Satanic ritual abuse is back in the news, but this time around the press is doing a much better job in reporting on allegations that secret covens of satanists are abusing and murdering children in America and Britain.
Beginning with the McMartin preschool case in 1984 when KABC trumpeted the news that the operators of a Manhattan Beach nursery school had ritually abused several dozen children, much of the media accepted without question fantastic claims brought by police, parents and prosecutors. But by the early 1990s when the courts began tossing out convictions based on recovered memories, coached testimony, and magical thinking, the media backed away.
In 1991 David Shaw of the Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles examining the media’s coverage of the McMartin preschool trial, finding his own newspaper had failed in its duty to provide balanced, honest coverage.
In its analysis of the McMartin case, the New York Times wrote:
The verdict has produced a self-examination by the media, most notably a four-part series in The Los Angeles Times in which David Shaw, who covers the news media for the newspaper, asserted that his own newspaper consistently favored the prosecution and failed to give critical scrutiny to its charge.
Academic and government studies have subsequently found no truth in claims of organized groups abusing children for satanic ritual purposes. Some abusers have used these motifs to frighten their victims, but in the U.S. and Britain there is no such thing as ritual satanic abuse (SRA).
I qualify my statement by saying "the U.S. and Britain," in that religiously motivated ritual abuse does exist in Africa. Police have investigated incidents in the West of suspected ritual abuse committed by recent immigrants who may have brought their customs with them.
Two stories in the U.S. and British press have resurrected SRA: the Pizzagate story from the presidential election campaign and abuse claims lodged against deceased British Prime Minister Edward Heath. However, this time round these stories are being treated with skepticism.
Last November, the Mail on Sunday reported the police investigation into Heath was imploding. The article entitled: “Sir Edward Heath accuser is a 'satanic sex fantasist': Police warned by OWN expert that ritual abuse claims are false” reported the outside expert engaged by the police to assist them with their investigations believed the claims were nonsense.
The Mail story further noted:
We can also reveal today that:
*One of Heath’s accusers – a woman – has made astonishing claims that he was linked to a network of paedophiles who held satanic orgies and stabbed children in churches;
*One of the witnesses involved in the case is the man known as Nick, whose tales of a murderous VIP paedophile ring in Westminster were initially believed by Scotland Yard – but have now been demolished in an official review that accused police of making grave mistakes;
*There are historic links between Nick and the woman who has accused Heath;
*Expert Dr Hoskins told police that the claims are likely to be based on false memories unearthed in therapy and likened to now-discredited claims of satanic abuse that made headlines in the 1980s.
Claims of SRA had jumped in recent years, after police began soliciting alleged victims to come forward to report their abuse. The Mail stated:
Heath is one of many public figures whose reputation has been tarnished by historical sex abuse allegations made against them after they died. A staggering 3,057 alleged abusers, including 98 politicians, have been reported to a national unit known as Operation Hydrant – including 360 dead people – but some of the most high-profile and historic claims have proved baseless. The case against Heath began in August 2015 when, in an extraordinary move, police made a statement outside his former home in Salisbury, appealing for victims to come forward. One of the witnesses in the case is the man known as Nick, who told the Metropolitan Police he had been repeatedly abused by an Establishment ring that also murdered children in front of him.
The SRA claims against Heath followed the collapse of high profile investigations into establishment figures for SRA and other fantastical crimes.
Scotland Yard spent £2.5 million on Operation Midland, tarnishing the reputations of war hero Lord Bramall, former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, and ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor. But they were forced to apologise to the innocent men and their families earlier this month after a devastating review by former judge Sir Richard Henriques found Midland had been riddled with mistakes and taken in by Nick’s false allegations.
The recent story by The Sun entitled: “DEAD PM PROBE 'LUNACY' Police investigation of lurid paedophile claims against dead ex-PM Sir Edward Heath costs taxpayer £1million” adopts a skeptical editorial voice.
A POLICE probe into claims ex-PM Sir Edward Heath took part in satanic child sex orgies has topped £1 million. The massive bill was blasted as obscene, futile and an abuse of taxpayers’ money.
At the height of the SRA panic, The Sun trumpeted the bizarre claims of abuse -- but this time round gives voice to accusations the police are engaged in a fruitless waste of time and money into the former PM, who has been dead for over 12 years.
The charges brought against Heath are extraordinary.
Lurid allegations against him include claims he was in a group which stabbed, tortured and maimed 16 children in churches before gorging on their blood.
The Mail on Sunday reported on The Sun’s exclusive (the costs spent so far) in a similar tone in a story entitled: “Police spend £1 million investigating claims former Prime Minister Ted Heath took part in satanic child sex orgies”.
Police have spent more than £1 million investigating claims former Prime Minister Ted Heath had been linked to a network of paedophiles who held satanic orgies…The mounting bill has been blasted as an obscene waste of taxpayers' money and the inquiry has been branded a farce.
Isn’t it time the press shelved the “satanic orgies” theme until such time as credible information is found to support the claims that such crimes were indeed motivated by religion? Abuse is a serious enough crime without having the false and inflammatory adjective of "satanic" appended to it. I am glad to see The Sun and Mail on Sunday are treating this aspect of the claims as being ridiculous.