Imaginary Satanic baby-killers, real people still in prison

Imaginary Satanic baby-killers, real people still in prison March 27, 2013

Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle reports on a legal appeal in Texas:

A roster of leading psychologists and related experts from around the world last week signed on to a pair of letters in support of an appeal filed on behalf of Frances Keller, who was convicted of sexual assault and who has spent the last two decades behind bars for a crime that almost certainly never happened.

Keller and her husband ran a daycare center. They are both serving 48-year sentences in Texas prison after being convicted in 1993 of using the center as a front for a Satanic cult. It was said the Kellers:

Frances Keller was sent to prison by people who wish their  lurid Satanic fantasies were true. (Photo by Jana Birchum)


… had engaged in murder and mutilation of babies and animals, that they’d taken the children on plane rides to Mexico, and that they taken the children to local cemeteries where satanic rituals were performed.

The Kellers were among hundreds of daycare workers across the country who in the Eighties and early Nineties were accused of being involved in “satanic cults” that abused children and used mind control to keep them from divulging the abuse. The most notorious case involved the McMartin Preschool in California, where daycare workers were charged with hundreds of counts of abuse in a criminal case that lasted more than a decade before the defendants were finally cleared of any wrongdoing.

Among the letters written in support of Frances Keller’s appeal was one written by psychology professor Evan Harrington, in which he discusses James Randall Noblitt, the self-proclaimed “expert” in the Satanic menace who served as the state of Texas’s expert witness in the prosecution of the Kellers:

The letter, signed by 39 leading experts from across the country and around the world, presents the court with evidence not only that Noblitt was, and is, unqualified to serve as an expert at all, but also that “ritual abuse” is a topic unsupported by any empirical research. Indeed, at trial the state called Noblitt to describe how the children’s allegations against the Kellers were believable and to avow that the allegations comported with “behaviors associated with so-called ritual abuse,” reads the letter. “In summary, the world portrayed by Dr. Noblitt is one in which thousands of cult abusers have infiltrated respectable society, and specifically daycare centers, in order to operate a clandestine subculture engaged in massive levels of felonious criminality,” reads the letter. To the contrary, Harrington writes, there is not now, nor was there in the early Nineties, any mainstream support for, or scientific evidence to demonstrate, that ritual abuse is a real phenomenon. “In conclusion, Dr. Noblitt stated in testimony at trial that there is little controversy about his descriptions of ritual abuse,” reads the letter. “This statement was not factually true in 1992, and is less true today.”

Randy Noblitt is a fantasist. I do not know if he is willfully lying or if he is so utterly self-deluded that the has come to believe his own lies, but like most such “experts” in his field, Noblitt has no respect for facts.

Here is an excerpt from Noblitt’s main opus, his 2000 book, Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America:

One of the earlier efforts to educate the public about this phenomenon was The Satan Seller (1972), by Mike Warnke. This book was followed by a second, Schemes of Satan (1991). Warnke, an evangelist, reports that he was formerly a high priest in a Satanic cult. In The Satan Seller, Warnke describes his recruitment and participation in the cult while he was in college, and he describes some of the rituals, beliefs, and practices of this cult, along with his ultimate spiritual deliverance. In Schemes of Satan, Warnke describes his experience with Satanism and other varieties of occultism from a Christian perspective. He notes that multiple personality disorder may occur in individuals who have been exposed to Satanic rituals. Another survivor, Lauren Stratford (1988) reports horrific experiences in a Satanic cult and attributes her recovery largely to her Christian faith.

Noblitt includes a footnote at the mention of Warnke’s name. The footnote reads:

Naturally, Warnke and his published opinions have attracted criticism and controversy (e.g., Alexander, 1990; Trott & Hertenstein, 1992).

Noblitt acknowledges that Trott & Hertenstein exist, but does not mention that they thoroughly debunked every claim Mike Warnke ever made about Satanic cults, exposing him as a liar and a con-artist. Instead, Noblitt just darkly hints that, “naturally,” the Satanic conspiracy has attacked Warnke for his bold stand against it.

Warnke was a grifter, but he had a remarkable talent for concocting the kinds of lurid nightmares his evangelical audience wanted to believe were true. He realized that his audience wasn’t horrified by his tales of babies mutilated in Satanic rituals. His audience was tantalized by those tales. That audience wanted and wished and needed such implausible horrors to be true. And they still do.

It doesn’t matter if it’s all a lie. The fantasy of Satanic baby-killers is what gives their lives meaning.

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