Tree in the North, Continued On August 14, 1987 CE the San Francisco home of Lilith and my
Tree in the North, Continued
On August 14, 1987 CE the San Francisco home of Lilith and myself was raided
by San Francisco Police officer Glen Pamfiloff on a search warrant obtained as
a consequence of the accusations of Army chaplain Lawrence Adams-Thompson that
we had kidnapped and sexually abused his stepdaughter as part of the Presidio
of San Francisco day-care witch-hunt. The continuing saga of this surprise
attack against us has periodically been reported in the Scroll as the "Tree in
the North" series.
Also present on the raid was Officer Sandi Gallant of SFPD Intelligence, who
we found out had been presenting a defamatory picture of the Temple of Set,
ourselves, and our religion generally to the public and to the SFPD itself.
Gallant's propaganda, in addition to encouraging the nationwide anti-Satanism
hysteria, had obviously encouraged an attitude towards us within the
department such that an officer like Pamfiloff was only waiting for an excuse
to raid us, assuming that all sorts of criminal horrors would be uncovered per
Gallant's dire predictions.
After the shock of the Pamfiloff raid, we first tried for several months to
correct the problem and the disinformation campaign through the SFPD itself,
with not even a response. Therefore, on April 8, 1988 CE I filed formal
complaints against Pamfiloff and Gallant with the San Francisco Police
Commission, the supervisory agency of the City of San Francisco above the
The investigation by the Commission's Office of Citizen Complaints took
approximately 1-1/2 years, because in the process of researching them, the
investigating analyst went not only into the specifics of our case, but more
generally into the practices of the SFPD concerning its surveillance of and
attitude towards "unconventional" religions, its execution of search warrants,
and its policies of retention of property seized in those warrants. As the
investigators explained to me, a thorough review of these procedures could
result in much more careful, fair, and Constitutional practices being followed
in the future on a general basis by the SFPD. We were in full agreement with
this constructive approach to the situation, so did not press for a
quick-answer solution that would merely rule on our specific case.
The Police Commission's findings were announced to a letter to me on November
22, quoted as follows:
"As a result of our investigation of your allegations that the search warrant
for your home was not properly executed; that letters written to SFPD members
were not answered, and complaints not forwarded to OCC; that [Pamfiloff] made
improper statements regarding your guilt and character; and that a proper
investigation has not been conducted, we have preliminarily found that the
actions you complained of are improper under the rules and regulations of the
SFPD. Accordingly our preliminary disposition of these allegations is
"As a result of our investigation of your allegations that [Gallant] is
keeping improper intelligence files on you and your religion; that this same
member is accumulating negative information and not trying to present an
objective picture in these files; that this same member improperly contacted
your employer with confidential information; that this same member has
presented a defamatory image of your religion both on and off duty, we have
preliminarily found that the actions you complained of are improper under the
rules and regulations of the SFPD. Accordingly our preliminary disposition of
these allegations is 'Sustained'."
Although in my opinion Pamfiloff had been wrong to seek a search warrant of
our home based on the obviously-false allegations of the chaplain, the
Commission did not sustain this complaint. As explained to me, it is the
issuing judge's responsibility to validate or reject an application for a
search warrant, so if the judge approved Pamfiloff's application, any fault to
be found would have to be with the judge, not Pamfiloff. This, I think, is a
The next section of the letter dealt with complaints of mine concerning which
the Commission was unable to obtain sufficient evidence to come to a
conclusion, hence could not sustain. This included Gallant's refusal to
discuss her intelligence file on the Temple of Set with me, hearsay accounts
of alleged defamatory remarks Gallant had made to "occult seminars", and the
SFPD's relations with the media concerning this matter.
Finally the Commission addressed the retention of Temple and our personal
property, not covered by the search warrant, by the SFPD:
"As a result of your allegations that retention of your property was improper,
and that a proper investigation was not conducted, we have preliminarily found
that the current procedure followed by the SFPD is not proper. Accordingly our
preliminary disposition is 'Procedure Failure'."
This finding is particularly important, because it indicates that there will
be a major review of the SFPD's policies concerning the seizure and holding of
property confiscated during executions of search warrants. Until now, if our
case is to be considered representative, officers executing warrants could
take pretty much whatever they wanted, whether or not it was on the search
warrant. [In our case, everything that Pamfiloff took had nothing whatever to
do with any crime, but was simply Temple of Set- or family-related.] Also,
until now, persons having their property confiscated by the SFPD have had to
sue in court to have it returned to them, whether or not they were charged
with any crime. This is a procedure obviously beyond the means of many people.
So we are completely satisfied with the findings of the Commission. Not only
has it exonerated us from the treatment we endured, but in the process has set
in motion reforms that may benefit the people of San Francisco generally, and
which in turn will reflect that much better upon the Police Department itself
and gain it that much more trust and respect by the public.
The findings by the Commission now go to the Chief of Police, together with a
30-page confidential report and approximately 1,100 pages of supporting
documentation. Based upon this data, and his consultation with the
Commission's investigator, the Chief will be able to take disciplinary action
concerning Pamfiloff and Gallant as appropriate and address more generally the
systems of the SFPD that permitted a situation such as this to arise.
It is noteworthy that, since she was placed under investigation by the
Commission, Gallant's statements concerning Satanism have changed remarkably
towards tolerance and respect for its legal standing as a religion. Indeed she
has gone so far as to repudiate her earlier statements on the subject.
That this may be only because she was caught is somewhat beside the point.
What is really important is not that old wrongs be rehashed, but that
corrections be made in the present and in the future. If nothing else, Gallant
- as a result of her attempted attack on the Temple of Set - has now acquired
the knowledge concerning it which she only pretended to have a few years ago.
If her new statements concerning it are sincere, then perhaps she has learned
an important lesson and can henceforth be a force for common sense in the
law-enforcement field. Thus it may be the best thing for her to be retained as
the "religion specialist" of the SFPD instead of being replaced by some new
officer whose experience factor is right back where Gallant's was in 1980.
What about Pamfiloff? This is another "wait and see" situation. While what he
did to us was certainly unjustified, the whole area of "child abuse"
investigation by police is an extremely difficult one. If the police err on
the side of assuming every crank allegation to be valid [as they did in our
case], they are vehemently criticized. If just once they fail to respond
aggressively enough to an allegation which proves to be accurate, however, and
a child is hurt because they didn't prevent it, they are criticized twice as
vehemently. It is probably the most frustrating part of the police department
to work in because of this dilemma. It is probably also very rough on the
officers involved, because of their regular exposure to seriously-harmed
children and their consequent determination to do all they can to prevent and
punish such crimes.
So, while the Police Commission finding is a victory and a vindication for the
Temple of Set and ourselves, we must be careful not to misrepresent it nor to
misunderstand its significance. Sometimes great steps forward in social
systems come from the crucible of unpleasant incidents, which then become
learning processes. If we are wise, we will seek to extract and promote
positive results from this one as well.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank