CHILDREN in Scotland have been the victims of evil ritual abuse including rape, murder and even the production of so-called ‘snuff films’, two leading charities claimed last night.
The existence of such terrifying ‘cults’ practising the ritual abuse of children is said to have gone unchecked in Scotland for decades, with those victims who do come forward facing scepticism and outright disbelief.
Although many of the vile incidents are said to have taken place some years ago, experts are sure that an unknown number of ritual abuse rings are still in operation today.
Last night, Police Scotland said they were taking the allegations “incredibly seriously” and would investigate any complaints made to them.
The claims are certain to put the Scottish Government under intense pressure to finally announce a public inquiry into historic child sexual abuse – with Scotland now the only part of the UK without such a review.
Education Secretary Michael Russell is due to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday in response to growing calls from survivors, charities, lawyers, politicians and human rights groups.
The disturbing claims of ‘snuff films’ and widespread ritual abuse came to light during a lengthy investigation by this newspaper and were made independently of each other by two charities operating in different parts of Scotland.
Break the Silence is an award-winning charity based in Kilmarnock which has helped some 2,800 childhood abuse victims in North and East Ayrshire alone over the past decade, working with the two councils and NHS Ayrshire and Arran.
Founder Kate Short, who sits on the Holyrood committee on adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, said the level of depravity experienced by some of their clients – most of whom are now aged 30 to 55 – was “unbelievable”.
She said: “We hear of ritual abuse, it’s not common but we have had quite a lot of people that have been abused as part of a cult or a paedophile ring.
“In the worst cases they have been forced to watch the making of snuff movies.
“It’s the extreme, barbaric type of terror that can lead to serious personal disorder.
“Often it is siblings who are forced to have sex with one another in front of the paedophiles or on the ceremonial altar.
“There are animals involved, it is vile.
“Sadly many of these victims lack the confidence to engage the authorities because they think no-one will believe them.
“They are controlled by fear.
“The cults and rituals involve all sorts of people and many are often upstanding members of society or possibly in positions of authority or power.
“Their victims are so brainwashed they don’t dare to speak against them which makes it near impossible to see any prosecutions let alone convictions.
“And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We are contacted almost on a weekly basis. This is something that’s been going on forever and I can’t see it ever stopping.
“I don’t think the authorities that could stop it really believe the extent of it or even that it does exist.”
Ms Short said survivors often suppressed their memories of such harrowing childhood events and therefore the specific details are vague, meaning they can be written off as suffering from of ‘False Memory Syndrome’ or mental illness.
Education Secretary Michael Russell is due to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament
However, the astonishing claims were supported by another reputable charity, Izzy’s Promise, based in Dundee.
Project co-ordinator Joseph Lumbasi said that while ritual abuse did occur in immigrant communities, the overwhelming majority of cases involved white Scottish perpetrators and victims.
He said: “Actually 80 per cent of those who contact us are born and brought up right here in Scotland.
“We’ve dealt with people who have been involved in gang rape ceremonies, animal slaughters and all sorts of things in secret places.
“People who talk to us are relating us their experiences from when they were maybe just eight, nine or ten – kids really.
“There are stories of girls being forced to conceive and then their babies are aborted for sacrifices. Children are born that are never registered. It is not impossible, they never come up. There is pornography, sick films. Horrific things are happening and nobody is getting caught.
“But all these incidents are so well orchestrated it is near impossible to find anyone to corroborate with your story or to find evidence.
“The leaders are very clever and very powerful. The victims are moved from place to place at such rate they lose track of where they are. They may be drugged or controlled by fear. Their recollections of what has taken place, when and where are muddled.
“But it is happening here, in Scotland, as we speak and must be exposed.”
Mr Lumbasi also said that few victims reported their claims to the police because they lived in such fear of their abusers, even many years later, and also because they were concerned at being named as accomplices.
He added: “In most cases, we can’t blame the police for not taking action. If they have no actual evidence such as names, times or places to go with, what can they do?”
Many of the crimes reported to Izzy’s Promise are said to have taken place within families or religious groups, where any attempt to expose the abuse was portrayed as “disloyalty”.
Mr Lumbasi continued: “I recently spoke with a lady from near here who couldn’t stop crying. She had been through it all and said she couldn’t live with the things she’d done.
“She was telling about everything that had happened to her, drugs, abuse, watching others being abused, sacrifices, animal sacrifices, being raped, being forced to conceive and then abort the child for sacrifice.
“At one point she says she may have killed a young child because she was forced to strangle the child. She doesn’t know if it is a real memory or a planted one.
“That’s the sort of power the perpetrators have on their victims.”
There has never been a proven example of a snuff film – where a person is murdered on camera – being made in Britain, although there have been an isolated number of cases where perverts have been caught with such footage made abroad.
Over the years there have been a number of high profile ritual abuse cases in Scotland, including a major police investigation in Ayrshire into an alleged Satanic sex ring involving 70 adults and children.
It began after eight siblings were taken into care in 1990 with a sheriff saying there was evidence of “sinister elements of sadism, ritualism and torture”.
The youngsters were reunited with their parents five years later after the allegations were proved to be unfounded, following a pattern set by similar cases in Orkney, Cleveland and Rochdale where social workers were said to have been over-zealous.
In 2002, a young woman named Laurie Matthew wrote a book called Where Angels Fear which claimed to identify areas across Dundee, Angus and Perthshire where ritual abuse of children was said to have taken place.
Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, Graeme Pearson MSP, who has been campaigning for the government inquiry into historic abuse, said: “Theresa May has apologised this week to survivors for resignations relating to her Public Inquiry into historical child abuse.
“Meanwhile the Scottish Government continues duck and weave on the issue, refusing our demands to hold a public inquiry to enable us all to know what is the situation here in Scotland, and how can we protect vulnerable young people in our care today.
“Survivors have bravely fought for years to be heard and Scottish Labour has supported their calls for an inquiry. The SNP declare they stand for social justice in Scotland – if so why don’t they initiate a public inquiry now into historical child abuse?
“The buck has been repeatedly passed in Scotland between Mr Macaskill, Mr Russell and Ms Cunningham in the Scottish government. The time for justice is now. It is time someone in government acted in this matter.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said they worked continuously with law enforcement, local government and children’s charities to ensure those to prey on children are targeted.
She added they also supported those who had “fallen victim to what is a despicable crime” and continued: “The Education Secretary will update Parliament on this extensive and wide-reaching work and will also provide an update on the Scottish Government’s recent response to the InterAction process to ensure we properly acknowledge and support the survivors of historic abuse in care institutions. Of course, if anyone has any evidence of abuse, or any other criminal behaviour, they should report this to the police to make appropriate investigations.”
Last night Police Scotland said it took all allegations of abuse “incredibly seriously” and a spokesman added: “If anyone has any concerns they should contact us on 101.”