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RITUAL ABUSE CASES IN
PRESCOTT, ONTARIO, CANADA

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Sponsored link.


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Overview, with no solid conclusion:

Although Prescott and its surrounding rural area has a sparse population density, about 120 area adults were alleged to have committed heinous crimes against children in an near that town, during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Following the precedent of a similar case in Martensville, SK, we will call this the "Prescott Nightmare."

There are three obvious explanations for this group of cases. All qualify for the term Nightmare:

bulletThere may have been actual instances of massive, coordinated, inter-generational sexual and ritual abuse of children.
bulletThe Prescott Nightmare may have been the worst miscarriage of justice in North America involving this form of MVMO (Multi-Victims, Multi-Offenders) criminal abuse of children. Many dozens of adults were imprisoned for criminal activity of which they were not guilty -- in fact, for crimes which probably never happened.
bulletSome abuse happened in Prescott; some convicted adults are actually innocent.

We have insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion about whether massive numbers of incidences of abuse actually happened at Prescott.

bulletThere are dozens of cases in the U.S. and Canada which are very similar to that of Prescott. All of the others have been shown beyond reasonable doubt to be hoaxes -- events that never happened. Perhaps the Prescott Nightmare is also a hoax.
bulletYet, there was one defendant, Lorne Francois, who was involved in the Prescott MVMO case. He was found guilty in 1995 "of two sexual assault charges involving a 13-year-old boy." His IQ has been estimated to be in the low 50s. 2 There are allegations that he assaulted two patients in an Ottawa psychiatric hospital when he was placed there for a court-ordered assessment. He was also found guilty earlier of raping a teenage girl and sexually assaulting two teenage boys. The conviction involving the teenage girl seems to be based on very weak evidence. In an earlier action to obtain support payments, she had testified that she was a virgin until 1985. But in Francois' trial she testified that he raped her in 1981. She had first told police that he had raped her three times; at the preliminary inquiry she raised the estimate to five or six; at trial it had become 10 or 20. 14

Prescott Nightmare may well have put a dangerous, repeat sexual predator behind bars. But we have a hunch that most or all of the other defendants are innocent. If so, then the convictions represent an horrendous miscarriages of justice. In terms of numbers of innocent people imprisoned, it might be a "world-class" failure of the justice system. Yet it has received very little attention in the media. We hope that the exposure of the MVMO hoax in nearby Cornwall will cause people to ask searching questions about the Prescott Nightmare.

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Sponsored link:

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Comparison of the Prescott ritual abuse case to others in North America:

There were dozens of MVMO (Multi-Victims, Multi-Offenders) cases in North America from early 1980s to the mid 1990s. They have generally fallen into one of two types:

bulletMost are similar to the McMartin pre-school hoax, involving nursery school, pre-school or Sunday school teachers engaging in mass sexual and ritual abuse of young children.
bulletA few are similar to the Wenatchee, WA sex-rings hoax, involving an organized sex abuse ring of adults abusing young children on a regular basis.

In most of these cases, improper interview techniques caused young children to disclose abusive events that never happened. Convictions were often facilitated by defective medical examinations and lab analyses. Cooler heads eventually prevailed; almost all of the alleged perpetrators have had their cases reviewed and have been released from prison. Not so in Prescott.

There have been two apparently unrelated Canadian MVMO cases. Both happened in the county of Stormont-Dundas-Glengary in Eastern Ontario. Both followed the Wenatchee format, but with unique differences:

bulletThe Cornwall sex-ring case, allegedly involved older victims -- children in their teens -- abused by rich and socially powerful perpetrators, including Roman Catholic clergy and other professionals. Further, there have been allegations of police and government cover-ups. In 2001-AUG, this was exposed as a hoax after a thorough Ontario Provincial Police investigation.
bulletThe Prescott Nightmare involved about twice as many defendants as Cornwall. It is similar to the Wenatchee fiasco: the victims were mostly young children and the alleged perpetrators were impoverished adults who had, in some cases, a low IQ.

However, the defendants in Prescott did not have the support systems that those in Wenatchee benefited from:

bulletKathryn Lyon interviewed many of the defendants and issued the Wenatchee Report. 3 This report became the basis of a book. 4
bulletThe Justice Committee of San Diego organized an apple boycott to focus attention on the cases.
bulletRobert Roberson, the pastor of a local Pentecostal Church, stood up for members of his congregation and was himself charged with multiple charges of child sexual abuse.
bullet The Innocence Project Northwest, a group of volunteer University of Washington law students, Seattle lawyers, and investigators. This group was largely responsible for the freeing of many of the unjustly convicted. 5

The Prescott defendants did not have this type of support. Perhaps as a result, the conviction rate was over 90%.

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The Prescott Nightmare:

Prescott is a small town of about 5,000 population, in eastern Ontario Canada. It lies on the north shore of the St. Lawrence river/seaway. It is directly across the river from Ogdensburg, NY, and only 44 miles/73 km south-west of Cornwall - the site of another MVMO case.

The Prescott Nightmare started in 1989-AUG. Like the other North American cases, the numbers of accusations quickly exploded. Children disclosed stories of being abused in a basement by adults who wore masks and sheets. They reported being raped, cut with knives, forced to drink blood. They were locked in a dungeon with a trap door. 6 According to Elaine Scott, Executive Director, National Crime Prevention Council, many in the Prescott area wanted the entire matter "swept under the carpet". She is reported as saying that no consideration was shown for the victims of the abuse and it was only through the persistence of police and certain politicians that the investigation took place. 13

The local police and child protection services were overwhelmed. A task force, Project Jericho was organized to handle the cases. Project Jericho was "a unique intervention model and was the first child sexual abuse investigation in Canada to have police and social workers working together as a team. It has become a model." 7 The project name was derived from the book of Joshua in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Joshua fought a battle in Jericho, Canaan. Joshua was the name of an infant who was allegedly the victim of a human sacrifice at Prescott. 8 No hard evidence ever surfaced that such a murder actually happened. No birth records were ever found. When the smoke cleared, there were 162 alleged victims, and about 120 alleged perpetrators uncovered.

Staffing for the Project was greatly reduced at the end of 1992. Project personnel wrote a report "From Crisis to Coordination," in 1995. 9 It suggested that the situation in Prescott was not unique -- that massive levels of multi-generational sexual and ritual abuse could be found in almost any similar town across Canada. Their report contained a section which attempted to prove that young children who disclose sexual abuse rarely lie. The authors did not seem to be aware of late breaking developments in the field of child interrogation. As Project Jericho was being wound down, American and Canadian researchers were beginning to publish studies that revealed that young children frequently disclose abuse that never happened, if they are subjected to direct and repeated questioning. 10,11 It is probable that the Prescott children were interviewed in this way, because it was the standard technique in the late 1980s.

At the time that the report was published, 65 adults had been charged with 376 crimes against children.

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Can the truth ever be found?

One method of ferreting out the truth might be to conduct polygraph tests (aka "lie detector" exams) A number of the adults who have been found guilty and who claim that they are innocent could be tested. Although a single "lie detector" test gives an incorrect answer about 15% of the time, a test on three individuals could lower the uncertainty to less than 1% that at least one of the three was not guilty -- beyond a reasonable doubt. If most or almost all of the alleged perpetrators were found to be innocent, then one could conclude that a great injustice had been done.

A second approach might be to determine if there are in fact two populations of alleged perpetrators in Prescott:

bulletOne group might consist of the approximately 120 adults who were alleged to have sexually abused children.
bulletThe other might consist of a single person: Lorne Francois. He has been proved to be a sexual offender in a number of court trials. He appears to be a hebephile -- an adult attracted to adolescents, not to pre-pubertal children.

It may be that Francois is a sexual predator who operated in total isolation from the other adults involved in Project Jericho, victimizing only teenagers. An analysis of the ages of the victims at the time of the alleged offenses might reveal whether these are two separate populations. In the "classic" MVMO hoax, the children are all young -- many of preschool age; none are in their teens.

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Internet and book references:

bullet From persons who believe in the reality of Satanic Ritual Abuse at Prescott:
bulletTranscripts of interviews on radio station CKLN-FM, (1997). CD available at: http://members.rogers.com These links only mention Prescott in passing.
bulletDr. Stephen Kent, at: http://www.mindcontrolforums.com/
bulletLynne Moss-Sharman, at: http://www.mindcontrolforums.com/
bulletJudy Steed, at: http://www.mindcontrolforums.com/
bullet"Ritual Abuse Resources," The Awareness Center, at: http://theawarenesscenter.org/  ++
bulletJudy Steed, "Our Little Secret: Confronting Child Sexual Abuse in Canada", Random House Canada, (1994).
bullet"41 cases from legal proceedings," The Recovered Memory Project, at: http://www.brown.edu/
bulletFrom persons who are skeptical of Satanic Ritual Abuse at Prescott:
bulletLona Manning, "Second thoughts about Project Jericho" at: http://members.shaw.ca/ Mirrored at FMS Foundation Newsletter at: http://www.fmsfonline.org/

++These lists appear to be copied from an original list published by Believe the Children in the spring of 1997. Duplicates are online at: http://www.ra-info.org/, http://www.parc-vramc.tierranet.com/

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References used for the above essay:

  1. "Prescott man guilty of sexual abuse," Ottawa Citizen, 1995-MAY-3, Page D1. Quoted in "38 cases from legal proceedings," at: http://www.brown.edu/
  2. "Dangerous offender hearing stalled," Hot Streak Web Productions, at: http://www.hotstreak.net/
  3. Kathryn Lyon, "The Wenatchee Report" at: http://user.aol.com/
  4. Kathryn Lyon, "Witch Hunt : A True Story of Social Hysteria and Abused Justice" Avon, (1998). You can read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store A reviewer at Amazon.com wrote: "Kathy Lyon's book "Witchhunt" has ripped open a festering lesion of Washington state abuses. This boil of corruption in the Washington state child care agency is rampant county by county, the same practiced behavior of social workers and detectives, therapist, judges, and state appointed attorney's involved in the Wenatchee cases are a practiced pattern in every county in the State." 
  5. Stephen Maher, "Tipping the Wenatchee scales," Wenatchee World, 2000-AUG-13.
  6. J. Miller, "Walls came a' tumbling." Winnipeg Free Press, 1995-APR-3.
  7. Interchange between Yvonne O'Neill (MLA for Ottawa-Rideau) and Hon. Marion Boyd (then Minister of Community and Social Services), Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 1992-OCT-21, at: http://www.ontla.on.ca/
  8. J. Steed, "Our Little Secret: Confronting Child Sexual Abuse in Canada," Random House, (1994).
  9. "From Crisis to Coordination - An Integrated Community Response to a Multi-Victim Child Abuse Crisis," Leeds-Grenville Children's Services Advisory Group, (1995).
  10. Stephen J Ceci, "Cognitive and Social Factors in Children's Testimony, Master Lecture, American Psychological Assoc., Toronto, 1993-AUG-20
  11. SJ Ceci & M. Bruck, Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony, American Psychological Association (1995)
  12. Interchange between Robert Runciman (MLA for Leeds-Grenville) and Hon. Allan Pilkey (then Solicitor General), Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 1992-JUL-14, at: http://www.ontla.on.ca/
  13. "Conference Report, Canadian Association of Police boards," 1997-JUN-19 to 22, at:  http://www.capb.ca/
  14. "A witch-hunt upheld: the Supreme Court narrowly allows a dubious rape conviction (Lorne Francois case)," Western Report, 1994-AUG-1, Page 21.
  15. Lona Manning, "Second Thoughts about Project Jericho," Imaginary Crimes, 2004-JAN, at: http://members.shaw.ca/

Copyright 2001 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First published: 2001-AUG-29
Latest update: 2005-JAN-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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