Analysing Aaronovitch: has the scourge of ‘conspiracists’ become one himself?, The Rochdale and Nottingham cases have revealed widespread sexual abuse of children based on satanic practices. Yet the children are still not believed.
June 18, 2015 Comments Off on Analysing Aaronovitch: has the scourge of ‘conspiracists’ become one himself?, The Rochdale and Nottingham cases have revealed widespread sexual abuse of children based on satanic practices. Yet the children are still not believed.
– Seen But Not Heard
The Rochdale and Nottingham cases have revealed widespread sexual abuse of children based on satanic practices. Yet the children are still not believed.
– Analysing Aaronovitch: has the scourge of ‘conspiracists’ become one himself?
“There was indeed a cultural revolution during the 1980s: it was not triggered by trans-Atlantic folly but the bodies of children. For a dozen years, Britain had been scalded by about 30 deaths of children due to abuse, and by the evidence of official inquiries. Unnoticed in life, in death they became household names. The pivotal cases for social work in the 1980s were Tyra Henry, Kimberley Carlisle and Jasmine Beckford. These children’s fate alerted health and welfare professionals to what became known as ‘child abuse’. ”
“The mid-80s, then, was the time when British institutions were forced to pay attention to the oppression of children in a new way. Priests and pagans, teachers, pop stars politicians and parents were sexually abusing children then as now, and weren’t properly investigated.”
– Analysing Aaronovitch: a sceptical narrative
“I made a documentary about the Nottingham case in 1990. This is the Nottingham timeline: in 1987 children were received into care from an extended family with a long history of inter-generational sexual abuse, including criminal convictions.”
Analysing Aaronovitch: a sceptical narrative
Beatrix Campbell 17 June 2015
Prosecution and conviction rates for sexual crime are lamentably low in the UK. If David Aaronovitch cares about ‘genuine abuse’, why isn’t this what worries him more? Part Two.
The first tests of the new era were in the northern county of Cleveland, (my book on this case, Unofficial Secrets, is being updated for electronic publication this year), and in Nottingham. They combusted over medical signs in Cleveland, and children’s stories of abuse in Nottingham. Actually, these crises were triggered by police resistance to the medical signs and stories, and their reluctance to investigate them….
I made a documentary about the Nottingham case in 1990. This is the Nottingham timeline: in 1987 children were received into care from an extended family with a long history of inter-generational sexual abuse, including criminal convictions. Once safe, these children began talking to their new foster carers about their lives, their parents’ sexual abuse, witch parties and their worries about other children. Their evidence, and the testimony of foster parents and social workers was heard in wardship court proceedings in 1988.
Mrs Justice Booth, in her judgement, described the culture of the abuse as ‘satanic’ – her word. In July 1988 three Appeal Court judges endorsed that conclusion and Sir Stephen Brown, in an unusual public judgement, reported in the press on 19 July 1988, said that children ‘had been subjected to gross sexual abuse at the hands of adults, sometimes at parties, where full intercourse had taken place in the presence of a number of adults and other children’….
In 1989 ten adults were convicted on the basis of evidence that children were being ‘sadistically abused and tortured and being forced to watch other children suffering in a similar way.’ They were forced to eat excrement and drink urine, watch other children forced into sexual intercourse ‘over a prolonged period and in an organised manner’. These words are taken from the Director of Social Services report on the case – and the controversy – to Nottinghamshire County Council on 7 November 1990.
It wasn’t social workers or foster carers who decided that there was ‘satanic’ abuse, it was the judges in 1988….
The Director’s report followed my Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on the Nottingham case in October 1990; it scrutinised the JET report and interviewed the academic John Newson who gave JET its line on fantasy, confabulation, and staff brainwashing children. However, when I asked whether he had actually talked to the foster carers or social workers, he admitted that he had not. Unlike Aaronovitch, Waterhouse or Nathan, my documentary interviewed social workers, and foster carers. I also interviewed adults in the family who had been convicted and who corroborated the children’s evidence.
The 7 November 1990 report by the Director of Social Services was the last official word: it rejected the JET report and explained the social workers view of the abuse the children had endured: ’we cannot say’ whether ritual events were ‘true’ or whether children ‘were deliberately misled into believing they had happened’. The Director agreed with the workers directly involved that ‘the significance of ritual overtones is not necessarily linked to a belief system but that it provided a mechanism for manipulating vulnerable children.’ His report accepted the social workers’ definition of ritual abuse as activities and symbols ‘used to frighten, intimidate and confuse the children.’….
There are corroborated cases. More recently clinicians, most famously Bessel van der Kolk in the US, have studied the neurology of trauma and amnesia among survivors of sexual abuse. The eminent Harvard therapist Judith Lewis Herman writes, ‘On the one hand, traumatised people remember too much; on the other hand, they remember too little.’ For Herman, ‘The conflict between knowing and not knowing, speech and silence, remembering and forgetting, is the central dialectic of psychological trauma’….
Analysing Aaronovitch: has the scourge of ‘conspiracists’ become one himself?
Beatrix Campbell 17 June 2015
David Aaronovitch claims ‘unbelievable’ notions about child abuse that ‘bewitched’ professionals decades ago are echoed in the VIP historic abuse cases. Where is his evidence? Part One.
….So let’s consider his argument:
At the end of the 1980s ‘unbelievable’ theories that had been accorded respectability within professional and clinical circles wafted across the Atlantic, ‘the occult flame was kept alight beyond the shores of America,’ he told listeners; then professionals (doing what they do) read books and went to conferences. Ideas were planted in ‘surprisingly fertile soil,’ in that ‘hothouse for new intellectual plants’ none other than ‘the professional conference.’
They were possessed. They saw the movie Sybil, they read ‘Michelle Remembers’. Who knows, like millions of others, they might have seen Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist.
We don’t know which, if any professionals were possessed by these texts: Nor does Aaronovitch. But that doesn’t matter. I know many practitioners, from police officers to foster carers, doctors and social workers involved in many of the celebrated and contested child abuse cases of the past quarter century, including those singled out by Aaronovitch, and I’m not aware that any had any of this stuff in their heads. I’ve consulted other journalists, and they’re not either.
Isn’t reading books and going to conferences part of what professionals and experts do? Learn? Share ideas? Aaronovitch traduces normal and necessary activities as sinister. One of Aaronovitch’s witnesses, the journalist Rosie Waterhouse, mapped ‘the progress of an idea’: UK and US professionals, especially Californians, were crossing the Atlantic and conferring; her nugget: ’the conference circuit.’
After a conference at Reading in 1989, she said, the witch hunt broke out in Britain. Waterhouse is wrong.
There was indeed a cultural revolution during the 1980s: it was not triggered by trans-Atlantic folly but the bodies of children. For a dozen years, Britain had been scalded by about 30 deaths of children due to abuse, and by the evidence of official inquiries. Unnoticed in life, in death they became household names. The pivotal cases for social work in the 1980s were Tyra Henry, Kimberley Carlisle and Jasmine Beckford. These children’s fate alerted health and welfare professionals to what became known as ‘child abuse’. There was public and professional outrage, workers were castigated for a perceived failure to intervene and – most specifically with Jasmine Beckford in 1985 – to heed the child and what she might have to say about her family life. In the mid-80s sexual abuse emerged as a category of concern.
In the second half of the decade, local authority staff had an unequivocal statutory duty to investigate when they had ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a child was being abused. The law states – then and now – not that they ‘may’ but that they ‘shall’ intervene. It was and is their statutory duty.
That, not Californian phantoms, was the context in which professionals were mandated to act….
The mid-80s, then, was the time when British institutions were forced to pay attention to the oppression of children in a new way. Priests and pagans, teachers, pop stars politicians and parents were sexually abusing children then as now, and weren’t properly investigated.
However, what provoked controversy and crisis then was not only what we were learning about childhood adversity, but whether the professions, particularly the police, and our political culture could stand it, respond appropriately, and withstand the inevitable reaction.
There was no great wave of state piracy, social workers kidnapping kids; and despite the new knowledge and the legal duties of professionals, there was resistance to evidence that became entrenched. The implications were woeful. According to Susan Creighton, an expert on recorded abuse, statistics on the numbers of children registered as being at risk of harm (including sexual abuse) rose most significantly between 1985 and 1986, reaching a peak of 0.65 children per 1000 in 1987, and declining thereafter.
Though changes in registration criteria after 1990 make direct comparisons difficult, sexual abuse registrations fell dramatically up to 2002, and settled at a relatively low level between 2002 and 2014. There was no panic or hysteria, no wave of children being removed either rightly or wrongly from their parents.
Seen But Not Heard
The Rochdale and Nottingham cases have revealed widespread sexual abuse of children based on satanic practices. Yet the children are still not believed. Beatrix Campbell, presenter of the recent Dispatches programme on the Nottingham case, explains why
30% rise in first-time callers to Rape Crisis Centre
Wednesday 17 June 2015
There was a 30% increase in the number of first time callers to the Rape Crisis Centre’s National 24-Hour Helpline last year.
The Centre’s annual report for 2014 also shows an increase of 14% in calls relating to adult rape.
Almost half of all calls related to childhood sexual abuse, including ritual abuse and suspected abuse….
Duggar family under investigation, refuses to let official check on child, Nova Scotia woman tortured for years by family, Central-Colombia shaman arrested for ‘drugging and raping at least 50 women’
June 11, 2015 Comments Off on Duggar family under investigation, refuses to let official check on child, Nova Scotia woman tortured for years by family, Central-Colombia shaman arrested for ‘drugging and raping at least 50 women’
– Duggar family under investigation, refuses to let official check on child: 911 call
– Duggars were investigated by DHS in May and 911 was called, new report claims
– Women’s issues, ‘Up For Debate’ campaign gets Nova Scotian support
– Nova Scotia woman ‘tortured’ for years by family speaks out
– Central-Colombia shaman arrested for ‘drugging and raping at least 50 women’
Duggar family under investigation, refuses to let official check on child: 911 call
BY Meg Wagner NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Arkansas’ Department of Human Services is investigating the Duggar family, according to a worker who called 911 when the family refused to let him check in on a child.
Arkansas officials are again investigating the Duggars — but the ultraconservative family isn’t cooperating.
A Department of Human Services worker called 911 last month after the Duggars — entangled in oldest son Josh’s molestation scandal — refused to let him check in on a child inside the house, according records newly obtained by In Touch Weekly.
The caller told the dispatcher he visited the home as part of a DHS investigation into the “19 Kids & Counting” family….
Duggars were investigated by DHS in May and 911 was called, new report claims
Published June 10, 2015
A new report by In Touch claims the Duggar family was being investigated as recently as May 27, and a 911 call regarding the Duggars was placed on that date by a Washington County Department of Human Services (DHS) worker because the DHS was allegedly being denied access to a minor in the family.
The call was supposedly just days after a May 19 report by In Touch revealed Josh Duggar had sexually abused five females – including four sisters — when he was 14 or 15 back in 2002 and 2003. Josh Duggar, his parents, and two of his sisters—Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard—have since spoken openly about the abuse.
After the revelations about the Duggars hit the web, the Arkansas Department of Human Services reportedly launched a new investigation into the family made famous by the TV show “19 Kids and Counting.”
The latest issue of In Touch magazine contains a transcript of the 911 call that was allegedly made regarding the Duggar family. In supposed printed transcript of the call, the caller identifies the home they are calling about by saying “Address is the Duggar family home.”….
Women’s issues, ‘Up For Debate’ campaign gets Nova Scotian support
‘Up for Debate’ campaign wants federal party leaders to agree to a national debate on women’s issues
CBC News Posted: Jun 10, 2015
Two Nova Scotian women are getting behind a national push towards a federal election debate that focuses entirely on women’s issues.
Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson are vocal in their support of Up For Debate, an alliance of organizations united in raising awareness about women’s rights until the next election. They are calling for party leaders to be answer questions about the many national issues that concern the physical and mental health of women….
Both women are members of an organization called Persons Against Non-state Torture. Their mandate is to work with people who’ve experienced forms of domestic torture, including ritual abuse in private settings.
Their organization joins over 170 others in Canada in supporting the campaign….
Nova Scotia woman ‘tortured’ for years by family speaks out
WARNING: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers
By Angela MacIvor, Susan Allen, CBC News Posted: May 28, 2014
Two Nova Scotia registered nurses who run a human rights advocacy group are speaking out about domestic “torture” cases with the help of a woman victim who first sparked the issue for them more than 20 years ago.
“We tried to find people to help her and no one really wanted to. About three sessions into her work, we realized she was a torture survivor because her story went way beyond abuse, so we stayed with her and we helped her heal,” said Linda MacDonald.
MacDonald and fellow registered nurse Jeanne Sarson are the founders of Persons Against NST (Non-State Torture).
They say their first foray into looking at domestic torture began in 1993 when Sarson took a call from a woman in her late 20s who goes by the name Sara….
Sara, who is now 50 years old and uses a pseudonym to protect her identity, alleges she was starved, drugged, confined, beaten and raped by her own parents from the time she was a young child….
Over the years, Sarson and MacDonald say they’ve helped more than 3,000 victims of NST around the globe, including about a dozen or so cases in Nova Scotia.
MacDonald says counselling can continue for two to three years. In some cases, they work with victims for over a decade….
Central-Colombia shaman arrested for ‘drugging and raping at least 50 women’
Posted by Torkan Omari on Jun 5, 2015
A shaman from central Colombia was arrested on Thursday on charges he drugged and raped at least 50 women between 2008 and 2012.
Edgar Orlando Gaitan, known as “El Taita”, is accused of using his position as a shaman to sexually abuse women who came to him to perform spiritual rituals in which the native “Yage” or “Ayahuasca” drug was used.
During the ritual, the participants visiting him in La Vega, Cundinamarca drank the brew made out of various plants.
However, according to prosecutors, Gaitan mixed the traditional drug with a substance that made women fall asleep after which he sexually abused his victims….
The suspect has denied the charges.
Fran’s Day Care
State’s highest criminal court throws out 1992 convictions of sexual assault at Austin day care. Court declines, however, to find innocent in case involving claims of satanic abuse.
1,400 child abuse suspects identified, VIPs among Scots child abuse suspects, New Info on the Fran’s Day Care/Keller Case
May 21, 2015 Comments Off on 1,400 child abuse suspects identified, VIPs among Scots child abuse suspects, New Info on the Fran’s Day Care/Keller Case
1,400 child abuse suspects identified
20 May 2015 UK
More than 1,400 suspects, including politicians and celebrities, have been investigated by police probing historical child sex abuse allegations.
The figures were revealed by Operation Hydrant, set up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
It explores links between child sex abuse by “prominent public persons”.
Of the 1,433 suspects identified, 216 are now dead and 261 are classified as people of public prominence, with 135 coming from TV, film or radio.
Of the remainder:
A further 76 suspects are politicians, 43 are from the music industry and seven come from the world of sport.
….with 357 separate institutions identified.
VIPs among Scots child abuse suspects
20 May 2015 Scotland
Detectives investigating historic child sex abuse in Scotland have identified 110 suspects, including 37 VIPs.
The figures, released by Police Scotland, relate to Operation Hydrant, which was set up to look at allegations.
The force currently has 58 separate investigations as part of the UK-wide probe….
A total of 99 people were suspected of carrying out abuse within 45 institutions, police said, including educational, social care and religious establishments….
New Information on the Fran’s Day Care/Keller Case
State’s highest criminal court throws out 1992 convictions of sexual assault at Austin day care.
Court declines, however, to find Dan and Fran Keller innocent in case involving claims of satanic abuse.
Scotland Yard to investigate satanic abuse claim, Bitcoin’s Blockchain Offers Safe Haven For Child Abuse, Sierra Leone: Wife beating
March 29, 2015 Comments Off on Scotland Yard to investigate satanic abuse claim, Bitcoin’s Blockchain Offers Safe Haven For Child Abuse, Sierra Leone: Wife beating
Enoch Powell is named by bishop in sex abuse probe: Scotland Yard to investigate satanic abuse claim – and demands to see filed held on serving MPs
Bishop of Durham Paul Butler names late Tory politician to Scotland Yard
Former Bishop of Monmouth, Dominic Walker, heard allegation in 1980s
Claim being examined by Operation Fenbridge – one of several such probes
Simon Heffer, Powell’s official biographer, branded allegations ‘nonsense’
By Glen Owen and Brendan Carlin for The Mail on Sunday
29 March 2015
The probe into an alleged paedophile network at the heart of the British Establishment took an explosive turn last night with the revelation that Enoch Powell’s name has been passed to police.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the late Tory MP, one of the most prominent and divisive politicians of the 20th Century, has been named to Scotland Yard by the Bishop of Durham. The claims relate to ‘ritual satanic abuse’.
And in a further development to the sex-ring investigations, police are to be given access to secret files held on MPs in the House of Commons archives as they hunt for evidence on suspected abusers, including former Liberal MP Cyril Smith….
Mr Walker is believed to have warned the Right Rev Butler that at the time he was told of the claims against Powell, unsubstantiated allegations of satanic rituals – often involving the abuse of children – were widespread….
Sources close to one of Scotland Yard’s sex-ring investigations say officers contacted Lawrence Ward, the Commons Serjeant at Arms – the Commons’ most senior security official – earlier this month to ask him to search the files kept on all MPs. It is understood that no information was uncovered implicating MPs in abuse, sparking fears at Scotland Yard that some of the evidence might have been shredded….
Bitcoin’s Blockchain Offers Safe Haven For Malware And Child Abuse, Warns Interpol
Thomas Fox-Brewster Forbes Staff 3/27/2015
The blockchain, the public ledger of all Bitcoin transactions, has all kinds of good uses outside of providing stability for the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, from decentralised data storage to super-flexible email. But it can also be put to malicious use. According to Interpol’s Christian Karam, speaking from the Black Hat Asia conference, it could be abused to store malware control mechanisms or provide access to illicit content such as child abuse images that would be extremely difficult to take down….
Sierra Leone: Wife beating is still a common practice
28 March 2015
By Mariama Kandeh, Guest Writer, London, UK….
According to the Sierra Leone family support Unit, in 2012, the Western Area reported a total of 1,923 domestic violence cases while in 2013 the number rose to 2,073, the highest in the entire country and over 95% committed by husbands against their wives.
This excludes the provincial areas of the country that hosts the majority of the population. Meanwhile in 2014, a total of 11, 358 cases of child sexual abuse, domestic violence and rape against women and girls were recorded. Considering the fact that a good number of domestic violence cases is unreported, it displays a worrisome situation for Sierra Leone’s women….
November 9, 2014 Comments Off on EXCLUSIVE: Charities claim that the satanic abuse of children is rife
EXCLUSIVE: Charities claim that the satanic abuse of children is rife
CHILDREN have been the victims of satanic abuse including rape, murder and even the production of so-called snuff films which depict killings, two leading charities claimed last night.
By: Paul Murray
Published: Sun, November 9, 2014
DJ Jimmy Saville raped a girl of 15 during a satanic ritual
One campaigner said he had heard of babies born but never registered, so they would not be missed when killed by secret paedophile networks.
The existence of such terrifying cults is said to have gone unchecked in Scotland for decades, with victims facing scepticism and outright disbelief.
Many incidents took place years ago but experts are sure ritual abuse rings still operate.
Police Scotland said yesterday they were taking the allegations “incredibly seriously” and would investigate any complaints.
The claims will put the Scottish government under intense pressure to announce a public inquiry into historic child sexual abuse, with Scotland now the only part of the UK without such a review.
The disturbing claims of snuff films and widespread ritual abuse made by two charities came to light during a lengthy investigation by the Sunday Express.
Horrific things are happening and nobody is getting caught
Last year we revealed that shamed DJ Jimmy Savile raped a girl aged 15 in 1975 during a satanic abuse ritual, while cloaked paedophiles looked on.
Kate Short, of Kilmarnock-based charity Break The Silence, said: “We have had quite a lot of people who have been abused as part of a cult or a paedophile ring…. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/533091/EXCLUSIVE-Charities-claim-satanic-abuse-children-rife
Child abusers filmed murder, claims charity
CHILDREN in Scotland have been the victims of evil ritual abuse including rape, murder and even the production of so-called ‘snuff films’, two leading charities claimed last night.
By: Paula Murray
Published: Sun, November 9, 2014
The ‘cults’ practising the ritual abuse of children is said to have gone unchecked in Scotland
One veteran campaigner said he had even heard of babies being born and never registered, so the innocent youngsters would not be missed when they were eventually killed by secret paedophile networks.
The existence of such terrifying ‘cults’ practising the ritual abuse of children is said to have gone unchecked in Scotland for decades, with those victims who do come forward facing scepticism and outright disbelief.
Although many of the vile incidents are said to have taken place some years ago, experts are sure that an unknown number of ritual abuse rings are still in operation today.
Last night, Police Scotland said they were taking the allegations “incredibly seriously” and would investigate any complaints made to them.
The claims are certain to put the Scottish Government under intense pressure to finally announce a public inquiry into historic child sexual abuse – with Scotland now the only part of the UK without such a review.
Education Secretary Michael Russell is due to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday in response to growing calls from survivors, charities, lawyers, politicians and human rights groups.
The disturbing claims of ‘snuff films’ and widespread ritual abuse came to light during a lengthy investigation by this newspaper and were made independently of each other by two charities operating in different parts of Scotland.
Break the Silence is an award-winning charity based in Kilmarnock which has helped some 2,800 childhood abuse victims in North and East Ayrshire alone over the past decade, working with the two councils and NHS Ayrshire and Arran.
Founder Kate Short, who sits on the Holyrood committee on adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, said the level of depravity experienced by some of their clients – most of whom are now aged 30 to 55 – was “unbelievable”.
She said: “We hear of ritual abuse, it’s not common but we have had quite a lot of people that have been abused as part of a cult or a paedophile ring….
“Their victims are so brainwashed they don’t dare to speak against them which makes it near impossible to see any prosecutions let alone convictions.
“And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We are contacted almost on a weekly basis. This is something that’s been going on forever and I can’t see it ever stopping.
“I don’t think the authorities that could stop it really believe the extent of it or even that it does exist.”
Ms Short said survivors often suppressed their memories of such harrowing childhood events and therefore the specific details are vague, meaning they can be written off as suffering from of ‘False Memory Syndrome’ or mental illness….
However, the astonishing claims were supported by another reputable charity, Izzy’s Promise, based in Dundee.
Project co-ordinator Joseph Lumbasi said that while ritual abuse did occur in immigrant communities, the overwhelming majority of cases involved white Scottish perpetrators and victims.
He said: “Actually 80 per cent of those who contact us are born and brought up right here in Scotland.
“We’ve dealt with people who have been involved in gang rape ceremonies, animal slaughters and all sorts of things in secret places.
“People who talk to us are relating us their experiences from when they were maybe just eight, nine or ten – kids really.
“There are stories of girls being forced to conceive and then their babies are aborted for sacrifices. Children are born that are never registered. It is not impossible, they never come up. There is pornography, sick films. Horrific things are happening and nobody is getting caught….
In 2002, a young woman named Laurie Matthew wrote a book called Where Angels Fear which claimed to identify areas across Dundee, Angus and Perthshire where ritual abuse of children was said to have taken place…. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/533158/Child-abusers-filmed-murder-claims-charity
UK charities warn about rife child abuse, pedophile rings
Two major charities in the UK have warned that children continue to fall victim to rape, murder and even the production of so-called snuff films. Sun Nov 9, 2014
Campaigners have reported that babies are being born but never registered as pedophile rings kill them in secret.
The investigation was conducted by Charity Izzy’s Promise and Charity Break The Silence.
In Scotland, the two charities say, such terrifying cults have been left unchecked for years. They have found also that ritual abuse rings are still operating.
Scottish police now say they are taking the claims “incredibly seriously”.
Jon Bird from London-based National Association for People Abused in Childhood told press TV that “these crimes do definitely take place and it is not just in Scotland rather in many parts of the UK and other countries we’ve been hearing it about a decade.”
The charities which conducted the investigation have also warned that the abuse taking place is an “extreme, barbaric type of terror that can lead to serious personal disorder.” “Horrific things are happening and nobody is getting caught”, says Charity Izzy’s Promise Project Coordinator Joseph Lumbasi. … http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/11/09/385375/charities-child-abuse-in-uk-widespread/
July 13, 2014 Comments Off on How the ‘Witch Hunt’ Myth Undermined American Justice
How the ‘Witch Hunt’ Myth Undermined American Justice
Jason Berry 07.12.14
Innocent people persecuted by a legal system out of control? In The Witch-Hunt Narrative, Ross E. Cheit argues the media and courts have gone too far in dismissing evidence of abuse….
Accusations of ritual abuse and grisly cult behavior with Satanic overtones have been discussed at conferences on child abuse and treated in research literature since the mid-’80s. Kenneth Lanning, an FBI agent who specialized in child-abuse investigations for many years, found no evidence “of a well-organized Satanic cult” and said so in a research guide. And yet, writes Cheit, even though the FBI guide became Exhibit A for those scoffing at charges of Satanic abuse, “it actually recognized many activities described as ritual abuse and it cautions that there might be plausible explanations for children making such statements in other cases about sexual abuse.”
The absence of a well-organized cult does not mean the absence of ritualized abuse. Cheit provides several pages of numbing case studies on people who were prosecuted, sometimes with testimony from their traumatized children who finally grew old enough to unburden themselves. In Florida, a monster named Eddie Lee Sexton Sr. “ran his family like a cult, subjecting them to the kinds of rituals that…others claim is only imaginary,” Cheit reports. Sexton’s children showed authorities the burial place of an infant he had murdered. “Sexton, who told his children he was the devil, inflicted horrendous torture on his family, including sexual abuse.”
The most controversial case that Cheit explores, and the one he calls “the turning point” in the journalistic development of a witch-hunt narrative, is that of Margaret Kelly Michaels. In 1985, Michaels was arrested on the testimony of children at a New Jersey day-care center where she had worked. An attractive woman in her twenties, Michaels was convicted on 96 of 131 counts, with young children testifying. Michaels took the stand and denied the accusations.
Michaels was imprisoned while awaiting trial. An inmate she befriended would later testify that Michaels told her, “I didn’t mean to hurt those children.” The inmate had already been sentenced and made no deal with prosecutors. Cheit continues:
The jury did not hear additional evidence concerning disturbing sexual behavior in the Michaels family. The state offered evidence about her being groped by her father during an early jail visit. The incident was documented at the time and the prosecution found out about it only because a correctional official in a barbershop was heard talking about it… The judge deemed it too prejudicial to present to the jury….