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Article ID: 4351
Age Group: Adult
Posted: July 8th. 2002
Michelle Remembers 
by Kerr Cuhulain
In Parts I and II of this article I outlined the content of Lawrence Pazder's book, Michelle Remembers. I concluded Part II by pointing out that Michelle was in St Margaret's School the whole time that she claims to have been the victim of ritual abuse in a marathon Satanic ceremony lasting eighty one days. I pointed out that this disproved Pazder's claim that the dates of Michelle's disclosures in 1976/77 corresponded to dates in 1954/55. If these events didn't happen in 1955, then Pazder's comparisons between dates in these years are obviously incorrect and there must be some other explanation for these particular dates being significant.
Pazder makes a very interesting statement in Michelle Remembers in light of this correspondence with Catholic festivals and in light of what happened between Lawrence and Michelle later: "'You were kind enough', [Pazder] began, "to let me discuss this work with my wife.' Dr Pazder had been anxious to have his wife comprehend something of the nature of this extraordinary endeavour-so that she would understand why he was seeing less of his family these days, and spending so much additional time with one patient. He had wanted his wife to understand how important the work was, and to have her support. Because of the secrecy mandated by the doctor-patient relationship, however, he could not have spoken about the case- even to his own wife-without Michelle's permission. She had freely, though uneasily, given it. 'I told her it's a very exceptional situation, one that is vital not just to you as a patient but also to psychiatry... I'm afraid I just wasn't able to say enough about it so that my wife could understand and feel at peace about it."
Obviously Pazder's wife was having as much trouble as I was believing these bizarre accounts. Obviously the amount of time that Pazder was starting to spend outside of his psychiatric practice with Michelle, was a sore point with Pazder's wife too. Michelle Remembers describes them as having continued their sessions into the night on a regular basis. Court documents later filed by neighbours during the divorce proceedings between Dr Pazder and his wife indicate that between March 1977 and June 1979 Dr Pazder disappeared with Michelle for lengthy periods. Other neighbours confirm this.
In Michelle Remembers, Pazder adds to this by reporting that Michelle's husband Doug had lost all patience with her over her obsession with the disclosures that she was making. Pazder chides Doug for not supporting her. In the next chapter Pazder reports playing a sentimental tape about "special friendships" to Michelle and states that "a very special relationship had developed between [Michelle] and Dr Pazder." All of this clearly indicates that, for whatever reason, Michelle went out of her way to get Lawrence to spend time listening to her and that he appeared to be quite willing to do so at the risk of destroying his marriage. I have to wonder if Lawrence Pazder's willingness to believe Michelle's story was enhanced because he had special personal feelings towards her.
Michelle's disclosures end with her bizarre account of the marathon ritual at which Satan makes a personal appearance. She claims that she woke up to find her parents telling her she had the measles, not realizing that her mother had done all these awful things. The abusers, for no apparent reason, just stopped entirely.
Pazder and Michelle took their story to the Vatican in February 1978, where they met with Sergio Cardinal Pignedoli. Pazder reports that Archbishop Domenico Enrici was appointed to investigate Michelle's story. But we aren't told what the outcome was. It is obvious that the fact that they received an audience is meant to give Michelle's story the Vatican's stamp of approval. In fact, you can definitely see that Merville and other church officials made Michelle into a religious celebrity, probably reinforcing in Michelle the sense that she was engaged on some sort of crusade. Lt Terry Kern of the Sioux City PD remarks: "The publisher's note comparing Joan of Arc and Bernadette to Michelle is interesting because I think that's how she has come to see herself. Additionally, Michelle spoke with the Virgin in French, a language not native to her, which was the mother tongue of Joan and Bernadette. I feel that Father Merville reinforced her feeling of "spiritual speciality" which, in turn, instilled a sense of mission within her as well as her therapy. Remember that her therapy was on-going during the process of 'religious validation', which may very well have had the collateral effect of validating both the memories and her therapy- for both Pazder and the patient. Such validation lacks the objective criteria to determine the literal truth of their claims. However, it is more than enough to validate Pazder's paradigm that he is at war with evil itself."
Another thing that we aren't told is that Lawrence and Michelle travelled to Rome as "Larry and Mrs Pazder," shared a room in Ottawa as "Pazder L and Mrs," and stayed together in Roman hotel during their Vatican visit and registered as "Mr and Mrs Pazder." The actual Mrs Pazder told me that at the time she was at home in Victoria and though she knew that Lawrence had disappeared again, she didn't know then where he had disappeared to.
Pazder's ex wife theorizes that the reason that certain Catholic festival dates correspond with significant disclosures by Michelle is that Michelle was trying extra hard on those dates to draw Lawrence away from participation in Church activities with his wife and family. Given the obvious extra marital activity here, one has to wonder.
Michelle makes a very revealing statement in Michelle Remembers: "When I talk to you, I don't know what's going to come out of my mouth. But I don't just babble out things. I can feel them inside, and I can visualize the places. But how come I don't know until I talk to you?" Pazder replies that he believes her "for many reasons, but mostly for what I feel with you. It feels real. You feel real. You feel like you go into a place that is very real, and you go back to it, and the door begins to open, and you begin to remember things that happened." This is as clear a warning sign as one could hope for, indicating that Michelle was feeding Pazder what he wanted to hear. Later Lawrence Pazder confirms that he believes Michelle's story, stating to Vancouver Sun reporter Tim Padmore: "The evidence that I have today indicates that it is an experience that did occur. This isn't something I can explain through any theory we now have."
Michelle's disclosures cannot be corroborated. In fact, abundant evidence exists that shows that the events that Michelle described could not have happened. Despite Pazder's protestations, it is abundantly clear that Michelle's story was influenced by his African accounts, by movies such as "The Exorcist", by Inquisitional folklore and by passages from the Bible. Michelle Remembers earned Pazder a $100,000 hardcover advance and $242,000 in paperback sales in its first edition. Lawrence and Michelle subsequently divorced their respective spouses and got married. They tried very hard to get their first marriages annulled by the Catholic church, taking their case all the way to Rome, who ultimately turned them down.
As a result of the publication of Michelle Remembers, Dr Pazder and Michelle achieved recognition by quite a number of groups disseminating rumours about Satanic Ritual Abuse. For example, they were recommended as a resource by the WATCH Network, Dale Griffis, and Patricia Pulling's BADD (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons). They became mainstays of the CCIN Inc (Cult Crime Impact Network) seminar circuit. Lawrence appeared on the ABC television "20/20" program entitled "The Devil Worshippers", another of the key elements contributing to the current hysteria about SRA.
To give you an example of the kind of damage that such information can do, lets look at a classic case which is directly linked to the Pazders: The McMartin Daycare Case.
The McMartin Daycare Case was the most expensive trial in California history, costing upwards of fifteen million dollars. It began a whole series of copy cat cases of child abuse in day care centres.
Like the book Michelle Remembers, the stories of the children in the McMartin case do not correspond to earlier reports of Satanism, but do resemble Michelle Pazder's accounts. This is easily explained: Following reports of child abuse at the McMartin Daycare Center, Children's Institute International was brought in to assist. They, in turn, brought in Michelle Pazder to counsel the youngsters as well as investigate and help litigate most of the cases.
Michelle's sole claim to expertise in this area is that she claims to have remembered being the victim of Satanic ritual abuse. With the help of her therapist, now her husband, she has taken this fantasy and used it to justify calling herself an "expert in child abuse". Is it any wonder that the children in the McMartin case made such bizarre claims?
The defence attorneys took issue with the manner in which the "disclosures" had been obtained from the children at the preliminary hearing. Defence argued that the child witnesses often used descriptive terms beyond their years, suggesting that they had been coached. Leading questions like these had been asked of the children:
"Don't be afraid, (name of the child's friend) has already told us what happened at the school."
"Somebody touched you? Well, I know it was Mr. Ray. It was Mr. Ray, wasn't it?"
"All the teachers at the school are sick in the head, aren't they?"
Glenn Stevens, a co-prosecutor in this case, quit after two years, stating that the case was a hoax and that in his opinion the children were "led into giving false statements" involving Satanism. Stevens was convinced that Michelle and others had used improper interview techniques.
Ira Reiner, who took over from Stevens, dropped charges against everyone except Ray and Peggy Buckey. He too criticized the leading nature of the interviews. The case went forward with the reduced list of defendants and charges. In the end the courts found Ray and Peggy Buckley not guilty. Hardly a surprising result given the fictional nature of the story which forms the basis of Michelle's supposed expertise. If someone had thought to thoroughly check the credentials and background of Michelle, it is very likely that the California taxpayers would not have paid out fifteen million dollars to investigate such a case. But sincere people took Michelle and Lawrence's word at face value and the result is now history.
To see what sort of material on this subject was available from Children's Institute International, the organization that brought in Michelle Pazder to assist in the McMartin case, I obtained a manual from the Marshall Resource Center of C.I.I: Ritual Abuse: General Information.
Since 1985 Marshall Resource Center has been acquiring written publications and audio visual materials specifically addressing issues of child sexual abuse. It currently has holdings of over 800 books and booklets, 750 articles, 200 videotapes, and 150 audiotapes. They make these materials available through their lending library component and offer copies of articles and booklets for sale.
Ritual Abuse: General Information is a collection of articles and transcripts. It starts with a resources and information sheet. It lists two other booklets available from the resource center: Marshall Resource Center Catalogue of Articles on Ritual Abuse and the Marshall Resource Center Catalogue of News Articles on Child Sexual Abuse. The Ritual Abuse booklet announces that copies of the Believe the Children newsletter are available as well as three books on ritual abuse: Unspeakable Acts by Jan Hollingsworth, The Ultimate Evil by Maury Terry and Satan's Underground by Lauren Stratford (who I will come back two later in this article).
Marshall Resource Center has one videotape on ritual abuse, the AIMS Media/Cavalcade Productions video "Ritual Crime: Guidelines for Identification", which I will also discuss in an upcoming article.
The following articles and transcripts are included in this booklet:
"Ritualized Abuse of Children" from ReCap, the National Child Abuse Prevention Project, Winter '86. This is a plea for documented evidence to support the claims of widespread ritual Satanic abuse, rather than documentation of Satanic abuse itself.
"Satanic Cults and Children", a transcript of the absolutely awful Geraldo Rivera talk show #44 of November 11, 1987, which included "satanic cult detoxifier" "Dr" Rebecca Brown and her friend Elaine Moses (whom I will also prove to be frauds later in this article), Dr Catherine Gould, Detective Kurt Jackson, and Maury Terry.
The ubiquitous "Symptoms Characterizing Ritual Abuse Not Usually Seen in Sexual Abuse Cases" list by Dr Catherine Gould.
The "Believe the Children" newsletter of July 87, No. 5.
"Memories of the Assault: Observations Regarding the Experience of Survivors of Ritual/Satanic Abuse" compiled by Dee Brown, March 88. Brown, a TV producer, had interviews with 14 "survivors of ritual/satanic abuse" over a 3 year period and wrote this article to publish his statistical findings. It is typical "satanic survivor" stuff.
"Heavy Metal, Punk Rockers, & Satanic Groups Have Emerged as a New Phenomena" from the California Council on Criminal Justice, State Task Force on Youth Gang Violence, January 86. This consists of only two paragraphs from this report which say very little. It simply says that there are youth gangs involved in this sort of activity.
"Battling Satanism a Haunting Task" from Insight, January 11, 1988. It features another supposed satanic survivor, Cassandra Hoyer.
"The Nature of the Assault", Feb 87. Another Dee Brown article based on the revelations of his interviews of the same 14 "satanic abuse survivors".
As you can see, most of this material is either pleas for more evidence to support the Satanic conspiracy claims or allegations of Satanic conspiracy without evidence. Its usefulness to the investigator is extemely limited. This coupled with the fact that faced with what appeared to Children's Institute International as a Satanic ritual abuse case, and not having anything better than this to rely on, they called upon the individuals whose book started the whole hysteria in the first place to help them. These people then fed the Children's Institute what they wanted to hear.
Lawrence and Michelle Pazder went on to give lectures to law enforcement agencies about Satanic crime, using Michelle Remembers to create the illusion that they were knowledgeable in this area. For example, Lawrence was a speaker at a seminar entitled "The Emergence of Ritualistic Crime in Today's Society" at the Holiday Inn in Fort Collins, CO, September 9-12, 1986. This seminar was put on by the North Colorado- South Wyoming Detectives Association. This was the first national seminar at which law enforcement officers were introduced to the idea that Satanic cults were ritually abusing children. In this seminar Pazder divided Satanists into three levels:
1) "Primary or Core Satanism- deep cover individuals and groups closely tied with the personage of satan himself. International core groups which secretly seeds and encourages all others. Will not be easily identifiable in traditional police investigations. Uses many levels of front groups and individuals as well as unlimited resources and power manipulations."
NOTE: To date law enforcement has uncovered no evidence of such an organization. Note how Pazder suggests that we need to get away from traditional investigative methods. As we will see as my article series develops, the only way that therapists like Pazder can get disclosure is by avoiding the "traditional" (in other words proven and recognized) methods and adopting non- traditional (in other words his) methods.
2) "Secondary Level Satanism- Characterized by very bad devil worship cults which have existed for years almost unrecognized."
3) "Third Level Satanism- Includes more open activities of witches, covens, occult groups, pagans, Eastern mysticism, and other groups with similar underlying themes..."
NOTE: Here is the catch all: Pazder takes everything else that he considers "occult" and labels it "Satanism" whether it has anything to do with Satanism or not.
Many police investigators picked up on this classification system: I have seen it cited in many other manuals on the investigation of "occult crime."
Pazder told the people attending this seminar that "Satan uses everything at his disposal to acquire dominion over mankind, i.e. material things (materialism), natural forces, powers of science including earth sciences, chemistry, numerology, astrology, etc." Does this mean that geologists, geographers, chemists, oceanographers, and biologists are Satanists?
Pazder goes on to claim that the objective of ritualistic abuse is to turn the child who is the victim "against God". He introduces the concept of "breeders" which I and others have already proven cannot stand up to the evidence and statistics that we have. Pazder concludes by telling the seminar attendees that "We need to stand up with [survivors] and believe what they are telling us even if we don't understand." Never mind the lack of evidence he is saying; just believe.
In the first two articles in this series I cited some examples of "copy-cats" who borrowed the concept created by Michael Warnke in The Satan Seller and created their own stories of being "survivors" of ritual abuse. Let's look at some other prominent examples which date to the period after Michelle Remembers was published.
In the above description of Children's Institute International materials I mentioned that CII distributed copies of the book Satan's Underground by one of the most well known "survivors" to have surfaced after the release of Michelle Remembers, Lauren Stratford. Stratford is associated to a counselling organization called the "Confidential Group" in Bakersfield, CA. In her book Satan's Underground, Stratford claims to have been a survivor of childhood Satanic abuse and claims to have given birth to 3 babies who were sacrificed. She was encouraged to write this book by Johanna Michaelsen, another person alleging to be a survivor of Satanic abuse, and with the support of Johanna's brother-in-law, radio evangelist Hal Lindsey. Lindsey is the author of several books including the best sellers Satan is Alice and Living on Planet Earth and The Late Great Planet Earth. Michaelsen wrote The Beautiful Side of Evil. All three books are regularly recommended by supporters of the international satanic conspiracy myth. In addition, Stratford has appeared on Ophah Winfrey (February 17, 1988, in a segment entitled "Satanic Worship" and again on May 1, 1989), CBN's "Straightalk" (April 25, 1988), Geraldo Rivera (October 25, 1988, on Rivera's "Exposing Satan's Underground" 2 hour long special), Larry King Live (April 13, 1989) and on the evangelical "700 Club".
Stratford and her book have been recommended by Cult Crime Impact Network in their File 18 newsletter and she appeared October 25, 1988 as a lecturer at a CCIN Inc ritualistic crime seminar in Boise, Idaho. She has contributed material to CCIN's newsletter, File 18.
But, suddenly, Stratford's publisher, Harvest House, withdrew its support and stopped printing her books. Why is this?
Christian journalists Gretchen and Bob Passantino and Jon Trott of Cornerstone Magazine, a publication of Jesus People USA, investigated the claims of Stratford, publishing their findings in Volume 18, issue 90 of Cornerstone. Their article is entitled "Satan's Sideshow". They found out that none of Stratford's claims were true, beginning with her name! It turns out that Lauren Stratford" is really Laurel Rose Wilson, born August 18, 1941.
The Cornerstone article outlines Wilson's life in detail from her birth until the present. The following is a summary of the facts uncovered by Cornerstone, showing the contrast between the facts and her story:
Facts: Dr. Frank Cole (physician). ADOPTED her after her birth. Left her mother when Laurel was 9 years old. Saw her many times through the years-she lived with him from time to time. Died of a heart attack in 1965.
Claims: Claims Cole to be her NATURAL father. Claims that he left her when she was 4 years old. Claims that she saw him again when she was 15. Claims that he was present at Satanic rituals. Claims that he had incestuous relationships with her until he died in 1983 (18 years after his actual death!).
Facts: Rose Gray Wilson (school teacher). ADOPTED Laurel after her birth. Laurel's natural mother was Marrian E. Disbrow. Wilson is a strict Christian woman with a bad temper.
Claims: Often calls Rose Wilson "stepmother". Stories vary over the years from allegations of physical abuse only to allegations of sexual abuse, prostitution and pornography.
Facts: Willow Wilson. Now married with 2 children. Willow is now a Christian missionary. Laurel once lived with Willow, but was told to leave after her psychiatrist warned Willow that Laurel was a danger to her children.
Claims: Claims to be an only child until 1975, when she starts to say that she has a sister "Betty" who is trying to have her put in a mental hospital or to have her killed.
Facts: Laurel made multiple accusations of abuse over 30 years against her mother, father, brother-in-law, various school personnel and lesbian church members. Laurel invented stories about prostitution and pornography rings. Claims that she had personal knowledge of the McMartin Day Care case were disproved.
Claims: Laurel claims in Satan's Underground that it was not until 1985 that she was able to make disclosures of abuse.
Facts: 1985 is the first recorded allegation of Satanic involvement by Laurel. This contradicts all of her previous abuse stories.
Claims: Now alleges Satanic abuse from childhood on.
Facts: Numerous witnesses to confirm that Laurel's many suicide attempts by slashing and self abuse in order to make phoney assault/abuse allegations are the true source of her numerous scars.
Claims: Blames her scars on mother/pornography/prostitution ring torture and/or Satanists.
Facts: There is NO evidence that she was EVER pregnant.
Claims: She has variously claimed over the years that she is sterile or that she had 2 to 3 children who were sacrificed.
Facts: There is NO evidence whatsoever of any ritualistic involvement.
Claims: She claims that her ritual involvement ended with her father's alleged death in 1983, yet claims involvement (disproved) in the McMartin Daycare case in 1985/86.
Facts: FBI experts say that child porn films and magazines were all but non-existent during 1940-1950.
Claims: Says she was involved in porn films and magazines from 1940-1950.
In summary, as the Cornerstone journalists put it, "...the story is not true, the foundation is illusory, and her expertise and counselling qualifications are non existent". Laurel Rose Wilson deserves a great deal of sympathy, since she is a very emotionally disturbed woman. Stratford/Wilson has duped several talk show hosts, many Christians who want to believe her, and a number of investigators who attended her presentations in good faith. This example is another strong argument for checking the credentials of "experts" before they are relied upon.
| ABOUT... |
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Bio: Kerr Cuhulain the author of this article, is known to the mundane world as Detective Constable Charles Ennis. Ennis, a former child abuse investigator, is the author of several articles on child abuse investigation that appeared in Law & Order Magazine. Better known to the Pagan community by his Wiccan name, Kerr Cuhulain, Ennis was the first Wiccan police officer to go public about his beliefs 28 years ago. Kerr is now the Preceptor General of Officers of Avalon. Kerr went on to write four books: The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca (Horned Owl Publishing), Wiccan Warrior and Full Contact Magick: A Book of Shadows for the Wiccan Warrior. (Llewellyn Publications), as well as a book based on this series: Witch Hunts: Out of the Broom Closet (Spiral Publishing).
Email Kerr: firstname.lastname@example.org
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