager dangerous? 

Jim Peters: They can be very dangerous when they . . . 

(Voice over)
Reporter: Jim Peters is a senior attorney for the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse. He's investigated Underwager for the past three years. 

(Back to Peters' office)
Peters: Underwager is presented as a scientific observer, when in fact, from our perspective, more often than not, he's there as an advocate. 

Reporter: And anything but independent. 

Peters: Anything but. 

(Scene switch)
Dr. Anna Salter: Well, he is someone who makes his living going around the country and testifying against children in child sexual abuse cases. He says the same thing in essentially every case. Which is every . . . 

(Voice over)
Reporter: And Anna Salter knows what she's talking about. A Ph.D. from Harvard, and a Master's Degree in Early Childhood. She says young children can be believed. 

(Back to Salter)
Anna Salter: This is consistent with the literature. If you look at what is the best legal textbook in the country today on children as witnesses, "Child Witness: Theory and Practice", John Meyers says clearly children as young as three can comprehend the duty to tell the truth. 

Reporter: And this man is a highly respected legal scholar in America? 

Anna Salter: I think he's fairly clearly the chief leading scholar on child sexual abuse in the country. 

Reporter: Six American states have given Dr. Salter a grant to check Underwager's methods in court. And what did she find? 

Anna Salter: That he isn't accurate. That what he says in court does not necessarily fairly represent the literature. 

Reporter: He distorts the facts? 

Anna Salter: Uh, frequently. Sometimes he quotes specific studies, and he's frequently wrong about what the studies say. 

Reporter: So we thought we'd get Dr. Salter to analyze the evidence Underwager gave under oath at the Mr. Bubbles hearing, where he testified his qualifications had never been questioned. But in an American case, the Swann case, this is what the courts said about Mr. Underwager. 

Anna Salter: The court remains convinced the psychologist did not have the qualifications to testify as a doctor. The trial court ruled that the psychologist's proposed testimony was not proper because there was no indication that the results of the doctor's work had been accepted in the scientific community. 

Reporter: In the Mr. Bubbles case, he said his qualifications were never in question. 

(Scene switch)
Peters: Well, if he's talking about the Swann ruling, er, you could say he was perseverating. 

Reporter: Lying? 

Peters: Yes 

Reporter: Now, the second incident, in the Mr. Bubbles case, was where Underwager said that 90 percent of accusations against child molesters are wrong. Now, is that backed up scientifically? 

Anna Salter: No, that's gobbledegook. I don't know of any study that would support that. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: This is Underwager's home base, Northfield Minnesota. His so-called clinic is set on seventy acres of beautiful countryside. We arranged to meet him here to talk about his involvement in the Mr. Bubbles case. And, right on cue, Underwager presents his "evidence." 

Underwager: Uh, there is a major German study that was done, and reported, in 1983 -- a major finding -- is that, for children who have been abused, the impact of adult behaviors toward actually abused children is more traumatic, and does more harm to the children than the abuse itself. 

Reporter: Is that right? 

Underwager: Yes. German . . . 

Reporter: Uh, what report's this? 

Underwager: Uh, it's [M.C.] Baurmann , 1983, in German it's, uh, "SexualitaÄt, Gewalt und psychische Folgen". Wiesbaden: Bundeskriminalamt, Forschungsreihe 15. (Sexuality, Violence, and Psychological Consequences) 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: And what did Baurmann really say? 

Anna Salter: Well, I'm afraid what he said was, of the reported sexual contacts, half of the sexual victims claimed the sexual act itself to be the main cause of injury; one-third, the behavior of the suspect; and one-tenth each, the behavior of relatives, friends, or the police. In other words, instead of saying that the majority of children were harmed by the system, they said that it was a very small minority. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: Mr. Underwager, I have the Baurmann report in front of me. 

Underwager: Yes sir. 

Reporter: It's directly opposite to what you just said. 

Underwager: No, I don't believe it is at all. I'm saying, I didn't say that that's what happens in every case. 

Reporter: No, but you said the majority of cases.

Underwager: No, I don't believe I did. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: Over the past couple of years, courts across America have begun saying "No" to Underwager. That his "expert evidence" is unreliable. Two recent cases here in New York said just that. But even more damning was a case last year, the Hudy case (New York, May 1989). 

Peters: It was the court's observation that Dr. Underwager's testimony was based on inadequate research, and his preparation was inadequate, and therefore lacking in sound foundation. 

Reporter: Again, damning. 

Peters: Yes it is. 

Reporter: I mean, there's no bones about it then, inadequate. 

Peters: In all of these cases, that's what the courts have ruled. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: Just a couple of months before Underwager came to Australia for the Mr. Bubbles case, he came here, to testify in this small Indiana town of Winamac. Population, four thousand. The story which unfolded here in the Winamac courthouse was one of absolute sexual terror. A fifteen year old girl, Polly Barnes, accused her own father of raping her. Not once, but continually, over four nights. 

(Scene switch to court room where Barnes' legal hearing is taking place) 
Judge or attorney (perhaps during a deposition): Did he tear your clothes off you or what? 

Barnes: Yes. 

Judge or attorney (perhaps during a deposition): What kind of clothes did you have on? 

Barnes: I don't remember. 

Judge or attorney (perhaps during a deposition): Then he put you on the bed and tied you up? 

Barnes: Right. 

Judge or attorney (perhaps during a deposition): All right. Then what did he do? 

Barnes: He put his penis in my vagina. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: Ralph Underwager was hired to defend Polly's father. And as usual, he testified that nothing had happened. It was all a delusion, and Polly had simply made the whole story up. But then, Underwager was cross-examined by Polly's lawyer, Charles Vaughan. 

(Scene switch to Vaughan's office)
Vaughan: He used the theory that it was a delusion of the child that she was doing a favor for the mother by saying this happened when it really didn't happen, to gain the favor and to be the apple of the eye of the mother. 

Reporter: A delusion that she was continually raped over four days. 

Vaughan: That's right. 

(Scene switch to hearing)
Judge or attorney (perhaps during a deposition): Are you suggesting that your clothes were already off you? 

Barnes: My clothes were already off me when I came to. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: Polly kept her secret for more than a year. By the time she did tell anyone, it was too late to lay criminal charges. So she took civil action against her own father. 

(Audio switches back to what is being said at the hearing)Judge or attorney (perhaps during a deposition): You say your dad forced you to have anal intercourse? 

Barnes: Yes. 

Judge or attorney (perhaps during a deposition): Put his penis in your anus? 

Barnes: Yes. 

(Voice over)
Reporter: At this legal hearing, Polly was heavily sedated. And, seated right opposite her father. (Switches to father.)

(Audio switches back to what is being said at the hearing)
Judge or attorney (perhaps during a deposition): The first thing he did, did you say, he performed oral sex on you? 

Barnes: Yes. 

(Scene switch to Vaughan's office)
Vaughan: You don't make these things up. The trauma had been so great that she'd been under psychiatric care for a year prior to the trial. Been institutionalized. This is a, you don't have this kind of trauma from imagination. 

Reporter: The jury took only an hour to decide Polly Barnes was telling the truth. And that Ralph Underwager's testimony that nothing had happened, could be ignored. In fact, Underwager's evidence was rejected so much, the jury awarded Polly three and a quarter million dollars. 

(Scene switch to Underwager's house)(Voice over)
Reporter: So while Underwager was being rejected here in America, he had no such trouble at the Mr. Bubbles hearing in Australia where he testified that the children were too young to tell the truth. 

(Audio switches to Underwager interview)
Underwager: I don't believe that I testified to that at all. And if, uh, you're, I mean, you'd have to produce something from the transcript, that's not what I testified to. What I testified to is, I believe, basically, that uh, up to about age six or seven the psychological research suggests, or shows, that the concept children have of truth is going to be, one primarily of, what keeps me out of trouble. 

Reporter: Well, I do happen to have a part of the transcript. 

Underwager: Fine. 

Reporter: Let me read it to you, this is what you said in court: "Children up to age ten or eleven simply do not have the capacity to think abstractly. . . 

Underwager: Right 

Reporter: and to consider what's true 

Underwager: Yes. 

Reporter: So in effect, you're saying that, these children, in the Bubbles case, aged three and four, were too young to understand the truth. 

Underwager: No, not at all. What you are doing is distorting and twisting the language that a psychologist would use. 

Reporter: In relation to the Bubbles hearing, there were statements from children saying -- which I'm sure you read -- what happened to them, there was positive ID of Tony Deren as Mr. Bubbles, by a number of children, plus the fact that at least five of the children, and all girls, were positively physically abused. Where you aware of the medical evidence? At the time? 

(Long pause)
Underwager: I have not reviewed the file that I had at that time, uh . . . 

Reporter: But were you aware that there was -- 

Underwager: I, I, I'm gonna stop this. We're done. I don't believe that you are being fair. And I don't believe that your approach is an impartial and objective one. 

Reporter: Why is that? 

Underwager: Because of the way that you're coming across. I mean, we're done, and I am not going to give you permission to use anything that you have taped up until this point. 

Reporter: You're getting a little defensive, aren't you Mr. Underwager? 

Underwager: Uh, I'm getting pissed. 

(Scene switch to Peters' office )
Reporter: Do you think Underwager has got a lot to answer for over the years? 

Peters: I think so. I think a lot of children have suffered at his hand. Children who probably have been abused...have been put back into situations where they're likely to have been molested again. 

(Switch to Vaughan's office)

Vaughan: I think that Underwager must have trouble sleeping. 

(Switch to Underwager's house where Underwager is standing over the reporter. A hulk of a man, Underwager is trying to kick the entire television crew out of his house.) 

Reporter: Why don't you, why don't you sit down and talk about this? All this research that you quote. 

(Throughout the following exchange, they are talking at the same time) Underwager: You are to leave, you are to leave, you are to leave my home. 

Reporter: Mr. Underwager you have researched, and quoted research, inaccurately, and distorted it for years, and you know it. 

Underwager: You are to leave my home. I am not willing to continue. I am not willing to continue. You are a bastard 

Reporter: No I'm not. 

Underwager: You are a bastard. 

Reporter: I just love children. 

Underwager: And you're a bastard. To come here under false pretenses-- 

Reporter: Not at all. Some say you go to court under false pretenses, Mr. Underwager. 

Underwager: You, leave my home. Your people can leave now, you go out the door now. 

Reporter: Questions getting a bit hard, were they? 

Underwager: You go out the door now. 

Reporter: I would like to ask you about your qualifications. In the Mr. Bubbles case you said that your qualifications had never been questioned in relation to the Swann case. 

Underwager: You go out the door now. 

Reporter: You told an untruth in the Mr. Bubbles hearing. 

Underwager: You go out the door now. 

Reporter: You don't want to answer that? 

Underwager: I'm telling you to go out the door now, or I'm calling the police. 

Reporter: I think, uh, you're showing your true colors, we should leave. Thank you, Mr. Underwager. Appreciate the time. Sure you don't want to continue the interview? 

Underwager: (Gives a small laugh) I'm sixty one years old Saturday. And I think you are one of the most dishonorable men that I have ever met. 

Reporter: That's what a lot of clinical psychologists say about you. You should be aware of that. 

Underwager: I am fully aware of that. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: Ralph Underwager has testified for the defendants in about four hundred child abuse cases. We wanted to question him about his performance in some of those, and about other matters too. But, as you have seen, he didn't give us the chance. And by the way, you may remember that in our first Mr. Bubbles story, two of the parents told us about a conversation they had with the New South Wales attorney general, John Dowd. Mr. Dowd, of course, joined the Derens in an attempt to stop that story from going to air. 

One of the parents who'd talked to the AG: He just said, look, you're talking to me as if I think they're not guilty. My personal opinion is that they are guilty. 

Reporter: The attorney general of New South Wales told you this? 

Parent: Yes, he believes they are. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: Well, Mr. Dowd has done it again. This time in a conversation with Jim Peters, from the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse. 

Peters: I commented that you were coming to see me in a couple of days about the Mr. Bubbles case. He then expressed the opinion that the defendant was guilty, at least of some of the charges, but that it wasn't provable in court. 

Reporter: But there's no doubt in your mind the attorney general told you he believed the defendant was guilty. 

Peters: No, there's no doubt in my mind. He did tell me that. 

(Scene switch)
Reporter: Mr. Dowd still has the power to bring charges against Tony Deren, but refuses to do so. And the New South Wales government continues to refuse all demands for a Royal Commission into the Bubbles case. [END] 

A videotape of the program can be ordered from Channel 9. It costs about $50 (Aus). Any request must state your reason. For example: for research, legal or professional purposes. Your written request should be mailed or faxed to: Mr John Westacott Executive Producer, 60 Minutes Channel 9, PO Box 600, Willoughby, NSW, 2068 Australia.

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