Complaint Filed Against Melissa Farley

Dr. Callum Bennachie, from the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, filed a complaint with the American Psychology Association asking that they rescind the membership of Melissa Farley.

In the introduction to the complaint, Dr. Bennachie writes:

Over the years, Dr Farley has published a number of papers and documents about sex work, making claims that all sex work is a form of violence against women.  She has used several of her studies to back this up.

In 2008 Dr Farley published the paper What Really Happened in New Zealand after Prostitution was Decriminalized in 2003? on her website critiquing the Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee.  This critique contains several errors of fact that appear to be deliberately designed to mislead people.  Many of the false allegations made by Dr. Farley in this paper have been repeated by her in her efforts to stigmatise sex workers and keep them criminal.  Dr. Farley appears to have read the complete report, but has only reported or critiqued those parts that match her ideology.  In investigating her comments on this paper further, it was discovered that Dr Farley had completed research in New Zealand in 2003 without seeking ethical approval from the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS).  It was also discovered that during the course of this research, she claimed to be able to diagnose sex workers as having post-traumatic stress disorder, despite using a flawed questionnaire, and not doing in depth interviews.

It is noted that Dr Farley has also completed other studies overseas, and investigations this year indicate that she never sought ethical approval, and sought to deliberately deceive the groups who facilitated the research for her.  She has also been cited as an expert witness, yet the testimony given is false or misleading.  Finally, the Canadian courts have found Dr Farley to be a less than reliable witness, finding her evidence “to be problematic”.  For the reasons in the text below, I believe her work is unethical, unbecoming of a psychologist, and is in breach of at least sections 5.01 and 8.10 of the APA’s Code of Ethics, perhaps more.  I believe that because of these breaches, Dr Farley should be removed from the membership of the APA.

You can read the full text of the complaint here.

I applaud Dr. Bennachie for taking this action. I hope something comes from his complaint, and that other medical professionals are finally ready to open their eyes to the sham research Melissa Farley has paraded around for far too long. Furthermore, please let the impressionable future scholars who look up to her see that she offers a solid lesson in what not to do, and does not represent a figure that any respectable academic should aspire to become.

17 Responses

  1. This is wonderful news! The APA can’t really refuse to take action on it without revealing an agenda, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I don’t think the APA will go on record as being pro-sex worker rights just yet, but if they come out as against bogus anti-sex work “research it’s a step in the right direction.

  2. Is there a link to this filing/action somewhere?

  3. I’m not sure. Would there be? All I received was a link to the full complaint and discussion that it had been filed. Let me ask the person who told me, and I’ll post back in a couple of hours with what I hear.

  4. The pdf has no title and I don’t see a statement about this on the nzpc’s website. Maybe it is there somewhere, though?

  5. Laura, I’ve asked someone, who should be able to give you more info, to check your question here.

  6. Contact is currently traveling. We messaged and the only info online is identical to what I posted here. I asked about the NZPC site, and there isn’t anything there.

  7. Here’s a URL to the PDF that I learned of from Maggie: http://maggiemcneill.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/complaint-to-apa-re-melissa-farley.pdf . Thank you, Maggie!

  8. The PDF above includes the entire report. It’s very thorough and informative.

  9. The post here also includes the full report, all 115 pages.

  10. I tried going to the Google.doc post in the intial message of this thread, but couldn’t open it up.

  11. It opened for me around the time I last posted but was slower than it was yesterday. I’ll replace the link, and see if that helps.

  12. Ok, now it’s stored here, instead of being on google docs.

    Thanks for pointing out that it wasn’t loading correctly!

  13. Could someone fix the annoying title typo? Compliant is a work that means willing/passive. Complaint is that word that is called for in this context.

  14. @Furry Girl: Fixed. Annoying it was in the title; it’s correct throughout the post. Thanks!

  15. You’re most observant than I am, Furry Girl. I didn’t even notice it, but I’m glad it’s fixed.

  16. […] fact, concerns over Farley’s methods are so extensive that a professor filed a complaint with the American Psychology Association asking that they rescind Farley’s membership. The […]

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