This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
From 1992 to 1995, Utah television news and print media were agog in reports that scores of Utah children had been ritually abused as part of a macabre and gruesome circle of Satanic covens operating undercover in neighborhoods from Logan to St. George.
Based on the evidence of recollections of adults who said they were tortured, or even witnessed first-hand the murder of children and infants, then-Gov. Norm Bangerter recommended an investigation, and the Utah Legislature approved $250,000 for attorney general investigators to look into the matter. The investigation took two years and produced a 59-page report, but no definitive conclusions.
Fortified by a roster of patients who alleged horrific ritual abuse, however, therapists maintained the events suffered by their patients were real. Their claims were often greeted with controversy, and claims that patients' claims were cultivated and encouraged by their counselors. At the very least, there was lingering sense that something terrible was out there lived on.
Judy Byington, a retired licensed clinical social worker, has made it her mission to keep campaigning against these elusive crimes. Twenty-Two Faces, Byington's biography of Jenny Hill, an alleged victim, explores how her client's personality became fractured due to trauma.
How do you answer critics and skeptics who contend that recovered memory syndrome has its pitfalls, or that multiple personality disorder is an oft-abused diagnosis?
I start with a history of dissociate-identity disorder. In brief, back in 1980 there was a book published, Michelle Remembers, by Michelle Smith with Dr. Lawrence Pazder [a Canadian psychiatrist who eventually married Smith]. Smith was 6 years old, and given to her mother by a cult. When she grew up she started having memories of being abused. [The publication of the book] started what we call the "Satanism scare."
What happened then was that hundreds of women started going to therapists, stating they'd been ritually abused just like Michelle. By 1984, the International Society for Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) was formed. It's very large, and still functions today, mainly Ph.Ds and psychiatrists. Dr. Collin Ross, founder of the Colin A. Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma in Dallas, wrote the forward to my book. He runs clinics for ritual abuse victims in Texas, California and Michigan. The issue has also been taken up by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1989, Ezra Taft Benson, then president, took up the issue after there was a little baby found in a trash can in Rupert, Idaho. [The church] formed a 12-person committee ... [and] produced a 12-page memo saying that 45 members of the church witnessed human sacrifice. One of items of the memo mentioned that they excommunicated members responsible. That same year, the A.G.'s office formed the Satanic Ritual Abuse Committee. They interviewed therapists and police investigators all over the state.
I had women in their 20s who came to me in my counseling practice in Provo. They had ritual-abuse memories of their fathers abusing them.
Why go public with this book now?
Because this is something Jenny and I started on 17 years ago. I was running around to different legal people. An FBI agent put us together. We decided to write this book.
One thing you have to understand about ritual abuse is that it's done on purpose, to divide the mind. And the only person who's mind is vulnerable at that time is the child with a developing brain. It's called mind control.
What do you hope to gain from your series of readings?
Our purpose is to expose ritual abuse. Children are being abused. We want to uncover and document the fact that the problem is real. It's going on all around us. Denial is the biggest problem. People don't believe it's going on.
When I talked to the Utah Attorney General's office investigators, as recent as this year, they told me there are active covens, or groups of men, with one woman as their witch.
The biggest problem of victims is that no one around them believes them. They've been tortured, seen children murdered, and know ritual abuse first-hand. Their biggest problem is society's denial.
'Twenty-Two Faces' author Judy Byington
Judy Byington will hold book signings for her new book, Twenty-Two Faces: Inside the Extraordinary Life of Jenny Hill and Her Twenty-Two Multiple Personalities, from Aug. 5 through Sept. 1.
Where • Barnes & Noble, 1104 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, Aug. 4, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.; Eborn Books, Valley Fair Mall, West Jordan, 3601 S. 2700 West, West Valley City, Aug. 11, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.; Eborn Books at Provo Mall, 1200 Town Center, Blvd. top level No. 2006, Aug. 18, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.; Eborn Books at Valley Fair Mall, West Jordan, Aug. 25, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.; Eborn Books at Provo Mall, 1200 Town Center, Blvd. top level No. 2006, Sept. 1, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
Info • Visit http://www.22faces.com for more information. The book was published this month by Tate Publishing.