Child Abuse - or occult rituals? ROSIE WATERHOUSE traces the events
leading to trauma for Rochdale families
Satanic cults: how the hysteria swept Britain
FROM: The Independent On Sunday 16-09-90, Page 3
TWO WEEKS before satanic child abuse was "diagnosed" on a Rochdale
council housing estate, social workers and a police officer from the
area attended a seminar on the subject.
At the course in London in March, they and the council director of
social services were warned of a nationwide increase in satanic sexual
abuse and given literature on the signs and symptoms to watch for.
They soon thought they had found them.
An investigation by the Independent on Sunday has revealed that the
subsequent chain of events is becoming frighteningly familiar in other
towns and cities. A pattern has emerged which suggests the Rochdale
case will not be the last.
Some children undoubtedly suffer sexual abuse. But the suggestion that
covens of witches and satanists are luring children in bizarre
black-magic rituals, sacrificing babies, drinking their blood and
eating them has become a dangerous new phenomenon.
Sine the lurid stories first appeared in Britain in 1988, it is
possible to trace the spread of what has become an outbreak of
hysteria through a network of contacts.
Police in Rochdale and other forces which have found themselves
dragged into similar investigations are convinced that after being
propounded and perpetuated by a core of believers, the satanic
child-abuse myth has taken a life of its own, and is out of control.
In Rochdale it led, over six months, to 20 children being taken from
their families, made wards of court and put into council care. Five
have been returned, but remain wards of court.
When the council applied to the court for care orders, the allegations
included "satanic" sexual abuse. But, last Tuesday, Gordon Little
more, Rochdale's director of social services, said: "We are dealing
with allegations of emotional abuse, degredation, humiliation and
exposure to acts of violence which would not necessarily result in
On Thursday, Greater Manchester police said that the case of the last
three children, taken into care on 7 September, was still being
investigated. But in the case of 17 children, no evidence of satanism
or sexual abuse had been found, and there would be no criminal
Yet the parents of the 12 children who remain in council care and
foster homes have no prospect of getting their children back until
January, when the case is expected to be heard.
As the Independent on Sunday revealed last month, the satanic
child-abuse myth originated in the US in the early 1980s after the
publication of a book by a "survivor". Stories spread, largely in
Fundamentalist Christian circles, and satanic abuse is accepted as
fact by many psychotherapists and police officers.
The first British story of satanic abuse appeared in the Colchester
Evening Gazette in January 1988 in the form of an interview with
"Satan's Cop": Sandi Gallant from San Francisco police department was
in England on a conference circuit to issue warnings that in the US
satanic cults were sacrificing animals and killing children, and it
was likely to happen here.
During 1988 a group of loosely connected people began telling
newspapers increasingly ghoulish stories about how satanic cults were
luring children into the occult and how animals were being sacrificed.
Teenage girls, they said, were being used as "brood mares"; they were
deliberately impregnated and the foetus was aborted for sacrifice and,
in come cases, eaten. The Evangelical Alliance, which represents one
million Christians in Britain, set up a committee to investigate. It
included those spreading the stories.- Maureen Davies, director of the
Reachout Trust based in Rhyl, North Wales, a charity to help people
who have been involved with the occult; the Reverend Kevin Logan, a
vicar from St Johns Church, Great HArwood, near Blackburn who had
written a book, Paganism and the Occult; Doreen Irvine and Audrey
HArper, who confessed to being former witches who had survived satanic
abuse; Diane Core, founder of a charity called Childwatch, who
compiled a dossier of cases.
The first suspected cases investigated by social workers and police
appeared like a rash late in 1988, in Kent, Nottingham, and Congleton,
In Kent, a two year old boy was showing signs of disturbed behaviour.
He kept wanting to take his clothes off, would laugh hysterically, and
told about strange drinks that made him feel funny. Norma Howes, an
independent social worker from Reading, was brought in. She consulted
an American expert on child abuse, Pamela Klein, who diagnosed a
classic case of satanic abuse.
A list of "satanic indicators" was sent by Ms Klein to help social
workers. Classic signs and symptoms are said to include an unusual
preoccupation with urine and faeces, fear of ghosts and monsters,
aggressive play, and the child being "clingy", reciting nursery rhymes
with indecent overtones, suffering from nightmares and bed wetting,
preoccupation with "passing gas", using mouth to make "gas sounds" and
wild laughter when the child or someone else "passes gas".
Copies of these satanic indicators were given to social workers in
Kent, whose team leader is chairman of the Social Workers' Christian
Fellowship. Police found no evidence of satanism.
Copies of the satanic indicators were also given to Ray Wyre, who
trained to become a baptist minister and who now runs a clinic for sex
offenders. He passed a copy to social workers in Nottingham who were
investigating an incest case. In November 1988 they concluded that the
case involved a satanic ring. Nine adults were later jailed for sex
offenses against children and 21 children are still in care. Police
found no evidence of satanism.
The satanic indicators were passed to social workers in Congleton,
Cheshire, who were also dealing with a case of incest. One social
worker associated with the Congleton case is the secretary of the
Social Workers Christian Fellowship. The Congleton social workers
sought advice from their counterparts from Nottingham, Christine
Johnson and Judith Dawson, who are widely consulted on satanic abuse.
Three key conferences on satanic abuse for social workers, police
officers, psychotherapists and other child-care groups, followed in
April and September 1989. The first was organised by the Association
of Christian Psychiatrists. Norma Howes and Pamela Klein the organised
two more conferences, in Reading and at Dundee University.
Main speakers included Ms Klein and a Chicago police officer who told
how four babies were cooked in a microwave oven (a week later a rumour
surfaced that this had happened in Derbyshire, and the NSPCC later
reported it had been encountered by a child protection team). At the
Reading conference the Nottingham social workers first went public
with their claims that their child-abuse case involved a satanic ring.
Maureen Davis of Reachout said she knew of 35 cases of satanic abuse.
A series of investigations followed: in November 1989 in Trafford,
Greater Manchester, where social workers had the list of satanic
indicators; also late in 1989 in Manchester, where social workers had
attended the Reading conference and received advice from the Reachout
Trust and the Mr [Rev] Logan, police were also advised by Judy parry
from MAnchester, who was trained by Maureen Davies; in December 1989,
in Knottingley near Pontefract in west Yorkshire, where Childwatch
campaigner Diane Core passed on literature; in March 1990 in Rochdale,
after social workers and a police officer attended a London seminar
and received satanic indicators originally circulated by the Reachout
Judy Parry was also consulted by some parents; in June 1990 in
Liverpool, where social workers sought advice from the Congleton
social workers and police were advised by Maureen Davies the Mr [Rev]
Logan and Diane Core; at the end of July 1990 in Strathclyde where
social workers attended the Dundee conference and took advice from the
Nottingham social workers.
In these cases a total of 52 children have been made wards of court,
most remain in care, three men face charges including child abuse, but
police have found no evidence of satanic abuse.
Virtually every British police force has received the satanic
indicators. And although they might regard them as absurd, the social
services inspectorate has sent similar "memoranda" to every social
services department in Britain.
One Rochdale policeman involved in the case has a theory: "What I
think is happening is there are some cranks among social workers. They
are getting wind of these documents and they are trying to tie it up
with routine abuse cases. If social workers came to us with
allegations of this nature we have to investigate. I don't see how it
can be stopped from happening again."
* Additional reporting by Adam Sage and Sarah Strickland.
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