Satanic Ritual Abuse: 7 Fictions That Created A Mythology

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In light of the recent online hysteria surrounding the Hampstead satanic abuse allegations, it might be worth putting the story within some kind of historical context. As the old proverb says, those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

It’s not the first time allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse have been made and it won’t be the last. This is because a rich mythology has been created off the back of every well-publicised false allegation. From the McMartin preschool trial in the United States in the 80s, to the dawn raids in Rochdale, England in 1990, not one satanic abuse network in the modern context has ever been proven to exist.

Despite this fact people tend to remember the sensationalism of each case, and the fear and rumors generated by it – not the final verdict, which has always been acquittal or at least the overturning of a wrongful conviction.

The truth of each case gets lost in time and hangers on reposition themselves as experts, poised for the next case to emerge, where they’ll remind everybody of the mythology but not the reality.

Yet while this is self evident if one studies the timeline of cases, it doesn’t explain how the mythology originally came in to existence. People have always seen devils and demons as an outgrowth of religion and superstition, but the satanic ritual abuse idea emerged at a specific time in modern history and has a very specific set of themes.

1) Child Sexual Abuse
2) Infanticide (mass murder of babies)
3) Blood Drinking
4) Ritual (regalia, chanting, rites, devil worship)
5) A Widespread Network
6) Impossible Allegations (flying, magic and the supernatural)

When a new case like Hampstead pops it to existence it’s almost as if the alleged victims or those encouraging them have a memory bank of these themes which they have projected on to the story. That’s because they do. They come from past cases, but more interestingly – works of fiction that have directly influenced those cases.

Let’s look at 7 works of fiction that helped create the satanic ritual abuse mythology …

The Satan Seller (1973)

mike warnke

Mike Warnke’s book The Satan Seller (1973) did not directly reference satanic ritual abuse in regard to children, but it did establish some of the satanic themes and rites, and is a starting point for the panic that would follow, due to how it was widely shared along the bible belt of America. He continued ideas popularized by the likes of Rosemary’s Baby – the novel and film that reached wide appeal a few years prior, as well as the emerging ritualism of LaVeyan Satanism – and boldly declared that he had spent years in a real satanic cult.

He claimed to have been a high priest presiding over thousands of Satanists, in three cities. He describes the kidnapping, brainwashing and ritual rape of a young woman, as well as the summoning of demons through spells, and blood drinking rituals.

But after having a change of heart, instead of surrendering himself to the cops for his crimes and handing over evidence to track down the cult and put a stop to them, he did what any morally sound and good natured person would do … he found God and became a preacher, selling his story as he went!

He promoted his book as a true life account (rather than a novel) and declared that his satanic network really did worship the devil and commit crime and abuse (unlike Anton LaVey’s harmless but antagonistic brand of atheism). This gave the churches the perfect fodder to confirm their congregation’s fears. Satan was real and the degradation of society was was down to him.

Remember, this was the late 60s/70s era when the younger generations were first beginning to reject their puritanical parents and religion, when heavy metal music was on the rise, and people were not only experimenting with drugs but also different belief systems, several which did give rise to damaging cults. In fact Warnke claimed to have attended rituals with Charles Manson, the evil archetype of the era.

The fundamentalists had a collective anxiety because they didn’t understand how the world was changing and what their children were doing, and men like Warnke gave them a specific target to unleash their negative energy towards – the satanic cults!

He travelled the networks of churches across the country, released his presentations on tape and album, appeared on TV, and as the title of the book suggests, he sold Satan to the masses.

Only it was all bullshit. Many people knew that from the beginning, but it took a popular Christian publication (the irony) to expose his timeline of events and track down the people who he was really hanging out with during his so called 8 year satanic crash course.

Ultimately Mike Warnke recanted a lot of his claims and decided to drop the act and become a Christian comedian. If only he read some of the Satan Seller’s pages on stage, they are hilarious.

satan seller

Pheww! Good job old Deano had taught you what to do. What a laughing stock you would have been if that demon didn’t appear before everyone’s eyes.

Despite our ability to laugh at this absurd relic of religious paranoia, his book did very real damage that is still being felt to this day. He essentially popularized the modern concept of criminal satanic cults ritualistically abusing people, and sucked up millions in donations for churches in the process. Unfortunately the worse was yet to come.

Michelle Remembers (1980)

michelle remembers

The satanic ritual abuse concept really took off Michelle Remembers (1980), which was written by Canadian psychotherapist Lawrence Pazder and his patient Michelle Smith. In fact it was Pazder who first coined the term “ritual abuse” in the book.

The story documents Pazder’s so called therapy sessions with depressive Michelle, that began in 1973, the same year The Satan Seller was published and during the excitement surrounding the Exorcist movie. After a rather routine couple of years the book claims Michelle suddenly went in to a possessed like trance during one of these sessions, and began regressing to the state of a 5 year old girl. Over the next 600 hours of sessions Pazder claimed he used “hypnosis techniques” to recover alleged memories of ritual abuse that occurred in the 50s at the hands of Michelle’s mother Virginia and a satanic cult.

Smith claims to have been sexually abused, forced to drink blood at “satan’s altar,” and witnessed the ritual murder of babies.

The story is absurd, but these themes became the backbone of thousands of allegations that would emerge in the 80s, none of which ever had any merit beyond certain isolated cases of child abuse.

Many of these cases emerged from Pazder’s own “hypnosis techniques” as a whole community of therapists began to claim the ability to recover hidden memories of child abuse that patients had buried because of trauma.

Today Modern psychology rejects the methods of Repressed Memory Therapy and warns that it is impossible to distinguish between a real and false memory without corroborative evidence, and that therapists may well be implanting the memories in to their patients through suggestion or encouragement. British guidelines advise psychotherapists that so called repressed memories can be metaphorical or outright fantasies, and without corroborative evidence should be interpreted as such.

The ending of Michelle Remembers claims 5 year old Michelle was subjected to an 81 day long ritual, which culminated in the devil himself being summoned – only for Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael to come down and save the day, conveniently removing all the scarring and physical signs of abuse from Michelle’s body.

Despite these impossible allegations, the Christian community and most of the mainstream media welcomed the book at face value and Pazder was christened the go-to expert when similar criminal cases would soon emerge after the book’s publication. One of those was the McMartin Daycare scandal that erupted in 1983 after mother Judy Johnson claimed to believe her son had been molested by teacher Ray Buckey. This escalated to claims of bestiality, children being attacked with drills, and supernatural occurrences like levitation.

After an initial investigation and round of questioning police determined there was no evidence, but made the foolish mistake of sending all the parents of the children at the daycare a letter, informing them that their kids “may” have been abused.

This obviously caused a great panic and many more allegations began to emerge. It was determined that hundreds of children should all be interviewed, and Pazder was brought on as an expert consultant by the families because of his work with Michelle. This was foolish because no formal investigation or material evidence had ever been presented for the content of his book.

The hysteria grew exponentially. Flying witches, blood drinking, secret orgies at car washes and other seemingly public places, were all claimed. Then there were the secret tunnels underground, and rape in a space ship. The children were allegedly flushed down special toilets that ejected them in to underground satanic temples, before sucking them back up to be cleaned before home time.

This hodgepodge of delusional paranoia lead to the most expensive series of criminal trials in US history at the time. They lasted for 6 years, and targeted daycare matriarch Virginia McMartin, Ray Buckey, his wife and Virginia’s daughter Peggy McMartin Buckey, Ray’s sister Peggy Ann Buckey and teachers Mary Ann Jackson, Betty Raidor, and Babette Spitler. They were charged with 321 counts of child abuse, based almost entirely on the children’s varied, contradictory and impossible testimony.

Ultimately no convictions ever materialized, but all of those accused spent some time within the system. Ray Buckey lost 5 years of his life before being acquitted in 1990.

Since then the case has been vigorously studied by all manner of experts and academics, and it is now accepted that the overall body of the children’s allegations were created by the coercion of the interviewers, who went against California guidelines at the time. A sample of such coercion can be read here.

“Never did anyone do anything to me, and I never saw them doing anything. I said a lot of things that didn’t happen. I lied,” revealed alleged victim Kyle Zirpolo in 2005. “Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for … I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do.”

Several conflicts of interest were also observed in the case, including the history of mental illness from the original mother, the prosecution using an inmate with a history of perjury and giving him immunity from perjury if he testified against Ray Buckey, and the dubious characters like Pazder having influence over the case.

Interestingly one of the key local reporters who showed a bias towards the allegations ended up in a relationship with one of the children’s key interviewers, and David Rosenzweig, the editor at the Los Angeles Times at the time, became engaged to marry Lael Rubin, the prosecutor in the case.

It might also be worth noting that Lawrence Pazder and Michelle Smith both divorced their previous partners and married before Michelle Remembers was published.

Satan’s Underground (1988)

Satan's UndergroundDuring the midst of the McMartin case and other similar trials, a woman using the name Lauren Stratford came along to add to the growing hysteria of satanic ritual abuse. She claimed to be a survivor of such abuse and alleged she had a lesbian relationship with the preschool’s matriarch Virginia McMartin.

In 1988 Stratford and her evangelical preacher friend Johanna Michaelsen published the book Satan’s Underground: The Extraordinary Story of One Woman’s Escape. This lead to Stratford appearing on chat shows like Oprah to share her “experience” of being raised in a satanic cult and witnessing and partaking in ritualistic sexual abuse and murder of children.

Her major contribution to the mythology was the concept of infanticide or the mass ritualistic murder of babies. She claimed to be a baby breeder, the person tasked with birthing and acquiring the infants for sacrifices to Satan.

Off the back of these claims she also associated herself with the infamous Kern County child abuse cases which emerged not long after McMartin. In total 36 people were convicted based only on flimsy testimony, and most spent years in jail before having their convictions overturned. Many of the alleged victims later admitted there was no truth to their stories and said they were encouraged by various adults in their families and the system to make things up.

It has since emerged that local Kern County social workers had attended a “training seminar” where the book Michelle Remembers was used as a manual. As for Stratford, despite trying her best to latch on to the cases even the investigators sent her packing, but her book would still get major publicity.

Just like Warnke, after she managed to escape the satanic cult she decided selling her story was more important than handing herself in with evidence to catch the other culprits. No missing babies or remains of babies have ever been discovered in relation to her claims, and later investigations revealed that none of her dates matched up and nobody who ever knew her by her real name Laurel Rose Willson, had ever known her to be pregnant nor part of a cult.

She did however have a history of mental illness, and once her publisher pulled her book for being a hoax she changed her name to Laura Grabowski and began claiming to be a holocaust survivor.

Her preacher friend Michaelsen is still active on Facebook sharing stories about Israel and Palestine, and stylising herself as an “expert” on the occult.

As for Kern County, a grass roots movement grew in support of those wrongly convicted and a documentary called Witch Hunt charts their story and leaves a lot of the blame at the doorstep of district attorney Ed Jagels.

Geraldo and 20/20

The news and chat show media played an important role in spreading the fraudulent survivor stories to wider public. In 1985 ABC News series 20/20 did an “investigative” piece on The Devil Worshippers.

Cutting through the imagery, creepy music, and claims of known liars, it only really focussed on a few isolated cases of church vandalism, violent criminality, and teenage rebellion. Nonetheless the slick production and faux concern from the hosts certainly fanned the flames. One Youtube user comments: “I remember my mom took my metal albums after watching this.”

During the show the narrator made reference to the movie Rosemary’s Baby, commenting: “These fictional devil worshippers are strikingly similar to that of real life Satanists,” though perhaps a simpler explanation is that fantasists were simply crafting stories based on more popular stories from cinema.

Talking heads on the program included none other than our old pals Lawrence Pazder and Mike Warnke, the latter who was described as “a former Satanist” and “high priest.”

He actually admits it was movies with satanic themes that peaked his interest and started him down the path to Satan. But since his own book is a work of fiction, and most of this very broadcast’s claims are false or sensationalized, neither he nor ABC News are separate from the fiction they claimed was impacting society.

It would seem rather than fiction leading to the widespread occurrence of real Satanism at the time, both forms of fiction (traditional and hoax stories presented as real) actually lead to a paranoia that didn’t have any basis in reality. The real widespread network – of true believers – did real damage in the form of hysteria and witch hunts, but actual Satanism and ritual abuse itself was nowhere to be found.

The most distasteful part of the program sees the host Charles Gibson talking to two young boys and getting them to re-enact their tale of ritualistically stabbing a baby, with a butter knife and a doll. Despite police admitting that there was no evidence that this really happened, nobody seemed to have any problem with exploiting the poor children, while endorsing a can of “Crush” soda in the process.

In his book “Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend” in 1993, sociologist Jeffrey S. Victor concluded that the 20/20 program was important in giving the panic credibility in the eyes of the wider public.

An even more sensationalist show aired in 1988 when moustachioed hack reporter Geraldo Rivera stole the name of Lauren Stratford’s book, and decided to expose “Satan’s Underground.”

Cut together with satanic imagery, interviews with “experts”, and a live studio audience, Geraldo “investigated” everything from the McMartin case, to heavy metal music. He even had a bewildered Ozzy Osborne live via satellite to answer for his satanic lyrics.

Stratford herself also appeared on the show to retell her fraudulent story of being a “breeder” of babies to be sacrificed. Zeena Schreck, the daughter of Anton LaVey quite rightly asked “where are the bodies?” And Michael Aquino founder of the Temple of Set, challenged notorious former FBI agent Ted Gunderson, to name and arrest the culprits if he had the evidence.

Gunderson who passed away in 2011 became a prominent talking head in the wider conspiracy community, buddying up to the likes of Alex Jones and lending his air of authority to a number of theories beyond satanic ritual abuse. It’s concerning that a former FBI agent who was high up in the chain during the declassified COINTELPRO era, would be accepted at face value by so many people.

The Satanic Indicators

It wasn’t just the United States where the satanic panic took hold. By the 90s it had reached the UK with similar cases and the same checklist of themes. We had our own psychotherapists like Dr. Valerie Sinason making claims of widespread satanic ritual abuse, based solely on what she’d encouraged from her mentally unstable patients, never seeking any corroborative evidence.

Our social workers were also influenced by self-styled experts in conferences and “training seminars,” which sometimes hosted guests from the United States.

The hysteria really got rolling when the NSPCC Charity shared a list known as the Satanic Indicators.

Intended for social workers, it outlined so called signs that a child may be a victim of satanic ritual abuse, despite the concept having never even been proven.

Armed with their new found knowledge about the devil and encouraged by Christian elements within the social services and wider community, children began to be snatched by the state from their parents in a series of paranoid and baseless cases.

One of the most high profile of these was the 1990 case in Rochdale where a total of 12 children were wrongly removed from five families, several in dawn raids by police. Allegations ranged from the sacrifice of human babies and robed devil worship, to locking the children in cages and caves. None of the claims were ever proven, and all of the children were eventually returned to their families, 10 years later in the worst instance. Many of the alleged victims later spoke out in a documentary about the very real abuse they suffered when being forced to undergo “medical examinations” at the behest of those who had snatched them.

Video tapes of the children’s interviews were eventually released and showed how the social workers coerced and encouraged the stories.

One social worker involved in the Rochdale case – Liz McLean – just a few months later would become the central figure in another case in the Scottish Orkeny Island of South Ronaldsay. Once again children were snatched in police raids and their parents accused of satanic ritual abuse.

Evidence gathered and recorded as three masks, two hoods, and one black cloak, turned out to actually be three nativity masks, two academic hoods that you’d wear for graduation, and one priest’s robe.

A hand made child’s model plane was recorded as a “wooden cross,” and a video tape of the Blackadder comedy was seized.

The children themselves denied they had been abused. Recalling the saga later as an adult, one victim described how Liz McLean tried to force her to go along with it:

I was terrified of her. She was very intimidating, very controlling. I was always small when I was a child but she would lean over me. She got very angry. She would want me to agree with what she was saying. They were mentioning about private parts, things like that. Asking me, did one of the grown-ups touch you and touch your brothers and sisters in your private parts? They would want me to agree with it. And when Liz McLean couldn’t get me to agree with it, she would ask me to draw a picture. So I drew a picture of my pony. That wasn’t right. Then I drew a picture of us playing football. That wasn’t right. Eventually, she pulled this piece of paper out which had a circle on it, and she said, ‘Copy that.’ So I drew a circle and she said, ‘Draw little stick men round it,’ and that’s what I did. And she said, ‘You’re being very good.’ And that was the meetings.

It seems even where the Satanic Indicators didn’t fit, some social workers made them fit.

Dispatches – Listen to the Children (1990)

In 1990 feminist activist and journalist Beatrix Campbell produced an episode of Channel 4’s investigative series Dispatches, having become a leading media figure in the UK’s satanic ritual abuse hysteria, (she had previously sided with social workers in cases like Orkney). Her program “Listen to the Children” revisited a high profile case from 1987 in Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire, where several children were placed in to care. After an initial investigation, evidence was presented and a jury convicted 9 adults of being involved in an incest ring, spanning several generations within one extended family.

The nature of such a case means that not all of the facts will have come to light, but the local authority were happy that the children were safe and the majority of those leading the abuse were convicted. The case was summarized in another channel 4 documentary.

In the beginning there was no sign of Satanism, not from the children’s testimony, nor from any evidence gathered from the abusers. It was only after the children were in care that more allegations emerged. Untrained foster parents were asked by social workers to note down any further disclosures the children made, despite police closing the criminal case. One of the first disclosures noted was that the children had allegedly circled in a group and danced around a doll, some going in to the middle and jumping on it. The foster parent would later say in Campbell’s piece that she assumed this was a satanic ritual and the doll was a real life baby.

The group of foster parents began to meet up and share stories, and gradually a wide range of new allegations emerged, including that the children were taken to parties and churches with witches and hooded figures, where blood drinking and rituals would take place, as well as the murder of babies.

At the behest of the foster parents and social workers police opened up a second investigation to get to the bottom of the new satanic allegations. Teams returned to the houses of the abusers and tore them apart in search of any hidden evidence, as well as checking the gardens for graves or sacrifice remains. Nothing was found. They then searched the wider Nottingham area, including alleged locations of abuse, such as Wollaton Hall, an Elizabethan country house and park, owned by the council and open to the public. Again nothing was found.

There were also no tunnels found between Wollaton Hall and other nearby properties as alleged. And while one “tunnel” was found in a local cemetery, it was known to the public. It was simply an old route where funeral processions would follow in to the church grounds.

The investigation deemed that the amateur interviewing of the children by the foster carers and their encouragement by social workers obsessed with satanic ritual abuse, might put the original case in jeopardy, should defence attorneys argue that investigators were entertaining absurdities. If they could prove that B was false, then maybe A was false too. Police once again closed the case, causing a rift between the two parties.

By this point the “satanic indicators” and wider US-centric hysteria had been spread among the social workers and foster parents, and satanic “experts” were brought on board to fan the flames of the panic. Now even more allegations and locations were made.

It was ultimately decided that an independent enquiry involving police and social workers outside of the case, be brought in to come to an independent conclusion. By 1990 their findings were released in the Joint Enquiry or JET Report and determined that “there is no evidence of Satanic ritual abuse in the Broxtowe case or its aftermath,” and that the social workers and the foster parents were influenced by the unsubstantiated “satanic indicators.”

Parts of the Social Services Department appear to have developed over the last two years a belief system in ritualistic Satanic abuse which is unwittingly resulting in children being encouraged to believe in and allege bizarre abuse. This could lead eventually to grave injustice and if unchecked it has the ingredients of a modern ‘witch hunt.’

This didn’t stop Beatrix Campbell peddling her Dispatches documentary. It sought to restate the satanic allegations and framed itself as giving the children a voice. It did not take on board any of the JET findings and even retraced old allegations that had already been debunked by police, as “new evidence.”

Dispatches “listen to the children” – annotated by the Sub-culture Alternatives Freedom Foundation, SAFF

In one sensational scene Campbell treks down the aforementioned graveyard tunnel with a flash light. It certainly gives the appearance of something creepy, but the tunnel was not secret and had already been investigated. It was a known feature that the public were well aware of. It’s presence alone is hardly evidence of a Satanic cult. On the contrary it was part of a Christian church’s grounds, the antithesis of satanic.

Campbell then breaks in (or was let in by the caretaker) to the cemetery’s “lodge,” and rummages around in a draw. She finds some junk and a dildo, which she puts back with disgust. The irony of a lesbian feminist activist’s disgust at a dildo is pretty hilarious.

The insinuation is that this was some kind of hub for the abuse, but then one has to ask, why would the culprits leave any evidence behind if this “lodge” was so easily accessible? Or if the owners of the property were in on the action, why would they let a film crew inside? It has since been claimed that this was simply where the caretaker dumped litter and other junk that he’d cleaned up from the grounds.

Similar to the media conflicts of interest in the McMartin scandal, social worker Judith Dawson who is featured in the Dispatches episode left her husband and began a lesbian relationship with Campbell. The two would continue to peddle the satanic ritual abuse mythology, and Judith managed to worm her way in to other similar cases when she dropped her husband’s name.

Campbell who has since received an OBE from the Queen is now a prominent member of the Green Party. She seems to keep this embarrassing time of her life at arms length, and the entry about it has also been curiously scrubbed from her Wikipedia page. Those pushing the Hampstead abuse allegations at face value have brought her name in to the fold as somebody who supports the cause, though she has not discussed the case in any way.

Although Channel 4 carelessly commissioned Campbell’s Dispatches piece, they did somewhat redeem themselves in a fascinating episode of After Dark. For those unfamiliar, the series was very much a pre-podcast era discussion show, that did not confine itself to time-constraints or TV style interview methods. A range of guests would be invited to converse for hours on end, in an informal setting.

This particular episode featured Beatrix Campbell, Nottingham Social Services Director Andy Croall, former judge Jean Graham Hall, anthropologist Dr. Sherrill Mulhern, Repressed Memory therapist and alleged satanic abuse survivor Wendy Lindsay, Director of Newham Social Services Deborah Cameron, sociologist Dr. Bill Thompson, and “Paul”, one of the innocent parents from the Rochdale case.

There was a clear split between the guests with Dr. Mulhern and Dr. Thompson broaching research from the satanic panic and repressed memory scandals in the US, and Christian Andy Croall and Beatrix clearly wrapped up in that very panic themselves.

Croall who had been involved in “training seminars” was forced to step down from his position shortly after the show aired in 1991.

The Biggest Secret (1998)

By the late 90s the hysteria had quietened down in both the US and the UK, but one man who would give it a new lease of life, at least in the realm of the online conspiracy community was footballer and TV host, turned self-professed messiah – David Icke.

His 1999 book The Biggest Secret is riddled with accusations of satanic ritual abuse. George Bush for example is a “Satanist, child abuser and serial killer” and the Yale Skull and Bones society is “a blood drinking, Satanic secret society.”

The Royal family are “satanic abusers,” and “ceremonies involving the ritual murder of children, and the use of women called breeders to produce babies and aborted foetuses for sacrifice
to a demon ‘god,’” are happening all around us.

The book is an amalgamation of all of the satanic ritual abuse themes explored in the above list, as well as umpteen other conspiracy theories he plagiarized from other “researchers.”

What he has added to the mythology and what became particularly popular in the first decade of the 2000s is that the satanic ritual abusers are actually reptilians that are not visible to the human eye under normal circumstances.

Icke has since backed off from talking about the Reptilians and if quizzed attempts to give it an air of scientific basis, but from the discredited Hollie Greig case to the very real (though most likely not satanic) Jimmy Savile scandal, Icke continues to assert that satanic ritual abuse networks are widespread across the world with no solid evidence whatsoever.


Starting in the 60s the United States went through a dramatic culture shock that alienated the god-fearing traditionalists. Over the next decade popular fiction, particularly cinema, played in to these fears with satanic themed movies like Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen and The Exorcist. However beginning with Mike Warnke’s The Satan Seller in 1973, it was a series of “survivor stories” dressed up as true-life accounts that gave rise to a moral panic about Satanism. First shared among Christian groups and then given national exposure on shows like Oprah, ABC’s 20/20, and Geraldo in the 80s, these stories lead the public to believe widespread networks of Satanic cults were murdering babies and abusing children as part of their evil religion. It was only after the themes were established in fiction that real world allegations were reported to the authorities, none of which ever resulted in long-term convictions.

When we see the term “satanic ritual abuse” bandied around be so called experts today, it is therefore important to understand that the term itself was first coined in a work of fiction (Michelle Remembers) and only came in to popular use as the satanic panic intensified. No credible agency uses the term today because it essentially has no meaning in the real world and brings along with it a lot of unhelpful hysteria.

According to a 1996 study in the UK by Anthropologist Jean LaFontaine, in a handful of isolated abuse cases that did involve loose satanic themes and “props”, the perpetrator’s goal was deemed sexual gratification rather than religious or cult practises. A preoccupation with Satanism from those involved was seen to distract from the crimes at hand.

Not one ritual abuse network of religious Satanists has ever been uncovered.

So when a case like Hampstead falls out of nowhere and includes every theme on the satanic panic checklist, we need to be deeply skeptical. Have we miraculously stumbled on to the very first legitimate satanic ritual abuse cult, or is it just another in a long line of false allegations, driven by the mythology that came before it?

Believers will argue that the children in the videos are far too articulate to be making things up. However that assumes they are the sole originators of the stories. We’ve seen how time and time again, social workers and parents have coerced stories out of children to fit their preprepared narratives, and the children have gone along with them out of both fear and the desire to please the authority figure.

So while it is true that children do not know how to verbalize the concept of satanic ritual abuse, as it is not in their frame of knowledge or vocabulary – it is not necessarily a sign of truthfulness when they do, rather a sign that adults have introduced the themes and words in to their world.

The elaborate nature of the Hampstead allegations indicate the stories have been fed to or coerced out of the children and then repeated until an elaborate narrative was formed. Even if such coercion came from a genuine (though misguided) concern – as may have been the case in with McMartin, Rochdale and Orkney – that doesn’t make the allegations truthful.

Furthermore police discovered a history of neglect in the family home dating back to when the mother and father were still together. The mother’s new partner was also found to have a history of physical violence against his own children and the children in question.

Are the public getting wrapped up in another satanic panic and failing to the see what’s right in front of them?

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  • Le_Dingue

    Thanks a lot for the effort you’ve put into this contextual reasearch.

    regards to Hampstead, where clearly the story of a ritualistic “cult”
    operating for years has absolutely no basis in reality, I am left
    pondering as to why and for whose benefit McNeill, Mckenzie and others
    are mounting such a well organised campaign promoting a “believe in the
    cult” mass outrage.
    This campaign seems to me most insidious,
    dangerous, misinformed & mis(dis)informing that I’m left perplexed
    by its motives and objectives.

    The story of the Hampstead ritualistic sex abuse (and murder & cannibalsm) “cult” was fabricated and the children coerced in its rehearsal and recitation.
    That much is clear to me after examining the evidence that McNeill (criminally) leaked.
    So what is the purpose of McNeill’s expansive internet campaign? Even today she has published a link, which she describes as “fabulous” in capital letters, to a website publishing once again the long list of accused with deatails of their children as well as their addresses, phone numbers etc.

    What is McNeill’s objective in doing this?
    She has been shown to deliberately lie, to misrepresent, to peddle lies put about by others – she did it again last night referring to a fake facebook post attributed to the headteacher about “tatoo removal”, and McNeill includes tha yet again in her blogposts today. She knows that this is a lie. So what is she doing? On whose behalf is she doing this?

    Thanks again for your work here. I can recommend readers to watch the videos. The “After Dark” video is very long but highly informative in regards to the Hampstead Hoax case.

    • Keelan Balderson

      It could be fame and donations, but my gut just says she’s succumbed to delusional thinking and has surrounded herself with yes men to confirm those delusions.

      We’ll probably never know why exactly, but in looking at all of these past cases, she’s not unique. There were always misguided crusaders.

      And yes the After Dark episode is fascinating. It’s a shame there is nothing like that on TV any more.

      • Voiceofreason

        It could well be a combination of fame, donations AND delusional thinking! If so, a very very dangerous cocktail. The Kern County witch hunt (above) is a distressing reminder of the horrors that can arise from the actions of misguided crusaders.

        • Keelan Balderson

          As far as donations the one lady to look out for is Belinda McKenzie. She’s always fundraising for some fraudulent story or another, and was once investigated by the Charities commission for funnelling money in to Iran.

          She was the one campaigning outside of the court with them other’s known violent abuser partner by her side.

          • Voiceofreason

            Yes, I see that BMcK was investigated by the Charities commission. Despite the holier than thou, frizzy haired wholesomeness she aims to portray, she is highly dubious. In my opinion! I also note she was, has, a big voice in the Hollie Greig case, another ludicrous unfounded claim of satanic ritual abuse that involved the leaking of personal information, and stalking of alleged abusers. There’s a disturbing pattern here methinks.

          • Le_Dingue

            “A disturbing pattern”… I agree completely.

      • Le_Dingue

        Yeah, I’ve pondered the “delusional thinking” etc… but I’m still left pondering. McNeill is obviously not actually stupid, she is very able with managing multiple platforms & social media.
        Why would she risk damaging her personal reputation, especially in the courts? A contempt order and harassment charges look very likely to me. So she’s finished as a “lay legal advisor” in my opinion. In her latest interview with “Mel Ve” on CCN two nights ago she hinted at packing it in and going back to her software work.
        But the damage to McKenzie Friends is surely substantial. Which begs the question why would Belinda Mckenzie also not have done her own due diligence. Before I might very publicly crusade on a case I would want to be very sure of the facts. Any objective analysis of the videos seeking to confirm or deny evidence of coaching/fabrication will demonstrate that the case has no merit.

        So both Sabine and Belinda have failed in a most basic way: both have together and independently overlooked the most fundamental due dilligence.
        I cannot put this down to stupidity/naivety or simply “any shocking case will do to further our cause against “child snatching” by social services”.

        When this behaviour is put into the context of the Iran Aid fraud, the suspicious non-prosecution of that, the noisy campaigning of the false Grieg case and I begin to question what exactly is McKenzie’s actual position with the Foreign Office (supporting Iranian destabilisation) and the Home Office (creating disinformation about paedophile networks/cover-ups). One might suspect that she is “honeytrapping” legitimate campaigners and internet activists with baseless cases so as to discredit associated exposures.

        Neither of these women appear to be unintelligent, however bizarre their behaviour.
        I suspect that perhaps no charges will be forthcoming against McNeill for what looks like a slam-dunk case of criminal contempt and reckless harassment. We will see if my suspicions are borne out but I think it is not unreasonable to detect collusion with UK intelligence behind these people’s actions.

        I should add that before researching the Hampstead case I had never heard of Sabine or Belinda nor had I spent any time looking into the Grieg case.

  • Voiceofreason

    Brilliant piece, well done Keelan!!

  • sunmoom

    The UK Column announced yesterday that they interviewed the mother and partner in the Hampstead abuse case last September in Plymouth and fully support them. Wow! They allege the police video interviews were uploaded unto the internet by the authorities, and say the retractions by the children were under a “brutal interview process”. Now this is all very confusing to me. I would rather stick needles in my eyes than trust either Sabine McNeill or Belinda Mckenzie. If there is conclusive evidence of ritual abuse, then why hasn’t Sabine published it, after all she’s on the EU wanted list anyway (or is she?)

    The Hampstead report starts at 9 mins.

    • Keelan Balderson

      It’s sad that the UK Column still think they’re a newspaper with integrity.

      • Voiceofreason

        Agreed! BTW, do we know if the police videos were officially released to the mother and/or her supporters, and hence were then leaked? I’m struggling to get my head round how these got out, yet find it hard to believe they were released online by the police themselves.

        • Keelan Balderson

          It would have been given to her or her lawyer upon request, especially since she was seeking a “judicial review” of the case being closed.

          The PACE code of practice says:
          “4.19 The suspect shall be handed a notice which explains:
          . how the audio recording will be used
          . the arrangements for access to it
          . that if the person is charged or informed they will be prosecuted, a copy
          of the
          audio recording will be supplied as soon as practicable or as otherwise
          between the suspect and the police or on the order of a court.”

          I’m guessing it works slightly differently since the children were victims not suspects, and she was their legal guardian at the time … but it seems she would have been entitled to a copy.

          • Voiceofreason

            Ah, great, makes total sense. Cheers!

        • Le_Dingue

          The police interviews were publicly available from Sabine McNeill’s googledrive. Her name was on it and the details of the files can be seen in the history log to any googledrive user. She had set the access to “anyone with the link” and did not change this setting after the link and the videos were widely disseminated.

          She was the mother’s “lay legal advisor” having persuaded her to sack her lawyers. As such McNeill had full access to the court’s evidence which she then selectively leaked (omitting pp1-75 of the crime report detailing investigations made). This was a criminal offence. In her original email to the Home Office she cc’d The Tap blogger ffs! This was quite deliberate despite her subsequent lies and obfuscations.

          If her prosecution is “forgotten about” I will assume that her actions were in fact state-sanctioned. The contempt of court and harassment (of the accused) charges are very serious and she should expect a custodial sentence of up to five years.

    • sunmoom

      After listening again, and for accuracy, they didn’t mention Plymouth or when they met the mother and partner.

    • Voiceofreason

      ‘It sent shivers down my spine….because AMAZINGLY the school, church and shoe shop were as the children had described’.
      And so the existence of fixed structures that have been standing for years is evidence of satanic ritual abuse is it? UK Column, please also note that coughing your lungs up whilst ‘presenting’ on such a serious matter only serves to enhance your total lack of professional credibility.

    • Le_Dingue

      There are so many falsehoods, inventions and disinformation in Gerrish’s “report” that it beggars belief.
      This can only be deliberate, it’s simply shocking.

      What is the agenda here of Gerrish & UK Column? A truly hopeless and attention-seeking “journalist” or, as a former intelligence officer, is there some ulterior motive in collaborating in the spread of such disinformation?

      He gets all kinds of easily verifiable facts wrong, and doesn’t refer to the violent abuse proven to have been inflicted by the boyfriend on the children in Morocco. He says that the mother and this man “did all the right things”.

      Does the Met have a “Satanic Abuse Unit”? I can find no credible reference for this.

      This really is sensationalist nonsense of a dangerous and irresponsible kind. Is Gerrish an intelligence infiltrator into the “alternative internet” where exposures of real state-run paedo-networks have been made.
      I can only deduce that Gerrish is working as part of a disinformation & discrediting programme operated by UK intelligence. No other explanation makes sense to me.

      • sunmoom

        I tired to find a reference to a London Metropolitan Police “Satanic Abuse Unit” last night and couldn’t find zilch. Sorry “couldn’t find zilch” is probably a double negative!

  • sunmoom

    I’ve just come across a guy called Thomas Sheriden, who writes “The recent Hampstead Hoax hysteria
    has demonstrated that there is now a very powerful and direct link
    between mass psychosis and neurosis in the ‘real’ world, hard-wired into
    the ‘0s and 1s of’ binary code of the digital Djinn (an
    allegorical term within this context) trying to break through the human
    psychic firewall. At the same time, obvious social engineering research
    is being done on Facebook just to gauge how easily people are led and
    manipulated. The recent ‘colour of the dress’ psychic wildfire was
    clearly a mass Gaslighting
    experiment for some nefarious data collection initiative on human
    behaviourism in the digital age. Personally, I found watching people
    changing their opinion regarding the colour of the dress due to peer
    pressure both fascinating and terrifying. It was Milgram’s electroshock
    machine experiments all over again.”

    He’s uploaded a video on Youtube about Hampstead, which may be of interest. .. not had time to watch it yet myself.

    • Keelan Balderson

      Hey, yeah I know Thomas from Facebook, he has been plugging these articles.

      He has some interesting angles on the case, especially that it serves as a distraction from high profile investigations in to the likes of Elm Guest House.

      It does make you wonder. Savile for example was allowed to operate for years, while innocent families were having their children taken in the satanic panic.

  • sunmoom

    Now this is interesting. The Tap Blog were (I think) the first to publish the Hampstead story. Today on their site, they continue the story. Sabine has left the comment. “THANK YOU for being ever so prompt, astute with headline formulation AND making me SMILE, Henry TAP!!!” Is this a code? the capitals read “THANK YOU AND SMILE TAP!!! Why would anyone want to smile about the alleged rape of two young children?

    • Keelan Balderson

      I dunno what it is, but it’s creepy. She left such comments on a lot of articles and videos, and I think naive bloggers and youtubers are being charmed by them. They’ve been graced with her minor celebrity and given a pat on the head, which will spur them on to do more.

    • Le_Dingue

      When McNeill emailed Theresa May at the Home Office she included the link to her googledrive where she had uploaded the videos of the mother & boyfriend.
      McNeill cc’d that email to the Tap blogger Henry Curteis. She claimed this was “inadvertent” whereas in fact it was obviously deliberate. She later placed the police interview videos and othe court evidence in her googledrive and never set it to “private” even as the link to it was shared all over the internet.

      She then started going on about how her contempt & harassment charges are associated with the “mother’s statement” document. This is just a silly lie as some attempt at disinformation to her small band of Facebook supporters. The charges, if they’re ever prosecuted, relate to her criminal leak of the court evidence she uploaded to her googledrive.

      • sunmoom

        Thank you for this information. It appears that most of the replies on the Tap Blog are either suffering a bout of cognitive dissonance or are paid up members of the “Sabine Fan Club”. The information has been drip, drip, drip .. just like a faulty TAP. If they have more information, then publish it, unless it harms the children.

  • Alexander Baron

    Nice podcast. Sabine McNeill is a highly intelligent woman, and it is a shame she has latched onto this garbage. How about sometime you take a critical look at the Savile allegations. You’l find they’re all smoke and mirrors likewise.

    • Keelan Balderson

      I briefly touched on Savile a while back in terms of the “satanic” aspect, which seems to be driven by a Christian “repressed memory” therapist.

      As for the broader body of allegations, It’s not all going to be true, but there’s a lot of corroborative testimony there.

      • Alexander Baron

        If you think there is a lot of corroborative testimony for the alleged crimes of Jimmy Savile, take a more critical look. There are allegations dating to the 1950s which are absurd, there is gossip and rumour, there is innuendo, and there is a fake letter on Surrey Police headed notepaper relating to the Duncroft allegations. There is also a feeding frenzy by the lawyers. Check out Anna Raccoon and especially JimCannotFixThis for detailed anaylses.

  • Susan Banga

    LE DINGUE hello!! left a reply for you under your post somewhere below susan0207

  • Alexander Baron

    I can’t claim to know Sabine well but she is a very passionate woman, not in the romantic sense, though she may be, but on the financial issue, which is where I know her from, she has always been intense. Unfortunately she has swallowed this garbage hook, line and sinker. There is no dissuading people when they go down that path; they need to see the light themselves.

    • Freedom Talk Radio

      Sabine loves her unpaid work for humanity she is a amazing advocate she can be romantic lol.

  • Voiceofreason

    Outcome of the care proceedings! Brings about mixed feelings really. Relief that common sense (and evidence) has finally prevailed. Sad however to read the full, official account of the abuse and neglect the kids suffered at the hands of the mother and her lunatic boyfriend.

    Mrs Justice Pauffley:

    …There is good evidence to find, as I do, that in the three months leading to their reception into care both children ingested cannabis. Scientific analysis revealed that both children had metabolites of the drug (THC) in their hair – a finding which could not be explained by ingestion of ‘hemp based products’ because none would contain sufficient levels of cannabis to produce the metabolite. It is impossible for the analysts to say whether the children had ingested the drug whether by passive smoking or oral ingestion. However, the children were clear in interview when describing the way hemp was made into soup using the juicer.

    The amounts found in the children’s hair samples suggested their ingestion had not been, as Ms Cave of Lextox described, a “one-off” but regular over the period. It is hard to imagine how any parent could deliberately expose a child to an illegal drug. But it may have been part of Mr Christie’s and Ms Draper’s plan so as to gain the children’s compliance. I need hardly say now profoundly damaging it was to administer illegal drugs to a child….

    This is a summary of my salient findings –

    • Neither child has been sexually abused by any of the following – Ricky Dearman, teachers at Christchurch Primary School Hampstead, the parents of students at that school, the priest at the adjacent church, teachers at any of the Hampstead or Highgate schools, members of the Metropolitan Police, social workers employed by the London Borough of Camden, officers of Cafcass or anyone else mentioned by Ms Draper or Mr Christie.

    • The children’s half brother, his father and stepmother – Will and Sarah Draper – are likewise exonerated of any illicit or abusive acts involving the children.

    • There was no satanic or other cult at which babies were murdered and children were sexually abused.

    • All of the material promulgated by Ms Draper now published on the internet is nothing other than utter nonsense.

    • The children’s false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse. Torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper.

    • Both children were assaulted by Mr Christie by being hit with a metal spoon on multiple occasions over their head and legs, by being pushed into walls, punched, pinched and kicked. Water was poured over them as they knelt semi-clothed.

    • The long term emotional and psychological harm of what was done to the children is incalculable. The impact of the internet campaign is likely to have the most devastating consequences for P and Q.

  • Bill Thomoson

    The full story of Orkney, especially what happened in the interviews – in great detail – can be found in Thompson and Williams: The Myth of Moral Panics. It explains the political, ideological, and religious motivations behind the allegations. It includes the role of the Government too. Sloan is still lying. The children were being subjected to disclosure therapy: MPD therapy for children. In other words, an attempt to help them ‘remember their repressed memories. The role of Satanism and MPD were deliberately excluded from the remit of the Inquiry, so the public would not know how bad this case really was.

    • Keelan Balderson

      Interesting, I was not aware you did a book but found the After Dark episode fascinating.

  • John


  • Kalub

    So why are there never actual investigations into the abusers during the disclosures? That makes no sense. None. I refuse to believe trash like this. Sensationalism is not to blame for these allegations, and I find it hard to believe that the Mother is responsible for this. No one would subject their family, children, or themselves to this level of scrutiny and hate without having a basis for their accusations.

    Cases of SRA and child abuse are always sensationalized as a thing of the past if you ask me. The official report is “That used to happen but we have changed procedures to weed out the bad apples. It doesn’t happen anymore.”

    This article is just more confusion to the fire. What about the facts? What about the medical report that the children had signs of trauma abuse. Not to mention that the entire line of questioning by police in the video taped ‘interviews’ are focused completely on the Mother and linking her to some type of wrong-doing. When the people who were named in detail with distinguishing marks were never even contacted or appeared before police?

    Just because something is uncomfortable for you to hear or understand does not mean that it could never happen. Ritual abuse is REAL. Whether it is done in the name of satan or what-have-you is irrelevant.

    Children all over the world are systematically taken advantage of by people in higher parts of society. Whether it is sexually, financially, physically or emotionally. It does not matter. Ritual Abuse is much larger than sexual abuses only. Our entire culture as a species is built on taking advantage of those lesser than you, and Satanic Ritual Abuse is just one TINY needle in the haystack of injustice. To deny that fact is naive. And to say that SRA has never happened at all and that it is just sensationalized by popular culture is downright disrespectful to those who have gone through SRA or similar ritualized abuse experiences. No one is omnipotent, no one knows if these things have happened to anyone or not unless they go through them. So why are you so quick to discredit the words of others, when you have never lived a day in their shoes?

    • Keelan Balderson

      “So why are there never actual investigations into the abusers during the disclosures?”

      If you are referring to Hampstead the police interviewed the father, they interviewed the children 3 times, they were medically examined twice, police searched the church where abuse had been alleged and found nothing, they went to multiple other locations and they didn’t add up, the children later retracted what they said and explained that the mother’s partner was abusive and coerced the stories.

      So YES there was an investigation.

      As for the medical reports they are being grossly misreported by the alternative media.

      Believers like to cling on to the very first medical reports from Dr. Hodes, because she wrote that the evdience supports allegations of sexual abuse. However even if there was medical evidence of sexual abuse, it still wouldn’t prove who the perpetrators were.

      However it’s disingenuous to focus on these initial reports because Hodes took her findings to a panel of colleagues to be peer reviewed. She then subsequently agreed that she had overstated the findings, and what was actually observed fell within “possible normal variant,” meaning the children were comparable to children who were not abused.

      It has since emerged that Draper was giving the children enemas for constipation, both of which can cause mild signs of damage, and therefore may be a factor in the findings.

      I won’t get graphic, but the one finding that did remain after the peer review was the presence of “RAD” in the girl. This however did not accompany any signs of damage, which you would expect with sexual abuse.

      When Dr. Hodes was asked about the enemas Draper had been giving the children, she conceded there could have been multiple possible causes for the RAD, not just sexual abuse.

      “It’s another possible cause of trauma,” she responded.

      So at this stage we’re dealing with “possible,” not provable.

      Therefore evidence of sexual abuse is not a forgone conclusion, and is not the “smoking gun” believers are attempting to spin it as.

      Hodes sought the opinions of her peers by herself and there is no evidence that she was pressured to revise her findings.

      So let’s think about this logically for a second. If a massive cult had been abusing these children every week for an extended period of time, you’d think the physical signs would be absolutely overwhelming. Not one possible sign, in one child, without other supporting signs, and which has also been observed in non-abused children.

      They should have been in constant pain, they should have been having nightmares, they should have been trying to stay off school in fear, and the evidence should be conclusive. It’s not!

      While it’s possible some kind of isolated incident of sexual abuse has occurred, the children no longer seem to claim this, and the only evidence of abuse of any kind points towards physical and emotional abuse from Abraham Christie and Ella Draper.

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