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Defamation Suit against APA, David Hoffman, and Sidley Austin LLP Expands; Suit Brought by Louis J. Freeh of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP (Counsel for Dr. Behnke) and Dr. Bonny J. Forrest (Counsel for the Other Plaintiffs)


A defamation lawsuit against the American Psychological Association;
Sidley Austin LLP, a law firm with a Boston office; and David Hoffman, a
Sidley partner, has expanded with the filing of a new complaint in the
Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Superior Court by Louis J. Freeh of
Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP (counsel for Dr. Behnke) and Dr. Bonny J.
Forrest (counsel for the other plaintiffs).

The suit accompanies others filed previously in Ohio and the District of
Columbia. In addition to providing new details about the involvement of
Massachusetts residents, the complaint adds a new defendant: Dr. Stephen
Soldz, a professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.

The plaintiffs are three retired military psychologists (Cols. (Ret.)
Morgan Banks, Debra Dunivin, and Larry James) and two former APA
officials (Dr. Stephen Behnke and Dr. Russ Newman). The lawsuit arises
from allegedly defamatory accusations against them in a report
commissioned by the APA and written by Hoffman in 2015. The report
allegedly falsely concluded that they had "colluded" to avoid
constraining psychologists from participating in abusive interrogations
of detainees in the aftermath of 9/11. As Hoffman told APA's governing
body, he set out in the report to "make [the] case" to support its

According to the plaintiffs' complaint, the evidence shows that:

When the Report was published, Hoffman and APA officials had in their
possession documents and facts that proved his allegations to be false
and that demonstrate those allegations were made with the knowledge they
were false. .… Moreover, members of the APA Board who agreed to the
Report's publication had been directly involved in the events it
described. They therefore knew Hoffman's conclusions to be false or
acted in reckless disregard of their truth.

As to Soldz's role, the complaint says that his "years-long series of
false and defamatory attacks against Plaintiffs has continued since the
Report's release …. despite his having been provided with evidence that
the statements are false."

The complaint also describes evidence suggesting that, to garner greater
publicity for the report, both Soldz and Hoffman leaked an advance copy
to James Risen of The New York Times.

Since the report was published, as the complaint sets forth, many of
those directly involved in the events it described have provided
affidavits and statements contradicting Hoffman's allegations and
testifying to his misrepresentation of his interviews with them. The APA
Board acknowledged that the report contained "inaccuracies," and the
Board actually rehired Hoffman in 2016 to review his own work, despite
the obvious conflict. The results of that review have never emerged.

The suit alleges that the effects of Hoffman's false accusations and the
report's leak were even greater because he employed terms such as "joint
venture" and "joint enterprise" ordinarily reserved for criminal RICO
(Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) and war-crimes
prosecutions. He employed this loaded terminology despite telling APA
officials privately that he found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and
despite knowing, but not reporting, that the FBI had found no criminal
violations when Risen and others submitted to it much the same material
he reviewed.

Louis J. Freeh, counsel for Dr. Behnke, said "The damage inflicted by
this incomplete and deficient so-called ‘investigation' was compounded
when the report was leaked to The New York Times before those
attacked had a fair chance to respond to its allegations against them."

The Massachusetts case number is 1884CV01968

The complaint and more information about the lawsuits can be found at

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