Chapter 6
Home Up

VOLUME 1, 1995

Chapter 6





Notes for Chapter 6

Perhaps the type of child sexual abuse that is hardest for most people to believe is ritual abuse, calling up as it does ill-formed images from the media of black masses, witchcraft trials, and Satan worship. Satan worship, which exists as an organized religion, can occur with or without sexual abuse.

This chapter focuses on ritual abuse, or the sexual abuse, usually of children, in which certain aspects, symbols, objects, or activities are repeated over and over in a pattern that has meaning to the abuser. These symbols, activities, or objects may (but do not necessarily always) include aspects of the Satanic cult, such as pentagrams, blood sacrifice (real or symbolic), black candles, distorted readings from sacred texts, mimicry of rituals sacred to a number of religions (in Mormon circles, the sacrament and temple endowment are frequently perverted), and any other number of items with a "normal" religious content that has been perverted or distorted.

Disbelievers rely on the fact that investigations into alleged ritual abuse are legion but that convictions are few. If babies are being murdered, late-stage abortions induced to provide sacrifices, or those who tell are murdered, they ask, where are the bodies?

This chapter provides:

  1. A summary of a chapter on ritual abuse from Confronting Abuse: An LDS Perspective on Understanding and Healing Emotional, Physical, Sexual, Psychological, and Spiritual Abuse, edited by Anne L. Horton, B. Kent Harrison, and Barry L. Johnson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993).
  2. The text of a memo prepared by Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Presiding Bishopric for the Strengthening Church Members Committee in 1990. It describes his experiences counseling with survivors of ritual abuse.
  3. A brief summary of the Utah Governor’s Task Force on Ritual Abuse, created in March 1990, and a summary of the Attorney General’s report in late February 1995 after investigating over 125 cases of alleged ritual crime. No prosecutions resulted.
  4. A personal account by Rachel Hopkins, a survivor of ritual abuse. Her case had been investigated by the Attorney General’s office but could not be prosecuted due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. She came forward in the wake of media claims that the report failed to show the existence of ritual abuse to confirm, on the contrary, that it did and that she had signed confessions from the perpetrators, her parents.


Noemi P. Mattis and Elouise M. Bell devote a chapter to ritual abuse in Confronting Abuse. They provide this description of ritual abuse:

Ritual abuse rarely consists of a single episode. It usually involves abuse over an extended period of time. The physical abuse is severe, sometimes including torture and killing. The sexual abuse is usually painful, sadistic, and humiliating, intended as a means of gaining dominance over the victim. The psychological abuse is devastating and involves the use of ritual indoctrination, which includes mind control techniques, mind altering drugs, and ritual intimidation, which conveys to the victim a profound terror of the cult members and of the evil spirit they believe the cult members can command. Both during and after the abuse, most victims are in a state of terror, mind control, and dissociation in which disclosure is exceedingly difficult…(183-84)

In addition to all combinations of sexual intercourse—genital, anal, and oral—between child and adult (male or female) and child and child (forced), victims are penetrated genitally or rectally with all kinds of objects, and are forced to submit to sexual activity with animals.

[They] are tortured in many ways. They are shocked, drugged, burned, beaten, cut, buried alive until consciousness is lost, covered with insects, locked in a freezer until unconscious, hung upside down, chained, carved upon, and made to ingest vile matter, including blood, urine, and feces....

They are forced to participate in all of the crimes, including sacrifice of animals (which may be the children’s own pets); the torture and sometimes murder of babies, including in some cases the infants of young girls required to bear children specifically for sacrifice; the torture and sometimes murder of adults; and the systematic disposal of bodies. Some victims have been forced to choose which person will be the next sacrifice, sometimes having to choose between one of their own siblings and another, or one baby and another. The victims are repeatedly told that they are bad or evil, that it is their fault the dog or baby has to die, that no one will ever love them or believe them if they report any of the activities of the cult. (184-85)

Mattis and Bell describe the "dual socialization" forced on these children, so that "outwardly they have the social values of the community" but are secretly taught an inverted set of values: "pain is good, torture is good, lying for the cause is righteous, human life is a cheap commodity, and so forth" (185).

The victims are programmed to dissociate, so that they do not recognize or remember parts of their own experience or personality. They are trained to deny accusations, tell conflicting stories, retract their own reports, hurt themselves, or even try to commit suicide if they begin to tell.

This article quotes a press release and a First Presidency statement, issued in the wake of the publication of the Pace memo (see below), although the authors do not mention or quote from the memo. The Public Affairs Department statement, printed in the Deseret News on 24 October 1991, reads: "Satanic worship and ritualistic abuse are problems that have been around for centuries and are international in scope. While they are, numerically, not a problem of major proportions among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for those who may be involved they are serious." Within this statement was a quotation from a First Presidency letter dated 8 September 1991 to ecclesiastical leaders "expressing ‘love and concern to innocent victims who have been subjected to these practices by conspiring men and women. We are sensitive to their suffering" (187).

The authors deal straightforwardly with the reasons why it is difficult to believe in ritual abuse:

Where is the evidence of ritual murders? Cultists include professionals, such as morticians and butchers, who are skilled at disposing of evidence; many human sacrifices are either babies bred and born for that purpose whose births are never recorded, or transients, the homeless, or runaways.

Why have so few been convicted of ritual crimes? Participants have been programmed to tell contradictory stories or deny the accounts; memories recovered under hypnotherapy do not hold up well by current rules of evidence; the mere mention of ritual abuse is "enough to ruin the chances of successful conviction" in child abuse cases, which are difficult enough to prosecute. "Many rational, properly skeptical persons lump reports of ritual abuse with sensational mass rumors such as those about visiting Martians, the Abominable Snowman, and the return of Elvis Presley.... Cultists count on the disbelief of the skeptical as their best protection." They compare the typical reaction to that with which members of the public greeted reports of incest only a decade ago (189).

Given the lack of solid evidence, how do we, in fact, know that ritual abuse truly exists? Therapists who believed that patients reporting ritual abuse were psychotic saw very little improvement in such patients. Therapists who accepted the abuse as a working hypothesis and treated for it saw marked improvement. This pattern has been consistent regardless of the age, religious belief, or treatment school of the therapist. The authors report a 1991 workshop in Utah at which thirty-two mental health therapists reported treating 360 separate survivors of ritual abuse. In early 1992, sixty-six Utah therapists signed a petition attesting that they had clients with memories of ritual abuse and asking public officials to take appropriate action. The Governor’s Task Force on Ritual Abuse (see below) was appointed as a result. The authors comment, "While evidence that is legally admissible in the courtroom setting has been scarce, evidence that is convincing in medical and therapeutic settings is increasing"(191).

Why would anyone commit ritual abuse? "Most of us, in our truly honest moments, can imagine ourselves committing virtually every other crime, if provoked.

Though we may have no temptation.... we can understand why [others do].... But most of us find it impossible to imagine... [the] senseless torturing of children and slaughtering of animals." They quote one survivor who suffered criminal cult abuse from the age of eighteen months until she ran away from home at fourteen. Angered at those who repeatedly asked, "Why would anyone do such things?" she shouted, "Because they CAN! And as long as they can, they will." The authors point out that the Holocaust, within the living memory of most, also perpetrated unthinkable crimes. They add that much cult activity is multigenerational. Hence, victims accept terrible and painful practices as "part of the way things are." Another reason is that for many cultists, such acts "constitute religious worship."

The chapter concludes with a warning that any child could be at risk, partly because cultists "will be neatly dressed and groomed, friendly and active citizens" who are often "dissociative and thus unaware of their other cult-involved selves." They offer specific advice about prevention, symptoms of ritualistic abuse, and helpful attitudes to take during the healing process. One section is devoted to the assistance to be provided by ecclesiastical leaders:


Priesthood leaders must consider themselves part of the therapeutic team; if they do not help to heal the spiritual wounds, who will? If rebuffed or dismissed with a smile, a pat on the back, and glib reassurance that "It will all work out," a survivor may have his or her worst fears confirmed, and wander on the fringes for years. The professional therapists have their work, and the spiritual counselors have theirs. Neither can do the work of the other....

Most survivors of ritual abuse have been programmed to believe that no one outside the cult could possibly love them, because of the crimes they have participated in. They have been convinced that God does not love them, or he would have saved them. Family and ecclesiastical leaders can help the healing by manifesting patient, unconditional love and by sharing their testimony that God does indeed love the survivor….

Remember that some survivors have been tortured amid the mock trappings of church or temple; the real church or temple services may trigger recurrences of the trauma. It is crucial for ecclesiastical leaders NOT to punish or reject in any way a person who feels unable to work out healing in the religious context. Some individuals may have to heal spiritually outside of the organized church context. (198-99)




On 19 July 1990, Elder Glenn L Pace, then a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, sent a memo to the "Strengthening Church Members Committee" on the subject of "Ritualistic Child Abuse."1


Pursuant to the Committee’s request, I am writing this memorandum to pass along what I have learned about ritualistic child abuse. Hopefully, it will be of some value to you as you continue to monitor the problem.

You have already received the LDS Social Services report on Satanism dated May 24, 1989, a report from Brent Ward, [Utah State Attorney General] and a memorandum from myself dated October 20,1989 in response to Brother Ward’s report.

Therefore, I will limit this writing to information not contained in those papers.

I have met with sixty victims. That number could be twice or three times as many if I did not discipline myself to only one meeting per week. I have not wanted my involvement with this issue to become a handicap in fulfilling my assigned responsibilities. On the other hand, I felt someone needed to pay the price to obtain an intellectual and spiritual conviction as to the seriousness of this problem within the Church.

Of the sixty victims with whom I have met, fifty-three are female and seven are male. Eight are children. The abuse occurred in the following places: Utah (37), Idaho (3), California (4), Mexico (2), and other places (14). Fifty-three victims are currently living in the State of Utah. All sixty individuals are members of the Church. Forty-five victims allege witnessing and/or participating in human sacrifice. The majority were abused by relatives, often their parents. All have developed psychological problems and most have been diagnosed as having multiple personality disorder or some other form of dissociative disorder.

Ritualistic child abuse is the most hideous of all child abuse. The basic objective is premeditated—to systematically and methodically torture and terrorize children until they are forced to dissociate. The torture is not a consequence of the loss of temper, but the execution of well-planned, well-thought out rituals often performed by close relatives. The only escape for the children is to dissociate. They will develop a new personality to enable them to endure various forms of abuse. When the episode is over, the core personality is again in control and the individual is not conscious of what happened. Dissociation also serves the purposes of the occult because the children have no day-to-day memory of the atrocities. They go through adolescence and early adulthood with no active memory of what is taking place. Oftentimes they continue in rituals through their teens and early twenties, unaware of their involvement. Many individuals with whom I have spoken have served missions and it has not been until later that they begin to remember. One individual has memories of participating in rituals while serving as a full-time missionary.

The victims lead relatively normal lives, but the memories are locked up in a compartment in their minds and surface in various ways. They don’t know how to cope with the emotions because they can’t find the source. As they become adults and move into another environment, something triggers the memories and, consequently, flashbacks and/or nightmares occur. One day they will have been living a normal life and the next they will be in a mental hospital in a fetal position. The memories of their early childhood are recalled in so much detail that they once again feel the pain that caused the dissociation in the first place.

There are two reasons why adults can remember with such detail events that happened in their past: First, the terror they experienced was so stark that it was indelibly placed in their mind. Second, the memory was compartmentalized in a certain portion of the mind and was not subjected to the dilution of experiences of ensuing years. When it is tapped, it is as fresh as if it happened yesterday.

The memories seem to come in layers. For example, the first memory might be of incest, then they remember robes and candles; next they realize that their father or mother or both were present when they were being abused. Another layer will be the memory of seeing other people hurt and even killed. Then they remember having seen babies killed. Another layer is realizing that they participated in the sacrifices. One of the most painful memories may be that they even sacrificed their own baby. With each layer of memory comes another set of problems with which they must deal.

Some have said that the witnesses to this type of treatment cannot be trusted because of the victim’s unstable condition and because practically all of them have some kind of dissociative disorder; in fact, the stories are so bizarre as to raise serious credibility questions. The irony is that one of the objectives of the occult is to create multiple personalities within the children in order to keep the "secrets." They live in society without society having any idea that something is wrong since the children and teenagers don’t even realize there is another life occurring in darkness and in secret. However, when sixty witnesses testify to the same type of torture and murder, it becomes impossible for me, personally, not to believe them.

I mention multiple personalities because the spiritual healing which must take place in the lives of these victims cannot happen without their priesthood leaders understanding something about it

The spiritual indoctrination which takes place during the physical abuse is one of the most difficult to overcome. In addition to experiencing stark terror and pain, the children are also instructed in satanic doctrine. Everything is completely reversed: white is black, black is white, good is bad, bad is good, Satan is going to rule during the Millennium.

Children are put in a situation where they believe they are going to die-such as being buried alive or being placed in a plastic bag and immersed in water. Prior to doing so, the abuser tells the child to pray to Jesus to see if He will save her. Imagine a seven year old girl, having been told she is going to die, praying to Jesus to save her and nothing happens—then at the last moment she is rescued, but the person saving her is a representative of Satan. He uses this experience to convince her that the only person who really cares about her is Satan, she is Satan’s child and she might as well become loyal to him.

Just before or shortly after their baptism into the Church, children are baptized by blood into the satanic order which is meant to cancel out their baptism into the Church. They will be asked if they understand or have ever felt the Holy Ghost. When they reply that they have, they will be reminded of the horrible things they have participated in and will be told that they have become a son (or daughter) of perdition and, therefore, have no chance of being saved or loved by our Father in heaven or Jesus.

All of this indoctrination takes place with whichever personality has emerged to endure the physical, mental, and spiritual pain. Consequently, there develops within each of these individuals the makings of what I call a civil war. As the memories begin to surface, there are personalities who feel they have given themselves to Satan, and there is no hope for forgiveness. The core person is an active member of the Church, often with a temple recommend. As integration takes place, the civil war begins. Sometimes, in an interview, personalities of the dark side have come out. They are petrified or perhaps full of hate for me and what I represent. Eventually those personalities need to be dealt with spiritually and psychologically.

Most victims are suicidal. They have been brainwashed with drugs, hypnosis, and other means to become suicidal as soon as they start to tell the secrets. They have been threatened all of their lives that if they don’t do what they are told their brother or sister will die, their parents will die, their house will be burned, or they themselves will be killed. They have every reason to believe it since they have seen people killed. They believe they might as well kill themselves instead of wait for the occult to do it. Some personalities feel it is the right thing to do.

The purpose of this detail is to stress the complexity of psychological and spiritual therapy for these individuals. Our priesthood leaders, when faced with such cases, are understandably at a loss of how to respond. Orthodox counsel is completely ineffective. For example, some victims have been told that this all happened in their past and that they should put it behind them and get on with their lives. This is just not possible. Part of the spiritual therapy necessary is for priesthood leaders to assist with the conversion process of the personalities who have been indoctrinated into Satanism. Victims must integrate their personalities so that they can function as whole persons and be able to deal with their problems and then get on with their lives. Often, some of the parts will begin to act out—perhaps promiscuously—and a good intentioned priesthood leader, following the General Handbook of Instructions, will disfellowship or excommunicate an individual. All this does is reinforce the satanic indoctrination of the victims that they are no good.

I’m sorry to say that many of the victims have had their first flashbacks while attending the temple for the first time. The occult along the Wasatch Front uses the doctrine of the Church to their advantage. For example, the verbiage and gestures are used in a ritualistic ceremony in a very debased and often bloody manner. When the victim goes to the temple and hears the exact words, horrible memories are triggered. We have recently been disturbed with members of the Church who have talked about the temple ceremony. Compared to what is happening in the occult along the Wasatch Front, these are very minor infractions. The perpetrators are also living a dual life. Many are temple recommend holders. This leads to another reason why the Church needs to consider the seriousness of these problems. In effect, the Church is being used.

I go out of my way to not let the victims give me the names of the perpetrators. I have told them that my responsibility is to help them with spiritual healing and that the names of perpetrators should be given to therapists and law enforcement officers. However, they have told me the positions in the Church of members who are perpetrators. Among others, there are Young Women leaders, Young Men leaders, bishops, a patriarch, a stake president, temple workers, and members of the Tabernacle Choir. These accusations are not coming from individuals who think they recognized someone, but from those who have been abused by people they know, in many cases their own family members.

Whatever the form of abuse our main concern is for the victims, but there are legal ramifications. We are disturbed to receive reports that a scoutmaster has abused the boys in his troop. It is not difficult to imagine what would happen if we learn that a bishop or stake president has participated in the abominations of ritualistic child abuse. Not only do some of the perpetrators represent a cross section of the Mormon culture, but sometimes the abuse has taken place in our own meetinghouses.

I don’t pretend to know how prevalent the problem is. All I know is that I have met with 60 victims. Assuming each one comes from a coven of 13, we are talking about the involvement of 800 or so right here on the Wasatch Front. Obviously, I have only seen those coming forth to get help. They are in their twenties and thirties for the most part. I can only assume that it is expanding geometrically and am horrified at the numbers represented by the generation who are now children and teenagers.

Another reason for concern is that there are several doctrinal issues that need to be resolved. The Church and society in general are very skeptical as to whether the occult and its activities do exist. There is no First Presidency statement relative to some of the doctrinal issues: What does a priesthood leader tell individuals who come forward and say that they have participated in these rituals—which may include human sacrifice? Should they have a temple recommend? Will they ever be forgiven? There are questions regarding free agency and accountability. Is a person who has been raised in an occult from infancy accountable for things that take place in a dissociated state, even though those acts were committed after the age of eight? I have formed my own opinions to these questions and have done the best I can. However, I don’t have the mantle to make these doctrinal and policy decisions. I have relied on the mantle of a bishop regarding discernment and being a common judge.

The few priesthood leaders who have had to face these issues are crying out for help because they don’t want to give their own opinions and yet there is no place to go for an answer. A bishop will go to his stake president who says he doesn’t believe it is happening and that the member is just crazy. The stake president might go to an Area Presidency who will react in a similar way. Most people are afraid to surface it to the First Presidency for fear of getting the same reaction and don’t want to appear crazy themselves for asking the question.

I hope you will excuse me if I am being presumptuous, but I am concluding this paper with scriptures I feel support my belief that these activities are real and cannot be ignored.

The things I have been writing about go back to Cain and Abel:


And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not, for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it, and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.

And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret.

And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness. (Moses 5:29.31.)


All of the experiences I have heard about have to do with secrecy, swearing not to tell, murdering to get gain and power:


Wherefore Lamech, being angry, slew him, not like unto Cain, his brother Abel for the sake of getting gain, but he slew him for the oaths sake.

For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark, and they knew every man his brother. (Moses 5:50-51.)


And then in Moses 6:15 we learn that as people began to fill the earth, so did these secret works:


And the children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land. And in those days Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and A man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power.


The Book of Mormon is replete with descriptions of these secret murderous combinations as well as prophecies that they will always be with us:


And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness. (2 Nephi 9:9.)

Wherefore, for this cause, that my covenants may be fulfilled which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh, I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations. (2 Nephi 10:15.)

And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever. (2 Nephi 26:22.)


In Alma, we find that the Lord commanded some of the prophets not to write any of the secret works, especially of the secret oaths, so that they would not become known by generations to follow, but that they might be warned that they do exist:


And now, I will speak unto you concerning those twenty-four plates, that ye keep them, that the mysteries and the works of darkness, and their secret works, or the secret works of those people who have been destroyed, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, all their murders, and robbings, and their plunderings, and all their wickedness and abominations, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, and that ye preserve these interpreters....

I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.

And now, my son, we see that they did not repent; therefore they have been destroyed, and thus far the word of God has been fulfilled; yea, their secret abominations have been brought out of darkness and made known unto us.

And now, my son, I command you that ye retain all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall keep from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed.

For behold, there is a curse upon all this land, that destruction shall come upon all those workers of darkness, according to the power of God, when they are fully ripe; therefore I desire that this people might be destroyed. (Alma 37:21, 25-28.)


In Helaman, the name of Gadianton is introduced and becomes descriptive throughout the Book of Mormon relative to the secret combinations.


But behold, Kishkumen, who had murdered Pahoran, did lay wait to destroy Helaman also; and he was upheld by his band, who had entered into a covenant that no one should know his wickedness.

For there was one Gadianton, who was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen....

And when the servant of Helaman had known all the heart of Kishkumen, and how that it was his object to murder, and also that it was the object of all those who belonged to his band to murder, and to rob, and to gain power, (and this was their secret plan, and their combination) the servant of Helaman said unto Kishkumen: Let us go forth unto the judgment-seat. (Helaman 2:34, 8.)


It was true then as it is now that these things were not known by the general populace or by the government:


And it came to pass in the forty and ninth year of the reign of the judges, there was continual peace established in the land, all save it were the secret combinations which Gadianton the robber had established in the more settled parts of the land, which at that time were not known unto those who were at the head of government, therefore they were not destroyed out of the land. (Helaman 3:23.)


In Chapter 6, we learn that in spite of the Lord’s command to the prophets not to write these things, Satan is capable, and always has been, of revealing his secrets to his followers just as the Lord has revealed His will to the prophets.


And now behold, those murderers and plunderers were a band who had been formed by Kishkumen and Gadianton. And now it had come to pass that there were many, even among the Nephites, of Gadianton’s band. But behold, they were more numerous among the more wicked part of the Lamanites. And they were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers....

But behold, Satan did stir up the hearts of the more part of the Nephites, insomuch that they did unite with those bands of robbers, and did enter into their covenants and their oaths, that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed that they should not suffer for their murders, and their plunderings, and their stealings.

And it came to pass that they did have their signs, yea, their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do he should not be injured by his brother, nor by those who did belong to his band, who had taken this covenant.

And thus they might murder and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God.

And whosoever of those who belonged to their band should reveal unto the world of their wickedness and their abominations, should be tried, not according to the laws of their country, but according to the laws of their wickedness, which had been given by Gadianton and Kishkumen.

Now behold, it is these secret oaths and covenants which Alma commanded his son should not go forth unto the world, lest they should be a means of bringing down the people unto destruction.

Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman; but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit...

Yea, it is that same being who put it into the heart of Gadianton to still carry on the work of darkness, and of secret murder; and he has brought it forth from the beginning of man even down to this time.

And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men. (Helaman 6:18, 21-26, 29-30.)


In light of this scripture, it is naive for us to think these things would not exist in our own generation. We know this is the last dispensation, the dispensation of the fullness of times. Surely Satan would not "pass" on this most important dispensation.

In Helaman 8:1 we learn that people in high places were members of the Gadianton band and secret combinations:


And now it came to pass that when Nephi had said these words, behold, there were men who were judges, who also belonged to the secret band of Gadianton, and they were angry, and they cried out against him, saying unto the people: Why do ye not seize upon this man and bring him forth, that he may be condemned according to the crime which he has done?


We have allegations to indicate that this is true of people in high places today in both the Church and the government who are leading this dual life. The secret combinations were mentioned all through the Book of Mormon. In Mormon 1:18-19 we read that these Gadianton robbers were still alive and well and functioning:


And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.

And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land, even unto the fulfilling of all the words of Abinadi, and also Samuel the Lamanite.


In Mormon 8:27 there is a prophecy that secret combinations will be among us in our time:


And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.


The extent of the evil that mankind will perpetrate on another is told in Moroni 9:10:


And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery.


Many of us have read this all of our lives and click our tongues at how awful it would be to live in such a time. Those victims with whom I have spoken testify to these things going on all around us today. In Ether we are told that they will exist amongst us, the gentiles, and we are also warned that we should do something about it:


And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites.

And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

Wherefore, 0 ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. (Ether 8:20-24.)


In summary, we live in the last dispensation of the fullness of times and Satan is here with his secret combinations in all of the ugliness that existed in previous dispensations. The scriptures prophesy to that reality. I also believe that the scriptures cited and many others that could be quoted argue against our being passive about the problem. I don’t want to be known as an alarmist or a fanatic on the issue. Now that I have put what I have learned in writing to you, I feel the issue is in the right court. I hope to take a low profile on the subject and get on with the duties which I have been formally assigned. This is not to say I would not be willing to be of service. Over the last eighteen months I have acquired a compassionate love and respect for the victims who are fighting for the safety of their physical lives and, more importantly, their souls.


It seems significant that Elder Pace spent half of his memo establishing a scriptural basis for the existence of ritual abuse as part of the secret combinations and abominations of the last days. Prophecy is, for a Mormon audience, one of the most convincing ways of affirming that something is possible.

On 2 July 1991, Jerald and Sandra Tanner received a copy of the Pace memo from an unidentified source.2 Linda Walker, an investigator and writer from San Francisco then doing research on incest and satanic abuse within Mormonism, says that she received a copy of the memo from them. Walker interviewed Bishop Pace and he confirmed that he had "interviewed about one hundred victims of ritualistic abuse." The Tanners also gave a second copy to a second researcher, who was suspicious about the authenticity of the memo and about the existence of the Strengthening Church Members Committee. He confirmed the existence of both the memo and the committee with a secretary in Pace’s office. Bishop Pace himself was assigned to serve in the area presidency in Australia from June 1992 to June 1995; he has never made a public statement on either the memo or his participation on the task force.

The authenticity of the memo has been challenged by those who feel that Jerald and Sandra Tanner, who are known "anti-Mormons," would not scruple to forge a document. Those familiar with the Tanners’ work, while they may not agree with their methods or conclusions, believe that they adhere to scrupulous standards of accuracy. Since the Church acknowledged the existence of the memo without any qualifications about its accuracy, attempts to deny the existence or seriousness of ritual abuse by casting doubts on the authorship of the memo cannot be taken seriously.




A Governor’s Task Force on Ritual Abuse was created in March 1990 out of concerns raised by the Governor’s Commission on Women and Family and the state Task Force on Child Abuse. The task force concluded that ritual abuse was occurring in Utah as a significant problem and recommended that the legislature appropriate $250,000 to the Attorney General’s office to hire four investigators for a year. Some funds were appropriated, and two investigators were hired.

In late February 1995, the Utah Attorney General’s office closed a two-and-a-half-year investigation with two investigators of "over 125 cases of alleged ritual crime. In some cases, these investigations involved hundreds of hours of investigation and evaluation. In addition, the Unit investigators have met with hundreds of citizens who claim to be victims of satanic, religious, physical or sexually motivated ritual crimes….None of the allegations…. have resulted in’ prosecutions except for the case of the Zion Society in Ogden."3 The investigators used a broad definition of ritual ("any customarily repeated act or series of acts"), differentiated between ritualism and occultism, and described eleven different types of occult groups.4

Investigator Mike King told KUTV that he and another investigator talked to "hundreds" of victims who alleged they were raped, tortured, forced to perform horrible acts [,]…brainwashed, saw babies murdered or were forced to participate in ritual murders. ‘I really feel for these people and I would like to help them, but we just couldn’t find the evidence."’ Gerald Lazar, head of psychiatry at LDS Hospital, said "he has never been able to independently verify memories of satanic ritual abuse."5




One of the cases they investigated on which the statute of limitations had expired involved the confession of the perpetrators. In late April 1995, Rachel Hopkins spoke on television and to the media.6 She related how "her parents and others, some of them relatives, would dress in black robes for sporadic rituals that involved terror and torture. ‘I was sexually abused in every way you can conceive. I was tortured and had the bottoms of my feet cut. I was made to believe I was killing a baby, and they forced me to kill dogs and cats.... I was bathed in a tub of blood and forced to look at myself in a mirror. I was tied up and hung upside down and spun. I was suffocated and electrocuted to the point of being bowed and paralyzed. Sometimes they forced me and my siblings to hurt one another. They would tell me, ‘Now you’re one of us. If you tell anybody, they won’t believe you and they’ll put you in a mental hospital.’ And they threatened to torture me until I was dead."

An on-camera visual showed her as a three-year-old, her face and legs dark with bruises while a voice read from her mother’s confession, describing little Rachel being "tortured and sexually abused and threatened with my life and used as a sacrifice at least three times." Her father, according to her mother’s written confession, "cut off your night clothes and panties." To frighten her, a dog was hung by the back feet, its throat was cut, it was disemboweled, and its hind legs were cut off." Rachel was "hung by your feet after being bound." She remembers instances of cannibalism, of animal sacrifice, and of seeing her "baby brother being murdered by the cult." The confession continued: "I performed the same sexual acts on you at home. The sexual abuse in our home was a repeat of the ritual."

Hopkins and her siblings believe Rachel was signaled out for more intensive abuse because of her blond hair and blue eyes and because she refused to submit willingly to the rituals. "‘They wanted total compliance,’ she said. ‘But I would fight and kick and scream. I guess I shamed them in front of their cronies. I became the object of their hatred."’ She ran away from home at age seventeen, has a happy marriage of twenty years duration, is the mother of two children, recently "returned to college to complete her undergraduate degree and…is devoted to the LDS Church." She had forgotten the abuse until memories began to surface in September of 1992.

"For Hopkins, the healing began when people started to believe her—her husband, her therapist, church leaders and even the attorney general’s investigators. "‘The first time I called my parents up and told them I had been sexually abused and I knew they did it, they told me I was hallucinating,"’ she said. ‘Since that time, they have written letters to each of the children confirming everything in explicit detail."’ An important part of Rachel’s credibility was that all three of the daughters remember the same things and told the bishop and stake president. Although her parents vehemently denied the abuse at first, the bishop and stake president persisted: "But all three—all of the children say this, you know. Why would they say this if it isn’t true?" Rachel’s parents finally confessed and settled out of court, paying for her therapy. (It is not known whether the other daughters are also in therapy.) Her mother’s confession letter concludes: "We are so happy to send this check. We pray for your healing. Love, Mom and Dad."

The parents also admitted the abuse to investigators Mike King and Mart Jacobson, who reported: "Both the mother and the father admitted to serious sexual and physical crimes against the [three female] children and named several other individuals who were also involved."’ The newspaper articles did not state whether action had been taken on the parents’ membership.

Paul Murphy’s interview concluded: "[Rachel] said her parents used their religion to hide the abuse, but it was actually her faith that helped her pull through this. Why is this woman coming forward? Secrecy has been a weapon for her parents and other people that abused children. She wanted to shed light on it. She also wanted people to know that ritual abuse does exist. It has happened to her, but if you get some help you can survive it.

It was a message that many victims of ritual abuse never hear.

Notes for Chapter 6

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1Photocopies of this memo circulated widely; it was also posted on Mormon lists on the Internet in the spring of 1994.

2The information about the publication of the memo comes from Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Satanic Ritual Abuse and Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1992), 1.6. This publication of about 100 pages includes an overview and introduction, and a photoreproduction of the Pace memo along with the results of the Tanners’ own investigation.

3 About a hundred people followed self-proclaimed prophet Arvin Shreeve who was sexually involved with his female followers, taught them to be sexually involved with each other, and included children in the sexual activity. The group, which lived in ten neighboring homes, home-schooled their children and took a "survivalist" attitude. Twelve adults were charged, convicted, and sentenced for sexual abuse of children. Shreeve and another offender, Sharon Kapp, are serving twenty-to-life and ten-to-life sentences respectively. Lt. Michael R. King and Lt. Matt Jacobson, Ritual Crime in the State of Utah: Investigation, Analysis, and a Look Forward (Salt Lake City: Attorney General’s Office, 1995), 3.

4 Two groups which have child abuse as a major purpose are pseudo-Satanists and generational Satanists. The first group consists of adults "who function as a group and who ritualistically abuse children. They tend to be geographically localized with ties to outside groups….Their motivation is personal sexual pleasure and/or monetary gain. They are pedophiles and/or pornographers who use Satanism as a means of controlling their victims and discrediting them should they go to the authorities. Satanism to them is not a religion, but a means of control." Generational Satanists "are usually born into this group and there does not appear to be an escape from it, short of death. They are very organized, very disciplined, and extremely secretive…. These people are responsible for horrific ritual abuse and sacrifice of children. They also abuse and kill adult members of their groups.... Although some members of these groups may be involved for monetary gain or personal power and control, most practice for religious reasons." Ibid., 15-16.

5 AP, "Satanism Probe Comes Up Empty," Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Feb. 1995, D-3.

6 Jeff Spangler, "Report Finds Little Proof of Ritual Abuse," Deseret News, 25-26 April 1995, B-2; Jerry Spangler, "Ritual Abuse Does Exist, Victim Says," ibid., B-l, B-2; King and Jacobson, "Ritual Crime in the State of Utah," 3. She was identified as "Rachel Hopkins" in the newspaper articles and as "Jenny" in an on-camera interview with Paul Murphy, KTVX-TV (Channel 4, Salt Lake City); videotape in my possession.