Ritual Abuse and Torture – A Legal Quandary: Local and Global

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Attorney Helen L. McGonigle has practiced law before Connecticut state and federal courts for the past 18 years, advocating for survivors of child sexual abuse, clergy abuse, ritual abuse and torture. She has presented nationally on the subjects of ritual abuse and torture, most recently at the United Nation’s 48th Session. She was instrumental in advocating for the passage of extensions to both the civil and criminal statute of limitations in the State of Connecticut. Her topic is : “Ritual Abuse and Torture – A Legal Quandary: Local and Global.”

This page describes violent and graphic crimes. Please use caution while reading. This is not intended as therapy or treatment. All accusations are alleged.




AUGUST 6-8, 2004



PO BOX 540

BROOKFIELD, CT 06804-0540

Tel. (203) 740-0074

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COPYRIGHT © 2004 Helen L. McGonigle. All Rights Reserved. Requests for permission to reproduce or republish material should be addressed to P.O. Box 540, Brookfield, CT 06804-0540 or ATTYMCG@aol.com. The author is not responsible for alterations to this document from its original form by unauthorized parties.



BY ATTORNEY HELEN L. MCGONIGLE, P.O. Box 540, Brookfield, CT 06804 attymcg@aol.com


C NONPOLITICAL RITUAL ABUSE AND TORTURE – The legal treatment of these crimes and human rights abuses, including sexual exploitation of women and children, child sexual abuse, child pornography, sex slavery, trafficking in persons and pornography rings

C SEXUAL ASSAULT STATISTICS – In the mid 1990’s the AMA recognized that sexual assault is one of the most serious and fastest growing violent crimes in America. The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that over 700,000 U.S. women and children are raped or sexually assaulted annually. Of these 61% are under the age of 18 and 29% of forcible rapes occurred under age 11. Studies at the time indicated between one fifth and one third of all women have experienced sexual abuse in childhood.

C THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COST – In 1996, the National Institute of Justice estimates the annual cost of child abuse to be $56 billion dollars. The cost of child sexual abuse was estimated to be $14 billion. The enormous economic cost of sexual assault $127 billion per year, dwarfing the estimated cost of burglary or larceny. U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Victim Cost and Consequences: A New Look (February 1996).

C THE ENVIRONMENT- a co-culture combined with certain groups engaging in commercial exploitation, human sex trafficking and pornography, including child pornography. A review in the Sexual Assault Report indicates that Adult Video News, a trade publication for the pornography industry, reported that 11,303 new hardcore pornography titles were released in year 2002. This mainstream of the pornography industry generates an estimated $10 billion in annual sales and does not include underground sales of illegal child pornography. Ironically, the annual sales of mainstream adult pornography would go far in compensating the many victims of child sexual abuse.

C THE WORLDWIDE PROBLEM OF UNREGISTERED BIRTHS – Unicef estimates that some 40-50 million births are unregistered each year. That is about 30-40% of yearly births worldwide with the greatest numbers being in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East in North Africa.

Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that all children should be registered immediately after birth and should also acquire a name and a nationality. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by 192 of the 193 UN member countries, the exception being the United States.

C PROBLEMS WITH QUANTIFYING OCCURRENCE OF RITUAL ABUSE AND TORTURE WORLDWIDE – the level of awareness grew in the 90s but the worldwide proliferation of the multi-billion dollar pornography industry, internet child porn rings, sex trafficking, all combined with the millions of unregistered births, provides an ample supply of potential victims. As a Senior State Department adviser on trafficking in persons was quoted: “we’re not finding victims in the United States because we’re not looking for them”. The Girls Next Door, New York Times Magazine January 25, 2004. The same comment could likewise apply to the occurrence of ritual abuse in the States. Relative to human trafficking, the US State Department estimates at least 700,000 persons, especially woman and children are trafficked each year across international borders and that between 45,000 and 50,000 are trafficked to the US annually.

C On a more basis we examples of political torture like that involving the Iraqi prison abuse scandal. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the public to deny the prevalence of ongoing examples of torture worldwide. Recognition of the occurrence in communal and domestic settings as occurs in ritual abuse and torture case is necessary.

In 1975 the United Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously approved the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Member nations agreed to eliminate torture. Article 3 made clear: “No State may permit or tolerate torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The states assumed active responsibility to eliminate torture. Exceptional events, situations, or factors would not provide an exception to the prohibition against torture. Article 3 continued: “Exceptional circumstances such as a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Member nations assumed the responsibility to take preventive measures to ensure that no one be allowed to engage in torture. Article 4 stated: “Each State shall in accordance with the provisions of this Declaration, take effective measures to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment from being practised within its jurisdiction.” Previously, the UN had stated the principle on which member nations now committed themselves to act. Article 5 of the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Despite the UN Declaration, a quarter of a century later, torture is practiced in an astonishing array of countries. Amnesty International’s (AI) Report 2000 presents reports of instances involving security forces, police, or other state authorities in 132 countries. Although many studies focus on torture practiced by the police, military, and other branches of government, torture also can occur in domestic settings as well.

THE LEGAL SYSTEM & PUBLIC AWARENESS LAGGING BEHIND REALITY – The U.S. enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act only as recently as 2000. UNICEF’s report on Birth Registration was published in 2000. Although there is growing concern, the most severe form of child sexual abuse, sadistic and ritualized child sexual abuse, remains largely unaddressed. Cases are often not prosecuted as such because of the bizarre nature of the crimes or prosecuted as conventional murder, sexual assault, animal cruelty or other felonies. Only a handful of states, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana and Montana have expressly criminalized ritual abuse. Idaho Code § 18-1506A Illinois Revised Statutes, §5/12-33; Louisiana Revised Statutes Ann. §14:107.1; and Montana Code Ann. §45-5-627. Notably, the statutes contain an exemption for “any state or federally approved, licensed, or funded research project”.

C THE NEED TO EXPRESSLY ADDRESS RITUAL ABUSE & TORTURE: SAMPLE STATUTORY LANGUAGE, REAL WORLD CASE EXAMPLES & FORMS OF NONPOLITICAL TORTURE – Belgium; Prescott, Ontario; Nottingham, England; Juarez, Mexico; Germany; Warsaw, Poland; South Africa; Helsinki Finland; Equatorial Guinea and elsewhere. Religious related abuse and the Catholic Church.


BELGIUM: MARC DUTROUX CASE – age 40 unemployed electrician, out on parole for prior convictions of child molestation and rape of five girls in the 1980s is arrested in Belgium in August 1996 seizing spliced videotapes of Laurel & Hardy and Tom & Jerry containing hardcore pedophilic pornography and discovering two girls locked in a basement bunker ages 13 and 14. The buried remains of two 8 year old victims were discovered at Dutroux’s other home, and two more bodies were buried in the backyard of his associate, Bernard Weinstein. The girls in Weinstein’s yard had been buried alive. All had been raped and 2 died of starvation, chained up and kept in Dutroux’s concrete dungeon. Police had been aware of the criminal network since at least 1993. Dutroux’s trial started March 1, 2004. Lives of 4 known victims could have been saved had police acted properly. Police had been at Dutroux’s house in 1996 to investigate a car theft, heard screams in the basement and accepted Dutroux’s explanation that it was his own children playing. Dutroux abducted and sold young girls for commercial purposes, including prostitution and pornography. An informant provided evidence that Dutroux offered him 3,500 pounds for each girl and his bank statements contained regular payments of 20,000 pounds at a time. Dutroux claims he was merely the front man for an international pedophile ring that compromised some of the most powerful political and business figures of Europe. In his colleague Bernard Weinstein’s house, police found and undated letter that they believed was a request from a satanic cult for young women to serve as human sacrifice. Dutroux admits to having killed Weinstein after a lengthy torture session that involved pulling a metal chain around his genitals ever tighter, drugging him and burying Weinstein alive.

(Sources: Four Girls Abducted, Raped, Murdered, NY Times Magazine2/23/1997; Despite everything he made me suffer, I did not go insane, The Observer, 3/7/04; Belgian Serial Killer Dutroux goes on trial http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?; The Devils Work http://telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/02/22/wbelf22.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/02/22/ixworld.html; http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=228192004).

Update: 47 year old Dutroux was convicted to murdering two teenaged girls and his accomplice in June of 2004 and sentenced to life in prison. Dutroux’s lawyer states and appeal is planned. Dutroux was also convicted of kidnapping and two girls, age 8. An investigation remains open relative to the involvement of others.

QUEBEC, CANADA: QUEBEC BOY TARGET OF CULTISTS – A three month old boy was stabbed to death using a wooden stake driven through its heart in a Quebec village in the rituals of a cult linked to the Order of the Solar Temple mass murder suicide of 53 people in Switzerland and Quebec. The Order of the Solar Temple used symbols from Roman Catholicism, astrology, Gnosticism and the medieval Christian fraternities of the Knights Templar and Rosicrucians to attract believers in Europe and Canada. Quebec Boy Target of Cultists, New York Times 11/20/1994. This incident was followed by the methodical shooting of 16 additional cult members, including children ages 2,4 and 6 in the French Alps bringing the Solar Temple toll to 69. Sect members had taken sleeping pills and their bodies were found in a star formation facing a fire.

WONDERLAND PORNOGRAPHY RING: RAIDS IN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, ITALY, NORWAY, PORTUGAL, AND SWEDEN – Wonderland was a huge internet club trafficking in child pornography. The US Custom Service turned up a database of 100,000 sexual photographs of naked boys and girls, some younger than 2, some engaged in sexual acts with adults. Membership required possession of at child pornography and a willingness to share it. In some instances club members are believed to have posed their own children for pictures and other parents may have taken money to allow their children to be used. Internet Child Pornography Operation is Raided in U.S. and Abroad, New York Times 9/3/1998 p. A 29.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND 25 children were removed from an extended family and taken into foster care following disclosures of incest and ritual child abuse. In February, 1989, nine adults were sentenced for up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to 53 charges of incest, cruelty and indecent assault. The children described being abused wearing costumes, being forced to eat excrement and drink blood, and witnessing the killing of animals and babies.

CHRISTCHRUCH, NEW ZEALAND Peter Hugh McGregor Elils, 35, a former day care employee, was convicted June 5, 1993, on 16 counts of sexual abuse relating to seven children. Ellis was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Children who attended the center described bizarre sexual abuse with references to frightening rituals. The children allege they were removed from the day care facility and transported to other locations, including a cemetery and a Masonic lodge, where they were abused by adults dressed in black and white and wearing masks. In addition to their reports of being used for pornographic purposes, the children described being abused within a circle; chanting and participating in mock marriages; being tied up and confined in cages and boxes buried beneath the ground; being penetrated with needles and sticks; witnessing the torture and killing of animals; being drugged; being forced to hurt other children; having blood poured over their heads; and consuming what they believed was human flesh.

UNITED STATES: STATE OF CONNECTICUT VS STEPHEN SPIEGELMANN, 81 Conn. App. 441 (2004), cert denied 268 Conn. 921, 846 A.2d 883 (2004) 2/10/2004 – Defendant is found guilty of multiple counts of sexual assault and risk of injury to a child and one count of unlawful restraint. The victim, a young girl, was repeatedly sexually and ritually abused by the Defendant, Spiegelmann between the ages of 4 and 9. The abuse included oral, vaginal and anal penetration, ejaculation on the victim. The defendant forced the victim to take baths in human feces and rubbed his feces on the child. Pornographic magazines, photographs, sexual fantasy stories (e.g. scatological stories) from the internet, videotapes and approximately 45,000 images of a sexual nature, including images of sexual activity involving bodily fluids such as urine, feces, semen and saliva were seized from the defendants home. Scatology is an obsession with excrement and excretory functions. Admitted into evidence was graphic photographs of a women eating human excrement, a videotape entitled “Fontaner der Lust” which portrays people urinating on each other, a spiked rubber ball device and a rubber ring device. The defendants conviction and sentencing to total term of 60 years. The appellate court was faced with deciding whether the introduction of this graphic and vulgar material was too prejudicial, warranting a reversal of the conviction. Fortunately, the conviction was upheld on appeal.

UNITED STATES: Borawick vs. Shay, 842 F. Supp. 1501 (D.Conn. 1994), 68 F.3rd 597 (2d Cir. 1995), cert. denied 1996 U.S. Lexis 3577 (May 1996). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit deprived the Plaintiff of her right to testify and worse yet, an Daubert evidentiary hearing to determine the admissibility of her testimony. The court determined an evidentiary hearing was unnecessary and characterizes the Plaintiff’s ritual abuse accusations as “inherently incredible”. Stating: “in this case, Borawick has levelled fanciful accusations of sexual abuse. The court characterizes the accusations as ” of an unlikely nature” and “far-fetched”. Plaintiff’s testimony was barred because she previously submitted to therapeutic hypnosis for stress reduction. Sexual, physical and psychological abuse and manipulation as well as the misuse of hypnotic techniques and drugs are all characteristic of ritual abuse and torture. Hypnosis of children and others, coupled with threats and severe physical abuse, fall within the more severe abuse, deemed “ritual abuse”. States which have enacted legislation against ritual child abuse, define the crime to include the forced ingestion of narcotics and hallucinogens used to induce a hypnotic state The more unusual and bizarre the claims, the increased likelihood that the victim will be disbelieved, and the perpetrators know this, enabling a perfect crime.

UNITED STATES – STATE OF WASHINGTON vs. PAUL ROSS INGRAM – Paul R. Ingram, a sheriff’s deputy, confessed in 1988 to sexually abusing two of his daughters in the context of satanic rituals. Ingram pled guilty to six counts of third degree rape and was sentenced to 220 years in prison. In September 1992, the Washington State Supreme Court rejected Ingram’s attempt to withdraw his guilty plea on his claim that he was coerced. When Ingram sought clemency this effort failed when his son came forward to corroborate the accounts of his two sisters.

MISCELLANEOUS CASE CITATIONS – Reported cases of cult and ritualistic activity can be found at Commonwealth v Drew, 489 NE2d 1233 (Mass. 1986); State v Naylor, 474 N.W.2d 314 (Minn. 1991); McCorkle v Johnson, 881 F.2d 993 (11th Cir. 1989)(denying a prisoner the right to conduct rituals involving the drinking of blood); Childs v Duckworth, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)(denying a prisoner the right to conduct rituals with candles and incense in his cell); Howard v United States, 864 F. Supp. 1019 (D. Colo. 1994) (upholding the right of a prisoner to perform religious rituals using candles, incense, a gong, a black robe, and a chalice); Aquino v Stone, 957 F.2d 139 (4th Cir. 1992) (Privacy Act appeal filed by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Aquino, founder of the Temple of Set, a satanist religion, after his discharge from the U.S. Army Reserves following a criminal investigation into charges of child sexual abuse at the Child Development Center at the Presido), also see, Blum, Admissibility and Prejudicial Effect of Evidence, In Criminal Prosecution, of Defendant’s Involvement with Witchcraft, Satanism, or the Like 18 A.L.R. 5th 804 (1995).


For many more case examples subscribe to the SMART newsletter, P.O. Box 1295, Easthampton, MA, USA 01027-1295, e-mail SMARTNEWS@aol.com or log onto website: http://members.aol.com/SMARTNEWS/index2.html

Conviction List: Ritual Child Abuse Copyright 1997 Believe the Children log onto http/www.ra-info.org/resources/ra_cases2.shtml

Ritual abuse case summaries across the world at http://www.alexconstantine.50megs.com/satanism_andritual.html

Persons Against Ritual Abuse-Torture and Other Acts of Nonpolitical Torture – http://www.ritualabusetorture.org

For U.S. data and statistics on child victimizers see: Child Victimizers: Violent Offenders and Their Victims, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics (March 1996, NCJ-153258)


Victim Costs and Consequences a New Look, 1996 Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Dept of Justice NCJ- 155282 February 1996. http://www.ncjrs.org/txtfiles/victcost.txt


On Trauma from domestic violence, to child sexual abuse to political terror –

Judith Herman, M.D. Trauma and Recovery, Basic Books 1992

On Ritual Abuse –

David K. Sakheim & Susan E. Devine, Out of Darkness: Exploring Satanism & Ritual Abuse, Lexington Press 1992.

James Randall Noblitt and Pamela Sue Perskin, Cult and Ritual Abuse, Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America, Prager Publishers 1995 (Second Edition 2002).

The Journal of Psychohistory Cult Related Digital Archive of Articles and Texts is available at

http://www.geocities.com/kidhistory.inclult.htm and includes Why Cults Terrorize and Kill Children, by Lloyd DeMause, Denying Ritual Abuse, by Catherine Gould the Dark Tunnels of McMartin by Dr. Roland Summit, the Report of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women Ritual Abuse Task Force.

On torture

See the two torture related articles at www.kspope.com written by psychologist Kenneth Pope, PhD. Responding to Victims of Torture: Clinical Issues Professional Responsibilities and Useful Resources and Torture. A word of caution, the article entitled Torture does provided descriptions of various types of torture and human cruelty ranging from sensory deprivation to electroshock as has now been widely viewed in the media as a result of the abuses at Abu Grahib, Iraq.

On Memory and Dissociative Amnesia (e.g. repression of traumatic events)

Memory, Trauma Treatment, and the Law, Daniel Brown, Alan W. Scheflin and D. Corydon Hammond, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London, 1998, 786 pages.

Brown, Scheflin and Whitfield, Recovered Memories: The Current Weight of the Evidence in Science and in the Court published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Law, Vol. 26, 1998-9. Back issues of this journal can be ordered for $14.00 by calling (914)-279-0362.The authors, review 68 studies all of which demonstrate that amnesia for child sexual abuse is a consistent finding across all 68 studies.

Website URL with 80 corroborated cases of recovered memories. http://www.brown.edu.Departments/Taubman_Center/Recovermem.Archivex.html

This website includes a description of James Porter’s abuse of over 68 victims spanning a time of 34 years until Frank Fitzpatrick of Rhode Island recovered memories of Porter’s sexual abuse. Fitzpatrick’s repressed memories were corroborated by the continuous memories of numerous other victims.


Clinical Hypnosis and Memory: Guidelines for Clinicians and For Forensic Hypnosis

Commentary on Borawick vs Shay: The Fate of Hypnotically Retrieved Memories, by Alan Scheflin, Esq. in The Cultic Studies Journal Vol. 13 No. 1 (1996) available through the American Family Foundation (AFF)

False Memory and Burdian’s Ass: A Response to Karlin and Orne, by Alan Scheflin, Esq. in The Cultic Studies Journal Vol. 14 No. 2 (1996) available through the American Family Foundation (AFF)