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Media Promotes New “Belgian Aristocratic Paedophile Ring” Claim

From the Daily Mail:

A former child sex slave sold into a Belgian aristocratic paedophile ring where boys and girls were raped, tortured and murdered has revealed the horrors of her five years of abuse.

Anneke Lucas, 53, was sold into the murderous paedophile network in Belgium when she was just six years old in 1969.

Speaking to MailOnline, she said: ‘I was first taken to the paedophile ring when I was six by a woman who worked as a cleaning lady for my mother. She and her husband took me away for a weekend to babysit me and it was her husband who took me to the paedophile ring.

‘Later on, my mother got involved and then she started to take me herself. My mother was never really a mother. She was a very sick woman and a psychopath.’

Lucas’s sensational story has been in the public domain since 2013, but it has now come to wider attention following video testimony she gave last month for a website called Global Citizen (“a social action platform for a global generation that wants to solve the world’s biggest challenges”). That item was headlined “I Was a Sex Slave to Europe’s Elite at Age 6”, and the video also appears with that title on the Mail website. The Mail‘s own headline refers to a “Belgian aristocratic paedophile ring”, but one has to wonder if the Brexit-supporting paper was particularly attracted by a tale of Euro-depravity.

According to the Global Citizen version:

Around my sixth birthday, in 1969, I was taken to an orgy for the first time, in a castle. I was used for an S&M show, on a low stage, chained up with an iron dog collar, and made to eat human feces.

…One man, wearing a business suit, caught my eye. He looked scared, but he held my gaze for a brief moment, and seemed to feel for me. Then he was gone. I never saw him again in the network, but years later I did spot him on TV. He became a prominent Belgian politician.

Eventually, the ring decided that she too should be killed – she was tied to a butcher’s block and tortured by “one of the defendants in the notorious [Marc] Dutroux case”, but her life was saved at the last moment by a young orgiast who made a deal with a politician in charge of the ring:

he would work for the politician, extend his shady services in exchange for my life. This one good deed eventually cost him his own life. In this milieu, any shred of humanity is a deadly weakness.

Once again we find ourselves in the awkward position of having to consider whether a deeply upsetting story is actually true. Dismissing such testimony out of hand risks adding to someone’s trauma, and it may inhibit other victims from coming forward. Yet such a mix of sensationalism and vagueness cannot simply just be taken at face value. If I had such a story about myself I wouldn’t expect anyone to believe me without asking me some pertinent questions – particularly given the various pseudo-victims who have manipulated police and media over the years (one of whom, ironically, was recently exposed by the Daily Mail).

Who was Lucas’s mother? Who was the cleaning lady? Are there any other relatives who can confirm her story? Who was the politician she saw at age six? If such details have to be withheld for legal reasons, that should be indicated in the story – and we should at least have an assurance that the journalist has looked into these matters.

And what are the police doing about it? According to the the Mail article, “a spokesman for the Federal Police in Belgium said they were unable to comment on Miss Lucas’ claims”; but if Lucas has had dealings with the police there’s nothing to stop her telling the journalist about it. Further, why did Lucas maintain silence during the period between the arrest and conviction of Marc Dutroux, even though another woman (Regina Louf) had gone public with claims linking the case with an alleged ring of “elite” paedophiles?

There is also an odd inconsistency about how she came to relocate to New York. In March 2013 she told DNAinfo New York that

“My mother would lend me out for money… In this particular network children were killed,” said Lucas of her experiences in the ’70s. “I was rescued when I was 11, and part of the specific instructions for my safety were to move to New York.”

That’s all a bit mysterious in itself, yet in the Daily Mail account she lived with her mother until she was 16, and remained in Belgium until the 1980s, when she moved “to London, Paris and LA and ended up settling in New York”.

She also states that her body “is full of scars”, referring specifically to having been tortured with a cigarette butt on the forearm – yet scars are not apparent in photos she has put into the public domain, some of which show bare arms and legs (there’s even a video of her in a bikini).

Of course, some will say that we must “believe the victim” as a moral imperative – or, if we can’t do that in all honesty, that we should keep our doubts to ourselves and attempt to suppress them in our minds. But this is an oddly inward way of thinking about whether something we haven’t seen actually happened or not.

Usually, when we are trying to decide whether something we’ve been told is true, uncertain (ranging from probable to highly implausible), or false, we take three things into consideration: (a) the character of the claims-maker; (b) whether the claim can be substantiated/corroborated; and (c) whether the claim has any difficulties.

In this instance, outsiders know little of Lucas’s character; we have seen no corroborating evidence; there are unresolved inconsistencies; and there are a whole host of more general questions about the scenario she describes. That does not mean her account is therefore untrue, but these factors ought to be borne in mind by journalists when deciding whether to promote such claims.