Rituals in cases of sex abuse of children were 'not satanic'

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CHILDREN were sexually abused in 'rituals' by perpetrators claiming to have spiritual powers to intimidate and silence victims, a conference on child abuse was told last week.

The cases were found by a government-funded investigation into allegations that children were sexually abused in satanic rites that included human sacrifice and cannibalism. The inquiry found no evidence to substantiate the satanic allegations in any of the 84 cases studied. But there was 'material evidence of rituals' in three cases of sexual abuse.

A report by Jean La Fontaine, emeritus professor of social anthropology at the London School of Economics, into the findings is due to be published by the Department of Health next month. The Independent on Sunday revealed last week that the inquiry concluded there was no evidence that satanic abuse exists.

The findings were presented for the first time in public at the child-abuse conference at Leeds University last week.

In her paper, Professor La Fontaine, an expert on child abuse and on cults, explained the difference between satanic and ritual abuse. 'Rites that allegedly include the torture and sexual abuse of children and adults, forced abortion and human sacrifice, cannibalism and bestiality may be labelled satanic or satanist,' she said. Sexual and physical abuse of children were part of rites directed to a magical or religious objective.

Ritual abuse applied to 'cases in which self-proclaimed mystical/magical powers were used to entrap children and impress them (and also adults) with a reason for the sexual abuse, keeping the victims compliant and ensuring their silence'. In these cases the ritual was secondary, and sexual abuse was the main objective.

The report does not identify the three 'ritual' abuse cases but the Independent on Sunday has obtained details from other sources. In each case the perpetrators were caught.

In January 1990, at Winchester Crown Court, Zoltan Edes, of Andover, Hampshire, admitted indecent assault and having unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl over a period of five years from when she was 11. Her father admitted aiding and abetting indecent assault.

Edes, whose religion was a mixture of fantasy, prayers and Bible readings, convinced both father and daughter that he could fight evil with his powers. The 'rituals' concerned the father's conversion of a bedroom into 'the Purple Room' where Edes had sex with the daughter and performed what he called rituals which included making her lie across him so their bodies made the shape of the cross.

The girl was later quoted as saying: 'Because it was all normal crosses and readings from the Bible, I thought nothing could be wrong. We were not worshipping the devil or sacrificing chickens.'

In August 1989, at St Albans Crown Court, Peter McKenzie was jailed for 15 years after he admitted four rapes, four attempted rapes, 12 indecent assaults and four offences of unlawful sexual intercourse. In total he abused 13 girls, some as young as six.

McKenzie pretended he was a wizard and persuaded schoolgirls that if they had sex with him they could become witches in his 'magic circle' and would have special powers.

The judge and police said in court that McKenzie used occult dialogue as a pretence to ensnare children. He was not a satanist and did not call himself a satanist. Det Chief Insp Richard Pottinger said the ceremonies were 'purely a device to abuse young girls'.

In November 1982, at Northampton Crown Court, two couples were jailed for sexually abusing children and aiding and abetting abuse. Malcolm Smith, aged 28, called himself 'Lucifer' and described his wife and sister-in- law as handmaidens who persuaded the children they were being initiated into a black-magic ring. Smith, from Telford, was jailed for 14 years.

Desmond Fennell, prosecuting, said the black magic and devil worship were 'largely a subterfuge' to enableSmith to 'have his way with all these children'.

False memory syndrome:

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