CHILDREN OF SATAN FOUND NOT GUILTY
PRESS RELEASE OF CESNUR INTERNATIONAL
On June 20, 1997 a jury of the Court of Bologna found all defendants in the Children of Satan case not guilty of rape and child abuse. The leader, Marco Dimitri, was however found guilty of a minor tax offense. Dimitri and a number of followers had been arrested in 1996 after a disgruntled ex-member mentioned that she had been raped during a ritual. She later added that children had been involved in Satanic ceremonies. The Luciferian Children of Satan (Bambini di Satana Luciferiani, BSL) were founded in the early 1980s in Bologna and grew to become, with a membership of around 200, the largest European Satanist movement. BSL's growth could be paradoxically attributed to the attention generated by anti-cult criticism and subsequent appearances of Dimitri in TV talk shows. After the Bologna decision, CESNUR's director Dr. Massimo Introvigne commented that "notwithstanding the verdict, we should not condone BSL's ideology and its shameless apology of hate and violence, including sexual violence, in its 'sacred scripture' Vangelo Infernale (Infernal Gospel). Nor should we forget that some Satanist groups are indeed dangerous". "However - he added - CESNUR welcomes the general principle that accounts of ex-members should not be taken at face value when not confirmed by independent evidence". On the other hand, the verdict could be also attributed to "a circus of amateur 'experts' and miscellaneous anti-cultists around the court. They ultimately confused the issues and made it impossible to distinguish fact from fiction, making a verdict favorable to BSL difficult to avoid. Once again, anti-cultists'misguided activities ultimately play in favour of 'cults' that could be really dangerous".
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