Satanic Daycares, Pt. 3

So many people began reporting allegations that they or their children had been raped by a massive, underground Satanic conspiracy that the FBI got involved, investigated, and found a big fat nothing:

Kenneth Lanning, an FBI expert in the investigation of child sexual abuse,[151] has stated that pseudo-satanism may exist but there is “little or no evidence for … large-scale baby breeding, human sacrifice, and organized satanic conspiracies”.[46]

Lanning produced a monograph in 1994 on SRA aimed at child protection authorities, which contained his opinion that despite hundreds of investigations no corroboration of SRA had been found. Following this report, several convictions based on SRA allegations were overturned and the defendants released.[54]

Satanists, rapists, pedophiles, murderers, and even people who claim that Satan told them to murder people all do, indeed, exist. But an organized conspiracy lurking under the local daycare does not.


In all, Wikipedia lists 19 major Satanic Daycare Scandals and mentions “over 100” cases total in the US; and 18 Ritual Satanic Abuse allegations, plus the “West Memphis Three” case.* In 1987, Geraldo Rivera claimed on national TV that, “Estimates are that there are over one million Satanists in [the United States and they are] linked in a highly organized, secretive network.”[37]

A 1996 survey investigating 12,000 cases of alleged SRA found that most of the victims were diagnosed with MPD (or the new acronym, DID) and/or PTSD. Also:

In a 1994 survey of more than 11,000 psychiatric and police workers throughout the US, conducted for the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, researchers investigated approximately 12,000 accusations of group cult sexual abuse [note: I bet these two surveys used the same database] based on satanic ritual. The survey found no substantiated reports of well-organized satanic rings of people who sexually abuse children, but did find incidents in which the ritualistic aspects were secondary to the abuse and were used to intimidate victims.[92] (bold mine) (Wikipedia)

Another study found that:

“Of a sample of 29 patients who presented with SRA, 22 were diagnosed with dissociative disorders including DID. The authors noted that 58% of the SRA claims appeared in the years following the Geraldo Rivera special on SRA and a further 34% following a workshop on SRA presented in the area; in only two patients were the memories elicited without the use of “questionable therapeutic practices for memory retrieval.”[114]

Many of these cases started with genuine accusations of abuse or molestation–the “West Memphis Three” case began with the discovery of the bodies of three murdered children, and I do not know whether the three teens convicted of the murder were innocent or not. What all of these cases have in common is that after the initial, perhaps true accusation was brought by or on behalf of the children, the adults–relatives, police, social workers, etc.–inflicted their own agendas on the cases, creating a massive, non-existent Satanic conspiracy. It was this misconduct by the police and social workers that resulted in so many convictions (including the West Memphis Three) to be overturned.

It is better to convict genuine criminals of the crimes they actually committed than to concoct a web of lies and then have the conviction overturned.

Prominent people involved:

Janet Reno, Country Walk Babysitting Service case: Janet Reno was promoted to Attorney General of the United States.

Fells Acre Day Care Center Preschool Trial: “Current Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the chief prosecutor of both of the Amirault cases, responded to the articles with statements that “the children testified to being photographed and molested by acts that included penetration by objects” and “the implication … that the children’s allegations of abuse were tainted by improper interviewing is groundless and not true.”[19]”

From the Wall Street Journal, 2010: “Attorney General Martha Coakley—who had proven so dedicated a representative of the system that had brought the Amirault family to ruin, and who had fought so relentlessly to preserve their case—has recently expressed her view of this episode. Questioned about the Amiraults in the course of her current race for the U.S. Senate, she told reporters of her firm belief that the evidence against the Amiraults was “formidable” and that she was entirely convinced “those children were abused at day care center by the three defendants.”  ”

One of the accusations brought in this case was that a 4 year old had been anally raped with a butcher knife which left no traces and did no damage.

Susan J. Kelly, Fells Acre. “As a pediatric nurse in the 1980s, Kelley interviewed many of the children involved in the Fells Acres Day Care Center sexual abuse case in Malden, Massachusetts.[6] Kelley’s interview techniques in that case later came under criticism from members of the media [6] and were called “improper” and “biased” by a Massachusetts appellate judge[7] after video tapes of her questioning of the children were played in court during the appeal of one of the defendants.[8][9]

“Kelley has specialized in the field of child abuse, since 1979 and has appeared as a featured expert on child abuse on national programs including the Today Show, NBC Evening News and CBS Morning News.[1]

The entire MA Supreme Judicial Court in 1993 and 1995.

Prosecutor Daniel Ford, Bernard Baran case: “Just a few years after Baran’s conviction, Ford was appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court, where he presides over criminal cases. He has also served on a committee that determines state rules for criminal procedure. As Silverglate points out, not only has Ford never been disciplined, he has never been publicly investigated, nor has the state considered the reforms that could cut down on future wrongful convictions.”

DA Gerard Downing: “former Berkshire County district attorney Gerard Downing, had a heart attack and died while shoveling snow. For years, Baran’s appellate attorneys had been asking Downing to turn over the interview tapes. He said he couldn’t find them. (He isn’t the only prosecutor who has had problems locating tapes of interviews with children that produced abuse charges, but later proved exculpatory.) After Downing died, Capeless found and turned over the tapes in a matter of months. Had Downing not had a heart attack, Baran could well have died in prison.” (source)

I did not find the names of the folks involved in the Wee Care Nursery School trial, but you can read the transcripts of the police’s awful, unethical interviews with the children here.

Prosecutor H.P. Williams, Little Rascals day care sexual abuse trial, 1989: Lost a primary election in 1994, then joined Twiford Law Firm, where he appears to be still employed.

Faith Chapel Church ritual abuse case: “Dale Akiki was born with Noonan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which left him with a concave chest, club feet, drooping eyelids and ears.[1] … The campaign against him was initiated by Jack and Mary Goodall, the former being the CEO of Jack in the Box, who stated that they found his physical appearance, coupled with his working contact with the children of the church in his capacity as a volunteer, “disturbing”. … The cases against him included no physical evidence, but allegations of satanic ritual abuse including testimony that he killed a giraffe and an elephant in front of the children, drank human blood in satanic rituals, and had abducted the children away from the church despite being unable to drive.[6]” …

“Prosecutor Mary Avery was the founder of the San Diego Child Abuse Prevention Foundation, to which Goodall was the largest financial contributor. She was brought in to prosecute at the Goodall’s insistence after experienced child abuse prosecutors Harry Elias and Sally Penso found no grounds to charge Akiki with any crimes due to the coercive investigation and suggestivity used by parents and therapists in the case.”

In other words, Goodall bought himself a prosecutor to put a deformed man in prison because he thought the guy looked icky. In this case, though, the jury didn’t buy it, perhaps because this was late in the game and the public was beginning to wise up.

Avery resigned from law in 1999. “A few months after the verdict, … Avery was re-assigned to less responsible duties. She subsequently resigned from the California State Bar.” (source)

Jack Goodall continued working for Jack in the Box until 2001, and is (was?) owner of the San Diego Padres.

Wenatchee child abuse prosecutions: “In 1995, forty-three adults were arrested on 29,726 charges of child sex abuse, involving 60 children … Eighteen went to prison. Child witnesses in the investigation, mostly from 9 to 13 years old, were often taken from their families and placed in foster care. Many later claimed that they were subjected to hours of frightening grilling and told that if they didn’t believe they had been sexually abused, then they were either “in denial”, lying, or had suppressed the memory of the abuse. … While several children recanted their testimony prior to trial, these recantations were ignored: “It’s well known that children are telling the truth when they say they’ve been abused. But [they] are usually lying when they deny it.” Wenatchee Child Protective Services (CPS) supervisor Tim Abbey stated.[8]

As of 2013, a Timothy Abbey was still listed as working for the Spokane, WA, DCFS. [PDF]

But the main player in the Wenatchee case was Lieutenant Robert Perez, who, frankly, sounds unhinged. Perez retired from police work in 1998 and is now deceased.

I’m going to stop here; you can read more over at Wikipedia.

As the Washington Post notes about the Satanic Daycare Scandal, “Most of those convictions have since been overturned, but for the most part, the law enforcement officials responsible for them were not only never disciplined, many were reelected or moved on to higher office, sometimes because of the notoriety they gained from those cases, which tended to be high-profile affairs.”

A prosecutor who wins cases gets promoted or at least keeps their job. A prosecutor who loses cases loses their job. An honest prosecutor, therefore, is more likely to get fired than one who suppresses evidence of the defendant’s guilt or is otherwise willing to act unethically. (The Wikipedia notes that the prosecutors in these cases learned pretty quickly to destroy the evidence–notes, recordings–of how they’d coerced the children into making accusations.)

Even if most prosecutors are truly well-intentioned, such a system rewards the unethical and punishes the honest.

There are many cases where a well-meaning person might make an honest mistake. The police failure to properly gather forensic evidence in the “West Memphis Three” murders, for example, may have been a mistake.

The Ritual Satanic Daycare scandals, however, involves cases of such mind-bogglingly absurd proportions that no such benefit of the doubt can be extended. If these people genuinely did not realize they were coercing children into lying in order to put innocent people in prison, then they are not mentally fit to manage their own affairs and should have been put into an institution for the intellectually disabled. If they are not mentally unfit, then they are monsters.

Some of them have been sued; none, as far as I know, has been imprisoned. The majority, however, faced no consequences at all for all of the lives they destroyed.

Back on the mental health front

In 1984, Connie, the psychotherapist behind Sybil, founded the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation.

By the time of the ISSMP&D’s annual conference in 1987, speakers were lecturing about the, “Treatment of victims of ritual abuse,” and “The Satanic Cult in Rural Mid-America.” The ISSMP&D’s big new idea, that cults were breaking children’s minds into pieces, was invoked by people who had joined Connie in founding the organization and the multiple personality movement. More than six hundred therapists were attending ISSMP&D’s conferences to learn how to ferret ritual abuse memories from their patients. (source)

(Hypnotize them and inject them with massive quantities of drugs. Then when they start hallucinating and screaming, claim you’ve recovered their “memories.”)

The 1980 DSM described Multiple Personality (the “disorder” would be appended later) as “extremely rare”:

Before Sybil, fewer then 200 people over the past two centuries had been identified in Western medical literature with conditions resembling MPD. By 1984, only 4 years after the condition had been listed in the DSM, an ISSMP&D leader was suggesting that 25,000 Americans suffered from it. Another leader estimated that 3 percent of the population had MPD–over seven million people.

The massive increase in cases due in part to relaxed standards for diagnosis–alters were no longer required to be “complex”–and in part due to obvious idiocy:

It became common for MPD sufferers to possess scores, even hundreds, of alters (one was reputed to have 4,500.) Not all were human; some weren’t even alive. Patients reported gorillas and lobsters, as well as unicorns, angels, and–if the alters were immobile and voiceless–trees. Supernatural-sounding claim sprang up. A person with MPD, it was said, could have one alter with blue eyes and another with brown eyes. Such a person could be diabetic but have a personality whose insulin levels were normal. Even blood type could change. …

Gloria Steinem publishd an inspirational book for women, Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, which lauded multiple personalities as a gift. MPD women, Steinem wrote, could learn many foreign languages. Not only that, they could “have two or even three menstrual cycles in the same body.”

OW. That feeling you are having is like an ice cream headache, only due to stupidity instead of cold.

(How the fuck does anyone respect this woman? Or take any of this shit seriously?)

MPD is no longer in the DSM (though a new diagnosis, Dissociative Identity Disorder, is) due to the profession deciding to strategically distance itself from the diagnosis after a bunch of shrinks got sued for malpractice:

In 1996, a church in Missouri agreed to pay $1 million to a woman who said that under the guidance of a church counselor, she came to believe that her father had raped her, got her pregnant and performed a coat-hanger abortion — when in fact, she was still a virgin and her father had had a vasectomy. And in August, a jury awarded $5.8 million to a woman in Houston who said her psychotherapist had implanted memories of murder, satanism and cannibalism.

The Schwiderskis sued two dozen people for $35 million after Kathryn Schwiderski, seeking help for depression, was accused by her therapist of being a member of a Satanic cult who had participated in cannibalism, human sacrifice, kidnapping, murder, torture, etc. Child Protective Services investigated charges Kathryn had harmed her children (and found nothing,) and she was institutionalized in a ward full of other people her shrink had also diagnosed with MPD due to Satanism. The state later closed that institution for abusing the patients, censoring their communication with the outside world, and refusing to discharge patients. (source)

Also about this time, insurance companies got wise and stopped paying for multi-year (or multi-decade) hospitalizations for depressed people, which really yanked the plug on the whole thing.

A few people (and fictional characters) still claim to have DID. Obviously this is bullshit; aside from a very few truly psychotic people, MPD (and DID) have never existed. The ISSMP&D is still in business (though it changed its name to ISSTD,) diagnosing patients and willfully ignoring the fact that all available evidence points to MPD and recovered memories being an enormous crock of shit inflicted upon patients by unethical shrinks.

In a sane world, the Satanic Daycare Scandal would have never happened.


15 thoughts on “Satanic Daycares, Pt. 3

  1. “OW. That feeling you are having is like an ice cream headache, only due to stupidity instead of cold.”

    Yeah, I had that. I had to read over the preceding quote several times before it would sink in. That Gloria Steinem? Said what? She’s been up to all sorts, hasn’t she.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Odd set of posts, evolutionistx.

    You are a bit snarky and dismissive in places here in a way you usually aren’t.

    Your point seems to be that the “satanic panic” was much ado about nothing and that people are stupid and crazy. Indeed, they are.

    But this satanic daycare business seemed to draw a large and broad swath of people into the hysteria. The general public, as usual, panicking about whatever the media tells them to. But also: hundreds of children giving false testimony, and large numbers of psychiatry/psychology professionals and large numbers of lawyers, judges, etc.

    Were they all fools, dupes, hysterics?
    Or were they careerists who knew it was ridiculous but just went with it for money, career advancement, avoidance of admitting past mistakes, etc.?

    Or was there something more to this?

    I’ve just recently read two other (contradictory) points of view on this topic.

    One suggested that there ARE indeed pedophile rings including in some cases prominent (blackmailable?) people, and that law enforcement and media often appear to work pretty hard to cover up these crimes. Far from the thousands of innocents languishing in prison in your account, there have been some very damning investigations where the perps were mysteriously protected, magistrates were pulled off cases, sentences were dramatically shortened, etc.

    And the other thing I read suggested that these stories ARE complete exaggerations but that certain interests LIKE scaring and distracting people with these stories to cover up other crimes. (Examples of this fear-mongering include exaggerated terrorist threats, exaggerated viral epidemic threats, fight-or-flight inducing nightly news broadcasts, etc.) “Going down the Satanic rabbit hole is just a “sucker’s path,” used to divert legitimate researchers from the real trail of perpetrators. Satanism is simply used by intelligence agencies in order to scare most people off their (more mundane but certainly still evil) intelligence trails.”

    I’m not saying that either of these extreme views is correct. I’m just feeling unsatisfied by the “everyone went crazy in the 80s and 90s and falsely believed in child abuse.” Especially when your posts include REAL tales of child abuse from other cultures. I don’t disagree that those other cultures are inferior, but your examples do show what humans are capable of.

    Any thoughts?


    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I generally try to tone down my tendency toward sarcasm and too much cursing, but there are times when I fail. :/

      The big difference between the Belgium case and these cases is that in Belgium, there are bodies. Police have found actual dungeons and underground rooms and traumatized children, videos and photographs.

      In these Satanic Daycare cases–aside from the West Memphis Three case, as noted–there were no bodies. There were tons of accusations from all sorts of different people, in different places and involving different officials, and virtually none of it has ever been confirmed. If someone had actually sacrificed a giraffe and an elephant at a daycare center, you’d have records of someone importing a giraffe and an elephant–not exactly easy animals to get–and then someone would have had to dispose of the carcases. There were alleged murders, but when the FBI went to where the bodies were supposed to be buried, they didn’t even find displaced dirt. There were claims that the children had been driven to the airport and flown to other states–but the airlines had no records of these people flying. Claims that children had been flushed down toilets (how would they fit?) to underground rooms at a daycare center, but no underground rooms were ever found. etc.

      (Obviously, there were some true accusations mixed win with these, but these did not involve giraffes.)

      And the methods by which these accusations were made–a combination of hypnosis for the adults and harsh interviews of the children of a sort that aren’t allowed anymore because they produce false accusations–are also different from those in the Belgium cases you linked.

      Additionally, the Satanic Daycare cases suffered from over-zealous prosecution, whereas the Belgian cases sound like they suffer from a lack of prosecution. Over-zealous prosecution creates a ring where there isn’t; under-zealous fails to prosecute a ring where it is.

      There probably are folks who like to blow up big stories to try to distract from other stories. In this case, though, I think there are too many disparate actors moving independently of each other, in different states and even countries, all trying their darndest, that I don’t think there was any singular entity organizing things behind the scenes.

      I also suspect that most of the prosecutors, psychiatrists, child welfare workers, etc., genuinely believed most of it at the time, and really thought they’d uncovered something big. Maybe they didn’t believe the part with the giraffe, but all of the rest.


  3. You spent a lot of time vilifying feminists for the daycare scandals, but never discussed the enthusiastic involvement of the religious right. Here, for example is a woman who was quite the talk radio celebrity in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The idea of organized groups of Satan worshippers stealing and farming babies for sacrifice put lots of dollars in shady collection plates.


    • The religious right is absolutely culpable for spreading lies, but they weren’t the majority of the prosecutors, psychiatrists, and child welfare workers who got these convictions, traumatized the children, and tortured mentally ill women under hypnosis.

      The woman you linked to sounds like an opportunistic follower (and probably mentally ill,) but she wasn’t in a position of power.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You seem to be dismissing the common sense notion that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

    Are child abusers ever attracted to professions and situations where they have unfettered access to unsupervised children? Why, yes, yes they are. Exhibit A: Jerry Sandusky.

    Some kid made an unproven and easily mocked claim about a giraffe, and that’s your rationale for dismissing the testimony of hundreds of kids?

    Read this: skip to part IV, McMolestation. What are your thoughts? I don’t know about the sourcing of any of this, but some of it is troubling.

    His conclusion: “the most preposterous conspiracy theory surrounding McMartin has always been the notion that some cabal of overzealous therapists was able to implant ‘false memories’ of heinous abuse in the minds of nearly 500 individuals, and have them persist to this day.”

    A few interesting tidbits:

    1) “Despite the fact that the judge who presided over more than a year of pre-trial testimony ruled that the state had more than enough evidence to proceed to trial, District Attorney Ira Reiner inexplicably dropped all charges against five of the seven defendants in the case on January 17 of 1986. Six days before that, he had summarily dismissed two prosecutors on the case.” [Hmmm. I guess the “witch hunt” didn’t get too far. Prosecutorial “overzealousness” seems to have reversed itself BEFORE trial.]

    2) “Virginia McMartin, by the way, had achieved semi-celebrity status in the childcare field. In the mid-1960s, she had traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and England to visit preschools as a consultant.” [Interesting. I’m surprised to hear that 1960s preschools had sufficient budgets to hire international consultants.]

    3) A number of individuals DIED before being able to testify. [Probably just a coincidence.]

    As I say, I don’t know about the sourcing of any of this, but it was interesting.

    I don’t disagree with you that this case involved a witch hunt and parental hysteria and therapists run amok.

    But what raises my eyebrow is the large coordinated effort to deny that ANYTHING bad ever happened to any of these kids.

    Our jails are full of innocent people, and few people actively work to free them. Fathers are frequently falsely accused of child abuse as a tactic in divorce cases, and few tears are shed for them.

    In this case, it doesn’t seem like anyone went to jail or lost custody of their children. A few people saw their reputations suffer. And yet a LOT of effort was undertaken to debunk the claims. Many tomes have been written. Perhaps the McMartins had powerful friends?


    • Our jails are full of innocent people, and few people actively work to free them. Fathers are frequently falsely accused of child abuse as a tactic in divorce cases, and few tears are shed for them.

      In this case, it doesn’t seem like anyone went to jail or lost custody of their children.
      Did you not even read the posts? The first big case, in Kern County, CA (detailed in post one) began with accusations that the McCuans and the Kniffens had abused their kids. To quote again, the kids were ” were repeatedly and suggestively interrogated. The interviewers would describe a sex act and then ask the child to confirm or deny that it happened. When questioned separately, each was told (falsely) that their brother had disclosed abuse by both the parents and the rest of the sex-ring. Brian and Brandon claim that they were yelled at and terrorized by the interrogators. They were told that they could go home again if they testified about the abuse. …

      Brian Kniffen later recanted, and said that he had been told what to say at the trial and had been promised that he could be with his parents again if he cooperated. His brother Brandon has also recanted. They have stated that the abuse never occurred and that they were led and coerced to testify as they did.

      These kids were literally told by the police that if they just told them they’d been abused by their parents, they’d get to go home. So they finally did, and then they were never allowed to go home again.

      Brian Kniffen, who was just a little kid at the time, also said of the prosecutor, “He would slam books down, yell when we wouldn’t cooperated. He was demanding and scared us and wouldn’t take no for an answer…I wish I could talk to him now and ask him… why, why did he do that to me?”

      First case. Police bullying children into false accusations against their parents.

      You seem to be dismissing the common sense notion that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
      Of course I am. If you do a thorough investigation of the smoke and find nothing but dry ice and water, you conclude that there’s probably no fire.

      Some kid made an unproven and easily mocked claim about a giraffe, and that’s your rationale for dismissing the testimony of hundreds of kids?
      Again, did you not read the posts? Because I went into a hell of a lot more detail–including linking to actual transcripts of the police bullying the kids while the kids swear up and down that no abuse ever happened–than a giraffe.

      But even still, no, you cannot convict someone of sacrificing a giraffe if you don’t have any evidence that an actual giraffe got sacrificed.

      “the most preposterous conspiracy theory surrounding McMartin has always been the notion that some cabal of overzealous therapists was able to implant ‘false memories’ of heinous abuse in the minds of nearly 500 individuals, and have them persist to this day.”
      False memories are trivial to implant. This has been extensively documented.

      1) …
      That was one of the longest and most expensive trials/investigations in US history, so no, it was not under prosecuted. And one of the DAs left the case because they discovered the other DAs had been covering up the fact that the woman who made the initial accusations was a paranoid schizophrenic whose allegations sound about like what you’d expect to get out of a paranoid schizophrenic, including allegation that one of the employees could fly and that someone had molested her dog.

      Buckly, the guy accused of flying, was in jail for five years before his acquittal.

      Yes, there are real rapes and murders and molestations. I have said that from the start. But there were never any satanic daycares.


  5. […] Part Three is a nice wrap-up that looks at the extent to which this “big fat nothing” grew, and a litany of people harmed, and conversely not at all harmed by their association in the abuse cases. This depended, of course, upon whether they were on the whom or the who end of jurisprudence. And all of this is peppered with insightful commentary: […]


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