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SCAN:  Deception Detection by Scientific Content Analysis   |   Technique Sets the Truth Free   |   What Are Magic, Anita, Clarence Not Telling Us?   |   Analysts Probed 911 Caller's Every Word   |   He's Teaching Police How to Detect Lies   |   Ramsey Trapped by His Own Words
What Are Magic, Anita, Clarence Not Telling Us?

"It's really interesting that most people don't really lie; most people just don't tell you everything."

Reprinted from "The San Antonio Express-News"
San Antonio, Texas, Sunday, January 5, 1992

by Chris Bird, Express-News Staff Writer

Most people don't really lie.

What Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas did not say is more important.

That is the premise used by Avinoam Sapir, a former Israeli intelligence agent and policeman, to deduce that basketball star Magic Johnson probably caught the HIV virus in a bisexual encounter.

Sapir, 42, an Israeli-born U.S. citizen, was in San Antonio recently conducting a four-day seminar mostly for law enforcement officials on analyzing statements made by suspects and witnesses.

Other deductions made by Sapir include:

   William Kennedy Smith did not rape his accuser at the Kennedy clan's estate in Palm Beach, Fla., but she believed she was raped.

   Clarence Thomas and law professor Anita Hill were both hiding something during last year's hearings for his confirmation as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

"It's really interesting that most people don't really lie; most people just don't tell you everything," Sapir said.

In a seminar paid for by law enforcement agencies, Sapir taught 27 students, including San Antonio police and arson investigators, how to deduce what a suspect is not saying.

A former Israeli police lieutenant, Sapir has degrees in psychology and criminology and has been teaching interrogation and statement-analysis techniques in the United States since 1981.

He estimates he has taught more than 2,500 law enforcement officers from such agencies as the FBI, U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, California State Police, and the Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio police departments.

San Antonio Fire Capt. Dan Davila, who sent six of his arson investigators at city expense to the recent course, said: "The guys are pretty upbeat on it."

In an interview after a class, Sapir said Magic Johnson made a long statement in Sports Illustrated magazine about his contracting the HIV virus, which leads to AIDS.

Johnson stated he had never had a homosexual encounter, Sapir said, adding that he took that statement at face value.

"However, what I will ask myself, what didn't he say?" Sapir said.

He then referred to an interview that Johnson did with television journalist Connie Chung. He recalled Chung saying that, because it is medically difficult for a man to contact the HIV virus from a woman, rumors had developed that Johnson was homosexual or bisexual.

"He said, 'Look, I am not homosexual. The only thing I can tell you, I am not homosexual,'" Sapir recalled. "He can deny very firmly that he is homosexual, and he is truthful. However, he is not denying that he is bisexual."

Sapir cited other problems with Johnson's story. For example, Johnson said he was "certain" he got the virus from a woman.

Sapir said that, if Johnson was certain, he would have said: "I got the virus from a woman." Adding "certain" indicated lack of certainty, Sapir argued.

Turning his attention to the William Smith case, Sapir said it was very complex.

"He didn't rape her, but she was raped," Sapir said of Smith's accuser, who was sexually abused as a child.

Not right questions

"She, in her mind, equates sex to rape. For her, anybody who will have sex with her, that means he raped her," Sapir said.

Sapir analyzed the language used in the woman's statements and deduced that Smith had not raped her. She passed a polygraph test but the examiner failed to asked the right questions, Sapir said.

He said he only recently had received the transcripts of the Thomas confirmation hearing and had not analyzed it to the same depth as the Smith case. But he had made some deductions from watching the televised hearings.

Hill, Sapir noted, never referred to Thomas by his first name in her testimony.

"She called him Judge Thomas, Chairman Thomas, and once... she called him Thomas with no title because she was upset," Sapir said.

But the judge, after a long time, used Hill's first name - Anita, Sapir said "Now imagine, if somebody comes to you, and he lies about you, would you use his first name? No," Sapir said. "So actually you understand, by his language, that he was not upset with her."

Sapir said Thomas, by his language and how it was directed, was not angry at Hill but at the committee that was questioning him.

Not a full account

On the other hand, Hill did not give a full account of what happened, Sapir said. She told the committee what Thomas said but did not give her replies and did not detail what preceded his statements, Sapir said.

"She never said what she told him. She would only tell what he told her. Now I don't know what was the context of the conversation," he said.

If Hill introduced the topic of sex, it puts the conversation in a different light, Sapir said.

She deliberately did not recount her side of the conversation, he said.