Thurston County ritual abuse case

Last updated

The Thurston County ritual abuse case was a 1988 case in which Paul Ingram, county Republican Party Chairman of Thurston County, Washington and the Chief Civil Deputy of the Sheriff's department, was accused by his daughters of sexual abuse, by at least one daughter of satanic ritual abuse [1] and later accused by his son in 1996 of abusing him between the ages of 4 to 12. [2]

Contents

Ingram pled guilty and his confession grew increasingly elaborate and detailed, while Ingram's young daughters and their friends subsequently accused a sizable number of Ingram's fellow Sheriff's department employees of abuse.[ citation needed ] He now maintains he is innocent and alleges his confession was coerced. He tried to withdraw his plea and requested a trial or clemency, but his requests were refused. According to the appeals court, the original trial had conducted "an extensive evidentiary hearing on the coercion issue" and found that Ingram was unable to prove his claims of coercion, a situation his appeals did not change. [3] Ingram was released in 2003 after serving his sentence. [4]

The case is often cited by proponents[ who? ] of the idea that satanic ritual abuse actually exists as proof because Ingram was found guilty; in reality, Ingram was never charged with "satanic ritual abuse" but with six counts of rape in the third degree, and received an unusually long sentence – rather than a maximum of three and a half years, he was sentenced to twenty years. [5] The "satanic" aspects of the case were dropped by the prosecution [6] although the appearance of Satan was integral to Ingram's confessions. The case has also been compared to the Salem witch trials. [7] [8]

Background

The accusations appeared at a time when there were tremendous questions being raised about the accuracy of memories of childhood abuse and incest. Books such as the self-help tome The Courage to Heal , the discredited satanic ritual abuse autobiography Michelle Remembers , and work by memory researchers such as Elizabeth Loftus all worked to support, contradict and challenge conventional beliefs about how memory and repression worked, or if the latter even existed.

Ingram's daughters had both been in therapy, one before the initial outcry, the other while the trial was ongoing. [9] The Ingrams were also members of a local Pentecostal church that promoted the idea that Satan could control the minds of Christians, cause them to commit crimes, then remove the memories after the fact, and that God would not allow harmful false memories. While at a church retreat, a woman who claimed to possess prophetic power told Ingram's daughter that she had been sexually abused by her father. [10]

Accusations

Ingram was accused of sexually abusing both of his daughters over a period of years. Initially Ericka, his eldest daughter, claimed this abuse had stopped in 1979 but later his other daughter Julie said it had happened less than five years before. When first interviewed in 1988 by Sheriff Gary Edwards and Undersheriff Neil McClanahan about the sex abuse accusations, Ingram "basically confessed during the first five minutes" as McLanahan would later state. [11]

As the case proceeded, the accusations increased in scope and detail. Ingram was also accused of participating in hundreds of satanic rituals including the slaughter of 25 babies. Ericka claimed she had caught a sexually transmitted disease from him, and had a baby aborted when near term. [12]

False memory hypothesis

Psychologist Richard Ofshe claimed that Ingram, because of his long-standing and routine experiences in his church, was inadvertently hypnotized by authority figures who conducted his interrogation, although no mental health professionals were present, and that the confessions were the result of false memories being implanted with suggestion. [13] Ofshe tested this hypothesis by telling Ingram that a son and daughter had accused him of forcing them to commit incest with each other. Interrogating officers had previously accused Ingram of this, but he denied it, and also denied Ofshe's accusation. Ofshe instructed Ingram to pray on the idea, and later Ingram produced a full, detailed written confession. Questioning the daughter who was supposed to have been involved, despite many other accusations against her father, she denied that such an incident had ever occurred. Upon being told that no such accusation had been made by either his son or daughter, Ingram refused to believe the incident wasn't real, maintaining "[i]t's just as real to me as anything else". [14] Ofshe was thus convinced that Ingram's confessions were solely the result of extensive interrogation sessions and questions being applied to an unusually suggestible individual. He provided a report on his theory, but the prosecution initially refused to supply it to the defense, only doing so after being forced by the judge. [15] Ofshe later reported the incident in a scientific journal. [16]

Remembering Satan

Ingram's story became the basis of the book Remembering Satan by Lawrence Wright. The Ingram case was also the basis for the TV-movie Forgotten Sins , in which John Shea played "Sheriff Matthew Bradshaw". Richard Ofshe, the only individual whose name was not changed for the movie, confirms that it is based on the Ingram case. [17] Lawrence Wright, the author of Remembering Satan, received a "Story by" WGA credit for the movie. [18]

PAUL: The Secret Story Of Olympia's Satanic Sheriff

Ingram's story was the subject of filmmaker Nik Nerburn's 33-minute long 2013 film PAUL: The Secret Story of Olympia's Satanic Sheriff [19] . The film was selected as the audience pick of the 2012 Olympia Film Festival and received the Award for Best Use of Archival Footage at the 2013 Seattle True Independent Film Festival.

Footnotes

  1. Ofshe, R. "Ofshe Report on the Ingram Case". Archived from the original on 2004-03-21. Retrieved 2008-11-03.
  2. Zimmerman, Rachel (1996-06-08). "Son of Deputy Says He Was Sexually Abused ; Dramatic Report in Testimony to Clemency Panel". Seattle Post-Intelligencer . pp. B1.
  3. Burgess, Justice F. D. (1994). Order granting summary judgment in Paul R. Ingram v. Chase Riverland et al., No. C93-5399FDB, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington at Tacoma, May 5, 1994
  4. "Ingram Organization". Web.archive.org. 2003-04-08. Archived from the original on 2004-11-30. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
  5. Wright, 1994, p. 188.
  6. Lewis, James P. (2001). Satanism today: an encyclopedia of religion, folklore, and popular culture. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. pp. 126–8. ISBN   1-57607-292-4.
  7. Kearney, Richard (2004). On stories. New York: Routledge. p. 35. ISBN   0-415-24797-7.
  8. Edmundson, Mark (1997). Nightmare on Main Street: angels, sadomasochism, and the culture of Gothic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 39. ISBN   0-674-62463-7.
  9. Wright, 1994, p. 147-175.
  10. Lewis JP (2001). Satanism today: an encyclopedia of religion, folklore, and popular culture. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. pp.  125–6. ISBN   1-57607-292-4.
  11. Gates, D. (1996, August 28). Doubtful justice. Seattle Weekly, 20-27.
  12. Wrightsman, Lawrence S.; Solomon M. Fulero (2009). Forensic psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. pp.  246–248. ISBN   0-495-50649-4.
  13. Robinson, BA (2003-04-29). "The "Paul Ingram" ritual abuse case, in Olympia, WA". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance . Retrieved 2009-02-03.
  14. Wright, 1994, p. 134-146.
  15. Wright, 1994, p. 177.
  16. Ofshe RJ (July 1992). "Inadvertent hypnosis during interrogation: false confession due to dissociative state; mis-identified multiple personality and the Satanic cult hypothesis". Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 40 (3): 125–56. doi:10.1080/00207149208409653. PMID   1399152.
  17. "Sociology Professor Featured In TV Movie 'Forgotten Sins'". The Berkleyan. Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley. 1996-03-06. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
  18. "LMN.tv Movie Credits". LMN.tv Movie Credits. LMN . Retrieved 2007-04-24.
  19. https://vimeo.com/48557671

Related Research Articles

Satanic ritual abuse Widespread moral panic alleging abuse in the context of occult rituals

Satanic ritual abuse was the subject of a moral panic that originated in the United States in the 1980s, spreading throughout many parts of the world by the late 1990s. Allegations of SRA involved reports of physical and sexual abuse of people in the context of occult or Satanic rituals. In its most extreme form, allegations involve a conspiracy of a worldwide SRA organization that includes the wealthy and powerful of the world elite in which children are abducted or bred for human sacrifices, pornography, and prostitution.

Lawrence Pazder Canadian psychiatrist

Lawrence "Larry" Pazder was a Canadian psychiatrist and author. Pazder wrote the discredited biography, Michelle Remembers, published during 1980, with his patient Michelle Smith, which claimed to detail satanic ritual abuse.

LaVeyan Satanism Atheistic religion founded by Anton LaVey, in which Satan is a symbol of human freedom, but not believed to be a separately existing supernatural being

LaVeyan Satanism is an atheistic religion founded in 1966 by the American occultist and author Anton Szandor LaVey. Scholars of religion have classified it as a new religious movement and a form of Western esotericism. It is one of several different movements that describe themselves as forms of Satanism.

<i>Michelle Remembers</i> book by Lawrence Pazder

Michelle Remembers is a 1980 book co-written by Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder and his psychiatric patient Michelle Smith. A best-seller, Michelle Remembers was the first book written on the subject of Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) and is an important part of the controversies beginning during the 1980s regarding SRA and recovered memory. Several investigators have subsequently been unable to corroborate many of the book's events despite extensive searches. According to these investigators, the events described by the book were very unlikely and in some cases seemingly impossible.

Day-care sex-abuse hysteria was a moral panic that occurred primarily during the 1980s and early 1990s featuring charges against day-care providers of several forms of child abuse, including Satanic ritual abuse. A prominent case in Kern County, California first publicized the issue of day-care sexual abuse, and the issue figured prominently in news coverage for almost a decade. The Kern County case was followed by cases elsewhere in the United States as well as Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, and various European countries.

Recovered-memory therapy (RMT) is a catch-all psychotherapy term for therapy using one or more method or technique for the purpose of recalling memories. It does not refer to a specific, recognized treatment method, but rather several controversial and/or unproven interviewing techniques, such as hypnosis and guided imagery, and the use of sedative-hypnotic drugs, which are presently rarely used in the responsible treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other dissociative disorders. Proponents of recovered memory therapy claim that traumatic memories can be buried in the subconscious and affect current behavior, and that these can be recovered. RMT is not listed in DSM-IV nor is it recommended by mainstream ethical and professional mental health associations.

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) was a nonprofit organization founded in 1992 and dissolved on December 31, 2019.

The National Center for Reason and Justice is a United States national non-profit organization disseminating information to the public about claims of injustice in the current criminal justice system and facilitating financial and legal assistance for people the organization considers likely to have been falsely accused or wrongfully convicted.

Richard Jason Ofshe is an American sociologist and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the advisory board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation advocacy organization and is known for his expert testimony relating to coercion in small groups, confessions, and interrogations.

The San Diego Church ritual abuse case was a case of a developmentally disabled individual charged with child sexual abuse in 1991 as part of the satanic ritual abuse moral panic. After a 9-month trial, the accused was found not guilty by the jury.

The Pace memorandum was a 1990 memorandum written by Glenn L. Pace, a general authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, describing to a committee of the church the complaints of sixty members of the church that claimed they had been subjected to satanic ritual abuse (SRA) by family members and other members of the church. The state of Utah conducted a 30-month investigation of the claims after the Pace memorandum was leaked to the press in 1991, concluding that there was no evidence found to substantiate the testimony of the alleged victims.

Ralph Charles Underwager was an American minister and psychologist who rose to prominence as a defense witness for adults accused of child sexual abuse in the 1980s and 1990s. Until his death in 2003, he was the director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies, which he founded in 1974. He was also a founder of Victims of Child Abuse Laws (VOCAL), a lobby group which represented the interests of parents whose children had been removed from their care by social services following abuse allegations. He was a founding member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. He was also accused of being a supporter of pedophilia because of controversial statements he made, including those in an interview to Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia.

<i>Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse</i> book by Valerie Sinason

Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse is a collection of essays edited by Valerie Sinason addressing the treatment of those who allege they are survivors of Satanic ritual abuse. The book discusses the definitions, alleged history, scepticism about the phenomenon and ethical issues related to treating individuals reporting satanic ritual abuse. The book has been criticized by Ralph Underwager for being unscientific, defending a dubious concept with a complete lack of skepticism, possessing the veneer of science without any substance and for promoting unethical treatment practices.

The Oak Hill satanic ritual abuse trial occurred in Oak Hill, Austin, Texas, in 1991 when Fran Keller and her husband Dan, proprietors of a small day care, were accused of repeatedly and sadistically abusing several children.

The Country Walk case is a Florida 1985 "Multi-Victim, Multi-Offender" child sex abuse case that occurred during the day-care sex-abuse hysteria. Frank Fuster remains imprisoned, making him allegedly the last victim of this moral panic. Following many interrogations, his wife Iliana Flores Fuster testified against Frank and confessed to the alleged crimes, later recanting her confession, then recanting her recantation, and finally recanting that. This case became known because it seemed to have better evidence than other ritual abuse cases, but scientific findings since Fuster's conviction have challenged the evidence. The case, prosecuted by Janet Reno, was profiled in the 2002 Frontline episode "Did Daddy Do It?"

Memory implantation is a technique used in cognitive psychology to investigate human memory. In memory implantation studies researchers make people believe that they remember an event that actually never happened. The false memories that have been successfully implanted in people’s memories include remembering being lost in a mall as a child, taking a hot air balloon ride, and putting slime in a teacher’s desk in primary school.

The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse is a 1994 book by Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham, published by St. Martin's Press.

Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria is a 1994 book by Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters, published by Scribner's. It is critical of recovered memory movements, allegations of abuse by Satanic cults, and multiple-personality disorder diagnoses. Ofshe, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his news reporting, is a University of California, Berkeley professor of social psychology. Watters is a freelance writer.

Barbara W. Snow is a practicing therapist based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Snow was a central figure in the Satanic ritual abuse moral panic in Utah in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2008, Snow was placed on probation for violating codes of ethics and professional conduct. Snow was the therapist of Teal Swan, and played a heavy influence on Swan's healing techniques.

References