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Patterns Suggesting 'Contamination'
It has been claimed that there were many children talking independently and that this was strong corroborative proof. However, a foster parent told us that she took [Lily], [Maggie] and [David] to visit [Craig] on the 20.10.87, the day after they came into care, and again two days later and that there was continued contact between the children. A careful reading of the diaries would suggest some sort of communication between them or their three foster parents. We would offer the following as examples:-
21.1.88 [Craig] tells his foster mother of killing sheep at witch parties - they both agreed they had sheep.
9.2.88 (After Mr. W.'s briefing) Foster mother asks [James] about sheep at witch parties.
25.2.88 Foster mother asks [Lily] about animals at witch parties.
Blood in Bath
26.2.88 [Lily] tells foster mother about bath full of blood.
27.2.88 [Craig] claims bath full of blood to his foster mother.
17.3.88 [James] tells his foster mother that sheep's blood is put in the bath.
21.1.88 [Craig] tells his foster mother about killing babies.
10.2.88 [Lily] tells mother about killing babies.
11.2.88 [Craig] tells foster mother about killing babies.
21.2.88 [Rebecca] tells foster mother about killing babies.
10.5.88 [Craig] tells foster mother about Mr. Brown.
12.5.88 [Lily] tells foster mother about Mr. Brown.
[Rebecca]'s Stomach Being Cut by Father
28.8.88 [Rebecca] tells foster mother about being cut.
19.9.88 [Rebecca] tells foster mother again about being cut.
11.2.89 [Craig] tells foster mother about [Rebecca] being cut.
Mr Pooh Pants
14.2.87 [Craig] tells foster mother about Mr. Pooh Pants.
1.3.87 [Craig] tells foster mother about Mr. Pooh Pants again.
13.4.87 [Lily] tells foster mother about Mr. Pooh Pants.
1.5.87 [Craig] tells foster mother again about Mr. Pooh Pants.
2.5.87 [Maggie] tells foster mother about Mr. Pooh Pants.
Big House with Swimming Pool
9.3.89 [Rebecca] tells foster mother about the big house with the swimming pool.
10.3.89 [Lily] tells foster mother about the big house with the swimming pool.
14.3.89 [Craig] tells foster mother about the big house with the swimming pool.
3.3.89 [Craig] tells foster mother about Selina.
21.3.89 [Craig] tells foster mother about Selina again.
8.4.89 [Lily] tells foster mother about Selina.
6.5.89 [Craig] repeats it to foster mother.
12.5.89 [Lily] repeats it to foster mother.
Influences upon the Foster Parents
On the 9.2.88 Mr. W. having been contracted to Social Services as an expert gave a presentation to the foster parents using the Satanic Indicators of an alleged American Expert. These were passed around the foster parents. One foster parent claims great stress was laid upon them and they were told what to look for. These indicators emphasize transportation to other places, animal sacrifices, drinking of blood, eating flesh, defiling children with urine and faeces, monsters and ghosts, a mysterious church, killing of children etc.
This expert signs himself MSW Medical Social Consultant. The British Embassy in Washington has informed us that Mr. M. is described by a Senior FBI Officer as just a social worker with no medical background and his opinions are not taken very seriously. Mr. M. is unpublished and has no education pedigree. It is our opinion that these indicators had a profound effect upon both the foster parents and the social workers. Prior to this the children had not talked about anything but their own family and 'abuse' at their homes. From this time the foster parents appear to take the children's perceptions as reality and do not question them. The style of the diaries changes with the foster parents taking an interrogative approach in a desire to elicit more information and using many leading questions e.g.
Have you been to this big house?
Do you know Tony?
Is Mr. Brown there?
Have you ever been to a farm?
The foster parents are quite clearly trying to find out whether any strangers have been involved and whether there are any other locations used. The foster parents, according to one foster parent, were asked to take the children around to identify places and photos were used to identify other people. This foster mother states that she eventually refused to take the children to try and locate places. It is not surprising to us that after the 9th February the killing of children, (and by the 7th July 1988 the eating of them), the slaughter of animals, the identification of doctors and nurses and vicars as witches (as well as a whole congregation) and the identification of Churches and hospitals takes place. The children knew the foster parents wanted them to identify places and people and would have wanted to please them.
Influences upon the Children
It has to be taken into account that children of this age have a wish to please adults. They are taught from an early age to give the right answer, i.e. the one that pleases adults. They do not have an adult sense of reality and their perceptions are a confused mixture of imagination, fantasy and actuality. This particularly applies to disturbed children trying to make sense of their past. It is easy to confuse and manipulate very young children and they can become quite adept themselves at manipulating adults. There are occasions in the diaries when the children deflect the adults from naughty behaviour by talking about their experiences. Children are also adept at getting attention by telling adults what they want to hear. If you ask a child to identify animals used at witch parties from a book they will obviously talk about the animals most familiar to them, i.e. cats, cows, dogs, rabbits and sheep. (Ba Ba Black Sheep is one of [Craig]'s favourites.) After that sheep will continue. Most adults are unwilling not to identify somebody at an identity parade and any young child shown a photograph will answer in the affirmative, particularly if that arouses interest.
Children will almost always say yes (as happens in the diaries) when asked a leading question. When [Craig] talks about chopping up Jesus and eating him off a silver plate as a three year old he could just as easily be thinking of the Communion when it is stated 'eat, this is my body' and 'drink, this is my blood' and a wafer is given off a silver plate. When he appears to talk gibberish about M's baby being killed on the 26 February he had been watching Jaws and it could easily be an admixture: knife in tummy (the shark is knifed), comes back to life again (the shark does) put in a cage (this features in the film) and 'they shooted her' (the shark is shot). With young children one can only listen to them and then use our commonsense to interpret. With the foster parents having been influenced by Mr. W. we would be surprised if they in turn did not unwittingly influence the children. It would seem to us highly likely that by May 1988 the children would be identifying all sorts of places for witchcraft parties as they would know the adults were looking for them and it would please them. In our view the desire to please adults would probably rule everything out they say after May 1988 unless they were properly questioned by people who were not caring for them.
During the course of this Enquiry we have looked for possible external influences upon the children. We know, for example, that [Mandy] who was the main baby-sitter for the family claims that she always wanted to be a witch. It is apparent that much library material for children of this age is about witches, monsters, wizards, ghosts, etc. However, we were particularly interested in the local authoress Helen Cresswell who writes about witches and whose books are used in local schools. Children are taken on school field trips to Rufford Park and Wellow as the 'Secret World of Polly Flint' is based upon these places. When we randomly asked an eight year old what she remembered about this she replied 'under the ground, room, the park, tunnels, boats, dancing around and weird people!'
'The Secret World of Polly Flint' was shown on children's television in 1987 and includes the following: the park, the lake, rings of dancers, spiders, magic secret time tunnel, abbey, animals graves, powers, the ice house, boat and witches.
In 1988 a second book the 'Moondial' was shown on children's television. This includes the following: a big house with a smaller one nearby, church, hospital, tunnel, monster, Mr. Wolf, Devil's Child, ghost, sticking pins in a wax image to cause death, graveyard, witches, cats, the Devil, grotesque coloured masks, a lion mask and rings of chanting children. It might also be significant that there are also pumpkin lanterns (mentioned by one of the children when they are taken in their garden) and also a secret room, four poster bed with hanging curtains, a raised circular pool, a clock that goes tick-tock at a large house.
A four poster bed, a raised pool, a secret room, a grandfather clock are all mentioned in the children's description of the big house with the swimming pool. We do not know whether the children watched these T.V. programmes and would have liked to ask them but were not able to do this.
Of more interest is the discovery that the NSPCC Unit use symbolic objects in helping children to understand good and bad concepts in their therapy work. According to one of the staff these were used with [Claire] and [Anna] and the social workers were advised of their use. [Craig] had six therapy sessions between January and August 1987 well prior to the disclosures. A teacher at a local school used the material in one of the satellite cases. The material used includes the following:-
Our interpretation of the diaries based on the foregoing does not support the view that the children have been involved in organised Satanic ritual or witchcraft ceremonies. All our research both in this country and abroad has revealed that no actual physical empirical evidence has been found anywhere at anytime for Satanic abuse. If you still wish to believe that it exists logically you would have to accept that an organisation has the unique ability to keep it secret. Even relatively secret organisations such as the Masons and the Mafia have never managed to achieve this. At least it would mean that the followers were extremely clever, powerful, wealthy, sophisticated people who could use their power and wealth to ensure privacy.
If this is the case, as it must be, such people would hardly get involved with a family of ESN adults living on a council estate who are the subject of gossip by their neighbours, who are known to the police and who are subject to surveillance by the authorities. It would be too great a risk as they would be discovered within a week. Such a family could not handle it, and could not keep it quiet. The most that we can deduce from the diaries is that these children have been sexually abused and that they may also have been terrorized by sadistic adults who found it amusing to frighten them. This could fit in with the adults laughing (not a normal practice one would assume at ritualistic ceremonies) as the children describe. It could be true that the children have been deliberately burnt (there is plenty of medical evidence for this) made to drink alcohol, locked in the garages, pushed into wheelie bins.
It could even be true that they were made to eat spiders and faeces and had worms put on them and that the adults wore halloween type masks or even used realistic baby dolls to frighten them. If this was the case children of this age trying to make sense of the past would talk of the family being witches, monsters, etc. We know from talking to the adults that one dog was run over in the road and that another dog and its puppies were killed with a knife to save vets bills because they had a disease. We also know from the adult prisoners that at parties after the pub the children were given home-made alcohol to drink which would eventually put them to sleep.
It is possible that the children were taken elsewhere to be sexually abused for money as this part of the disclosures stands out on its own but even here we must be careful as [Craig] identifies Mr. Brown after seeing a brown lady at Nursery and the children's description of a secret room, four poster bed, raised pool and grandfather clock all feature in a T.V. programme shown in the same year. It is true, however, the baby was thrown out with the Satanic bath water as it was never properly investigated by seeking the Judge's permission to interview the children with the police. In summary we came to the conclusion that the Diaries:-
We therefore concluded that although the children may have been terrorized by their sadistic family as well as being sexually abused we could not support the theory of organised Satanic abuse from these diaries.
(ii) Research into Satanism and Witchcraft
Our second approach was to check the reliability of the base knowledge on Satanic abuse that had been presented to us and which we had initially accepted in good faith. We, therefore, did our own research into Satanism and Witchcraft and considered the likelihood of it being involved in the abuse of children. An extensive bibliography is attached at the end of this report.
Our historical research revealed that no empirical evidence was ever produced in the witch trials and convictions were solely based upon confessions made by the accused to priests, who already completely believed in the reality of witchcraft and Satanism. The starting point for the priest was usually a disturbed child who was led into making an accusation (e.g. Scotland and Salem in the 17th Century). It could be said that the priests actually "created the evidence" and by leading and limited choice questions extracted from their victims confessions of devil worship which they themselves had invented.
The other theme that emerged from our research was that from Roman to modern times accusations of Satanism were used as a political weapon to discredit opponents. We then turned our attention to the present scene and researched Temple Magic and in particular OTO which is labelled Satanic and information on modern witchcraft. We were aware that the books we were using might be an apologia or propaganda but we were fortunate to obtain the unpublished and private papers of a probable member of OTO and a former member of a Hampshire coven and these appeared to corroborate that neither organisation was involved in sacrifices, or the abuse of children. There are numerous Satanic/occult magazines and the team visited the house of one of the contributors but found him to be a schizophrenic who rarely left his room except to be admitted to Mental Hospital. According to his father he was obsessed with this type of material and was constantly writing articles. We consider it likely that these magazines and articles are written by such individuals and do not represent any organisation.
(iii) Research into the International Scene (USA, Canada and Holland) and the literature from the USA
Our third approach in this phase of the enquiry was to research what had been happening in the USA. This was undertaken as it was apparent to us that all the information and expert knowledge appeared to be emanating from there. In the USA the whole scenario of Satanic abuse started with the involvement of social worker Kee MacFarlaine of the Los Angeles Children's Institute International Child Sexual Abuse Clinic in the McMartin Infant School case which erupted in August 1983. This was closely followed by the Jordan Minnesota case in September 1983 in which the children alleged babies had been stabbed.
Following these cases there was a rapid nationwide rash of similar Satanic abuse cases in more than a hundred cities. MacFarlaine and her assistants interviewed over 400 children and told them they could be junior detectives by telling the "yukky" secret but would be dummies if they did not admit they had been molested by their teachers.... in the University of Minnesota Law Review she called for unconventional interviewing methods 'that do whatever it takes to get children to talk' .... After repeated interviewing produced statements about bizarre sex rituals in airplanes, hot air balloons, underground tunnels, graveyards, MacFarlaine told the press that the McMartin pre-school was part of a national network of kiddy pornographers and Satanists operating out of day care centres.
Criminal charges involving 41 children were eventually made although the Police initially claimed that they had 36 other suspects and no less than 1200 victims. A ten year old boy testifying in the case identified everyone from the City Attorney to a Priest and four Nuns as having molested him but later retracted. The children claimed to have witnessed Devil worship in the Church, been taken by their captors to cemeteries, been given red or pink liquid to make them sleepy, been buried alive, seen naked priests cavorting in a secret cellar below the school, seen one of the teachers fly and observed three abusers dressed up as witches. Interestingly some of these disclosures bear a marked similarity to those of the Broxtowe children.
The New Statesman recently noted that many of the children's descriptions have a marked similarity to events outlines in "Michelle Remembers" a well publicised book published in 1980. Debbie Nathan in The Voice, September 1987 wrote "In the McMartin case and its mini versions hundreds of children have offered vague, garbled contradictory horror stories with virtually no physical evidence to back them up. After repeated questioning many children have admitted they have lied. But in the minds of many protective service personnel they have merely recanted. Although these cases are not about incest the presumptions of the incest accommodation syndrome (children don't lie about incest but often recant in a desperate attempt to keep the family together) are applied; believe the child, however, sketchy the evidence and never take no for an answer."
The McMartin case, the largest and most expensive criminal trial in the USA, ended in January 1990 (a month after the Joint Enquiry Report was completed) with the acquittal of the defendants. The Daily Telegraph reported that "the verdict is an indictment of methods of investigating allegations of child sexual abuse in the USA. In this case child therapists will likely bear the blame for over-zealous investigations spurred on by their own belief in widespread sexual assault which implanted the bizarre accusations into the children's minds."
All the defendants in the Jordan, Minnesota trial were also acquitted but not before they had been financially ruined and everybody who believed them innocent (including the Deputy Sheriff and his wife) had been arrested so that a total of 24 people were eventually prosecuted. The prosecutor was subsequently reprimanded by the State Board of Professional Responsibility. In the hysteria that spread rapidly across the country in the months and years after the first accusations in August 1983 children alleged sexual abuse in graveyards, crypts and cellars, said that they were involved in rituals requiring the use and often ingestion of blood, that they had seen human bodies being eaten and abuse connected with burned or cooked babies (Chicago and Bakersfield).
Two investigative reporters, Charlier and Downing, who began a survey of ritual abuse in 1987 reported that in most cases the accusations rested on a child's word usually uncorroborated by physical evidence or adult testimony. Debbie Nathan wrote in 1987:
"MacFarlaine is not alone in believing in a Satanic conspiracy afoot throughout the country even though worldwide searches by everyone from parents to the FBI have failed to uncover one dirty picture, barbecued baby body or other incriminating object mentioned by the children who have been extensively interviewed. Lack of evidence does not seem to concern the Satanism proponents. Some believe everything the kids are saying to social workers and therapists is true."
In Bakersfield California Police excavated fields and dragged lakes where the children said the bodies of 23 children sacrificially murdered were located but nothing was found. In Toledo, Ohio police bulldozed a field after being told that a Satanic group had buried the bodies of 75 children there. 'Satanic artefacts' were found but no remains.
In Canada one of the most expensive and longest criminal trials started in 1985 in Hamilton Ontario after two children aged 7 and 4 alleged to their foster parents who kept drawings and diaries that they were forced to take part in acts of cannibalism, Satanic rituals, human and animal sacrifices and bizarre sexual activities. The children were committed to care but no physical evidence supporting the allegations was found and the Police closed the case which resulted in considerable conflict with the welfare agencies. It is interesting that similar allegations of ritual abuse were subsequently made by unrelated children who were placed in the same foster home.
It has recently been reported that at Oude Pekela in Holland an 18 months investigation into Satanic abuse by the police provided no concrete and incriminating evidence and the result of this investigation led to a breakdown in relationships between the Police and the welfare agencies.
We were particularly interested in the author of the Satanic indictors which Mr. W. had used to brief the staff and the children's foster parents. We asked the British Embassy in Washington USA to research his background and received the reply that he had no medical background (despite his claim to be a medical consultant) and that he was a social worker who was unpublished, had no educational pedigree and that he was not taken very seriously by the FBI. The Embassy also reported that they could find no evidence in the USA to directly connect 'Satanic Cult' groups with child abuse. We had been suspicious that this expert claimed that victims of Satanic abuse were "often in day centres" and that in his guidelines to Police investigation he stated "approach all Day Care Centres as all kids are victims and all teachers are perpetrators until your field is narrowed".
We had previously been made aware that an extreme right wing branch of the Republican Party funded by Presidential Candidate, Lyndon La Rouche had been spreading material throughout the USA claiming that Day Centre Workers, Social Workers and other 'lefties' were Satanists abusing children and that this was part of a communist conspiracy to undermine the family. Apparently extreme right-wingers were unhappy at the allegation of parents sexually abusing their children as they perceived this as an attack upon the family. As a response they had conceived the conspiracy theory as an alternative explanation. We do not know whether this was an influence in the USA cases but we understand many of the convictions were of Day Care Workers based solely upon the bizarre testimony of young children as related to experts without any actual corroborative evidence. In view of this scenario and our research into American cases we would not accept that any literature from the USA is reliable unless it is supported by corroborative empirical evidence.
(iv) Interviews with Experts previously used by Social Services
Our fourth approach was to check upon the basis for the experts' views. As Mr. W. was paid as a consultant by Social Services and used the Satanic indicators to brief the foster parents we interviewed him first. In our view he was extremely vague and evasive and could give no evidence to support his assertions beyond a few cases that we subsequently checked with negative results. Likewise, Dr. W. was in our opinion vague and could provide us with no evidence for his claims. The Adviser to the Bishop on the Occult was in our view vague and could provide us with no evidence that could be checked.
The Researcher for the Cook Programme from whom Mr. W. obtained the Satanic indicators told us that after three years research he had found no tangible evidence of Satanic abuse and doubted its existence. The NSPCC in London were contacted but referred us to Nottingham Social Services who had provided them with their material. They were not aware of any other cases.
At this stage in our enquiry we had begun to form the view that Satanic abuse as a phenomenon was based on either or both of the following:-
- a political weapon to discredit opponents
- therapists unwittingly inventing it themselves.
We had not found any physical corroborative evidence in the Broxtowe case and no longer believed the children's diaries substantiated the claim of Satanic abuse. In our view they reflected other influences and were open to alternative interpretations. Our research indicated that nobody else had found corroborative physical evidence either. All the evidence for its existence appears to be based upon disturbed children and adults claiming involvement during interviews by social workers, psychiatrists, and Church Ministers who already themselves believed in its existence. It seemed possible that Satanic abuse only existed in the minds of people who wanted or needed to believe in it. In the USA the result had been a modern day witch hunt which had ruined the lives of many innocent people.