Satanic cult hysteria still capable of putting people through hell

If you thought that the Satanic Panic and child-abuse hysteria, which caused dozens of wrongful convictions in the 1980s and 1990s, are no longer a threat, think again. Pacific Standard magazine writer Dan Shewan says there still are a lot of true believers out there.

“The specter of Satanic cult hysteria continues to color many cases marked by unusual barbarity and cruelty, little having apparently been learned from the lessons of the 1980s,” Shewan writes. “In some quarters, crude symbolism and token teenage dabblings in the occult are still seen as evidence that legitimate, violent Satanic cults exist.” You can read Shewan’s frightening story here.

13 responses to “Satanic cult hysteria still capable of putting people through hell

  1. Unfortunately true.
    And today, there are people like John Walsh who would have you believe there is a serial pedophile sexual predator lurking around every corner. This unsubstantiated moral panic has led to such abominations as the sex offender registries.
    Do children get sexually abused? Of course, sadly, but it’s not even close to the level that the sex offender registry advocates proclaim.
    This whole mindset has led to too many innocent and/or non-violent people enduring draconian prison sentences and lifetimes on the registry.

  2. Martin, Excellent article and comment by Phil Locke. The industry John Walsh (TV mogul) built, along with the help of the media, i.e. years of Fox O’Reilly and Hannity 24/7 ad nauseum coverage, adding fuel to the fire took us to the next level of draconian laws that today put ALL at risk? Heard Walsh had his office in the J. Edgar Hoover building. How is that supposed to work?

    In Arizona, changing a baby’s diaper is technically child molest. This is rapidly replacing the failed war on drugs that has greater reach for the profiteers in this sick game being played on the people, as children as young as 3 years-old have been put on the sex offender registry. Who’s going to stop this plague on society, self-destructing America, its families, society and legacy?

  3. “ACCUSED: …” (new book) by Tonya Craft. Also, a must-read article by Dr. William Anderson, “Never Trust A Prosecutor”, his review of Tonya Craft’s case and book, about her, as a mother falsely accused by her ex-husband, of molesting her daughter and friends. He covered the Duke/Nifong case extensively.

    These laws are ripe for abuse when there is no presumption of innocence. Used as a weapon in the Family Courts daily across America? And who is driving this for political and financial gain? Does anyone see a pattern here?

    Solution: No one, in the system will change these laws and dry up their “gravy train”, when lawyers can easily collect $50,000 up-front, non-refundable fees from desperate defendants and their families. When the accusers and those responsible for false allegations and wrongful convictions have to face the same punishment they want for the accused, then these cases will dry up along with the money. 9/8/15

  4. “The Lessons of Capturing the Friedmans: Moral Panic, Institutional Denial, and Due Process” by Susan A. Bandes :: SSRN Aug. 18, 2005

    This was August 2005, where do we find ourselves today in the upcoming campaign cycle promising even more draconian laws to “save” the children and “save” the people? Another power and money-grabbing cycle? Just saying…


      Andrew Jarecki: “Thank you for your continued support of the effort to exonerate Jesse Friedman. We’re happy to report several key developments as the case moves forward. We Have Been Granted an “Actual Innocence” Hearing.”

  5. “We Believe the Children: A Moral Panic in the 1980s” by Richard Beck

    “It would take years for people to realize what the defendants had said all along—that these prosecutions were the product of a decade-long outbreak of collective hysteria on par with the Salem witch trials. Social workers and detectives employed coercive interviewing techniques that led children to tell them what they wanted to hear. Local and national journalists fanned the flames by promoting the stories’ salacious aspects, while aggressive prosecutors sought to make their careers by unearthing an unspeakable evil where parents feared it most.

    Using extensive archival research and drawing on dozens of interviews conducted with the hysteria’s major figures, n+1 editor Richard Beck shows how a group of legislators, doctors, lawyers, and parents—most working with the best of intentions—set the stage for a cultural disaster. The climate of fear that surrounded these cases influenced a whole series of arguments about women, children, and sex. It also drove a right-wing cultural resurgence that, in many respects, continues to this day.”

  6. Excellent commentary, Phil and Camille. John Walsh has helped fuel this hysteria for 30 years. I was relieved when America’s Most Wanted finally got canceled, but now he’s popped up on CNN with The Hunt.

  7. Moral panic of 2003 campaign cycle: Newsweek Cover December 15, 2003: “Lawsuit Hell: How the Fear of Litigation is Paralyzing Our Professions”, 11 page report.

    categories: medical professionals, religious leaders, teachers, coaches, daycare workers, law enforcement and more. Cases featured: Catholic
    Priest Scandal, Michael Jackson, Jon Benet Ramsey, Kobe Bryant, etc.

  8. The next moral panic witch hunt is in the works! First it was the little children, so they went after the Catholic priests, then the teachers, coaches, caregivers, nurses and professionals; then the high school juveniles…. now the college campuses! Does anyone see a pattern here? What they won’t do for politician and financial gain? Splice and dice the sex crimes for the billions-of-dollars industry, with endless sex offender registry and long sentences lining the pockets of the profiteers in this sick political game.


    The next moral panic witch hunt is in the works! “During a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis said that even if a whopping 80% of accused campus rapists are innocent, it was still better to kick them all out of school.”

  9. My view is that one person, serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards, was responsible for a significant portion of the “moral panic” over more than 60 years from December 1945 up to his arrest in 2009. Dozens, even hundreds of “satanic” grisly murders of women and children must have had an impact, and people are still talking of the murders now attributed to him, such as the Zodiac murders, the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the murder of John Walsh’s 6 year old son, the Atlanta child murders, the “Highway 101” murders, the “Colonial Parkway” murders etc.

    Now that he is dead, the source of these previously perplexing heinous murders has stopped. I think this needs to be more widely understood, hopefully that will happen as more of the wrongful convictions he was responsible for unwind in the courts, startng with Ingmar Guandique and Michael Skakel.

    See for more.

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