pageok
pageok
pageok
Janet Reno and Ritual Abuse:

I knew, vaguely, that Janet Reno had prosecuted a couple of absurd ritual sex abuse cases when she was a Miami prosecutor, most notoriously the Country Walk case. I also knew that as Attorney General Reno was responsible for the gross mishandling (at best) of the Waco situation, resulting in dozens of deaths, and that at one point the FBI had supposedly (incorrectly) reported to her that the Branch Dividians had engaged in systematic abuse. I never put two and two together, but others have. For example, in Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt (highly recommended, btw), the authors note: "Amid the national soul searching and congressional probes that followed [Waco], there was only the barest mention of Reno's history of seeming obsession with child sex abuse--an obsession that, in Miami as in Waco, ended with children themselves being severely damaged and even destroyed in the name of protecting them."

UPDATE: I should note that I don't know what effect the allegations of abuse at Waco had on Janet Reno's decisionmaking. Rather, I've been reading up on the ritual sex abuse cases of the 80s, and have noticed that several authors who have studied Reno's work as a prosecutor have drawn the connection.

Justin (mail):
::cringe::
6.18.2007 5:55pm
MikeC&F (mail):
Here are a couple of resources detailing Janet Reno's exploits:
Grant Snowden case.
Bobby Fijnje case.
6.18.2007 5:59pm
Smokey:
Around twenty young children were incinerated at the Branch Davidian house on the ManGina's direct orders.
6.18.2007 6:08pm
AppSocRes (mail):
I have heard that Janet Reno came to the attention of Hillary Clinton precisely because of the reputation Reno gained as a result of her child abuse witch hunts. Many other Clinton appointees were ineffectual amateurs appointed to positions far beyond their capabilities and/or expertise, e.g., the selection of the people who developed and promoted the Clinton's health care "reform" package.
6.18.2007 6:18pm
Randy R. (mail):
"Around twenty young children were incinerated at the Branch Davidian house on the ManGina's direct orders."

Really? So the attorney general issued an order to burn alive children within the house?

I don't think so, not even in the worst wingnut fantasies. What DID happen was that David Koresh had more fire power than the federal gov't, thanks to our ever-vigilant 2nd amendmenteers, and HE set the fire on, burning the house down. Since it was a wooden tinderbox in Texas heat, he burned down faster than anyone imagined.

He could have just surrendured, but he didn't. He chose to stay and fight an unwinnable fight.
6.18.2007 6:21pm
Dave N (mail):
For those interested in the entire cultural mindset of ritualized child sexual abuse, there is no better writer than Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal.

As a prosecutor who believes the prosecutor's call is to seek justice, her book No Greater Tyrannies makes me cringe as much as (if not more than) Mike Nifong does.
6.18.2007 6:32pm
MikeC&F (mail):
PBS did and excellent special on Waco. It's here.

While I think Janet Reno has more in common with Mike Nifong than anyone on the Left cares to admit, attacking her for her "masculine" appearance isn't appropriate. Besides, even if a woman's being born with "masculine" characteristics is a bad thing (I obviously don't think it is), there are so many worse things that Reno can be faulted for - including her prosecution of numerous innocent men, women, and boys. Why attack someone based on how she looks when you can attack her for deliberate, conscious, and calculated acts of moral wrongdoing?

While I hate to get all feminist here, I don't hear anyone attacking Mike Nifong for how he looks. No one has called him "fatty pants," etc. Instead, people have focused on his immoral deeds. That, too, is what people should focus on when discussing Janet Reno.

Incidentally, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers gave Janet Reno a "her of justice" type of award. Which just goes to show what strange bedfellows politics makes.
6.18.2007 6:40pm
Lxjenkins:
AppSocRes said: Many other Clinton appointees were ineffectual amateurs appointed to positions far beyond their capabilities and/or expertise

You have to appreciate the irony. Thanks for backing up your sweeping assertion with specific examples.
6.18.2007 6:41pm
Taxpayer (mail):
Would someone care to place the Elian Gonzales matter within this analytical framework?
6.18.2007 6:50pm
r78:
I guess there is no incompetence in the current administration so that's why examples from 8 or 10 years ago are trotted out.
6.18.2007 6:54pm
RainerK:
Does anyone else remember right after the Waco desaster seeing then President Clinton pronouncing: "Well, isn't it true that this man David Koresh sexually abused these children?"

I remember being just speechless at the President being DA, judge and executioner at the same time.

Randy R.:
Do you seriously think that Koresh would have gotten justice, had he surrendered?
If you do, reread DB's post above.
6.18.2007 6:55pm
ejo:
perhaps referring to her looks is a low blow-but, then again, do we blame her leftist politics or her personal traits for her wonderful idea of family values that she brought to her job. certainly, this obsession with "satanic" abuse bespeaks something strange going on in the lady's head. as someone noted above, she was nifong before there was a nifong.
6.18.2007 6:58pm
Happyshooter:
I don't think so, not even in the worst wingnut fantasies. What DID happen was that David Koresh had more fire power than the federal gov't, thanks to our ever-vigilant 2nd amendmenteers, and HE set the fire on, burning the house down. Since it was a wooden tinderbox in Texas heat, he burned down faster than anyone imagined.

Sir, I find your view very unlikely. What was or wasn't in the house is open to debate. The amount and type of weapons on both sides is not. The feds vastly outgunned the church even without the APCs.

Lists of the weapons found in the ashes were published--barrels and bolts do not melt easily. The church did not have as much as the federal thought they did.
6.18.2007 7:00pm
Davebo (mail):

Do you seriously think that Koresh would have gotten justice, had he surrendered?


Probably, as well as his members who opened fire on federal officers.

Do you seriously think we'd have 300 LEO's parked around a farm harboring a meth lab for over 50 days?

Or that had the lab exploded, anyone would bemoan for years later that the owner of the meth labs kids were killed?

I'm thinking not.
6.18.2007 7:02pm
This post is ridiculous:
If you actually read something unbiased on the Country Walk case, you'd find that Frank Fuster was convicted after police found a photograph of his child smeared in human faeces, and a crucifix soiled with faeces hidden under his mattress, in accordance with the disclosures of the children he abused.

A photo. Of his own child. Smeared with human waste. And his girlfriend testified against him. Does that register? At all?
6.18.2007 7:12pm
Peter Young:
I'm far to the Left, but Waco was government murder and these child molestation hysterics are worse than anything Nifong did. They went beserk from Bakersfield to Boston, Miami to Minneapolis. And there are still dozens on dozens of innocents incarcerated on the basis of voodoo science and psychology. The McMartins eventually got off but their lives were ruined.

One result is that millions of caring and loving adults are scared to show any support or affection or friendship to children who are not their own.
6.18.2007 7:12pm
Houston Lawyer:
I remember reading that the ATF agents on-site were exhausted after staking out the compound for so long. They were keenly aware of Reno's past obsession with child abuse and used allegations of on-going child abuse to get permission for the final assault on the compound. I believe that Koresh had a history of sexual relations with young girls, so playing up to Reno's fears wasn't too difficult.

The local sheriff had a cordial relationship with the Branch Davidians, and he would have been the proper person to quietly arrest Koresh. But the ATF was trying to make some kind of statement with the massive raid, so they walked into a hornets nest.

Koresh is as responsible for the deaths of his followers as was Jim Jones of his. Death by kool-aid was probably preferable to death by AFT.
6.18.2007 7:22pm
Dave N (mail):
Peter Young:

I am from the the right and I agree with your post 100%.
6.18.2007 7:25pm
PersonFromPorlock:

Really? So the attorney general issued an order to burn alive children within the house?

I don't think so, not even in the worst wingnut fantasies.


Not in so many words. What she did do (as she stated on Nightline that night) was decide to saturate the building with tear gas because, while the adults had gas masks, the children did not and she expected that the children's suffering would "arouse [the parents] parental instincts" and bring about a surrender.

Any way you cut it, that's aggravated assault (a felony) against the children. Moreover, the felony was not incidental to the plan, it was the plan. Since people died as a direct result of this felony, Reno remains vulnerable to a charge of felony murder. However, I'm not holding my breath.
6.18.2007 7:31pm
Dan Hamilton:

Probably, as well as his members who opened fire on federal officers.


The justice was sooo.. good that they got 10 years for using guns in the commission of a felony WITHOUT being found guilty of a felony. Real Justice there. But after Ruby Ridge the Feds COULDN'T have ANOTHER case where the case was thrown out and nobody was found guilty. Judge Smith covered the Feds and continued to play CYA about Waco for years.

The real fun part is that the BD's had to be tried in Federal Court because they could not have been convicted in State court. The case would have been dismissed before trial as self-defense when police used excessive force. Black Letter Texas law.

The ATF and the FBI lied every day. The media and everybody else let them get away with it.

Waco a Prime example of the Feds NEVER being held accountable no matter what they do. Nobody fired, Nobody displined, a couple put in other jobs for a while then back like nothing happened.

If the Republicans had been in the White House the President would have been lynched. But since it was Democrats in charge. Move along nothing to see, nothing happened. Nothing to report. The Feds are here to HELP you.
6.18.2007 7:32pm
Guest101:

If you actually read something unbiased on the Country Walk case, you'd find that Frank Fuster was convicted after police found a photograph of his child smeared in human faeces, and a crucifix soiled with faeces hidden under his mattress, in accordance with the disclosures of the children he abused.

Can you offer any support for that assertion whatsoever? The New York Times article, no. 3 on the Google list David links to, is, if anything, strongly biased against Fuster, yet it makes no mention of any photograph or of the recovery of the alleged crucifix.
6.18.2007 7:34pm
jimbino (mail):
Hey, what I want to know is this: Are Amerikan kids independent persons with civil rights, property of their parents, or property of the Amerikan gummint? I agree with Coase that it would be more efficient if they were property of their parents or of whomever their parents sell them to.

That would relieve us of a lot of BS here in Amerika and, more importantly, relieve me of all those taxes used to ruin promising young minds.
6.18.2007 7:41pm
Davebo (mail):

The real fun part is that the BD's had to be tried in Federal Court because they could not have been convicted in State court. The case would have been dismissed before trial as self-defense when police used excessive force. Black Letter Texas law.



Well, as a life long Texas resident I'd have to say I seriously disagree with that.

One, I just can't recall such an instance. And two, they were tried in federal court because they were charged with violating federal law.
6.18.2007 7:47pm
Steven:
Nice juxtaposition with your post about religious beliefs on secular issues. Notice the fervor of the attacks on Reno contained in the comments here--they do have a sort of religious intensity. Now start a thread on Whitewater and watch the Holy Rollers come out in force.
6.18.2007 7:50pm
Hattio (mail):
Dan Hamilton writes


If the Republicans had been in the White House the President would have been lynched. But since it was Democrats in charge. Move along nothing to see, nothing happened. Nothing to report. The Feds are here to HELP you.

Really? Let me think of all the times a Republican administration has screwed up and willfully held their people responsible and heads rolled....or the President was impeached, much less lynched. Let's see, Katrina, Iraq War planning, Iran-Contra, The Korean war.
I'm getting nothing...or did you just mean if it was a case of the Federal Government using force against a bunch of armed wackos.
6.18.2007 7:55pm
Angus:
Coming into this late, but here's a quote and link about Frank Fuster and his case. Interestingly enough, at that point he had already served time in prison for sexually molesting a 9 year old girl. Even if he was not guilty in the first case, you'd think he'd know better than to run a daycare center given his criminal history.

Once Fuster was safely in custody, the stories told by his child victims grew increasingly disturbing. They told of being forced to play "pee-pee" and "ca-ca" games. A photo was later produced at trial showing Fuster's young son Jaime - one of the most severely abused of the victims - sitting in a bathroom smeared thickly with excrement.

Link
6.18.2007 8:07pm
Ted Frank (www):
First, while I fully agree that the child-abuse hysteria was an appalling chapter in American legal history, it is unquestionably true that Koresh was committing sexual abuse: there is incontrovertible DNA evidence that he fathered at least one child of a teen below the age of consent.

Second, it bothers me when people accuse the government of murder or "executions" here. Whatever the bungling of the initial raid by the ATF (which killed at least as many government agents as Davidians), the prime moral responsibility rests entirely with the Davidians themselves, first for engaging in a firefight that killed several people, then for holding children as human shields in a hostage situation, and then for committing mass murder by setting their compound afire. Koresh was a murderer, and it appalls me to see people lionize him.

The justice was sooo.. good that they got 10 years for using guns in the commission of a felony WITHOUT being found guilty of a felony.

Not true. The jury convicted them of use of firearms in the commission of conspiring to murder federal officers, which is a felony. Yes, the jury issued an inconsistent verdict, but the defense deliberately chose not to ask the jury to correct itself, perhaps because they realized that the jury had simply nullified the more serious charge, and did not want to risk the jury rectifying the error by finding the Davidians guilty of both counts. The not guilty verdict on the conspiracy charge does not trump the guilty verdict on the use of firearms charge any more than vice versa: if the defendant chooses to accept the inconsistent verdict, both counts stand.
6.18.2007 8:17pm
Carolina:
There is a great documentary film about the Waco siege, Waco: Rules of Engagement. It's been a few years since I have seen it, but I remember the local sheriff stating on camera, for the record, that he had investigated allegation of abuse by the Branch Davidians and found no evidence of any such abuse.

I highly recommend the DVD. It's very well done, and was nominated for an oscar that year. The evidence presented is compelling, and devastating to the government's claims.

Amazon.com link for DVD purchase:

Amazon.com URL for Waco:Rules of Engagement

Here is Amazon's official review of the movie:


What happened at the Branch Davidian compound in Mt. Carmel, Texas, in 1993? Why did 4 federal agents and 86 civilians lose their lives? The powerful documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement asks these and many other difficult questions, and the answers are deeply disturbing, even for the most cynical. Using interviews, news footage, testimony before Congress, and infrared photographic analysis, the film relentlessly chips away at the government's story that David Koresh and his followers were a dangerous cult involved in strange sex and drug practices who were preparing to slaughter their neighbors and that they immolated themselves à la Jonestown, rather than give themselves up peacefully. Nearly every element of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms' and the FBI's cover-up is exposed as fraudulent and the viewer is left wondering when, if ever, justice will finally be served. Warning: There are a few minutes of extremely graphic footage of the burnt bodies of the Davidians; though this is sickening, it seems less so than the tragic mistakes made by law enforcement officials.
6.18.2007 8:21pm
anon252 (mail):
Angus, it doesn't trouble you at all that your link comes from a site with the following on the home page: "From the Ojibwe or Ojibway tradition comes the Dream Catchers, natural medicine, the way of the circle, and the Seventh Fire Prophecy. Dream Catchers are teachers of natural wisdom. The way of the circle is a cooperative, functional means by which people in the past have worked together helping each other to live and learn. The Seventh Fire is an ancient prophecy that points toward a new way of living and being for all nations. The path is not difficult. In fact, it's probably far easier than living the way in which you are accustomed. You are already there now but you might not see it, insisting on a life of limitation rather than soaring beyond mind and imagination. . We invite you to explore here to find the tools that help you discover your own natural heritage of wisdom and power in all areas of life: education, health and nutrition, home and garden, science and spirituality, business and play, politics and society, relationships, and especially laughter"
6.18.2007 8:31pm
veteran:
As a citizen of Texas at the time, we considered Koresh a little off the mark, but there was not that much ado surrounding him and his following. Each day he went, by himself, into town for coffee and the newspaper. If he was what he was portrayded to be, why would you not cut the head, Koresh, from the snake? He was easy prey for anyone that wanted him.

He may have been insane, I don't know, but the extermination of those people was not necessary unless you wanted to send a message to the American people.
6.18.2007 8:35pm
Guest101:
I see anon252 has beaten me to the point I was about to make about the rather unreliable nature of Angus's link. Moreover, I note that the Fuster article on that page cites only two "references." The second is an L.A. Times article that appears to pertain only to another case mentioned in passing at the end of the article about a former minister, and the first-- the only one, presumably, that discusses the Fuster case-- is Jan Hollingsworth's book Unspeakable Acts, published in 1986, which forms the basis of the NY Times article that I noted earlier, and to which Professor Bernstein linked in the opening post. I haven't read Ms. Hollingsworth's book, but the Amazon reviews make it sound rather alarmist. Given the sensational nature of these claims, I'd want to see more than this to take them seriously.
6.18.2007 8:36pm
Carolina:
Anon252 beat me to it. That site Angus links has some very bizarre stuff on it. Lots of "New World Order" nonsense, and they appear to sell "Authentic Ojibwe Dream Catchers." If that's the best link you can find regarding the alleged photographs, I'd say that's a point in Fuster's favor.
6.18.2007 8:38pm
Colin (mail):
There is a great documentary film about the Waco siege, Waco: Rules of Engagement.

Sorry, but I've completely given up on such documentaries following the appallingly bad and entirely fraudulent "America: From Freedom to Fascism." There's just too low a bar for accuracy and honesty.
6.18.2007 8:57pm
TJIT (mail):
I think people are passionate about Waco because it was a good lesson in what happens when government agencies don't learn from earlier mistakes and don't face the same sanctions citizens who don't work for the government face.

If the FBI and ATF had learned the lessons of the Randy Weaver case Waco would never have happened.

I think a very good argument can be made that the raid on Waco was not required to accomplish what the FBI and ATF wanted.

I think there were bad faith acts by the government before and after the raid on Waco. I beleive if anyone but government employees had performed the same bad faith acts they would be so deep in prison you would have to pump air to them.

based on three years of Freedom of Information Act suits

the raid and initial shootout were supposedly justified because Koresh was a reclusive paranoid who never left the building and thus could not be arrested without a major invasion.

I got the ATF reports that showed what the ATF undercover agents in the "undercover house" (across the street from the Davidian place) had done on February 19, nine days before the raid.

They went shooting.

With David Koresh.


He carried the ammo, they had the guns (until they loaned him a .38 Super). Then they went back home to plan the raid on the fellow who never left the building.

I am not kidding....
6.18.2007 9:24pm
Angus:
The Frank Fuster link I provided above is merely one copy of the article in question. Googling part of its text has it cut/pasted at several sites. Here's another one:

http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=89260
6.18.2007 9:55pm
Angus:
Here's a debunking of Fuster defenses from Brown University.

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Taubman_Center/PBS/

On the "Photographs" page near the bottom:

First, there was "a nauseating recent photograph of [Fuster’s son] sitting on a toilet, the floor around him smeared thickly and thoroughly with excrement. [The son’s] expression was pained." (Hollingsworth, 1986, p. 176). When asked about this stomach-turning photo, Fuster said that he "happened to have the camera handy" and "I took a picture of my son to show it to him when he gets older." [State v. Fuster, September 26, 1985 (Part I, tr. 4465 re State’s Exhibit No. 37)]


Another from the same "photgraphs" page:

Another one of the "family photos" found in Frank Fuster’s home was "a rear view of a woman at the Fuster’s sink, alongside [their son]. He had been posed lifting the back of her skirt to reveal her panties, which were heavily soiled with what appeared to be menstruum or feces." (Hollingsworth 1986, p. 443)


Heck, I don't know if Fuster is guilty or not, but to say that Reno convicted him with no evidence at all is disengenous.
6.18.2007 10:03pm
This post is still ridiculous:
I'm confused as to why Nathan's "Satan's Silence" is taken as gospel on the Fuster case, and Hollingsworth's "Unspeakable Acts" is viewed as somehow suspect. Unlike Nathan, Hollingsworth was actually present for the duration of the investigation and prosecution of Fuster. Unlike Nathan, she's not running an armchair commentary fifteen years after the fact.

It's also disturbing to read on this page the undergraduate sniggering about "child abuse hysteria" based on a carte blanche dismissal of serious sexual offences against children, even those for which convictions have been obtained.

Fuster was convicted in 1985 on 14 counts of child abuse and sentenced to a minimum of 165 years in prison. Fuster had previously been convicted of lewd and lascivious assault on a 9-year-old girl and had served four years in prison for homicide. More than 50 children accused Fuster and his wife, Iliana, of abuse that included feces-eating, drugging, pornography, animal killings and anal rape with a crucifix. Fuster's 7-year-old son was treated for gonorrhea of the throat.

Iliana Fuster, a 17-year-old native of Honduras, also claimed to have been battered and sexually abused by Fuster. She confessed to her role in the crimes against the children and testified against her husband and she received a 10-year sentence.

Is this a man that you want to defend?
6.18.2007 10:09pm
JB:
Concerning Waco,
A book was once mentioned on this site, or maybe Reason.com, The Men Who Stare at Goats, which has an interesting theory about WACO--it was blown up into a siege to allow for the testing of certain psychological tactics on the part of the FBI, tactics which had previously been used against Soviet clients (but with no soviet clients for the past 4 years, there needed to be a new target). The bloody end was bungling brought on by the fact that there was no law-enforcement need for the siege.

I have no idea about the veracity or even seriousness of Jon Ronson's claims, but it's something to throw out there.
6.18.2007 10:36pm
Toby:
Does anyone recall what agency was coming up for proposed defunding in congress that week?
6.18.2007 10:42pm
Brett Bellmore:

as well as his members who opened fire on federal officers.


The phrase is, "returned fire". SOP at the time was for any dogs to be shot at the beginning of the raid, so they couldn't be sicced on the feds. When armed federal agents are advancing on you, firing, it's very easy indeed to conclude they're firing at YOU, rather than the nearby dog kennel.

Agents actually admitted to having fired first, on the dogs, before they were called in, and briefed on what the official story was going to be.

It's the same policy that started the mess at Ruby Ridge, and I believe that after Waco they finally abandoned it.
6.18.2007 11:02pm
TJIT (mail):
I should have mentioned this book earlier.

No More Wacos:
What's Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement, and How to Fix It By David B. Kopel and Paul H. Blackman

While the book is about Waco, dozens of other cases of federal law enforcement abuse are brought into the discussion, including a lengthy analysis of the Randy Weaver shooting, as well as many lesser-known cases.

The book concludes with a comprehensive chapter of policy analysis which looks at institutional problems in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the FBI; other federal agencies; and the national media, and proposes additional remedies.
6.18.2007 11:18pm
alkali (mail) (www):
DB writes:

I knew, vaguely ...

I think the fundamental problem here may be one of epistemology.
6.18.2007 11:32pm
chuckc (mail):
Hattio :
"
Really? Let me think of all the times a Republican administration has screwed up and willfully held their people responsible and heads rolled....or the President was impeached, much less lynched. Let's see, Katrina, Iraq War planning, Iran-Contra, The Korean war."

The Korean War?
Does that mean that Harry S Truman was a republican?
6.18.2007 11:32pm
TJIT (mail):
The hearings after Waco should have been a spring board to rein in the overuse and abuse of paramilitary tactics in police raids. Any chance of that was unfortunately croaked by the political climate at the time.

The over use and abuse of paramilitary tactics continues to this day.

Another Isolated Incident

Law-enforcement officers raided the wrong house and forced a 77-year-old La Plata County woman on oxygen to the ground last week in search of methamphetamine.

Cops in New York City are accused of wrongly breaking into a local man's home this month, The May 9 incident was a result of a raid in which the police officers were given faulty information, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.

As this Metafilter post points out, that's six botched raids in the last five weeks. That we know of.

Atlanta Police Nearly Killed 80-Year-Old Woman--Two Months Before Kathryn Johnston

The Mena killing followed the sad pattern we've seen in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and several dozen smaller cities all over the country.

A high-profile SWAT death, followed by intense media coverage, followed by police hunkering down and refusing to talk to the press.

Subsequent media investigations then find that no-knock and forced-entry raids are common, are commonly mistaken, frequently turn up little or no evidence, and are often commenced based on warrants with little more than boilerplate language, which are then signed by complacent judges.
6.18.2007 11:35pm
davidbernstein (mail):
"This post," your reasoning is circular. The reason the police began to suspect Fuster (no accusations had originally been leveled against him, only his girlfriend) is BECAUSE he had criminal priors. It wasn't like someone accused him and then they discovered criminal priors. Also, the prior conviction was for fondling a 9 year old's chest when drunk through her shirt. Not quite the same as forcing dozens of toddlers to eat feces and whatnot. Meanwhile, re the drugs, animal killings, etc., where's the physical evidence? How come no one had noticed anything strange about their children's behavior before the police started interrogating them with psychologically abusive, leading questions.
6.18.2007 11:41pm
PJT:
All of your posts either A) criticize groups you disdain (Democrats or Palestinians/Arabs/anyone critical of Israel), or B) praise groups you admire (Conservatives or Israel). Do you really see the world in such black and white terms? Do you not recognize admirable actions by groups you largely oppose or contemptible acts by groups you normally support? I dont know if I should fee sorry for or loathe your inability to get past such blind allegiance.
6.19.2007 12:08am
NickM (mail) (www):
I generally agree with Ted Frank, although I'm not convinced Koresh murdered his followers.

There isn't a good way to tell the difference when picking through the rubble between a kerosene lantern that was intentionally tipped over to start a fire and one that was knocked over by someone running in panic or by being hit with a CS canister projectile.

Nick
6.19.2007 12:15am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
To David B:

While I agree that there were some improper prosecutions of child abuse, following the McMartin case, and some fantastical allegations of "satanic" or ritualized child abuse, I think you are wrong to assume that no such cases happened, or that Reno was some sort of wingnut for prosecuting one such case.

I represented some clients, pro bono, in a lawsuit against the federal government over sexual abuse at an Army day care center. The facts in the case were very disturbing, and we did not raise the satanic allegations, of which there was considerable factual support. As an example, the chief suspect was a founder of a Satanic cult; many children at the day care center tested positive for chlamydia; and my client accurately described, without prompting from the federal agents, a very peculiarly designed room where the alleged ritual abuse occurred. The Army kicked out of the service the alleged mastermind, based on this evidence, but no criminal prosecutions went forward, after the federal judge ruled that the children were too young to testify competently.

During the case, I talked to a personal injury attorney in Chicago (who was jewish, if it matters) who had sued the Army over a similar case in Illinois. He told me that his client (a very young child of 4) had spontaneously told them the greek or aramaic name of a something that is identified as a servant of satan in medieval texts, as someone he had met. The child's family had no idea what this "name" meant. The attorney told me he kept the "satan" stuff out of his lawsuit, and recovered a very mediocre amount following a bench trial in federal court.

Our clients were examined by a psychiatrist for the Boston child courts, who told us there was no question they had been sexually abused. We also had extensive evidence, developed by the Army CID, that they and many other children had been abused (I can't disclose this evidence, due to terms in the settlement). During that case, I also came across an attorney in the far north of California, who had filed a similar ritual abuse lawsuit against the military and who had been abducted by people wearing masks after she filed her suit and threatened with death if she did not drop the case. I also interviewed a former MP from the military base where my clients had allegedly been abused. This ex-MP told me that, after he began investigating the existence of a satanic cult at this base, suddenly experienced several very unusual acts of apparent retaliation (he was called out to a live ammunition combat exercise, ordered to bunk with 2 people whom he had previously arrested, and then denied re-enlistment on the grounds that he was 2 pounds overweight).

Also, I tried to talk to a former Satanic cult member who had filed suit against the founder, and she refused to talk to me (she was hardly a shrinking violet; she was a professional private investigator at one of the largest investigation firms in the US).

I found the case I worked on very weird. I should note that I am a liberal agnostic who had previously defended a school district in a lawsuit filed by evangelical Christians alleging that the school district's curriculum violated the Establishment Clause by promoting the religions of Wicca or Neopaganism (see Brown v. Woodland Jt Unified School District, 9th Cir.). So, my own experience taught me not to prejudge all of these cases as absurd, as you apparently have.
6.19.2007 12:16am
This post is still ridiculous:
David B,

You are going to need to read more then Debbie Nathan to get a grip on the Country Walk case or ritual child sexual abuse.

Of course allegations of abuse preceeded Fuster being charged - you seeem to suggest that the police pressed charges for no reason except his prior convictions. That runs against the estalished facts of the case, and sounds more then a little paranoid to me.

A number of children disclosed their abuse by him, his son had a sexually transmitted infection, had been forced by him to pose for photos, there was a shit-stained crucifix under the man's bed, and his 17-year-old wife testified against him. This constituted "beyond a reasonable doubt" to the jury, but apparently, not to you.

The children in the Country Walk case were interviewed by the leading child development experts in the country in accordance with best practice and those interviews were all taped and reviewed by the defence. The claim that this somehow "psychologically abusive" is without material basis and it was rejected by the jury.

If you are so concerned about children's welfare, then perhaps you should think about the plight of child complainants in sexual abuse trials. Most child abuse cases never make it to commital, and most of those don't make it to trial, and most of those don't get prosecutions. This isn't because child sexual abuse doesn't happen, but because the adversarial court system discriminates against children, undermines their human rights and inflicts long-term harm against them.

One 10-year-old in the McMartin case was cross-examined for three weeks. The only reason that the parents of that case didn't proceed with a third trial, after two hung juries, was because their children couldn't take it anymore. I suppose that constitutes "justice" to denialists like you?
6.19.2007 12:33am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Is child abuse in the purview of the ATF?
6.19.2007 12:43am
Angus:
I have real concerns over the prosecution methods in the McMartin case. Based on what I've read, those people charged were almost certainly innocent.

The Country Walk case seems really different. The evidence was a lot stronger, including physical evidence not found in the McMartin case. Someone above said it wasn't unusual to photograph a baby in "poopy diapers." Of course not. But it is a bit unusual to photograph a 7-year old smeared with human feces. Or to photograph a 7-year old lifting up an adult woman's skirt in a sexually suggestive way.

As for Fuster's priors, he admitted at trial to not only touching the 9 year old's breasts, but also her genitals. Both of which he insisted, though, were accidents while he was driving and she was a passenger. ?? How do you "accidentally" take your hands off the wheel and feel up someone in the passenger seat? Did his prior conviction for child molestation make him suspicious? Hell, yes. I'd be reasonably suspicious of any child sex offender who decided to open up a daycare center.
6.19.2007 1:40am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I watched the congressional hearings on both Ruby Ridge and Waco. What the government stipulated to (admitted, I should say) could not have been imagined by the wackiest survivalist.
The hearings went downhill from there.
Of all the big deals, the one that stays with me is that, after entrapping Weaver with a two-bit weapons charge, the feds made out an order to appear, dated several weeks beforehand. So, by the time it was sent, Weaver was late, not in compliance. The boys said it was an error and they would try not to do it again.
The real kicker is that the entrapment was designed to get Weaver to be an informant on a survivalist activist who, the ATF did not know, was an FBI informant. The boys said they'd work on that, too.
Waco was worse.
6.19.2007 1:57am
Carolina:
Christopher Cooke:

You have made some very, very outlandish claims: ritualized sexual abuse at army bases, which you allege is some sort of pattern. Can you give any citations for this stuff? Courts? Dates? Verdicts?
6.19.2007 2:14am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Regarding looking after kids:
Once a week, I watch a developmentally challenged young man so his parents can get out and run errands or decompress.
When parceling out the gigs, I originally had been assigned a retired minister who was paralyzed and couldn't handle his own hygiene. So I bought a box of rubber gloves. I figured I'd use one pair as ear plugs--he had to have a lot of sermons backed up--and the others for the usual use.
Something happened and I got this family instead. After about four years at this, I was congratulating myself this evening that the guy could handle his own hygiene. Damn!
Turns out he had bronchitis and one of the meds loosened him up considerably.
I'd have been in a lot of trouble if the pix of a semi-helpless person covered with feces were used as evidence by somebody who wanted the Salem vote.
To be honest, I am fatalistic about my soccer coaching, my church youth grouping, and my current effort. If somebody wants me, there's not a damned thing I can do about it. And that goes for any poor chump who is so misguided as to work with young people.
The Fuster case may be different--I gather he had previous troubles--but the point is that none of us are likely to be able to withstand being Nifonged.
Just stay away, is my advice, if anybody were to ask.
6.19.2007 2:45am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
As I understand it, when the siege began, Koresh was not "holed up" in his compound, but was still coming and going from time to time. That being the case, they could have arrested him outside the compound, without triggering the siege. That fact alone makes me skeptical about the behaviour of the federal government. (Since we're identifying, I'm a left winger, but one who thinks that the Second Amendment, Israel, and the Enlightenment are all good ideas.)
6.19.2007 2:59am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Bill Poser. That was the position the local sheriff took.
When interviewed, he was extremely upset.
It didn't have to happen. That an ATF budget hearing was coming up and the op was named "showtime" had nothing to do with the op, swore the ATF boys.
Effin' murderous bastards.
6.19.2007 3:02am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Colin-

Sorry, but I've completely given up on such documentaries following the appallingly bad and entirely fraudulent "America: From Freedom to Fascism." There's just too low a bar for accuracy and honesty.

You have to approach a situation like an investigator or intelligence analyst would - you vacuum up as much information as possible, even from dubious, questionable, and/or inconsistent sources, and then compare, cross-check, cross-reference, etc. what you have to connect the dots.
6.19.2007 3:16am
davidbernstein (mail):
I'm not going to debate the existence of Satanic ritual abuse here, except to stay that its been studied extensively, no one has found any evidence that it exists, and that allegations of it have "curiously" coincided with the rise of evangelical denominations that emphasize Satan, demons, etc.

As for Fuster, the case was not about whether he was a weirdo, or a pervert, or an ex-con. It was about whether he engaged in extremely bizarre forms of abuse of dozens of children without anyone noticing, and without physical evidence--where was the evidence of the drugs, the dead animals, the child pornography? Small children anally raped, but no physical signs? Please. But I don't have any personal stake in the case. If anyone has since uncovered the alleged child pornography, the dead animal carcasses, and so forth, let me know.
6.19.2007 5:52am
davidbernstein (mail):
I shouldn't bother to respond to PJT, but I always find it amusing when commenters project their own reverse-worldview on me. Okay: find me the posts where I show "disdain" for "Democrats" or "Arabs," or the evidence that I "admire" conservatives and thus always praise them (like Bork?).
6.19.2007 6:01am
Tulkinghorn:
I don't know what effect the allegations of abuse at Waco had on Janet Reno's decisionmaking

What is more important than Reno's decisionmaking is that of the leadership of the FBI -- it appears that they intended to manipulate Reno into the most aggressive approach, after undermining their own negotiators throughout the siege. Reno 'took responsibility' for what happened, and no real reform took place. Now we still have an FBI that overstepping its authority and the law on a systematic basis.

There is not much point going over Reno obvious failures as AG - Neither Clinton nor the Reps and Dems in Congress covered themselves in glory in the process of her appointment.
6.19.2007 8:04am
triticale (mail) (www):
There was, on one previous occasion, an arrest warrant for David Koresh. The authorities informed him of it, and he promptly "just surrendured" by reporting to the police station accompanied by his attorney. The ATF gave him no such opportunity. BTW, charges in that other case were dropped.
6.19.2007 9:51am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Do you seriously think we'd have 300 LEO's parked around a farm harboring a meth lab for over 50 days?

Or that had the lab exploded, anyone would bemoan for years later that the owner of the meth labs kids were killed?

I'm thinking not.
If there was serious question as to what caused the fire, we would be upset.

Look: the government lied about not using incendiary rounds.

They "lost" two 6 1/2' high doors that would have provided pretty persuasive evidence of whether the Davidians fired through the front door at BATF during the initial raid (as BATF claimed).

They "lost" $50,000 worth of gold, platinum, and cash that the Texas Rangers found in the charred remains. The Rangers have a receipt for it; the FBI doesn't know where it went.

The "independent arson investigator" who cleared the FBI had a business card that listed his business address as the BATF offices.

The affidavit that justified the search warrant for the initial raid was, at best, severely erroneous. The claim was that Koresh was buying "E-Z conversion kits" for AR-15s--the claim was that these were full auto weapons. What they were actually buying were "E-2 conversion kits"--primarily a cosmetic change (round handguards, larger pistol grip). This is not the first time that BATF had trouble with distinguishing a 2 from a Z, in order to get a search warrant.

The Branch Davidians were reluctant to leave the parcel for a variety of reasons, some bizarre, some very down to earth. There had been a dispute about title to the property, and they were required to continuously occupy the site for five years as a condition of curing the title. Guess when that five years ended? During the siege.

We still don't know who or what started the fire. The BDs had used hay bales inside as bullet stops. Once electricity was shut off, they were using kerosene lanterns. Once the tanks starting running into the building, it would not be surprising if some of those lanterns fell over, and spilled fuel. There was testimony at the second Congressional hearings that the concentration of CS inside the building was itself a fire hazard. Even the claim that tapes show that the BDs started the fire are misleading--they were definitely making Molotov cocktails that morning, because they were expecting to use them against the tanks.

I would strongly encourage anyone who thinks that they know what happened there to read Kopel and Blackman's No More Wacos and watch Dan Gifford's documentary Rules of Engagement. Watching the second set of Congressional hearings was among the more radicalizing events of life, as liberals defended something that they would have attacked ferociously, if the target had been drugs instead of guns.

Was Koresh a child molester? There were some serious allegations of this, and from what I know of how cult of personality religious groups operate, it would not surprise me. But BATF's responsibilities do not include enforcing state child molestation laws. Texas authorities had investigated the claims, decided that there wasn't enough to pursue Koresh on them.

As bad as child molestation is, pumping a building full of CS gas when you know the kids inside don't have masks--that's worse. And dead children is far worse.
6.19.2007 11:12am
Orielbean (mail):
I thought part of the problem with Koresh was his Hatfield-McCoy feuding with another cult leader and minions? I thought that was what really drew the focus to him? I seem to remember that was part of the PBS documentary on him.
6.19.2007 11:53am
Colin (mail):
You have to approach a situation like an investigator or intelligence analyst would - you vacuum up as much information as possible, even from dubious, questionable, and/or inconsistent sources, and then compare, cross-check, cross-reference, etc. what you have to connect the dots.

I've actually worked as an intelligence analyst, albeit a very low level. I wouldn't have used a political documentary for any purpose other than analyzing the documentary itself - its purposes, its fans, its detractors, etc. A movie, moreso than a book, compresses the available information and experiences more pressure to make what information makes the cut entertaining and pithy. The compressed and entertaining format makes emotional arguments and logical fallacies easier than rigorous and maybe boring factual analyses. When investigating a controversial subject (like Waco) or a technical subject (like tax), a documentary can make completely false arguments sound reasonable and well-founded, and has a strong incentive to do so when the filmmaker has a completely false viewpoint to advocate, or when bullshit is more entertaining than the dull truth.

I don't say that the Waco documentary is full of falsities - I don't know anything about it at all. But not being very knowledgeable about the events in question, I'd be in a poor position to judge the accuracy of its perspective. I'd rather learn from printed materials and news reports, which, while they can of course be just as or more biased, are less pressured by the constraints of a documentary format and much easier to fact-check.

I only rely on documentaries and education in fields in which I'm well-versed enough to pick up on falsehoods or where there is some reason to disregard the potential for misleading bias. A:FFtF is an example of the first - as a lawyer, I could see through the ridiculous lies the movie promotes, but I could also see how a layperson might be persuaded by it. Jesus Camp would be an example of the latter. While it certainly had a strong editorial bias, I'd read interviews with the subjects who expressed their pleasure at how they were portrayed, which seemed a good enough reason to me to trust that the filmmakers were accurate and relatively straightforward.

I'm not saying that I'd never watch or trust a Waco documentary. But it would be the last source I'd go to for actual information about what happened there.
6.19.2007 11:55am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Back to the ritual abuse claims.

1. There are almost certainly such ritual abuse situations that take place. When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the period 1982-84, I was often astonished at the news accounts that would be buried deep in the paper. One involved a 15 year old runaway girl who was found dead, hanging in an abandoned church, with a pentagram on her belly. Another involved a homeless man who was kidnapped, held for a couple of days in a van, while his kidnappers forced him to fellate a dog. They told him that they were going to sacrifice him to Satan after they were done torturing him. He managed to escape. The convictions of his kidnappers were buried deep in the San Francisco Chronicle. So much for the notion that newspapers emphasize sensational stories.

2. There seem to be a lot of very, very damaged people out there who pursue child abuse cases that might have had a real victim--and then blow them up into something far larger than it really was. I read the accounts of the McMartin preschool case, and I have this feeling that there might well have been some sexual abuse going on--but by the time the child advocates had their way, the stories had become so completely impossible (flying the children to other cities for abuse, for example) that it is impossible to know what really happened.

Another example was in Minnesota in the 1980s, where again, there may well have been at least one real victim--but the assistant district attorney was being driven by her anger about her own sexual abuse as a child that she eventually had about 1/4 of the town either under indictment or investigation. What might have been a real criminal case disappeared into the prosecutor's own psychological problems.

Hmmmm. Do you suppose that Janet Reno might be especially prone to pull out all the stops on child sexual abuse because of something traumatic in her past? Reno has never publicly admitted her sexual orientation, but I don't think many people think she's straight.
6.19.2007 12:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I thought part of the problem with Koresh was his Hatfield-McCoy feuding with another cult leader and minions? I thought that was what really drew the focus to him? I seem to remember that was part of the PBS documentary on him.
Hence the need to cure their title to the property.
6.19.2007 12:04pm
whackjobbbb:

I remember reading that the ATF agents on-site were exhausted after staking out the compound for so long.


No doubt, after nearly 2 months on the job, they were spent (and I believe it was the FBI staking out, not the ATF, who'd been thrown off the site following their initial bungling of the ill-conceived raid).

Perhaps Ms. Reno was motivated by other things, but the overall situation was the prime driver, particularly its effects on her department as a whole... she couldn't afford to keep the BD'ers in that cage forever.

So Reno had a "money" question to answer. How long? Sure, the underlings bungled the negotiations, but at some point, a decision had to be made, and she made it.

The moral is... don't ever get into that situation in the first place. Just like that one Justice guy said... you send in the most unassuming junior FBI lawyer you can find, have her go up and knock on the door and ask Mr. Koresh to come down and talk to you. Leave the paramilitary activity to the military.

I actually think the political class got the message from all this. They seem to be standing down from the senseless gun control nonsense, since this stuff happened.
6.19.2007 12:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I actually think the political class got the message from all this. They seem to be standing down from the senseless gun control nonsense, since this stuff happened.
You are giving the political class too much credit. It was mostly that gun control ceased to be a winning strategy for getting elected.

On the other hand, I will agree that how the FBI handled the siege in Montana a bit later involving what turned out to be check fraudsters with delusions of political content showed that someone learned from their mistake at Waco. Or perhaps it was because the FBI discovered that they were beginning to get a perimeter around them of angry and suspicious citizens.
6.19.2007 12:23pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Carolina:

Here is a link to an article in the San Jose Mercury News on the abuse case to which I was referring. I worked on the lawsuit against the Army, pro bono, while at Morrison &Foerster, which represented a few families who could not find personal injury lawyers willing to take the case on a contingency fee basis.

I do remember, from reading about the "ritualized" abuse cases at the time, that there were some cases in which it seemed that innocent people were accused and convicted. One case, in Massachutsetts, called the Fells Acre case, struck me as a possible miscarriage of justice (based solely on what I read in the media reports at the time). I found a link to a reposted article on that case here.

I know next to nothing about Reno's case involving Fuster, but my main point is not to assume either that (1) all of these cases were true or (2) all of them were false, and the product of prosecutorial incompetence or overreaching.
6.19.2007 12:30pm
Colin (mail):
here are almost certainly such ritual abuse situations that take place. When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the period 1982-84...

Do you suppose that Janet Reno might be especially prone to pull out all the stops on child sexual abuse because of something traumatic in her past? Reno has never publicly admitted her sexual orientation, but I don't think many people think she's straight.

Time from Cramer’s first post to irrelevant, nasty anecdotes about San Francisco and leering implications that homosexuality is caused by child abuse: 2 posts. A new record.
6.19.2007 12:52pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
By the way, I share Clayton's assessment of many of these cases: there may have been abuse, but not ritualized "satanic" abuse. That is one hypothesis for the Fuster case that would be consistent with his past, and explain the lack of corroborating evidence on some of the allegations.

In the case I worked on, however, one of the principal suspects, who was kicked out of the Army in a "titling" prosedure, was an avowed satanist and founder of his own spin off of the Church of Satan. So, no one was making up the "satanists" stuff (but conceivably they could have falsely accused the satanists in abuse).

There were some unusual tidbits of evidence, however. For example, one of the children described being taken to a "red room" that had a lion in it. One of the suspects (a Lt. Colonel, the founder of his own spin off of the Satanic Church) had a room in his house that was painted all red, and that had a large throne like chair adorned with lion's heads (according to the FBI and Army CID reports). The house was about 1/2 mile from the day care center. I can't get into more details, as much of the evidence that I reviewed in the case came to us under a very stringent protective order. The government settled with our clients for a substantial, confidential sum, so we never took discovery from some of the suspects in the criminal investigation who were not charged (one of them was, but the federal judge deemed the children's grand jury testimony inadmissible, on the grounds that they were too young to testify competently.)
6.19.2007 1:07pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Colin.
You missed again. The question is whether Satanic child abuse issues happen. Cramer had some evidence. That it came from California might be because he had lived in California. Or because California....
His remark about Reno, you got backwards.
Being non-straight as a kid could get you abused or shunned or teased--especially if you're as physically unprepossessing as Reno is, which could mark you and make you a sucker for a vamped-up FBI report. Reno did admit that the report about abuse turned out not to be true, or at least there was insufficient evidence for it, and that the report was one of the triggers of her go order. What happened to the guy who wrote it up was not explained.
Anyway, Cramer had two on-point points and you, with your signature calm and dispassion decided that who he was trumped what he said.
Dog bites man.
6.19.2007 1:20pm
Carolina:
C. Cooke,

Thanks for the link. That article has some interesting food for thought. At the very least, it is disturbing that a Lt. Col. in the US Army was an avowed Satanist and founded his own Satanic cult.
6.19.2007 1:27pm
Colin (mail):
By the way, I share Clayton's assessment of many of these cases: there may have been abuse, but not ritualized "satanic" abuse.

Despite my earlier comment, I also agree with Cramer as far as this goes. It's hard to imagine a more difficult legal question, with more serious real-world consequences, than the proper, ethical, and effective use of children's testimony in ambiguous abuse cases.
6.19.2007 1:28pm
TJIT (mail):
An item in a comment by This post is still ridiculous illustrates how the global warming enthusiasts have impacted discourse on controversial topics.

I suppose that constitutes "justice" to denialists like you?
6.19.2007 2:30pm
alkali (mail) (www):
Something to keep in mind about the Satanic ritual abuse cases of the 80s and early 90s is that they didn't come about because a whole bunch of county prosecutors independently came up with the idea. In 1984, Congress established the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 1985, the FBI held a seminar at Quantico on Satanic ritual abuse. In 1986, the Meese Commission's report on pornography recommended that "The Department of Justice should appoint a national task force to conduct a study of cases throughout the United States reflecting apparent patterns of multi-victim, multi-perpetrator child sexual exploitation." For good or for ill, this was a top federal priority for law enforcement for many years.
6.19.2007 2:34pm
TJIT (mail):
IIRC correctly some of the worst prosecutorial train wrecks were related to recovered memories. Here is an article on that topic folks might find interesting.

The Truth Is in There

In the late 1990s, as a twenty-year rash of high-profile sex abuse cases was winding down, Harvard Ph.D. student Susan Clancy took a skeptical look at the phenomenon of "recovered memories"

Her work promptly got her labeled a "friend of pedophiles" by one letter writer, and politically biased by a colleague quoted in the New York Times. Unprepared for the political minefield she'd stumbled into, Clancy started looking for a way to study false memory creation without inviting attacks of political bias. Naturally, she turned to aliens.
6.19.2007 2:44pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
TJIT: Yes the "recovered" memory controversy is another formerly hot-button issue/tool in law enforcement that later fell into disfavor. There was the famous (infamous) criminal prosecution of George Franklin in San Mateo County, California, for murder of a young child that was based upon Eileen Franklin's recovered memory. Franklin was later released by a federal judge in a habeas proceeding because of the unreliability of Eileen Franklin's hypnotically refreshed testimony (no AEDPA issues, so the judge could actually get to the merits, and not dismiss the petition on a technicality). On the other hand, he may have been guilty of the murder, which did occur.
6.19.2007 3:04pm
CWuestefeld (mail) (www):
there are almost certainly such ritual abuse situations that take place.

Back in junior high school I knew one of the young men who was later convicted for the murder of the University of Florida "Junk Food Professor" (this was a semi-famous case, you may have heard of). Long story short: he ran away from home, wound up being a prostitute in NYC; he and some friends had the bright idea of blackmailing some clients, and then tried to kill one of the victims to close his mouth.

Anyway, in a lame attempt to divert scrutiny of the murder, they wrote "redrum" on the walls and did a bunch of other nutty stuff to the scene and the corpse. They wanted the authorities to believe that the crime was the result of a Satanic ritual, rather than a cold-blooded murder by a gang of blackmailing boy-prostitutes.

Anecdote is not the singular of evidence, but certainly some apparently-Satanic evidence is not what it appears to be, but is intentionally engineered to divert suspicions in this way.
6.19.2007 3:05pm
CWuestefeld (mail) (www):
Obligatory CYA: please read "alleged" liberally through the above anecdote, but my classmate did do jail time in relation to the above incident.
6.19.2007 3:09pm
john w. (mail):
I don't understand what the big deal is regarding Janet
Reno and the Branch Davidian children. I mean, like, she saved them from a 'fate worse than death,' didn't she?

Surely, being burned alive is not as bad as having sex with an older man! So quit picking on the poor woman, already. OK?

(sarcasm = OFF)
6.19.2007 3:33pm
Patrick Rothwell (mail):
Although not related to "satanic" sexual abuse, did former Boston priest Paul Shanley ever appeal his conviction for sexual abuse? The accusers, IIRC, resorted to highly questionable allegations of "recovered memories" of sexual abuse - allegations that were contradicted by fact witnesses at the parish and school in question. Nevertheless, he was found guilty.

If my memory hasn't failed me, Paul Shanley's prosecutor is now the current Massachusetts AG.
6.19.2007 3:46pm
Deoxy (mail):
A little late to the discussion, but I would like to point out (to the ones who blame evrything on the BDs) that, ven if you discount everything else (he went into town regularly, etc), even if you can get to the end without any problems (and that's a stretch)...

The people in charge were told that, with light coming from lanterns, if thy used tear gas, and bashed down the walls with tanks, the place would burn up.

They. Were. Told. THAT is what would happen.

And oh, look - that's what they did, and that's what happened.

That's murder of AT LEAST the children involved. End of story. They killed those people at least knowingly; it's hard to believe they didn't do it on purpose, even without taking the other known facts into account.

The Waco incident is among the worst (public) abuses of power the government committed in my lifetime.
6.19.2007 4:40pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Patrick: The testimony of the main prosecution witness and alleged victim in the Shanley case did not pose issues "recovered" memory, i.e., a recollection allegedly refreshed by hypnosis or therapy. Rather, he testified to having a delayed memory, or a repressed memory, i.e., that his recollection of the abuse came to him when he read about another alleged victim of Shanley. There are plenty of articles on this case on the internet.

Both the "satanic' ritual abuse cases, and these priest molestation cases, raise interesting issues about the reliability of memory, regardless of one's thoughts on the merits of any individual case.
6.19.2007 5:31pm
Happyshooter:
You have made some very, very outlandish claims: ritualized sexual abuse at army bases, which you allege is some sort of pattern. Can you give any citations for this stuff? Courts? Dates? Verdicts?

Not to give a response to the above question, because I can’t. However, I am familiar with a Satan/Black Magic in the Army in the mid 90s that had explicit Army support.

I was assigned as a military policeman doing law enforcement work in a medium sized base community. That military area had an active Satan/Black Magic worshiping group. They were given the use of Army facilities for worship, and were issued ritual knives and altars, and were allowed to purchase small animals.

During one Satanic festival, Beltane, they were given control of an entire recreation park, and the Army erected a maypole and tents for them.

I spoke to one of the chaplains, a Christian, and was quite surprised when he told me that there was nothing to worry about because the group was not strong enough to raise a demon. He informed me he knew because he was one of their official sponsors.
6.19.2007 5:43pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Happy. Was the chaplain right? They're supposed to know about this stuff.
It should have been a Catholic, since they have a formal exorcism ritual, just in case.
Anybody can call to the vasty deep. Problem is, who answers?
Having a Catholic sponsor is like having a fireman available when you're burning brush.
How did things go in the LE field the next couple of days after Beltane?
All I know about that stuff I learned in Sword at Sunset. Hell of a book.
6.19.2007 6:05pm
This post is still ridiculous:
David B says:

"I'm not going to debate the existence of Satanic ritual abuse here, except to stay that its been studied extensively, no one has found any evidence that it exists"

Ritual abuse has been studied extensively, and there's twenty years of clinical, criminological social research into the role of ritualistic abuse in organised child sexual abuse. That material is academic and peer-reviewed, so you'd have to actually do some research, rather then just read and regurgitate the opinions of a set of backlash authors.

Give it a go, and you'll find that the misuse of ritual practice is recognised by the United Nation's Committee on Human Rights as a common technique in child exploitatoin. The Internatinal Organisation of Migration has found ritual abuse throughout trafficking networks in Africa and Europe and published reports on the subject.

In the States, there have been literally hundreds of convictions. You'll find an extensive list at:

http://www.ra-info.org/resources/ra_cases.shtml

Maybe you should have a think about cases outside America. We've had several convictions for ritual child sexual abuse here in Australia, complete with confessions and compacts to the devil signed in blood. The police stated in 1991 that they had established "a link between child abuse and devil worship". Peter Ellis was convicted of it and went to jail in New Zealand, and the probity of his conviction has been assessed by independent experts and upheld. Satanic rituals were a feature of the child abuse ring that was exposed in Belgium during the infamous Marc Dutroux case. The Dublin Coroner has recently ruled that the body of a murdered infant found stabbed to death thirty years ago was the child of ritual abuse survivor Cynthia Owen, whose baby was ritually sacrificed by her father (who was the father of the child) when Owen gave birth at 13. There have been multiple convictions for ritual abuse in South Africa, complete with the bodies of murdered children.

There's currently nine people sitting in a Louisana jail after a member of a satanic cult implicted the others in ritual child sexual abuse, the leader (a Christian priest) confessed to his involvement, they found references to the abuse in the diaries of another, as well as a pentagram on the youth hall floor, and capes, knives and masks in storage. There's currently a dozen pre-school attendents awaiting similar charges in Italy.

Do I need to go on? Or should we all believe, as apparently you do, that confessions and prosecutions for ritual abuse are actually evidence that ritual abuse does not occur?

"allegations of it have "curiously" coincided with the rise of evangelical denominations that emphasize Satan, demons, etc."

How ridiculous. There was no public awareness of child sexual abuse before the early 1980s. The first medical papers on the harms of incest was published in 1978. The first prevalence studies on child sexual abuse were published in the early 80s.

Ritual abuse allegations surfaced at the same time as ALL allegations of sexual abuse surfaced, and it surfaced in the context of child protection investigations by social workers. Don't know what your social workers in the States are like, but ours in Australia tend to be secular and strongly feminist.

Your "fundamentalist Christian" theory doesn't really fly, huh? Like I said, try reading something other then Debbie Nathan.

"It was about whether he engaged in extremely bizarre forms of abuse of dozens of children without anyone noticing"

They did notice. That's why they put him in jail. So what is your point?
6.19.2007 10:13pm
This post is still ridiculous:
Another example was in Minnesota in the 1980s, where again, there may well have been at least one real victim--but the assistant district attorney was being driven by her anger about her own sexual abuse as a child that she eventually had about 1/4 of the town either under indictment or investigation. What might have been a real criminal case disappeared into the prosecutor's own psychological problems.

There was, without question, more then one victim, and more then one perpetrator in the Minnesota case. A number of accused parents in the case confessed to sexually abusing their children, received immunity, and underwent treatment for sexual abuse, whilst parental rights for six other children in the case were terminated.

In his review of the case, the state Attorney General noted that the initial investigation by the local police and county attorney was so poor that it had destroyed the opportunity to fully investigate the children’s allegations. A special commission later reviewed the conduct of the county attorney in dismissing charges against the remaining defendants, noting that it was likely that other charges would have been successfully prosecuted.

It's strange how the details of specific ritual abuse cases have gotten lost in the consensus that ritual abuse does not exist.
6.19.2007 10:26pm
davidbernstein (mail):
I should have written, "no one has found that it exists in the United States." I'd be skeptical elsewhere, but don't know enough to make a blanket statement. Also, you should read the literature on false confessions. The fact that someone confessed to something doesn't make it so, and when the confession involves acts for which there should be lots of physicial evidence but none can be found, there is plenty of reason to doubt the confession.
6.19.2007 10:32pm
Carolina:
To "post is still ridiculous":

I don't know much about the Jordan, Minnesota case, but this is how Justice Scalia (US Supreme Court) described that case in his dissent in Maryland v. Craig:


The injustice their erroneous testimony can produce is evidenced by the tragic Scott County investigations of 1983 - 1984, which disrupted the lives of many (as far as we know) innocent people in the small town of Jordan, Minnesota. At one stage those investigations were pursuing allegations by at least eight children of multiple murders, but the prosecutions actually initiated charged only sexual abuse. Specifically, 24 adults were charged with molesting 37 children. In the course of the investigations, 25 children were placed in foster homes. Of the 24 indicted defendants, one pleaded guilty, two were acquitted at trial, and the charges against the remaining 21 were voluntarily dismissed.


Perhaps you know something from your vantage point in Australia that Justice Scalia does not?
6.20.2007 12:16am
whackjobbbb:
Very, very tough rock for the law to crack... given that the witnesses are emotionally immature and in the case of very young children... almost magical in their thinking process. Hopefully, the law can at least motivate child care situations to be properly shaped, to exclude or circumvent abusers of all types. I've seen that with my friends involved in the Boy Scouts. They have rigorous training for all, and everybody follows the rules.
6.20.2007 11:56am
Happyshooter:
How did things go in the LE field the next couple of days after Beltane?

Things got worse, but it was springtime--warmer--and a lot of guys also started drinking on base in the nearby clubs because the beer companies sent in a couple of dane and bikini teams to tour.
6.20.2007 2:12pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
David B.: In the Presidio case (I posted a link to a news article on it), the US Army and the FBI did conclude that multiple children had been abused. One teacher was charged, but the federal court dismissed the charges because of the age of the children made them incompetent as grand jury witnesses. So, I wouldn't say "no one has found it to exist in the United States." The US Army and the FBI did, but the charges were never proven to a jury.
6.20.2007 4:17pm
markm (mail):
Don't forget the prototype of all such cases: Gilles de Rais, a contemporary of Joan of Arc who was executed for the rape and murder of around a hundred children. There were accusations of satanic rituals there, which must have helped his accusers think they understood the case, but really it just sounds like a pedophilic serial killer with the privileges of a medieval French noble - so much privilege that if he hadn't offended a powerful Bishop, he might never have been stopped. No doubt he and his servants also confessed to satanism, after inquisitors who had seen dozens of small victims unearthed spent some time working on them... And of course, the confession gave a legal basis for the Church's intervention, after the fact.
6.20.2007 6:20pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Chris Cooke, the Justice Department published a major study in the early 90s, and found no evidence, surely even after being aware of the case you cite. I'm sure lots of people involved in prosecuting other ritual abuse cases still believe that it happened, but that doesn't mean it did.
6.20.2007 6:25pm
Randy R. (mail):
It's very interesting reading these comments. My favorite is this one:

"The Waco incident is among the worst (public) abuses of power the government committed in my lifetime."

Assuming that Reno and the FBI was completely wrong, and this resulted in the deaths of several innocents, I would concur.

However, the approval of torture and subsequent deaths of people being held in Gitmo, and the rendition of people to torture in other countries and then found to be innocent, surely counts as a worse abuse of power by the gov't than anything that happened at Waco. The reason is because it is not a single decision or a single incident, as Waco was, but a *policy* of our gov't, and it has continued for quite some time, and is ongoing. Furthermore, the point of Reno's decision was to save the people inside, however misguided her methods. The point of our current gov't's policy is to specifically cause harm, and if death occurs, a mere shrug of the shoulders.

Surely this is the greater abuse of power that dwarfs anything that happened at Waco.
6.21.2007 2:07am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
To David B: Maybe we are disagreeing over nothing. I meant only to say that the Army and the FBI concluded that multiple children had been abused when they were at the Presidio Day Care Center. I don't believe the Army or the FBI ever said it was because of "satanic" or "ritual" abuse, so maybe that is why the case is not mentioned in the DoJ report that you cite. But, I will also note, and you can look at the reported case, that the Army kicked out (in a titling process) one of the persons whom its investigators suspected of causing the abuse, and concluded that there was probable cause to believe that he had committed such abuse (and he was an avowed Satanist). He later sued the Army over being forced out, and lost his lawsuit.

I will also note that the US Dept. of Justice authorized the payment of many millions of dollars to settle lawsuits and administrative claims brought by the parents of some of these children (I represented some of them). I can't speak to the specifics of the records that the government produced to us in our lawsuit, as they were produced under a protective order. If you are interested in researching the topic, I suggest you request the records under a FOIA request. Or, you can contact the AUSA who worked on these cases for the US government (I can give you her name, if interested).
6.21.2007 12:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Happyshooter.
Yup. That's Beltane. Get drunk, grab the hand of some hot-looking chick, jump over the fire and head for the bushes. Updated slightly.
Sounds like they made contact. I mean, you think those bikini teams and beer trucks just, like, showed up on their own?
So, now, in addition to the full moon, cops have to run extra shifts for Beltane if there's a particularly good Druid in the house.
6.21.2007 3:45pm
This post is still ridiculous:
David B said:

"Chris Cooke, the Justice Department published a major study in the early 90s, and found no evidence"

No, they didn't. Ken Lanning, an FBI agent specialising in child abuse, published a non-peer reviewed paper in 1992 stating that whilst ritual activity was a feature of some cases of organised child abuse, there was no evidence of a nation-wide network of Satanic cults ritualistically abusing children.

As I've said before, maybe you should read the primary sources rather then just Debbie Nathan's take on them? Lanning's position was much more nuanced then backlash authors would have you believe and, I think, quite correct. Not only does this report contradict your position, but it is now a decade and a half old - maybe you should read where the discourse is at now, rather then in the early 1990s.

And as for your faith in the material on "false confessions" of ritual sexual abuse, it has been written and promulgated almost exclusively by members of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation - including Ralph Underwager, the FMSF founder who claimed in 1992 that sex between a man and a boy was intimate and blessed by God.

And your claim that a confession is not evidence of a crime is in contradiction of 2000 years of jurisprudence. But hell. You've already designated yourself the armchair commentator and expert extraordinaire on ritual abuse after reading one crap book - why not fly in the face of one of the basic tenets of the Western criminal justice system?
6.22.2007 11:53pm
This post is still ridiculous:
Caroline said:

Perhaps you know something from your vantage point in Australia that Justice Scalia does not?

Why are you relying on the summation of a judge who was not involved in the case a few decades after it occurred in his opinion on a completely unrelated matter? Seems a little bizarre to me.

As for me, I've read the case reviews conducted by the state attorney general and the governor at the time. See:

Humphrey, H. (1985). "Report on Scott County investigations." Minneapolis, MN, Minnesota Attorney General's Office.

Commission Established by Executive Order No. 85-10 (1985). "Report to Governor Rudy Perpech, Concerning Kathleen Morris, Scott County Attorney."

Scalia's summary does not suggest that he has read these documents. In fact, his summary is manifestly inadequate in light of the information that was available to him. I guess that's why we should all rely on our own research skills, rather then just presume that other people have done the hard work for us.
6.23.2007 12:06am