The therapist who helped convict a Lehi man of sodomy and child sex abuse coerced children who testified using techniques she described in a doctoral dissertation, an attorney told the Utah Supreme Court.

Gilbert Athay, newly appointed attorney for convicted child molester Allan B. Hadfield, told justices he had evidence of four separate investigations in different parts of Utah in which different children gave similar testimony. The only common link in the four cases was social worker Barbara Snow.Athay asked the court for a new trial.

Justices, who listened to the arguments, said they will reach a decision later.

Meanwhile, state prosecutor Sandra Sjogren argued the dissertation had nothing to do with child sexual abuse and that three of the four cases cited were dropped for lack of evidence.

Sjogren said Hadfield's children, not Snow, were the key witnesses in the case.

Hadfield and his attorney are trying to ignore physical evidence in the case and the testimonies of Hadfield's own children, she said. "The defense continues to make Snow the key witness. The key witnesses were the children."

Athay told the justices he has uncovered evidence that Snow was involved in four child sexual abuse investigations statewide. In all the cases, the children told similar stories. The only common link in the four cases was Snow.

"We're getting a pattern here," said Athay, who late last year became the third attorney to represent Hadfield. "Dr. Snow's dissertation was being put into practice.

He asked the court to grant a retrial so the new evidence can be presented.

The dissertation, according to Athay, promotes a theory of rewards and punishments to get clients to comply with the wishes of the therapist. Athay believes Snow coerced Hadfield's children into turning against their father.

Hadfield was convicted in 1987 on four counts of sodomy and three counts of sexual abuse of a child. He served six months in jail.

Athay said the other cases Snow was involved with all eventually included testimony from children about neighborhood sex rings involving between two and 20 families, all of which were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The children all spoke of satanic rituals wherein children were gathered together and abused by groups of adults. Most of the sex the children talked about was homosexual and involved costumes. The children all drew similar pictures to describe the rituals.

Athay said Snow was the only therapist able to elicit such accusations from the children.

But Sjogren argues that all but one of the cases Athay refers to were dismissed before criminal charges were filed. She said Athay really wants a minitrial within a trial - with Snow as the defendant.

"Snow was thoroughly cross-examined at the trial," she said. Hadfield's attorney even asked Snow about her "doctoral thesis," although the two terms confused her and led her instead to talk about her master's thesis.

Athay said Snow instead deliberately tried to avoid talking about the dissertation.