Thurston County ritual abuse case

The Thurston County ritual abuse case was a 1988 case in which Paul Ingram, county Republican Party Chairman of Thurston County, Washington and the Chief Civil Deputy of the Sheriff's department, was accused by his daughters of sexual abuse, by at least one daughter of satanic ritual abuse and later accused by his son in 1996 of abusing him from the ages of 4 to 12.

Ingram pleaded guilty and his confession grew increasingly elaborate and detailed, while Ingram's young daughters and their friends subsequently accused a sizable number of Ingram's fellow Sheriff's department employees of abuse. He now maintains he is innocent and alleges his confession was coerced. He tried to withdraw his plea and requested a trial or clemency, but his requests were refused. According to the appeals court, the original trial had conducted "an extensive evidentiary hearing on the coercion issue" and found that Ingram was unable to prove his claims of coercion, a situation his appeals did not change. Ingram was released in 2003 after serving his sentence.

The case is often cited by proponents of the idea that satanic ritual abuse actually exists as proof because Ingram was found guilty; in reality, Ingram was never charged with "satanic ritual abuse" but with six counts of rape in the third degree, and received an unusually long sentence – rather than a maximum of three and a half years, he was sentenced to twenty years. The "satanic" aspects of the case were dropped by the prosecution although the appearance of Satan was integral to Ingram's confessions. The case has also been compared to the Salem witch trials.

The accusations appeared at a time when there were tremendous questions being raised about the accuracy of memories of childhood abuse and incest. Books such as the self-help tome The Courage to Heal, the discredited satanic ritual abuse autobiography Michelle Remembers, and work by memory researchers such as Elizabeth Loftus all worked to support, contradict and challenge conventional beliefs about how memory and repression worked, or if the latter even existed.

Ingram's daughters had both been in therapy, one before the initial outcry, the other while the trial was ongoing. The Ingrams were also members of a local Pentecostal church that promoted the idea that Satan could control the minds of Christians, cause them to commit crimes, then remove the memories after the fact, and that God would not allow harmful false memories. While at a church retreat, a woman who claimed to possess prophetic power told Ingram's daughter that she had been sexually abused by her father.

Ingram was accused of sexually abusing both of his daughters over a period of years. Initially Ericka, his eldest daughter, claimed this abuse had stopped in 1979 but later his other daughter Julie said it had happened less than five years before. When first interviewed in 1988 by Sheriff Gary Edwards and Undersheriff Neil McClanahan about the sex abuse accusations, Ingram "basically confessed during the first five minutes" as McLanahan would later state.

This page was last edited on 1 March 2018, at 02:51.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

Related Topics

Recently Viewed