The Satanic Abuse Scare
Jordan Smith, The Austin Chronicle, March 27, 2009
The sensational charges against Fran and Danny Keller and their home day care were not unique. By 1992, the year the Kellers were tried, about 100 child-care workers across the country had been charged with ritual sex abuse of children, and 20 day care workers had been convicted in similar cases.
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Satanic ritual abuse is a fictional pop-culture archetype - mostly in horror movies - but it was widely introduced to the public as a real, hidden conspiracy with the 1980 publication of the book Michelle Remembers. The co-authors, Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder and a longtime patient of his, Michelle Smith (whom Pazder later married), recount the therapy that led to her purportedly "remembering" that she had been abused in the 1950s by her mother and other members of a "satanic cult" in British Columbia.
The book has since been exposed as a hoax by several researchers, but
at the time, its revelations - including the notion that there was a
widespread cult of Satanists
The notion of a powerful, underground cult of Satanists convinced many parents, therapists, and credulous prosecutors, leading to a series of satanic ritual abuse-related child-care cases, beginning with the notorious McMartin case. By the time of the allegations against the Kellers, the satanic ritual abuse script for child abuse was already well established and had not yet met much meaningful challenge.