3 Apr 2011

Woman who helped put her mum and Satanic cult leader in jail for ritual sex abuse of children describes the horrors

The Sun  -  UK        March 31, 2011

Satanic cult boss convinced me he could make tsunamis happen


HOLDING her daughter tightly, Gemma Marling whispers "I love you" to three-year-old Emily.

It is something she tells the little girl several times each day.

For Gemma, 21, knows from bitter experience how important a mother's unconditional love and support is.
Earlier this month she gave evidence in court which resulted in her own mother, 42-year-old Jacqueline Marling, being jailed for 12 years for a series of sickening sex attacks on her own daughter and other children.

Gemma's evidence also helped to jail Jacqueline's depraved lover, Colin Batley - a Satanic cult leader.

And one day she will have to break the horrifying news to Emily that Batley is her father.

Gemma said: "Now the trial is over the reality has hit me. I know I'm never going to have a mum.

"People take their parents for granted but I'd do anything to have a mum and dad."

Gemma's ordeal started at the age of eight when Jacqueline moved the family from their home in east London to Kidwelly, a town in Carmarthenshire, west Wales.

They settled into a nondescript semi in Clos Yr Onnen - Welsh for Ash Tree Close - but behind the house's bland exterior was a Satanic nightmare orchestrated by depraved Colin Batley, who lived next door.

Gemma said: "My mum knew Colin in London but I didn't meet him until we moved to Wales. One night I was in bed and my mum got me up and took me downstairs.

"Colin was sitting in the living room. There was a candle flickering and I couldn't see him properly. It was like a horror movie."

Jacqueline then performed a sex act on Batley in front of her terrified daughter. Gemma recalls: "Colin said to me, 'One day you'll start your periods and I'll have you.'

"After that I was terrified, but Colin didn't touch me again for three years, although he was constantly in and out of our house. My mum did what he said and so did we - you follow what your mum does. She's meant to look after you."

Batley was an ardent disciple of occult and Satanist writer Aleister Crowley, and styled himself a cult "lord". He built up a harem of adoring female followers who lived in the close.

They included his bisexual wife Elaine, who was jailed for eight years for her part in the abuse, Jacqueline, and prostitute Shelly Millar, who was sentenced to five years.

All were tattooed with the symbol of Egyptian god Horus and followed Batley's warped theories promoting rape and promiscuity.

When Gemma was 11 Batley initiated her into the cult.

She said: "Colin raped me for the first time. It was a sunny summer day and I'd come inside to escape the heat when he forced himself on me.

"He then visited every night for the next eight weeks, as he was decorating our house.

"He said the sex was a test. If I passed, I'd go to the palace where he lived.

"I feel a mug now for believing it but what else would I know?

"If I didn't do it I was told I'd go to hell, where I'd suffer a lifetime of pain with no sleep or respite.

"I was too scared to tell anyone what was going on. I didn't know it was happening to anyone else. I thought I was on my own."

When Gemma turned 14 her mother began to join in the sex abuse, and when she was 16 Jacqueline even filmed her having sex with a boy of 15.

Batley ruled the cult with his encyclopaedic knowledge of The Book Of The Law, a text written by his hero Crowley, and used twisted logic to keep control.

Gemma recalled: "Colin said he made the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 happen. He said he'd done it because we had broken so many rules and the gods were angry.

"On the day he was sentenced, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan happened, and I instantly thought Colin had done it. I know now that's not possible but he was very good at placing things and convincing you that you'd caused a disaster. I was totally brainwashed."

At 17 Gemma became pregnant with Batley's baby. She said: "When I found out it was the first time I'd cried in six years. I didn't want a baby - I couldn't bring a child into that kind of hell."

But the cult leader forced her to keep the child, saying the baby belonged to the gods. Gemma explained: "I said I wanted an abortion but I was called a murderer. When I was pregnant I attempted suicide twice.

"I cut myself and took an overdose. I just didn't want to be there. Colin found out and said the gods had saved me."

Gemma was 18 when she gave birth in February 2008. She recalled: "After I had Emily I felt like I had something worth living for. She gave me my life back."

But when Emily was three months old Batley forced Gemma to work as a prostitute in a Bristol brothel for four days a week. At this point she could take no more.

She and another cult member who also wanted to leave contacted relatives on Facebook using the internet in a public library.

Gemma said: "I made sure I had my passport and our birth certificates, and we were picked up at 2.30am on May 22, 2009. I left with a baby and a suitcase full of nappies and clothes, and I haven't been back or contacted them since. I hadn't seen or spoken to them until I saw them in court."

After escaping, Gemma traced relatives in Essex, who she has now moved in with. With their support she reported Batley to the police and the cult members were arrested.

Gemma gave her evidence to the court via videolink, and earlier this month 48-year-old Batley was jailed for life with a minimum of 11 years at Swansea Crown Court on 11 charges of rape, six serious sexual assaults, three indecent assaults and causing a child to have sex.

Judge Paul Thomas said Batley had created a "sick little kingdom" and was a "danger to children".

Gemma's mother Jacqueline was convicted of aiding and abetting rape, causing prostitution, indecency with a child and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Gemma said: "The last time I saw her was at the sentencing.

"She snarled, 'What are you doing here?' and I broke down. As I'm a mum myself it makes what she did seem even more awful.

"Now my focus is on Emily, I want to give her everything I didn't have and I want her to be happy."

This article was found at:


Five Wales Satanists guilty of extreme ritual abuse and rape of children, survivor tells of childhood horrors

Articles and reports on Ritual Satanic Abuse by Professor Stephen A. Kent, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, University of Alberta: 

Diabolic Debates: A Reply to David Frankfurter and J. S. La Fontaine," Religion 24 (1994): 135-188. 

"Deviant Scripturalism and Ritual Satanic Abuse" Part One: "Possible Judeo-Christian Influences." Religion 23 no.3 (July, 1993): 229-241.

"Deviant Scripturalism and Ritual Satanic Abuse" Part Two: "Possible Mormon, Magic, and Pagan Influences." Religion 23 no.4 (October, 1993): 355-367. 

Expert Report by Stephen A. Kent

October 20, 1997 ASSESSMENT OF THE SATANIC ABUSE ALLEGATIONS IN THE [name deleted] CASE Stephen A. Kent (Ph.D.) Professor Department of Sociology University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H4 

An Analysis of Ritualistic and Religion-Related Child Abuse Allegation 
BetteL. Bottoms, Phillip R. Shaver and Gail S. Goodman, Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 20, No.1, (Feb. 1996) pp. 1-34 

German woman born into Satanic cult says she endured years of torture and rape

Anglican bishop claims devil worship widespread in boarding schools in mostly Christian Kenya

Russia bans Satanic sect that indoctrinated and abused secondary school students

Prosecutors say man killed 8- and 10-year-old stepdaughters as part of a spell or ritual from "TheSatanic Bible." 


  1. Thank you for this excellent article.

    More information about ritual abuse crimes can be found at ritualabuse(dot)us

  2. Satan Hunters Pounce on First U.K. Case of Occult-Linked Child Abuse


  3. Remember the Satanic Panic

    By Philip Jenkins Real Clear Religion January 9, 2013

    Lecturing recently, I mentioned the American witch-hunts of the 1980s and 1990s. When the audience looked puzzled, I explained that I was referring to the Satanic Panic of those years, the wave of false charges concerning ritual child abuse and devil cults that made regular headlines in the decade after 1984. The explanation helped little.

    Even people who had lived through those years, who had been following the media closely, had precisely no recollection. Lost in memory it may be, but the Satanic Panic needs to be remembered, if only to prevent a renewed outbreak of this horrible farrago. And when better than in the 30th anniversary of the affair's beginning?

    It all started in southern California, in Manhattan Beach, in the Fall of 1983. A woman told police that her son had been sexually abused at a highly reputable preschool run by the McMartin family. Her charges became ever wilder and more implausible, not surprisingly given that she was a paranoid schizophrenic. This dubious background did not prevent local police from warning all McMartin parents that their children might have been abused -- always a great way of preventing public alarm! -- and referring potential victims to a local psychological counseling service.

    Over the following months, counselors interviewed hundreds of children, using questions that might have been quite appropriate when treating the genuinely abused, but which should never have been used in a prosecutorial context. In 1984, the case broke in the most lurid terms. Seven teachers were accused of a mind-numbing list of atrocious crimes, including the mass rape and torture of children, and the killing of small animals to instill fear. Other allegations involved the ritualistic use of urine and feces, and bizarre acts involving robes and occult symbols. Seven years of trials and investigations followed.

    Plenty of later accounts have revealed just how these charges were created in the lengthy dialogues between the therapists and the utterly baffled children, who wanted to respond helpfully to weird questions about "dirty acts" and "bad touches." Suffice it to say that none of the alleged acts was ever substantiated, and the case produced no convictions. Soon, though, the McMartin case evolved to become the precedent for an imaginary national and even global crime-wave. Similar charges now appeared in multiple cases across the US, and overseas -- in Britain, Canada, France, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Australia. "S.R.A." -- Satanic Ritual Abuse -- became the theme of professional conferences and publications worldwide.

    It must have been a scientific reality: it even had its own acronym!

    S.R.A. charges became the basis of a florid mythology, in which the nation's pre-schools had been infiltrated by Satanic cultists, who used toddlers in their dark rites. Reputedly, such evildoers were both numerous, and lethal. Cults were allegedly involved in human sacrifices, some associated with such notorious serial killers as David Berkowitz, New York City's Son of Sam. By some estimates, Satanists in the 1980s were responsible for fifty or sixty thousand murders in the US annually -- at a time when the total number of all American homicides was around 25,000 a year.

    continued in next comment...

  4. But how could such vastly powerful cults have established themselves overnight? A deep-rooted history was soon forthcoming, in the form of alleged memories of cult abuse originally depicted in the 1980 book Michelle Remembers. (Probably, the Michelle story helped shape the original McMartin allegations). With startling unanimity, baby boom-aged women in therapy sessions nationwide were reporting McMartin-style abuse dating back to the 1950s and beyond. Some told of bearing babies for cults to sacrifice.

    By the early 1990s, "recovered memory" was a flourishing and highly profitable subfield of the therapeutic profession. Patients had a near-guarantee that they would recall hideous acts of violence and molestation at the hands of Satan's henchmen, who usually happened to be their own parents.

    And it was all bogus, from start to finish.

    Although we can never prove a negative, in no case did allegations lead to criminal convictions, or indeed produce anything vaguely amounting to corroboration. On the other hand, it is ridiculously easy to point to the financial and ideological interests that encouraged otherwise rational people to believe this mythology, and to feed the flames. Among other key activists, we would point to fundamentalist religious groups and anti-cult theorists; "cult cops" seeking a niche in life; anti-child abuse activists; cynical therapists doing very well indeed from the emerging memory industry; and all supported by a prostituted mass media in quest of sensationalism.

    So where did it all go? Federal law enforcement deserves much credit for defusing the crisis. FBI experts like Kenneth Lanning resolutely refused to be swept away by the burgeoning panic, and insisted that police agencies apply rigorous standards of definition before committing to literal witch-hunts. Ultimately too, mass media outlets saw sense, and by the mid-1990s were exposing the panic quite as enthusiastically as they had promoted it a few years before. Meanwhile, recovered memory therapists were hit with lawsuits from the patients they had so misled. For whatever reason, the Panic faded as rapidly as it had arisen.

    The whole affair demonstrated the truth of Winston Churchill's observation that you can always count on Americans to do the right thing -- but only after they have exhausted all other possibilities.

    Witches' Sabbats and black masses, human sacrifices and ritual murders: these aren't just throwbacks to the dark fantasies of Salem in the 1690s. They were yesterday's news.

    Philip Jenkins is a Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University and a columnist for RealClearReligion. His latest book is Laying Down the Sword.



    By Josiah M. Hesse, Vice August 19 2014

    On the evening of July 18, 2013, Kathy Barlas returned to her home in Mason City, Iowa, to find her adult son waiting in the garage in his underwear, dripping with blood. "Mom, I killed Satan," Tom Barlas Jr. said to his mother. Did he mean he hurt the dog? "No, Mom, I killed Satan," he repeated. Kathy entered the house, heading toward her bedroom where she found her husband, Tom Barlas Sr., lifeless on the floor, bleeding from multiple stab wounds. He was dead.

    When she returned to the garage, her son was gone. Calling 911, Kathy told the emergency operator that her son might be headed toward the Greek Orthodox Church of Transfiguration. The police eventually found Barlas, who resisted arrest, repeating "God and Jesus Christ," over and over. The cops used their tasers to subdue him, eventually arresting Barlas for the first degree murder of his father.

    Last Thursday, a little over a year later, I drove through Mason City, Iowa—which, along with neighboring Clear Lake (the town that killed Buddy Holly), remains my hometown. I'd just flown in from Denver, attempting to begin a week-long vacation, when the news came over the radio that Tom Barlas Jr. was found not guilty of the murder of his father, due to his suffering a "psychotic episode" that prevented him from understanding the consequence of his actions.

    It was a humid, grey afternoon—and drastically cold for August.

    Adjusting the radio dial, I happened upon an Evangelical sermon, delivered by what sounded like a cranked-up auctioneer. I could almost feel beads of his sweat misting out of the speakers as he spoke with the urgency of being burned alive. "We are locked into a SPIRITUAL WARFARE!" he shouted as I drove past endless rows of lush cornfields. "The forces of darkness remain around us at all time, attempting to tempt us, trick us, trap us into arms of Satan. But the foot-soldiers of the Looooooord will be at your back in a moments notice. All you have to do is reach out!"

    Putting these two things together, I couldn’t help but wonder: If this is a community of Bible-believing Christians (as I know it to be), who think that "Heaven Is For Real" and demons walk among us at all times, then shouldn't they have at least considered the possibility that Tom Barlas's father really was possessed by Satan, and that his son had sacrificed his old man in order to heroically save mankind from the Prince of Darkness?

    As a former resident of this area for 22 years, I am ultra-familiar with the preacher's use of the term "spiritual warfare." Ask any refugee of the Evangelical movement, and they'll tell you what it was like growing up believing there were angels and demons literally around us at all times, albeit inhabiting a spiritual realm we cannot see. Typically, children are reassured that their closets are free of monsters and the shadow on their bedroom wall is not a witch. But we children of Billy Graham Crusades are not only told that monsters are real, but given instruction on how to spot The Devil when he (inevitably) attempts to infiltrate our thoughts.

    continued below

  6. "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light," I’d read in Corinthians as a child, convincing myself that not even angels can be trusted. Many of the miracles Jesus performed throughout the gospels were exorcisms, and in Ephisians 6:12, it says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against ... spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

    As a coveted battleground in any political fight, Iowa is definitely a place that swings both ways. While it's the only state in the Midwest to have legalized gay marriage, it's also the winking bellybutton of the Bible Belt, with an above-average religious affiliation. In 1957, Mason City native Meredith Wilson wrote a musical about his hometown called "The Music Man." It was the story of a con man selling an invisible product, and when the town eventually catches on, a woman comes to the man's defense by suggesting it may have all been lies, but it made everyone so happy and optimistic for the future. In other words, who cares if it isn’t real?

    Despite having no historical evidence to support it, I’ve always had this theory that "The Music Man" was one long commentary on religion.

    I have no shortage of dark memories associated with this state and its Christian Right communities. And so it struck me as odd that a court in my hometown would give Tom Barlas Jr. a not-guilty verdict—despite the universally accepted fact that he at least physically committed the crime. This type of thing is rare in Iowa, as well as the rest of the nation. According to the American Academy of Psychiatry, less than one percent of all trials end in a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.

    But with Barlas, the process of establishing insanity was remarkably easy. There wasn't even a jury trial; only a "trial by minutes," where a collection of reports and testimonies are presented to the judge, who then decides what to do based on the information given to him.

    "Once the prosecution's psychiatrist agreed with our psychiatrist on Barlas Jr.'s condition, they couldn't reasonably continue to pursue this as a first-degree murder case," his attorney, Aaron Hamrock, tells me over the phone. "At the time, Barlas Jr. could not tell the difference between right and wrong. In his mind, he thought he was killing Satan."

    Crazy, right? Believing that an ethereal Devil can inhabit a person's body? Who would believe such a nutty thing?

    But the younger Barlas’s behavior is not out of step with celebrated characters of the Bible. In Genesis, Abraham hears the voice of God instruct him to murder his son (spoiler: at the last minute God peaks his head out of the clouds and says "kidding!") Later, Abraham's grandson, Jacob, physically wrestles an angel.

    When the prophet John was tripping out on the island of Patmos, his visions lead him to write the following in Revelation 19:18:

    "So that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army."

    continued below

  7. There is surely a more complex analysis of Barlas in the psychiatric reports presented to the judge in a sealed envelope, possibly something about schizophrenia or temporal lobe epilepsy (believed to have been the cause of Joan of Arc's visions) leading to auditory and visual hallucinations of a religious nature. But private medical records like that are not available to the public in a trial by minutes.

    The only thing the people Mason City know is that Tom Barlas Jr. was a successful 43-year-old restaurateur who destroyed his father in the name of spiritual warfare, and is officially not responsible for the murder—because anyone who believes the devil can possesses a person's body is clearly insane. And by all accounts, the people of Iowa have no objection to this.

    "There was a ton of support for him," Hamrock says of his client. "Tom and his father were truly best of friends. They would play cards together, they worked in the restaurant business together. Their family has lived here a long time and is well known in the Mason City area."

    Hamrock explains that it's a different situation when you have a family or group of families demanding justice for a murder. Had that been the case, Barlas Jr. may have gone to trial for this crime. But here the victim and the defendant's family are on the same page—and, according to Hamrock, they decided to support the younger Barlas’ defense.

    "The outcome in this case was a huge step forward for people who suffer from mental illness throughout the United States," Hamrock tells me. "The state, and the government needs to help these folks, and prevent things like this from happening again in the future."

    I do not disagree with the attorney on this. The US prison system is an embarrassment to the world, crippled in part by a justice regime that treats prisons as a de facto mental health care facility—with few ailments diagnosed and little to no treatment provided. Yet according to the American Academy of Psychiatry, more than 90 percent of defendants claiming insanity have a diagnosed mental illness, but only around 25 percent are successful.

    After returning to Denver from Iowa, my first move is to call up crime reporter Alan Prendergast, who teaches journalism at Colorado College and has been reporting on the ethical dilemmas involved with mental illness and the justice system since the mid 90s (disclosure: he also used to be a colleague of mine at Denver’s alt weekly, Westword). Confused as to why more defendants aren't given similar treatment—it worked so gracefully for Tom Barlas Jr., and yet prisons remain jam-packed with crazies—I ask about the legal definitions of insanity.

    continued below

  8. There are all sorts of people who could be observed to be psychotic or deranged, but they don't necessarily meet the legal definition of insanity," Prendergast says. This definition is often defined by phrases like "not knowing right from wrong," and "unable to distinguish reality from fantasy," states of mind that take on a fuzzy definition when placed in the context of religion and murder.

    "Clearly, people who are delusional, someone who kills their kids and says God told them to do it, they have a chance with an insanity plea," he goes on. "In weird family tragedies, where there's a history of bizarre behavior or claims of demonic possession or someone thinking their kid is Satan, it's more difficult for the prosecution to establish that the defendant had a culpable mental state."

    Ultimately, we should take comfort in the verdict of Tom Barlas Jr. A tragedy occurred, but the courts have made a proactive choice in trying to help a sick person, avoiding the intoxicating and blind pursuit of justice. Technically, he will be incarcerated inside Oakdale Prison, but he will be in the psychology wing, where he will be medically treated until the time comes when he is believed to no longer be a harm to himself or others. And then he will be set free.

    Still, I can't help but pull my hair in frustration at this verdict. We live in a country that is constantly embroiled in battles over whether to place the Ten Commandments on some courthouse lawn—a collection of states endlessly referred to as A Christian Nation—and yet many of us refuse to consider, even for a moment, the prospect that the spiritual warfare we believe in so deeply might occasionally spill over into the physical realm.

    Long ago I "put away childish things" like belief in angels and demons, and I wish the rest of our nation's spiritual leaders would shit or get off the pot as well: Either stop tormenting children and the mentally ill with their assertions about a supernatural plane of pixies and goblins, or else go all in and start defending those who take Biblical teachings to their inevitable conclusion. If you believe the Bible to be the literal Word of God, then you at least have to accept the possibility that Charles Manson really is Jesus Christ, The Heavens Gate members really did reach the spacecraft behind the Hale-Bop comet, and Tom Barlas Jr. is a hero who may have succeeded in killing Satan by taking his own father's life.

    Josiah Hesse is a journalist based in Denver, Colorado, where he covers the local music, comedy, marijuana, and political landscapes. Follow him on Twitter.


  9. Claims of satanic cult and child sacrifices in London are baseless, judge rules

    High court judge was asked by social services bosses to investigate lurid claims that have been circulating on internet

    Press Association March 19, 2015

    A high court judge has dismissed claims that children in north London have been abused by paedophiles in a satanic cult.

    Mrs Justice Pauffley said details of the claims had been circulating on the internet. She said she had been asked to investigate by social services bosses, and had conducted a fact-finding exercise, at a family court hearing in London.

    The judge said in a ruling on Thursday that the claims were baseless, and described people who sought to perpetuate them as “evil” or “foolish”.

    Pauffley said the case centred on two children – aged eight and nine – whose parents were separated. The judge said the London borough of Barnet had begun care proceedings in relation to the youngsters.

    She said last September “lurid allegations of the most serious kind” were drawn to the attention of police. It was suggested that the youngsters were part of a large group of children from north London who belonged to a satanic cult.

    She said there were allegations of “significant paedophile activity” – allegations that children had been sexually abused and made to abuse one another.

    Pauffley said allegations were made by the two children, their mother and her partner.

    “Specifically, it was said that babies were supplied from all over the world,” she said.

    “They were bought, injected with drugs and then sent by TNT or DHL to London. The assertions were that babies had been abused, tortured and then sacrificed.

    “Their throats were slit, blood was drunk and cult members would then dance wearing babies’ skulls (sometimes with blood and hair still attached”) on their bodies.

    “All the cult members wore shoes made of baby skin produced by the owner of a specified shoe repair shop.”

    She said it was alleged that the “main action” occurred at a school – and at least seven other schools were named. A swimming pool was identified as a meeting place.

    It was alleged that “rituals” were performed at a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant when “the boss” allowed child sacrifice because he was a member of the cult, said the judge.

    And it was said that babies were prepared and cooked in ovens in a “secret kitchen” then eaten by cult members.

    Pauffley said it was alleged that the father of the two children at the centre of the case was the “cult leader” and members included a school headteacher, a teacher, priest, social workers and police.

    It was alleged that more than 100 people were “doing sex” to the children.

    “I am able to state with complete conviction that none of the allegations are true,” said Pauffley in her ruling. “The claims are baseless.”

    She added: “Those who have sought to perpetuate them are evil and/or foolish.”


  10. Father named 'Ricky' falsely accused of 'satanic cult' abuse of his children speaks of emotional ordeal for first time: 'It's just sick'

    by LOULLA-MAE ELEFTHERIOU-SMITH, The Independent APRIL 20, 2015

    A father who was falsely accused of being part of a satanic cult in which he allegedly sexually abused his two children while ritually killing babies and draining and drinking their blood, has spoken about his emotional ordeal for the first time.

    In an interview with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, the father, known as ‘Ricky’ to protect his children’s identities, said the accusations that his children made were “horrific,” while the abuse they endured to force them into making the claims was “sick”.

    The claims made against Ricky were dismissed as “baseless” and “evil and/or foolish” by a High Court Judge last month, after it became clear his two children, siblings aged eight and nine, had been forced to “provide concocted accounts of horrific events” while being filmed. The video was uploaded onto YouTube and has been watched more than four million times.

    Looking physically distressed, Ricky described the detailed accusations his children had made against him: “My children, my two children, they said I’d sexually abused them and I’d been selling them in this satanic cult thing. They named 60, 70, 80 people. They said that we were killing babies. That we were shipping them in.

    They were showing with their hand movements how I would get their hand on the knives and we would cut the baby’s neck, drain the blood and then drink the blood – it’s just horrific upon horrific detail,” he said.

    He and the children’s mother had separated in 2006. Ricky told the BBC the pair had been through private proceeding for more than five years after she allegedly continually obstructed his access to the kids, and made a number of allegations against him that were not investigated by the courts at the time.

    Through the course of the case it was discovered that the children’s claims had “come about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant abuse,” Justice Pauffley said at the time, which Ricky said he found the most difficult part of the whole ordeal.

    “We’re talking about their heads, mixed up, messed up, it’s just sick,” he said.

    Despite Ricky’s exoneration from the Judge, and all those alleged to have been involved in the ‘cult’, including teachers and a priest, he said he still receives death threats each day from people who still believe the claims.

    Ricky remains concerned for his children’s welfare as the videos of their claims are still available online. At the time of the case, Justice Pauffley said the amount the videos had been viewed could cause the children distress when they become older.

    “We don’t know the long term impact [on the children],” Ricky said, adding that he intends to bring his children up in a caring environment filled with a lot of patience and love.

    “I truly think it’s going to be OK,” he said.


  11. Convictions tossed out in Austin satanic day care case

    by Chuck Lindell, American-Statesman Staff May 20, 2015

    The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday threw out the 1992 sexual assault convictions against Dan and Fran Keller but declined to find the former Austin day care owners innocent of crimes linked to a now-discredited belief that secret satanic cults were abusing day care children nationwide.

    The Kellers spent more than 22 years in prison after three young children accused them of dismembering babies, torturing pets, desecrating corpses, videotaping orgies and serving blood-laced Kool-Aid in satanic rituals at their home-based day care.

    No evidence of such activities was ever found.

    Freed from prison in late 2013 as the case against them crumbled, the Kellers asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to declare them innocent, arguing that they were the victims of inept therapists, shoddy police work and “satanic panic” that swept the nation in the early 1990s.

    A unanimous Court of Criminal Appeals instead overturned their convictions based on false testimony by an emergency room doctor whose hospital examination had provided the only physical evidence of sexual assault during the Kellers’ joint trial.

    Dr. Michael Mouw later admitted that inexperience led him to misidentify normally occurring conditions as evidence of sexual abuse in a 3-year-old girl.

    The nine judges did not provide an explanation for why they rejected the Kellers’ innocence claim except to say their decision was based on the findings of the trial judge “and this court’s independent review of the record.”

    However, in a concurring opinion, Judge Cheryl Johnson said she would have found both Kellers innocent.

    “This was a witch hunt from the beginning,” Johnson wrote, finding fault with investigators who too easily accepted fantastic claims of abuse, including plane trips to Mexico during which children were abused and returned to Austin in time for afternoon pickup by their parents.

    “It was not just Dr. Mouw who was too quick to believe,” Johnson said. “If he is to be blamed for the failure to provide applicant with a fair trial, the missteps of other persons and entities need to be examined also. We do not learn from our mistakes unless and until we are required to acknowledge those mistakes.”

    Keith Hampton, the Kellers’ lawyer, said he was extremely disappointed that the court did not closely examine, and discuss, the evidence of innocence.

    “I’m not happy,” said Hampton, whose work on the case, at no charge, led to the Kellers being freed from prison.

    Hampton said he is not ready to stop trying to prove the Kellers’ innocence, adding that he may file a “suggestion” that the Court of Criminal Appeals re-examine the evidence of innocence.

    “I don’t know how in good conscience you can ignore the overriding claim in this case, which is not Dr. Mouw. The issue is they’re innocent,” he said.

    Hampton said he also may turn to the federal courts to try to establish the Kellers’ innocence.

    Travis County Assistant District Attorney Scott Taliaferro said his office will review Wednesday’s ruling, and await additional filings by Hampton, before deciding how to proceed.

    Prosecutors could dismiss the charges against the Kellers or press for a new trial. However, without Mouw’s testimony showing evidence of abuse, and with allegations almost 25 years old, a retrial would be a difficult proposition.


  12. The ongoing legacy of the great satanic sex abuse panic

    By Radley Balko, Washington Post May 26, 2015

    From the Austin American-Statesman:

    The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday threw out the 1992 sexual assault convictions against Dan and Fran Keller but declined to find the former Austin day care owners innocent of crimes linked to a now-discredited belief that secret satanic cults were abusing day care children nationwide.

    The Kellers spent more than 22 years in prison after three young children accused them of dismembering babies, torturing pets, desecrating corpses, videotaping orgies and serving blood-laced Kool-Aid in satanic rituals at their home-based day care.

    No evidence of such activities was ever found.

    Freed from prison in late 2013 as the case against them crumbled, the Kellers asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to declare them innocent, arguing that they were the victims of inept therapists, shoddy police work and “satanic panic” that swept the nation in the early 1990s.

    A unanimous Court of Criminal Appeals instead overturned their convictions based on false testimony by an emergency room doctor whose hospital examination had provided the only physical evidence of sexual assault during the Kellers’ joint trial.

    Dr. Michael Mouw later admitted that inexperience led him to misidentify normally occurring conditions as evidence of sexual abuse in a 3-year-old girl.

    The nine judges did not provide an explanation for why they rejected the Kellers’ innocence claim except to say their decision was based on the findings of the trial judge “and this court’s independent review of the record.”

    The panic actually began in the 1980s. It was instigated and perpetuated mostly by groups of fundamentalist Christians who saw Satan in every heavy metal album, “Smurfs” episode, and Dungeons & Dragons game, along with a quack cadre of psychotherapists who were convinced they could dig up buried memories through hypnosis. What they did instead was shed some light on just how potent the power of suggestion can be. Remarkably, children were convinced to testify about horrifying — and entirely fictional — violations perpetrated on them by care workers and, in some cases, by their own parents.

    But it wasn’t just children. As the Kellers’ conviction shows, the panic was so overwhelming, it could convince trained medical professionals to see abuse where there was none. Some defendants were convicted of gruesome crimes such as the aforementioned dismembering of babies despite the fact that there were no corpses and no babies missing from the immediate area.

    continued below

  13. Ultimately the panic and power of suggestion was pervasive enough to dupe our entire criminal justice system, as dozens of innocent people were sent to prison for crimes for which there was no evidence other than the coerced testimony of kids, and for which those same defendants would later be exonerated. Here’s an excerpt from the concurring opinion of Judge Cheryl Johnson, who would have declared the couple innocent.

    This was a witch hunt from the beginning. The allegations in the indictment were based on the testimony of a three-year-old child who, even before she sporadically attended the applicant’s day-care facility, was in therapy for numerous psychological and behavioral issues. In accusing applicant, she asserted that applicant had come to her house and had cut her dog’s vagina with a chainsaw until it bled, that she was taken to a cemetery, where, after a person dressed like a policeman threw a person in a hole, Daniel Keller shot the person who had been thrown into the hole and cut up the body with a chainsaw while all the children helped, and that she had been put into a swimming pool with sharks that ate babies. She also alleged that applicant served blood-laced Kool-Aid, forced the children to have videotaped sex with adults and other children, sometimes wore white robes and lit candles before hurting the children, and forced the children to watch or participate in the killing and dismemberment of cats, dogs, and a crying baby. According to the complainant, bodies were unearthed in cemeteries and new holes were dug to hide freshly killed animals, an adult passer-by was shot and dismembered with a chain saw, Frances Keller cut off the finger of a gorilla at Zilker Park, and applicant had performed a satanic bone-replacing ritual on one child. And the children were taken on several plane trips, including one to Mexico, where they were sexually abused by soldiers before returning to Austin in time to meet their parents at the day-care facility. In spite of such fantastical claims, which should have produced total incredulity in the police investigators and prosecutors, charges were filed.

    And here’s the “expert” who sealed the Kellers’ conviction:

    The state presented a witness, Randy Noblitt, who claimed to be an expert on satanic cults and rituals and who testified that the complainant had described such rituals. Applicant’s brief on appeal noted that Noblitt had parlayed his testimony into a business opportunity, giving lectures and writing a book on the evils of ritual abuse, and that pointed to “a Noblitt-sponsored 1995 conference as providing an eye-opening look into his world view.” That conference included speakers who “revealed” the FBI’s cover-up of a satanic cult in Nebraska that had White House ties, the existence of more than 500 satanic cults conducting eight sacrificial murders a year in New York City, and that then-President Bill Clinton was the anti-Christ.

    That the highest court in Texas still can’t bring itself to declare the couple innocent, in spite of all that we know now, shows just how difficult it can be to undo the damage caused by a moral panic and junk science in the courtroom.

    continued below

  14. This did not just go on in Texas. It was all over the country, from conservative, law-and-order spots such as Kern County, Calif., to liberal strongholds such as Middlesex County, Mass. One of the best treatments of the panic is the movie “Witch Hunt,” which focuses on Kern County, arguable the epicenter of the panic. Here’s a trailer: [see link below]

    The entire movie is now available online. See the end of this post.

    Here’s an observation from the panic that I don’t think has been fully explored: These kids didn’t make up these stories. In this case and dozens of others, the kids were telling tales with details about geography, history and current events about which kids of their age couldn’t have known. That’s likely what made their stories seem somewhat credible. But the fact that it all was fictitious reveals a particularly unsettling truth: These sick, lurid, unimaginable abuses could only have been a product of the imaginations of the therapists, social workers, cops and/or prosecutors who interviewed the children. If the memories were implanted, those are the only people who could have implanted them. That means that the same people entrusted to protect these kids, and in whom these communities trusted to police the streets, prosecute crimes and administer therapy, were ultimately the ones capable of dreaming up detailed sexual fantasies that put children in bizarre rituals involving violence, animals, corpses and so on.

    There’s a lot to be learned from these cases. For one, there are lessons about professional accountability: Not only were the vast majority of the prosecutors who put these innocent people in prison in these cases never sanctioned, but also most went on to great professional success, sometimes because of their role in these high-profile cases, and sometimes even after it was widely known that the people they prosecuted were innocent. There are other lessons here about how we screen “expert” witnesses, and how bad science gets into the courtroom. There are lessons about the power of suggestion that could be applied to eyewitness testimony and how we conduct police lineups.

    But the drawing of lessons is something we typically do once a crisis is over. This one still isn’t. There are still people in prison awaiting exoneration in these cases.

    Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."

    see the videos and links in this article at:


  15. Child Murders in Mexico Linked to Satanic Cult

    A little boy named Christopher's killing was not a "random idea" of his torturers

    by MIGUEL PASTORINO, Aleteia MAY 27, 2015

    Translated by Matthew Green.

    The recent news regarding the torture and murder of Christopher Márquez, a six-year-old Mexican boy, has not only upset Mexico and of all those who have heard the news; it continues to reveal darker aspects that relate it to the veneration of Santa Muerte ("Saint Death") and, consequently, to the phenomenon of cults.

    This subject should be a wake-up call for those who do not see the danger of certain religious beliefs, and particularly of religious cults, in relation to the origin of horrible crimes, perpetrated by people who are submerged in a complex world of beliefs that prepare them to commit atrocities. This case is more scandalous because those who kidnapped, tortured and killed Christopher are children and preadolescents.

    While it's true that the children involved live in an environment of poverty and extreme violence, and claimed that they were "pretending to be kidnappers," the causes seem to be deeper than a lack of values and constant exposure to organized crime.

    Chihuahua is one of the states with the highest rates of child homicide in Mexico: 38 children per 100,000 inhabitants. From 2005 to the present, 10,876 children have been killed in Mexico.

    Ritual murder?

    There is a piece of information that not all the media have taken into account when analyzing the story: the accused children venerated Santa Muerte. The neighbors mentioned to Net Noticias that the children in question belong to a criminal gang, so the murder would not have been a case of "let's pretend to be bad guys." People living in the area declared to various local media outlets that the children venerate Santa Muerte and were indoctrinated by criminals who made them part of a sectarian cult.

    The Herald of Chihuahua reported that the coordinator of the Historical and Social Studies Department of the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, Dizán Vázquez Loya, holds that it should be determined if the child murderers were isolated devotees of Santa Muerte or if they are part of a formal cult. For Fr. Dizán Vázquez, a Catholic priest and an expert on cults, there are indications of a ritual: symbols, sadism, animal sacrifice, child sacrifice, ritual burial, etc. Everything indicates that the children learned from others. However, he recognizes that it is necessary to make a more thorough field investigation in order to know if an organized cult is involved.

    continued below

  16. Santa Muerte and the crime

    Mexican investigators affirm that where criminal organizations grow, the veneration of Santa Muerte grows. The criminals sport tattoos and amulets with the image of Santa Muerte. The relationship between crime and this devotion in Mexico is abundantly clear. The veneration of this image is even prohibited in prisons. One of the "Tex-Mex" leaders of a cult venerating Santa Muerte is in prison, and his followers are considered satanists.

    Several Mexican priests recount how churchgoers turn to the saints of the Catholic Church when they need help, but when they want supernatural help to harm someone, take revenge or feel protected from crime, they turn to the veneration of Santa Muerte.

    Fr. Jorge Luiz Zarazúa, a Mexican specialist in cults, explains that the devotion to Santa Muerte is not Catholic in origin, although people often mistakenly believe it to be a popular Catholic devotion because of its incorporation of devotional elements such as the use of altars, flowers, images, and processions.

    However, it is clearly a devotion tied to magic and the occult whose syncretistic origin is far from the faith of the Church. It is a devotion more closely related to witchcraft and satanism than to popular Catholic piety. According to the latest news regarding the devotion to Santa Muerte, everything indicates that it is a breeding pool of sectarian cults along satanic lines, in which the power of evil gives meaning to their lifestyle and goes hand in hand with crime and the most aberrant practices.

    Cults and social vulnerability

    In many areas where crime and poverty abound, cults proliferate, because they give a sense of security and self-esteem to those who live in socially disadvantaged situations, in growing fear and insecurity, and in an environment where life loses its value and the value system is turned upside-down. There is a need for increased awareness of the fact that greater social vulnerability is also a situation of greater psychological and spiritual vulnerability, in which the poor are always the victims.

    Our indifference can reduce the death of Christopher to a terrible homicide and nothing more, forgetting it as just one more sad news story. But this crime, like many others, is the tip of an iceberg which, far from our sight, destroys the lives of countless children, young people, adults and elderly people, men and women, entire families who need someone to pay attention to their desperate needs.

    Religious phenomena are not social trappings, as some secularists believe. Rather, religion is able to humanize people and foment great moral and spiritual values, or to destroy people's lives, dehumanizing them until death takes full sway. The problem of cults is not an exotic subject within the study of religions; it is a social problem that requires the serious attention of us all.


  17. Children of Satan

    What do their disturbing tales of bloody rituals mean?
    by Emma Reynolds, NEWS.com.au JUNE 11, 2015

    IT WAS the chilling story that horrified affluent families in a leafy north London suburb.

    Two young children, known as P and Q, appeared in a disturbing YouTube video, describing satanic rituals performed by a shadowy cult.

    In hours of footage, they talked about how the devil-worshippers preyed on the wealthy community, holding pedophilic orgies and murdering innocent people. They said the Satanists abused and tortured babies, slitting their throats, drinking their blood and dancing while wearing their skulls.

    They named teachers and parents as being part of the cult, led by their father. Four million people watched the footage, campaigners called for the Satanists to be stopped and police were deployed to the children’s primary school.

    But after two police interviews, the pair admitted they had made up the accusations, under pressure from their mother Ella Draper and her new partner, Abraham Christie.

    High Court Justice Pauffley ruled in March that there had been no satanic cult, blaming “emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse”.

    She said the long-term damage to the children was “incalculable”, adding: “Their innocence was invaded. Their grip on reality was imperilled. Their minds were scrambled.”

    They are part of an appalling history of vulnerable youngsters having sickening ideas implanted in their heads.

    In October 1990, hitchhiking teenagers Fiona Burns and John Lee were found stabbed to death beside the Western Highway in Victoria near the border with South Australia.

    Social workers said Fiona, of Melbourne, had feared for her life because of her association with an occult group. The 15-year-old had reportedly been counselled over claims she took part in a Satanic ritual in which a dog was skinned alive and beaten to death before those present drank its blood.

    Fiona’s family said those claims were the product of an overactive imagination.

    But relatives of John, a 14-year-old of Adelaide, said a Satanic group could have been responsible.

    The dark, and most probably fictional, tales recall “the satanic panic” of the 1980s.

    In 1973, Flora Schreiber wrote a book called Sybil, the best-selling true story of Shirley Mason and her therapist Cornelia Wilbur, which became a TV adaptation that gripped the US in 1976.

    During their sessions, Shirley revealed what were apparently repressed memories of terrible childhood abuse. She described how her mother sexually assaulted her with torches and bottles, conducted gothic orgies in the woods with teenage girls and buried her alive.

    She had as many as 16 personalities and was instrumental in creating a new psychiatric diagnosis: multiple personality disorder, now known as dissociative-identity disorder.

    But other psychologists, including Herbert Spiegel, who occasionally treated Shirley, cast doubt on Wilbur’s findings, The New York Times reported. They accused her of manipulating her patient using the power of suggestion and a “truth drug” called sodium pentothal, later found to induce false memories.

    continued below

  18. Sybil was followed by a wave of books on patients with repressed memories and multiple personality disorders.

    In 1980, psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder and his patient (and later, wife) Michelle Smith wrote Michelle Remembers, an account of how 600 hours of hypnosis therapy with her husband extracted her experiences of being tortured, locked in cages, sexually assaulted and forced to take part in Satanic rituals by her mother’s cult.

    The book was thoroughly discredited by subsequent investigations, which pointed out major inconsistencies in their narrative and raised serious questions over the reliability of hypnotically enhanced memories.

    In 1983, Judy Johnson, of California, accused a teacher at her son’s preschool of raping him, said faculty members had sex with animals and even claimed the teacher could fly.

    Johnson was hospitalised with paranoid schizophrenia and died before the end of the preliminary hearing from problems related to alcoholism. But LA’s Children’s Institute International then interviewed several hundred children about the alleged incident.

    The students were coerced through suggestive interview techniques into making bizarre claims including the existence of secret tunnels under the school in which the alleged abuse took place; orgies supposedly conducted in car washes and airports; disturbing games in which children were allegedly photographed nude; mutilation of corpses; blood drinking; baby sacrifice and a flying teacher.

    Pazder was consulted by the prosecution as an expert on Satanic ritual abuse and corroborated the claims. All parties in the McMartin preschool trial were acquitted of all charges in 1990.

    The popular explanation of repressed trauma suggests that because children need to see the people they depend upon as safe, they may maintain that relationship by denying abuse, a splitting of emotions that may develop into alternate personalities.

    Some psychologists do not believe it is possible to forget past abuse and remember it in adulthood, instead suspecting that some therapists take patients’ “most cherished childhood memories and change them into diabolical abuse”, according to Princeton paper “Sybil, Satan and Science”.

    The paper looks at the evidence of Dr Richard Ofshe, a University of California social scientist who studies how guided imagery and coercion can create morbid imaginings. It also uses the research of Dr Elizabeth Loftus, professor of psychology from the University of Washington, who says memories can be changed simply by the way questions are phrased in court.

    FBI special Ken Lanning says that while there is a growing number of accusations of Satanic ritual abuse, there is little evidence to support it.

    It’s unnerving to hear such extreme stories in relation to young children. But it seems Satanism remains for the most part the strange work of minds distorted in ghastly ways that do not require any actual drinking of blood.


  19. Satanic Panic Strikes After Gory Florida Murders

    by Jay Michaelson, Daily Beast, August 6, 2015

    There’s only thin evidence that a triple-homicide with slit throats was related to witchcraft, but police and the media are acting like the devil has landed.
    Three throats were slit in Pensacola, Florida, under a full moon. Was it witchcraft?

    Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan thinks so, and the press conference he gave, calmly and methodically, has now made the rounds on the Internet, where the response has been anything but calm. Witchcraft!

    When you look at the evidence has been released, however—bearing in mind that there may be more that the ongoing investigation has not yet made public—it seems quite scant. What is evident is the resemblance to the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, during which dozens of cases of “Satanism” were investigated, countless sensational news programs were created—and yet hardly any Satanic crimes actually took place.

    What the sheriff’s department has made known is this: Three people, 77-year-old Voncile Smith and her two adult children—one of whom worked for the Department of Homeland Security—were savagely murdered in Smith’s home on Friday. The DHS worker, 47-year-old Richard Thomas Smith, was shot in the head. But the other two victims were beaten to death with a hammer, and then had their throats cut.

    Moreover, the sheriff’s department says, the three bodies were arranged in a specific way—and the killing took place around the time of the “blue moon.” And the person of interest in the killing apparently has ties to Wicca.

    In sum, “initial research has led us to believe it was a ritualistic killing,” Morgan said. “The method of the murder—blunt force trauma, slit throats, positioning of bodies—and our person of interest has some ties to a faith or religion that is indicative of that. The time of the death on Tuesday also coincides with what’s referred to as a blue moon, which occurs every three years.”

    Well, wait a minute. First, the blue moon was Friday, not Tuesday. If this were a ritualistic murder, the specific time would matter. There’s no “around the time of” in nature-based religions.

    Second, this pattern actually has nothing to do with contemporary paganism. Dr. Gwendolyn Reece, whose research at American University focuses on the phenomenon, told the BBC that “if [the sheriff’s department] had done even a modicum of research it would be clear this had nothing to do with paganism.”

    In fact, ritual murder is fundamentally incompatible with Wicca (which Morgan mentioned specifically). In fact, the leader of Pensacola’s actual Wiccan coven, one E.J. OakLore, told the New York Daily News that “The Wiccan faith forbids murder as strongly as or more strongly than the Christian faith. The fundamentals of our religion forbid the harming of any person, being or living thing, creature in any way shape or form.”

    continued below

  20. Nor has ritual murder actually been documented as a practice of self-identified Satanists. The most sinister act Florida’s Satanists have done lately is install a hilarious Satanic holiday display in the state capitol.

    So all that’s left is forced entry, the method of killing, and the arrangement of bodies.

    And, of course, innuendo. Morgan noted that the Smiths were a “very reclusive” family; neighbors said they had never met them. But who knows the reason for that? If not meeting your neighbors were a sign of witchcraft, most of Manhattan would be casting spells.

    And then there’s the person of interest, with his ties to Wicca—which, for all we know, may be just be a few Google searches. Again, there may be much more we don’t know, but this surely isn’t much.

    What this case does resemble, though, is the hysteria around “Satanism” in the 1980s and ’90s, an episode now known as “Satanic Panic.”

    Gen-Xers may not remember this phenomenon, and Millennials weren’t alive for it. But for 20 years, American law enforcement was bizarrely obsessed with cults and Satanism. Check out this video from 1994, which purports to describe “Satanic occultism” for police officers.

    There were several extremely high-profile cases during this period. First, in Southern California, the directors of the McMartin Pre-School were charged with 52 counts of child molestation, all based on alleged Satanic rituals. They were found not guilty, but only after being convicted in the media and creating mass hysteria.

    And then there were the “West Memphis Three,” three teenagers convicted of murdering three young boys in Arkansas on May 5, 1993. One of them—developmentally disabled, and with the cognitive ability of a 10-year-old—confessed, implicated the two others, and said it was a Satanic rite. Subsequent DNA evidence exonerated the West Memphis Three and implicated one victim’s stepfather. They were released in 2011.

    Not surprisingly, the Satanic dragnet caught far more than actual Satanists. Santeria, which practices animal sacrifice, was effectively banned from many cities. New Religious Movements (“cults”) became seen as omnipresent threats to impressionable youth. (I remember being forced to attend several anti-cult “warning” sessions at school.) Even Dungeons & Dragons was grounds for suspicion.

    But most of all, the Satanic Panic was about rock ’n’ roll, and the countercultures of which it was a part.

    continued below

  21. Peter Bebergal whose new book Season of the Witch explores Satanic and occult imagery in rock music, told The Daily Beast that in the 1970s, “From comic books to music to movies-of-the-week, Satan was everywhere.” Album covers, The Exorcist, Ozzy Osbourne, Led Zeppelin, heavy metal—“there seemed to be a pop culture obsession with all things witchcraft and demonic.”
    But whatever Satanic themes were present in pop culture, they were hugely exaggerated by Christian conservatives.

    “Certain Evangelicals had already seen the devil lurking as far back as Elvis’s gyrating hips, but in the 1970s,” Bebergal said, “we were at the beginning of a cultural war, and the devil was used to represent youthful and artistic rebellion, as well as symbol for what was seen as the decadence and corruption of youthful minds.”

    Part (culturally) real and part fantastic, the Satanic Panic reached fever pitch in the 1980s. Tipper Gore wanted to label records with “O” for Occult, for instance, but the Panic’s real hold was on law enforcement.

    “There was the hysteria about satanic ritual abuse,” Bebergal said, “shifting our fear of ‘communists everywhere’ to a cabal of secret Satan worshippers, any of whom could be your child’s teachers, the friendly postman, or your next door neighbor… Be sure to watch out for that long-haired kid with the Venom t-shirt who plays D&D.”

    Another fascinating element of the Satanic Panic was that it was also, in part, a Sex Panic. Its rise coincided with the increased interest in, and prosecution of, child-sex offenses, a class of crime that, if anything, was under-prosecuted prior to the 1970s. (Most sex crimes take place in the home, making them “private” in nature.) Day-care workers were disproportionate targets of Satanism accusations, the McMillans included. Books containing “remembered”’ episodes of Satanic ritual abuse—Michelle Remembers was the most popular—began to proliferate.
    It’s not hard to see this aspect of the Satanic Panic, too, as a conservative response to cultural change: sexual liberation, rock music, and shifts in public morality.

    Which, come to think of it, is exactly what social conservatives are saying today, perhaps exchanging hip-hop for rock music.

    It’s too early to know the full extent of the evidence in this particular case. But it’s not too soon to notice that we’ve been down this road before. Who knows—maybe this really is a “ritualistic killing,” but it sure looks like another Satanic Panic.


  22. Conviction of Things Not Seen: The Uniquely American Myth of Satanic Cults

    How quack psychology helped pundits invent the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and '90s.


    Jim Jones and David Koresh are among the small handful of men who remain even more infamous than the cults they led. Not every middle-aged American will remember the People’s Temple of the Disciples of Christ, but most know who Jones was. The Branch Davidians might not be a familiar name, even to those who remember the siege that claimed the lives of 76 of Koresh’s adherents—but his name, and that of Waco, Texas, survive in infamy. (The fate of Jones’ doomed commune is so widely known that the figure of speech “drinking the Kool-Aid,” a phrase describing the liquid poisoning of more than 900 people, has become a fixture in everyday discourse—a casual and rather sickening disavowal of the scale of the tragedy that unfolded at Jonestown.)

    Satanism lacks a Jones or Koresh. Satanism has no Jamestown, no Waco, no Kool-Aid, no casual point of reference. This is because Satanic cults, as imagined in popular culture, do not exist. Still, some places across the country—West Memphis, Arkansas; Manhattan Beach, California; Edenton, North Carolina; Austin, Texas—belong to a brotherhood of cities united not by the stunned, silent grief of a tragedy like Waco’s, but by the shame of having left innocent families’ lives in ruin in the fervent pursuit of an imaginary evil.

    After leaving a cult, apostates have to essentially relearn how to think for themselves; to come back to reality and slowly rebuild a broken sense of self. In a sense, America must undergo its own deprogramming when it comes to Satanism and the occult.

    Before she died at age 82 in 2003, Margaret Singer, arguably the world’s preeminent expert on cult psychology and brainwashing, estimated that there might be as many as 5,000 new religious movements—the term such groups prefer in favor of the widely maligned “cult”—operating in the United States alone. Not one of them is or was Satanic in nature, at least not in the most common understanding of the term. However, the myths surrounding Satanism in America are no less harmful in the absence of devious yet charismatic leaders or scenes of appalling tragedy. The “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s and early 1990s was arguably even more frightening than a typical cult precisely because of this lack of a central figure or place; anybody could have been involved, and nobody was above suspicion. The greatest danger, however, was the paranoia about Satanic cults abducting, sexually abusing, and murdering American children; this paranoia made it much harder to prosecute genuine cases of child abuse at a time when such cases were already viewed with skepticism.

    The period of nationwide moral hysteria that came to be known as the Satanic Panic began in 1980 with the publication of Michelle Remembers, a biographical account of the repressed memories of the childhood ritual abuse purportedly suffered by Canadian psychiatric patient Michelle Smith. Written by Smith and her psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder, whom she later married, Michelle Remembersdetailed the abuse that Smith alleged she experienced at the hands of her mother and other members of a Satanic cult during the mid-1950s in her native British Columbia. Pazder, who was originally treating Smith for depression following a miscarriage, helped Smith surface these memories by means of regression hypnosis, a highly controversial psychotherapeutic technique whose validity has been widely called into question by members of the mental health community.

    This is what happens when hypervigilance and moral panic take precedence over accepted scientific methodologies and hard evidence.

    continued below

  23. The book, which earned Pazder and Smith more than $340,000 in hardcover and paperback rights alone, became a phenomenon. Tabloids publicized the new book widely, after which Pazder and Smith embarked on a lengthy book tour across the United States. As Michelle Remembers gained in popularity, the media rarely questioned the truthfulness of Smith’s account of her supposedly abusive upbringing and the atrocities she endured. Smith claimed she had been imprisoned in cages among live snakes, forced to watch as members of her mother’s cult slaughtered kittens in front of her, and even endured 81 consecutive days of consistent physical abuse as the cultists engaged in a prolonged ritual to summon Satan himself. In 1989, almost 10 years after the publication of Michelle Remembers, Oprah Winfrey featured Smith as a guest on her show alongside Laurel Rose Willson, author of the equally fictitious Satanic ritual abuse survival memoirSatan’s Underground, which was published under the pseudonym Lauren Stratford. Both women’s experiences were presented by Winfrey as incontrovertible fact, and not once did she question the authenticity of any claim in either book.

    In the years that followed the publication of Michelle Remembers, people all over the country began to come forward with stories of their own latent memories of childhood abuse at the hands of Satanic cultists, or allegations of pedophilia and devil worship against members of their own communities. Law enforcement agencies nationwide began holding seminars intended to help officers recognize the signs of Satanic ritual abuse. The now-famous Pazder, who had become a leading authority on the matter, attended hundreds of such seminars throughout the 1980s. Appearing on ABC News’ 20/20 in May 1985, Pazder claimed:

    “These people cover their tracks very well. When they dispose of a body, they use that body as well. They will cremate that body, they will use the ashes that will become part of what they will continue to present to that particular group. And they will disperse that. They’re not going to do some simple murder and leave a body in a stream for you to pick up the pieces of.”
    In the vast majority of reported cases of Satanic ritual abuse, it was the testimony of the allegedly abused children themselves that damned dozens of innocent people to lengthy prison sentences and a lifetime of social exile. However, subsequent review of these cases revealed that much of this testimony was obtained through coercion and suggestive interviewing techniques by overzealous social workers, and that these statements were rarely questioned by investigating officers. Despite the utter lack of evidence to corroborate claims of Satanic cult activity, new cases continued to be reported—and believed—nationwide, yet officials were no closer to uncovering any vast organized conspiracy by intergenerational Satanic cults.

    Many people still cannot—or will not—accept that Satanic cults, and the unspeakable evils they supposedly perpetrate, are nothing more than the product of America’s overactive imagination and cultural insecurities.

    In 1992, the Department of Justice published a monograph for investigators written by Kenneth Lanning, a Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia, that debunked claims of systemic ritualistic occult abuse in America.

    “My role in the FBI Behavioral Science Unit was as a case consultant,” Lanning told me. “Eventually I consulted on hundreds of cases, including some from outside the United States—far more cases than I could ever have personally investigated," he says. "In my FBI position, I also became a kind of informal clearinghouse for most of the cases from their beginnings in the early 1980s until the growing skepticism took hold in the early 1990s. Before most professionals had seen their first case, I had consulted on and analyzed dozens of them.”

    continued below

  24. Lanning’s report critically examined the often-fluid definitions of Satanism that were used interchangeably by many law enforcement agencies, as well as debunking supposed indicators of Satanic crime highlighted during police training seminars such as symbolism in heavy metal music and fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Lanning also offered several alternative explanations for similarities among the disparate eyewitness accounts, including pathological distortions commonly observed in cases of Munchausen syndrome. It was the first time anyone had objectively challenged the commonalities in cases of ritual abuse that police forces across the country were taking as irrefutable evidence of Satanic cult activity.

    “Generally, the response [to the report] was positive,” Lanning says. 'Several law enforcement supervisors thanked me for bringing objectivity to the issue. Of course, nothing I wrote would reach or convince everyone of my point of view. I received several letters from some questioning aspects of what I had written or said. One officer wanted me investigated by Congress…. Perhaps most upset were those law enforcement officers who were making money and getting status as experts in this area.”

    In addition to questioning the criminal significance of occult symbolism, Lanning’s report also warned of the danger of reducing the complex issue of child abuse into a pat, simplistic narrative—a tendency that marred many cases of Satanic ritual abuse and raised the important question of why so many people accepted wild allegations about Satanic cults in the absence of any hard evidence.

    “Although I did not realize it at first, I came to learn that the last of my key questions was actually the most significant. If something wasn't happening, why do so many intelligent, well-educated professionals believe it is?” Lanning says. “Regardless of intelligence and education, and often despite common sense and evidence to the contrary, adults tend to believe what they want or need to believe; the greater the need, the greater the tendency. There was a need to believe. In my opinion, this concept, more than any ‘moral panic,’ was the foundation of Satanic ritual abuse allegations—the need to believe the children even without corroboration. If you do not believe everything a victim alleges, what do you believe?”

    This need for belief complicated matters considerably for investigators handling already sensitive cases. As the burden of proof became irrelevant in cases of Satanic ritual child abuse allegations, Lanning noticed a gradual shift in the dynamics of victimology. Although impossible to prove, it is plausible that at least some of what children were claiming had been done to them was true. The difficulty, according to Lanning, was separating the truth from the fantasy.

    “The focus on the Satanic or bizarre elements did not prevent investigators from doing their job; it just made it difficult to prove what actually happened,” Lanning says. “Most people would agree that just because a victim tells you one detail that turns out to be true, this does not mean that every detail is true. But many people–and the criminal justice system–seem to believe that if you can disprove one part of a victim's story, then the entire story is false. I believe people should be considered innocent unless proven guilty, but I also believe that a certain number of these cases involved a seed of truth that got buried.”

    The Satanic Temple is not a cult or sect, nor do its members worship a literal devil, eschewing the supernaturalism common to many other religions and instead basing their beliefs on the principles of individual freedom and the pursuit of knowledge.

    continued below

  25. Two years after the publication of Lanning’s report, the federal government began to seek out those seeds of truth, hoping to determine just how widespread the problem of Satanic ritual abuse really was. The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect commissioned a study to assess the claims being made by clinicians across the country. The project's principal investigator was Dr. Gail Goodman, a psychologist at the University of California–Davis specializing in memory development, particularly on questions of children’s reliability as witnesses in the criminal justice system.

    “I was conducting scientific research on children's testimony, and the children were often very accurate, especially if five years old and above,” Goodman says. “The courts had started to open more to let children testify.... Obviously we didn't want innocent people to suffer from false allegations, if that what was happening. Moreover, these allegations were reigniting doubts about child victims of sexual abuse generally.”

    Goodman and her team reviewed the responses of 6,910 mental health professionals across the United States, including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers. While roughly one-third of respondents indicated they had encountered either occult or religious-based abuse cases—a crucial distinction that was often overshadowed by the lurid tales of human sacrifice and ritual murder—most had only handled one or two. Conversely, a tiny group of respondents (approximately 1.4 percent of Goodman’s cohort) stated they had reviewed hundreds of cases of Satanic ritual abuse or religious-based abuse.

    “We did find evidence for individuals or small groups who did bad things to children using Satanic themes,” Goodman says. “We are conducting a new longitudinal study of child abuse victims now that they are adults. It's heartbreaking to hear about some of their experiences, many of which we had documents on from their child protection records years ago. If you were religious and thought all things bad as by definition ‘Satanic,’ some of these acts might qualify, but they don't involve cults of nonhumans in league with a devil.”

    Greaves and his fellow Satanists have campaigned vigorously to defend the rights and liberties of some of the country’s most marginalized groups.

    The breathless Geraldo specials on suburban cannibalism and the ominous 20/20reports on backmasking in Led Zeppelin records captivated American audiences for years, but eventually even the media grew weary and turned its eyes elsewhere. Sensationalist reports of Satanic ritual abuse were gradually replaced by harrowing footage of the Rwandan genocide, courtroom broadcasts of the O.J. Simpson trial, and news reports of Ted Kaczynski’s arrest. There was certainly no shortage of fresh horrors with which to tantalize and terrify audiences in the absence of imaginary Satanic cults. To most people, the Satanic Panic had finally come to an end. In reality, however, it merely went underground—a fact that Lucien Greaves, founder of The Satanic Temple, knows better than most.

    The Satanic Temple is a non-theistic religious organization that Greaves founded in 2012. Contrary to common misconceptions, The Satanic Temple is not a cult or sect, nor do its members worship a literal devil, eschewing the supernaturalism common to many other religions and instead basing their beliefs on the principles of individual freedom and the pursuit of knowledge. The Satanic Temple’s seven core tenets, including the inviolability of one’s body, acting with respect for the liberties of others, and the principle that personal beliefs should be based on sound scientific knowledge of the world, stand decidedly at odds with many traditional religious organizations.

    continued below

  26. The Temple’s many opponents, including much of America’s mainstream Christian establishment, have made dozens of hysterical claims against the organization since it was founded. Some have said the Satanic Temple is intent on the very destruction of Christianity itself in America, while others have branded the Temple’s members “intellectual terrorists.” The reality, however, is that The Satanic Temple has become one of the fastest-growing politically active religious organizations in the United States, and Greaves and his fellow Satanists have campaigned vigorously to defend the rights and liberties of some of the country’s most marginalized groups.

    Before Greaves founded The Satanic Temple, he wrote about and kept a close eye on the careers of many of the mental health practitioners who were involved with the Satanic Panic for many years. According to Greaves, these psychotherapists have continued the pseudoscientific approaches of the 1980s, perpetuating dangerous, paranoid ideas that have no place in the mental health field—including the controversial regression hypnosis treatment and highly suggestive therapy that Dr. Goodman and her team reported in their research. Yet Greaves says such therapists are hardly on the fringes of the mental health community, and that several major mental health organizations, including the International Society for the Study of Dissociation and Trauma (ISSTD) and the American Psychiatric Association either actively support these retrogade practices or do little, if anything, to discourage them.

    “The ISSTD is really the last, largest refuge for professionals who still buy into bullshit claims of Satanic ritual abuse and occultic conspiracies,” Greaves says. “The ISSTD presents itself as merely this professional organization for people involved with dissociative disorders, but you don’t have to look very far beneath the surface to find that it’s full of all the old claimants of Satanic ritual abuse.”

    Given the immense responsibility entrusted to therapists and other mental health professionals, Greaves believes significantly more must be done to hold those practitioners who advocate and promote theories of Satanic ritual abuse accountable.

    “I think most of them, if not all of them, should entirely lose their licenses,” Greaves says. “I think people should be aware of what the ISSTD is, how they put forward debunked notions and debunked diagnoses and how harmful they are, and how instrumental people within that organization were to the undoubtedly horrific moral panic of the ‘80s and ‘90s. I would also like to see the American Psychiatric Association take some kind of ownership. We’re in a situation where people who harbor delusions can go to a mental health professional and actually have those delusions cultivated, if not given to them outright. I think that’s self-evidently damaging and needs to be reformed.”

    Greaves alludes to one such case, in which multiple mental health professionals gave dangerously misleading information to a suggestible, emotionally disturbed client: Gigi Jordan, a Manhattan heiress who sought treatment for her eight-year-old autistic son, Jude Mirra. Believing her son to be the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a Satanic cult, Jordan murdered the boy in a suite at New York’s upscale Peninsula Hotel in 2010; she later told jurors it was a “mercy killing.” Jordan mixed a large quantity of Xanax and Ambien with vodka and orange juice before forcing it down Jude’s throat with a syringe, then swallowed a fistful of painkillers herself. Before losing consciousness, Jordan changed her mind and attempted to resuscitate Jude, but to no avail.

    continued below

  27. “She was under the belief that Jude was not autistic at all, as claimed by responsible doctors, but that what looked like autism was actually a psychophysiological manifestation of his reaction to sexual abuse trauma because he was also being abused by a Satanic cult,” Greaves says. “She claimed to be able to draw forth this narrative from Jude, who had little to no verbal skills at all, by way of facilitated communication—a debunked method of attempting to communicate with disabled people who have little verbal skills. It’s often a type of muscle-reading procedure where somebody will guide the disabled person’s hands over the keyboard and claim to discern where that person means to type, and then help them type these things out. What’s been found, in study after study, is that the person who’s facilitating the communication is typing out the responses on their own and has nothing to do with what the disabled person is trying to convey or think. This was the case with Jude, who was supposedly typing out these bizarre stories of Satanic ritual abuse and making these types of claims.”

    Jordan also sought the expertise of numerous other psychologists whose medical advice Greaves says ultimately contributed to Jude’s death at the hands of his clearly troubled mother—self-styled experts whom Greaves has expressed an interest in exposing as part of the Satanic Temple’s highly visible social and political campaigning.

    “Gigi Jordan’s narrative of Satanic ritual abuse certainly couldn’t have been helped at all by her seeking consultations from Ellen Lacter, head of the ISSTD’s Ritual Abuse/Mind Control Special Interest Group,” Greaves says. “If you look at Ellen Lacter’s own website, you’ll find the most bizarre and delusional tales and insinuations about Illuminati conspiracies, Satanic cult crimes. This, to her, isn’t a dead issue from the ‘80s and ‘90s. She’s still very much a believer in Satanic ritual abuse and this overarching conspiracy that threatens us all and the moral structure of the entire world.”

    Jordan, who never formally reported allegations of her son’s abuse to the police, was ultimately sentenced to 18 years for manslaughter in May. The case raised many important questions about our response to allegations of the sexual abuse of children—and about wider social attitudes toward mental illness.

    “Here was a woman who actively sought medical assistance and the help of licensed mental health counselors, and what she got was delusional characters from the ISSTD, including Bessel van der Kolk, who’s a big advocate of these ideas of physical manifestations of trauma,” Greaves says. “The fact that this asshole has the audacity to offer expert testimony today is amazing. Ultimately, an eight-year-old kid was murdered, and I feel the medical professionals involved in that case are culpable and they’ve never been held accountable.”

    continued below

  28. Michelle Smith and Laurel Rose Willson —the two women from the Oprah segment—eventually brought their ruin upon themselves by fabricating their accounts of surviving Satanic cults. Some argue that Smith genuinely believed her account, while others claim she was exploited by Pazder. Regardless of whether such claims have any more truth to them than those in Michelle Remembers orSatan’s Underground, both Smith and Willson willingly invited the scrutiny and disgrace that followed the publication of their falsified stories. To some extent, Smith, Pazder, and Willson must also accept some responsibility for advancing ideas—for personal gain—that led to wider hysteria that imprisoned dozens of innocent people, obfuscated legitimate claims of child sexual abuse, and ultimately inspired the murder of Jude Mirra.

    Still, while Smith, Pazder, and Willson purposefully deceived the public, the real victims of the Satanic Panic had little say in the narratives that were constructed around their private lives. The McMartins and Buckeys of Manhattan Beach, California, defendants in the infamous 1983 McMartin preschool trial, were destroyed by the false accusations of Satanic ritual abuse leveled at them by hysterical parents, some of whom Pazder and Smith met during the trial.

    Children testifying against the family made dozens of disturbing and darkly inventive allegations, including being led through a series of labyrinthine tunnels beneath the day care center to secret rooms where they would be photographed naked, and that they witnessed Raymond Buckey flying through the air with witches. In 1986, Peggy McMartin Buckey, her son Raymond and daughter Peggy Ann, and her mother Virginia McMartin were charged with 135 counts of molesting 14 children. Raymond served five years and Peggy served two before the case collapsed from a lack of corroborating evidence, and their sentences were overturned. The case, which ultimately spanned two trials, lasted eight years and cost Los Angeles County more than $15 million, making it the most expensive criminal case in American legal history.

    Dan and Frances Keller, who ran a daycare center from their Oak Hill home in Austin, Texas, were sentenced to 48 years in prison in 1992; the charges were that the couple had dismembered infants, abused the children in their care (even using those children to carry the bones of corpses exhumed from a local cemetery), and making the children drink Kool-Aid mixed with human blood. This conviction, for crimes they did not commit, was based wholesale on the fantastical testimony of coerced children and tenuous circumstantial physical evidence presented by a Dr. Michael Muow, an emergency room physician who treated one of the girls the Kellers were alleged to have abused.

    Muow later recanted his testimony. The Kellers were finally released in 2013, having served more than 20 years of their sentences.

    continued below

  29. The Kellers may have been fortunate in having their sentences commuted; Andrew Chandler Jr. is still behind bars. Chandler, a bus driver for the Little Rascals Daycare Center in Edenton, North Carolina, was convicted in 1987 of five counts of first-degree sexual offense, six counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, and one count of a crime against nature. The trial was highly publicized, and, while all charges against the center's owners and cook were eventually overturned, Chandler has not been so lucky—his attorney has yet to persuade the governor’s office to review his case. Chandler has served 27 years of his life sentence at the Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institute in Spruce Pine, NC. Lawyers at the Wrongful Convictions Clinic of Duke University’s School of Law are contemplating taking on Chandler’s case.

    Not every alleged case of Satanic ritual abuse became as infamous as the McMartin case, but many more lives were blighted by spurious claims of abuse. The numerous cases in Kern County, California, in 1982, the Fells Acres Daycare Center case in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1984, and the trial of Frank Fuster in Country Walk, Florida, in 1985 all shocked and divided close-knit communities, and left the lives and reputations of the accused in ruin. The specifics of these cases vary, but they all serve as sobering examples of what happens when hyper-vigilance and moral panic take precedence over accepted scientific methodologies and hard evidence.

    “Americans prefer black-and-white problems with simple answers,” Lanning says. “Society seems to especially have a problem addressing any sexual-victimization case in which the adult offender is not completely ‘bad’ or the child victim is not completely ‘good.’ Part of the appeal of Satanic ritual abuse was that when someone we knew molested a child after our protection efforts had failed, it was easier to escape guilt by blaming it on an evil Satanist who was part of a cunning and highly organized group. However, even without the Satanic element, the sexual victimization of children remains a highly emotional issue, with simplistic stereotypes of offenders as evil predators and victims as innocent angels still prevalent and problematic.”

    The specter of Satanic cult hysteria continues to color many cases marked by unusual barbarity and cruelty, little having apparently been learned from the lessons of the 1980s. In some quarters, crude symbolism and token teenage dabblings in the occult are still seen as evidence that legitimate, violent Satanic cults exist. Christian evangelicals still insist on seeking out and fighting a literal enemy in their midst with the same zeal and apparent disregard for the consequences of their crusade today as they did 30 years ago. Perhaps most troubling, many people still cannot—or will not—accept that Satanic cults, and the unspeakable evils they supposedly perpetrate, are nothing more than the product of America’s overactive imagination and cultural insecurities.

    After leaving a cult, apostates have to essentially relearn how to think for themselves; to come back to reality and slowly rebuild a broken sense of self. In a sense, America must undergo its own deprogramming when it comes to Satanism and the occult. Until we reject simplistic, inadequate narratives and accept that evil can and does exist independently of demons and malevolent institutions, until we challenge pseudoscientific therapeutic techniques and the members of the mental health community who promote them, until we refute demonic paranoia as the well-worn cultural trope it is, the wages of the Satanic Panic will never truly be over.



    BY JOSEPH LAYCOCK Religion Dispatches APRIL 6, 2016

    If you happened to walk past San Francisco’s Parc 55 hotel this past weekend, you would have seen a most unusual sight: Two women bound on the sidewalk in chains as Satanists cover them in ashes and recited from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

    While this sounds like a scene of “Satanic Ritual Abuse,” it was actually a street performance organized by The Satanic Temple to protest the annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). (For similar protests by the Satanic Temple, see here and here).

    Their protest may strike some as silly, but the Satanic Temple is trying to draw attention to a serious issue. The ISSTD deals with highly controversial and discredited theories such as dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), repressed memories, and hypnosis. These theories were key to a panic in the 1980s over “Satanic Ritual Abuse” in which numerous people underwent therapy and became convinced that they had suffered abuse at the hands of Satanic cults.

    Some even came to believe that their minds harbored repressed “cult programming” and that they could be a danger to their own children when this programming was triggered. In 1995, a former patient sued Bennett Braun MD, a founder and former president of ISSTD, claiming that he’d convinced her that she’d engaged in Satanic rituals, cannibalism, and infanticide. She received a $10.6 million dollar settlement. In 1999 Illinois state officials issued a temporary suspension of his medical license, yet he remains in practice in another state.

    Although recovered memory therapy has been largely discredited, these methods of therapy and the conspiracy theories associated with them, survive on the fringes of the therapeutic community in enclaves such as The ISSTD and S.M.A.R.T. (Stop Mind Control and Ritual Abuse Today).

    Before he became Lucien Greaves, Doug Mesner was horrified by the role of the medical community in promoting a moral panic over Satanism that led to events like the McMartin Preschool Trial. In 2009 he infiltrated a S.M.A.R.T. conference and reported on his findings, including claims that Satanic cults operating in secret through the use of torture and mind control had not died in the 1980s; that they had simply gone underground. Last year The Satanic Temple formed a subgroup called “The Grey Faction,” dedicated to combatting discredited psychological theories about Satanic abuse.

    continued below

  31. Earlier this year The Grey Faction drew attention to a disturbing case of a woman who killed her autistic child in to order to “save” him from further abuse at the hands of Satanic cults. Gigi Jordan had been trying to communicate with her nonverbal son using a discredited technique called “facilitated communication.”

    Jordan would place her son’s hand on her Blackberry and then place her own hand over it to “help” him type. The text produced through this process described how her son was being horribly abused by Satanists, seemingly right under his mother’s nose. In 2010 Jordan gave her son a lethal dose of Xanax and Ambien in order to spare him from further torture. She was convicted of manslaughter last year.

    The Grey Faction blames Ellen Lacter, a psychologist affiliated with the ISSTD and S.M.A.R.T., who they claim encouraged Jordan’s paranoia. Greaves reports that Lacter headed aspecial ISSTD group on ritual abuse and mind control. Documents written by Lacter in 2007 describe how abuse by Satanic and witchcraft cults can cause dissociative identity disorder and subliminal programming. Last month, The Grey Faction sent a petition to the California Board of Psychology Licensure demanding that Lacter be investigated. Greaves claims that Lacter’s named was “scrubbed” from the ISSTD website after this petition was started.

    The strange protest at the Parc 55 hotel was the follow through on this campaign. Sarah Ponto Rivera, the director of the Grey Faction, explained:

    The chains symbolize the mental health consumers’ constraints from manipulation by their ISSTD psychiatrists. The patients are held in metaphorical bondage in order to “get better.” The buckets labeled “ISSTD” signifies the weight of pseudoscience within the ISSTD organization. The Grey Ash is representative of obscuring truths with a cloud of delusions and imposing a false reality that causes harm to mental health care consumers. The trail of ash off the women’s bodies touching pedestrians on the street symbolizes the communities impacted by therapeutic pseudoscience.

    Greaves adds:

    After our protest performance, I marched into the conference with Vice, who were there filming a documentary about me and TST. They recognized me and were very upset. I was looking for Colin Ross, or any of the other quacks I’ve done significant research on. Vice asked to interview anybody who could speak for the organization. They simply called the police.

    Like many of their campaigns, this protest by The Satanic Temple takes a familiar narrative and asks us to reassess who the bad guys are. Who is acting as a shadowy cabal? Who is using nefarious forms of “mind control” to confuse people? And who is really responsible for the death of innocent children?



    BY JOSEPH LAYCOCK, Religion Dispatches JUNE 16, 2016

    In May, a group of Satanists infiltrated a conference for people who believe they’re the victims of a Satanic conspiracy.

    RD contributor Joseph Laycock has answers to all of your burning questions.

    Wait, enough people believe that they’re victims of a Satanic conspiracy to fill an entire conference?

    Yes. In May, the Ritual Abuse and Child Abuse 2016 Conference was held in Oakland. The theme was overcoming mind control and subliminal programming.

    Who goes to an event like this?

    Some people believe they have suffered abuse they cannot remember, have alternate personalities of which they are unaware, or have even committed crimes they cannot recall, all because of sadistic rituals inflicted on them as a form of mind control. Who do they think is responsible for this psychological abuse? The usual suspects include unnamed “cults,” the CIA, and an alleged conspiracy of organized criminal Satanists.

    These techniques of mind control are believed to be so insidious that conference attendees were apparently forbidden from touching their faces, for fear that any subtle hand gesture could be a cue that triggers a victim’s subliminal programming.

    And then actual Satanists showed up?

    They did. Amidst all this paranoia, Satanists actually had infiltrated the conference, and they recently went public with the reason why. In a twist worthy of a bad M. Night Shyamalan film, the Satanists claim that they are the ones exposing a dangerous cabal and that it is the conference organizers who are abusing their patients.

    Who are these Satanists?

    The Grey Faction of The Satanic Temple (TST). TST are atheists, and they do not believe in the supernatural. But they insist that they are an actual religion because they are a community with a shared body of symbols, rituals, and ethics. The group’s first tenet is to “act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.”

    The Grey Faction is a division of TST that seeks to raise awareness about medical professionals who continue to promote conspiracy theories about Satanism. The Grey Faction protested a similar conference in April.

    So they don’t draw pentagrams and slaughter chickens?

    Like the French Situationists of the 1960s, TST believes that shock value can be a useful tool for reframing the political conversation. In April, for example, the Detroit chapter countered a Christian protest of an abortion clinic by dressing as sado-masochistic babies and accusing the protestors of “fetal idolatry.” While many find their antics offensive, their group has never performed sacrifices or physically harmed anyone.

    Do Satanists really brainwash people?

    No. Nobody brainwashes people, actually, because brainwashing isn’t real.

    It’s not?

    Psychological manipulation is real, and takes many forms, but “brainwashing” is a made up concept that originated in American propaganda during the Korean War. In 1950, Edward Hunter, a journalist with ties to the CIA, ran a story with the headline, “Brain-Washing Tactics Force Chinese into Ranks of Communist Party” in the Miami News. That article introduced “brainwashing” to the American vocabulary.

    continued below

  33. During the Cold War “brainwashing” became a way to acknowledge the loyalty of communist soldiers while simultaneously discrediting it as a kind of false consciousness. It also helped to explain American POWs who appeared to cooperate with their communist captors.

    How did the concept jump from Communist soldiers to Americans?

    Richard Condon’s 1959 novel The Manchurian Candidate and its 1962 film adaption introduced the idea that ordinary people could be brainwashed assassins and not even know it. Even the CIA believed in the possibility of mind control during this era, leading to the nefarious MKULTRA experiments. In turn, revelations about this program provided even more fodder for conspiracy theorists.

    In the 1970s, brainwashing became less associated with evil governments and more associated with evil religions. During the “cult wars” of the 1970s an anti-cult movement alleged that minority religions use brainwashing to gain converts. An industry of “deprogrammers” emerged, promising to “rescue” people from religions they only thought they had chosen to join.

    In the 1980s, this cultural fear of cults mutated into a fear of Satanic conspiracies. Brainwashing melded with the language of therapy and recovery, resulting in a panic over “Satanic Ritual Abuse” (SRA). SRA was inspired by the 1980 bestseller Michelle Remembers, an account of “repressed memories” that Michelle Smith recovered through hours of hypnosis therapy with her psychiatrist (and eventual husband) Lawrence Padzer. Smith “remembered” that her mother had been a Satanist who had tortured her for months in bizarre Satanic rituals intended to convert her to Satanism.

    Michelle Remembers was immediately discredited, but fear of SRA continued. By the late 1980s a small group of therapists claimed that highly organized Satanic cults were conspiring to abuse countless children each year. The purpose of these rituals, they claimed, was to traumatize the victim so badly that victims would be unable to remember the abuse ever occurred. Furthermore, they claimed that this abuse fragments the victim’s mind, creating multiple personalities or “alters.” Like Major Ben Marco in The Manchurian Candidate, these repressed personalities can be activated at any time to do the bidding of the cult. An unaware SRA victim could supposedly have their body taken over to torture and program their own children. Talks show hosts Geraldo and Oprah interviewed alleged survivors of SRA and did much to disseminate this mythology to the public.

    Oprah was wrong?!

    It was a manufactured panic. In the 1990s SRA was debunked by some prominent experts: FBI agent Kenneth Lanning, retired police officer Robert Hicks, and journalist Debbie Nathan, to name a few. Cognitive scientists such as Elizabeth Loftus have largely discredited the idea of repressed memories.

    In 1995 even Geraldo recanted his support for SRA, announcing, “I am convinced that I was terribly wrong . . . and many innocent people were convicted and went to prison as a result . . . And I am equally positive [that the] repressed memory therapy movement is also a bunch of crap.” Despite all this, these ideas are still advanced on the fringes of the mental health community.

    continued below

  34. Are these conspiracy theories dangerous

    Yes. In many cases, patients being treated for SRA have survived actual abuse, or suffer from other mental health issues. These conspiracy theories divert attention from actual abusers and cognitive disorders. At worst, the paranoid worldview promoted by these theories can escalate into dangerous situations.

    Take, for example, Mary S. and Pat Burgess, two women who initially sought treatment for depression from psychiatrist Bennett Braun and therapist Roberta G. Sachs. Shortly before treating the pair, Braun and Sachs had attended a workshop on SRA by Dr. Corydon Hammond, a self-described expert in brainwashing and cult phenomena. (Dr. Hammond has also spoken about Nazi scientists, cabala, “psychic assassins,” and other conspiracy threads). Braun and Sachs convinced their patients that they had multiple-personality disorder (MPD) caused by SRA.

    Mary was told that she was “cult royalty” and that her family had practiced cult abuse for generations. She allegedly possessed dozens of “alters” who had engaged in murder, cannibalism, and other activities without her knowledge. Mary was institutionalized for two years on the grounds that her violent programming could be triggered at any moment, endangering her family. Her husband divorced her, her son became frightened of her, and her symptoms did not end until her therapy finally ceased.

    Most recently, the Grey Faction has brought attention to the case of Gigi Jordan, who killed her autistic child believing this was the only way to stop Satanists from abusing him. Jordan had been treated by Ellen Lacter, a psychologist who has advanced conspiracy theories about witches and Satanists. The Grey Faction has filed a complaint about Dr. Lacter’s advocacy for conspiracy theories with the California Board of Psychology.

    All right, SRA conspiracies are dangerous. But is the Grey Faction justified in infiltrating conferences and targeting specific individuals?

    TST spokesperson Doug Mesner frames this work as investigative journalism, while organizers of these conferences see it as a violation of the safe environment they are trying to create for the victims of abuse. Critics have called The Grey Faction “witch hunters.”

    The fight over the reality of SRA and repressed memories is old, but the Grey Faction’s tactics are definitely new. Many academics and medical professionals agree that anti-Satanist conspiracy theorists are dangerous, but few would go so far as to single out individuals or file complaints with medical boards. Instead of debunking conspiracy theories, the Grey Faction is directly challenging the legitimacy of the people promoting these ideas.

    In many ways, the fight between the Grey Faction and the remaining SRA advocates is a continuation of the “cult wars” that began in the 1970s when prejudice against minority religions were framed in medical terms. Fights over the reality of brainwashing and evil conspiracies never died, they just moved to the periphery. Time will tell whether the Grey Faction’s aggressive tactics will discredit SRA once and for all or drive this culture of conspiracy even deeper underground.



    by Jordan Smith, The Intercept June 20 2017

    TWENTY-FIVE YEARS after they were convicted of a crime that never happened, Fran and Dan Keller were formally exonerated on June 20 in Austin, Texas.

    The couple’s prosecution in 1992 was part of a wave of cases across the country amid an episode of mass hysteria known as the Satanic Panic. Beginning in the 1980s, accusations flew that the childcare industry had been infiltrated by bands of Satanists hell-bent on brainwashing and sexually abusing young children. The Kellers’ exoneration closes a decadeslong chapter of profound injustice for a couple that paid an exceptionally high price for the credulousness of local law enforcement.

    “I still can’t believe it’s happening,” Fran, now 67, said on Tuesday morning while driving with her husband to sign the legal paperwork. She’s still wary; they’ve been waiting for this day for so long she isn’t yet sure it is real. “I guess I’m just tired of having to hang on for so long.”

    Dan, 75, is slightly more upbeat — he always thought this day would come. He recalled a sleepless night in prison in 1995 when he said he heard God. “He said, ‘You’re going home, but I have some things to sort through first.’” Dan said he slept soundly that night. “We have to try to not have doubt in our life.”

    The exoneration is the first for the nascent conviction integrity unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office under the new DA, Margaret Moore. Court documents filed Tuesday announced that there is “no credible evidence” against the Kellers. Moore said she personally reviewed the case and believes exoneration “to be a just outcome.”

    Fran and Dan Keller were each sentenced to 48 years in prison for the alleged sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl who was an occasional drop-in at their home daycare center on the rural outskirts of Austin. The child initially accused Dan of spanking her “like daddy” used to, but under intense and repeated questioning by her mother and a therapist, the story morphed to include claims of rape and orgies involving children. From there, the number of children alleging abuse increased and the accusations grew even more lurid and confounding: The Kellers had sacrificed babies; they held ceremonies in a local graveyard; they put blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; Fran cut off the arm of a gorilla in a local park; they flew the children to Mexico to be sexually assaulted by military officials.

    When I began reinvestigating the case in 2008 for the Austin Chronicle, I was stunned to learn that police and prosecutors who had worked the case back in the early ’90s still believed some of the most outrageous allegations leveled against the Kellers. The Austin Police Department refused to release its investigative report on the case, forcing the Chronicle to take the agency to court. We ultimately won the right to full, unredacted access.

    After reading the report, https://www.austinchronicle.com/media/content/759211/apdkellerreport.pdf
    it was not hard to understand why the department had fought to keep it secret. It was an ALL-CAPS, run-on-sentence fever dream full of breathless accusations and absent any actual investigation that could prove or disprove the claims. On multiple occasions, the lead investigator took the girl who accused the Kellers to lunch at McDonald’s before setting out for drives in the neighborhood where she would point out locations: Yes, she had been abused there; yes, she recognized the cemetery where the Kellers had killed and buried babies; yes, many of the residents of the quiet neighborhood were in on the hi-jinx. Not once did investigators question the child’s statements.

    My reinvestigation of the Keller case turned up evidence that would ultimately lead to their release from prison. [continued below]

  36. The only vaguely physical evidence that tied the couple to any wrongdoing was the testimony of a young emergency room doctor named Michael Mouw, who had examined the girl and concluded there was damage to her vaginal area that could be the result of sexual abuse. As it turned out, the doctor was wrong. Mouw told me that not long after the Kellers were convicted, he attended a medical conference where he learned that what he had interpreted as signs of abuse were nothing more than a normal variant of female genitalia.

    Mouw’s medical opinion had fundamentally changed, offering the Kellers an avenue to challenge their conviction. During a hearing in the summer of 2013, he unequivocally stated that there was no doubt that the child’s genitalia was normal and that he’d gotten it wrong when he examined her in 1991. He said that he tried to reach out to the Austin Police Department after he realized his error but was rebuffed by the detective, who was “convinced they were guilty.”

    After the 2013 hearing, DA Rosemary Lehmberg — who had been head of the office’s child abuse unit at the time of the Kellers’ prosecution — ultimately agreed that the couple had not received a fair trial, and they were released shortly before Christmas that year. While there was no doubt the couple would not be retried, over the intervening years, Lehmberg declined to take the final step and exonerate them, claiming to my former editor that she could not “find a pathway to innocence” for the Kellers. She was essentially trying to prove a negative — seeking evidence that would prove a crime never happened.

    Without a formal exoneration, the Kellers struggled to rebuild their lives. They were still saddled with a conviction for sexual assault of a child, which made it nearly impossible to find work or a place to live. Without an income, they had to scrape by with the help of family and food stamps, and they have not been able to get the kind of medical attention they need for health issues prompted in part by abuses they suffered in prison.

    The court filing Tuesday should pave the way for the Kellers to collect roughly $1.7 million each in state compensation for the 21 years they spent behind bars.

    Still, the outcome should not be considered a victory for the criminal justice system. With a few notable exceptions, the law enforcement officials in Austin — police and prosecutors, as well as the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals — failed the residents of the city and more importantly the Kellers by accepting the shocking allegations on their face and abdicating their duty to seek the truth of the matter.

    If it weren’t for the dogged support of people like Mouw and attorney Keith Hampton — who has spent more than six years toiling on the case for free in an effort to bring about this exoneration — the Kellers would still be in prison, and that is where they would have died.

    Contrary to what many people might think, you don’t have a right not to be convicted of a crime you did not commit. For the most part, the Constitution is silent on this point. Instead, the focus is on whether a person received a fair trial. Did you have at least minimally competent lawyers? Were you afforded the ability to cross-examine witnesses against you? If so, then your conviction — even for a crime that never happened — should stand. Once a person is convicted, the system works only to reinforce that outcome. That remains the reality for untold thousands who sit innocent behind bars today.

    “I’m very happy for them, and this is huge for the ultimate resolution of this case,” Hampton said of the Kellers. “We can’t give them their 21 years back, but we are doing everything else we can to restore them. When we finally do that, then they’ll be in a position to forgive us for what we as a society did to them.”


  37. The satanic sex cult in a quiet Welsh village which shocked and horrified a nation

    A depraved sex cult used their quiet seaside homes for the most unspeakable acts towards children over decades. This is the full story of what happened

    BY CAITLIN O'SULLIVAN, WalesOnline November 25, 2018

    Clos yr Onnen, with its well-kept homes and neatly manicured gardens, is like thousands of unassuming suburban streets throughout Wales.

    Just a stone’s throw from the medieval castle in the charming seaside town of Kidwelly, the quiet and overlooked cul-de-sac is outwardly unremarkable.

    Children’s bikes and scooters lean against lamposts as cars trundle back and forth on school runs, journeys to work, and trips to the shops.

    This Carmarthenshire estate is, on the face of it, certainly not the most likely setting for a satanic paedophile ring.

    Yet it was here that former Tesco security guard Colin Batley established his depraved cult which saw children and young adults intimidated into having sex in the most horrific circumstances.

    As ordinary, law-abiding families went about their daily lives in the dozens of homes in Clos yr Onnen Batley and three of his neighbours established an occult-inspired sex ring which stole the childhoods of its victims.

    The full, shocking scale of the abuse perpetrated by the cult came finally came to light when they were jailed for a total of 36 years in 2011 – with “quasi-religious” sect leader Batley warned he may never be freed.

    But the roots of what happened in Kidwelly began some two decades before when Londoner Batley moved to Carmarthenshire.

    Having relocated in the 1990s he established a homemade cult of which he was the self-styled high priest.

    After Batley and his wife Elaine, who were married 28 years before they split ahead of their trial, had moved to Wales they were followed by Jacqueline Marling and Shelly Millar, who each moved into the same street and were part of the cult.

    Inspired by the works of arch-satanist Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947, female members of the sect referred to Batley as “My Lord”.

    Women in the cult, which they called “The Church”, filled their homes with ancient Egyptian idolatry and wore Eye of Horus protection symbol tattoos on their arms celebrating Crowley’s worship of the Egyptian hawk god Horus.

    Cult members would dress in hooded robes during occult rituals which usually took place before group sex.

    A number of houses in the same cul-de-sac were used for the regular cult sex sessions as part of their swinging lifestyle.

    Scruffy and jobless Batley, who had several missing teeth, would read from the occult bible, The Book of The Law, written more than a century ago by Crowley as well as his other works Equinox of the Gods and The Book of Magick.

    He would also order cult members to have sex together and ensure that other members were present to film it.

    The recorded material, though, is all believed to have been destroyed before Batley’s arrest.

    He was apparently tipped off by friends in London about the impending raid on his home two days before it happened.

    Batley, who was 48 when he stood trial over five weeks at Swansea Crown Court in the early part of 2011, was said to have used the cult as a form of brainwashing to justify abuse to his victims.

    One schoolboy, by that time an adult, told the trial Batley had repeatedly abused him as a child.

    A schoolgirl, also by then an adult, said she was forced into joining the cult through fear for her life.

    Batley told her a cult assassin would kill her if she did not take part in an elaborate initiation ceremony.

    It started with a 10-minute lecture on the occult by him but concluded with sex.

    The schoolgirl said she was later ordered to Batley’s home on regular occasions when she would have to have sex with him.

    She was also taken to satanic sex parties where she would be passed round to have sex with strangers.

    continued below

  38. At one an altar was set out with a goblet of red wine, an incense burner, and salted bread and sect members later disrobed – or, in their words, “became skyclad” – and had sex.

    Giving evidence against Batley via videolink during the trial one victim claimed all he had to do was “click his fingers” to make a woman strip.

    And she claimed that soon after she met Batley, when she was just 11, he told her to have sex with him or she would “go to the abyss”.

    “I did not want him to do what he was doing but I did not have a choice because what Colin said was what happened. What Colin said went.”

    Batley was also accused of stepping in to try to prevent a young woman from aborting a baby he believed he may have fathered so it could be “a child of the occult”.

    During the trial prosecutor Peter Murphy QC told the jury: “The offences were committed against a background of persistent psychological coercion and fear using the vehicle of the occult. The victims were brainwashed, frightened – they felt they had no choice.”

    The perverted events described in court took place over several decades in both Kidwelly and addresses in London.

    Cult leader's son died 'during sex act'
    Colin and Elaine Batley's home was also the scene of the death of their son Damian during a sex act gone wrong.

    On February 1, 2008, the former Asda cashier filmed himself on his mobile phone as he accidentally hanged himself.

    A family member found Mr Batley naked and hanged, an inquest heard.

    The police were called and when they arrived at the scene they found video footage on his mobile phone.

    Deputy coroner Pauline Mainwaring recorded a verdict of accidental death from hanging.

    She added: “There is no evidence to suggest suicide.”

    She confirmed that there were no suspicious circumstances and no-one else was involved.

    Following the convictions of the cult members one neighbour in Clos yr Onnen recalled of Colin Batley: “The day of his son’s funeral he was sitting outside his house laughing and joking like he didn’t have a care in the world.

    "It was the sort of behaviour that no normal person could comprehend.”

    Batley – who smirked as the horrific allegations against him were laid bare in court – repeatedly denied the accusations against him as he spoke out in his own defence.

    He denied he ran a cult or was in any way a leader. He did admit having an “open” sexual relationship with his wife and enjoying threesomes with co-defendant and “second in command” Jackie Marling, with whom he had a long-standing affair without the knowledge of his wife.

    The cult was smashed by police in the summer of 2010 when two courageous victims, a man and a woman, went to them with their stories of abuse at the hands of Batley and the other defendants.

    Five complainants, whose identity is protected by law, came to the subsequent trial to describe how they were taken or lured to the homes at Clos yr Onnen and subjected to sex attacks.

    Several broke down and sobbed as they recalled what they had been through.

    They also said others, who had not come forward, were also made to perform unspeakable acts.

    Batley also forced victims into prostitution, with prosecutor Mr Murphy saying the “controlling” and manipulative sect principal took a 25% cut of any cash other members earned.

    Millar, then 35, was said to have got through 3,000 clients in a two-year period while acting as a prostitute in massage parlours in Swansea and Bristol.

    The trial heard how Batley purchased a £21,000 luxury caravan in February 2010 using a £3,210 cash deposit despite having no obvious income.

    Batley, who dismissed his role as a feared high priest of his own religion as “a load of rubbish”, claimed he made £10,000 a year breeding pedigree rottweilers for sale and said he also bred Siamese cats.

    And he claimed some of his money came from “gambling on the dogs and horses”.

    continued below

  39. During the trial it emerged that following their arrests the preceding summer the Batleys had separated.

    While giving evidence she accused her husband of laughing at her from the dock as she stood in the witness box.

    She said: “I feel embarrassed to be married to him.”

    And she added: “I’ve changed, you won’t get the better of me now.”

    She told the court that while she and Marling had been involved in “threesomes” and had had a fling together she only found out later that her husband and Marling had been having a long-term affair.

    The discovery was made when Marling sent him a birthday card with the words “To my husband” on it.

    Of her marriage, Elaine Batley said on one occasion he sent a photo of her to the Readers’ Wives section of a pornographic magazine and this led to them meeting “other couples for group activities”.

    As the defendants were led down the steps to court cells after being remanded in custody following the guilty verdicts against them Elaine Batley could be heard screaming “I ******* hate you” at her husband. Crying and sobbing was audible from the cell steps.

    Barely containing his contempt for the defendants as he jailed them for total of 47 charges, Judge Paul Thomas QC told them: “You besmirched the unsuspecting community of Kidwelly by setting up a community within a community which involved rape, child sex abuse and prostitution.”

    The trial was so harrowing that jurors were offered counselling.

    The defendants and their sentences
    The self-styled 'high priest' of the cult grew up in Shoreditch, London, and once worked for Tesco as a night security guard.

    He also ran a fruit and vegetable stall. He spent 28 years married to wife and co-defendant Elaine.

    Batley claimed his late lorry driver father sexually abused him as a child.

    Asked in court about his fascination for Egypt the 48-year-old just said: “Egypt? I don’t mind Egypt.”

    He was convicted of 35 offences including 11 rapes and numerous child sex crimes.

    Sentencing him to an indeterminate prison term on public protection grounds and ordering him to serve at least 11 years before being eligible for parole, Judge Paul Thomas QC told him: “When this case was opened to the jury you Colin Batley were described as evil.

    “That in my view is an accurate statement of your character. You set yourself up as the ruler of a sick little kingdom surrounded by three women who danced as your willing attendants regarding you as their master.

    “It’s clear you dedicated your life since the age of 12 or 13 to satisfying your sexual urges by any means at your disposal.

    “You left your victims psychologically scarred and treated them as sexual playthings.”

    She grew up in East London and had tattoos including the Eye of Horus on her arm, a pentagram above Egyptian script on her leg, Tutankhamun on her back plus another Egyptian script on her back which she claimed she did not understand.

    When asked if she had ever been to Egypt during her trial the then 47-year-old said she would like to have gone but had not visited “because of the heat”.

    She also told the court she liked the ancient Egyptians because “they were good to their slaves”.

    She admitted to an affair with Jackie Marling and “a fumble” with Shelly Millar and told the court she was interested in Aleister Crowley and read his work.

    According to one of the victims in the case Batley’s wife was treated “like a slave” but the judge said she became a willing participant in her husband’s “wickedness”.

    The jury heard how a young boy was tricked into having sex with her

    She was jailed for eight years after being convicted of indecency with children.

    She grew up in Poplar, East London, and was 42 at the time she stood trial.

    Marling initially denied to police officers that she was a prostitute but her car was spotted making regular trips to brothels in the centre of Swansea and Bristol.

    continued below

  40. She sported an Eye of Horus tattoo on her arm and had a figurine of a cat goddess in her home plus a drawing of the Mask of Tutankhamun and one of the hawk-headed Egyptian god Horus.

    She had affairs with Colin Batley and Elaine Batley.

    Described as ringleader Colin Batley's "second in command", she was jailed for 12 years for aiding and abetting rape and child sex offences.

    Jailing Marling, the judge told her: “After Colin Batley you are the most culpable in this horrific scenario. Your relationship with him brought together two kindred evil spirits.

    “You were clearly besotted with him and The Book Of The Law and I view you effectively as his second in command in all this.

    “You may or may not take this as a compliment but you have fully lived up to the ideals of your mentor Aleister Crowley.”

    He added: “Throughout the trial you have not displayed a flicker of emotion. The tears in your eyes now I take to be tears of self-pity.”

    The 35-year-old sobbed as she was found guilty of two counts of indecency with children, one of which involved having sex with a 12-year-old boy.

    Having grown up in Kent, Millar had an Eye of Horus tattoo on her arm and admitted to having around 3,000 clients as a prostitute during a two-year period working in Swansea and Bristol.

    She was jailed for five years.

    In the aftermath of the court case neighbours in Clos yr Onnen described Batley as an “evil bully”.

    His rundown home had a torn and ragged England flag pinned outside while two rottweiler dogs – named Sekhet after the Egyptian lion goddess and Toots, short for Tutankhamun – could often be heard leaping at the door.

    People nearby described how Batley – who also had a cat called Rameses – used to walk around the estate with his two dogs as if to intimidate people.

    “Colin Batley is the most disgusting and vile man you could meet,” one neighbour said at the time.

    One woman said: “Batley and one of his friends used to have a van calling regularly, with a consignment of contraband tobacco and, we think, pornography. They used to head off to France on fortnightly trips and sometimes were gone for as long as six weeks. It makes you wonder if part of their cult activity was going on there too.”

    Seven years later street resident John Wheatland still remembers being able to hear one of the victims crying at night.

    He didn’t know why and says he had “no idea whatsoever” of the awful reality of what was going on.

    “She would cry every night, sobbing,” he said.

    “I didn’t know why and I never raised suspicions but I should have known something wasn’t right.”

    Mr Wheatland also described an extraordinary incident as he worked in the garden of his home and saw a teenage girl “done up to look like a film star” nearby.

    He estimated her to be aged 14 or 15.

    “She looked at me and said: ‘Do you want sex then?’ I was shocked. I don’t know what I said but I went inside.

    “I’d never heard anything like that before.”

    The woman who had dressed her, her said, “used to dress up in very short skirts and high heels and walk to Batley’s house”.

    Recalling the day the cult members were arrested in the summer of 2010 he said he had been leaving his house at around 8.30am when he saw police cars in the street.

    “When I came back they were gone,” he said. “I had no idea what it was about.

    “This is a quiet neighbourhood. When all those Londoners came down it was very strange.

    “Batley was very arrogant. Apart from that there was nothing suspicious about him. We didn’t speak.”

    Speaking in 2014 one of the victims of the cult – who published a book under the pseudonym Annabelle detailing what she had been through over 11 harrowing years of abuse – described how her own mother, Jackie Marling, abused her under Batley’s orders.

    “Nothing can hurt me as much as my mum and that man,” she said.

    “My mother was an evil woman and I’ll never forgive her.”

    continued below

  41. By then a mother herself and living happily in another part of the UK, she told how she was just seven years old when first forced to watch her mother perform a sex act on Batley.

    At the age of 11 she was raped by him in her own home and three years later she was made to take part in group sex with her mother.

    “I went to the sentencing in court because I wanted to see her one last time,” she said. “I wanted her to reach out to me, to say it was all his fault and she was under his spell.

    “But she didn’t. She just made a face and asked what I was doing there.

    “She went to prison unrepentant and I suppose that made me realise it wasn’t just him. She was evil too. As a mother myself I can hardly believe how she treated me. It was unnatural and cruel.

    “But there is no point getting depressed about it, you have to live for the future. But I never want to see her again. Nothing can hurt me as much as they did but that is what makes me stronger.”

    She described how the children abused by the cult were cut off from their peers and forced to take part in long church services and obey Batley’s every whim.

    “We weren’t even allowed to look in his eyes,” said Annabelle.

    “He ruled our little community with an iron will and we were made to do what he ordered for fear of angering the Gods.”

    In Batley’s ‘Church’, children were led to believe they were proving themselves to the Gods by passing tests, which usually involved sex with either him or other cult members.

    Annabelle recalled the first time he raped her when she was just 11 years old.

    “The worst thing about it was the fact that he made me think I was doing it out of choice,” she said.

    “It was awful. The most painful and shocking thing that had ever happened – but it was my path, that’s what he told me, and if I didn’t do it I would go to the Abyss, which was our version of hell.

    “Colin knew how to manipulate you, to make you believe anything he said.”

    But Annabelle’s most horrific experience was when her own mother assaulted her at the age of 14.

    “Afterwards, Colin asked me if I enjoyed it and I knew what I had to say – I had to say yes. But inside I felt like dying.”

    The tests did not end there – at 14 she was forced into a relationship with another cult member five years her senior and by then she was having regular group sex with Batley and her mother.

    “I was a schoolgirl by day and a sex slave at night,” she said. “It got so bad that at one point I tried to take my own life.”

    Aged 18, three months after having Batley’s child, she was forced into prostitution.

    It was the love of her daughter that saved her and gave her a reason to live – she bravely escaped in the dead of night when her baby was one year old.

    By the time of her escape she had slept with over 1,800 men – the proceeds of which had all gone towards ‘the Church’.

    After the case another victim descrived how Batley forced her to put on a satanic symbol and raped her as a teenager.

    The woman described how he ruled the cult by fear.

    “[Colin] was the boss. He barked orders at everybody including me.

    “People just did what they were told. He had Rottweilers that were scared of him but vicious to everyone else.

    “At 15 I had to have sex with Colin. He said it was an initiation into the occult.

    “He said he did not want to do it but it had to be done. He said if I did not follow orders I would be killed. People ‘higher up’ in the cult would do it, he said.”

    Reflecting on his jail term she added: “A hundred years would not be enough for Colin Batley.

    “But at least now myself and the other victims can start to rebuild our lives outside of the shadow of that contemptible man.”

    She was originally from London but was brought to Wales by Batley where she was abused and “passed round” to other cult members who had sex with her.

    She said: “He said the occult was strong in Wales.”