Letter: How to evaluate evidence of ritual abuse

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The Independent Online
Sir: Beatrix Campbell ('Dark forces treated lightly', 7 June) is almost alone among journalists in not accepting Virginia Bottomley's crass and irresponsible comment that Jean La Fontaine's report has 'exposed the myth of satanic abuse'. Furthermore, she has expressed concern for the victims, who are too often forgotten; we who work with them are grateful to her, knowing as we do that satanist abuse is no myth.

Professor La Fontaine says (letter, 10 June) she decided to exclude from her research adults 'who claim to be survivors of satanic abuse'. She is an anthropologist of considerable renown, yet this scarcely sounds like someone seeking the truth. Adult survivors would have interpreted what the children were saying.

Despite her exclusion of adults, she claims knowledge of adult perpetrators and their motives; on p 24 of her report she writes: 'None of the three men concerned learned the rituals from belonging to an occult group.' Again, on p 25: 'The rituals are merely strategies to achieve the sexual abuse.' How does she know? Has she talked to the perpetrators? If so, can she really rely on the words of child abusers? All satanist abusers, if exposed, claim to be working alone.

Professor La Fontaine also states in her letter that adult workers 'muffled the children's voices with their anxiety to find satanic abuse'. Again she is making assumptions and generalisations. We need to know what she thinks we gain by finding evidence of this, other than stress and criticism.

Yours faithfully,



Wonersh, Surrey

The writer is membership co-ordinator of Rains (Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support).