By: Norbert Sykes
Re: Lanning Document
Because of concern about whether or not to include a suspect's
practices in investigation of criminal activity has been voiced here,
I'm including a section of the Lanning Document that shows the
problems when attempting to do so.
Investigator Guide to Allegations of "Ritual" Child Abuse.
by Kenneth Lanning, National Center for the Analysis of
Violent Crime, FBI Academy, 1992.
Expands and updates Lanning's 10/89 report with even stronger
exposure of "anti-Satanic witch hunt" biases and
Provides law-enforcement personnel with
objective, factual, and methodical criteria for the
investigation of child-abuse allegations. Result of
Lanning's 8-year nationwide study as chief FBI expert
in this field.
INVESTIGATOR'S GUIDE TO ALLEGATIONS OF "RITUAL" CHILD ABUSE
Kenneth V. Lanning
Supervisory Special Agent
Behavioral Science Unit
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Quantico, Virginia 22135
TABLE OF CONTENTS (What I will be including will be starred <*>)
2. Historical Overview.
-- a. "Stranger Danger".
-- b. Intrafamilial Child Sexual Abuse.
-- c. Return to "Stranger Danger".
-- d. The Acquaintance Molester.
-- e. Satanism: A New Form of "Stranger Danger".
3. Law Enforcement Training.
*-- a. What is Ritual?
*-- b. What is "Ritual" Child Abuse?
*-- c. What Makes a Crime Satanic, Occult, or Ritualistic?
5. Multidimensional Child Sex Rings.
-- a. Dynamics of Cases.
---- (1) Multiple Young Victims.
---- (2) Multiple Offenders.
---- (3) Fear as a Controlling Tactic.
---- (4) Bizarre or Ritualistic Activity.
-- b. Characteristics of Multidimensional Child Sex Rings.
---- (1) Female Offenders.
---- (2) Situational Molesters.
---- (3) Male and Female Victims.
---- (4) Multidimensional Motivation.
---- (5) Pornography and Paraphernalia.
---- (6) Control through Fear.
-- c. Scenarios.
---- (1) Adult Survivors.
---- (2) Day Care Cases.
---- (3) Family/Isolated Neighborhood Cases.
---- (4) Custody/Visitation Disputes.
-- d. Why Are Victims Alleging Things that Do Not Seem to be True?
6. Alternative Explanations.
-- a. Pathological Distortion.
-- b. Traumatic Memory.
-- c. Normal Childhood Fears and Fantasy.
-- d. Misperception, Confusion, and Trickery.
-- e. Overzealous Intervenors.
-- f. Urban Legends.
-- g. Combination.
7. Do Victims Lie About Sexual Abuse and Exploitation?
-- a. Personal Knowledge.
-- b. Other Children or Victims.
-- c. Media.
-- d. Suggestions and Leading Questions.
-- e. Misperception and Confusion.
-- f. Education and Awareness Programs.
*8. Law Enforcement Perspective.
9. Investigating Multidimensional Child Sex Rings.
*-- a. Minimize Satanic/Occult Aspect.
*-- b. Keep Investigation and Religious Beliefs Separate.
-- c. Listen to the Victims.
-- d. Assess and Evaluate Victim Statements.
-- e. Evaluate Contagion.
-- f. Establish Communication with Parents.
-- g. Develop a Contingency Plan.
-- h. Multidisciplinary Task Forces.
-- i. Summary.
12. Suggested Reading.
The words "satanic", "occult", and "ritual" are often used
interchangeably. It is difficult to define "satanism" precisely. No
attempt will be made to do so here However, it is important to
realize that, for some people, any religious belief system other
than their own is "satanic". The Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam
Hussein referred to the United States as the "Great Satan". In the
British Parliament a Protestant leader called the Pope the
Antichrist. In a book titled _Prepare For War_ (1987), Rebecca
Brown, M.D. has a chapter entitled "Is Roman Catholicism
Witchcraft?" Dr. Brown also lists among the "doorways" to satanic
power and/or demon infestation the following: fortune tellers,
horoscopes, fraternity oaths, vegetarianism, yoga, self-hypnosis,
relaxation tapes, acupuncture, biofeedback, fantasy role-playing
games, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, judo, karate, and rock
music. Dr. Brown states that rock music "was a carefully
masterminded plan by none other than Satan himself" (p. 84). The
ideas expressed in this book may seem extreme and even humorous.
This book, however, has been recommended as a serious reference in
law enforcement training material on this topic.
In books, lectures, handout material, and conversations, I have
heard all of the following referred to as satanism:
-- Church of Satan
-- Ordo Templi Orientis
-- Temple of Set
-- Knights Templar
-- Stoner Gangs
-- Heavy Metal Music
-- Rock Music
-- Unification Church
-- The Way
-- Hare Krishna
-- Religious Cults
-- New Age
-- Transcendental Meditation
-- Holistic Medicine
-- Orthodox Church
-- Roman Catholicism
At law enforcement training conferences, it is witchcraft, santeria,
paganism, and the occult that are most often referred to as forms of
satanism. It may be a matter of definition, but these things are not
necessarily the same as traditional satanism. The worship of lunar
goddesses and nature and the practice of fertility rituals are not
satanism. Santeria is a combination of 17th century Roman
Catholicism and African paganism.
Occult means simply "hidden". All unreported or unsolved crimes
might be regarded as occult, but in this context the term refers to
the action or influence of supernatural powers, some secret
knowledge of them, or an interest in paranormal phenomena, and does
not imply satanism, evil, wrongdoing, or crime. Indeed,
historically, the principal crimes deserving of consideration as
"occult crimes" are the frauds perpetrated by faith healers, fortune
tellers and "psychics" who for a fee claim cures, arrange
visitations with dead loved ones, and commit other financial crimes
against the gullible.
Many individuals define satanism from a totally Christian
perspective, using this word to describe the power of evil in the
world. With this definition, any crimes, especially those which are
particularly bizarre, repulsive, or cruel, can be viewed as satanic
in nature. Yet it is just as difficult to precisely define satanism
as it is to precisely define Christianity or any complex spiritual
-- a. WHAT IS RITUAL?
The biggest confusion is over the word "ritual". During training
conferences on this topic, ritual almost always comes to mean
"satanic" or at least "spiritual". "Ritual" can refer to a
prescribed religious ceremony, but in its broader meaning refers to
any customarily-repeated act or series of acts. The need to repeat
these acts can be cultural, sexual, or psychological as well as
Cultural rituals could include such things as what a family eats on
Thanksgiving Day, or when and how presents are opened at Christmas.
The initiation ceremonies of fraternities, sororities, gangs, and
other social clubs are other examples of cultural rituals.
Since 1972 I have lectured about sexual ritual, which is nothing
more than repeatedly engaging in an act or series of acts in a
certain manner because of a *sexual* need. In order to become
aroused and/or gratified, a person must engage in the act in a
certain way. This sexual ritual can include such things as the
physical characteristics, age, or gender of the victim, the
particular sequence of acts, the bringing or taking of specific
objects, and the use of certain words or phrases. This is more than
the concept of M.O. (Method of Operation) known to most police
officers. M.O. is something done by an offender because it works.
Sexual ritual is something done by an offender because of a need.
Deviant acts, such as urinating on, defecating on, or even
eviscerating a victim, are far more likely to be the result of
sexual ritual than religious or "satanic" ritual.
From a criminal investigative perspective, two other forms of
ritualism must be recognized. The _Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders_ (DSM-III-R) (APA, 1987) defines "Obsessive-
Compulsive Disorder" as "repetitive, purposeful, and intentional
behaviors that are performed in response to an obsession, or
according to certain rules or in a stereotyped fashion" (p. 247)..
Such compulsive behavior frequently involves rituals. Although such
behavior usually involves noncriminal activity such as excessive
hand washing or checking that doors are locked, occasionally
compulsive ritualism can be part of criminal activity. Certain
gamblers or firesetters, for example, are thought by some
authorities to be motivated in part through such compulsions. Ritual
can also stem from psychotic hallucinations and delusions. A crime
can be committed in a precise manner because a voice told the
offender to do it that way or because a divine mission required it.
To make this more confusing, cultural, religious, sexual, and
psychological ritual can overlap. Some psychotic people are
preoccupied with religious delusions and hear the voice of God or
Satan telling them to do things of a religious nature. Offenders who
feel little, if any, guilt over their crimes may need little
justification for their antisocial behavior. As human beings,
however, they may have fears, concerns, and anxiety over getting
away with their criminal acts. It is difficult to pray to God for
success in doing things that are against His Commandments. A
negative spiritual belief system may fulfill their human need for
assistance from and belief in a greater power or to deal with their
superstitions. Compulsive ritualism (e.g., excessive cleanliness or
fear of disease) can be introduced into sexual behavior. Even many
"normal" people have a need for order and predictability and
therefore may engage in family or work rituals. Under stress or in
times of change, this need for order and ritual may increase.
Ritual crime may fulfill the cultural, spiritual, sexual, and
psychological needs of an offender. Crimes may be ritualistically
motivated or may have ritualistic elements. The ritual behavior may
also fulfill basic criminal needs to manipulate victims, get rid of
rivals, send a message to enemies, and intimidate co-conspirators.
The leaders of a group may want to play upon the beliefs and
superstitions of those around them and try to convince accomplices
and enemies that they, the leaders, have special or "supernatural"
The important point for the criminal investigator is to realize that
most ritualistic criminal behavior is not motivated simply by
satanic or any religious ceremonies. At some conferences, presenters
have attempted to make an issue of distinguishing between "ritual",
"ritualized", and "ritualistic" abuse of children. These subtle
distinctions, however, seem to be of no significant value to the
-- b. WHAT IS "RITUAL" CHILD ABUSE?
I cannot define "ritual child abuse" precisely and prefer not to use
the term. I am frequently forced to use it (as throughout this
discussion) so that people will have some idea what I am discussing.
Use of the term, however, is confusing, misleading, and
counterproductive. The newer term "satanic ritual abuse"
(abbreviated "SRA") is even worse. Certain observations, however,
are important for investigative understanding.
Most people today use the term to refer to abuse of children that is
part of some evil spiritual belief system, which almost by
definition must be satanic.
Dr. Lawrence Pazder, coauthor of _Michelle Remembers_, defines
"ritualized abuse of children" as "repeated physical, emotional,
mental, and spiritual assaults combined with a systematic use of
symbols and secret ceremonies designed to turn a child against
itself, family, society, and God" (presentation, Richmond, Va., May
7,1987). He also states that "the sexual assault has ritualistic
meaning and is not for sexual gratification".
This definition may have value for academics, sociologists, and
therapists, but it creates potential problems for law enforcement.
Certain acts engaged in with children (i.e. kissing, touching,
appearing naked, etc.) may be criminal if performed for sexual
gratification. If the ritualistic acts were in fact performed for
spiritual indoctrination, potential prosecution can be jeopardized,
particularly if the acts can be defended as constitutionally
protected religious expression. The mutilation of a baby's genitals
for sadistic sexual pleasure is a crime. The circumcision of a
baby's genitals for religious reasons is most likely *not* a crime.
The intent of the acts is important for criminal prosecution.
Not all spiritually motivated ritualistic activity is satanic.
Santeria, witchcraft, voodoo, and most religious cults are not
satanism. In fact, most spiritually- or religiously-based abuse of
children has nothing to do with satanism. Most child abuse that
could be termed "ritualistic" by various definitions is more likely
to be physical and psychological rather than sexual in nature. If a
distinction needs to be made between satanic and nonsatanic child
abuse, the indicators for that distinction must be related to
specific satanic symbols, artifacts, or doctrine rather than the
mere presence of any ritualistic element.
Not all such ritualistic activity with a child is a crime. Almost
all parents with religious beliefs indoctrinate their children into
that belief system. Is male circumcision for religious reasons child
abuse? Is the religious circumcision of females child abuse? Does
having a child kneel on a hard floor reciting the rosary constitute
child abuse? Does having a child chant a satanic prayer or attend a
black mass constitute child abuse? Does a religious belief in
corporal punishment constitute child abuse? Does group care of
children in a commune or cult constitute child abuse? Does the fact
that any acts in question were performed with parental permission
affect the nature of the crime? Many ritualistic acts, whether
satanic or not, are simply not crimes. To open the Pandora's box of
labeling child abuse as "ritualistic" simply because it involves a
spiritual belief system means to apply the definition to all acts by
all spiritual belief systems. The day may come when many in the
forefront of concern about ritual abuse will regret they opened the
When a victim describes and investigation corroborates what sounds
like ritualistic activity. several possibilities must be considered.
The ritualistic activity may be part of the excessive religiosity of
mentally disturbed, even psychotic offenders. It may be a
misunderstood part of sexual ritual. The ritualistic activity may be
incidental to any real abuse. The offender may be involved in
ritualistic activity with a child and also may be abusing a child,
but one may have little or nothing to do with the other.
The offender may be deliberately engaging in ritualistic activity
with a child as part of child abuse and exploitation. The
motivation, however, may be not to indoctrinate the child into a
belief system, but to lower the inhibitions of, control, manipulate,
and/or confuse the child. In all the turmoil over this issue, it
would be very effective strategy for any child molester deliberately
to introduce ritualistic elements into his crime in order to confuse
the child and therefore the criminal justice system. This would,
however, make the activity M.O. and not ritual.
The ritualistic activity and the child abuse may be integral parts
of some spiritual belief system. In that case the greatest risk is
to the children of the practitioners. But this is true of all cults
and religions, not just satanic cults. A high potential of abuse
exists for any children raised in a group isolated from the
mainstream of society, especially if the group has a charismatic
leader whose orders are unquestioned and blindly obeyed by the
members. Sex, money, and power are often the main motivations of the
leaders of such cults.
-- c. WHAT MAKES A CRIME SATANIC, OCCULT, OR RITUALISTIC?
Some would answer that it is the offender's spiritual beliefs or
membership in a cult or church. If that is the criterion, why not
label the crimes committed by Protestants, Catholics, and Jews in
the same way? Are the atrocities of Jim Jones in Guyana Christian
Some would answer that it is the presence of certain symbols in the
possession or home of the perpetrator. What does it mean then to
find a crucifix, Bible, or rosary in the possession or home of a
bank robber, embezzler, child molester, or murderer? If different
criminals possess the same symbols, are they necessarily part of one
Others would answer that it is the presence of certain symbols such
as pentagrams, inverted crosses, and 666 at the crime scene. What
does it mean then to find a cross spray painted on a wall or carved
into the body of a victim? What does it mean for a perpetrator, as
in one recent case profiled by my Unit, to leave a Bible tied to his
murder victim? What about the possibility that an offender
deliberately left such symbols to make it look like a "satanic"
Some would argue that it is the bizarreness or cruelness of the
crime: body mutilation, amputation, drinking of blood, eating of
flesh, use of urine or feces. Does this mean that all individuals
involved in lust murder, sadism, vampirism, cannibalism, urophilia,
and coprophilia are satanists or occult practitioners? What does
this say about the bizarre crimes of psychotic killers such as Ed
Gein or Richard Trenton Chase, both of whom mutilated their victims
as part of their psychotic delusions? Can a crime that is not
sexually deviant, bizarre, or exceptionally violent be satanic? Can
white collar crime be satanic?
A few might even answer that it is the fact that the crime was
committed on a date with satanic or occult significance (Halloween,
May Eve, etc.) or the fact that the perpetrator claims that Satan
told him to commit the crime. What does this mean for crimes
committed on Thanksgiving or Christmas? What does this say about
crimes committed by perpetrators who claim that God or Jesus told
them to do it? One note of interest is the fact that in handout and
reference material I have collected, the number of dates with
satanic or occult significance ranges from 8 to 110. This is
compounded by the fact that it is sometimes stated that satanists
can celebrate these holidays on several days on either side of the
official date or that the birthdays of practitioners can also be
holidays. The exact names and exact dates of the holidays and the
meaning of symbols listed may also vary depending on who prepared
the material The handout material is often distributed without
identifying the author or documenting the original source of the
information. It is then frequently photocopied by attendees and
passed on to other police officers with no one really knowing its
validity or origin.
Most, however, would probably answer that what makes a crime
satanic, occult, or ritualistic is the motivation for the crime. It
is a crime that is spiritually motivated by a religious belief
system. How then do we label the following true crimes?
-- Parents defy a court order and send their children to an
unlicensed Christian school.
-- Parents refuse to send their children to any school because they
are waiting for the second coming of Christ.
-- Parents beat their child to death because he or she will not
follow their Christian belief.
-- Parents violate child labor laws because they believe the Bible
requires such work.
-- Individuals bomb an abortion clinic or kidnap the doctor because
their religious belief system says abortion is murder.
-- A child molester reads the Bible to his victims in order to
justify his sex acts with them.
-- Parents refuse life-saving medical treatment for a child because
of their religious beliefs.
-- Parents starve and beat their child to death because their
minister said the child was possessed by demonic spirits.
Some people would argue that the Christians who committed the above
crimes misunderstood and distorted their religion while satanists
who commit crimes are following theirs. But who decides what
constitutes a misinterpretation of a religious belief system? The
individuals who committed the above-described crimes, however
misguided, believed that they were following their religion as they
understood it. Religion was and is used to justify such social
behavior as the Crusades, the Inquisition, Apartheid, segregation,
and recent violence in Northern Ireland, India, Lebanon and Nigeria.
Who decides exactly what "satanists" believe? In this country, we
cannot even agree on what Christians believe. At many law
enforcement conferences The _Satanic Bible_ is used for this, and it
is often contrasted or compared with the Judeo-Christian Bible. The
_Satanic Bible_ is, in essence, a short paperback book written by
one man, Anton LaVey, in 1969. To compare it to a book written by
multiple authors over a period of thousands of years is ridiculous,
even ignoring the possibility of Divine revelation in the Bible.
What satanists believe certainly isn't limited to other people's
interpretation of a few books. More importantly it is subject to
some degree of interpretation by individual believers just as
Christianity is. Many admitted "satanists" claim they do not even
believe in God, the devil, or any supreme deity. The criminal
behavior of one person claiming belief in a religion does not
necessarily imply guilt or blame to others sharing that belief. In
addition, simply claiming membership in a religion does not
necessarily make you a member.
The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed
by zealots in the name of God, Jesus, Mohammed, and other mainstream
religion than has ever been committed in the name of Satan. Many
people, including myself, don't like that statement, but the truth
of it is undeniable.
Although defining a crime as satanic, occult, or ritualistic would
probably involve a combination of the criteria set forth above, I
have been unable to clearly define such a crime. Each potential
definition presents a different set of problems when measured
against an objective, rational, and constitutional perspective. In a
crime with multiple subjects, each offender may have a different
motivation for the same crime. Whose motivation determines the label
for the crime? It is difficult to count or track something you
cannot even define.
I have discovered, however, that the facts of so-called "satanic
crimes" are often significantly different from what is described st
training conferences or in the media. The actual involvement of
satanism or the occult in these cases usually turns out to be
secondary, insignificant, or nonexistent. Occult or ritual crime
surveys done by the states of Michigan (1990) and Virginia (1991)
have only confirmed this "discovery". Some law enforcement officers,
unable to find serious "satanic" crime in their communities, assume
they are just lucky or vigilant and the serious problems must be in
other jurisdictions. The officers in the other jurisdictions, also
unable find it, assume the same.
8. LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSPECTIVE.
The perspective with which one looks at satanic, occult, or
ritualistic crime is extremely important. As stated, sociologists,
therapists, religious leaders, parents, and just plain citizens each
have their own valid concerns and views about this issue. This
discussion, however, deals primarily with the law enforcement or
criminal justice perspective.
When you combine an emotional issue such as the sexual abuse of
children with an even more emotional issue such as people's
religious beliefs, it is difficult to maintain objectivity and
remember the law enforcement perspective. Some police officers may
even feel that all crime is caused by evil, all evil is caused by
Satan, and therefore, all crime is satanic crime. This may be a
valid religious perspective, but it is of no relevance to the
investigation of crime for purposes of prosecution.
Many of the police officers who lecture on satanic or occult crime
do not even investigate such cases. Their presentations are more a
reflection of their personal religious beliefs than documented
investigative information. They are absolutely entitled to their
beliefs, but introducing themselves as current or former police
officers and then speaking as religious advocates causes confusion.
As difficult as it might be, police officers must separate the
religious and law enforcement perspectives when they are lecturing
or investigating in their official capacities as law enforcement
officers. Many law enforcement officers begin their presentations by
stating that they are not addressing or judging anyone's religious
beliefs, and then proceed to do exactly that.
Some police officers have resigned rather than curtail or limit
their involvement in this issue as ordered by their departments.
Perhaps such officers deserve credit for recognizing that they could
no longer keep the perspectives separate.
Law enforcement officers and all professionals in this field should
avoid the "paranoia" that has crept into this issue and into some of
the training conferences. Paranoid type belief systems are
characterized by the gradual development of intricate, complex, and
elaborate systems of thinking based on and often proceeding
logically from misinterpretation of actual events. Paranoia
typically involves hypervigilance over the perceived threat, the
belief that danger is around every corner, and the willingness to
take up the challenge and do something about it. Another very
important aspect of this paranoia is the belief that those who do
not recognize the threat are evil and corrupt. In this extreme view,
you are either with them or against them. You are either part of the
solution or part of the problem.
Overzealousness and exaggeration motivated by the true religious
fervor of those involved is more acceptable than that motivated by
ego or profit. There are those who are deliberately distorting and
hyping this issue for personal notoriety and profit. Satanic and
occult crime and ritual abuse of children has become a growth
industry. Speaking fees, books, video and audio tapes, prevention
material, television and radio appearances all bring egoistic and
Bizarre crime and evil can occur without organized satanic activity.
The professional perspective requires that we distinguish between
what we know and what we're not sure of.
The facts are:
-- a. Some individuals believe in and are involved in something
commonly called satanism and the occult.
-- b. Some of these individuals commit crime.
-- c. Some groups of individuals share these beliefs and involvement
in this satanism and the occult.
-- d. Some members of these groups commit crime together.
The unanswered questions are:
-- a. What is the connection between the belief system and the
-- b. Is there an organized conspiracy of satanic and occult
believers responsible for interrelated serious crime (e.g.,
After all the hype and hysteria are put aside, the realization sets
in that most satanic/occult activity involves the commission of *no*
crimes, and that which does usually involves the commission of
relatively minor crimes such as trespassing, vandalism, cruelty to
animals, or petty thievery.
The law enforcement problems most often linked to satanic or occult
-- a. Vandalism.
-- b. Desecration of churches and cemeteries.
-- c. Thefts from churches and cemeteries.
-- d. Teenage gangs
-- e. Animal mutilations.
-- f. Teenage suicide.
-- g. Child abuse.
-- h. Kidnapping.
-- i. Murder and human sacrifice
Valid evidence shows some "connection" between satanism and the
occult and the first six problems (#a-f) set forth above. The
"connection" to the last three problems (#g-i) is far more
Even where there seems to be a "connection", the nature of the
connection needs to be explored. It is easy to blame involvement in
satanism and the occult for behaviors that have complex motivations.
A teenager's excessive involvement in satanism and the occult is
usually a symptom of a problem and not the cause of a problem.
Blaming satanism for a teenager's vandalism, theft, suicide, or even
act of murder is like blaming a criminal's offenses on his tattoos:
Both are often signs of the same rebelliousness and lack of self-
esteem that contribute to the commission of crimes.
The rock band Judas Priest was recently sued for allegedly inciting
two teenagers to suicide through subliminal messages in their
recordings. In 1991 Anthony Pratkanis of the University of
California at Santa Cruz, who served as an expert witness for the
defense, stated the boys in question "lived troubled lives, lives of
drug and alcohol abuse, run-ins with the law ... family violence,
and chronic unemployment. What issues did the trial and the
subsequent mass media coverage emphasize? Certainly not the need for
drug treatment centers; there was no evaluation of the pros and cons
of America's juvenile justice system, no investigation of the
schools, no inquiry into how to prevent family violence, no
discussion of the effects of unemployment on a family. Instead our
attention was mesmerized by an attempt to count the number of
subliminal demons that can dance on the end of a record needle" (p.
The law enforcement investigator must objectively evaluate the legal
significance of any criminal's spiritual beliefs. In most cases,
including those involving satanists, it will have little or no legal
significance. If a crime is committed as part of a spiritual belief
system, it should make no difference which belief system it is. The
crime is the same whether a child is abused or murdered as part of a
Christian, Hare Krishna, Moslem, or any other belief system. We
generally don't label crimes with the name of the perpetrator's
religion. Why then are the crimes of child molesters, rapists,
sadists, and murderers who happen to be involved in satanism and the
occult labeled as satanic or occult crimes? If criminals use a
spiritual belief system to rationalize and justify or to facilitate
and enhance their criminal activity, should the focus of law
enforcement be on the belief system or on the criminal activity?
Several documented murders have been committed by individuals
involved in one way or another in satanism or the occult. In some of
these murders the perpetrator has even introduced elements of the
occult (e.g. satanic symbols at crime scene). Does that
automatically make these satanic murders? It is my opinion that the
answer is no. Ritualistic murders committed by serial killers or
sexual sadists are not necessarily satanic or occult murders.
Ritualistic murders committed by psychotic killers who hear the
voice of Satan are no more satanic murders than murders committed by
psychotic killers who hear the voice of Jesus are Christian murders.
Rather a satanic murder should be defined as one committed by two or
more individuals who rationally plan the crime and whose *primary*
motivation is to fulfill a prescribed satanic ritual calling for the
murder. By this definition I have been unable to identify even one
documented satanic murder in the United States. Although such
murders may have and can occur, they appear to be few in number. In
addition the commission of such killings would probably be the
beginning of the end for such a group. It is highly unlikely that
they could continue to kill several people, every year, year after
year, and not be discovered.
A brief typology of satanic and occult practitioners is helpful in
evaluating what relationship, if any, such practices have to crimes
under investigation. The following typology is adapted from the
investigative experience of Officer Sandi Gallant of the San
Francisco Police Department, who began to study the criminal aspects
of occult activity long before it became popular. No typology is
perfect, but I use this typology because it is simple and offers
investigative insights. Most practitioners fall into one of three
categories, any of which can be practiced alone or in groups:
-- a. "YOUTH SUBCULTURE.
"Most teenagers involved in fantasy role-playing games, heavy metal
music, or satanism and the occult are going through a stage of
adolescent development and commit no significant crimes. The
teenagers who have more serious problems are usually those from
dysfunctional families or those who have poor communication within
their families. These troubled teenagers turn to satanism and the
occult to overcome a sense of alienation, to rebel, to obtain power,
or to justify their antisocial behavior. For these teenagers it is
the symbolism, not the spirituality, that is more important. It is
either the psychopathic or the oddball, loner teenager who is most
likely to get into serious trouble. Extreme involvement in the
occult is a symptom of a problem, not the cause. This is not to
deny, however, that satanism and the occult can be negative
influences for a troubled teenager. But to hysterically warn
teenagers to avoid this "mysterious, powerful and dangerous" thing
called satanism will drive more teenagers right to it. Some
rebellious teenagers will do whatever will most shock and outrage
society in order to flaunt their rejection of adult norms.
-- b. "DABBLERS (SELF-STYLED).
"For these practitioners there is little or no spiritual motivation.
They may mix satanism, witchcraft, paganism, and any aspects of the
occult to suit their purposes. Symbols mean whatever they want them
or believe them to mean. Molesters, rapists, drug dealers, and
murderers may dabble in the occult and may even commit their crimes
in a ceremonial or ritualistic way. This category has the potential
to be the most dangerous, and most of the "satanic" killers fall
into this category. Their involvement in satanism and the occult is
a symptom of a problem, and a rationalization and justification of
antisocial behavior. Satanic/occult practices (as well as those of
other spiritual belief systems) can also be used as a mechanism to
facilitate criminal objectives.
-- c. "TRADITIONAL (ORTHODOX).
"These are the so-called true believers. They are often wary of
outsiders. Because of this and constitutional issues, such groups
are difficult for law enforcement to penetrate. Although there may
be much we don't know about these groups, as of now there is little
or no hard evidence that as a group they are involved in serious,
organized criminal activity. In addition, instead of being self-
perpetuating master crime conspirators, "true believers" probably
have a similar problem with their teenagers rebelling against their
belief system. To some extent even these Traditional satanists are
self-stylized. They practice what they have come to believe is
"satanism". There is little or no evidence of the much-discussed
multigenerational satanists whose beliefs and practices have
supposedly been passed down through the centuries. Many admitted
adult satanists were in fact raised in conservative Christian
_Washington Post_ editor Walt Harrington reported in a 1986 story on
Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan that "sociologists who have
studied LaVey's church say that its members often had serious
childhood problems like alcoholic parents or broken homes, or that
they were traumatized by guilt-ridden fundamentalist upbringings,
turning to Satanism as a dramatic way to purge their debilitating
guilt" (p. 14).
Some have claimed that the accounts of ritual abuse victims coincide
with historical records of what traditional or multigenerational
satanists are known to have practiced down through the ages. Jeffrey
Burton Russell, Professor of History at the University of California
at Santa Barbara and the author of numerous scholarly books on the
devil and satanism, believes that the universal consensus of modern
historians on satanism is (personal communication, Nov. 1991):
"(1) incidents of orgy, infanticide, cannibalism, and other such
conduct have occurred from the ancient world down to the present;
(2) such incidents were isolated and limited to local antisocial
groups; (3) during the period of Christian dominance in European
culture, such groups were associated with the Devil in the minds of
the authorities; (4) in some cases the sectaries believed that they
were worshiping Satan; (5) no organized cult of Satanists existed in
the Christian period beyond localities, and on no account was there
ever any widespread Satanist organization or conspiracy; (6) no
reliable historical sources indicate that such organizations
existed; (7) the black mass appears only once in the sources before
the late nineteenth century."
Many police officers ask what to look for during the search of the
scene of suspected satanic activity. The answer is simple: Look for
evidence of a crime. A pentagram is no more criminally significant
than a crucifix unless it corroborates a crime or a criminal
conspiracy. If a victim's description of the location or the
instruments of the crime includes a pentagram, then the pentagram
would be evidence. But the same would be true if the description
included a crucifix. In many cases of alleged satanic ritual abuse,
investigation can find evidence that the claimed offenders are
members only of mainstream churches and are often described as very
There is no way any one law enforcement officer can become
knowledgeable about all the symbols and rituals of every spiritual
belief system that might become part of a criminal investigation.
The officer needs only to be trained to recognize the possible
investigative significance of such signs, symbols, and rituals.
Knowledgeable religious scholars, academics, and other true experts
in the community can be consulted if a more detailed analysis is
Any analysis, however, may have only limited application, especially
to cases involving teenagers, dabblers, and other self-styled
practitioners. The fact is signs, symbols, and rituals can mean
anything that practitioners want them to mean and/or anything that
observers interpret them to mean.
The meaning of symbols can also change over time, place, and
circumstance. Is a swastika spray-painted on a wall an ancient
symbol of prosperity and good fortune, a recent symbol of Nazism and
anti-Semitism, or a current symbol of hate, paranoia, and adolescent
defiance? The peace sign which in the 1960s was a familiar antiwar
symbol is now supposed to be a satanic symbol. Some symbols and
holidays become "satanic" only because the antisatanists say they
are. Then those who want to be "satanists" adopt them, and now you
have "proof" they are satanic.
In spite of what is sometimes said or suggested at law enforcement
training conferences, police have no authority to seize any satanic
or occult paraphernalia they might see during a search. A legally-
valid reason must exist for doing so. It is not the job of law
enforcement to prevent satanists from engaging in noncriminal
teaching, rituals, or other activities.
-- a. MINIMIZE SATANIC/OCCULT ASPECT.
There are those who claim that one of the major reasons more of
these cases have not been successfully prosecuted is that the
satanic/occult aspect has not been aggressively pursued. One state
has even introduced legislation creating added penalties when
certain crimes are committed as part of a ritual or ceremony. A few
states have passed special ritual crime laws. I strongly disagree
with such an approach. It makes no difference what spiritual belief
system was used to enhance and facilitate or rationalize and justify
criminal behavior. It serves no purpose to "prove" someone is a
satanist. As a matter of fact, if it is alleged that the subject
committed certain criminal acts under the influence of or in order
to conjure up supernatural spirits or forces, this may very well be
the basis for an insanity or diminished capacity defense, or may
damage the intent aspect of a sexually motivated crime. The defense
may very well be more interested in all the "evidence of satanic
activity". Some of the satanic crime "experts" who train law
enforcement wind up working or testifying for the defense in these
It is best to focus on the crime and all the evidence to corroborate
its commission. Information about local satanic or occult activity
is only of value if it is based on specific law enforcement
intelligence and not on some vague, unsubstantiated generalities
from religious groups. Cases are not solved by decoding signs,
symbols, and dates using undocumented satanic crime "manuals". In
one case a law enforcement agency executing a search warrant seized
only the satanic paraphernalia and left behind the other evidence
that would have corroborated victim statements. Cases are solved by
people- and behavior-oriented investigation. Evidence of satanic or
occult activity may help explain certain aspects of the case, but
even offenders who commit crimes in a spiritual context are usually
motivated by power, sex, and money.
-- b. KEEP INVESTIGATION AND RELIGIOUS BELIEFS SEPARATE.
I believe that one of the biggest mistakes any investigator of these
cases can make is to attribute supernatural powers to the offenders.
During an investigation a good investigator may sometimes be able to
use the beliefs and superstitions of the offenders to his or her
advantage. The reverse happens if the investigator believes that the
offenders possess supernatural powers. Satanic/occult practitioners
have no more power than any other human beings. Law enforcement
officers who believe that the investigation of these cases puts them
in conflict with the supernatural forces of evil should probably not
be assigned to them. The religious beliefs of officers should
provide spiritual strength and support for them but should not
affect the objectivity and professionalism of the investigation.
It is easy to get caught up in these cases and begin to see
"satanism" everywhere. Oversensitization to this perceived threat
may cause an investigator to "see" satanism in a crime when it
really is not there (quasi-satanism). Often the eye sees what the
mind perceives. It may also cause an investigator not to recognize a
staged crime scene deliberately seeded with "satanic clues" in order
to mislead the police (pseudo-satanism). On rare occasions an
overzealous investigator or intervenor may even be tempted to plant
"evidence of satanism" in order to corroborate such allegations and
beliefs. Supervisors need to be alert for and monitor these
reactions in their investigators.
... Famous Gods of the Bible #21! (ISA 14:12) Lucifer
--- Blue Wave/Max v2.12 [NR]
* Origin: >> Ubik: Another goddamn BBS << (1:203/289.0)