Yesterday we looked at how the Broxtowe JET report, which debunked the Satanic ritual abuse claims of a team of social workers in Nottingham, was suppressed for several years before finally being shared on the internet thanks to the efforts of three journalists and the Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) organisation.
We noted that two of the social workers on Team 4, the team which believed the SRA claims, were in some part responsible for suppressing the JET report. At the time of the JET report’s suppression, Team 4 social workers Judith Dawson (later Judith Jones) and Chris Johnston were both founding members of the Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support (RAINS) group, which became instrumental in promoting the SRA narrative in the UK.
Team 4’s response to the JET Report
Many thanks to commenter YdychyncachuTracey, who pointed us toward a most interesting Freedom of Information request on WhatDoTheyKnow.com.
Rebecca Hemsley, who requested a copy of the Team 4 response to the JET report in September 2015, was initially told that the public interest would not be served by public release of the document:
It is clear from the information in the public domain that the JET report was critical of Team 4 and did not support Team 4’s view that organised ritualistic abuse was taking place. It is to be expected, therefore, that the Team 4 response will include a very detailed rejection of the individual findings of the JET report which goes far beyond the details already released in the JET summary report.
In our view the passage of time means that there is little likelihood that either position could now be verified further and, therefore, releasing the full detail in the Team 4 response will not significantly further the debate. But it could, on the other hand, cause considerable harm to the individuals involved.
On balance, therefore, we believe that the public interest does not justify the release of the full report.
However, Ms Hemsley persisted and was eventually able to convince Nottinghamshire County Council to release the 220-page report, along with appendices, albeit in heavily redacted form. Even so, it’s a very interesting document indeed.
Reading through the Team 4 response, we were reminded of Mrs Justice Pauffley’s words in the 19 March 2015 judgment which concluded the fact-finding hearing into the Hampstead SRA hoax.
Referring to Dr Hodes’ odd reliance on an out-dated and discredited diagnostic tool for determining child sexual abuse, she said, “The court must always be on guard against the over-dogmatic expert, the expert whose reputation or amour propre is at stake, or the expert who has developed a scientific prejudice”.
Team 4’s response starts with a shot across the bow, accusing the Joint Enquiry Team of “discrediting individuals” and adopting a “dogmatic, fixed position, the very charge laid against members of Team 4”:
In particular, Team 4 objects to the JET’s “hypothesis” that the social workers themselves had helped to create the children’s disclosures of SRA. They go so far as to state that the JET report implies “abuse of children which in itself is a serious charge which would require a considerable amount of evidence to support it”.
The Team 4 response then hauls out the old “we’re the only ones who really care about the poor abused children” card: It’s an accusation which will be repeated in many forms throughout the document.
The Team 4 report cites 158 “factual errors” in the JET report, ranging from “Ray Wyre didn’t give the foster parents a list of Satanic ritual abuse indicators” to “Person X’s home was not visited on the dates specified”. The social workers also took issue with the suggestion that the weekly meetings with foster parents created cross-contamination of stories.
Team 4 takes particular offence at the idea that their activities could be construed as a “witch -hunt”: witch-hunts, they claim, are by definition “carried out on behalf of the establishment and established opinion”. Because Team 4’s opinion ran counter to the established understanding of child sexual abuse, therefore, their activities could not be construed as any sort of witch-hunt:The sheer disingenuousness of this argument gave us pause, as did the social work team’s dismissal of comparisons with the then-ongoing daycare panic in the United States:What, right-wing evangelical backlash? No, no, none of that here!
And yet, curiously enough, as we mentioned yesterday Notts Assistant Director of Social Services, Andy Croall, appearing on After Dark with Judith Dawson’s partner Beatrix Campbell, agreed with her that the JET report had been discredited, and then said, “as a Christian I believe it’s God time for it [satanic abuse] to be revealed….. it’s a time when, in God’s plan, it’s going to be revealed.”
As for the idea that should Team 4’s approach of “believing whatever the children say, no matter how outlandish” be adopted, innocent people would be charged, and lives ruined, the writers of the Team 4 response paper seem to accept this as the cost of catching the bad Satanists: So much for that inconvenient “innocent until proven guilty” thing.
As for the JET report’s assertion that no corroborating evidence had been found to support allegations of Satanic ritual abuse, Team 4 dismissed this by claiming that since they had not been party to the investigations, they could not comment one way or another: They stated that there were indeed tunnels under Wollaston Hall as well as in a graveyard in Nottingham. Why, then, could the children not have been taken there to be abused? After all, the Team 4 writers claimed, Satanists like to hold their rituals in tunnels underground, so as to be closer to Satan.
Yes. They actually said this:Besides, say Team 4, they happen to have in their possession a “copy of a Black Mass translated from French which was used by a group of French priests who became Satanists in the 18th Century:Does “Diablos Domini” really refer to drinking of urine or blood, or of eating faeces or sexual activity within a ritual? Last we heard, Diablos was Spanish (not French or even Latin) for Devils, and Domini was Latin for “master”. How this translates into alleged Satanic practices, we really don’t know.
However, we do know that Team 4 believed that they had some heavy hitters on their team. At one point they refer to having consulted the “Bishop’s advisor on the occult”:At one point the Team 4 report mentions that adults who’ve allegedly suffered SRA “corroborate essentially what the children say”. However, apparently these adults are “usually rather vague about the philosophical base of these groups, describing them variously, as satanic, devil worship, and witchcraft”:Team 4 interprets this vagueness as due to trauma or perhaps just ignorance of the primary goal of the group.
However, this flies in the face of what’s known about any known religious or cultic belief system: those who belong to it very quickly learn its precepts, beliefs, taboos, and rituals. Otherwise, what would be the point of being inducted into such a group?
Oddly, the Team 4 report contradicts itself a few pages later, noting that “progression within satanism is well defined through a series of grades”. The report is full of this sort of nonsense: what, for example, is the “corruption of a clergyman”?
Overall, the report reads like one very long, very aggrieved and sometimes petulant defence of the faults found by the Joint Enquiry Team when they examined the emergence of an SRA narrative from what had begun as a very serious multigenerational child abuse case.
We recommend that you read both reports; they paint a vivid picture of the tensions between unquestioning belief and logical empiricism, and provide a unique insight into the self-justifications and dogmatic beliefs of those who continue to promote the SRA narrative.
For further information on the Broxtowe SRA panic, including a timeline, see the SAFF website.