Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and “Ritual Sexual Abuse”

From the transcript of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s National Apology Address, in which “the Australian Government and this Parliament, on behalf of all Australians, unreservedly apologises to the victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse”:

The crimes of ritual sexual abuse happened in schools, churches, youth groups, scout troops, orphanages, foster homes, sporting clubs, group homes, charities, and in family homes as well.

It happened anywhere a predator thought they could get away with it, and the systems within these organisations allowed it to happen and turned a blind eye.

It happened day after day, week after week, month after month, and decade after decade. Unrelenting torment.

When a child spoke up, they weren’t believed and the crimes continued with impunity.

…Not just as a father but as Prime Minister, I am angry too at the calculating destruction of lives and abuse of trust, including those who have abused the shield of faith and religion to hide their crimes, a shield that is supposed to protect the innocent, not the guilty. And they stand condemned.

From the context, the word “ritual” here appears to mean “systematic” or “methodical”, perhaps referring to the various techniques that abusers use to “groom” a child for repeated abuse and to ensure secrecy.

However, the phrase “ritual sexual abuse” (or “ritual abuse”) obviously more readily evokes the familiar idea of secret Satanic cults committing depravities with impunity, and this is how the apology is being interpreted by some, despite the difficulties it raises. For instance, the journalist Mark Watts, who specialises in promoting sensational “VIP sex abuse” claims, refers to the “fulsome apology to those who suffered child sexual abuse – inc ritual sexual abuse – in Australia by PM Scott Morrison”, when in fact no such category is clearly singled out in the speech.

The obvious question that arises is that if Morrison indeed wanted to flag up “ritual sexual abuse” as the phrase is commonly understood, then why wasn’t he clearer about it? Perhaps the answer is that he was being deliberately ambiguous for some reason. It may be that he wanted to signal his belief in the phenomenon without having to invest political capital in it – after all, he is Australia’s first Neo-Pentecostal Prime Minister, and “Satanic ritual abuse” conspiracy theories have thrived within some evangelical strands. There’s also the fact that Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has given credence to Cathy Kezelman, a GP and activist who has made increasingly lurid allegations against her own family – this may have influenced Morrison, or whoever drafted his speech or advised on it.

Conspiracy theorists, however, have a different explanation, which is that Morrison was dropping a hint about knowing more than is in the public domain, just as “QAnon” believers believe that Trump is sending out subtle indications that he has uncovered a cabal of elite abusers who will shortly be exposed to the world. Thus various people are Tweeting claims such as “The new Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison must be a rider in #TheStorm. Here he is making an unprecedented statement on the cabal-engineered epidemic of child ritual abuse”. It is also being suggested that the Morrison’s phrasing vindicates Fiona Barnett, an Australian woman who has made extravagant “VIP Satanic ritual abuse” claims.

UPDATE (November 2019): An article by Australian journalist David Hardaker for Crikey, and partially excerpted by the New Daily, draws attention to Morrison’s “ritual abuse” phrasing and links it to Morrison’s friendship with a man named Tim Stewart, described as “a prominent promoter of the US-based far-right “QAnon” conspiracy movement”. The two men’s wives are “best friends”, and

In the days before Mr Morrison’s apology speech, Mr Stewart claimed to have influenced the PM to make a reference to “ritual” abuse.

In the hours before the address, he sent a text to a colleague: “I think Scott is going to do it!!”.

…The Stewarts’ 22-year-old son, Jesse – also an enthusiastic promoter of the QAnon conspiracy – tweeted: “You know #theGreatAwakening is in full swing when the Australian Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP mentions #RitualAbuse,” a tweet read.

The article also says that Tim Stewart sent texts to a man apparently named Eliahi Priest, in which he wrote that “Scott is awakening”.

Hardaker was also kind enough to include a link to this page, noting that while Morrison’s “ritual” phrasing was “largely unremarked”, it had been “picked up by an international blogger who specialises in exposing religion-based conspiracy theories”.

A follow-up article by Hardaker further adds that Morrison’s use of the phrase “appears to run counter to advice given to him by survivors and government-appointed experts.”

20 Responses

  1. I read that a sexually-abusive ritual called “Satan’s Triangle” was mentioned in the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Such credible recovered memories as those of Dr Ford, of satanic ritual abuse, ought to reassure those who opposed Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination of the reality of satanic ritual abuse. Alleged victims must always be believed, however far-fetched we might find their recovered memories. If we stick to that doctrine, what can possibly go wrong?

  2. It seems Fiona Barnett called for an apology for ‘ritual abuse’ to Morrison in the consultation in 2017 (see tweet in article)
    so this is being taken as a ‘positive response’ and global first acknowledgement by a premier.

    Will there be a similar debacle re IICSA one wonders?

  3. Sorry I got that wrong – the Barnett tweet was just before the apology. So her influence in not known. However the fact of the mention in context would appear to be a deliberate fudge that must have been foreseen as to effect given the vast array of ‘ritual abuse’ promoters hanging on such.

    • Not knowing anything about Barnett I thought I’d have a quick search but got no further than the “abuse drawings” on her site. I’m not providing a link as they are ‘NSFW’ and quite possibly illegal these days.

      “Note – the Australian government continues to hack and remove my abuse drawings. I expect this is because I get up to 100,000 views per day of this page. Each time they disappear, alert me in the comments section to this page and I will restore them and let WordPress know. Otherwise, visit other sites like Cathy Fox’s blog where you will find a copy.”

      Er, okay, though it’s hard not to wonder who on earth would want to see drawings of a young girl fellating a well hung Richard Nixon prior to being violently raped… bloody weirdos would be my guess.

      • Think Barnett is both parasitical and causal. Seems the Blue Knot newsletter included guidelines on the consultation process for an apology including ‘helpful’ words and terms to be used in an apology for victims and ‘unhelpful’ones to be avoided. So would think this was an open invitation for ‘ritual’ inclusion.

      • Margaret Jervis
        How dare someone judge a survivor of such a depraved practise? Unless you had suffered as a result of this same vile egregious activity i don’t believe you have the right to comment.
        The negative comment only proves that you are endorsing this abhorrent abuse. Pffft!!!

      • Barnett’s claims have been investigated by the NSW Police, the ACT (Canberra ) Police and the Federal Police all independently. Not a single claim was verified and they have basically told her to shove off. Naturally she now claims “cover-up” and these police are in the Cult.
        I know of one respected political family who beloved deceased Grandfather Barnett has made ludicrous claims about (she accused numerous ex-PMs of abuse) whose son became the victim of nasty bullying at his school when pals found Barnett’s sick claims on the internet. The family had to move their son to a new school and change his name. It can be said Barnett now has abused a child but there are surely others – these accused people all have families with children. It may not be for long though as I know one family are sick to death of her and are planning to take legal action which is why her husband has fled and put the house in his name. I know they are planning to include him in their lawsuit. We may not read about it though as they are trying to prevent media reports because several children will be said to be real victims of her unproved claims.

      • Eric in reply to your comment. No of course a Seargant (a 33 degree mason) does not intend on finding any evidence. Yeah!?

      • Re her Nixon claim- one of the weirdest. She claims Nixon flew in Airforce One (with it’s 4 fighter jets that accompany it ) into Canberra Airport one Saturday morning just to abuse her and not one single friendly or hostile Embassy (who are all within hearing distance of the airport) failed to notice the ‘Leader of The Free World” dropped by.
        She also claims Walt Disney abused her even though he died 2 years before she was born. Perhaps as a Devil Worshiper that is possible?

  4. Firstly: Fiona Barnett has repeatedly lied and claimed she appeared before the Royal Commission. All she did was submit a written submission like any member of the public and it was ignored.
    I’m not too sure Scott Morrison deliberately made the comment “ritual”. It may have been inserted by a speech writer even though Morrison is a right wing Christian who supped at the heels of the Hillsong mob he’s not regarded as terribly bright (and will be booted within 6 months by an electorate who are awaiting the general election with “baseball bats” at the ballot box)
    Not a single word in the Royal Commission report mentions “ritual” and no such findings were made, no Satanist Cults revealed nor even one single “pedo ring” was unveiled. Rather the report dwells at lengths on the secrecy of solo abusers and how they fooled even those who shared a room : see respected Australian political journalist Paul Bongiorno who shared a room as a trainee priest with Australia’s worst admitted child abuser Father Gerard Risdale who described his offending as like “being a lolly shop and grabbing anything and everything you can” but says he had no idea of Risdale’s offending ( I believe him). The Royal Commission’s main focus was on all the organisations, Anglican, Catholic, Scouts, Salvation Army etc who chose to keep moving offenders to other locations rather than report them to police. Certainly a “cover-up” but sadly not unusual for the times.

  5. Front page [!] of the BBC UK news website/app:

    “Plymouth underground bunkers daubed with satanic graffiti.

    A Victorian fort which has been daubed with satanic graffiti is a serious danger to youngsters, police have said. Fort Austin in Plymouth has a warren of underground bunkers… … Graffiti writing and symbols on the walls include references to Satanism.”

    Anyone venturing into the tunnels had better watch out!

    “There’s graffiti all over the walls with satanic symbols and writing. There’s even a cage in one room where people say a dog was sacrificed.”

    Surely this is another case for Broomstix Campbell who has long held an interest in rummaging through piles of empty cider bottles hoping to catch sight of the devil’s coat-tails. If she does swing into action let’s hope it is not in haste, grabbing her trusty torch from the drawer only to discover once deep in the damp, dark tunnel that it comes with an odd attachment. As she might say, “Yeuch!”

  6. (Way off-topic, but Jimmy Savile is back in the news & it’s an absurd story but one of the contributors – founder/boss of a charity based in Scarborough since 2007 that never seems to have mentioned Savile until the bandwagon started rolling – has an interest in those pesky Satanists. Apparently they use tarpaulins. In case anyone is interested: )

  7. […] instead of “systematic” or “repeated”, which are factually accurate – was picked up by an international blogger who specialises in exposing religion-based conspiracy theories, but otherwise was largely […]

  8. […] to Child Sex Abuse. At the time the use of the term went unnoticed by the mainstream media, but a blogger called Richard Bartholomew did highlight its use as odd at the […]

  9. […] to Child Sex Abuse. At the time the use of the term went unnoticed by the mainstream media, but a blogger called Richard Bartholomew did highlight its use as odd at the […]

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