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Thurston county ritual abuse case

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The Thurston county ritual abuse case was a 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[1] and later accused by his son in 1996 of being abused by his father from the ages of 4 to 12.[2] He originally pled guilty but has since maintained his innocence. After pleading guilty, he attempted to withdraw his plea and requested a trial or clemency but his requests were refused. Ingram was released in 2003 after serving his sentence.[3] Ingram confessed to a variety of extremely improbable crimes and a sizable number of Ingram's fellow Sheriff's department employees were also accused by Ingram's young daughters and their friends.

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.[4] The "satanic" aspects of the case were dropped by the prosecution[5] although the appearance of Satan was integral to Ingram's confessions. The case has also been compared to the Salem witch trials.[6][7]


The accusations appeared at a time when there was 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. Ingrams' daughters had both been in therapy, one before the initial outcry, the other while the trial was ongoing.[8] The Ingrams were also members of a local Pentacostal 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, Ingram's daughter was told she possessed prophetic powers and had been sexually abused by her father.[9]

False memory hypothesis

Psychologist Richard Ofshe claimed that Ingram, because of his long-standing and routine experiences in his church, was inadvertently hypnotized by authority figures who conducted his interrogation, although no mental health professionals were present, and that the confessions were the result of false memories being implanted with suggestion.[10] Ofshe tested this hypothesis by telling Ingram that a son and daughter had accused him of forcing them to commit incest with each other. Interrogating officers had previously accused Ingram of this, but he denied it, and also denied Ofshe's accusation. Ofshe instructed Ingram to pray on the idea, and later Ingram produced a full, detailed written confession. Questioning the daughter who was supposed to have been involved, despite many other accusations against her father, she denied that such an incident had ever occurred. Upon being told that no such accusation had been made by either his son or daughter, Ingram refused to believe the incident wasn't real, maintaining "[i]t's just as real to me as anything else".[11] Ofshe became convinced that Ingram's confessions were solely the result of extensive interrogation sessions and questions being applied to an unusually suggestive individual. He provided a report on his theory, but the prosecution initially refused to supply it to the defence, only doing so after being forced by the judge.[12] Ofshe later reported the incident in a scientific journal,[13] though his conclusions and methods were criticized.[14]

Remembering Satan

Ingram's story became the basis of the book Remembering Satan by Lawrence Wright. The Ingram case was also the basis for the TV-movie Forgotten Sins, in which John Shea played "Sheriff Matthew Bradshaw". Richard Ofshe, the only individual whose name was not changed for the movie, confirms that it is based on the Ingram case.[15] Lawrence Wright, the author of Remembering Satan, received a "Story by" WGA credit for the movie.[16]


  1. Ofshe, R. "Ofshe Report on the Ingram Case". Archived from the original on 2004-11-27. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  2. Zimmerman, Rachel (1996-06-08). "Son of Deputy Says He Was Sexually Abused ; Dramatic Report in Testimony to Clemency Panel". Seattle Post-Intelligencer: pp. B1. 
  4. Wright, 1994, p. 188.
  5. Lewis, James P. (2001). Satanism today: an encyclopedia of religion, folklore, and popular culture. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. pp. 126-8. ISBN 1-57607-292-4. 
  6. Kearney, Richard (2004). On stories. New York: Routledge. pp. 35. ISBN 0-415-24797-7. 
  7. Edmundson, Mark (1997). Nightmare on Main Street: angels, sadomasochism, and the culture of Gothic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. pp. 39. ISBN 0-674-62463-7. 
  8. Wright, 1994, p. 147-175.
  9. Lewis JP (2001). Satanism today: an encyclopedia of religion, folklore, and popular culture. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. pp. 125-6. ISBN 1-57607-292-4. 
  10. Robinson, BA (2003-04-29). "The "Paul Ingram" ritual abuse case, in Olympia, WA". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  11. Wright, 1994, p. 134-146.
  12. Wright, 1994, p. 177.
  13. Ofshe RJ (July 1992). "Inadvertent hypnosis during interrogation: false confession due to dissociative state; mis-identified multiple personality and the Satanic cult hypothesis". Int J Clin Exp Hypn 40 (3): 125–56. 
  14. Olio, K; Cornell W (1998). "The Facade of Scientific Documentation: A Case Study of Richard Ofshe's Analysis of the Paul Ingram Case". Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 4 (4): 1182–1197. 
  15. "Sociology Professor Featured In TV Movie 'Forgotten Sins'". The Berkleyan (Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley). 1996-03-06. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  16. " Movie Credits". Movie Credits. LMN (TV network). Retrieved 2007-04-24. 


  • Wright, L (1994). Remembering Satan: A case of recovered memory and the shattering of an American family. Knopf. ISBN 0679431551. 

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Thurston county ritual abuse case. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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