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June 2, 2008
Contact: Ron Grignol, <>

Bar Association Spreads False Information on Partner Abuse, Report Says

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2008 – Every day lawyers turn to the American Bar Association for information to help them represent their clients. But when it comes to facts about partner violence, that information is likely to be misleading, false, or even harmful to children, according to a report released today by RADAR, a victim advocacy group.

RADAR analyzed the 19 statements made by the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence's flyer, "10 Myths about Custody and Domestic Violence and How to Counter Them." Among the 19 claims, 11 are false, 3 are misleading, and 3 are unsupported by existing research. Only 2 claims are correct.

Some of the errors are caused by careless editing or accepting others' claims without assessing the validity of the research. Other errors are egregious.

For example the ABA flyer claims, "Abusive parents are more likely to seek sole custody than nonviolent ones ...", but the RADAR report counters that statement "is derived from an unspecified statement in an unavailable publication with admittedly questionable claims that lack a scientific basis."

The ABA states that "False allegations are no more common in divorce or custody disputes than at any time." But research shows false allegations increase four-fold during custody and access disputes.

Likewise the flyer does not distinguish between allegations and judicial findings of abuse.

RADAR spokesman and attorney David Heleniak comments: "I am disappointed and ashamed that the organization that represents my profession has put forward this misinformation. I hate to think how many children were wrongfully removed from their parents because of the misrepresentations in this flyer."

Overall the ABA flyer represents a "profound distortion of truth," the RADAR report concludes. "Under the guise of exposing myths, the American Bar Association has lent the imprimatur of legitimacy to numerous falsehoods about domestic violence, child abuse, and custody."

RADAR has asked the ABA to suspend distribution of the flyer until the errors and misrepresentations are corrected.

The RADAR report is available at: http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Myths-of-ABA-Commission-on-DV-Summary.pdf

The ABA Commission on Domestic Violence's flyer is available at: http://www.abanet.org/domviol/custody_myths.pdf

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org.

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