||Remembering Satan: A Case of Recovered Memory and the
Shattering of an American Family
||Alfred A. Knopf, © 1994
Alfred A. Knopf
201 East 50th
New York, New York, 10022
This is the story of Paul Ingram. Ingram had been a sheriff for
17 years, was the head of the local Republican party, was active in his
fundamental church, and spent time talking to children in schools about
the dangers of drug use. But despite his reputation as a solid
citizen, he was not only accused of raping two of his daughters several
years earlier, he was alleged to have been part of a satanic ring that met
in a barn and that had forced one daughter to kill 25 infants.
When the arresting officers first contacted Ingram and told him of the
allegations, he said that he wanted to "get to the bottom of this" and
asked to take a lie detector (which was never given). Although he
originally said that he could not remember molesting his daughters, he
added that if it did happen "we need to take care of it." He said he
just wanted to discover the truth and he talked to detectives without a
lawyer present. Several hours into the questioning, Ingram's
official statement was recorded. Ingram said that he believed that
the allegations did occur and that he probably did abuse his daughters,
even though he couldn't remember it. "I've repressed it."
The detectives provided him with details included in the girls'
allegations and assured him that, if he confessed, the memories would
return. Ingram went into a trance-like state and began describing
scenes of abuse. By the time the interview was over several hours
later, Ingram had confessed to multiple occasions of abusing both
daughters. As time passed and the interviews of Ingram and his
daughters continued, the allegations grew to include several other people
and to include ritual satanic abuse. By this time, Ingram's "memory" was
being aided by visualizations that the detectives and a local psychologist
encouraged, along with prayers and assurances from his pastor that God
would not allow for thoughts other than those that were true to come into
The investigation by the sheriff's department is a classic Keystone
Cops story of bungling, ineptitude, and panic. Two sheriff's
deputies were also arrested (one a child abuse expert) but were cleared
after 158 days in jail, and are now suing their department for false
arrest. Advice from Kenneth Lanning from the FBI was ignored.
Dr. Richard Ofshe, an expert on cults and mind-control, was hired by the
prosecution to see if the cult had used mind-control to keep Ingram from
remembering the cult's activities. But Ofshe concluded that Ingram's
returning memories were the result of the interrogation process and a
relaxation technique which was a form of self-hypnosis. He doubted
whether Ingram was guilty of anything other than being a highly
suggestible individual who went in and out of trance states and who was
very eager to please authorities. But Ofshe's opinions carried no
weight with the sheriff's department.
Paul Ingram pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
Since he pled guilty, his case was denied an appeal hearing by the
Washington Supreme Court. He is now a prison newspaper editor in
another state and has adapted to the prison routine.
Paul Ingram asked for a sentence because he "might" be a bad person.
The court, sheriff, and prosecuting attorney were only too glad to comply.
The detectives never considered the possibility that the source of the
memories was the investigation itself. It will never be known if
Ingram ever did anything to his daughters, but it was his lack of anger,
puzzled response, and readiness to accept that the allegations were true
even when he had no memories that convicted him.
Ingram lacked a competent and aggressive attorney, who would have noted and
attended to the numerous inconsistencies and difficulties in this case. He
hired a new attorney only after he was convicted. At the sentencing
hearing, one daughter said that her father should get the maximum sentence
because he was dangerous, and that the sheriff's department should be sued for
failure to supervise its own staff and that even the governor might be involved
in the cult. Only time will tell whether Ingram will be considered for
parole after 12 years.
I see several important lessons to be learned from the Ingram case: