On Monday, 25 March 2013, the School of Polygraph Science in Phoenix, Arizona filed suit in federal court against the American Polygraph Association (APA) and its officers. The complaint stems from the APA’s revocation of the school’s accreditation on 29 January 2013 following an unannounced inspection on 5-6 November 2012. The School alleges libel, slander, disparagement [sic] of treatment, discrimination, and pain and suffering. Plaintiffs seek, among other relief, $250,000,000 in damages from the APA itself and $250,000,000 from APA officials in their individual capacities.
APA accreditation is important to polygraph schools because many governmental agencies require that any polygraph operators they hire be graduates of an APA accredited training program and state licensing boards may require that licensed polygraph examiners be graduates of an APA accredited polygraph school.
A key allegation in the suit is that the APA officer who inspected the school, Roy Ortiz, made libelous statements in his report. Ortiz has been the subject of past controversy. In 2003, he was allegedly investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internal Affairs Group “for changing polygraph reports” and in June 2007 he was allegedly demoted from his position as supervisor of the LAPD’s polygraph unit, stripped of polygraph duties, and assigned to a different facility as a records clerk.
The School of Polygraph Science also claims that it has been treated differently than other polygraph schools, noting that in 2007, an APA inspector “found 4 major violations in the Marston Polygraph Academy‘s operations, but the APA failed to take any action whatsoever against this school, nor was Marston Polygraph Academy’s Accreditation revoked by APA.” (In this regard, see Complaint Against Marston Polygraph Academy on the AntiPolygraph.org message board.) The suit also alleges that the Backster School of Lie Detection “has never been inspected by APA since APA’s inception in 1966.”
The lawsuit is Case Number CV-13-607-PHX-SPL in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The statement of complaint and accompanying exhibits may be downloaded as a 14 mb PDF file here.
AntiPolygraph.org has e-mailed APA president Barry Cushman seeking comment, and this post will be updated accordingly upon receipt of a response. While not mentioning the lawsuit, the American Polygraph Association has posted the following notice on its list of accredited polygraph schools:
*Notice Regarding the Arizona School of Polygraph Science, Inc.
On January 29, 2013, the APA Board of Directors revoked the accreditation of the Arizona School of Polygraph Science, Inc. with regard to their polygraph examiner training programs That revocation was due, at least in part, to the finding that the school failed to provide sufficient classroom instruction, using instead distance based learning for approximately four weeks of the training. This course of instruction was referred to by the school as “hybrid” classes. These hybrid classes were offered by the school without prior approval by the APA. Students who attend these hybrid classes through the Arizona School of Polygraph Science, Inc. may not have received the minimum training for polygraph examiners set out in the APA’s Accreditation Standards, Policies and Procedures and, as such, may not meet the minimum standards of training for membership in the APA. Students who have attended those hybrid classes should notify Robbie Bennett at the National Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) of any questions they have on this issue and/or their desire to be kept informed of APA’s efforts on this issue.
This notice is not intended in any way to indicate that prior schools offered by the Arizona School of Polygraph Science, Inc., not of the hybrid type described here, failed to meet minimum standards of training for polygraph examiners as set out in the APA’s Accreditation Standards, Policies and Procedures.
To the extent that there are any ongoing representations by the Arizona School of Polygraph Science, Inc. that their polygraph examiner training programs are currently accredited by the American Polygraph Association, such representations are inaccurate.
Update: In response to an inquiry from AntiPolygraph.org, APA President Barry Cushman replied that while he knew nothing of the lawsuit being filed, it is not true that the Backster School of Lie Detection has never been inspected by the APA and it is not true (as alleged in the statement of complaint at para. 3.30) that Roy Ortiz is not an American Polygraph Association certified inspector.