Investigator’s Guide to Allegations of “Ritual” Child Abuse

January 1992: The above manual is published, and it is by no means as bad as it sounds, nor should it be as it is an official US Government publication. Credited to Kenneth V. Lanning, who appears to be the sole author, it takes a skeptical approach to the ritual aspect of such allegations. On occasion, Lanning has collaborated with Ann Burgess, which does not bode well for his objectivity, but by and large this is a sensible work.

Lanning gives space and consideration to false allegations and pseudomemories - more commonly known prosaically as false memories.

He slips up here though:

“Children rarely lie about sexual abuse or exploitation, but they do fantasize, furnish false information, furnish misleading information, misperceive events, try to please adults, respond to leading questions, and respond to rewards”.

This is really playing semantic games. They rarely lie, they just lie. And of course, they do lie, sometimes big time.

At the end, he gives suggestions for futher reading including In Pursuit Of Satan, a book I read decades ago. Most interestingly though he presents an anonymised case (at page 35 of the manual), of a 27 year old woman who claimed to be a 15 year old deaf mute. She was a serial false accuser, having been kidnapped and held for years by a phantom Satanic cult.

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