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Six men from Pembroke, West Wales were convicted of sexual abuse of children in 1994-JUN. (1) It was the largest MVMO trial in British history, and the first time since World War II that convictions had been obtained in an organized ritual abuse case involving multiple perpetrators.

MVMO cases usually start with a single case of abuse by one adult against one child. Most then explode over a short interval into many dozens of charges against many adults involving dozens of children. This case was different. It had a slow buildup. It began with the Thorpe family breakup in 1990: Parents Peter and Sally separated. Malcome, age 10, went to live with grandparents. Jason, age 8, went to a foster home. Jason's social worker, Ann Done, started long term therapy on Jason. Sessions included sex education, memory work, dream interpretation, art therapy and play therapy. A year later, he accused both parents of sexual abuse and revealed that group sexual orgies involving other adults and children had occurred in nearby farms and quarries. Peter Thorpe was charged and imprisoned. Police suspected that Peter had abused the children of his girlfriend, Anne Mason. So, three of her children were taken into care.

The investigation then spread to the Dalbury and Waterson families who lived on the same estate. Their children were unable to confirm Jason's allegations. Thus, Peter Thorpe was released and the charge dropped. But Anne Mason's children remained in foster care.

In 1992-JUN, Mary Dalbury, age 14, ran away from home, and disclosed that her father had raped her repeatedly over many years. The Dalbury parents were arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty. John was sentenced to 7 years and his wife to 4.

In mid 1992, the police and social services had become convinced that Jason's original hints of a widespread sex ring were true. By year end, 11 men and 2 women had been charged; 18 children from 9 families had been taken into care. All pleaded not-guilty. Charges against Sally Thorpe were later dropped, leaving 12 defendants. Mary Dalbury estimated that "around 200 people were involved" [in the sex-ring].

During the trial, which started in 1994-JAN, testimony included descriptions of ritual sex orgies in homes, sheds, an airfield, tunnels and caves. The trial took an unusual twist when two female witnesses for the prosecution took the stand. They were expected to confirm the testimony of the children and discuss the threats they had received from the men to keep silent about the abuse. Instead, they revealed that the social workers had blackmailed them into verifying the children's stories; if they did not lie on the stand, then their children would be taken from them.

6 defendants were acquitted or cleared; one was convicted of serious sexual assault; Peter Thorpe was found guilty of both conspiracy and gross indecency; he received a 15 year sentence. The remaining 4 were found guilty of conspiracy. Thorpe received a 15 year sentence; the rest got 5 to 11 years.

There are some disquieting factors about these trials:

bullet it is not reasonable that 200 abusing adults could abuse dozens of children periodically without a single child revealing abuse; yet no child disclosed until they were interviewed by the social workers
bullet there was no significant amount of forensic evidence
bullet the types of abuse cited would have caused detectable physical evidence
bullet Jason said that his father frightened the children by shooting through the roof of some shed; no bullet holes were found
bullet although pornographic movies and pictures were alleged to have been taken, no photographs or video tapes were ever found
bullet abuse locations included a playground in the middle of a housing estate, in sheds next to houses, on a beach and behind an oil refinery. The adults would certainly have been spotted by passers-by. But nobody ever noticed
bullet 4 prosecution witnesses retracted their stories - 3 of them on the stand.
bullet there were indications that children were threatened if they refused to disclose abuse and were rewarded when they made allegations.
bullet the social workers' interview techniques were seriously flawed; their use of play props is known to have a distorting effect; they ignored guidelines that had been established as a result of previous MVMO hoaxes
bullet just before the children started disclosing abuse, the investigators had attended a three day, joint agency training program by Ray Wyre, a Satanic abuse expert. A previous inquiry in Nottingham had blamed him for introducing fears of a "satanic network". He was a consultant at a child abuse investigation there in 1988-9. The report said that the interviewing and therapy techniques which he taught were faulty, and the resultant evidence reflected social workers' obsessions. The report concluded that "unless action was taken, witch-hunts could develop in this country and grave injustice result". It appears that they did.

The case started to come apart after the trial. A judge of the High Court's Family Division ordered several children returned to their homes, criticized the social workers' techniques and stated that there was zero evidence against one of the men convicted.

Anne Mason was never charged with any crime, yet her children are still kept from her. She is allowed to see her daughter for only two hours, every three months. Her son Walter has tried to commit suicide.

Names have been changed to prevent identification of the children.

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  1. Bob Woffinden and Margaret Jervis, "The Independent", London, UK, 1995-OCT-8, P. 5

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