A 15 year old Melbourne girl in hospital with severe
burns claims she was set alight during an escape from
a Satanic cult.
The girl, whose abdomen is scarred by a large pentagram,
told counsellors she had been repeatedly abused by a
cult hidden in the Dandenong Ranges.
She needed treatment at the Royal Children's Hospital
for horrific facial and body burns after claiming to
have broken free.
An occult specialist was called in after doctors identified
the five-pointed star, a mark used in witchcraft, carved
or branded on her stomach.
The teenager, who cannot be named, told counsellors
she was born into the cult and had been sexually abused
for years. She claimed other children were still within
the cult which had up to 50 members.
An intervention order against a family member was sought
in July but not formalised after she failed to sign
it and fled interstate.
Police reportedly inspected a Dandenong Ranges bushland
site south-east of Melbourne which the girl claimed
was then occupied by the cult but may now be abandoned.
Local police are aware of a number of sects and alternative
religions in the area but said they had no recent reports
Authorities are believed to have dropped their investigations
because the girl refused to make an official statement
and her exact whereabouts is now unknown.
The Department of Human Services also became involved
when the girl surfaced three months ago but would not
comment on the case yesterday.
"We are not at liberty to discuss the details of clients
who come under our care," a spokesperson said.
The accuracy of a number of the girl's claims, including
her age, has been questioned.
The hospital conducted bone tests and determined she
was at least 18.
But private counsellors involved are concerned investigations
may have been dropped prematurely and say the existence
of the cult remains a real possibility.
"It's hard not to believe but it's even harder not
to believe," said Raphael Aron, a specialist counsellor
who interviewed the girl over a number of weeks.
Given her injuries and consistent recall, Mr Aron said
he was confident 80 per cent of what she claimed was
A police officer said the investigating officer was
not available for comment yesterday.
Melbourne Sun-Herald, 20/10/2000