In a shocking example of misuse of the Internet causing harm to young people, two children were ‘tortured’ by their mother and her partner into making false allegations of satanic abuse which were viewed by a web audience of more than four million.
Working in partnership with the mother, her boyfriend had subjected the children, aged eight and nine, to relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse in order to make them fabricate a series of prurient claims.
Their recorded tales of demonic murder and rape were targeted against their father, with whom the mother had been engaged in a long-running child contact dispute. The headteacher of the children’s former school, a priest and a number of others were also accused of involvement in the purported paedophile ring.
The concocted stories had drawn a worldwide Internet audience and those accused had received abusive telephone calls and emails and had been left fearing for their lives. A police guard had to be placed on the school and the children had suffered incalculable harm after film clips, photos and a mass of personal information about them was published on the web. Those with a sexual interest in children were bound to have been amongst those who had viewed the material.
The facts of the case emerged after a local authority launched care proceedings in respect of the two children. Following a fact finding hearing, a High Court judge ruled, “I am able to state with complete conviction that none of the allegations are true. The claims are baseless. Those who have sought to perpetuate them are evil and/or foolish…there was no satanic or other cult at which babies were murdered and children were sexually abused.”