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Timeline :: Rochdale child abuse case & inquiry

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Nineteen children were removed from three families by Rochdale social services in 1990 after a 7 year-old boy, Daniel Wilson told his teachers he had been dreaming of ghosts. Social services were called and, alert to satanic "indicators" after a spate of cases in the US, thought they had uncovered a group of ritual devil worshippers. The children were subject to lengthy interviews and relocated in children's homes for between three months and 10 years. Most were released in early 1991, after a court ruling that social services investigations were flawed and the subsequent allegations were untrue.

A three-year inquiry by Jean La Fontaine, emeritus professor of social anthropology at the London School of Economics, concluded that satanic abuse is a 'myth'; there was no evidence to substantiate any of the 84 cases in which it was alleged that children were sexually abused in bizarre black-magic rites. La Fontaine's report blamed Evangelical Christians and self-proclaimed 'specialists' for the scare which led to police investigations across Britain from 1988 to 1991.

See  La Fontaine, J.S. (1994) The extent and nature of organised and ritual abuse: research findings London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and La Fontaine, J.S. (1997) Speak of the devil: tales of satanic abuse in contemporary England Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.