IAI Cover-up

After a lengthy investigation and scrutiny of all relevant reports we decided to bring charges of Ethics and Professional Conduct violations against Mr Michael Grimm, Mr Pat Wertheim and Mr Arie Zeelenberg at the International Association of Identification (IAI). This was in late 2012.

Our first contact was with Ms Lesley Hammer, the then 1st Vice-President who kindly informed us what the process was to submit a Petition against a member of the IAI. We were informed to consult the by-laws and to send our Petitions to Ms Deborah Leben, the President of the IAI at the time.

After months preparing detailed Petitions, we started sending the Petitions together with close to 500 pages of illustrated supporting documents to Ms Leben on 10 October 2012.

After an initial review process she asked us to refine the charges against Mr. Wertheim. We did so. On 14 December 2012 she let us know that she found “enough elements” in the Petitions to refer them (all) to a Professional Review Board. We were informed that the PRB would consist of three IAI members of “good standing” and that the process would be overseen by the 2nd Vice-President, Mr Steve Johnson.

Ms Leben had 15 days to compile the PRB. The PRB then had 90 working days to finish the investigation. Then the findings would be reviewed by the Board, before a final decision would be made. The Board supposedly took the PRB’s recommendations under consideration during their annual conference in Providence in early August 2013.

On 14 August 2013 – just over 10 months since we first started the process – we were informed of the Board’s final decision. All three our Petitions were rejected. On our Petitions against Wertheim and Zeelenberg we were told that these members did not commit any ethic violations and that our allegations against them “could not be substantiated”. On our Petition against Mr Grimm we were told that our allegations are outside the purview of the IAI and outside the IAI’s areas of expertise.

Here are the letters: WertheimZeelenbergGrimm

Clearly a cut and paste job. (Note how Grimm’s name was not cut out of Wertheim and Zeelenberg’s letters!)

These were the members of the Board that dismissed our Petitions:

  • Deborah Leben, IAI President
  • Kevin Lawson Chairperson of the Board
  • Kenneth Blue
  • Koren Colbert
  • Michael Gaynor
  • Mike Gordon
  • Lisa Hudson
  • Ray Jorz
  • John Kilgore
  • Ken Martin
  • Aldo Mattei
  • Steve Meagher
  • Frank Ryttersgaard
  • Rodney Schenk
  • Ken Zercie

Now some facts:

– We asked Ms Leben for the names of the PRB members – got refused. They “do not have to tell us”.

– We made several charges against each member – charges of ethical misconduct, professional misconduct, misidentification and mistakes, yet we were only informed that these members did not commit any ethics violations. What about the other violations – professional misconduct, misidentification and mistakes? During the process we pertinently added two additional charges:

1) Misidentification of “lip print”, and

2) Misidentification of substrate

… yet, no decision on these charges were communicated to us. The question is – were they even sent to the PRB?

– In what must be a violation of her own Standards of Professional Conduct, Ms Leben sent a private email that we sent to her to Adv Dup de Bruyn without having any reason or mandate to do so. The Standard is: “Every applicant/certified person shall maintain and keep inviolate confidential information obtained in the course of professional endeavors.” This email contained private information which Adv De Bruyn nor the Respondents were entitled to. Adv De Bruyn then passed it on to Dr David Klatzow who used it in an attack on us in the media (Weekend Argus, 3 February 2013).

– After their review period (which ended end May 2013) the Board sat with the PRB’s findings (if the PRB existed in the first place) for two months supposedly to discuss it at their annual conference, only to – after ten months’ wait – dismiss our Petitions in three short paragraphs. Offering no valid reasons and explanations. They also clearly did not rule on all our charges. We will go through some of them below and ask questions as we go along.

We hold the whole IAI Board and in particular the IAI President, Ms Leben, responsible for the decision.

By not ruling on what we asked them to rule on they in principle underwrote Mr Wertheim and Mr Zeelenberg’s findings and conduct. For them to say that they did not rule on it and therefore it does not mean they support it, is not an excuse.

Let us see what the IAI Board found acceptable for their experts to get away with:

By dismissing our Petitions the Board had no problem in supporting Wertheim and Zeelenberg that these two prints were deposited on a round drinking glass. (Read more about the prints here)

Before we continue, please get a drinking glass. Pick it up with your left hand, look through the glass and see what your left index’ print looks like. Look at the shape. Put it down and pick it up again with your right hand. Look through the glass and see what your thumb print looks like. Look at the shape and angle. In both cases look at what touches the glass and what not.

OK, let us look at some facts pertaining to Mr Wertheim and Mr Zeelenberg’s reports.

Mr Wertheim said:

– The left index is foreshortened – Fact: It is not. It is the same length as the flat known print.

– The finger is curved (bent) between the first and second phalanx – Fact: It is not. A minutia grid comparison will confirm this.

The Board knows that you cannot make findings based on visual observations alone – basic ACE-V protocol forbids it. Mr Wertheim had to use the known print to make a finding regarding e.g. the length of the print (otherwise how would he have known it is foreshortened?). He did not and did not even use a ruler – measured nothing (except the distance between the top and bottom ‘lines’) – but then made a finding on the length of the index print. This is surely against any reasonable standard.

Now let us look what Mr Zeelenberg said:

He did not really say much about the left index print. In his whole presentation of 208 slides he did not show us one single example of an index print on a drinking glass. The IAI Board seems not to have a problem with this.

Mr Zeelenberg shows us on two slides, where he lined the Folien 1 index print up with the known print, that the print is not foreshortened. Fact is: It must be foreshortened. A print on a drinking glass is shorter than the normal flat print. Period. It is fine for the IAI Board that one of their experts does not know or realize that a print on a round drinking glass will be shorter than the corresponding flat print. Is this acceptable to the Board?

Mr Wertheim says the print is foreshortened – while it is not (though it should have been if it was from a drinking glass) – Mr Zeelenberg implies the print is not foreshortened. This contradiction does not seem to bother the IAI Board. Who is right and who is wrong here? Mr Wertheim or Mr Zeelenberg? Is the print foreshortened or not?

By dismissing our Petitions it is acceptable to the Board for IAI members to have testified in a court of law that the following “line” on Folien 1 is perfectly circular when it is very clearly not.

To accept Mr Wertheim’s and Mr Zeelenberg’s claim that the “line” was made by the bottom rim of a conical glass is to accept that it is perfectly circular.

Please note that it is a fact of nature that if it was made by the bottom edge of a conical drinking glass, it should be curved and it should be a circular curve.

By dismissing our Petitions the Board finds it acceptable for IAI members to arrive at scientific conclusions without any scientific method.

According to both Mr Wertheim and Mr Zeelenberg the top and bottom lines on Folien 1 are consistent with being from a drinking glass because they APPEARED curved and parallel. BUT, were they the right type of curves, and were they really parallel (concentric)?

What method did they employ to determine that the top and bottom lines are concentric circular curves? If they did not employ a method, then it seems fine with the IAI Board that their experts relied on visual observation alone.

The fact of the matter is because Mr Wertheim and Mr Zeelenberg did not apply any scientific method to the top and bottom lines they arrived at conclusions that were simply wrong – neither the top nor bottom lines are perfectly circular, neither are they perfectly parallel (concentric).

And then the “lip print”.

The IAI Board had no problem to support Mr Wertheim and Mr Zeelenberg that this is a lip print. We added a specific charge to rule on the misidentification of the “lip print”. It was simply ignored.

Mr Wertheim said it is an “excessive moist” lip on dry glass. Mr Zeelenberg said it was a dry lip on a condensed glass. Mr Wertheim said that the “lip print” is parallel to the rim. Mr Zeelenberg said it is sloped. He also said it is normal for prints to be sloped.

The IAI Board did not care about the contradictions.

Read the lip print page and also read here about the bizarre explanations offered by Mr Zeelenberg.

Is the bottom photo not enough evidence that the print is indeed and without doubt the right finger of the duster who we know for a fact handled the DVD cover?

Please also read here and see what lip experts say. Does the Board disagree with them? If so, why?

If there is any argument about this, then we suggest we get Mr Fred van der Vyver’s lip print to investigate and compare with this print.

Now let us get to some ethical issues. The Board said Wertheim did not violate any ethical codes.

In paragraph 55 of his report, Wertheim in an experiment proposes a method of drinking that according to him would have resulted in more or less the arrangement of the prints on Folien 1 (left). So he used this experiment to support his drinking glass theory.

Now we ask you the reader, and also you the members of the Board, please not to go any further before you do this exercise yourself. Please get a tumbler glass of about 82 mm high – with top and bottom diameters of about 79 mm and 64 mm respectively. It does not need to be exact, but more or less in this range. Wrap a piece of paper around it. Cut it along the top and bottom edges and so that the end sides just meet – stick the ends together with some tape. The paper now being like a paper cup around the tumbler.

Get some ink handy. Put the glass in front of you. Now put all your fingers in ink. Now pick the glass up with your left hand – pretend to fill it with water with your right hand. Now put the glass down. Now pick it up with your right hand. And take a sip. You can just mark more or less where your lip was if you do not want to put ink on it.

Now unwrap the paper from the tumbler. Now compare you result with Wertheim’s result (top right).

Look at the positions of the fingers – how far the left index and right thumb is, etc.

We welcome the Board’s view on this result. And if they perhaps agree that it seems like Mr Wertheim tried his utmost to replicate the look of Folien 1.

Read about our issues with this result here.

Just a question to members of the Board before we go off this topic, is it acceptable for an expert and member of the IAI to crop a photo in a scientific report to make it appear more similar to another photo – i.e. to hide obvious differences?

Look at the photos below. Mr Wertheim used them to draw attention to the similarity in the curvature to the edge.

Look at how the thumb intersects the lip (in photo left). Ask yourself how this is possible in his one-time drinking action. Can the lip and thumb share the same space at the same time?

The image below shows that the comparison depicted above only compares the edge curvature over about 50% of the actual width of the crime scene lift. In other words Mr Wertheim used cropped images to compare the edge curvatures.

This is the same Mr Wertheim who harshly criticized the Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO) in the McKie case because they cropped enlargements of latent prints. Below is a copy of what Mr Wertheim wrote in his Precognition dated 26 May 2000.

(Source: http://www.thefingerprintinquiryscotland.org.uk/inquiry/files/DB_0169.pdf)

The question is how would the curvature of the line in Mr Wertheim’s lift compare with the curvature of the line in F1 over the other 50 % of the lift?

The bottom dark blue line is the line that would have been left by Wertheim’s experiment, while the red line is the top line on Folien. Quite a significant difference don’t you think, members of the Board? Did you all truly understand what you were voting for?

Basic standards (in any industry) ask that when you do an overlay (superimposition) then you need to have both the images on scale.

It appears the Board had no problem with the fact that Mr Zeelenberg made the folien out of proportion larger on the DVD cover’s image. (The pink square is the actual size of Folien 1 in relation to the cover.)

When Mr Zeelenberg needed a thumb print he simply claimed one (in green block) without any method or rhyme or reason.

It seems like this is how it works. When you need a print on the right place, just claim one. Just say it is one. Is this the level of standards the IAI is happy with?

Does any member of the Board really believe this is a thumb print?

A few more questions to Ms Leben.

– Yes or no? Did you really appoint a PRB? If so – show us proof.

– Why did you send an email of ours to Adv Dup de Bruyn without our consent – an email which was intended for your purposes – not his?

– Why did you refer Mr Grimm’s Petition to the PRB only to tell us after 9 months it is outside the IAI’s field of expertise? Is this how your organization operates and values others’ time and efforts? By the way, what do you think of Mr Grimm’s hand gun theory? You did peruse the Petition – didn’t you? – and then actually sent it to the PRB (if the PRB actually existed).

– Do you think it is OK for the accused’s father to have been in attendance while Mr Wertheim did experiments for his report? And what do you think of the fact that Mr Wertheim’s friend, Mr Zeelenberg, peer-reviewed this report? The very same Mr Zeelenberg who acted alongside him in the criminal trial on the defence’s side. Is this proper and ethical conduct? And that nobody peer-reviewed Mr Zeelenberg’s report?