Tag Archives: Satanic Ritual Abuse

Church of Satan: ‘Craigslist Killer Not One of Us’

Church of Satan high priest Peter Gilmore has issued a statement to the press regarding Miranda Barbour’s claims that she belonged to a Satanic cult, making it clear that she has no affiliation with the church founded by Anton LaVey.

“According to our records, we have never had any contact from this woman, nor her accomplice … It seems to me that she is calling herself a member of a ‘satanic cult,’ not a legally incorporated above-ground form of satanism.”

“Thorough investigation will likely demonstrate that this cult story is fiction,” Gilmore added.

And Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the New York-based Satanic Temple, expressed similar sentiments in statements this weekend:

“Barbour seems bent on displaying herself as prolific murderer and absolute monster, and her ‘Satanism’ seems nothing more than another transparent effort to aid in this campaign of reverse,” public relations, Greaves said.

“It must be remembered that ‘the Devil made me do it’ excuse far predates any written doctrine of Satanism, and I feel certain that Barbour’s own relationship with any organized Satanism will turn out to be vague or non-existent,” he added.

What’s even more remarkable than these public statements is that multiple mainstream news sites have published them — without irony or mockery. That rarely happens, and it’s a major step forward in recognizing Satanism as a legitimate and law-abiding faith that is unfairly linked to crimes like Barbour’s far too often. For example, check out this comment from CNN’s Belief blog co-editor, Daniel Burke:

Barbour’s alleged satanic ties may resurrect painful memories for Satanists, who found themselves at the center of controversy during the “satanic panic” of the 1980s. During that time, several American communities reported that Satanists had abused children during horrifying rituals. The accusations were later debunked, but only after what Satanists like Gilmore describe as a “witch hunt.”

Satanism still has a long way to go before it’s seen as an equal faith, but this isn’t a bad place to start.

From the Satanic Panic to 12 years in Texas prison

You’ve heard about the West Memphis 3? Meet the San Antonio 4.

Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vasquez and Cassandra Rivera have served 12 or more years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. So what were the women convicted of doing?

Satanic ritual abuse.

Yes, that again.

In, 1994, in the midst of the Satanic Panic, Ramirez’s nieces, 7 and 9, stayed with her for a week. Later, there were allegations that the girls were raped at gunpoint, by all four women, during that week. A doctor who examined the girls after they made their claims “thought she saw Satan’s hand in the unspeakable crimes described by the two young girls,” according to the San Antonio Current:

They described their aunt, Elizabeth Ramirez, with red wild eyes grabbing the girls and forcing them into her bedroom. … Kellogg, a widely respected child abuse expert and local pediatrician, examined the girls, deciding “this could be Satanic-related,” according to her exam notes. Based on her research and experience in the field, Kellogg later testified, “If there is a female perpetrator and there’s more than one perpetrator involved, there is a concern for [Satanic abuse].”

The prosecutors went even further, suggesting Satanic overtones even though they were forbidden from bringing up the subject directly in the courtroom:

“[T]he evidence is going to show that young woman over there held a nine-year-old girl up as a sacrificial lamb to her friends. … We’re going to ask you to believe a nine-year-old little girl who was sacrificed on the altar of lust.”

From there, prosecutors moved on to suggesting that some or all of the women might be lesbians. (Which is just about as relevant as Satanism accusations — which is to say, not at all relevant.)

So where did these ideas come from? It seems, as is often the case with such situations, that they came from the prosecutors themselves, which may explain why their stories made no sense:

the jury heard a maze of contradictions from the supposed victims. On and off the witness stand, their accounts changed, sometimes in dramatic fashion. The assaults happened at night, then in the morning, then in the afternoon while “Full House” was on TV. They were assaulted in the living room, or in the bedroom, either together or separate. Mayhugh wasn’t there. Or was she? Their father picked them up from the apartment following the assault. Then it was Ramirez and Mayhugh who drove them home. Ramirez pointed a gun at the girls as they spoke to their father on the phone, threatening them to keep quiet. Then, Ramirez and Vasquez each had guns. Then, only Vasquez had a gun.

This wasn’t the first time the girls had made such a claim. Earlier, they had told adults that they were assaulted by a “mysterious 10-year-old boy.” They made similar claims while their mother and father battled for custody, and again when their mother remarried. Although we should be careful to listen to children who say they were abused, it’s unlikely that this happened to them four times in their young lives. (Ramirez claims that the girls’ father had an unrequited passion for her; and when she rejected him, she believes he urged the girls to make the accusations against her.)

Oh, and one of their “victims” has since recanted.

There wasn’t much hard evidence against the San Antonio Four. Even examinations of their hymens weren’t conclusive — and then the doctor who photographed them said she couldn’t produce photos as courtroom evidence. All four of the accused have passed polygraph tests.

But they were convicted anyway. Three were sentenced to 15 years. Ramirez, the alleged ringleader, got 37.5 years in prison.

To bring light to their case, there’s a documentary in the works. Will it help spring them from prison? Will it remind the public the very real cost of fear and hysteria? How many more people remain in jail, convicted in the 1980s and 1990s of crimes they didn’t commit?

Retired therapist invents 22 ways to make money, and all of them involve “Satanic ritual abuse”

Judy Byington’s book, Twenty-Two Faces, resurrects the disproven ideas of multiple personality disorder and Satanic ritual abuse.

Just when you thought we were safe from the “Satanic ritual abuse” moral panic, along comes retired therapist Judy Byington with a new book detailing the supposed case study of Jenny Hill. According to Byington, Hill is “one of few surviving chosen sacrifices from a Black Temple ceremony.” Given the title of the book, we can presume that Hill coped with the alleged experience by splitting into 22 personalities — a syndrome many believe is actually the result of brainwashing by therapists.

Here’s a snippet from the book:

Secret ceremonies in which malevolent men and women cloaked in hooded robes, hiding behind painted faces and chanting demonic incantations while inflicting sadistic wounds on innocent children lying on makeshift altars, or tied to inverted crosses, sounds like the stuff of which B-grade horror movies are made,” Byington writes in closing her 428-page work. “Some think amoral religious cults only populate the world of ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ but don’t exist in real life. Or do they? Ask Jenny Hill.”

It’s notable that most cases of multiple personality disorder not only emerged in therapy, but emerged at the same time as mysteriously “remembered” memories of Satanic abuse. Most of these memories are “recovered” during hypnosis — a state in which people are also highly suggestible. Speaking of suggestible, in the 1980s, 58% of the SRA claims gathered in a study of 12,000 appeared in the years following the Geraldo Rivera special on SRA and a further 34% following a workshop on SRA. Many believe that these false memories are then exploited by therapists, who claim it will take many years of treatment for people to heal — thus ensuring a steady, paying client base for the therapist.

Instead, Byington claims, according to the reporter, that “Satanic mind control programming helped create 22 personalities … in Hill as a young child.”

Well, at least she’s right about the “mind control” part.

The author is also the founder of the Trauma Research Center. There, she sells copies of her books and offers for-pay “webinars” on dissociative identity disorder/multiple personality disorder and other topics. And, according to a guest post over on She Writes, she has another book on the way, Saints, Sinners and Satan, “a first person account of her own experiences with multiple personality survivors and Occult crime.”

Sounds to me like she’s resurrecting some old (and debunked) ghosts to make a living. Don’t get me wrong; we do need outlets for legitimate sufferers of trauma. But does Byington think she can really sell this idea in 2012, when most people are pretty skeptical of Satanic-abuse claims — and with good reason? Is society tipping back to a place of superstition and fear?

Remember when the Satanic Panic ended? Apparently, it’s not over for everyone.

In the 1980s and 1990s, a panic swept the nation. People became convinced that both adults and children had been conned into joining Satanic cults, where they were forced to do all manner of horrific things — and then repressed those memories because they were so traumatic. In other words, they forgot.

Do you buy that? A lot of other people didn’t, either.

The phenomenon, now thoroughly debunked, was known at the time as Satanic ritual abuse. Psychologists no longer believe in it. Well, most of them don’t.

Lisa Nasser, 41, is suing her former therapist, Mark Schwartz, and the Castlewood Treatment Center in St. Louis, Missouri. She was a patient at Castlewood for 15 months, undergoing treatment for anorexia.

In her lawsuit, Nasser alleges that Schwartz hypnotized her while she was under the influence of psychotropic medications used to treat depression. During those sessions, she says he brainwashed her into believing that she’d been part of a Satanic cult. Among the implanted memories were that:

she was involved in or perpetrated various criminal and horrific acts of abuse. One of those acts included participating “in a ritualistic eating of babies,” according to [Nasseff’s lawyer Kenneth] Vuylsteke.

She’s apparently not the only patient of Schwartz’s to go through this, though none have officially come forward.

Let’s step away from Nasseff for a moment and look at Schwartz. Anyone old enough to be a practicing therapist at this point is likely to have a) lived through the “Satanic panic” brought on by the SRA/false memory phenomenon, or b) learned about it in the course of their psychological training. If indeed he did what Nasseff claims, you have to wonder a couple of things. One, why would he introduce these kinds of ideas, knowing they’d been debunked before? And two — the part I want to explore — what do these kinds of “memories” say about our cultural perceptions of Satanism?

Despite assurances, people still seem to believe widely that Satanists practice different forms of sacrifice, from animals to people. Apparently, some even believe they eat babies. All of this comes from longstanding public-relations problems, and popular fiction certainly hasn’t helped.

Nor has the media, which plays up the “Satanic” angle whenever it can. Satan’s the biggest bogeyman in the Western world, and he apparently sells a lot of newspapers and television airtime, because reporters love to use the term to describe just about anything people don’t like. It’s also a very imprecise term, as Satanism expert Diane Vera points out:

Newspapers too are more likely to refer to our criminal fringe as “Satanists” rather than “Devil worshipers,” if only because the word “Satanist” is shorter and can fit more easily into a headline. And there isn’t much that anyone can do to change this, because no one has a copyright or trademark on the word “Satanism.” The word “Satanism” was in dictionaries long before any of today’s public Satanists were born.

Fortunately, casses like Nasser’s are few and far between — unlike 20 years ago. But as long as they arise, they speak volumes about our cultural fears. Fears which wind up getting directed at people who legitimately practice Satanism peacefully.

Hopefully, nobody who reads about Nasser’s case will think her “memories” could be true. Unfortunately, to judge by <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/therapist-accused-implanting-satanic-memories/comments?type=story&id=15043529#.Tt0S0HNWFRQthe comments, some do.