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About the Island of Lewis
Accusations of ritual abuse

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About the Island of Lewis:

The FreeDictionary describes Lewis as the "northern part of the main island of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland." 1 It has a population of about 25,000 people. The FreeDictionary states that: "Religion is particularly important on Lewis, with much of the population belonging to the Free Church, which observes the Sabbath very strictly, to the extent of chaining children's swings on Sundays to ensure kids do not play." 2 The Free Church is "an evangelical, Presbyterian Church" in the Reformed tradition. It "accepts the Bible in its entirety as the Word of God." They teach that Satan, "one of these devils speaking in a serpent," enticed Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. 3 They believe that vast majority of humans -- those who are not among the elect of God -- are not saved. They serve Satan and are destined to spend eternity in Hell. Satan's role on Earth is to tempt people into sin.

The Google search engine reports about 689 pages matching the search string scotland "free church" satan. With beliefs in the existence of Satan playing such a major role in the denomination, it is quite likely that many residents of the island of Lewis believe in the existence of widespread networks of Satanists, and in extensive Satanic Ritual Abuse of children. Conditions were ripe on the island for accusations of SRA even as late as 2003 even though the "Satanic Panic" had burned itself out elsewhere in the English speaking world.

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Accusations of SRA:

On 2003-OCT-3, Police executed "Operation Haven." They conducted pre-dawn raids on four houses on Lewis Island and three houses in Leicestershire.

bulletPeter Nelson, 59, and his daughter Mary Anne, 38, were awakened and taken in for questioning. Their house was searched. A police officer asked Nelson where his robes were. He thought the officer was referring to bath robes; actually, the police were referring to robes that Satanists use during rituals.
bulletIan and Penny Campbell were told that their children -- aged approximately 11,9, 4, 3 and 8 months -- would be taken away. She recalled later that: "No explanation was offered to the children. I cannot recall being given the opportunity to hug them or say goodbye before they were whisked away."

A total of seven adults were arrested. Most were charged with "rape and lewd, indecent and libidinous practices" against three young girls under the age of sixteen. A 75 year old grandmother was just charged with ''lewd, indecent and libidinous practices.'' The News.Telegraph reported that the charges against them included: "...allegedly engaging in devil worship, group sex with children, and the ritual sacrifice of animals..." This may be at least partly in error, because it is doubtful that Satan worship would be considered a criminal offense in the UK. Because of guarantees of freedom of religion, a person can worship any God, Goddess, demon, Nature herself, or any other entity.

An unspecified number of children had their lives disrupted by being taken in to care. They ranged in age from a few months, to primary school age.

Some islanders assumed that the charges were valid. Some of the adults who were charged found their homes painted with graffiti and windows smashed in. One car was torched; a garden wrecked. Bleach was poured around trees.

A total of seven to nine adults were charged; media sources differ on the exact number. Some of the adults arrested (or spouses of those arrested) were:

bulletPeter Nelson: He commented on the reign of terror to which he and his daughter had been subjected to. He is reported as saying:

"These men came from surrounding areas and destroyed my house and car. They smashed the CCTV system erected to protect my house, and eventually burnt out my house. We were living in complete fear - lying awake every night waiting for the next attack...I did not know the people that I was charged with but the police would not listen. I was sent to Inverness Prison for nine days and faced constant threats and dangers." 4

bulletIan Campbell: During his initial interview, which lasted for four and a half hours, the police asked him a series of probing questions. Some relate to religion. The Sunday Herald obtained transcripts of the interrogation. When asked what his "religious beliefs" are, he responded: ''I wish to remain anonymous on my beliefs because at the moment I'm not sure what I actually believe in.'' The police asked if he had an interest in the occult. He said that he was curious about it.

A portion of the interview has been published. It shows a profound confusion in the mind of the officer about the occult, Religious Satanism, Wicca, Paganism, etc:

Police Officer: "Do know anyone else who, or have you heard of anyone else who, practices the occult?"

Ian Campbell: "No. I dont know of anyone who practices that kind of religion."

PO: "Have you any knowledge of the use of statues in practicing the occult? What about the ritualistic killing of animals? Ritualistic dress, as in gowns, that type of thing? Do you have any books about witchcraft?"

IC: "Umm, Wicca witches and things like that? Yes in the kitchen?"

PO: "Wicca witches? Whats that?"

IC: "Well paganism, you dont know about paganism?"

PO: "I dont."

IC" "It is not against the law. Paganism is basically about people who believe in mother Earth. Its not witchcraft as in, you know, flaming voodoo sort of things."

PO: "I have information that you were involved in devil-worshipping ceremonies. Have you ever been into devil worship?"

IC: "Not at all."

PO: "The information we have is that it has taken place and that you did use it to dress up in a long white gown and wore masks, as did your wife, and that you carried out some sort of ceremony during which there was dancing, and that your children were dressed up in a similar manner to yourselves and there was music being played, described as Indian music. And also that during this, some form of chanting and praying took place. Further to that, there was information given to us that whilst this was being conducted, it was being videoed on a camcorder. Have you been in a position of seeing any videos which would depict serious sexual abuse? People being killed, and Im not talking acting here? Have you ever drank the blood of a chicken? Have you ever witnessed anybody else doing that? Ever drink the blood of any other animal?" 5

The core problem seems to have been related to the term "occult" which is assigned very different meanings by different groups.

bulletThe police seem to have been following the definition used by some conservative Christians and some feminists: that an evil, underground, intergenerational, abusive network of Satanists is at the core of the occult. The many dozens of other components that consider part of the "occult" -- including Wicca, heavy metal rock music, the Masonic order, palm reading, snuff movies, child sexual abuse rings, etc. -- recruits adults into abusive Satanism.
bulletOthers, apparently including Campbell, believe that the occult is composed of a number of harmless, benign, unrelated activities, such as the religions of Wicca, other Pagan traditions, Religious Satanism, methods of divination, men's service organizations, etc.

Thus, any discussion between Campbell and the police would almost automatically lead to misunderstanding, with each basing their beliefs on a different definition of the term "occult." The police asked him about the use of statues in the practicing of the occult, about ritualistic killing of animals, ritualistic dress, etc. The police were obviously linking the "occult" and a non-existent form of Satanism -- that composed of abusers and criminals. In addition it seems that they may have assumed that all Pagans, Wiccans, and Satanists engaged in Satanic Ritual Abuse of children. The police accused him of being involved in the videotaping of snuff movies in which individuals were sexually abused and then actually murdered. He denied this as well. The police said that he and another adult had engaged in animal sacrifice, killing chickens, rams, lambs with hammers and knives, and abusing dogs. He denied all such activities. 6

The police had three pieces of evidence that they felt were incriminating:
bulletThe children's disclosures, which the police apparently did not realize were unreliable to the point of being devoid of meaning.
bulletCampbell had a book in his home with described Wicca and children. It may have been Ashleen O'Gaea's book: "The Family Wicca Book: The Craft for Parents and Children." 7 The police had apparently not read the book, or they would have realized that it was quite innocuous.
bulletCampbell's wife told the police that she: ''...recalled at the birthday party one of the girls sat on Ian's lap. He didn't like this and stood up. That is the extent of the 'physical contact'. You cannot tell me that two people will recall the same event in exactly the same way, especially after six years. Ian doesn't recall the girl sitting on his lap.''

Campbell was sent to Porterfield Prison in Inverness. His children were later returned to the care of his wife. However, when she and the children returned home, they were confronted by a mob that surrounded their house. She said: "Vigilante mobs roamed the streets and my children were left so terrified that they had to keep their bedroom lights on." When Ian was released on bail on 2003-OCT-16, the police allegedly refused to protect him on his trip home. Peggy Campbell said: "A villager who recognized him on the return ferry had arranged for a number of other people to meet him. They followed him back to the house in their cars, shouting at him." Peggy believes that the police arrested Ian because he is a Pagan. She suggests that the police showed ''blatant religious discrimination, equating paganism with devil worshipping. Ian and I believe that it was because he described himself as Pagan, and I didn't, that he was charged and I was released.'' 8

bulletSusan Sellwood told a reporter for the Sunday Herald:

''We're supposed to have all raped the girls and then the men did. Then we were having sex orgies. We had sex orgies with each other's partners - wife-swapping, whatever you want to call it - at each other's houses. We're supposed to have killed cats, chickens, rams and lambs, then drunk the blood. We were accused of drug taking and making snuff movies. I didn't even know what a snuff movie was. The satanic cult was supposed to have threatened the mother to keep quiet. John was accused of trying to get her to change her evidence after a complaint. This was supposed to have been on CCTV. Porno photos are supposed to have been taken by us using a webcam. The police said that they had medical evidence that the accused had sexually assaulted the girls. But they had no DNA. They had no DNA evidence.'' 8

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Home > Conflict/fear menu > Ritual Abuse > Cases > Lewis Isl. > here

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Lewis," TheFreeDictionary at: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Lewis
  2. The Free Church of Scotland has a web site at: http://www.freechurch.org/
  3. "Sum of Saving Knowledge," The Free Church, at: http://www.freechurch.org/
  4. Alasdair Palmer & Rajeev Syal, "Parents cleared of child abuse to sue police," News.Telegraph, 2004-JUL-04, at: http://www.mobile.telegraph.co.uk/
  5. Daryl Dobson, "Western Isles: falsely accused remain demoralised," at: http://www.faascotland.co.uk/
  6. Neil MacKay, "I've never done anything, I swear," the Sunday Herald, 2004-JUL-11.
  7. Ashleen O'Gaea, "The Family Wicca Book: The Craft for Parents and Children," Llewwellyn Publications, (1993). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
  8. Vicky Allan, "We were accused of raping little girls, having orgies, killing cats and chickens and drinking their blood ... it was all lies but they wouldn't believe us," Sunday Herald, 2004-JUL-11. Online at: http://injusticebusters.com/

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Copyright 2004 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-JUL-9
Latest update: 2006-APR-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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