Boyle Presents at Harvard Medical School Think Tank

On September 25, 2019, Professor Robin Boyle Laisure presented at a think tank for Harvard Medical School, called the Program in Psychiatry and the Law (PIPATL).  PIPATL members hold degrees in psychiatry and law. The topic of her talk was “Litigating Against Cults: Avoiding Undue Influence Conundrum.”
Boyle
Professor Boyle summed up the history of United States Supreme Court decisions, in which expert testimony was challenged when it pertained to “mind control” or “brainwashing.”  She argued that we can now look to the case of United States v. Raniere, tried in federal court (EDNY) last May, as a paradigm for litigation against cults and high demand groups.  In that case the leader of the Nxivm organization, a purported network of self-help workshops, was convicted on seven counts, including human trafficking and racketeering.  At her talk, Professor Boyle offered some suggestions about revising the requirements for establishing undue influence in the civil context.  The members of PIPATL engaged in a robust discussion about how much weight courts should afford to the mental state of the victim in cases of undue influence.

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