Counselor Hit With Another Suit

Woman Claims Therapist Planted 'False Memories'

The Arizona Republic/January 20, 1995
By Brent Whiting

Another lawsuit has been filed against an embattled Scottsdale counselor and others accused of planting ''false memories'' of child sexual abuse and Satanism during therapy.

The latest action was filed by Kristan Larson of Scottsdale, a Mormon who claims that Alfred H. Ells attempted to implant her with visions of people in cloaks performing blood rituals in a Mormon temple.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, also claims that Ells, with a ''vivid and warped imagination,'' forced Larson ''to imagine her parents as part of the satanic ritual.''

In addition, the suit says, Ells tried to get Larson to believe that her father sexually abused her as a child and that her mother condoned it.

''None of the images were true,'' the lawsuit says.

Ells on Thursday denied the allegations in the suit, which was filed Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

''Mrs. Larson was provided with competent therapy,'' he said. ''This appears to be another attempt to jump on the bandwagon of false-memory claims.''

Ells, a marriage and family counselor, is under investigation by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners over allegations of unconventional therapy.

Two months ago, another woman filed suit accusing Ells and others of planting false memories of child sexual abuse and Satanism after she sought professional help for an eating disorder. That suit, filed Nov. 4 by Gina Smiley of Pecatonica, Ill., is pending in Superior Court.

Both the Larson and Smiley lawsuits were filed against Ells; Samaritan Counseling Center, a Scottsdale clinic operated by Ells; and other defendants affiliated with Ells.

His center is not affiliated with Samaritan Health Systems, the state's largest health-care provider.

The latest lawsuit says that Larson, a social worker who provides drug and alcohol counseling, was hired in July 1991 as a therapist at Remuda Ranch Center for Anorexia and Bulimia in Wickenburg.

As a condition of employment, the suit says, Larson was directed to receive therapy and counseling from Ells, a ranch consultant, for stress ''allegedly suffered as a result of a sexual assault.''

The lawsuit says that by ''improper methods of playing upon Larson's suggestibility and susceptibility to Ells' influence,'' Ells began a program calculated to convince her that she ''was possessed by demons.''

The treatment focused, in part, on Larson's ties with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the suit says, and Ells ''would forcefully direct Larson to pray to break the demons of the Mormon Church that were possessing her.''

In addition, it says, Ells spoke in ''tongues'' to Larson and performed an exorcism in which he laid his hands ''on Larson's shoulders and shouted out prayers.''

After treatment, the lawsuit says, Larson was desperate, frightened and vulnerable to sexual assault. It says Larson left the ranch a year ago.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.