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Britain’s Botched Child Abuse Scandal

To put it mildly, it was an awkward social situation. After murdering a small boy during a pedophile orgy, a senior Member of Parliament [1] determined to castrate another victim with a knife. He was prevented from this act by a former British Prime Minister who was present at the event. That fellow-pervert suggested that this was going a little far, even for a group that had already murdered several other children. How far we have traveled from Downton Abbey.

If I seem to be treating such a horrific story sarcastically, I honestly do not know how else to respond to such a monstrous and fantastic allegation, or the fact that senior ranks of the British police have treated this phantasmagoric tale—and countless others of the same sort—as sober fact. Lives and reputations have been ruined. Fortunately, it now seems that the whole disastrous saga of falsehoods is about to collapse amidst purges and resignations, with growing warnings about police reliance on “narcissists and fantasists.” The main question presently is how much of the British legal and criminal justice system will go down with this horribly flawed investigation. Dare we hope that common sense will at last prevail?

Some months ago, I outlined the mythology of “elite pedophile rings” [2] that had been circulating in Britain for some years. The allegedly homicidal MP in question was Harvey Proctor, the former Premier was Edward Heath, while other rumored perpetrators from the early 1980s included multiple figures at the highest ranks of politics, intelligence and the military. One of the accused was former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, others were the heads of MI5 and MI6. As the saying goes, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and that was certainly applicable in this instance—but what was extraordinary was how incredibly weak-to-non-existent was the evidence offered.

The whole “Westminster Pedophile Ring” extravaganza depends on the unsupported testimony of one anonymous man [3], “Nick,” a 47-year old administrator in the National Health Service, and a former nurse, who reports being present at various events as an abused child victim. His claims may theoretically be correct, but as yet, no corroboration has been found to support them. Even so, he became the star witness for a special police investigative unit, Operation Midland, and last year one leading officer described Nick’s testimony as “credible and true.” As even the Metropolitan Police has now admitted, the prejudicial word “true” should never have been uttered in this context—but how convenient never to have to take any of these cases to trial! If the police were able simply to declare the charges true then ideally, nothing would be left except to build the bonfire for the accused.

Over the months, Nick’s tales have faced increasing skepticism, and major new exposés should be forthcoming within the coming weeks, as long-postponed investigative documentaries finally appear on British television. Nick’s many critics point out that he had for years reported suffering extensive abuse as a child, but only very recently did he add the charges about elite offenders and MPs. So why on earth did the police call Nick “credible”? Later statements explained what this meant. Yes, police might sometimes encounter serial liars and hopeless fantasists, but in police eyes, “Nick” did not fit that bill, as he is a respectable, well-spoken, middle class guy not actually slavering at the mouth. Therefore, he could not be lying. Even if he is reporting events factually, it is surely very bad practice to judge someone’s reliability or truthfulness wholly on their demeanor and speech habits.

We have to be cautious about using the word “lying,” which implies deliberately and knowingly making false statements. It is simple, though, to cite examples where people have falsely reported child abuse, without actually lying. In the 1990s, many thousands of patients of so-called recovered memory treatment recounted atrocious sufferings at the hands of ritualized and Satanic abuse rings. Some of those patients presumably had been abused in some form, but we can say with total confidence that the vast majority of the episodes they were reporting never happened as objective realities. These people, too, generally presented as rational, well-balanced adults, often from decent professional backgrounds, and they genuinely believed what they were saying. But what they described still never happened.

Quite apart from recovered memory cases, other people do indeed tell false tales—although we might again cavil that they are not consciously lying. Of course serial liars exist, and some genuinely reach the point where they do not know the difference between truth and fiction. Britain’s Daily Telegraph [4] recently exposed one alleged abuse victim, “who also claimed to have evidence of two murders, had been convicted of making hoax bomb calls, had falsely confessed to murder, and been accused by a judge of telling ‘whopping lies’.”

In the real world, such a career history would devastate the witness’s credibility, but in the mirror universe of child abuse investigation, it actually bolsters the claims. Let me explain that paradox. Central to that whole mindset is one simple statement that has achieved the status of a religious creed: victims never lie about child abuse. Children don’t lie, nor do adults reporting their childhood sufferings. If you doubt this fact—if you use a word like “alleged” victim—then you are an accomplice to that abuse. If you seek to challenge or discredit statements about abuse, then you are also striking at all future victims and survivors who would be discouraged from reporting their experiences. Doubt is of the devil.


That approach helps us understand the extreme tolerance granted to purported victims who on the face of it sound deeply unconvincing: the ones with lengthy records of psychiatric treatment and commitment; with multiple convictions for petty crime and fraud; with decades-long involvement with substance abuse, including the hardest and most destructive drugs; and the serial liars. What about the ones who utter not a word about the alleged crimes until 20 or 30 years after the event? Surely, these are not credible?

Oh ye of little faith. Listen to the experts, read the professional journals, and you shall know the truth. In fact, we are told, the degree of mental disorder and social malfunction in adult life is a direct and inevitable consequence of the childhood abuse, and the severity of that abuse is directly proportionate to the degree of adult dysfunction. In simple terms, the worse the acts of childhood molestation and rape, the more likely the lying and substance abuse. Of course they seem to be crazy people, drug addicts, and persistent liars, and that fact proves the truth of their claims. Got that? Equally, the worse the abuse, the longer the time period before they might feel able to expose it to the world.

Then, we add the last critical element, of anonymity. No abuse victim wishes to be exposed to scorn, so of course he or she is granted anonymity in making charges, a luxury not afforded to the alleged abuser. That protection is doubly necessary when the victim is exposing the horrors attributed to politicians and intelligence officers, who might seek revenge. In practice, then, we have the perfect situation for the generation of accusations: the more improbable or ludicrous the charges, the more likely they are to be believed, and all accusations can be lodged from behind a wall of secrecy.

In a powerful press conference [1], Harvey Proctor gave the police a simple choice. Charge him immediately with murder and let the case go before a jury—or else identify “Nick” publicly, and prosecute him for wasting police time. And let the police involved be moved to some other function where their skills can be used more profitably, such as traffic duty.

His challenge stands.

Philip Jenkins is the author of The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels [5] (Basic Books, forthcoming Fall 2015). He is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University and serves as co-director for the Program on Historical Studies of Religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion.

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8 Comments To "Britain’s Botched Child Abuse Scandal"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 30, 2015 @ 5:13 am

I know of an employer who terminated two male employees, due to completely false accusations that could not be verified by a new troubled woman employee, because “victims never lie” and most importantly, the accused were disposable while challenging the woman would have involved expense and business risk. The power ploy worked to her advantage, too, as she was promoted.

#2 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 30, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

At no time and on no issue have you outlined an issue this accurately in my view. (no offense intended)

And it’s high time that the UK dealt with his head on.

Would this matter was just this case and that Island.

#3 Comment By Robert On September 30, 2015 @ 4:26 pm

Fair enough, Professor Jenkins, but there’s a factor which needs to be mentioned in this case which doesn’t apply in America. Namely, England’s thrice-insane libel laws (I do not know if Scotland and Wales suffer from the same legislation).

As a result of these laws, any pedophile in England can go unpunished through a simple threat of suing for libel, even when – especially when – he is as guilty as hell. Lawyers even have a cynical phrase to describe the whole situation: “libel tourism.”

Thanks be to God, Marcial Maciel wasn’t quite clever enough to end his worthless and pernicious life in England. If he had been, it would have been impossible to have public discussion of his loathsome crimes until after he was dead. Vide the case of Cyril Smith, whom Professor Jenkins himself mentioned (and condemned) in The American Conservative only this year.

#4 Comment By Junior On September 30, 2015 @ 6:47 pm

I suppose that this author is just going to ignore the Jeffrey Epstein child abuse case in which Bill Clinton and the Duke of York, Prince Andrew were linked.

And I suppose that we should all just ignore the “Cremation of Care” ceremony that the Elite carry out when they all get together at Bohemian Grove in which they symbolically burn an effigy to a sacrificed child at the altar of some Owl God. If they are more than willing to do it symbolically then why is it “wild-eyed conspiracy theory” to think that they just might be more than willing to carry it out for real?

I have no real knowledge of this Nick case and of COURSE proof and evidence MUST be presented as the author implies, but what I take issue with is the authors framing of the issue as “mythology” and implying that you have to be some kind of a kook to believe that it’s possible that Elites would engage in child abuse rings and partake in child sacrifice. Get a clue Mr. Jenkins.

#5 Comment By cecelia On September 30, 2015 @ 10:15 pm

besides the headline grabbing famous people cases – there have been several cases involving the sexual abuse of children in state care homes. These tend to be overlooked and retired police have confessed that they did ignore complaints sent to them re: the care homes. So clearly not all are liars.

It seems that there is an element of hysteria which starts to develop in these situations but we cannot forget the legitimate cases such as Rotherham which went unaddressed despite victims and families going to the police.

#6 Comment By Robert Forde On October 1, 2015 @ 3:15 pm

The strange thing is that almost no one outside the police force here in the UK seems to believe these extreme and inherently improbable claims. We have heard too many which later turned out to be false. And some of the claims rather smack of anti-gay views: somehow, it is nearly always males who make these over-the-top accusations against other males, and the police appear all too ready to believe them. Heath, one of those posthumously accused, was a loner who never had a girlfriend, so obviously he’s got to be weird, right? (In a searching TV interview he once said that he had had an unhappy love affair when young, and that this affected him for years). Meanwhile, we ask ourselves who is investigating the really plausible cases, which Cecelia mentioned. But they “only” involved girls. No queers, then, so that’s OK.

By the way, re the comment on legal systems, England and Wales don’t have separate legal systems. Scotland and Northern Ireland do have their own. But beware of making simple assumptions about our libel laws (which have, incidentally, just been reformed). Some accused people have threatened to sue, but (as in other countries) it is generally considered a good idea to provide evidence when accusing people of serious crimes. Innocent people threaten to sue too, and this cannot automatically be taken as evidence of guilt!

#7 Comment By Robert On October 1, 2015 @ 9:44 pm

I was unaware that there had been any libel law reform in the Britain until Robert Forde mentioned the fact above. That reform has got to be a step in the right direction.

(Me, I am old enough to recall how commie-symps like Lord Aldington were aided by existing libel statues in getting away, quite literally, with being accessories to murder. And then there was the whole Robert Maxwell brouhaha of the late 1980s / early 1990s: today any Wikipedia user can obtain information about what a thief, liar, and fantasist Maxwell was, but it was the devil’s own job getting such information on the public record when Maxwell was alive and routinely shutting down accurate reporting.)

Here in the Australia of 2015 we currently have a worst-of-all-worlds situation where:

(a) we now know that leagues of sexual predators within Australian Catholicism (as well as elsewhere) were incomparably stronger, more widespread, and more often enabled by utterly corrupt “psychotherapists” than even the nastiest anti-Catholics imagined until recently;

(b) many of such predators and all of the “psychotherapists” benefited from British-style libel laws while alive;

(c) most of the Catholic clergy, and all of the Catholic bishops, refuse to stand up for themselves. When they are not in denial mode they are in “kick me” mode.

A Catholic bishop in the Australia of 2015 who actually wanted to gain some respect (it is far too late to gain popularity) would call a press conference and tell mass-media nihilists, at that conference, something like the following:

“Sexual perversion is the complete betrayal of everything the Catholic Church stands for. But it is the complete fulfillment of everything most of you stand for.

“Your brains – whether you are culturally literate enough to perceive this, and let’s face it, most of you aren’t – are marinated in Freud, Brecht, Kinsey, Wilhelm Reich, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Allen Ginsberg, and Charlie Hebdo. Your private lives would disgrace a Rotherham orphanage. And you purport to judge us?

“Look, here’s a deal. Every convicted pervert within the Catholic Church, we will excommunicate. When he dies, we will refuse him burial in consecrated ground. We will de-consecrate the burial sites of those perverts already dead. That is Catholicism’s ‘nuclear option’, which we will put into effect.

“In return, we insist on this. Whenever your antics lead to totally innocent persons being smeared for life, we will use the full strength of the law to ensure that you never behave similarly again.

“Nor, since you have made it clear that you hold the law in contempt, would we automatically rule out the kinds of extra-judiciary actions you yourself are so fond of. When you are confronted by not-particularly-pleasant policemen with the results of your mass-media lies, do you really wish to run the risk of being so horribly punished that it might well be necessarily to scrape the resultant jelly-like substance, formerly known as you, off the nearest concrete wall with shards of fiberglass?

“We think, given your well-attested cowardice, that you know the answer to that question as least as well as we do.”

That kind of thing, alas, is precisely what the Australian Catholic bishops cannot bring themselves to say. Saying that would require leadership, and they shy away from leadership as vampires from garlic.

#8 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 2, 2015 @ 6:04 pm

That didn’t take long. I was going to mold my comments . . . but since the hit parade has already begun.

It never fails that regardless of the specific evidences or lack thereof, people who are advocates of these issues ignore any contradiction and press on.
The breath, scope and depth of this is hardly limited to the UK. These people, have created a nebulous beast that has an insatiable appetite. Anyone who challenges their monolith of child sex rings, Satanic worship cults carving up children, etc. can become suspect with but whispers. Because a call for evidence, corroboration, and “prudence” makes one suspect in their eyes, part of the cover-up, or guilty of the similar acts in some manner.
(Laughing) because you have entered this fray, perhaps for the first time in this manner your import has that innocence that these issues be adjudicated via ”plausibility’, data sets and credibility which should settle the matter. It will not. It may dampen it, but it lurks about seeking another avenue by which wreak havoc on the suspecting and unsuspecting advocates of evidence, prudence and “good sense.”
The worst part of course is that it muddies the waters for real cases. And because almost no one wants to risk being wrong, the conditions are always ripe for salacious nonsense as truth – just to be safe. Even sincere advocates become unhinged from the data.
The other tragic consequences besides the attack on those who seek as fair a process as possible in the maylay, is the ever present unknown which is the sauce for the goose. The ever present possibility and the endless jumping from this case and numerous others actual or of dubious reality.
There was a case in the US that led to Pres. George Bush in which child abuse advocates contended while he was in office as the Secret Service shuffled kids into the WH by way of secret stairways and hidden doors. Despite nonexistent evidence and the incomprehensible narratives the case, the tale persists to this day in child abuse circles.
They intimidate anyone who challenges them. And their favorite tactic — create suspicion, one of the most effective games in play for lots of people who suggest evidence, prudence and sanity is demanded to address the issues. They rationalize the person as ignorant and “fooled” by the participants in these abductions and the veil of support from authorities.
Speaking of headline grabbing cases . . .
” . . . but we cannot forget the legitimate cases such as Rotherham which went unaddressed despite victims and families going to the police.”

A perfect example of a case run amock from reality as these cases almost inevitably progress, rumor, gossip, exagerration, making it more difficult to find the truth and adjudicate the matter.
You are encouraged to actually read the case material before concluding the veracity of its reality. It’s a perfect example of just how these issues morh into far more than reality supports. In fact, yur reference to the child care cases which occurred in Scotland, 1989 are pefect examples of what the article explocot lays out. In Scotlanf those communities have not yet recovered from the damage by the very false accusations — devastating effect.
Hence, taking a cue from the article, refereence the scenario against the number charged. And from that prosecutions.
Of course have little doubt that regardless of the data, many will proclaim — that there exists a grand child sex ring in which some children are sacrificed. Based not on evidence but on the lack thereof. There was indeed some illegal sexual activity in Rotherdam, but it was not at all a reflection of what has been reported.

I was first aware of these cases in the late 1980’s. In the early 1990’s I worked with a young lady on some research and ultimately had to shun these grand narratives when the data just failed to support them. Somewhere along the way an FBI report surfaced that concluded that despite vast efforts to uncover a child ring where this behavior was thought to be routine – no evidence exists that such a network or netwoks exist.

As for the Australia fiasco. Generally it speaks for itself. Upon actually digging into the data, what one finds is a lot of accusation, a lot of reporting, and no less the hysteria based on very small percentage of actual cases. Notice the above grand narrative. Ok sure, but that isn’t evidence of anything. Note the specific accusations of the individuals noted. No one disputes that that such behavior exists. Nor is there any question that some individuals have the ability to hinder prosecutions. But what we do not have is any “smoking gun” of the central claim, that there exists a network or network of these groups that are shielded by the powerful. The largest problem is that prudence, and privacy are in fact used as evidence of mafeasance, when in reality, it’s caution for all concerned especially the accusers.

I would need the evidence that libel laws prevent prosecuion. It prevents the press from running amock in some sense, but it does not prevent a case in court. And this: just because child case workers, advocates and the press say that it does is not evidence. The real complaint here is that these individuals want the sordid accusations all laid out minus any scrutiny, because in their minds, any accusation — as noted in the article — is true.

It is born out rape and child advocacy groups to make prosecutions easier. But that advance actually subverts the purpose of the civil protections, which are designed to test accusations as to the evidence, credibility and plausibility. Thus far what has been examples challenging the article are classic examples.

Note the heavy relaince on the assumption that not highlighting all the possible cases makes the overall import suspect, when the cases brought to bear exemplify the flaws and problems defined in the article.

It remains among those peculiar advocacies for which there is no escape and no innocence. I have read through much of the Australian issue and it is full of narrative and suspicion, but short on evidence of some grand Catholic scheme.

It is horrifying to consider that the damamge done to individuals, actual victims, the innocent, families, organizations far outweigh the actual number of abuse cases associated with these scenarios which have a life all their own.

The minirith Meir Clinic and Focus on the Family have yet to reconsider their role in this mess in the US and perhaps elsewhere. Sadly, devout and sincere Christians seems to be just and hooked in propulgated these issues.

It seems that it is possible for the “elect” to be deceived.