BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A defamation lawsuit against the American Psychological Association; Sidley Austin LLP, a law firm with a Boston office; and David Hoffman, a Sidley partner, has expanded with the filing of a new complaint in the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Superior Court by Louis J. Freeh of Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP (counsel for Dr. Behnke) and Dr. Bonny J. Forrest (counsel for the other plaintiffs).
The suit accompanies others filed previously in Ohio and the District of Columbia. In addition to providing new details about the involvement of Massachusetts residents, the complaint adds a new defendant: Dr. Stephen Soldz, a professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.
The plaintiffs are three retired military psychologists (Cols. (Ret.) Morgan Banks, Debra Dunivin, and Larry James) and two former APA officials (Dr. Stephen Behnke and Dr. Russ Newman). The lawsuit arises from allegedly defamatory accusations against them in a report commissioned by the APA and written by Hoffman in 2015. The report allegedly falsely concluded that they had “colluded” to avoid constraining psychologists from participating in abusive interrogations of detainees in the aftermath of 9/11. As Hoffman told APA’s governing body, he set out in the report to “make [the] case” to support its conclusions.
According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the evidence shows that:
When the Report was published, Hoffman and APA officials had in their possession documents and facts that proved his allegations to be false and that demonstrate those allegations were made with the knowledge they were false. .… Moreover, members of the APA Board who agreed to the Report’s publication had been directly involved in the events it described. They therefore knew Hoffman’s conclusions to be false or acted in reckless disregard of their truth.
As to Soldz’s role, the complaint says that his “years-long series of false and defamatory attacks against Plaintiffs has continued since the Report’s release …. despite his having been provided with evidence that the statements are false.”
The complaint also describes evidence suggesting that, to garner greater publicity for the report, both Soldz and Hoffman leaked an advance copy to James Risen of The New York Times.
Since the report was published, as the complaint sets forth, many of those directly involved in the events it described have provided affidavits and statements contradicting Hoffman’s allegations and testifying to his misrepresentation of his interviews with them. The APA Board acknowledged that the report contained “inaccuracies,” and the Board actually rehired Hoffman in 2016 to review his own work, despite the obvious conflict. The results of that review have never emerged.
The suit alleges that the effects of Hoffman’s false accusations and the report’s leak were even greater because he employed terms such as “joint venture” and “joint enterprise” ordinarily reserved for criminal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) and war-crimes prosecutions. He employed this loaded terminology despite telling APA officials privately that he found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and despite knowing, but not reporting, that the FBI had found no criminal violations when Risen and others submitted to it much the same material he reviewed.
Louis J. Freeh, counsel for Dr. Behnke, said “The damage inflicted by this incomplete and deficient so-called ‘investigation’ was compounded when the report was leaked to The New York Times before those attacked had a fair chance to respond to its allegations against them.”
The Massachusetts case number is 1884CV01968
The complaint and more information about the lawsuits can be found at www.hoffmanreportapa.com.