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Believe The Children was an organization that attempted to raise public awareness of the evils of child abuse, including ritual abuse. 1 The last activity of this group that we have been able to find was a conference in Arlington Heights IL on 1995-JUN-16 to 18. 2 At some subsequent time, the group disbanded. At the conference, Believe the Children distributed a list of 18 court convictions which they believed involved ritual abuse: 15 were from the US, with one each from Canada, England and New Zealand. This list  posted at several sites on the WWW. 3

Of the 18 allegations:
bulletWe have been able to obtain details in the better known cases. In each case, it is apparent to us that no ritual abuse actually occurred. Memories of ritual abuse appear to have been inadvertently planted as a result of improper interviewing techniques. In many cases, the convictions are being overturned on appeal, and people are being freed from prison. But some still remain in jail. They are in the unusual situation of having been convicted for crimes that probably never happened.
bulletIn some cases, ritual abuse was casually mentioned during a trial or in a newspaper article. These probably relate more to the beliefs of the prosecutor or reporter than to any actual facts in the case.
bulletIn the cases marked *, we have not been able to obtain any information. Any assistance would be appreciated. 

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Individual cases:

The following cases were listed in their 1995-JUN-24 revision:
bullet*Santa Rosa, CA. Darryl Ball and Charlotte Thrailkill: The prosecution mentioned ritual abuse at trial during their opening statement. 
bullet*Akron, CO Philip and Michael Schmidt: A newspaper article mentioned allegations of ritual abuse by a child. 
bullet Miami, FL Francisco and Iliana Fuster: Details are available for this case. It is often called Country Walk after the name of the baby sitting service. Child molestation was involved, but probably no ritual abuse. 
bullet*Stuart, FL James Toward and Brenda Williams: They were convicted in 1989 and sentenced to 15 and 6 year terms. 
bullet*Hapeville, GA Walter P. West, Jr.: He pleaded guilty in 1994 to 33 counts of sexual abuse and was given a 20 year sentence. The teacher that reported the abuse believes that the children were forced to engage in bestiality and to watch animal killings.
bullet*Edgewood, IA Michael Joseph Schildmeyer: He was convicted on a single count of sexual abuse and given a 25 year jail sentence. Children disclosed ritual abuse.
bullet Malden, MA The Amirault Family: Details are available for this case, often called Fells Acre after the name of the day care center. No child molestation or ritual abuse appears to have been involved.
bulletNiles, MI Allan Barkman: Details are available for this case. No child molestation or ritual abuse appears to have been involved.
bullet*Carson City, NV Martha Felix and Felix "Paco" Ontiveros: They were convicted of crimes against children.
bulletEdenton, NC Robert "Bob" Kelly, Kathryn Wilson, Elizabeth "Betsy" Kelly and Willard Privott: Details are available for this case, often called Little Rascal's after the name of the day care center. No child molestation or ritual abuse appears to have been involved. The convictions were overturned on appeal, and persons charged will not be re-tried. 
bulletSmithfield, NC Patrick Figuered and Sonja Hill: Details are available for this case. No child molestation or ritual abuse appears to have been involved.
bullet*Canton, OH Estella M. Sexton: She was convicted of child abuse. An older brother told of Satanic rituals in the home.
bulletRoseburg, OR The Gallup family: Details are available for this case. No child molestation or ritual abuse appears to have been involved. 
bullet*Lehi, UT Alan B. Hadfield: He was convicted on of sexual abuse with two of his children. Up to 40 other adults were accused of Satanic Ritual Abuse, but were not charged.
bulletOlympia, WA Paul R. Ingram: Details are available for this case. No child molestation or ritual abuse appears to have been involved.
bulletMartensville, SK, Canada; The Sterling Family and Jane Doe: Details are available for this case, which has become known as the Martensville Nightmare. No child molestation or ritual abuse appears to have been involved.
bullet Nottingham, UK Group of 9 adults: Details are available for this case. In 1989, nine adults were sentenced for up to 10 years on 53 charges of non-ritual incest, cruelty and indecent assault on children. We believe that the persons charged were in fact guilty of child abuse, but that no ritual abuse occurred. Many disclosures of ritual abuse were made by the children after they were relocated in foster care. This resulted in a severe conflict between social workers (who believed the children's stories of ritual abuse) and the local police (which did not). A joint committee of social workers and police investigated the claims and found them groundless. Unfortunately, their report was suppressed, and the ritual abuse panic spread throughout England. Belief in ritual abuse still remains in that country, but is in decline.
bulletNew Zealand; Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis: Details are also available for this case. No child molestation or ritual abuse appears to have been involved.

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There were many other cases where ritual abuse was alleged which were not included in the "Believe the Children" list.

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  1. Believe The Children, was located P.O. Box 797, Cary, IL 60013. Telephone: (708) 515-5432. PO Box 268462, Chicago, IL 60626. It is no longer active.
  2. SMART newsletter, 1995-JUL, Issue 3, at: http://members.aol.com/smartnews/page4/Sample-Issue-03.htm 
  3. The Believe the Children's Ritual Child Abuse Conviction List is still available at: http://www.healingroads.org/ra_cases.html

Copyright © 1997, 2000 & 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2001-MAR-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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