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Australian Media on Paganism

Scarred girl tells of Satanic cult

20/10/2000 Melbourne Herald-Sun

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 of concern.

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 accurate.

A police officer said the investigating officer was not available for comment yesterday.

Melbourne Sun-Herald, 20/10/2000

Page Updated 2nd April, 2000
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