Religious Tolerance logo


News items, from the year 2005

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

News items:

bullet 2005-JAN-03: TX: Shanley case goes to jury: This is perhaps the highest profile recent court case in the U.S. involving recovered memories.

There have been many charges of childhood sexual abuse involving Roman Catholic priests in Massachusetts. However, most did not result in trials because of the statute of limitations. Paul Shanley, a priest who was defrocked by the Vatican in 2004, is an exception. He moved away from the state. This "stopped the clock" on the statute of limitations and allowed police to arrest Shanley in California. Church personnel records showed that the Archdiocese knew that Shanley advocated sex between men and boys. Yet, they continued to transfer him from parish to parish. Shanley is now 74. His unnamed accuser is 27. The charges relate to allegations by four accusers that they suffered sexual abuse between 1979 and 1989 at St. Jean's parish in Newton, MA. Charges were dropped in all but one case. The Shanley case went to trial. His accuser testified that he had suddenly recovered memories of the event when he heard media reports about the clergy sexual abuse scandal in 2002. If true, this would appear to be a case of dormant memories, which suddenly return as an overwhelming recollection of a series of events; they are not the more common type of recovered memories developed gradually over a long period of time during suggestive therapy. The Defense attorneys had only one witness: Elizabeth Loftus -- a psychologist who questioned the accuracy and validity of repressed memories. The case has gone to the jury. If found guilty on all four charges, he could go to jail for life. 1
bullet 2005-FEB-7: TX: Paul Shanley was found guilty of abusing child: The jury determined that Paul Shanley was guilty of repeatedly molesting a boy at his church during the 1980s. He was convicted on all four charges. According to the Associated Press, "After Shanley was led away from the courtroom, his niece, Teresa Shanley, told reporters: 'There are no winners today. There are only losers. We're no closer to finding out the truth about this scandal or finding out what happened'." David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abuse by Priests (SNAP) said: "This shows that when survivors find the strength to speak up, sometimes, sometimes, kids are protected, and justice can happen. When survivors stay silent, nothing changes....We're very grateful for and proud of all the Shanley victims, because they all played a role here." 2
bullet 2005-FEB-24: USA: Mormon scholar dies; daughter writes book on ritual abuse: The New York Times reported that:

"Hugh W. Nibley, a Mormon religious scholar who was one of the most active and outspoken defenders of Mormon writings and teachings, died yesterday at his home in Provo, Utah. He was 94."

Martha Beck, alleged to be one of his daughters, has written a book titled ''Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found  My Faith.'' She has a doctorate from Harvard and writes a monthly column in "O" the Oprah Magazine. In her book, she criticizes the church for stifling dissent and independent thought among Mormon scholars through firing, excommunication or shunning. She also allegedly accuses her father of having sexually abused her during rituals while she was a child. She allegedly believes that she repressed the abuse memories and recovered them in 1990. She does not reveal her father's name in the book. She explained:

"I omitted names because this book is not about accusing anyone; it is about the terrible toll exacted on human lives when details of religious dogma are considered more important than an individual human being's sense of truth."

 She experienced what she believes to have been a near-death experience while undergoing surgery when she believes that she encountered a "Being of Light". Her first memory of the alleged abuse surfaced two days later. She:

"...remembers being stretched out and legs spread like a frog on a dissecting table. 'My father is doing something that feels as though it's ripping me in two,' she writes in the book, recalling her father saying words like 'Father Abraham,' 'The Book of the Dead,' 'the prophet Joseph,' 'Amut the Destroyer,' 'the prophet Joseph Smith,' [and] 'Abrahamic sacrifice."

Her father was one of the church's leading authorities and chief defenders against intellectual attacks. He has published 15 books; five more are anticipated in the future. Dr. Nibley's remaining seven children have signed a statement condemning the book, saying that they were ''saddened by the book's countless errors, falsehoods, contradictions and gross distortions.'' The LDS Church also has denounced the book as "seriously flawed" in the way it depicts the church, its members and teachings. Spokesman Dale Bills said: "Fair-minded readers will find it at best unconvincing, at worst mean-spirited and at times absurd."  3,4,5,6

bullet 2005-FEB-21: Ontario: Amish woman free on peace bond: An Amish woman was originally facing 19 charges of sexual assault. They included wild stories of Satanic Ritual Abuse, of children being forced to eat manure, to eat meat from rotten animal corpses, etc. Most of the more fanciful charges were dropped. But the prosecution was faced with a lack of cooperation from the local Amish community who refused to allow the children to testify. The woman was displaced by her community as a result of what happened, estranged by her family, spent nine months in custody awaiting trial, and has moved to a nearby Mennonite community. 6
bullet 2005-MAY-25: Louisiana: Allegations of ritual abuse in local church: During 2005-MAR, two children were interviewed by a local child advocacy center in Ohio concerning possible instances of molestation at Hosanna Church in in Ponchatoula, LA. Since then, former pastor Louis Lamonica allegedly confessed to police that he started a Satanic pedophile ring in the church during 1999. He implicated other adults; nine have been arrested. There are suggestions that adults engaged in Satanic ritual abuse involving children and animals from 1999 until the church disbanded in 2003. In the church's youth hall, "...the police found the faint imprint of satanic pentagrams on the floor that someone had apparently tried to scrub away. Some of those arrested, the police said, described rituals within those pentagrams involving cats' blood and people dressed in black robes."  Details are lacking at this time. There are three obvious explanations for these allegations:
bullet We are seeing a repeat of the groundless Satanism panic of the 1980s and early 1990s which was traced to improper interview techniques which implanted memories in children's minds.
bullet Some adult abusive pedophiles who are not Satanists are using Satanic costumes and other trappings to better control their victims.
bullet This may be the first instance of an actual multiple-offender, multiple victim Satanic Ritual Abuse case in the U.S. 8,9
bullet 2005-JUN: UK: Fundamentalist Christians charged with horrendous abuse of a child during exorcism: Some members of a local Fundamentalist church in East London believed that a ten-year-old girl in their family was a witch. They allegedly beat her, cut her at least 43 times, and rubbed chili-peppers into her eyes in order to drive out what they apparently thought was an evil spirit possessing her. More details.
bullet 2005-OCT-27: PA: Psychiatrist found guilty in SRA case: A jury found Dr. Stephen Powers guilty of inducing false memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse in the mind of Rose Gray, 57, of Lititz, PA and awarded her $330,000 in damages. Dr Powers said: "I don't believe the verdict was just. It just shows how the truth can be distorted." Her treatments began in 1988. Skip Simpson, one of Gray's lawyers, said that:

"Gray's first two years of treatment were going well under Powers, until the psychiatrist attended a meeting about multiple-personality disorder and repressed memories....Once Powers began suggesting to his patient that she had repressed memories of being in a cult that killed and ate babies, she came to believe it. Not only did Gray believe Powers suggestions about her repressed memories, Powers also came to believe Gray's husband and mother were in the cult and encouraged her to cut off contact with them.....In this case, Gray still suffers from schizoaffective disorder, meaning she has hallucinations, delusions and major depression....This is one of the last false-memory cases that will hit the courts. The first one was in 1988, and Michael and I were the attorneys on that one, too." 10

bullet 2005-OCT-30: First retraction by a student at McMartin school: The magazine section of the Los Angeles Times published the first retraction from a McMartin student. Kyle Sapp, now known as Kyle Zirpolo, was eight years of age when he made his accusations of ritual abuse at the school 21 years ago. He now wants to tell the truth and apologize to the defendants. He says that he made his accusations because of pressure from his family, the community and the social workers who interviewed him. It remains to be seen whether other students, now in their late 20s or early 30s will follow Zirpolo's lead.

Commenting on his experiences being extensively interviewed at Children's Institute International, now known as Children's Institute, Inc., Zirpolo said:

"Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn't like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted. I know the types of language they used on me: things like I was smart, or I could help the other kids who were scared."

"I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do. And I thought they wanted me to help protect my little brother and sister who went to McMartin."

Later, he said, in part:

"I think I got the satanic details by picturing our church. We went to American Martyrs, which was a huge Catholic church. Every Sunday we had to go, and Mass would last an hour, hour and a half. None of us wanted to go: It was kicking and screaming all the way there. Sitting, standing, sitting, standing. What I would do was picture the altar, pews and stained-glass windows, and if [investigators] said, 'Describe an altar,' I would describe the one in our church. Or instead of, 'There was a priest in a green suit'—someone who was real—I would say, 'A man dressed in red as a cult member.' From going to church you know that God is good, and the devil is bad and has horns and is about evil and red and blood. I'd just throw a twist in there with Satan and devil-worshipping." 11

bullet 2005-NOV-28: NE: Judge rejects admissibility of recovered memory testimony: In a high profile case involving allegations of abuse at Boy's Town, a separate "Daubert" hearing was held to determine if recovered memory testimony would be admitted at trial. Judge Dougherty heard testimony from three of the leading experts in the field: Harrison Pope and Elizabeth Loftus testified for the defense and Bessel van der Kilk testified for the plaintiff. In his ruling, the judge rejected recovered memory testimony, writing:

"Based on the evidence presented, the Court finds that the theory of repressed memory and recovered memory has not gained general acceptance in the psychological and psychiatric communities. ... Further, even if repressed memory exists, scientists are in agreement that the reliability of recovered repressed memories is unknown and the accuracy of recovered memory testimony cannot be determined without corroborating evidence."

bullet 2005-DEC: Scotland: Pamphlet about child sexual abuse published: The Scottish Executive -- the government of Scotland -- has published a book on sexual abuse of children. It is by Sarah Nelson and Sue Hampson, and is titled: "YES YOU CAN! Working with Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse." The authors appear to be unaware that RMT has been widely discredited for the past decade and is currently practiced by very few therapists and counselors because of its dangerous ability to create "memories" of events that never happened. The government apparently accepted the beliefs of these authors without having the book reviewed by a representative panel of mental health experts. Excerpts from the book are:
bullet "Amnesia, for large chunks of childhood, should invite curiosity about a possible history of sexual / physical / emotional trauma." They are apparently unaware that most people have lost memory of "large chunks of childhood" through the normal processes of forgetting events.
bullet "Amnesia contributes to the uncertainty and self-doubt which so many survivors feel, especially given the waves of media publicity about alleged 'false memory syndrome'." The appear to be unaware that FMS is very well documented and recognized.
bullet "Considering the barriers to disclosure and discussion for survivors as well, it is not surprising that after decades of publicity, there still remains a problem about 'breaking the silence' when it comes to sexual abuse." There should be no reluctance to disclose childhood sexual abuse when the memories of abuse have been always present or where the abuse can be corroborated. There should be extreme reluctance to accept the accuracy of abuse "memories" that have gradually formed during months of recovered memory therapy. 12

horizontal rule


  1. "Denise Lavoie, "Jury in case against defrocked priest to resume deliberations Monday," Associated Press, 2005-FEB-04.
  2. "Denise Lavoie, "Jury finds defrocked priest guilty of repeatedly molesting parishioner," Associated Press, 2005-FEB-07.
  3. Edward Wyatt, "A Mormon Daughter's Book Stirs a Storm," The New York Times, 2005-FEB-24, Page E1.
  4. Edward Wyatt, "Hugh Nibley, Outspoken Mormon Scholar, Dies at 94," The New York Times, 2005-FEB-25, Page A21.
  5. Martha Beck, ''Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found  My Faith,'' Crown, (2005-MAR-1). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  6. "No more testimony from kids. Peace bond for Amish woman facing multiple sex charges," St Thomas - Times Journal, 2005-FEB-22.
  7. Mark Thiessen, "Memoir details alleged sexual abuse in prominent Mormon home," Associated Press, 2005-MAR-10.
  8. "Louisiana Sex Cult Suspect, Evidence Seized In Ohio," NBC, 2005-MAY-25, at:
  9. Rick Lyman, "Former pastor, congregants face child-sex and satanic accusations
    The leadership 'let the enemy in,' a local official says,
    " New York Times, 2005-MAY-29, at:
  10. Justin Quinn, "Psychiatrist guilty in Satanic memory case," Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster PA, 2005-OCT-27, Page 01.
  11. Kyle Zirpolo, as told to Debbie Nathan. " 'I'm Sorry.' A long-delayed apology from one of the accusers in the notorious McMartin Pre-School molestation case." LA Times, 2005-OCT-30, at
  12. Sarah Nelson & Sue Hampson, "YES YOU CAN! Working with Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse," Astron, (2005-DEC). Available from: Blackwell's Bookshop, 53 South Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland,  EH1 1YS

horizontal rule

Copyright 2005 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update: 2007-JAN-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or go to the "recent developments in SRA, RMT, MPD, etc" menu, or choose:

Custom Search

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

GooglePage Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Your first visit?
Contact us
External links
Good books
Visitor essays
Our forum
New essays
Other site features
Buy a CD
Vital notes

World religions
Who is a Christian?
Shared beliefs
Handle change
Bible topics
Bible inerrancy
Bible harmony
Interpret Bible
Beliefs, creeds
Da Vinci code
Revelation, 666
Other religions
Other spirituality
Cults and NRMs
Comparing religions

About all religions
Important topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handle change
Confusing terms
World's end
One true religion?
Seasonal topics
Science v. Religion
More info.

Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten commandm'ts
Assisted suicide
Death penalty
Equal rights - gays & bi's
Gay marriage
Origins of the species
Sex & gender
Spanking kids
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news