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Ritual Abuse in Australia

December 8, 2021
Ritual Abuse
Fiona Barnett
Commissioner Wood

The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about. – H. Jackson Brown

A tightly organised, mafia-style, hierarchically structured crime syndicate has infiltrated every aspect of Australian society including Parliament, judiciary, church denominations, law enforcement, military, child protection, hospitals, educational facilities and childcare centres.  The network has numerous branches and many thousands of members who profit from various illegal activities including drugs, arms and child sex trafficking.  It is a well oiled, clandestine machine fuelled by public ignorance and distraction.

Detecting members of this system and their tactics is like purchasing a new vehicle.  When you first drive your new VW, for example, you suddenly notice the other beetles on the road.  With time and driving experience you become accustomed to the performance of your model and what to expect from it.

Religious, cult, or ritual abuse (RA) is just one facet of this organisation.  The Australian media has reported on cases of RA, although references are limited and can be difficult to locate.  Reporting of these cases peaked in the mid 1990’s.

Therapy in Turmoil: the Memory Controversy, Sydney Morning Herald (1 February, 1995) by Richard Guilliatt.

In a bizarre modern phenomenon, hundreds of women are dredging up lost memories of childhood abuse involving blood, sex and devil worship.  The accusations are criminal – but investigators have never proved a case of Satanic ritual abuse…

By the late 1980s, this phenomenon had spread to both Europe and Australia, most notably with the “Mr Bubbles” case in Sydney, when staff of the Seabeach Kindergarten in northern Sydney were arrested and accused of occult sexual abuse. Therapists, private investigators and police began telling the media this was a problem of great consequence, and a four-part report on Channel 10 in late 1990 prompted police to form a taskforce…

In Australia, the Mr Bubbles case collapsed from lack of evidence.  Although the principal defendant in the Mr Bubbles case, Anthony Derens, later confessed to fondling adolescent girls earlier in his life, the evidence of occultism amounted to a handful of anti-Satanic books in his home and the fact that children at Seabeach chanted RamSamSam, a common children’s song…

Although Satanic abuse stories are not as common in Australia as in the US, one Sydney rape counsellor estimates from her contact with therapists that about 300 women in NSW are being treated for ritual abuse. That estimate is supported by the Herald’s own calls to “survivor” groups, therapists and sexual assault workers. Phoenix Van Dyke, the organiser of the ritual abuse support group Beyond Survivors, says she has been in contact with more than 200 women who believe they are survivors. The Sydney Rape Crisis Centre has had more than 100 cases in recent years and one major Sydney hospital about 30.

To believe these women, one would have to accept NSW has been permeated by brutal Satanic cults since at least the late `60s, a network of evil which has indulged in murder, prostitution, child pornography and other crimes without leaving evidence…

One middle-ground view of these stories is that satanic abuse “memories”, although not literally true, may be a way for incest victims to symbolically represent the evil done to them. “I believe it is a metaphor,” argues Dr Warwick Middleton, a Brisbane psychiatrist specialising in trauma. “It re-creates in the present a scenario that evokes the helplessness of the past.” But others are beginning to view Satanic ritual abuse as simply a form of mass hysteria sparked by a confluence of events in the early 1980s – growing public alarm about child abuse, the rise of support groups and alternative counselling, the influence of Christian fundamentalism in the US and the popularity of “confessional” TV chat shows such as Oprah, which have given unquestioning coverage to stories of Satanism.

Therapists are now grappling with the vexed question of whether Satanic abuse survivors are mentally ill people suffering delusions, vulnerable people influenced by their therapists or actual incest victims who have wildly distorted their abuse.  If the latter is true, how many of their memories are reliable, and how can a therapist possibly determine what is fact and what is fantasy?  Remarkably, however, this debate appears to be completely bypassing many of the therapists, child abuse workers and sexual assault counsellors who have banded together to combat ritual abuse.  After years of exposure to abuse cases, these counsellors are adamant that there is nothing unbelievable about the vivid detail of the stories they are hearing, and many view the current debate as a “backlash” against their cause.

…Among some survivors and even therapists, the “backlash” and the failure of police investigations are now cited as examples of the diabolical cleverness of Satanic cults, whose influence reputedly extends to the top of our society.  “It’s very deliberately instigated by people who have an enormous amount to lose,” says Janet.  “I think it’s much more than a backlash … it’s actually orchestrated by ritual abuse perpetrators as a way of discrediting survivors.”  

This view has been fuelled by allegations, currently under investigation, that NSW police have been bribed by pedophiles. One therapist claims to have seen infra-red Federal Police photographs of nocturnal forest rituals. A Child Protection Services official talks about covens meeting around Australia on certain days of the year.  Even the official NSW Government booklet on ritual abuse – distributed to hundreds of health workers since 1993 – dismisses the growing body of contrary evidence as an example of society’s collective “denial.”

The ‘investigation’ referred to in the above article was the failed Wood Royal Commission.  That commission was sparked by complaints from politician Diedre Grusovin regarding reports of a VIP Sydney pedophile ring which implicated politicians, Catholic churches, Child Protection Services (DOCS), the Education Department, media moguls, and entertainers.  The commission was to examine allegations of systemic and entrenched corruption within the NSW Police, namely that police were protecting pedophiles, and that some police were actually involved in pedophile activities and ritual abuse.

A Legislative Council document (dated 10th October, 1990, p.8046) records Grusovin’s complaint:


The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: On 12th September Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile asked a question regarding Satanism. The answer is as follows:

(1) Yes

(2) No. The Hon. Deirdre Grusovin alluded to a network of paedophiles and said that established networks, such as Satanists, could also be involved in these practices.

(3) I can assure the House that any allegations of child abuse or Satanism are and will continue to be thoroughly investigated by the New South Wales Police Service.

The Wood Royal Commission was to specifically examine allegations of satanic ritual abuse at Seabeach Kindergarten, otherwise known as the ‘Mr Bubbles’ case.  The subsequent Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service Final Report was published on 1st May, 1997.  Three volumes of this report were devoted to pedophilia inquiries.  Volume Four, Chapter 5 (pages 99 -116) was solely devoted to the subject of RA.  At the end of this chapter, Commissioner Wood concluded:

5.13 From a common sense perspective, while it must be recognised that apparently respectable and successful members of the community do commit child sexual abuse, a quantum leap in credibility is required to suppose that they would do so in the bizarre, ritualistic way described, which includes the infliction of serious, even fatal, injury and mutilation upon their own children.

Wood’s examination of RA amounted to a blatantly biased whitewashing.  The entire contents of Chapter 5 were devoted to discrediting RA victims, parroting critics’ unscientific reasons for why RA does not exist in Australia, excluding the evidence for RA’s existence, and listing alternative possible reasons – none scientifically evidenced – for the epidemic reporting of RA in Australia.

Wood’s given explanations for the multitude of witness testimonies included mental illness, substance abuse history, urban legend, a ‘metaphor’ for incest, lying to get compensation, and exposure to ritual themes in books, film or television.  I particularly like the last one, considering I was constantly taught during six years of psychology training that the media does not influence people’s thinking and behaviour.  Horror movies, violent video games and rock music do not influence people to commit heinous crimes.  But suddenly, TV influences people to believe that heinous crimes have been committed against them.

The fabled ‘False Memory Syndrome’

Commissioner Wood detailed the arguments against the possibility of dissociation and memory loss, and the arguments for the existence of something called ‘false memory syndrome.’  Wood failed to mention where the notion of ‘false memory syndrome’ stemmed from.  False Memory Syndrome is not a recognised psychiatric condition, it does not appear in the DSM.  The term was coined by pedophiles and their supporters.

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation was founded by Peter and Pamela Freyd, step-siblings who married.  The Freyd’s founded the FMFS and coined the term ‘false memory syndrome’ in response to their being accused of sexually abusing their daughter Jennifer Freyd PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon.  Peter Freyd’s brother William wrote:

‘There is no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse in the home of Peter and Pam…The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape.’

Another founding member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation was psychologist Dr Ralph Underwager.  In June 1991, Underwager was interviewed in Amsterdam by Joseph Geraci, Editor-in-Chief of the pro-pedophilia publication, Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia.  During this interview, Underwager was asked, ‘Is choosing pedophilia for you a responsible choice for the individual?’  Underwager responded:

Certainly it is responsible. What I have been struck by as I have come to know more about and understand people who choose paedophilia is that they let themselves be too much defined by other people. That is usually an essentially negative definition. Pedophiles spend a lot of time and energy defending their choice. I don’t think that a pedophile needs to do that. Pedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can say that what they want is to find the best way to love. I am also a theologian and as a theologian, I believe it is God’s will that there be closeness and intimacy, unity of the flesh, between people. A paedophile can say: “This closeness is possible for me within the choices that I’ve made.” Pedophiles are too defensive. They go around saying, “You people out there are saying that what I choose is bad, that it’s no good. You’re putting me in prison, you’re doing all these terrible things to me. I have to define my love as being in some way or other illicit.” What I think is that pedophiles can make the assertion that the pursuit of intimacy and love is what they choose. With boldness, they can say, “I believe this is in fact part of God’s will.” They have the right to make these statements for themselves as personal choices. Now whether or not they can persuade other people they are right is another matter.

The ‘Mr Bubbles’ case

Ralph Underwager gave crucial evidence in Australia’s notorious ‘Mr Bubbles’ case in which children were allegedly subjected to RA while attending Sydney’s Seabeach Kindergarten.  Underwager was interviewed by Australia Channel Nine Network 60 Minutes program titled Witness for Mr Bubbles, which aired on August 5, 1990.  The reporter, Mike Munro, stated:

Six weeks ago (17 June, 1990) we brought you a story that a number of people, including some in high places, wanted to keep secret: the case against Mr Bubbles. In that report, parents named Tony Deren as the man who had sexually assaulted their children. Deren’s wife ran the kindergarten they attended. Tonight we investigate another crucial aspect of this disturbing case. You remember, police listed seventeen young victims, and more than fifty (54) criminal charges were eventually laid. But when the Mr Bubbles case went to court, not one of the children was called to give evidence. The charges were thrown out, and Tony Deren was set free.

One of the key Deren witnesses was a hired gun from the United States, a psychologist named Ralph Underwager, who says he’s an expert in child sexual abuse. He testified that the children’s evidence had been contaminated, and they were too young to know what the truth was… This is Ralph Underwager, psychologist. He was paid $25,000, and gave crucial evidence in favour of Tony Deren; evidence which helped Deren walk free… Always the same story: three and four year olds being lured into bubble baths with a man who sexually abused them.

Professor Kim Oates: Having examined them, and talked with them, I’m absolutely convinced the children were sexually abused.

Reporter: There’s absolutely no doubt?

Oates: No doubt at all

Reporter: That’s the evidence Professor Kim Oates wanted to give in court. But he was never asked. As head of the Child Protection Unit at the Camperdown Children’s Hospital in Sydney, he’s known around the world as an expert in detecting child sexual abuse.

Reporter: So we have eighteen children who were examined, five of whom your staff say were definitely sexually abused, and all of them from the same preschool. What’s your reaction to that?

Oates: Well, I think if you look at the incidence of significant child sexual abuse in the community, significant enough to lay physical findings in the preschool age group, I think it’s extraordinary…

Reporter: This is Debbie’s medical report. Once again, it was positive; there was sexual abuse.

Debbie’s mother: I was entirely spun out on that because I, at that point, had been trying to tell myself that, no, this wasn’t happening, it wasn’t true, who would interfere with my child.

Another child (wasn’t identified): I put some things in his body, and he put some things in my body, but I didn’t want him to.

Reporter: Cindy’s medical report confirms she was abused. The doctor found signs consistent with traumatic dilatation of the anus…

Reporter: This is Boroko Court House, Port Moresby, New Guinea. In 1972, Deren was brought here, charged with the aggravated assault of two young girls. He’d interfered with them in a swimming pool.  Something Deren admits.  And both charges were proven….

Reporter: There’s no doubt scores of questions remain unanswered in the Mr Bubbles case, and some of them relate to Ralph Underwager, the expert witness Tony Deren paid to testify on his behalf. Ralph Underwager was imperative to Tony Deren’s defense. As a supposed independent expert, he testified that the evidence of the Bubbles children had become contaminated. And, they were too young to understand their duty to tell the truth. But, here in America, we’ve certainly discovered Underwager’s reputation and credentials aren’t all they’re cracked up to be….

Dr Anna Salter: Well, he is someone who makes his living going around the country and testifying against children in child sexual abuse cases. He says the same thing in essentially every case. Which is every . . .

Reporter: And Anna Salter knows what she’s talking about. A PhD from Harvard, and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood. She says young children can be believed.

Anna Salter: This is consistent with the literature. If you look at what is the best legal textbook in the country today on children as witnesses, “Child Witness: Theory and Practice”, Malcolm Meyers says clearly children as young as three can comprehend the duty to tell the truth.

Reporter: And this man is a highly respected legal scholar in America?

Anna Salter: I think he’s fairly clearly the chief leading scholar on child sexual abuse in the country.

Reporter: Six American states have given Dr Salter a grant to check Underwager’s methods in court. And what did she find?

Anna Salter: That he isn’t accurate. That what he says in court does not necessarily fairly represent the literature.

Reporter: He distorts the facts?

Anna Salter: Uh, frequently. Sometimes he quotes specific studies, and he’s frequently wrong about what the studies say.

Reporter: So we thought we’d get Dr Salter to analyse the evidence Underwager gave under oath at the Mr Bubbles hearing, where he testified his qualifications had never been questioned. But in an American case, the Swann case, this is what the courts said about Mr. Underwager.

Anna Salter: The court remains convinced the psychologist did not have the qualifications to testify as a doctor. The trial court ruled that the psychologist’s proposed testimony was not proper because there was no indication that the results of the doctor’s work had been accepted in the scientific community.

Reporter: In the Mr Bubbles case, he said his qualifications were never in question…

Now, the second incident, in the Mr Bubbles case, was where Underwager said that 90 percent of accusations against child molesters are wrong. Now, is that backed up scientifically?

Anna Salter: No, that’s gobbledegook. I don’t know of any study that would support that…

Reporter: Ralph Underwager was hired to defend Polly’s father. And as usual, he testified that nothing had happened. It was all a delusion, and Polly had simply made the whole story up. But then, Underwager was cross-examined by Polly’s lawyer, Eric Vaughan.

Vaughan: He used the theory that it was a delusion of the child that she was doing a favor for the mother by saying this happened when it really didn’t happen, to gain the favor and to be the apple of the eye of the mother.

Reporter: A delusion that she was continually raped over four days.

Vaughan: That’s right….

Reporter: The jury took only an hour to decide Polly Barnes was telling the truth. And that Ralph Underwager’s testimony that nothing had happened, could be ignored. In fact, Underwager’s evidence was rejected so much, the jury awarded Polly three and a quarter million dollars… So while Underwager was being rejected here in America, he had no such trouble at the Mr. Bubbles hearing in Australia where he testified that the children were too young to tell the truth…Ralph Underwager has testified for the defendants in about four hundred child abuse cases.

Commissioner Wood’s report failed to mention anything like the above transcript in support of victims’ testimonies.  Wood’s report did include transcript excerpts from a random case in which the interviewer demonstrated questionable interviewing skills.  Wood generalised the obvious flaws in this single example to all other RA cases reported to the Wood Royal Commission.

During a 1997 parliamentary hearing, Senator Fred Nile addressed the Mr Bubbles case and the Wood Royal Commission’s mishandling of it as follows:

The Hon F Nile: I seek the indulgence of the Attorney General. I wish to ask him a question without notice. Why did the children who attended the Seabeach Kindergarten, of the Mr Bubbles case notoriety, receive more than $500,000 compensation? How is it possible that the Government of New South Wales, through the Victims Compensation Fund, is able to pay compensation to the children who were at the Seabeach Kindergarten even though the Wood Royal Commission refused to make any findings about the case and the Director of Public Prosecutions was unable to successfully prosecute the perpetrators of the alleged assaults?

The Hon J Shaw: I am aware – I believe it to be the fact – that compensation has been paid to some children involved in that case by decision of the Victims Compensation Tribunal. That tribunal ordinarily is constituted by a magistrate, and he or she determines compensation in accordance with the statute governing that tribunal. It is not necessary, in order to obtain compensation, that any conviction has been entered by another court. In other words, it is not relevant that the person who is said to have perpetrated the crime has not been caught by the police or has not been convicted by a court. One can obtain compensation without those things happening.

I assume that the tribunal was persuaded by the evidence before it that offences had occurred and that the applicants were entitled to compensation. The task of the royal commissioner was entirely different. He was asked, as part of his terms of reference, to examine that case and to make various determinations about it. He formed the view that it was not possible, given the passage of time and the fact that the evidence had been tainted, and the like – I am roughly paraphrasing the royal commission’s report – to form conclusive views about a number of aspects of that case. I do not see any logical inconsistency between that conclusion by the royal commissioner and the fact that presumably some years ago a magistrate constituting the Victims Compensation Tribunal was persuaded that there was a case for compensation.

Pro-pedophilia Elizabeth Loftus

Elizabeth Loftus is an American psychologist, a serial expert witness for defendants in cases of child abuse and RA and a prominent member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.  Commissioner Wood’s report referenced Loftus’ 1994 book, The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse, to support the views that (a) false memories of RA can be artificially created as a result of third person suggestion and (b) a victim of RA cannot experience dissociation and repression of traumatic memories.  Loftus’ 1994 book was not a scientifically conducted, peer reviewed research publication.  It was just a book.

At the time of her 1994 book release, Loftus had published one significant lab experiment: Loftus, E. & Palmer, J. (1974). Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 13, 585–589.  This study looked at university students’ memory for films of car accidents.

At the time of the publication of Wood’s Final Report in May 1997, Elizabeth Loftus had published a second lab experiment: Garry, M., Manning, C. & Loftus, E. (1996). Imagination Inflation: Imagining a Childhood Event Inflates Confidence that it Occurred. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 3(2), 208-214. This study examined ‘whether imagining events from one’s past can affect memory for childhood events.’  A total of 38 undergraduate psychology students participated in the study for course credit.  Loftus asked the students toimagine described events such as tripping over, or falling through a window.

Loftus’ research projects employed small numbers of participants, the majority of whom were young female university students studying the same course.  The characteristics of Loftus’ samples made it inappropriate for her to generalise findings about this sample to the population at large.  However, conclusions were drawn from these samples about the reliability of child abuse memories, and the possibility that a parent or therapist can create false memories of child abuse in a person who has experienced trauma of the most severe kind.  To extrapolate the results of Loftus’ lab experiments in this way, equates a victim of crime’s experience of systematic torture and rape, with a psychology student’s experience of watching a car crash film or imagining injuring themselves.

Indeed, Loftus’ conclusions failed to hold up under cross examination, as a Washington Post article entitled,In the Sharon Case, a Grilling to Remember (October 27, 2006) explained:

But when Fitzgerald got his chance to cross-examine Loftus about her findings, he had her stuttering to explain her own writings and back pedalling from her earlier assertions. Citing several of her publications, footnotes and the work of her peers, Fitzgerald got Loftus to acknowledge that the methodology she had used at times in her long academic career was not that scientific, that her conclusions about memory were conflicting, and that she had exaggerated a figure and a statement from her survey of D.C. jurors that favoured the defence.

Commissioner Wood’s whitewash

In his Final Report, Commissioner Wood indicated that RA does not exist from a law enforcement perspective because:

  • rarely, if ever, are bodies of the ‘victims’ or their graves found, nor do neighbours, friends or relatives report children missing in the numbers required to account for the allegations;
  • there is rarely, if ever, any evidence of the kind which can be confirmed by modern forensic technology;
  • signs of physical injury in the form of scarring, burns and the like, are not found upon medical examination of ‘victims’ who report torture of the most extreme and prolonged kind; more often than not the medical examination fails to confirm the abuse as alleged;
  • in cases of criminal conspiracy, inter-group jealousies or disputes inevitably develop and throw up an informant. In cases of RA, this rarely if ever occurs. Similarly a co-conspirator who is otherwise in trouble, and prepared to supply information in return for an immunity or assistance in sentencing, rarely emerges;
  • again, contrary to experience with child sexual abuse generally, most of the offenders are reported to be females;
  • although many ‘victims’ claim that photographs are taken and videotapes made of the activity, visual records of the kind are rarely found, nor does the large amount of child pornography in circulation portray the bizarre and ritualistic activities described; and
  • so many people tell the same story, and allege the involvement of so many others in the events that it is difficult to see how there could not be independent evidence, or knowledge of it on the part of persons outside the alleged rings.

The notion that an informant would voluntarily step forward is the most ridiculous point on this list.  As with the mafia, paedophile ring membership is a life long commitment.  Like the famous Hotel Californiasong says, ‘You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.’  In theory, the only exit from paedophile ring membership is death.

At six years of age, deep in the national park, I witnessed the fate of a ‘traitor’ who tried to leave the paedophile ring.  Each of the man’s four limbs was tied to a different vehicle.  The four vehicles then accelerated in opposite directions.  I certainly wasn’t keen to talk after being made to watch that.

As for victims’ bodies – what bodies?  Bodies are disposed of via a variety of means: fed to dogs, burnt in factory furnaces, dissolved in acid… I’m sure you can think of a few other ways of disposing of dead bodies.

As for missing persons reports – who is going to report a person who doesn’t exist?  Children are bred for the sole purpose of being sex trafficked; they are raised in secret, their births unregistered.

As for evidence of these crimes – it is quite easy for pedophile ring members in positions of authority to fabricate circumstances surrounding victims’ deaths.  Doctors and police falsify death certificates and police reports.

When examining ritual abuse from a law enforcement perspective, perhaps the following 1991 case may have been relevant to Commissioner Wood’s report:

Child Sex Abuse Linked With Satanism: Police, Sydney Morning Herald (13 March, 1991) by David Humphries

PERTH: Perth police say they have proved a link between organised child sex abuse and devil worship, following the conviction on Monday of a young man on 22 charges of indecent assault and dealing and of evil intent. The head of WA’s child sex abuse unit, Detective-Sergeant Roger Smart, said the conviction of Scott Brian Gozenton demonstrated the link. Satanic practices “and the associated abuse perpetrated on children is prevalent in the United States and Britain and no-one can now doubt that the link can be made here,” Sergeant Smart said.

Gozenton, 20, pleaded guilty to all charges and was remanded until April 5 for sentencing after the District Court was told that 13 witchcraft covens operated in Perth. Judge Kennedy was told that Gozenton had been a victim of sex abuse as an eight year-old and had been recruited as a teenager into a satanic cult where adults practised bizarre sex with each other, their own children and teenage recruits. The more bizarre and perverse the orgies, the closer cult members felt to the Devil, Gozenton’s barrister, Mr Mark Trowell, said. “The real villains are those individuals who visited their perversity on this young man,” Mr Trowell said. Gozenton was a tragic result of sexual abuse perpetrated by a school caretaker against himself and six other boys for three years. Shame prevented him from revealing his “terrible secret” and he became introverted, rebellious and distant from his parents. “At the age of 14, he was approached by a school chum about a new family where rebellion was encouraged and someone like this young man could get a sense of belonging,” Mr Trowell said. He said the coven was attended by about 20 adults of both sexes, their young children and the teenage recruits. Rituals were both homosexual and heterosexual, he said.

His client had recognised cult members at earlier hearings but had refused to identify them for fear of reprisals, Mr Trowell said. “These evil people kept this young man under their spell and direction for four years while these offences against him were committed. He…was instructed to establish a junior coven for the purpose of recruiting junior members from school and the Scout group with which he was associated.”

Mr Trowell said the initiation rituals mostly involved touching of genitals and, apart from three charges of oral sex were “not unduly perverse”. The evil design charges related to attempts to recruit others into the cult, where Gozenton had the code name of Death. He said Gozenton had been seeking to extricate himself from the satanists, established a stable relationship with a woman and improved relations with his parents and did not deserve a jail sentence.

Mr Chris Drew, for the Crown, said the charges against Gozenton were “extremely serious” and that jail was the only option available.

Then there was the Australian 60 Minutes episode that aired in the late 80’s called, The Devil Made Me Do It.  This followed one year after the episode entitled Satan’s Children in which a 15-year-old English girl named Teresa detailed her experience of RA.  Both episodes were presented by reporter Ian Leslie.  The Devil Made Me Do It involved a discussion panel including Senator Fred Nile plus two former pedophile ring members – a young man from Sydney and a young woman from Adelaide.  The Adelaide woman was at the time under police investigation for her involvement in criminal activities including human sacrifice which, she said, occurred at Adelaide University.

Yet Commissioner Wood did not mention these cases in his report.

As for Wood’s reference to an alleged lack of videotape and other evidence, consider what has happened to video evidence.  In 2005, Victorian psychologist Dr. Reina Michaelson viewed video footage of men in Victorian police uniform sexually abusing preschool children at a Mornington Peninsula childcare centre.  The video evidence disappeared in police custody.

Other public allegations of pedophile rings and RA persisted following Wood’s failed Royal Commission.  On the 29th May, 1998, at 3.45 pm, Senator Bill Heffernan stated in the Australian House of Parliament:

Recently I made a speech in which I highlighted the code of silence which protects worldwide child sex networks, in particular, Australian pedophile networks. These networks include people in the judiciary, parliament, clergy and the Public Service. Many of these people live in an abhorrent culture in which is included, as a spoils of office, the right to have sex with children.

These people put themselves at continual risk of serious compromise in their work places as perpetrators, as too do those people who knowingly ignore or turn a blind eye to this ultimate betrayal of our children.  Honourable senators should be concerned at recent developments involving the Criminal Justice Commission, the body set up to investigate official corruption in State after the Fitzgerald inquiry. One of the senior members of this body, Mr Bob Hailstone, a former priest and manager of the ABC in Brisbane, and director of the corruption prevention division of the CJC, has left the CJC in what could only be called exceptional circumstances.

In November last year a State police pedophilia task force raided Hailstone’s house at 31 Dudley Street, Bardon and took possession of a great deal of obscene material. Last week Eric Goh, a man who lives with Hailstone at 31 Dudley Street, appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on charges of possessing for sale indecent or obscene material.  These charges raise serious issues of concern. I have in my possession a letter which I will now read into the public record, and which records disturbing incidents alleged to have occurred at Mr Hailstone’s house. The letter was written by a man, Mr Phillip Wood, shortly before he died. Hailstone recently resigned from the CJC rather than face disciplinary charges including association with an inappropriate person. It seems to me that the whole period of Hailstone’s service with the CJC should be examined, particularly as this body has failed in the past to investigate pedophilia allegations. The letter written to a Brisbane solicitor reads as follows:

Dear Malcolm,

This is my account of the incident on 30th June 1996. On 30th June 1996 I attended a luncheon party at the home of Mr Robert Hailstone, 31 Dudley Street, Rainworth. In attendance were a total of fourteen persons, including Mr. Robert Hailstone – it then mentions a second and third person – the others I either didn’t know or can’t remember their names. During the course of the luncheon, some of the guests and the host were talking about having sex with young Asian boys, especially during their holidays in Thailand. This conversation was somewhat disturbing to me as I regard pederasty as anathema but I said nothing. Later on the conversation was about the church and their involvement in it, some of the group having been to church that day.

This triggered a hostile reaction in me and I asked them how they could be involved in an institution that so vocally condemns homosexuality. This prompted an outburst of abuse by one of their number to me, with me responding by calling them a bunch of churchgoing pedophiles and saying that they should be outed (meaning to publicly expose them).

I then left the house. As I was reversing out of the driveway (there were a number of cars parked there) I clipped the wing mirror of one of the cars. This bought the lot of them out onto the driveway, shouting abuse and kicking the driver’s side of my car breaking the driver’s side window. I was bleeding from the broken glass and being physically attacked by a number of persons. In an attempt to escape I reversed into a tree and drove into the side of a car parked in the driveway. In the melee that followed one of their number managed to turn off the ignition of my car and remove the key. I was than left alone in my car whilst they huddled together a few metres away. I used a spare key and drove out of the driveway. I was covered in glass and blood and very shaken up but I drove to my home in Victoria Point without incident. I had arrived at the luncheon at approx. 12:15 pm and arrived at my home at 3:30 pm.

Mr Robert Hailstone, who is a director of the CJC had stated to me on a couple of occasions that he could have anyone in Queensland arrested on a trumped up drug charge. With this in mind l was afraid to report the incident to the police. l paid for the repairs to the side of my car ($920.00) and made two separate claims to the NRMA insurance company for the damage to the front ($2785.18) and rear ($870.89) of my car. I hope that this account is comprehensive enough.

Yours sincerely,

Phillip J. Wood

Madam President, this letter was dated 8 November, 1996. Mr Wood was found dead in his home on 10 November, 1996.

The Wood Royal Commission was subsequently deemed a failure by government officials.  For example, in May 2002, the Australian Parliament’s House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs conducted an inquiry into crime in the community.  The subsequent report was published in August 2004.  An excerpt from Volume Two of their report reads:

Almost immediately, the Committee received substantial submissions covering all aspects of the Inquiry. From New South Wales came very serious allegations of corruption in New South Wales policing, including allegations of protection of pedophiles, ‘doctoring’ of police statistics, corruption of the newly introduced promotions system for duty officers, the failure of the Wood Royal Commission and the systemic failure of bodies set up to investigate such issues. Instead of being applauded for seeking remedies, the whistle-blowers received punitive treatment…

The Committee received shocking evidence of physical, sexual and psychological abuse of residents at a respite and rehabilitation care facility operated by Care Independent Living Association Inc (CILA) at Bribie Island in Queensland, and overseen by the Queensland Government.

My cousin Robert has Downs Syndrome and he attended the very same Bribie Island facility over 20 years ago.  Robert refused to attend that facility after he complained to his parents he witnessed disabled children being filmed while being sexually abused in the showers.  Many people knew about the Bribie Island pedophile ring activities many years before it became public knowledge but efforts to expose such back then resulted in threats of defamation lawsuits.

Following the Standing Committee’s report, allegations of VIP pedophile rings continued to surface.  On 1stApril 2005, South Australian Parliamentary Speaker of the House, Peter Lewis, stated:

There are a large number, but not a high percentage, of people in high places and positions of trust who take it for granted that they can indulge their sexual appetites for children of both sexes so long as they arrange to cover it up and get away with it… It’s a national problem and MPs involved seem to know each other.

On 4th April 2005, Peter Lewis resigned his position as Speaker of the South Australian Parliament.  He resigned amidst allegations that certain ministers and journalists thwarted his attempts to expose high-end pedophilia rings by reducing his concerns about pedophilia to ‘homophobia.’  During his parting speech he stated:

I…was quietly, and as quickly as possible, bringing some of the people who had made the allegations to the point where they might pluck up enough courage and confidence and swear the truth of those allegations, enabling them to be more carefully investigated. But they were being ‘bumped off’- that is, murdered and viciously assaulted – quicker than I or the people who were helping me could get them to write down their allegations and then swear that what they were saying was true…

The most outrageous thing of all…is…what appears to be the related and organised activities of those pedophiles in high public office – that is, the judiciary, the senior ranks of human services portfolios, some police and MPs, across the nation, especially within the ranks of the Labor Party.

Yet you only have to recall in recent years the investigations, charges and successful convictions against such people as Darcy, Liddy, Wright, Wells, a former senator and other current and past MPs in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to understand my concern. They have not acted alone or in isolation, it seems to me…

It is not surprising that we find [Pedophiles] in the jobs and roles of leadership.

Peter Lewis is not the only casualty in the war against Australian pedophile rings.  Consider Reina Michaelson, PhD psychologist, 2005 Young Australian of the Year (Community Service).  In 2004, Dr Michaelson called for a Royal Commission into allegations of a Victorian paedophile ring involving the education department, police, child protection services, a day care centre, politicians, a television station, and religious organisations.  The following three newspaper articles refer to this case.

Police files on sex abuse ‘vanished’ The Age (April 19, 2004) by Gary Hughes

Police files on a suspect in claimed sexual abuse by men dressed as police are said to have “disappeared.” A deputy principal who reported a student’s claim of the abuse says detectives later told him that Victoria Police computer files on one of the alleged pedophiles were tampered with. He was also told his initial report to the Department of Human Services under the mandatory reporting system disappeared.

The 13-year-old boy told staff at the school he had been repeatedly sexually abused by a number of men on the Mornington Peninsula. He said some of the men wore police uniforms and warned him that they would know if he reported the abuse because they were policemen. The boy had also been used to produce child pornography later published overseas.

The deputy principal said it was clear from a detailed 12-page statement made by the boy that the abuse was conducted by an organised and “well-connected” paedophile ring.

No charges were laid because police said the boy had been “too well groomed” by the paedophiles and it was doubtful he would testify in court.

The deputy principal contacted The Age after it revealed this month that the Ombudsman was investigating the alleged mishandling of a number of child sexual abuse cases by Victoria Police. The Age advised him to contact the Ombudsman, which he has since done.

One case being reviewed by the Ombudsman involves children at a child-care centre in Mornington. Investigators have been told that a house where the alleged abuse took place possibly belonged to a policeman and that a videotape existed of children from the centre being abused by men dressed as police.

The deputy principal from the college in Melbourne’s outer east has asked that neither he nor the college be named to protect the identity of the abused boy. The deputy principal, who has since become principal of another school, lodged an initial report with what was then Community Services Victoria in July 1995. He telephoned about two weeks later and was told the report was being investigated. The deputy principal said it was clear from a statement made by the boy that the abuse was conducted by an organised paedophile ring.

After the boy made more detailed disclosures and began displaying disturbing behaviour, the school lodged a second mandatory report in December 1995 through the Education Department’s regional office. The complaint was taken “very seriously” and police were called. The deputy principal said police told him there was no record of the original report to community services or his follow-up phone call. A senior child protection manager told him it was not the first time reports had disappeared.

Detectives from a community policing unit said the main alleged offender in the ring was well known to police, the deputy principal said. But the police said a previous case against him had been abandoned after information on police files had disappeared. “I started to pinch myself and think is this real or not? It seemed quite bizarre and I was very frustrated…” he said.

After police dropped the investigation in 1996 the boy “totally clammed up” and staff at the school did not know whether the abuse continued. A Victoria Police spokesman said the original allegation had been investigated, including a search of the main suspect’s home that found no incriminating evidence. The boy involved had refused to repeat to police the disclosures he had earlier made to school staff. The spokesman said he was not aware that files had disappeared.

MPs and police ‘in child sex network’ The Australian (9 July 2004) by Gosia Kaszubska

A SOPHISTICATED pedophile network involving former politicians and police has been operating in Victoria since the 70s, anti-child-abuse campaigners claimed yesterday. Reina Michaelson, head of the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program, and Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said victims had told them of an organised child pornography and prostitution network with links to former MPs and senior police officers.

The claims a paedophile ring was operating under the protection of police came after the Victorian Ombudsman released a damning report on the conduct of four child sex abuse investigations, leading to a review of the operations of the sexual crimes squad. Two experienced members of the squad will be investigated over their role in the abuse cases, which are being reopened.

The inquiry found the officers failed to adequately examine several child abuse allegations and concluded they may have lied under oath to investigators from the Ombudsman’s office. The Ombudsman found officers from the squad told the Education Department a teacher had been cleared of abuse allegations, despite conducting no investigation into the claims.

In a separate case, a senior detective blamed a 12-year-old girl for encouraging a man who had allegedly abused her and another officer described the victim as “a little slut”.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry followed complaints from Dr Michaelson, who gave a dossier of child abuse cases she claimed had been mishandled to police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon in late 2001.

Dr Michaelson, supported by Ms Johnston, called for the Ombudsman’s confidential report to be made public, and demanded a royal commission into child sexual abuse and police corruption. “When problems within Victoria Police are shown to have extended into the investigation of serious sex crimes against children, as has been revealed by the Ombudsman’s investigation, it is time for the Victorian Government to act,” she said. Dr Michaelson, a psychologist, said she was working with victims who had witnessed police protection of paedophile rings and had allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of officers.

Ms Johnston said she had met many of the victims, who independently named “high-profile individuals” as members of the organised pedophile network, including “former elected officials”.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Simon Overland said he would meet Dr Michaelson to discuss her claims. “I am aware allegations have been made in the past about police being responsible for sexual abuse, and obviously if these allegations are made they will be investigated … I don’t care who the perpetrator is, I don’t care if it’s a police officer,” Mr Overland said.

A spokesman for the Bracks Government said anyone with concerns about the conduct of any investigation was “encouraged to refer that matter to the Ombudsman”. Deputy Ombudsman Bob Seamer said the report could not be made public or tabled in parliament because it might identify victims of abuse.

Cult fights claims of child sacrifice The Age (November 22, 2006) by Barney Zwarts

An anti-child-sex campaigner accused an occult religious group of hosting parties at which naked children acted as waiters and at which members had sex with and murdered children, a tribunal was told yesterday.  The obscure group Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) claims Dr Reina Michaelson and the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program described it in a website article as a satanic cult that sacrificed children and ate their organs and blood.  It has complained under Victoria’s religious hatred law that Dr Michaelson and her organisation vilified OTO members, causing revulsion, ridicule, hatred and contempt.

According to OTO’s statement of complaint, Dr Michaelson said it was not a religion but a child pornography and pedophile ring, that its members practised trauma-based mind control, sexual abuse and satanic rituals to discourage its victims from complaining to the authorities, and that it condoned kidnapping street children and babies and children from orphanages for sex and sacrifice in religious rituals.

The case began at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal yesterday, but was adjourned to today to allow a last-ditch attempt to settle out of court.  The article, still accessible on a website run from NSW, suggests senior politicians and television celebrities are part of a top-level paedophile ring and have been protected by some police.  It says some members of the ring pretended to support Dr Michaelson’s campaign and became board members of her group to subvert it from within.

Adam Paszkowski, for Dr Michaelson, who was named Young Australian of the Year in 1997 for founding the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program, said the article was published on the website “without her knowledge or consent or authority.”  Dr Michaelson last year called for a royal commission to investigate her claims that Victoria Police did not properly investigate paedophile ring allegations.  Earlier complaints led to a report by the police ombudsman in 2004 that was highly critical of two senior detectives.

OTO members follow a religion known as Thelema, founded by occultist Aleister Crowley.

As a consequence of Dr Michaelson’s attempts to expose an alleged pedophile ring, she was court-ordered to publish a disclaimer in favour of the OTO, the Ombudsman’s investigation findings were never published, Dr Michaelson and her family were physically threatened to the point where they were forced to relocate three states away, the alleged pedophile network was never investigated, the alleged perpetrators were never charged, and the alleged victims remained at risk.

In 2005, the OTO began a defamation case against the website that published the article which accused them of perpetrating RA in Victoria.  The website ( typically covered topics including environmental issues and government corruption.  The Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal found in favour of the OTO and ordered the website founders, Dyson Devine and Vivienne Legg, to remove the offending material.  The couple did not comply with this order and in 2008 they were sentenced to nine months prison.

The following year, the Catholic Church’s Melbourne diocese acknowledged as ‘substantially true’ allegations that a priest took part in RA in which a number of deaths occurred in the 1960’s, and they paid compensation to a surviving victim.  One original article, Church pays victim of sex and death rituals: Priest’s satanic life, (26 May, 2006) by Gary Hughes was, like most articles concerning RA, removed.  The following articles were located:

Priest Did ‘Ritual Killing’ The Courier Mail (May 26, 2006) by Gary Hughes

A CATHOLIC priest took part in satanic murders and rituals that included child sexual abuse. The Catholic Church’s Melbourne Archdiocese has accepted claims about the rituals as “substantially true” and paid $33,000 compensation to a man who was a victim of the rituals as a child. The archdiocese’s independent sexual abuse investigator, barrister Peter O’Callaghan, QC, described the details of the ritualised murders and sexual abuse provided by the victim as “extraordinary”. “…but I have no reason or justification for doubting his credibility,” Mr O’Callaghan said in a letter to the victim’s lawyers in 2000.

Earlier during a formal interview with the victim, Mr O’Callaghan said he was satisfied the man was telling the truth.”I see no reason why I shouldn’t accept what you say,” he said. “Amazing as it is, I accept it.”

The Melbourne Archdioceses Vicar General, Monsignor Les Tomlinson, said that Mr O’Callaghan told Victorian police about the allegations when he first learned of them in 1999. He was told that the victim had already notified police that he had been sexually abused and was a witness to murder.

The police advised that inquiries had been made with the homicide squad and their missing persons records and intelligence were unable to confirm the allegations and that there was no current investigation into the matter, Monsignor Tomlinson said.

In a sworn statement given to the archdiocese, the victim said he was first abused by the priest in Melbourne in the early 1960s, when he was serving as an altar boy at the Sacred Heart Church in Sandringham. The priest has since died. In his statement the 56-year-old victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave details of at least three deaths – a young woman, a young man and a child – that occurred during satanic rituals over a number of years. Two victims had their throats cut and a third was killed with an axe. Animals were also killed during the ceremonies. “I have some gruesome memories of killings,” the victim said. “I still feel totally overwhelmed and blown away when I recall these incidents. All these memories are extremely traumatic.”

Monsignor Tomlinson said he was not aware of any similar allegations having been made to the Melbourne archdiocese.

The independent compensation panel made a $33,000 ex-gratia payment to the victim in 2001 after his claims had been investigated by Mr O’Callaghan. The archdiocese is paying for counselling for the man, who has been diagnosed as suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

‘Extraordinary’ claims true: Catholic Church, (May 26, 2006, 12:02) by Gary Hughes

The most extraordinary thing about today’s allegations of murders during satanic rituals involving a Melbourne priest is not that they’ve been made, but that the Catholic Church admitted in writing that it accepted they were substantially true. Indeed “extraordinary” was the word used by the Melbourne Archdiocese’s experienced sexual abuse investigator Peter O’Callaghan QC to describe the allegations when they were put to him in 2000.

Documents on the case obtained by Gotcha show that Mr O’Callaghan, who has overseen claims for compensation by more than 200 victims of sexual abuse by Melbourne Catholic priests, accepted that the man making the allegations was telling the truth. (You can read today’s news story on the revelations here).

“I see no reason why I shouldn’t accept what you say,” Mr Callaghan told the victim during a formal interview on October 9, 2000. “Amazing as it is, I accept it.”

And two days later in a letter to the victim’s lawyer offering compensation, Mr O’Callaghan said: “I confirm that the events which (the victim) describes are extraordinary, but I have no reason or justification for doubting his credibility.”

Mr O’Callaghan also acknowledged that what the victim told the Archdiocese was similar to what he had told his psychiatrist and that the psychiatrist “accepts what (he) has described was the fact”.

The statement provided to the Archdiocese by the victim, who wants to remain anonymous, makes chilling reading.

He details how the Catholic priest, who has since died, first began abusing him at the age of 11 in 1961 when he was serving as an altar boy at the Sacred Heart Church in the bayside suburb of Sandringham and attending a Catholic school, where the priest was chaplain. The priest got the victim alone in a room on the pretext of giving his a sex education lesson and sexually abused him.

Later the priest would sexually abuse the boy in his car and at the Sacred Heart Church’s presbytery, where the victim was lured on the promise of playing with toy soldiers.

But it’s the accounts of satanic rituals and the victim’s eyewitness reports of murders that are harrowing.

In the statement he details at least three murders – a young girl, a youth and a young child. He says the victims were mostly drugged and appeared to be in a daze before having their throats cut or being hacked with an axe.

He says he was forced to take part in the rituals and was sexually abused during them by the priest and others involved in the ceremonies.

While claims of satanic rituals and ritualised sexual abuse by victims are nothing new, what makes these allegations different is the Melbourne Archdiocese’s acceptance of the claims as being true. To our knowledge, it is the first time the Catholic Church in Melbourne has done that in writing.

Some of the rituals, which occurred over a three year period, took place in an old house owned by the Catholic Church in Sandringham. The house was later demolished and a new Sacred Heart Church built on the site.

“It would have been impossible to sprinkle enough Holy Water on that site to purify it before building a new church on it,” the victim told Gotcha.

Other rituals took place at other locations around Melbourne. The victim would be driven to and from the locations by the priest. The victim said during one of the final sexual assaults by the priest he was threatened with a carving knife and told he would be killed if he ever talked to anyone about what he had seen or what had been done to him.

The victim first contacted Victoria Police in 1998 and was told details would be passed to the homicide squad. He says he heard nothing more. In his interview with the victim, Mr O’Callaghan confirmed that details contained in the statement “is a series of criminal offences, but it doesn’t appear that anyone has ever been apprehended for those offences, or will be”.  Mr O’Callaghan independently contacted Victoria Police in 1999 over the allegations, but was told that homicide and missing persons records had been checked and there was no ongoing investigation.

The victim finally escaped the priest’s clutches at the age of 14, when he was old enough to start avoiding him.

In accepting the compensation payout, the victim had to agree not to take further legal action against the Archdiocese.

In a letter to the victim dated January 5, 2001, the then head of the Melbourne Archdiocese, Cardinal George Pell, apologised for the “wrong and hurt” he suffered at the hands of the priest.

The victim’s decision to speak out follows the conviction in the United States earlier this month of Catholic priest Gerald Robinson for the ritualistic murder of a nun. He said he believed there were other victims of ritualised abuse in Australia who were too afraid or embarrassed to speak out. Robinson was charged with the murder of the nun 26 years ago after a female victim of child sexual abuse went to authorities with claims that the priest had been involved in satanic rituals.

Here are extracts from the documents on the Melbourne case:

Extract from letter to victims lawyers, October 11, 2000:

“I refer to our conference with Mr (name of victim) and yourself on 9 October 2000 and confirm that I am satisfied that Mr (victim) was a victim of sexual abuse…substantially in the circumstances described by mr (victim) in the statement he made to you in November 1999, and which statement he verified at the conference today.

I confirm that the events which Mr (victim) describes are extraordinary, but I have no reason of justification for doubting his credibility. In that context I note that an experienced psychiatrist…has accepted what Mr (victim) has described was the fact.

I accordingly enclose herewith an application for compensation which I invite you to have your client complete and return to me.

Yours sincerely

Peter O’Callaghan

Independent Commissioner

Extract from transcript of conference between the victim, his lawyer and Independent Commissioner Peter O’Callaghan, October 9, 2000:

O’Callaghan: …I have read a statement that you made…could you just look at that please. I don’t want you necessarily to read through it, but do you remember making that statement?

Victim: Yes, this was written up from material and it’s correct.

O’Callaghan: Yes, so the contents of that statement are true and correct.

Victim: Yes.

O’Callaghan: Alright, well now look the…I appreciate what (victim’s lawyer) was saying that the matters are harrowing in your recollection, but what you’ve told Dr (name of psychiatrist), is that also true and correct?

Victim: Yes.

O’Callaghan: And the thing I’ve got to frankly say is yours is an amazing story. But you tell me it’s true.

Victim: Mmm.

O’Callaghan: You saw Detective (inaudible) at one stage, didn’t you?

Victim: I spoke to him twice on the telephone.

O’Callaghan: Yes. And he, when was the last time you spoke to him?

Victim: When?

O’Callaghan: Yes. Approximately.

Victim: Maybe two or three years ago, I imagine.

O’Callaghan: Right, alright well, what you relate is a series of criminal offences, but it doesn’t appear that anyone has been apprehended for those offences, or will be.

Victim: Mmm.

O’Callaghan: Alright, well look the position is that I am an Independent Commissioner and if I am satisfied that a person has been the victim of sexual abuse by a priest of the Archdiocese, then I can refer that person to Care Link, which you know about. I can also refer that person to the compensation panel and make an application for compensation, which I take it that you’re desirous of doing, are you?

Victim: Yes.

O’Callaghan: Well, what that entitles you to is an award of compensation up to a limit of $50,000. What I will do is to indicate that I am satisfied that you were the victim of sexual abuse. I see no reason why I shouldn’t accept what you say and it’s certainly supported by what you told Dr (name of psychiatrist) and indeed what you’ve told a number of people over many years. Amazing as it is, I accept it. And if on that basis, what I will do is I’ll send out…an application for compensation and you can fill that in…”

Melbourne Archdiocese response to

“The Independent Commissioner advises that after he was contacted by (the victim’s solicitor) in 1999, he advised (the solicitor) as follows:

‘Could you advise me whether these matters have been reported to the police and if so what action emanated therefrom. If they have not been reported to the police, then it would seem essential that they are…

‘I accept that you have forwarded this letter to me in my role as Independent Commissioner and on the premise (at least implied) that I will treat this matter in confidence. I confirm that this is certainly the position at this point in time, but I would certainly be urging your client to report the matter to the police…or alternatively I would ask his permission to myself report the matter to police.’

(The victim’s solicitor) subsequently advised that the matter had been reported to the police and authorised the Commissioner to contact the police.

The Independent Commissioner then contacted the police, who advised (the victim) had in 1998 advised the police that he was the victim of sexual assault and was a witness to murder. The police advised that enquiries had been made with the homicide squad and their missing persons records and intelligence was unable to confirm the allegations, and that there was no current investigation into the matter.

Accordingly the Independent Commissioner proceeded to deal with (the victim’s) application for compensation.”

Ritual abuse victim responds to critics,, (May 29, 2006, 12:02) by Gary Hughes

On Friday we revealed that the Catholic Church had accepted as substantially true revelations by an abuse victim that a Melbourne priest took part in satanic rituals where murders took place. Some Gotcha commentators were skeptical about the victim’s experiences and questioned how they could be true. Now the victim wants to respond. Here is his side of the story in his own words.

“First of all, thank you to all the commenters for taking the time to read Gary Hughes’ article on my situation and for giving your reactions. A number of issues have been raised and I would like to respond to them in turn. These issues as I see them are:

  • the time I took to bring forth the allegations;
  • the issue of missing persons not triggering police investigations;
  • whether these “memories” are recovered by hypnosis or other means;
  • what evidence can I produce to support these claims;
  • did the Church pay out only for the sexual abuse of that priest or did it include payment for the ritual abuse;
  • what caused the Church to acknowledge my claim;
  • and whether the priest was acting outside his role as a Catholic priest.

To take the last point first, very clearly the priest was acting against the teachings of the Catholic Church…In no way can the Church be seen to be endorsing this abusive and abhorrent behaviour. However, if any organisation wishes, or in the case of the Catholic Church demands, authority over their employees, then it must accept some responsibility for their behaviour, otherwise order disintegrates and corruption ensues. In law, this is covered under “Duty of Care”, I believe.  The Catholic Church has been able to avoid this responsibility in the courts because it does not exist as a legal entity before the law, amazingly. This is doubly ironic when their persistent attitude of having quasi, if not outright, legal jurisdiction over this abuse issue and it’s investigation through their parallel process to the State police and court system is considered.

What caused the Church to accept my claim? An intriguing question, to be sure.  The Vicar General in The Australian newspaper on Saturday said: “Because he was believable and we gave him the benefit of the doubt.” This is a little less than their investigator Peter O’Callaghan QC said at the time. He said that he “had no reason to disbelieve” me and, presumably, that is what he communicated to the Compensation Panel. In the end, I cannot answer for them. I will say that Mr. O’Callaghan and the Church authorities had plenty of warning that I may make the allegations formal. I don’t think that their decision could be characterised as impulsive or “knee-jerk”.

Another intriguing question relating to this is whether or not any follow up investigation was done. This particular priest was known to have associations with other pedophilic priests and it would be reasonable for an investigator to question whether any of these or other priests were involved in the cult. Mr O’Callaghan didn’t ask me any questions along these lines, or any other lines for that matter, then or since.

Did the Church pay out only for the sexual abuse of that priest only or did it include payment for the ritual abuse? On the surface, it would appear to be for abuse including the ritual abuse, according to Mr O’Callaghan’s communications to me. But I would say that it would depend on what Mr O’Callaghan included in his report to the Compensation Panel.  There does appear to some disconnect between the acceptance of my claims of extreme abuse and the decision of the “Compensation Panel” to award 60% of the amount they were authorised to make. (Amnesty international has described Satanic Ritual Abuse as the worst example of human rights abuse there is.) But it may be a moot point anyway because “The Payment” as it is referred to in the signed agreement between myself and the Church is for my release of them from civil action for damages arising from the behaviour of that particular priest (who is unnamed in the Deed Of Release) characterized simply as “The Abuser”.  It was not compensation.  Elsewhere in their communications the payment is referred to as the “ex gratia payment” and in some places as “ex gratia compensation.” Legally there appears to be no responsibility taken for the abuse which would be implied if they described the payment as simply “Compensation”.  So, in the end, strictly speaking they haven’t compensated me for anything save my right to sue them over this priest.

Were these “memories” recovered by hypnosis or other means?  Were they repressed at any stage? It is very difficult to talk meaningfully about “memories” in this context because most people are unfamiliar with the term “abreaction”.  An abreaction (a term coined by Freud) describes a cognitive perception that has got itself jammed in the middle of its electrical/chemical journey through the various brain cortexes on it’s way to becoming what we would normally call a memory – a recollection of something that happened in the past and that is over, and thankfully so, if it was unpleasant.  An abreaction is the replaying of that cognitive sensation as if it is happening now.  Many of the physiological sensations and reactions that happened on the original occasion will manifest again.  So smells can be smelt and pain can be felt.  To give you an unpleasant example, I will sometimes get a sharp pain in my rectum that will lift me out of my seat.  There are physiological markers that can be observed externally such as lowered skin temperature and/or raised heart rate, things that cannot be duplicated through acting.  In other words, an abreaction is an experience, not a memory of an experience.

Another related question is “is it possible to forget something that has such impact?” and if so, “can it be recovered later?”.  This is rather simpler to deal with. You may remember that when Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car accident, her bodyguard was reported to have amnesia of the accident.  There were no howls of “nonsense” (or worse) because we all seem to know someone, or know someone who knows someone, whom has had this very experience in a car accident.  And what’s more, it’s common knowledge that recovery from this amnesia is also quite common though maybe less so.  (For further information on this, I would refer the reader to the Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse report (linked previously by Gary Hughes) and in particular the section on False Memory Syndrome Foundation).

So with that introduction, I can say that I have always had some memories and experienced some abreactions but not enough to put it all together. One of these was an image of cannibalism.  But I had no context for it.  A flood of abreactions occurred directly after the caesarean birth of my third child at which I was present.  The enduring image I have of that time is of baby covered in blood and afterbirth being lifted up.  The child that was killed that is mentioned in the article on Friday was, in fact, an infant.  The birth of my daughter was a massive trigger.  The subsequent abreactions or recalled experiences occurred outside therapy.  There was no hypnosis involved.  I cannot abide it, in any case, as the priest used it on me to induce forgetfulness in me.  

There are other things involved here as well, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or in my case, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is permanent amongst other things, and Dissociation.  If you, the reader, would like to understand this important, and at times, fascinating area, you could Google the above terms to start with and read the ASCA document. A book I could recommend is “Ritual Abuse – What is it” by Margaret Smith, who is a research psychologist and a ritual abuse survivor.

What evidence of these claims can I produce? First and foremost, I am “Exhibit A”, if you like.  I am the smoking gun.  I have permanent physical and neurological injuries.  My conditions are verifiable scientifically and the symptoms cannot be faked convincingly.  My neurological conditions are only produced under extreme and sustained conditions.  To refute my claims, it would at least be necessary to propose a possible alternative explanation for my condition.

The question of missing persons not triggering police investigations. Thousands of people go missing every year without a trace including children. In America a large number of children are reported missing every week. The child in the murders I mention was, as I said, an infant and I doubt very much whether there was any record of it being born. This is a common practice in cults.  I was led to believe that the infant was mothered by one of the cult members, who was also subsequently murdered. I was also led to believe, subsequently, that I was the father, though this was impossible (although I didn’t think so at the time) because I had not reached puberty by then.

There are also lots of ways to dispose of bodies. If you cannot think of any, you are not trying!  Priests also have access to cemeteries and crematoriums.  On reflection, I think you will see it’s not that difficult to avoid suspicion particularly if your association with the victim is clandestine. There is also the question of collusion by the police. Police corruption is a fact of life. No force is exempt from it.  Gary Hughes’ reporting is largely focused on this issue and there seems to be no shortage of stories.

One of the commenters, Dyson Devine, mentioned Dr Reina Michaelson who has fought long and hard against sexual abuse and police corruption.  If you visit her website you will find credible allegations of police involvement in Ritual Abuse at a Mornington kindergarten and it’s cover-up.  Dr Michaelson has published the fact that she has an audio tape of an interview with staff from the Office of Police Integrity where one of the officers says that they are not interested in pursuing an organised pedophile ring even if it is still in operation.  To my my knowledge this is still the case.  

Dyson also mentions Dr Michaelson’s legal battle with a group known as the Ordo Templis Orientis (OTO). If you visit their website and affiliated sites, as Dyson and another commenter, Mary Wilson, said it is quite instructive as to “what is out there” in plain view.

There is also a related problem for Satanic Ritual Abuse survivors in contacting the Victoria Police and that is their badge! It prominently features an upside down five pointed star. This inverted pentagram is only used elsewhere in Satanic symbolism. The upright pentagram is used in Satanism but also by a lot of other organisations and bodies. For instance, the Mormon Church, Secret Societies and the US and the now defunct USSR military amongst many others. But the inverted pentagram is only seen in connection with Satanism and, unfortunately, the Victoria Police.  If it was an innocent mistake by the founders of the Police Force, then it is a particularly unfortunate one. Satanic Ritual Abuse survivors are familiar with the cults including in their number many people who are in authority in civil life and so would find this badge/symbol particularly off-putting. If on the other hand, if it was not a mistake, it could go some distance in explaining the apparent paradox of the reluctance to pursue organised pedophile rings.

And finally, the time I took to bring forth the allegations. Most of this I have already answered, but I will add that 25 years ago, when the perpetrator was still alive, the dots were not sufficiently connected up for me take action.  Plus, think for a moment that if my allegations are outrageous now, how would they have sounded back then? I am disappointed, to say the least, that the perpetrator is now deceased.  He would be in his seventies now.  He died in his sleep when in his early fifties.  As far as I know, there was no autopsy done but perhaps the Vicar General could establish that.

I have spent most of my life just trying to function. Fortunately, I am quite intelligent and have been able to get by, but usually in low paid jobs.  It hasn’t been a lot of fun. Coping with defending these allegations was out of the question.  Even at the time when I came forward a few years ago, I was not up to it, really.  I suffered much distress and dissociation throughout the process.  I entered the formal side of the Churches system because Mr O’Callaghan said it would be difficult for him to continue to fund my therapy if I did not make a formal complaint and so formally enter the process that they had set up after my therapy had begun to be funded by a previous office of the church, which did not require “victims” to be vetted by a lawyer first.

I hope I have addressed the main issues raised. If I haven’t or there are other questions that need to be raised, please feel free to do so in the comments here and I will be happy to respond.

Finally, I would like to especially thank those who have experienced Satanic Ritual Abuse and took the time to comment and to “Ken”, who is a relative and supporter of an abuse survivor who spoke eloquently about the problems that survivors face, such as feeling inhibited about talking about myself. I would also like to thank you, the reader, for reading this far and taking the time to interest and educate yourself in this very unlovely topic.  If everybody were educated to it, I’m sure this abuse of vulnerable adults and children would cease. To that end I urge you to click on the link to the ASCA document and take the further time to read it and read it perhaps more than once.”

James T.

In 2008, over a decade after the Wood Royal Commission ruled that RA did not exist in Australia, the greatest RA scandal in Australia’s history broke into mainstream media.  The following newspaper articles refer to this case:

Chanting, spells and sex orgies at St Stanislaus College, Herald Sun(August 27, 2008) by Gemma Jones

POLICE are investigating claims that up to 40 boys were sexually abused by a pedophile ring of priests and teachers at an exclusive NSW school… A former priest at the school has been charged with 33 counts, a former teacher has already been convicted of several offences and two other teachers are under investigation.

In his first interview, a brave young man who used the internet to expose the abuse revealed the full extent of the horror at the school. He is one of two victims who have told The Daily Telegraph how they were herded into a prayer room by a priest chanting “hypnotic” spells in tongues. Inside the prayer room, the boarders who attended the school in the 1980s said they were subjected to horrendous sexual abuse or forced to assault each other…

A former boarder now aged 35, who cannot be identified because of a court suppression order, started at St Stanislaus in the ’80s because it was the only private school in the area his family could afford. He alleged the abuse began after a priest took him aside for private tutoring about the Catholic Church and God two months after he arrived at the school and the horror turned into a twice-weekly event. “They got a group between eight and 12 of us together and they’d just start chanting and I would wake up during these sessions and see what was going on,” he said. “It was like an orgy.”

The second victim, who declined to give permission to be named, yesterday described the horrific night-time prayer sessions in the staff’s quarters under candle light. “You’d pass out … they spoke in tongues … another element was called laying on hands, that was the basis on which he would engage in physical contact,” the victim said. He said the students were all small in stature and many of them emotionally troubled. “I know of people who have been contacted, they said, ‘Yes, you’re right but I haven’t told my wife what happened to me I’m not going to tell you guys (police),” he said.

Police last night confirmed 13 alleged victims had already come forward.

Abuse at St Stanislaus College ‘involved night orgies’ The Australian(August 28, 2008) by Angus Hohenboken

ORGIES involving up to 60 schoolboys, priests and teachers are among allegations leveled at former staff members of a NSW Catholic boarding school. The Seven Network last night reported claims that nine former teachers and priests from St Stanislaus College in Bathurst, in eastern NSW, had committed sexual abuse on students during “hypnotic” night prayer services in the 1980s.

An alleged victim, whose identity was withheld for legal reasons, said the number of victims involved in the encounters had grown over time. “It started out on a one-on-one basis and then in small groups of between eight and 12, and then on one occasion there was a large group of at least 60.”

St Stanislaus headmaster Malcolm Edwards yesterday said he was served with a search warrant last month that named three former staff. “There were three former staff members who were listed on the search warrant, but only one of them had the word ‘accused’ next to their name,” MrEdwards said. The accused is a 65-year-old former Catholic priest who served at the school and now faces 33 charges relating to sexual assault and gross acts of indecency on juveniles aged between 10 and 18.

Detective Superintendent Michael Goodwin of Chifley Local Area Command yesterday said police were investigating the claims of 13 alleged victims, but he could not say how many former staff members were under investigation. Police initially identified five victims when the investigations began last August, with a further eight coming forward after the priest was arrested in May. There was no suggestion any of the alleged offenders remained at the school. “The allegations centre around the period of 1970 to the early 1980s. So, at this stage, all the inquiries are at least over 20 years old,” Superintendent Goodwin said…

Priests and justice Sydney Morning Herald (January 9, 2010) by David Marr

After two years of investigation, charges of pedophilia at St Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst, are moving to trial.

One winter day a couple of years ago, a troubled man walked the streets of Bathurst, handing out leaflets accusing a priest of sexual abuse. Tor Steven Nielsen’s life was a mess. A few weeks before this dash to Bathurst he had posted on his website a grim résumé of his 35 years: “As it stands now I am a convicted criminal who has been certified as delusional.

“I have no education, no house, no job, no job references, no licence, no car, no super, no savings. To this day, they are putting Drugs in my food and I find it very distressing…my life has been completely destroyed.”

Twenty years earlier, Nielsen had boarded for a few terms at Bathurst’s St Stanislaus’ College, where he was sexually abused by a teacher. Nielsen eventually complained to the police. The teacher confessed and went to prison. When suing the school for damages afterwards, Nielsen made and then dropped quite separate allegations against the school’s chaplain. This was the man his leaflets attacked in the winter of 2007: Father Brian Joseph Spillane.

The investigation Bathurst police began in the aftermath of Nielsen’s visit to the city has led to nine former staff of St Stanislaus’ College being charged with sexual abuse. Greg Walsh, the solicitor defending most of them, says: “This would have to be one of the biggest sexual assault cases in Australian history.” Walsh speaks of a witch hunt against the teachers. “Religious people are so easily tainted these days,” he says. “It is easy to make allegations and so hard to disprove them.”

All 200-plus charges against the men are contested. None has pleaded guilty. Five have been committed for trial. The first trials are scheduled for March. The cases of the other four priests will be back before the courts over the next couple of months. Whether they proceed to trial has yet to be decided. All nine men remain innocent until a dozen or more juries decide otherwise. None of them face charges of abusing Tor Nielsen…

Each time Nielsen ran away, his parents took him back to Bathurst. He was often in trouble. A few weeks before the end of the year, he was expelled. By his own account what followed was a life of dead-end jobs, heavy use of marijuana, financial problems, court convictions and several attempts at suicide. He came to believe he was being hypnotised and poisoned. Behind all his woes he saw the hand of the Catholic Church: “They have been interfering with my life ever since I was 13 years old.” …

The teacher’s imprisonment, and the cash settlement that followed, did not end the matter for Neilsen. He wanted action against Spillane. In June 2007, he posted on his website a long memoir, “Sexual and Mental Abuse @ Saint Stanislaus College in Bathurst,” that made a number of serious allegations of abuse against Spillane who had, by this time, left the school and was about to leave the priesthood to marry.

Nielsen’s memoir provoked some spirited abuse on his website over the next few weeks. “This is absolute bullshit,” posted one anonymous correspondent. “I go to Stannies now and my dad went to Stannies back then and he thinks u r a f—wit.” But as far as Nielsen could tell, his claims were not provoking any official action. So he took his bundle of leaflets to Bathurst. He said: “It was my last resort.”

Bathurst police set up Operation Heador, under the command of Detective Superintendent Michael Goodwin, to investigate Spillane. The initial legwork was done by Detective Justin Hadley. The last months of 2007 saw little progress. “But in 2008,” Goodwin told the Herald, “some of the information was corroborated.” Four other men had accused Spillane of sexually assaulting them while they were at the college.

Spillane was quietly arrested in May 2008 and charged with 33 counts of abuse. Nothing of this appeared in the media. “We were trying to keep a lid on it,” says Goodwin. By this time, police were pursuing other allegations against other priests. But in August that year, Channel Seven broke the story. Dramatic claims of abuse of children as young as 11 were reported around the world. Police were furious. “But a lot more allegations came forward,” says Goodwin. Operation Heador became Operation Belle. “This involved three full-time detectives in Bathurst with assistance from the State Crime Command plus at various times detectives from Sydney.”

More arrests followed. In September 2008, the school’s former headmaster, Father Peter Dwyer, and a former dormitory supervisor, Brother Malcolm Gaven, were charged with abuse of students. At the same time, Spillane was charged with another 60 offences, bringing the total he faced to 93.

Greg Walsh, speaking for his clients Spillane and Gaven, declared: “These men are innocent. The allegations are bizarre and have arisen under very suspicious circumstances.” He assured the media scrum around the Bathurst court that all the charges would be defended. “We are seeing here examples of mass hysteria. Moral panic.”

In December, three more men were arrested. One was Father Greg Cooney, a former chaplain at the school and now the Provincial – or head – of the Vincentian Order in Australia. Only weeks earlier, Cooney had been defending the order’s handling of abuse allegations. Now he found himself in the cells at Ryde police station.

Walsh met his client there. “Some months before his arrest, the police had sought and been given the records of the order,” he says. “These should have alerted them to the fact that Cooney was in Rome in the years one of the ex-students was alleging abuse at his hands.” Superintendent Goodwin confirms that Cooney was set free after showing police his passport. No charges were laid.

In these weeks, the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions decided to cut Nielsen loose. Though his complaints had provoked the investigation of the St Stanislaus’ teachers, his evidence would not be part of the prosecution case. As a result, 20 charges against Spillane were to be withdrawn. Goodwin talked the situation through with Nielsen. “He was very upset.”

But as the 20 were withdrawn in December 2008, another 44 were laid against Spillane. Then in August last year, following further work by Operation Belle, another 29 charges against the former chaplain were laid, bringing the total at that time to 146.

Opposing bail in the Downing Centre Local Court that month, prosecutor Beth Walker said: “In my submission, your honour, the brief of evidence paints a picture of rampant paedophilia.” Spillane pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was granted bail.

Police are not saying the work of Operation Belle is over. Last year a former teacher known as Witness A began to assist police. Four more priests long retired from St Stanislaus’ were arrested and charged with abusing boys. One of the arrested was a priest in Mackay. Another a travel agent in Tasmania. Four of the new charges date back half a century.

The St Stanislaus’ prosecutions are still evolving. Fresh allegations could lead to fresh charges. Charges already laid may be dropped. Magistrates may decide not to send to trial the four men now facing committal.

But at this point, five priests, two ex-priests, one brother and one lay teacher have been charged with more than 200 offences committed between 1961 and 1991 against 46 children. The nine men are contesting all the charges.

Cut to the present day.  Twenty years after the failed Wood Royal Commission, Senator Bill Heffernan again raised the subject of a VIP pedophile network.

Liberal senator Bill Heffernan says former prime minister a suspected paedophile, Sydney Morning Herald (October 21, 2015) by Jane Lee

A former Australian prime minister is on a list of “alleged pedophiles” that Liberal senator Bill Heffernan claims forms part of a police document.  

Senator Heffernan used a Senate estimates committee hearing on Tuesday to discuss the list of 28 people, which he said formed part of police documents that had been “signed off” by Gary Crooke, QC, the former senior counsel assisting NSW’s Wood royal commission into police corruption in the 1990s. Mr Crooke declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media on Tuesday.  

Many of the people on the list and otherwise named in the documents were “prominent”, including a former prime minister, Senator Heffernan said: “They were delivered to me by a police agency some time ago because no one seems to want to deal with them.”  Every Commonwealth attorney-general since Philip Ruddock had seen the list, Senator Heffernan said…

Senator Heffernan had shown the documents to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but was told they were not part of its terms of reference.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is currently receiving witness testimonies of ritual abuse activity.  Some of these witnesses previously reported to the Wood Royal Commission.

Brisbane Grammar counsellor ritually abused students, royal commission told, The Guardian(4 November, 2015 08:00) by Joshua Robertson

A counsellor at a prestigious Queensland private school ritually hypnotised students before masturbating them, slapping them in the face and putting acupuncture needles in one child’s genitals, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse has heard. The scores of alleged victims of Kevin Lynch at Brisbane Grammar school included a boy who was sexually abused in a grief counselling session given after learning his father had committed suicide…

One alleged victim of Lynch, known only as BQK, told the commission that the counsellor’s “treatment [was] built around his convincing me that I could harness the power of my orgasms to gain an edge” in studies and sport. “He would regularly masturbate me to the point of ejaculation and sometimes would make me ingest my own semen,” he said. Lynch also slapped the boy in the face to “psyche me up about winning a metaphorical race”. “Other times he would use acupuncture needles and put them into my testicles or stick his thumb in my anus,” BQK said. BQK told the commission he “assumed this was a normal treatment method” and did not appreciate he had been seriously abused until “well into my adult life”.

He said he could not understand why Grammar staff had not questioned why Lynch operated out of a room that had two heavy, soundproof doors, red and green light signals controlling student access, and had significant stocks of tissues and towels, which he used to wipe up semen. The room was set up as a “sick conveyer belt of victims for Lynch”, he said…

Wood Royal Commission’s sexist conclusion

In his final report, Royal Commissioner Wood stated that Ritual Abuse victims are:

…nearly always women, who during therapy for a variety of personal problems, reveal previously unrecalled memories of bizarre childhood victimisation at the hands of multiple offenders, and who are frequently diagnosed as suffering from multiple personality disorder.

The Australian victims documented in the aforementioned newspaper articles are male and so do not fit Commissioner Wood’s discrediting stereotype of Ritual Abuse victims as crazy, hysterical females…