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In the 1980's a rash of reports of well-organized, multi-generational, and international Satanic cults began to surface. These reports tended to crop up in three places:

1. In cases against members of the staffs of pre-schools.

The most notable of these cases was the McMartin case in California. This case was the longest and most expensive in California history and resulted in no convictions. Nevertheless, the McMartin case spawned a rash of copy-cat cases across the Country.[1] Other child care workers have, however, been convicted and imprisoned. In several cases, the convicted child care works have been released on appeal. In others, among which is the case of Gerald Amirault in Massachusetts, the workers remain in jail though efforts to appeal continue.

2. In criminal cases.

The criminal cases tend to be of two types...

There are some cases in which lone operators have committed serious crimes (including murder) in which they employed the use of, for instance, Satanic symbols. However, investigation of these cases has failed to reveal that the perpetrators were affiliated with any established groups.

Other criminal cases have tended to deal with rather minor felonies, most commonly vandalism and animal sacrifice. Most often, the perpetrators are adolescent boys. When the police apprehend these teenagers, take them into custody and questions them they ask, "Where did you learn about these Satanic signs?" And the most frequent answer is, "I learned about them from the anti-Satanic literature my parents brought home from church."

3. In cases of "adult survivors" who allegedly report the retrieval of "repressed memories" in therapy.

Investigations of these cases have shown that a high level of suggestion by therapists or contamination in "survivor" groups is a more likely explanation than "repressed" memories.

These extreme cases, among which some of the most extreme but illustrative are coming to light in the Houston trial, have generated a great deal of controversy about the role of memory retrieval in therapy, and about the theory and techniques that support memory retrieval work. The therapeutic professions remain divided on these issues to date.

Because these reports were pouring into law enforcement offices across the Country, the FBI Academy undertook an exhaustive study which was conducted by Special Agent Kenneth V. Lanning. A copy of Lanning's report, which was published in January of 1992, may be obtained from the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.

In his investigations, Agent Lanning visited Dr. Bennett Braun's clinic for the treatment of dissociative disorders at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Braun has publicly stated that his multiple personality patients came by their symptoms as a result of brutalization by an international satanic-cult ring. Lanning's investigation found that no evidence that satanic cults exist.


1. Nathan, D. and Snedeker, S. (1995). Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-07180-5.

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