Ritual Abuse Taskforce Alleges Poisoning

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Several members of a county task force on satanic abuse say devil worshippers are using a bug spray chemical to poison them and others, including abuse survivors and their psychotherapists.

The county's chief toxicologist says he doubts the claims by some members of the Ritual Abuse Task Force, which is a subcommittee of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women.

"I can't believe I'm sitting here listening to this," Paul J. Papanek said as task force members expressed their fears during a Monday meeting. "This is outrageous."

Therapists, religious leaders and people who say they were abused during satanic rituals belong to the 14-member task force, which was formed in 1988. The group has financed its own operations since 1989 by selling more than 17,000 copies of a $1 handbook describing signs of satanic abuse.

Some task force members, including psychologist Vicki Graham-Costain, said a satanic conspiracy is trying to silence anti-devil forces by poisoning up to 43 people with the toxic pesticide diazinon, which is used in bug sprays and powders. She and the others didn't say how many of the 43 are task force members.

At their quarterly meetings since March, several task force members and others have complained of nausea, dizziness and numbness, which they blame on the pesticide.

Some purported abuse survivors, who didn't identify themselves during the latest meeting, claimed they were being poisoned in their homes, cars and offices, and that the pesticide was slipped into air conditioning or heating vents. One woman claimed she was poisoned during a task force meeting.

"I certainly did not hear any evidence of diazinon poisoning," Papanek said afterward.

Task force member Stephanie Sheppard, who said she was a survivor of satanic ritual abuse, said the group's credibility was "severely on the line" because of the poisoning claims.

"If people are making those statements, they need to back them up," she said.

Task force member Catherine A. Gould, a clinical psychologist, claimed she was poisoned after she raised the matter at the March board meeting. She said her blurred vision and failed memory weren't psychosomatic, but she admitted she never visited a doctor to be tested for the pesticide.

Myra Riddell, chairwoman of the women's commission, requested formation of the task force, which she also chairs. She said she had noticed more patients were claiming that, as children, they were victims of abuse during satanic rituals.

Go Back to Shy David's Satanic Hysteria Page.