February 22, 2008

Recovered memory therapist placed on probation

Before today's sexual predator hysteria came the satanic ritual abuse scare of the 1980s. Many of the day care providers prosecuted and imprisoned in that era have quietly won their freedom due to flaws in the cases against them. But what about the therapists who helped in their prosecutions?

This week, one of the key therapists involved in the satanic ritual scare agreed to be placed on professional probation for violating Utah codes of professional conduct.

Barbara Snow, a licensed clinical social worker, wrote one of the academic articles credited with fueling satanic hysteria. The article, "Ritualistic child abuse in a neighborhood setting" (Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 474-487), described secret, organized rings of satanists preying upon suburban children - claims that have never been verified with any credible evidence.

The Utah therapist was involved in several of the 1980s prosecutions in Utah. Children she interviewed described satanic rituals, cross-dressing, and the consumption of human excrement. One man she testified against was later granted a new hearing after the Utah Supreme Court questioned Snow's credibility.

The current case involved allegations that Snow planted false memories in two of her relatives, convincing a female relative that she was the victim of satanic abuse and military testing, and convincing a male relative that his father had sexually abused him. When investigators looked into the matter, she allegedly provided them with doctored notes of those therapy sessions.

More information on the current case is available from the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News. Additional background on Snow is here, here, here, and here.

It's fascinating historical reading, but it unfortunately shows that people don't learn from history.