Spectral Evidence: The Ramona Case: Incest, Memory, and Truth on Trial in Napa Valley

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9780395718223: Spectral Evidence: The Ramona Case: Incest, Memory, and Truth on Trial in Napa Valley
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Spectral Evidence is the story of the Ramona family of Napa Valley, whose outward appearance of apple-pie all-American success was destroyed by allegations of child sexual abuse brought by the oldest daughter, Holly, her mother, and Holly's therapists against her father, Gary. These allegations were based on memories recovered through the efforts of the therapists, who were subsequently sued by Gary Ramona for malpractice. The book builds with accounts of the not-always-conventional postwar families of Gary and Stephanie Ramona, through Gary's rise to prominence in the wine industry, to the awful day that twenty-year-old Holly was overcome by a vivid recollection of her father in bed with her at age eight. From that point, beginning with a powerfully rendered confrontation between Gary and his wife and daughter, to the dramatic conclusion of the first trial, where malpractice is alleged regarding recovered memory, readers witness a dynamic and emotional family drama.

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Gary and Stephanie Ramona were part of a fairly typical, affluent Napa Valley family when Holly, the eldest of their three daughters, "remembered" her father raping her. Though the Ramona family was far from cohesive, Holly's accusations destroyed whatever glue had held them together. The lines were drawn clearly: the women of the family, Stephanie and her three daughters, shut Gary out swiftly and surely. Hoping to win his children back, he fought back the only way he knew how. The lawsuit he brought against Holly's therapist, whom he believed planted Holly's disturbing memories, set a precedent, and it would inevitably affect both the counseling profession and this gentrified community the Ramonas called home.

Spectral Evidence tells the story of a modern-day witch trial, a sad and disturbing battle in which nobody wins. This harrowing account of sheltered elite lives suddenly thrust into a national spotlight raises more questions than it answers. Johnston's approach to the subject is evenhanded: there are no true villains, nor are there heroes. The story is riveting, and Johnston is fair yet passionate. --Lisa Higgins

From the Back Cover:

National Magazine Award-winning author Moira Johnston tells the dramatic story of a "perfect" American family destroyed when a daughter's "flashbacks" of incestuous rape by her father turned to accusations and lawsuits - and of the explosive landmark trial in Napa Valley that gave a father, for the first time, the right to strike back legally at the therapists he believed had planted false memories of sexual abuse in his daughter's mind. Johnston sets the story of Gary, Stephanie, and Holly Ramona in the context of a broader concern over the destructive impact of uncorroborated memories of childhood sexual abuse, a controversy that has embroiled parents, adult children, and family therapists throughout the country and has stirred debate among feminists, psychologists, memory scientists, and lawyers.

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