Satanic Panic Payout in Canada

The epilogue to a Satanic panic outbreak in Canada:

The Saskatchewan government has settled the final two lawsuits outstanding from a child sexual abuse case going back to the early 1990s.

[James] Elstad and [Edward] Revesz were among nine people charged in 1992 with 180 sex-related offences against children at a day care in Martensville, Sask.

The children’s bizarre stories of murder, animal mutilation and Satanism were eventually proven to be unfounded, and the methods of investigators came under heavy criticism.

This is not the first settlement to result from the Martensville case. Canada.com reported back in November 2004 (via Religion News Blog):

Justice Minister Frank Quennell announced Monday that the province will pay $925,000 to Ron and Linda Sterling, as well as to a person who was a youth at the time the charges were laid in 1992. The Sterlings operated a home day care in Martensville north of Saskatoon. They were among nine people charged with 180 sex-related offences against children in their care. Only one of the accused was ever found guilty.

…It was later determined that investigators had elicited the allegations by asking leading questions and prosecutors had gone ahead with charges despite police misgivings about the veracity of the claims.

The latest court case also comes on the heels of developments elsewhere: late in 2005 Kyle Sapp admitted that as a child he had been coaxed by adults into lying about Satanic abuse at the McMartin preschool in California, while just two months ago it was announced that a dozen individuals in Rochdale in the UK were seeking compensation for being seized by social services as children in 1990.

However, while the courts have rightfully excoriated the investigators who were directly responsible for ruining so many lives, less attention has been given to the disseminators of the popular “Satanic survivor” paperbacks that did so much to inspire and spread the hysteria. I don’t mean so much the mentally disturbed authors themselves as those who worked with them when they should have known better – and who, it should be noted, have never tried to make amends for their errors of judgement. Two individuals in particular deserve to have their part in the fiasco more widely known. I risk repeating a point I made quite recently, but I think it’s worth re-emphasizing:

David Balsiger: Now a successful maker of Christian documentaries, Balsiger ghost-wrote the phony autobiography of Mike Warnke, a pathological liar who claimed to have been a high-ranking Satanist before becoming a Christian.

Hal Lindsey: Lindsey championed the cause of Lauren Stratford, whose bogus memoir of childhood abuse at the hands of Satanists was published in 1988. Lindsey went so far as to denounce the Christian investigators who utterly debunked her story, while Stratford herself went on to create a new, but equally false, identity as a Holocaust survivor. However, as with his prophecies about the USSR attacking Israel and the 1980s being the final decade, subsequent events did not harm Lindsey’s credibility. He is still a high-profile conservative Christian commentator, reaching a wide audience through his WorldNetDaily column.

And the hysteria is not quite dead yet: hacks like George Deutsch (he of the NASA censorship scandal) continue to milk the idea of secret Satanic cults performing unspeakable crimes with impunity, while the panic flares up periodically in other parts of the world.

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)