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Multi-victim, multi-offender (MVMO)

Ritual abuse case in Charleroi, Belgium

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The Dutroux Multiple Kidnapping, Abuse and Murder Case

One of the most shocking allegations of ritual abuse during the 1990's surfaced in Charleroi, Belgium. In 1996-AUG, Marc Dutroux confessed to abducting young girls. Newspaper reports allege that he ran a business in which girls were kidnapped, confined in cells in the basement of one of his houses, and sold for tens of thousands of dollars each. He transported them out of the country for a life of child prostitution. Child pornographic videotaping was also involved.

During 1996-AUG-15, acting on a tip from eyewitnesses, the police raided Dutroux' house. They found a dungeon built in the basement from which they rescued two young girls: Laetitia Delhez, 12 and Sabine Dardenne, 14. They told police that they had been raped and videotaped repeatedly. At least 300 child pornography videos were picked up as evidence. Some featured Dutroux sexually abusing girls. The next day, police dug up the bodies of two 8 year old girls: Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, who had been missing for over a year. They are alleged to have been starved to death by Dutroux' wife, while her husband served a short jail sentence for car fraud.

Two weeks later, police recover the bodies of two missing youths: An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks, aged 17 and 19. They had been buried deeply under the floor of a shack in the garden. Dutroux confessed to raping and killing them. These findings triggered a country-wide concern over the fate of other girls who had gone missing in Belgium since 1990. At least 15 have vanished. 9 bodies have been recovered; 2 were rescued and 4 remained missing.

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Dutroux was well known to police. He had been convicted of raping 5 children, and was released on parole after serving 3 years of a 13 year sentence. Although he was unemployed and receiving welfare, he owned 7 houses and regularly received deposits of tens of thousands of dollars in his bank accounts.

Police had been tipped off in 1993 that he was building dungeons in his cellar and intended to confine children there. They had received many other tips subsequently, including a 1995 story from an informant that Dutroux had offered a man at least the equivalent of U.S. $3,000 to kidnap girls.

Five additional people were arrested. Some were charged with abduction and illegal imprisonment of children. Others were arrested on suspicion of criminal association. One was Dutroux' second wife, Michelle Martin. Another was a Brussels businessman, Jean-Michel Nihoul. He confessed that he had organized sex parties in various Belgian castles with many VIPs as guests.

Judge Connerotte led the investigation. He attended a party to celebrate Laetitia's and Sabine's return which was organized by a non-profit missing children agency, Marc and Corinne Association. The association was named after two 21 and 17 year old young women who were kidnapped and murdered in 1992. He accepted a pen as a symbolic gift for saving the girls' lives.

On OCT-14, Connerotte was dismissed by the High Court and another investigative judge was later appointed.

On DEC-28, a Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure claimed that they have a guest list of the attendees of an orgy held in a Belgium chateau. It was allegedly organized by Michel Nihoul, one of Dutroux' alleged accomplices. The orgy included judges, senior politicians, lawyers, police officers and a former European Commissioner. The guest list indicates that the Commissioner:

"... came with a girl, Josette, nicknamed JoJo the Bomb."

These events produced great agitation among the Belgium populace. Many concluded that the police could not be so stupid as to miss so many opportunities to detect Dutroux' activities and arrest him. They concluded that a massive protection operation had been in place to protect politicians, officials in high places, and the child sexual abuse ring. They also believed that the government, police and courts were currently involved in a hush-up. Many public demonstrations were held.

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Is there a Satanic link to the Dutroux case?

There are three elements to this case that are also commonly found in allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse cases:
bullet the kidnapping of children;

bullet the sexual abuse of children;

bullet confining of victims in cages.
However, there is no indication from the scene, from the interviews of the two rescued victims, or from the confessions of the alleged perpetrators that any ritual abuse was involved -- Satanic or otherwise. The entire operation appears to have been motivated by:

bullet greed: Young girls can be sold into prostitution for a great deal of money. Pornographic videotapes are easy to make and duplicate; they also can be sold at a tremendous profit.

bullet lust: Dutroux is a known pedophile who has continually acted out his perverted sexual attraction to young children, with no concern for their suffering.
But there appears to be no religious motivation for the abuse and confining of their victims. Belgium did not appear to be dealing with a case of Satanic ritual abuse here. The police have uncovered a criminal gang, not a religious cult.

It is worthwhile realizing that in spite of incredible bumbling ineptitude by the police, that Dutroux and accomplices were detected and arrested within 2 years of starting their child abuse/pornography business. This is a good indication that a full-fledged, underground Satanic ritual abuse cult could not exist for long in a country without being exposed. For a long term, multi-generational Satanic cult to survive appears virtually impossible.

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Belgium Satanic Panic:

A series of Satanic urban panics had occurred in North America starting circa 1980 and continued until the mid 1990's. They were heavily influenced by the publishing of the first of the ritual abuse survivor books, "Michelle Remembers." 3 This and many subsequent books have been shown to be works of fiction by various Evangelical Christian, Wiccan and secular investigators. But they struck a chord in the American and Canadian public at the time. In the state of Utah, for example, a poll at the turn of the century showed that 90% of the public believed that widespread, secret, Satanic groups were committing terrible crimes.

We are now approaching four decades after the beginning of the panics. During the 1980's and early 1990's, many innocent U.S. parents, day care center workers, and Sunday school volunteers were convicted of ritual abuse. Their cases were later reviewed and overturned. Many government studies in the United States, the Netherlands and the UK concluded that abusive Satanic cults do not exist.

No credible hard evidence of any such abuse has surfaced, in spite of great efforts by police forces over a 15 year period. The belief in Satanic abuse seems to have peaked in the late 1980's, and started to rapidly decline in North America during the 1990's. But western European countries, like Belgium, had not yet experienced the pain of a full-fledged Satanic panic at the time of the Charleroi kidnapping.

The image of the evil "witch" selling her soul to Satan remained part of Christian culture. This idea was created by the churches as an attempt to justify the three centuries of witch burnings in western Europe. It continues into the 21st century in some Hollywood horror movies, TV programs, and in children's books. Belgium appeared to be ripe for a panic. One seems to have started in 1996, triggered by the events in Charleroi.

Starting in late 1996-DEC, Belgian police attempted to link the Dutroux murders and rapes with Satanic sects engaging in ritual abuse. In a near duplicate of North American and British experiences, five witnesses came forward. They described Satanic black masses attended by prominent members of Belgium society and involving the ritual sacrifice of children. They believe that the Belgium cults were linked with similar groups in Holland, Germany and the U.S. They claim that parents sold their young babies to the cults for money. Other victims were abducted.

When the police and the rest of the public is presented with accounts of such incredible horror, they tend to suspend rational judgment. They never appeared to ask themselves logical questions. For example:
bullet how likely would the parents of a newborn child sell their infant to be sacrificed?

bullet how could a cult member canvas couples with newborns without triggering a complaint to the police?

bullet if many infants are abducted and sacrificed, why did their parents not notice them missing and report the kidnapping?

bullet why has a body of a sacrificed infant never been found in North America or Europe?

The police centered their investigation on an occult group called Institut Abrasax. It was a a legal organization set up in 1990 that teaches sorcery and initiation into satanic rites." The Institute was named after Abrasax, a deity who is seen often in ancient magick. His origins remain obscure. One source, states that the Gnostic religious tradition defines Abrasaks (a.k.a. Abrasax, Abraxas) as the name of the leader of the lowest class of angels who created the world and humanity.

The Institute's High Priestess, Dominique Kindersman, said that she did not know Dutroux. They are apparently a Satanic group which performs unusual rites involving human skulls and bones that they have obtained from a medical supply company, and animal blood that they purchase from a butcher. Their headquarters was in Forchies-la-Marche in Southern Belgium. The police raid uncovered a lot of strange material, but apparently nothing was found that indicated any connection to ritual abuse, sexual abuse, or murder. The officers took the Institut's magickal tools, video cassettes and a refrigerator containing the animal blood. No arrests were made at the time of the investigation or since.

It is important to differentiate between two totally unrelated religions:
bullet Medieval Satanism: a non-existent religion which was said to involve Satan worship and infant sacrifice. It was invented by the Christian Church in the late Middle Ages. It helped justify the Protestant and Catholic Church's charge of Witchcraft which implicating thousands of persons and led to the execution of most of them. Stories of the existence of evil Witches are still being propagated in some religious circles. Witchcraft does exist as a benign earth-centered Neopagan religion.

bullet Religious Satanism: a contemporary religion composed of a number of groups: the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set, apparently the Institut Abrasax, and others. None engage in any form of sexual abuse or other criminal activity.

The police raid and subsequent attempts to link Dutroux with a Satanic cult seems to be based on their confusion of these two unrelated religions.

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Webmaster's note:

When this essay was originally written, the press was interleaving, in the same article, information about cults and developments in the Dutroux case. We speculated that if the police continued to attempt to link Dutroux with Satanic cults, that within a few months the majority of the Belgian adults might become "true believers". They will be certain that a network of Satanic cults exists in that country that is sacrificing large numbers of infants each year. We are saddened that the people of Belgium cannot learn from the North American experiences concerning ritual crime, and avoid a great deal of needless pain and fear.

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References used:

  1. CNN Interactive World News for 1996-AUG-24 at: (No longer available online)
  2. Peter Conradi, "Satanic Links to Belgian Murder Trial", Sunday Times, London, UK, 1996-DEC-29, P. 14
  3. book cover Dr. Lawrence Pazder and Michelle Smith, "Michelle Remembers," Pocket Books, (1980), ISBN 0-671-69433-2.
  4. Leyla Linton, "Satanic sect raided by child-sex police", London Times, London UK, 1996-DEC-24
  5. "Traditions of Magic in Late Antiquity," University of Michigan, at:

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Copyright © 2001 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-JUN-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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