Implanted memory lawsuits may be near dismissal.
Four lawsuits alleging that false memories of sexual abuse and satanic cult activity were implanted in women at Castlewood Treatment Center in suburban St. Louis are about to be dismissed, according to a published report on Monday.
Lisa Nasseff filed suit two years ago against Ballwin, Mo.-based Castlewood, an eating disorder treatment clinic, and its former director, psychologist Mark Schwartz.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that attorneys for Nasseff say the case was resolved favorably for both sides, but no details were released. Nasseff's suit will be dismissed on Friday, according to filings in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
The newspaper said suits filed by three other women also appeared headed for settlement. The suits allege that Schwartz used brainwashing and hypnosis to concoct false memories for clients who had lengthy stays at Castlewood.
Twenty-five to 30 other families have formed the group Castlewood Victims Unite; members say the settlements are disappointing because Schwartz and other staff members won't be compelled to testify under oath.
"I wish they would have gone to trial," said Lisa Krug, whose daughter stayed at Castlewood in 2010 and 2011 and came home with memories of torture and sexual abuse by a neighbor and a family member — occurrences that logistically could not have occurred, according to Krug.
"I just feel bad for girls who are going to go there in the future. The therapy is still there, and it's just going to keep happening."
Castlewood staff members have denied allegations of brainwashing. They say no therapist ever created false memories or hypnotized clients.
The treatment center has made sweeping leadership changes since the suits were filed last year. Schwartz and his wife, Lori Galperin, who co-founded Castlewood a dozen years ago, resigned in April. Schwartz declined an interview request.
Castlewood's CEO, Nancy Albus, said the departure of Schwartz and Galperin was not related to the lawsuit.
Nasseff said in previous interviews that she was at Castlewood for 15 months and believed Schwartz wanted to keep her there because she had good insurance that would pay medical bills eventually totaling $650,000. During treatment for anorexia she was brainwashed into believing she had multiple personalities and implanted under hypnosis with false memories of sexual abuse and satanic activity, she said.
Others treated at Castlewood have praised the treatment they received. Some credit Castlewood with saving their lives and could not relate to the experiences detailed in the lawsuits.
"It's scary when memories come up but they need to come up to heal," said Olivia Frank, 19, of Rhode Island, who is in her second stay at Castlewood. "I absolutely adore Castlewood. They want you to feel empowered by making healthy decisions for yourself."