Wellington, New Zealand.
November 28, 1993.
RITUAL ABUSE STORY GROWS EVER STRANGER
*A Ritual Action Group operating out of Social Welfare-administered offices has been giving workshops around the country to 'educate' social workers, police and others on perceived widespread ritual or systematic abuse.
Alan Samson investigates.
A senior Gisborne police officer was recently startled to receive a deputation from two women with a tale that one of them had been repeatedly raped and terrorised for daring to speak out about abuse she had suffered as a child.
If that was not startling enough, the woman proceeded to tell him that as a child in Wellington she had been inveigled into Satanic cults by a Masonic grandfather.
She told a bizarre tale of sexual abuses and satanic invocations before her real bombshell: she had seen human babies and animals slaughtered.
Their blood had been drunk and certain parts of their bodies eaten - the cult believed the life source was in blood.
Recalling the incident this week, Gisborne police district commander Rana Waitai said the baby killing had apparently happened in Wellington in the woman's youth.
The woman who claimed to have been raped had belonged to "one of the more flaky religions", he said. Her supporter had been Ritual Action Group worker Jocelyn Frances, also known as Jocelyn O'Kane.
There was more: the women with others, had hidden in bushes in an attempt to catch the rapist, but he never turned up.
Frances, Waitai said, had been referred to him by Wellington (abuse specialist) senior sergeant Laurie Gabites.
Gisborne police not only dismissed the saga, described in the latest issue of the feminist Broadsheet magazine, as nonsense, but Waitai was so concerned about the nature of the allegations he faxed other police district commanders to warn them about Frances.
But the extraordinary part of the story may be that it is not unique. Other dramatic abuse tales are being researched and professional people - including social workers, counsellors and police - are being "educated" about the problem in a series of workshops about the country.
These workshops - at $80 a head - have heard that widespread and systematic abuse is being conducted in New Zealand, by networks of Freemasons, judges. senior policemen and other respected professionals.
And the organisation known as the Ritual Action Group has not only been funded by government and Roy McKenzie Foundation grants, but has operated out of Social Welfare Department-administered offices.
The secretariat offices of the inter-governmental agency
Family Violence Co-ordinating Committee were, till recently,
managed by the committee's executive officer Raewyn Good.
Police and social welfare investigations are now believed to
be under way after an in-house audit of the secretariat.
After a police raid of the offices and good's home, former Wellington Regional Councillor Good was arrested on cannabis possession and fraud-related charges. In February she was ordered to do community service for possession, though later found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
Despite her involvement in drugs (she has earlier convictions for importing and trafficking in class B drugs), Ms Good - though "shoved sidewards" - remains employed by the department.
Last week her colleague Frances was sentenced to nine months' periodic detention and 12 months' supervision for defrauding the department of $30,000.
Although FVPCC says the Ritual Action Group is an independent organisation, till recently it operated out of FVPCC offices.
FVPCC's community help magazine Reach Out gives the same address and phone number for both organisations.
And a call this week to FVPCC for a Ritual Action Group contact elicited the postal address PU Box 11-626 – which according to NZ post's private box directory belongs to R V A Good.
The ritual sex abuse seminars, estimated at more than over the last three years, have been attended by Social Welfare staff, police members, other departmental staff and community workers.
Senior Sergeant Gabites confirmed this week that police at several New Zealand centres had attended the seminars or workshops, "especially in the lower North Island - Wellington, Levin, Napier".
At least one of them was held at Wellington Police regional headquarters.
The seminars have been followed by allegations of ritual abuse, and senior academics and New Zealand Skeptics believe there is a direct relationship.
The suggestions that Freemasons and (or including) senior policemen, doctors, lawyers and judges are involved – as well as in a "cover-up" which has precluded the finding of any evidence - have led to formal complaints from some of those groups to police and social welfare.
The survivor account in Broadsheet refers to a 33d degree of Masons. a shadowy level of control also referred to in fundamentalist end-of-world beliefs.
Mr Waitai said O'Kane had demonstrated a "dislike for Freemasons and Catholics."
People who have been associated with Good, O'Kane and the Ritual Action Group have been cautious in their responses to events.
Frances, who says she was subject to ritual abuse as a child, said this week that some people had a vested interest in saying ritual abuse doesn't exist. Others had taken an "academic stance" without making contact with the survivors,
She insisted that ritual abuse was widespread, occasionally as part of group worship, occasionally as part of sadistic group activity.
The abuse "spilled over", she said, into churches, scout groups and daycare centres.
"I think there's a network of people who do similar things . . . the survivors tell us that."
She made specific reference to the Masonic "33d degree" but also to "Catholics". "There are also Anglican clergy . . . and Jehovah's Witness, but only some tip over into satanism.
"It's the same authoritarian, rigid structure with God at the top."
"I believe there are people in the world who believe in the opposite force and commit their life to unleashing that force.
"I know that I'm right. I know what I know."
According to Frances, ritual or "systematic" abuse has happened in every New Zealand city and most of its small towns and it is "sad" that the work should be "under attack".
Another woman involved in the ritual abuse group, researcher Ann-Marie Stapp, who is about to publish an account of "organised systematic abuse survivors", confirmed that the Ritual Action Group had been funded by a FVPCC grant, but would not disclose the amount.
She, too, insisted the abuse was real, saying, "I have enough knowledge from the last 20 years."
But she also said, "We have to keep an open mind .. . I think everything should be questioned." She said she supported calls by Christchurch's Facade group calling for a public inquiry into all sexual abuse following the Peter Ellis Childcare centre case.
Mr Gabites said he had become interested in the subject of ritual abuse during an overseas trip. The evidence overseas led him to believe the subject warranted investigation.
"You have to take an absolutely unbiased approach. Go straight down the middle and investigate . . . if you don't find it, then you don't find it."
He also said it was a mistake to talk of ritual and satanic abuse as one: "ritual" was systematic abuse of more than one child of the sort seen in recent childcare cases.
Asked about the workings of FVPCC members and the Ritual Action Group, he said: "I haven't worked in the field for over 12 months. I wouldn't have much credibility on that."
The commissioner's nominee to FVPCC, Inspector Dave Smith, also confirming that police attended seminars, said on the basis of overseas literature he had believed the ritual action people "might not' be up the wrong track".
But to suggestions of babies being killed in New Zealand, he replied: "The alarm bells have to ring when you talk about that."
Mr Smith said he had not worked with the Ritual Action Group, though had often discussed things with Frances who "had shared the FVPCC secretariat office".
Psychologist Vera Levett, who had worked with the group, stressed her belief that ritual abuse was happening in New Zealand, "including by cops and judges and lawyers". "I'm sure there have been some and possibly are some. Overseas there's no question there have been. There's so much smoke there's got to be fire,"
She also said that when the police raided the FVPCC office and took away all the material about ritual abuse there had been concern "what if part of high rank cops are part of a cult?".
But she distanced herself from the organisation, saying she had played no part with it for a year and a half. "If it's still going, it must be Jocelyn on her own."
Social Welfare's social policy agency manager David Preston - who was Good's senior in her former and present position - said any questions had to be in writing. He has since not responded to a series of written questions.
Attempts to speak to Ms Good have elicited a lawyer's letter advising any questions must go through the legal firm. A request for a response from Ms. Good had hot been answered at the time of going to press.