Case # 3

Mark and Janice Butler had been married seven years and had two daughters, Jessica, age 5 and Andrea, age 3 when they separated following an increasingly acrimonious and conflicted marriage. Mark moved into an apartment while Janice had temporary custody of the children. At the time of the divorce several months later, the couple entered into an agreement regarding child custody and visitation which provided for joint custody, primary residence with Janice, and liberal visitations with Mark.

For a time, things went fairly well although the relationship between the couple remained acrimonious and difficult. Nevertheless, Mark visited his children regularly. However, when Mark began dating Susan, an investment banker whom he met at a professional singles club, Janice's anger toward Mark increased. She began finding reasons for not allowing the children to go on the scheduled visits. She noticed (as had Mark) an increase in crying, fussing, and clinging following the visits and after one visit in which Susan had been present, she filed charges of drinking and physical abuse of the children. Mark then filed contempt charges against Janice for her actions in severely limiting his visitation. The next month, the judge ordered unsupervised visits and also ordered an evaluation of all parties.

As the evaluation was being completed, Janice called child protection, claiming the younger girl, Andrea, had said her father was abusing her. She said the children were now having nightmares following visits with their father, that Andrea's genitals were red and sore, and that Andrea had tried to touch her sister's genitals in the bathtub. Janice then began to question the girls about whether their father had touched them in their genitals and Andrea agreed that her father had "hurt her bottom."

The girls were put into therapy with a therapist who immediately concluded that the girls were sexually abused based on the history provided by Janice. After several sessions of therapy in which the children were encouraged to talk about abuse and reenact the abuse in play, allegations were made by Jessica as well as by Andrea. The girls were interviewed by a child protection worker and a policemen. The tape of this interview was made after the children had been talked to previously by Janice, the therapist, and the child protection worker.

Mark stoutly denied the sexual abuse and attributed the allegations to the conflicts over visitations and Janice's jealousy of his relationship with Susan. He acknowledged that he had touched the children's genitals in the process of bathing and toilet training.

Psychological testing and clinical interviews indicated that Mark was intelligent, stable, and responsible with good coping skills and with no indication of difficulties with impulse control, antisocial behavior, or acting out. The evaluation of Janice indicated that she was intelligent and capable but oversensitive, resentful, overreactive, and most likely had a paranoid personality disorder. No conclusions were drawn in the evaluations concerning the veracity of the abuse charges.

The initial allegations were that Mark had spanked the girls and had touched their "bottoms" with his finger. However, as the therapy sessions progressed, the allegations grew into accounts of highly deviant behaviors including bondage and pornography. Mark was said to put the girls on special chain-up boards, which he had made for each of them. He allegedly brought these boards to Susan's house and kept extra boards under his desk at his office. He chained them to the boards and spanked them and anally and vaginally penetrated them with his penis and finger. He threatened them and cut them with a knife. Susan was allegedly involved in these activities and was seen by the girls hanging upside down in the shower. Both Susan and Mark were accused of licking the girls on their genitals and the couple was said to have intercourse in front of the girls. These activities were supposedly photographed.

Eventually, the allegations developed into satanic rituals. Jessica reported that her father dressed up in a costume with red ears and a tail and took the girls to "devil meetings" where everyone at the meeting was dressed like devils. The meetings were in a secret place that was reached by going through a dark tunnel. Susan was the "Queen Devil" who led prayers in which people chanted "We hate Jesus, We hate Mary, We love the devil." After the ceremonies, the children were taken to the chain board room and tied up. There were feasts in which people ate dead mouse stew made from mice that were alive until they were chopped up and put into the stewpot.

Mark was criminally charged. Shortly after this, Janice alleged that Mark and Susan had entered her house through an upstairs window and ritually abused the children while she was sleeping downstairs. Andrea had become upset during dinner about ketchup on her plate and, when questioned, said that Susan and Mark had awakened the girls and forced them to drink urine from a paper cup and blood from a plastic cup. Mark then blew a white powder up each of their noses with a straw. After this, Mark had anal sex with both children. The children were then taken into the bathroom where they watched Susan defecate on the floor. Susan and Mark poured the remaining urine from the cup into the children's hair and made the children eat the feces that were on the floor. Mark and Susan then cleaned themselves with a pink towel and left, after threatening the children that if they told, they and their mother would be killed. Janice apparently slept peacefully during the ritualistic activities that were said to have taken place upstairs.

The police were called and Janice told them that Mark and Susan were members of a satanic cult that requires its members to dehumanize their offspring through sexual and ritual abuse. The police searched the house and looked for fingerprints, traces of feces, blood, urine, and semen but according to the police report found no physical evidence of the alleged activities.

The criminal charges against Mark were dismissed when the prosecutor realized the weakness of the case because of the bizarre nature of the allegations and lack of corroborating evidence. Mark continued his relationship with Susan and eventually married her. When the family case came to trial, Mark's visits were restored.

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