Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA)
Rebirth of SRA panic in
the UK during 2002-2003
Background of Satanic Ritual Abuse in the UK:
During the late 1980s and early 1990's when the ritual abuse
rapidly declining in North America, it seems to have reached a peak in the UK.
The following people were charged:
Many lives were disrupted; children were forcibly removed from families;
professions were ruined; and some innocent people spent time in jail. However,
no hard evidence of ritual abuse -- Satanic or otherwise -- was ever found. It
was a true cultural panic, a successor to the Salem Witch trials.
In 1994, anthropologist Professor Jean La Fontaine was commissioned by the
Department of Health to study ritual abuse in the UK. She examined all 86
known allegations of ritual abuse during the interval 1988 to 1991, and found no
evidence of Satanism in any of the cases. She did uncover three pedophiles who
pretended to be Satanists in order to better control their victims. She
concluded that some evangelical Christians, psychologists, childcare workers,
and health-care professionals created and promoted the myth. She also concluded
that the ritual abuse myth deflected care and concern away from the real plight
of many abused children.
Damian Thompson of The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, wrote:
"What the inquiry did expose, however, was the tangle of folklore
and urban legend that produced the scare. The ingredients included:
- Stories of baby sacrifice borrowed from 19th-century
propaganda (many Satan-hunters are anti-Catholic
- The anti-Semitic blood libel;
- Corny images of devil-worshippers owing more to The Wicker
[movie] than to any real occult rubric;
- Television cartoons (the Orkney allegations featured adults
as Ninja Turtles); and
- The scatological rambling of small children."
2002: Belief in Satanic Ritual Abuse returns:
Lord Acton chaired a private meeting in Westchester, UK, to discuss hooded
chanting Satanists ritually assaulting children. The organizers said:
"You may be aware that, for several years, there have been reports of the
ritual abuse of children and in some cases ritual murder. The rituals
reportedly often involve the Black Mass and the wearing of robes. Adult
survivors of ritual abuse are divulging important evidence regarding the
large scale of this problem in the UK."
There is no real possibility that adult survivors are fraudulent in their
statements about having been abused. They have what appear to be real memories
of abuse received during their own childhood. The only question is whether these
"memories" are of actual events, or whether they are false "memories" that have
been implanted either by suggestive therapeutic techniques or by self-hypnosis.
All hard evidence seems to be pointing to false memories.
Wilfred Wong, an evangelical Christian activist who attended the meeting, is promoting a change in the
law to create a new category of crime: ritual abuse. He feels that "hundreds,
if not thousands" of sexual assaults and murders could then be tried in
court. He comments: "But so far little has been done."
The main speaker at the meeting was Valerie Sinason, a psychotherapist at
St George's Hospital in London. She claimed that the body of a five-year-old
black boy whose torso was pulled from the Thames River in 2001-SEP bore all the
hallmarks of a ritual murder. She said: "Sadly, I do not think this is a
one-off." There is a general consensus outside the SRA community that the
boy was murdered by an African witchdoctor who was harvesting body parts for
Prof. La Fontaine commented on Sinason's beliefs, saying:
"It's depressing to find someone who has a position at leading London
hospitals who is so cut off from what research methodology is, and what
rational evidence is"
La Fontaine criticized what Sinason describes as "clinical evidence"
of infanticide and cannibalism. In reality, it appears to be present only in
stories that her patients have told her. Thompson suggests:
"The implication is that, because the suffering of these people is real,
their 'memories' must be accurate. ... "
"Prof La Fontaine's report cannot compete with the Hammer Horror scenario of
Satanic abuse, just as the painstaking work of real archaeologists pales in
comparison with the tales of 'lost civilizations' that television
companies, to their shame, still commission.
"Fortunately, inconvenient facts have a way of fighting to the surface. Lord
Alton - who says he is keeping an 'open mind' on satanic abuse - might want
to consider the following story. [In 2001], ... Jeremy Laurance, the health
editor of the Independent, was alerted by a well known psychotherapist to
the existence of pictures on the Internet of a man eating a dismembered
baby. The paper ran the story. A week later it apologized. 'Let's not beat
about the bush. I've been had,' said Laurance. It turned out that the
photographs were a hoax by a Chinese performance artist. And the gullible
psychotherapist? Valerie Sinason, of course."
2003: One, hopefully the final, ritual abuse scare:
By the mid 1990s, almost all child psychologists, child protective service
officials, and police investigators in the English-speaking world had learned of
the dangers of traditional but newly discredited interviewing techniques when
used on young children. They had learned safer methods. Accusations of multiple
victim multiple offender (M.V.M.O.) crimes and SRA evaporated.
Many investigators had assumed that SRA hoaxes would never materialize again.
They were wrong. Belief in evil, underground, secret, inter-generational,
internationally organized Satanists still exists -- primarily among two groups:
a diminishing minority of radical feminists and some conservative Christians.
In the fall of 2003, disclosures of SRA emerged once more. On 2003-OCT-3, Police executed "Operation
Haven." They conducted pre-dawn raids on four houses on Lewis Island --
one of the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland -- and three houses in Leicestershire. A group of eight
adults was charged with ritual abuse.
The case collapsed, Charges were eventually dropped and those imprisoned were
released. There are indications that the children had been sexually abused, but
that Satanism or other ritual activity was not involved.
Almost five years has passed, and no other cases have surfaced. The ritual
abuse panic may have finally dissipated in the UK as it has in North America.
- Danian Thopmpson, "The people who believe that Satanists might eat your
baby," The Telegraph (UK), 2002-MAR-22.
- Prof. J.S. Lafontaine, [Great Britain] Department of Health, "Extent
& Nature of Organized Ritual Abuse" ISBN 011 11 321797 8; 1994-May.
Available from Unipub, 4611-F Assembly Drive, Lanham MD 20706.
Copyright © 2007 & 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
First posted: 2007-MAY-26
Latest update: 2008-JUL-08
Author: B.A. Robinson