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Ritual abuse studies

State of Utah inquiry into ritual crime

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Concern about secret criminal physical and sexual abuse of children reached a peak between the mid 1980s and mid 1990s. At this time, a 1992 public opinion survey conducted by the Deseret News in Utah showed that 90% of adults in that state believed that underground groups are engaging in "ritualistic" child sexual abuse. 1 This is often called "Satanic Ritual Abuse" or SRA.

One reason for this high percentage is the religious affiliation of Utah citizens: over 50% are members or adherents of the LDS Church. Like most conservative Christian denominations, Satan plays a major and profoundly evil role in that church's belief system.

Many tens of thousands of adults who engaged in:
bulletSelf-help and mutual support groups specializing in recovered memories of childhood abuse, and/or
bulletVarious forms of Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT)

become convinced that they were victims of SRA during their childhood. A common belief is that they were abused by leading citizens in the community: judges, the police chief, the mayor, clergy, lawyers, etc. It was thus inevitable that some SRA survivors in Utah would accuse senior officials in the LDS Mormon of being perpetrators in the abuse.

In 1991, Elder Glenn Pace, a member of the presiding bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time, wrote a letter to other leaders of the LDS church. He said that he personally knew of 60 SRA survivors, and estimated that there were up to 800 in Utah. He wrote that those responsible for the child abuse conspiracy included "members of bishoprics, LDS [Mormon] bishops ... and members of the Tabernacle Choir." Also in 1991, a University of Utah Medical Center psychologist said that there were 366 SRA survivors being treated by therapists in Utah.

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Inquiry by the Attorney General's Office

After so many SRA allegations surfaced in the state, the 1991 Utah legislature authorized a one-time appropriation of $250,000 to fund a thorough inquiry by the Attorney General's Office. Two investigators interviewed hundreds of victims who claimed that they had been programmed by "cults", tortured, raped, and viewed infants being ritually killed. King said "I really feel for these people and I would like to help them, but we just couldn't find the evidence." The team was unable "to substantiate with physical evidence the [SRA] incidents reported". They added that the allegations against church leaders were absurd.

During a press conference held to announce the completion of the report, King said that some survivors "said they were at a ritual in the mountains the night before; we spent all day tracking around the hills and couldn't find anything. Then they said, `I must have been given a drug or brainwashed to cloud my mind.'"

Their report (6) is believed to have been issued in 1995-MAY. 6

At the time that the report was announced, Dr. Jerry Lazar of the LDS Hospital's Department of Psychiatry said that allegations of SRA are often made by people who recover memories of abuse after years of repression. He said that some are false memories induced by therapists. He has never been able to corroborate any SRA memory.

Lynn Finney, SRA counselor and author of the book "Reach for the Rainbow: Advanced Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse" criticized the inquiry for not looking sufficiently hard for examples of ritual abuse. She said " I attempted to give them information about the victims I have dealt with, and I can only characterize their response as defensive and unreceptive." She wanted the investigators to initiate contact with survivors, rather than asking them to contact the Attorney General's office with their stories.

Analysis of the report:

We have prepared an analysis of the report issued by the State of Utah. It is a fascinating document, linking together a number of legitimate religions with reports of psychopathic mass murderers and child molesters. It represents an fascinating example of religious hate literature, the worst that we have ever seen published by an agency of a state government.


  1. Deseret News Archives, 1992-JAN-1, P. A1-A2
  2. The Associated Press news service, 1995-FEB-28, Satanism Probe Comes Up Empty
  3. Deseret News Archives, 1995-APR-25, Report Finds Little Proof Of Ritual Abuse
  4. Deseret News Archives, 1995-APR-25 Ritual Abuse Does Exist, Victim Says
  5. Deseret News Archives, 1995-MAY-18 Ritual Abuse? Counselor Slams Probe
  6. Lt. M.R. King & Lt. Marr Jacobson, "Ritual Crime in the State of Utah: Investigation, Analysis & A Look Forward", Utah Attorney General's Office, State of Utah, (1995) at: http://www.saferchildren.net/. This is a PDF file.

Copyright © 1996 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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