Whats Opinion on "Recovered memories" These days?

I ask this because the local Boston paper has a story about a former catholic priest (Paul Shanley) who is going on trial for sexual abuse of a child back in 1979. His accuser claims that he remembered the abuse , starting 3 years ago…prior to that time he had no recollection of being abused by Shanley.
I was just wondering what psychologists have to say about this-can you really forget something this traumatic, and then recover these memories years, even decades later?
It is interesting to note that Shanley originally had 4 accusers…and all but one have decided not to testify against him.
Have any such abuse cases yielded convistions, so long after (the alleged abuse took place?)

Psychology Today, in their Februrary issue (it’s not online yet–sorry), placed recovered memories as #2 in their Top Ten misguided ideas in psychology.

For a while, I believe that there was some success in some charges based on “recovered memories” in Wenatchee, WA. Don’t know if they’re still buying it, though.

From my seat here in the jury box, once I heard the victim claim he first remembered twenty year old incidents after reading two dozen newspaper accounts of similiar events , I will be taking a nap.

Perhaps it happened and perhaps it didn’t. IMO, it’s not humanly possible to tell if the such memories are true or not.

Eizabeth Loftus has written several books about this. It has been many years since I read any of them, and I was just reading them recreationally, so I can’t list any details, but as you can see from the title she’s pretty sure it doesn’t exist. Some of the data she listed concerned people in all sorts of terrible situations, veterans, POW’s, concentration camp victims, none of whom had any trouble remembering the events, even when they greatly wished to forget them.

In quite a few of the cases she listed people remembered things that could not have happened. In a day care center abuse case based on recovered memories children described an extensive network of tunnels beneath the center through which they were transported for satanic rituals. No tunnels or anything resembling tunnels were ever found. Do a web search for the McMartin daycare abuse case and you’ll find a lot of information about that.

Certainly the people who “remember” these events have been victimized, but most of the time it’s by the psychiatrist who “assists” them in recovering the memories.

This is not to say that child sexual abuse doesn’t exist, just that accounts based on recovered memory are about as reliable as the testomony in the Salem witch trials or alien abduction cases.

I’m surpised that the case against Fr. Shanley wasn’t thrown out in pretrial, if recovered memories are viewed with such skepticism. It sounds like they’re right up there with past-life regression.