It’s the 21st Century, yet nothing seems to have been learned from the Satanic daycare panic of the 1980s and 90s.
The allegations should have raised red flags to anyone even tangentially aware of the Satanic daycare panic decades ago: “Blood rituals,” needles in the eye, tongue biting, filming young boys to create pornography, inciting two young boys into having sex with each other, kidnap, and a slew of other sexual allegations.
Yet a family of seven that has operated a circus school in Australia were charged with more than 120 sexual offenses in 2018 until all the charges were dropped in February 2020 after they were determined to be untrue, the Daily Mail reported. The family matriarch, 60-year-old Theresa Cook, was charged with 43 crimes and accused of being the ringleader behind the “systemic rape and detention” of three boys under the age of 10. The crimes were alleged to have occurred between 2014 and 2016. Theresa was accused of, among other things “aggravated assault of a child, sexual intercourse with a child under 10 and holding children against their will,” the Mail reported.
Her daughter, 30-year-old Yyani Cook-Williams, was accused of “inciting two of the boys to have sex with each other,” the outlet reported. She was also alleged to have raped two young boys with her mother.
Theresa’s brother, 54-year-old Paul, was accused of “filming at least one encounter on his mobile phone and three counts of aggravated sexual assault in company.”
Theresa’s adopted daughter, Meredith, was also charged with rape, assaulting two boys, and “depriving a boy of his liberty.”
In March 2019, the Cook’s attorney, Bryan Wrench, informed the court that one of the alleged victims had written a letter to his mother admitting that he had lied but said the mother hid the note from investigators.
The Cooks were arrested and some spent 206 days in jail, Wrench said. The charges were finally dismissed in 2020.
“Crucial evidence had been overlooked and the police had no leg to stand on,” Wrench said after the charges were dropped.
“It was probably one of the greatest miscarriages of justice this state has seen,” he told 9News.
Now, seven months after they were cleared, the family is set to appear on “60 Minutes” to talk about their ordeal.
“I was just told when I was arrested that I’d be in prison for 25 years to life,” Theresa says in the program, according to the Mail.
“I still get scared. Very, very scared,” she adds.
Yyani’s brother says he’d “never felt dread like that before in my life,” adding that he “was so afraid.”
Paul tells “60 Minutes” that he still carries “pain, sadness, some days despair,” even after the charges were dropped.
The story of the Cooks is reminiscent of the infamous McMartin Preschool scandal, where an entire family that ran a daycare in Manhattan Beach, California, were accused of performing Satanic rituals and sexually abusing children. Even though the allegations were absurd, the McMartin’s had their lives turned upside down.
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