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Religious Tolerance logo

Allegations of ritual abuse in day cares, etc.

The "Country Walk" case in Maimi, FL.

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Francisco Fuster, of Miami, FL, aged 36, was convicted in 1985 on 14 counts of child abuse. This MVMO (Multi-Victim, Multi-Offender) case involving Francisco and his wife Iliana as perpetrators, and more than 50 children as victims. Children disclosed stories of being forced to eat feces, pose for pornographic pictures, take mind-altering drugs, kill animals and submit to anal rape with a crucifix. The children described the chanting of prayers to Satan, eating someone's head, and riding on sharks. They said that Francisco Fuster threatened to kill the children's parents if the kids told. This case was unusual, as there appeared to be some hard evidence that supported the allegations: Jamie Fuster, their 7 year old son, tested positive for gonorrhea of the throat.

This is the famous Country Walk Case, named after the affluent suburb of Miami where Iliana Fuster operated a small baby-sitting service. The case was triggered by a boy who was baby-sat by Iliana. He said to his mother that Iliana kisses the babies' genitals. Apparently this is or was common behavior in the culture or family in which Iliana had been raised. She admitted to the kissing. A police investigation followed in which investigators Joseph and Laurie Braga interviewed dozens of children. After what have been called "...patently leading, deceptive, and coercive questioning methods" the children disclosed large numbers of allegations of bizarre and violent acts. 1

Janet Reno, then head prosecutor, took a personal role in prosecuting the case. Ileana Fuster, then aged 17, was arrested and allegedly kept in solitary confinement in a tiny cell with 24 hour illumination. After 6 months, she was depressed and felt terrorized. She was suffering from inadequate medical attention, insomnia and sores on her skin. She was given relaxation and visualization treatments, and was highly manipulated by psychologists. A year later, she broke down. She had been offered two alternatives: to plead guilty and testify against her husband and receive a light sentence, or plead innocent, be found guilty and spend the rest of her life in jail. She still maintained her innocence, but pleaded guilty in order to "get all of this over....for my own good".

Medical experts found no anatomical evidence of sexual abuse, even though signs would have been present if the abuse had actually occurred. All of the children were tested for gonorrhea of the throat. One test came back positive, and provided the only "hard" evidence at the trial. After 7 hours of grilling, the 6 year old boy finally broke down and said that his father had abused him. He retracted his "confession" as soon as he was free from the interrogation; he maintains to this day that there was no abuse at Country Walk. Three years after the trial, the test used to detect gonorrhea was found to be unreliable; at least one third of the positive STD results were "false positives." The test could not differentiate between gonorrhea and benign bacteria that are often found in children's throats. It is highly unlikely that the boy actually had gonorrhea.

Ileana was tried, convicted and served 3 years and 6 months in a juvenile prison before being deported. She later recanted her confession and issued a lengthy sworn deposition, citing the abusive isolation and interrogation as reasons for having previously lied about the abuse.

Her husband received a sentence of 6 life terms and 165 years in prison having served over 25 years. 3 According to the National Center for Reason and Justice he is still in prison, sentenced to a crime for which he is innocent -- in fact for a crime that never happened. 4

It is only in recent years that research studies have indicated the ease with which children can be persuaded to describe events that never happened and later internalize those statements as false memories. All that is required is an interview by an adult who asks direct questions repeatedly. Probably any police force in North America could randomly select a 17 year old baby-sitter and 50 of the children that she baby-sat, interrogate the woman and the children using the same techniques as were found at Country Walk, and obtain with the same confessions and convictions. In our opinion, fondling did occur at Country Walk. Ileana's "body kissing" was apparently widely used in the family or culture in which she had been raised as a methof of soothing young children. It is considered a non-sexual act. However, it was not a criminal act in this case because the laws of Florida require that sexual touching must be done with the intent by the adult of sexually arousing either her/himself or the child. We suspect that no other form of abuse happened.

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  1. Debbie Nathan & Michael Snendeker, "Satan's Silence", BasicBooks, New York NY (1995), P. 170 Mark Pendergrast, "Victims of Memory", 2nd Edition, Upper Access Books, Hinesburg VT (1996), P. 367 S.J. Ceci & M. Bruck, "Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony", American Psychological Association, Washington DC (1995)
  2. W.L. Whittington et al., "Incorrect Identification of Neisseria Gonorrhoeae from Infants and Children", Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 7 #1 (1988), P. 3 - 10. (As quoted in Debbie Nathan & Michael Snedecker, "Satan's Silence", Basic Books, New York, NY (1995), Page 195.
  3. "Frank Fuster's Story," National Center for Reason and Justice, at:
  4. "State-sanctioned Murder," National Center for Reason and Justice, at:

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Copyright © 2000 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-NOV
Latest update: 2012-MAY-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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