RITUAL ABUSE CASES IN
PRESCOTT, ONTARIO, CANADA
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:
||There may have been actual instances of massive,
coordinated, inter-generational sexual and ritual abuse of children.
||The 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.
||Some 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.
||There 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.
||Yet, 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.
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:
||Most 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.
||A 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:
||The 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.
||The 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:
||Kathryn Lyon interviewed many of the defendants and issued the Wenatchee
Report. 3 This report became the basis of a book.
||The Justice Committee of San Diego organized an apple
boycott to focus attention on the cases.
||Robert 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.
|| 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%.
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.
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:
||One group might consist of the approximately 120 adults who were
alleged to have sexually abused children.
||The 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
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.
Internet and book references:
|| From persons who believe in the reality of Satanic Ritual
Abuse at Prescott:|
||Transcripts of interviews on radio station CKLN-FM, (1997). CD
http://members.rogers.com These links only mention Prescott in
||"Ritual Abuse Resources," The
Awareness Center, at:
||Judy Steed, "Our Little Secret: Confronting Child Sexual
Abuse in Canada", Random House Canada, (1994).|
||"41 cases from legal proceedings," The Recovered Memory
||From persons who are skeptical of Satanic Ritual Abuse at
++These lists appear to
be copied from an original list published by
Believe the Children in the spring of 1997. Duplicates are online at:
References used for the above essay:
"Prescott man guilty of sexual abuse," Ottawa Citizen, 1995-MAY-3,
Page D1. Quoted in "38 cases from legal proceedings," at:
"Dangerous offender hearing stalled," Hot Streak Web Productions,
Kathryn Lyon, "The Wenatchee Report" at: http://user.aol.com/
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."
Stephen Maher, "Tipping the Wenatchee scales," Wenatchee
J. Miller, "Walls came a' tumbling." Winnipeg Free Press, 1995-APR-3.
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:
J. Steed, "Our Little Secret: Confronting Child Sexual Abuse in Canada,"
Random House, (1994).
"From Crisis to Coordination - An Integrated Community Response to
a Multi-Victim Child Abuse Crisis," Leeds-Grenville Children's Services
Advisory Group, (1995).
- Stephen J Ceci, "Cognitive
and Social Factors in Children's Testimony, Master Lecture, American
Psychological Assoc., Toronto, 1993-AUG-20
SJ Ceci & M. Bruck, Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of
Children's Testimony, American Psychological Association (1995)
Interchange between Robert Runciman (MLA for Leeds-Grenville) and Hon.
Allan Pilkey (then Solicitor General), Legislative Assembly of Ontario,
"Conference Report, Canadian Association of Police boards,"
1997-JUN-19 to 22, at:
"A witch-hunt upheld: the Supreme Court narrowly allows a dubious rape
conviction (Lorne Francois case)," Western Report, 1994-AUG-1, Page 21.
- Lona Manning, "Second Thoughts about Project Jericho," Imaginary
Crimes, 2004-JAN, at:
Copyright © 2001 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
First published: 2001-AUG-29
Latest update: 2005-JAN-26
Author: B.A. Robinson