Mar 3, 2016

Mystery of mum who tortured her young kids into inventing claims they were abused by satanic cult

The Sun
February 28, 2016

Satan-worshipping, baby-sacrificing, cannibal death cult
THINK of one place you wouldn’t expect to find a Satan-worshipping, baby-sacrificing, cannibal death cult and Hampstead, north London, springs to mind. Home to Jonathan Ross and Harry Styles, it’s a genteel village crammed with delis, coffee shops and designer boutiques.

However, according to thousands of conspiracy believers, it’s also ground zero for over 100 satanists who import drugged babies via DHL, sacrifice them, drink their blood then cook their flesh in the local burger joint, while a cobbler makes baby-skin shoes from the offcuts.

As outlandish as it sounds, police investigated these allegations after they were made by a boy aged eight and his nine-year-old sister in videos filmed by their mother Ella Draper, 43, and her partner Abraham Christie, 58.

In the films, posted online in January 2015, the children – Child P and Q, as the courts later named them – recounted explicit and horrific details of the sexual abuse they said they had suffered at the hands of alleged cult members.

After shooting the footage, Ella, a yoga teacher, and Abraham, who calls himself a nutritionist, informed a police officer friend. The authorities quickly intervened and an investigation followed.

A panic alarm was fitted in Ella’s home, while her children – classified as vulnerable until police had explored all avenues – were placed in protective custody.

These included teachers and parents at their school, social workers, police officers and, most shocking of all, their own father – an actor named Ricky Dearman, 46, who they claimed was the cult’s head honcho. Within the 16 videos released on YouTube, at least seven schools were named, a local swimming pool was identified as a meeting place, and some rituals were even alleged to have been performed at McDonald’s.

Meanwhile, the footage went viral and was watched by over 4 million people. The names and addresses of alleged cult members were also leaked and many received death threats. “We’ve had abusive telephone calls and emails accusing us of ‘killing babies’ and being ‘paedophile scum,’” said one person named at the time.

Within weeks of the claims coming to light, investigators concluded there was no evidence to substantiate them. In March last year, a family court judge took the unusual step of publishing her ruling into the case in an effort to quell the internet conspiracy trolling campaign that continues to target those named in the footage.

Justice Pauffley said that Ella and Abraham had coached and coerced the children into making the video in an effort to get back at Ricky after years of acrimony over access to his kids. The report also says that the children had been fed cannabis.

“Both P and Q have suffered significantly,” Justice Pauffley wrote. “Their innocence was invaded. Their minds were scrambled. Their grip on reality was imperilled.” She concluded: “The children’s false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure, as well as significant physical abuse. Torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper.”

The two children now live in care, while the community they accused continues to suffer torment from those still intent on believing Ella and Abraham’s claims. On one Sunday morning last year, parishioners were called “paedophiles” by a screaming mob while they attended morning service at the local church. Meanwhile, Ella and Abraham have been on the run ever since February 12, 2015, when they fled through a window of their home as police tried to arrest Ella. Amazingly, they still protest their innocence, claiming they’ve been set up by the authorities and other dark forces.

Ella’s accusations were totally untrue, yet allegations of organised satanic ritual abuse (SRA) have surfaced periodically in the UK since the 1980s. In 1994, Jean La Fontaine, a retired professor of social anthropology at the London School of Economics, investigated the phenomenon. Her subsequent report to the Department of Health found that in the 84 cases in England and Wales that were the basis of her research, there was no evidence for the existence of any satanic cults.

Even so, hundreds of self-proclaimed victims come forward every year and thousands believe them when they tell their stories. But why?

“The myth of satanic abuse cults is on the same level as moon landing conspiracy theories,” says sociologist Dr David V Barrett. “People can’t help but be fascinated by it, as it brings the trappings of horror films into real life. What makes it even more appealing in cases like the Drapers’ is the idea that behind net curtains something bad is going on. People are always shocked when it’s respectable middle-class people.”

The internet also offers the perfect environment for conspiracies to grow. “Although it’s incredibly useful, the web is also a channel for absolute rubbish,” says David. “Once you start following the trail of anything, you can end up deep in a maze of utter twaddle and conspiracy theories. The arguments appear convincing, but they’re just make-believe. What’s worrying is that children are being abused, but that fact gets lost when people start wailing about satanic cults. That’s what’s really horrific.”

While the internet provides a convenient platform and ready-made audience for SRA claims, the puzzling question is: why do so many accusers believe they have been victims of ritual abuse, despite there being not a shred of evidence? In the Draper case, the children were brainwashed and tortured into believing what Ella and Abraham told them.

But abuse isn’t the only way to plant fake memories. They’ve been coaxed from people during psychotherapy – particularly during a form of hypnosis-based treatment called recovered-memory therapy, which is now shunned by most mainstream professionals. It came from the now-discredited idea that many mental health problems are caused by repressed memories. Using recovered memory therapy, therapists would try to retrieve These memories, encouraging patients to embellish them and, ultimately, to believe them.

The Draper court papers detailed how Ella had undergone several therapy sessions, and there is some speculation that she may have displayed what academics, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists call false memory syndrome (FMS).

Carol claimed to be a victim of satanic abuse by her family; Kevin (second from right) and family outside the High Court after the second inquest

The world of satanic abuse and potential FMS is something Dr Kevin Felstead has also become familiar with, following the tragic death of his sister Carol in 2005, when she was 41.

In the late 1980s, while she was studying to be a nurse, Carol saw her GP about headaches. Finding no cause, her doctor referred her for therapy. Over the following years, Carol became more distant from her family in Stockport, Greater Manchester. She moved to London and relied more and more on therapists.

Her mental health deteriorated, and it was during recovered memory therapy that she began to make allegations about her family, saying she’d been a victim of satanic abuse when she was young. The family only discovered all this after Carol’s unexplained death.

The allegations were nearly as outlandish as those made in the Hampstead case. Carol told therapists that she had repeatedly been made pregnant by Satan worshippers – led by her parents – and that her babies had been taken from her and sacrificed.

Carol had a 'very normal' childhood according to Kevin; she claimed she'd also been abused by two members of Thatcher's cabinet

“The more therapy she had, the more the allegations increased,” says Kevin. “She spoke of childhood sexual abuse, rape and satanic abuse. She even claimed to have been abused by two very prominent members of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet and that she’d been pregnant six times, but each time the baby was sacrificed. Yet all her medical records show she was never pregnant. It was heart-breaking.”

According to Kevin, his sister’s childhood couldn’t have been more different from the version she was telling her therapists. All Carol’s allegations were later dismissed by police.

“She had a very normal life,” he remembers. “She never went off the rails. Didn’t do drugs, drink or smoke and was just a lovely and outgoing girl. After she moved away, there were periods when we didn’t have a contact address or telephone number. We thought she was a nurse working in various hospitals – the truth was that she was a patient in and out of various mental institutions. But any time we asked her to contact us more regularly, she claimed she was just busy pursuing her career.”

After her death, Carol’s family campaigned to have her medical records released so they could piece together the disturbing details of what happened to her, and discovered that she had undergone regressive memory therapy. Carol’s records showed that she’d told therapists that her parents were tried in a SRA trial in Manchester, but were acquitted – yet no trial ever took place.

“It became clear there was nothing wrong with her when she first went to the doctor,” explains Kevin, who has written a book about the case and now works with the British False Memory Society. “It seems the myth that she had this childhood ritual abuse came out of therapy.”

By the end of her tragic life, Carol was in poor health. She suffered repeated urinary tract infections and had been prescribed morphine for the pain. Her death is thought to have been caused by an overdose of her medication, although an inquest was unable to determine whether it was intentional.

Following a second inquest into her death, held last September, coroner Fiona Wilcox said that although she could not rule that Carol suffered from false memories, she acknowledged that the “extreme allegations that were made of satanic sexual abuse and murder were investigated and found to be absolutely unsubstantiated.”

The findings of the Ella Draper case come as no surprise to Kevin. “The Hampstead SRA hoax pinpoints how lives can be destroyed by outlandish allegations without any corroborative evidence,” he explains. “There was no proof, no evidence, no fact-finding.”

Professor Chris French of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths University adds that unfortunately, the existence of satanic abuse and the basic notion of repressed memories is widely believed by members of the public.

“We’ve all seen it in films: the trauma that comes back over time,” he says. “It’s a great plot device, but in reality there isn’t a shred of forensic evidence to support claims of SRA.

“Cases such as the one in Hampstead get taken seriously initially because we know childhood sexual abuse happens. But in terms of satanic ritual abuse, it’s an ongoing battle to educate people. In some ways, people like to believe the stories because they are almost exciting – it’s the classic battle between good and evil.”

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