One of the many things we find hard to understand about the Hampstead SRA hoax is how so many people have been sucked into believing that the original videos of RD’s children are utterly convincing. The troofer argument generally goes something like, “No child of that age could possibly know so much about sex/cult activities/cannibalism/what have you…ergo, they must be 110% the genuine article”.
No matter what other arguments are advanced—no matter what gigantic gaping holes are found in the story—the True Believers always come back to, “The children said it, so it must be true”.
Those of us who dare to not believe, meanwhile, can often have a hard time putting a finger on what it is about the children’s videos that rings false. Most of us aren’t mental health professionals, but there’s something about the excitement in the children’s voices, the wideness of their eyes, as they look directly into the camera to tell their bizarre story, that rings wholly false.
As Mrs Justice Pauffley put it in the 19 March 2015 judgement,
Again and again, as I watched the interviews of 5 and 11 September my sense was that the children, for the most part, were in the realms of fantasy. There was an urgency and an excitement about what they were saying as the detail became ever more elaborate. It was as if they had been transported away from reality and into dream land. ….
There was no change in the presentation of either child when they described apparently horrific acts as experienced by them and others. There did not appear to be any emotional connection with what they were saying except that they seemed energised.
At one point, the little girl moves straight from discussing the abuse to talking about the Indian food she’d had for supper that night. Her tone doesn’t change: she seems to be able to go from talking about the most horrific abuse to discussing the particulars of the food she’d just eaten without skipping a beat.
It turns out that those of us who found the children’s behaviour in the videos bizarre were right to be suspicious.
‘Why Didn’t They Tell Us?’
A couple of days ago, long-time commenter Justin Sanity shared a fascinating, horrifying, but ultimately very educational document with us: Why Didn’t They Tell Us? On Sexual Abuse in Child Pornography, by Swedish researchers Carl Göran Svedin and Christina Back, describes a detailed case study of 23 children who were identified through police investigation, and/or abuser-perpetrator confession, as victims of the abuse recorded by their abusers in photos & videos seized by police.
Be warned: this is difficult material to read, as it describes the sexual abuse of children ranging in age from infancy to adolescence. As Justin says,
I’m not sure why some people seem to intuitively conclude that the more ‘detailed’ a child’s account of the abuse they are alleged to have suffered, the more truthful it must be. In reality, professional CSA interviewers and researchers have found the opposite to be the case. When children seem eager & excited to relate “their story”, when they spontaneously relate details beyond what they’ve been directly requested to provide, when their narration flows easily from them in big chunks rather than being coaxed out of them in fits and starts, or when the telling doesn’t stumble over appropriate expressions of intense emotion—fear, anguish, sadness, , anger, despair—these are signs that the child is relating something they have not personally experienced.
Keep in mind that in the Swedish study, the sexual abuse was verified and documented: the children were identified via the photographs and videos that had been made of their abuse, so there is absolutely no doubt that they suffered serious sexual abuse. However, they were remarkably reticent about describing what had happened to them.
From the study:
“A total of twenty-one children were interviewed about their experiences of sexual abuse. When the children were interviewed, their average age was 10 years and 8 months (between 4 years and 1 month, to 17 years and 8 months). The number of interviews with the children varied from one to three.
Different routines were used regarding substantiation. The majority of children were videoed while being interviewed, but some of the older children were just audio taped.The interviews with the children were carried out in different ways. The majority of the children were interviewed without any of the seized material being shown to them. In several of the earlier interviews, seven instances with older children (>12 years old), the children were shown the seized pictures. More innocent pictures, such as portraits of the exposed upper part of the body, were first shown and as the interview progressed more indecent pictures were shown.
To sum up, one can say that of the interviewed children, only two of them began to talk spontaneously, and there were five others who eventually gave a fairly complete account without being shown the pictures or the investigator saying that he/she knew what had happened (from the seized material). Five children denied that anything had occurred”. …
All the children’s accounts were fragmentary, and the children showed great difficulty in talking about their contact with the suspected perpetrator.
By contrast, when the police interviewed RD’s children, they were animated, excited, and eager to describe what had happened:
The children both describe killing and eating babies, drinking blood, being anally penetrated and being injected with drugs. They provide details of all the people who have been involved – all the teachers, parents of children at the school, social services.
In the Swedish study,
They often said that they did not remember what had happened; we do not know whether this meant that they did not have any memory of the incidents or if it was too difficult to put it into words. Nevertheless, it became apparent that what the children least “wanted to remember”, were the most unpleasant or abusive activities, and these were probably the most shameful and guilt-ridden.
Unlike their Swedish counterparts, both of RD’s children were very keen to describe all the gory details. They are never overcome by negative feelings, Justin says, “not even when describing experiences that would have to be terrifying, extremely embarrasing, humiliating. They express no feelings of shame or guilt”.
P says that the killing of babies is done with “cleavers”; the blood from the babies is poured into a “silver bowl” and she and her brother are “sold for £50 each every single day.” When P is asked what sex is, she initially says it’s when they are hit with a big plastic stick between their legs. Then she says “real sex is, like, they get plastic willies, they stick it in our bum, that’s what kind of sex they do.” When asked about the people involved in these activities, P suggests the police should “catch the whole school, catch all the staff there.” She adds a little later that “all the Hampstead schools do it.”
Q tells the police all about the plastic willies, who makes them and how his dad has the biggest because he’s “the boss of every single thing.” Q says that his bottom bleeds and that the last time this happened was on the last day of school when there was a big party. All the children, says Q, “do sex to him;” and at the end of the party his Dad “kills babies and eats the meat.” Like P, Q suggests that “all the teachers, (his) dad’s friends … and also the parents who are really mean” to him are involved.
Those who claim to “believe the children” will say that they show no shame or guilt because they have become so acclimatised to this abuse that it seems “normal” to them. However, in the Swedish study, some of the victims were mere infants when their abuse started; as they grew older, they learned from sources such as television that what they were suffering was not, in fact, normal. At this point, they began to feel very guilty and ashamed of what was happening to them.
Unlike RD’s children, who went out of their way to embellish their stories with details which had not been raised by the police during their interviews, the children in the Swedish study “only talked thoroughly about those incidents that the interviewer knew about—whether as a result of photographs or owing to what the suspected perpetrator had themselves talked about. When the interviewer did not refer to substantiating material that showed what the children had been subjected to, most of the children did not talk about anything”. In other words, they did not volunteer anything but what they were asked about.
Justin writes: “One of the most remarkable aspects of this particular study are the short ‘case histories’ from many of the children’s interviews”. For example,
‘Tore’ was 5 when he was interviewed. For several years prior and up until very close to the interview date, Tore was subjected to very extreme abuse experiences, which his abuser recorded on film.
Subsequently in the meeting, the interviewer continued to ask what he had done when he was filmed, and Tore said: I just said that, I did as he said.
I: You did as he said.
I: What did he say that you should do then?
T: Don’t know?
I: You don’t know?
T: Ah, it’s a lot.
I: What did you say?
T: It’s a lot that he said
I: But try and remember something that he said that you should do.
T: It was so long ago. (It was only some weeks since the last occurrence of sexual abuse.)
I: But can you surely remember something that happened when he film you.
T: Ah, all I know is that I did as he said. Now I want to look at these here (he began to investigate the alarm buttons in the room).
Tore could not talk about the incredibly many and painful sexual abuses he had experienced without instead changing the subject to something more innocuous, such as how the alarm button in the room worked.
As Justin says, “‘What did you do [when he filmed you]?’ ‘I did what he said’. A remarkable solution, this little boy exhibits. He doesn’t deny that ‘something happened’, but he’s not going to describe what took place. Instead, when asked ‘what did you do?’, he replies: ‘what he said’ to do. And what was that? ‘A lot of things’. This is typical. Spontaneously describing the size, shape & color of dildos allegedly inserted into their anus, is certainly not”.
As Justin notes, despite the horrors they had endured, none of the children in the study were willing to volunteer any extraneous or embellishing information to their interviewers. As an experienced family court judge, Mrs Justice Pauffley would no doubt have been aware that the descriptions offered by RD’s children, which were devoid of negative emotional affect but full of exciting detail, were completely unbelievable.