MOTHER TO TRIAL, ALLEGING RITUAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE
From the Orange County Register, March 19, 1991
WOMEN TAKE MOTHER TO TRIAL, ALLEGING
RITUAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE
By Donna Wares
The daughter, now grown, never recalled anything more unpleasant
during childhood than an occasional spanking. Then, she started
therapy. Suddenly, horrible tales about her family spilled out.
She told of human sacrifice and sexual abuse, of satanic [sic]
ceremonies in church basements and torturers in black robes who
swooped down on her like bats.
Her younger sister, 38, dredge up similar stories, claiming she was
raped, jolted with electric shocks and smeared with blood from a
On Tuesday, both daughters took their petite, widowed mother, 76,
to trial in a case that is unfolding like a segment of "Geraldo."
The Mission Viejo [CA] mother -- identified in court papers as
Ellen Roe -- has denied any involvement in such goings-on and says
her daughters are only after her money.
The daughters allege that Roe, their late father and a network of
satanic [sic] cult members across Southern California perverted their
childhood and scared them into repressed silence for more than 30
They also accuse Roe of sexually abusing her granddaughter, now 11,
and want their mother to pay for their alleged emotional damage.
"This involved brainwashing, mind control and hypnosis," the
daughters' attorney, R. Richard Farnell, told an Orange County
Superior Court jury Tuesday in Santa Ana. "We're talking about sick
people who enjoy inflicting pain -- who get their jollies from being
Ridiculous, said Roe's attorney, Tom Allen.
He urged jurors to ignore the "B-movie" script allegedly cooked up
by the defense, which he said is fraught with memory lapses.
Allen instead sought to portray the mother and daughters as a
"happy and healthy family ... [sic] who suffered life's bumps and
enjoyed life's joys."
That is, until three years ago when the oldest daughter, 48, a
law-office administrator and college instructor -- began therapy at a
Huntington Beach counseling center.
Allen alleged that therapists planted the idea of satanic [sic]
abuse and the daughters might now believe it.
The daughters sued their mother in 1989 seeking unspecified damages
for sexual and physical abuse allegedly starting at infancy.
Because of the sexual-abuse allegations and the involvement of an
11-year-old girl, the daughters were allowed by the court to file
suit using only initials. The mother is identified in the lawsuit as
Ellen Roe, but that is a pseudonym to protect the minor in the case,
Primly dressed in spectacles, a grey wool suit and black pumps, Roe
sat silently with lips pursed as her attorney described her as a kind
and passive woman.
"She abhors the kind of violence she is now charged with," Allen
said. He said the defense has no physical evidence linking Roe to any
"We won't find a human body. We won't find an animal part. We won't
find a speck of blood."
At trial, both sides are expected to produce expert witnesses to
testify about the prevalence of satanic [sic] worship in the United
States and the daughters' claims of repressed memories.
"I don't know of another case like it that's gone to trial,"
Farnell said. "It's probably breaking new ground."
Allen declined to discuss the case outside the courtroom.
The older daughter briefly took the witness stand Tuesday,
describing what she said was her first recollection of a satanic
[sic] ritual at age 5: what she believed was a sacrifice of a man on
a church alter.
"I began very clearly to remember, bit by bit, things that happened
when I was quite small," the Costa Mesa woman testified in a quiet,
As the day's session ended, she walked from the witness stand to
clasp hands with her younger sister.
Several feet away, at the far end of the counsel table, their
mother calmly shuffled through her leather purse and collected her
papers. She avoided looking at her daughter.
[Notes not mentioned in this newspaper article. The oldest daughter
claims she bore a child at 14, and was then forced to kill it with
a knife, on an alter in a church basement. d.rice]