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Psychologists Falsely Accused of Colluding to Allow “Torture” File Defamation Lawsuit Against American Psychological Association, Attorneys


Five psychologists, falsely accused of colluding with the government and a prominent association regarding tactics used to interrogate terrorists, recently filed a defamation lawsuit against the American Psychological Association (APA), attorney David Hoffman and law firm Sidley Austin LLP. The plaintiffs include three retired military officers, Cols. (Ret.) Morgan Banks, Debra Dunivin and Larry James and two former employees of the APA, Drs. Stephen Behnke and Russ Newman. The lawsuit was filed in state court in Ohio by attorneys James E. Arnold, Bonny J. Forrest, and Louis J. Freeh, former director of the FBI.

The suit arises from an investigation conducted by Hoffman for the APA in the wake of allegations in Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War, a book by James Risen, a New York Times reporter. The book claims the APA colluded with the military and CIA during the Bush Administration to support torture.

Despite finding no evidence to support Risen’s allegations, Hoffman’s $4.1-million report attacked the plaintiffs for allegedly colluding to block the APA from taking any effective steps to prevent military psychologists’ involvement in abusive interrogations. Hoffman’s allegations have been proven false by evidence that was in his possession. Neither Hoffman nor the APA have taken any significant steps to repair the damage done to the plaintiffs’ livelihoods and reputations. The 12-count lawsuit seeks compensatory, consequential and punitive damages as well as litigation costs and fees.

“The complaint demonstrates that Hoffman’s report was no more than a blatant attempt to scapegoat a few individuals so the APA could mollify its critics,” said Forrest.

The damage to the plaintiffs was compounded by the APA board’s response, as some board members knew that key facts on which Hoffman based his conclusions were false.

“The APA board abandoned any pretense of fairness by immediately firing Dr. Behnke, without giving him a chance to respond to Hoffman’s gross mischaracterization of his actions and motives,” said Freeh, attorney for Dr. Behnke.

Further information about the lawsuit may be found here: www.hoffmanreportapa.com and the complaint can be downloaded here: http://www.hoffmanreportapa.com/resources/Complaint.pdf.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170221006670/en/