Forced to Kill Her Baby, Woman Says : Courts: Slaying occurred during a satanic ritual in a secret cave, child’s mother testifies. She and her sister are suing their mother in a civil lawsuit. The defendant, now 76, flatly denies the allegations.
In one of the more lurid and grotesque tales ever told to an Orange County jury, a 48-year-old woman testified Wednesday that she had been forced to murder her 6-month-old baby during a satanic ritual in a secret cave more than 35 years ago.
The woman and her younger sister have filed a civil lawsuit against their 76-year-old mother, alleging that from infancy until they were young women they were tortured and sexually abused by members of a satanic cult, made to witness murders and forced to commit bizarre acts of incest with both parents.
Their white-haired mother is mounting a simple defense: None of the above ever took place.
“There is not one scintilla of proof that this happened,” her attorney, Tom M. Allen, told the jury in opening arguments Tuesday.
Under a special arrangement with the court, the sisters were allowed to use only their initials in their lawsuit, and asked that their names not be revealed. The mother is being referred to in court testimony by a pseudonym.
Part of the secrecy is aimed at protecting the 48-year-old woman’s daughter, who also was allegedly abused by her grandmother. The 11-year-old girl is expected to testify later this week.
The 48-year-old woman testified Wednesday that she had repressed the memories of her childhood and only began to remember them in mid-1988, six months after she began psychotherapy for marital problems.
The sisters’ attorney, R. Richard Farnell, argued that while the women’s tales are admittedly “sensational,” similar allegations of ritual abuse by satanic cults have been lodged across the country.
“There appears to be what is called ‘generational satanists,’ and they bring up their children to participate in the way that they themselves have as children,” Farnell said.
He alleged that the sisters were abused by their grandparents as well as by their father (now deceased), their mother and other adults in rituals that took place in caves, probably in the San Bernardino mountains.
“These are things that are admittedly quite bizarre, but these things do happen, they have happened and they can be documented by people other than these three victims,” Farnell said. “The people who perpetuate these kinds of offenses should realize that they are not safe from their victims’ remembering and coming after them.”
Asked whether he would produce any physical or material evidence to support the women’s allegations, Farnell replied, “That remains to be seen.”
Outside the courtroom, the older sister said she had seen her baby’s body thrown into a fire, and believes that the bodies of other murder victims were also destroyed.
On her second day of testimony Wednesday, the woman said that she had given birth to a child when she was 11 or 12, and when the baby was 6 months old, she was forced to stab the child to death in a ritual. She recalled that she had been tortured with electric shocks to force her to comply.
“With the electric shock, they were able to change me into a different person who was able to do those things,” she explained outside the courtroom. “I was in a catatonic place after the baby died.”
While Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert D. Monarch and the jury sat with poker faces, the woman testified that she had been forced to stab a man through a pentagram painted on his chest. She told the court that she saw a man’s hands chopped off, and that she was repeatedly threatened with dire consequences if she told anyone what had happened.
Sometime between the ages of 7 and 10, she testified, she was taken into the cave by an adult male and shown the corpse of a hanged man.
“His eyes were gouged out and there were ice picks in his ears and there was blood running out of his mouth,” she testified. She said her escort then set the corpse’s hair on fire with a torch, and told her, “If you ever talk to anyone about this, that is what will happen to you.”
After the sisters filed their lawsuit in 1989, the woman testified, their mother sent them cards asking why they would sue her for money when they would inherit everything she had after her death.
Their mother, looking grandmotherly and benign in a navy knit suit, sat silently at the defendant’s table and did not speak to either daughter.
Allen told the jury in opening arguments that the older sister was “on the fringes” of society, that her psychotherapists had planted in her the notion that she had been abused, and that she then persuaded her younger sister, who is 35, to join her in the allegations of abuse.
During cross-examination, the woman denied Allen’s charges. She said she had experienced acute depressions and suicidal feelings since childhood. She also testified that she had had three failed marriages, career problems and low self-esteem.
Under questioning by Allen, she acknowledged that she had earned a doctorate in comparative religion, that she had practiced yoga for more than a decade, and that at one point she converted to Hinduism. She testified that at one point she believed in reincarnation and had wondered whether she might have been a nun in a former life.
Allen declined to comment on the testimony outside the courtroom, saying the evidence would speak for itself. The trial is expected to last about 10 days.
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