University of Utah psychology professor David Raskin and Salt Lake psychologist Noemi Mattis have agreed to settle Mattis' defamation suit for an undisclosed amount of money.
Mattis sued Raskin in 1992 after his speech to the False Memory Syndrome Foundation in Provo in which he criticized Mattis and other therapists who treat patients with purportedly recovered memories of child-sexual abuse. He said those practitioners "do not know the scientific literature" and "have no reality orientation."Raskin said Mattis lacked the credentials to be a graduate student, let alone a professor in the school's psychology department.
Mattis, co-leader of a state task force on ritual abuse, accused Raskin of defamation and asked the courts for $1 million in damages, claiming his speech contained false statements that damaged her personal and professional reputation.
Mattis and Raskin issued a news release Tuesday in which Raskin said, "During that speech I did not intend to impugn the integrity of Dr. Mattis nor to attack her professional competence nor to suggest that she has ever done anything illegal or unethical. I apologize for any pain this may have caused to her or her patients.
"I continue to disagree with Dr. Mattis' professional opinions and maintain that satanic ritual abuse does not exist," he said.
Raskin said his statement was a clarification, not a retraction.
Mattis said the statement vindicated her. "Absolutely, it is a victory. . . . I wasn't even going to discuss settlement unless there was some retraction and an apology. That's more important than any money," she said.Comment on this story
Meanwhile, Utah's colleges and universities are drafting policies intended to ensure legal defense for other faculty members who may be accused in similar cases. Raskin had asked the state risk manager to defend him but was refused on the ground that his speech was not one of his duties as a professor.
Utah academic communities were outraged that the state would not stand behind Raskin, saying the refusal opened the door to restrictions on academic freedom. Cecelia Foxley, commissioner of Higher Education, and other state officials met with the manager.