IN SHORT: A video of children making claims of satanic cult abuses has resurfaced, nearly a decade after it first appeared. But a court ruling and several fact-checking organisations have debunked these claims, finding that the children were pressured into making the accusations by their mother and her partner.
A video circulating on Facebook and other social media platforms shows two young children describing disturbing acts that they were subjected to or forced to commit. Among other things, the children describe being sexually assaulted and forced to kill and eat babies.
This video was shared in May 2023, which was when Africa Check was alerted to it via WhatsApp, along with claims of a satanic cult abusing children.
Yet none of this is true. The video was filmed in 2014, and while the story behind it is still upsetting, there is no truth to the claims the children are making.
Children abused and forced to lie to authorities by mother and her partner
The children in the video were never involved in any kind of satanic cult, were not abused by school teachers or members of their local church, and were not forced to kill or eat babies.
Instead, an investigation by British police and social services discovered that the children had been abused by their mother, Ella Draper, and her partner, Abraham Christie. Draper and Christie forced the children to make false statements to police and authorities about ritual abuse.
The investigation began in September 2014 shortly after claims of abuse were reported to the police by Christie’s brother-in-law. Police searched the places where cult activities had supposedly taken place and the children were interviewed by police and examined by a paediatrician and child psychiatrist.
A March 2015 judgement found that: “The children’s false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse.” The judge wrote that “torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms Draper”.
The hearing also found: “There was no satanic or other cult at which babies were murdered and children were sexually abused.”
Christie and Draper had accused the children’s father and school teachers, among others, of taking part in the abuse. But this was not true.
Details reported on extensively, false claims already debunked
One of the most unusual aspects of this claim is that the facts of the case have been known for some years and widely reported.
Local and international news organisations reported the outcome of the March 2015 judgement at the time. The judgement itself is extremely clear. And fact-checking organisations have debunked the claims when they have been repeated in the years since.
Hoaxed, a 2022 podcast presented by journalist Alexi Mostrous, re-told the story and conducted new interviews. Mostrous noted that, since the original claims were made, conspiracy theories about satanic cults abusing children have become more popular. The Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories, both of which have been repeatedly disproven, revolve around similar claims.
Fact-checkers have also reported this. When fact-checking organisation Lead Stories investigated an old video of the children in 2020, it noted that it was tagged with #Pizzagate and other hashtags commonly used by conspiracy theorists such as #SaveTheChildren, a hashtag hijacked by QAnon conspiracy theorists.
There is no evidence for the disturbing acts described by the children in this video.
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