SUNDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2008
By Raffaella di Marzio
NOTICE. Much of the news reported are taken from Antonella Beccaria’s book "Satan’s children". In case of any imprecision or mistake in the reconstruction of facts and in the way the role of some protagonists is treated, please report it in the comments or writing at the email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This fragment is inspired by a book I was suggested few days ago and that I read with great interest even stealing time to my sleep. It's Antonella Beccaria's book "Satan’s children", published in 2006. The book, also published on my website, tells, 10 years after, the judicial vicissitude of Marco Dimitri, president of the Satan’s Children Association. A punctual and synthetic reconstruction of the story can be also found in the graduation thesis of Simone Zanin, published on CESNUR'S Website, of which I report an extract in RDM ilBlog. A file on the Satan’s Children is published on CESNUR'S Website.
Antonella Beccaria’s book reconstructs the story starting from a now established fact: the case of Satan’s children was a judicial mistake, an incredible judicial story based on nothing, which had as main character a satanist.
To read this book remembered me stories I lived in first person because, in 1996, when the judicial problems for Dimitri and other people near him started, I was associated to GRIS since a couple of years. The association was still named "Group for Research and information on Sects " (the word "Sects" disappeared and was then replaced by "Socioreligious"). I was a beginner and I couldn’t get my bearing yet in a world so complex e and also so full of mystery, pain and evil. For me it was still a world much "obscure", in any sense. When the Dimitri case exploded I considered it, as anyone in the GRIS, a case of savage satanism, one of the few finally come to the light in which the leader and his followers had been discovered thanks to the courageous testimony of a repentant come out and to the effort also of the members of the directive council of the association I belonged to.
It was right and dutiful that the police and the magistrates verified the facts and punished the criminal satanists. Inside the association there were voices that people from the
My questions, instead, seemed always out of place and got no answer. I was a beginner: I asked for explanations to learn and understand what was happening and which was the role of the association I belonged to in that story. The very simple question I several time asked to expert people with a directive role in the GRIS was: "But has really Dimitri done what’s written in the newspapers? Really do you know the witness as the newspapers say and the little Federico who was put in the coffin with the corpse of Margherita?" The answer was evanescent: "We know, we know, there are witnesses. Dimitri? He’s a satanist: he MUST have done something ... it’s not our role to say if he’s guilty. It will be the justice".
Despite the evasive answers and the half statements, meanwhile Radio Maria broadcasted a transmission on satanism in the programme conduced by Giuseppe Ferrari with an interview to the Public Prosecutor Lucia Musti, the “Osservatore Romano” got involved directly publishing some articles on the story, of which one signed by the Public Prosecutor herself, exactly when the process to Dimitri was beginning.
That is: you couldn’t talk about it, but EVERYBODY did it.
In the GRIS there was a feeling of satisfaction for what was happening. Finally a satanist was about to be condemned for terrible crimes he committed. I remember, in particular, an evening when I was quite impressed by the image of Dimitri on a megascreen interviewed on a popular TV programme, broadcasting from
Certainly the issues of the "debate" of that transmission were also other, but this example says many things on the trustworthiness of certain "antisatanist" or, better then, "antidimitri" sources.
Indeed that programme gave no insight on the story to a beginner like me: but surely it contributed to reinforce the negative image I already had of Marco Dimitri and his sect. I use the word "image" because it’s just what was happening: everything was based on an image, that is an "impression, idea that a character gives of himself to the public based on his look or the way he shows himself ". It was just an image, that of Dimitri, and I believed it was reality.
The satanism is something disgusting me, Dimitri does not arouse any sympathy in me even today, but what happened to him remains in my advice very serious. Today I realize that me and the people of GRIS were not the only ones to believe to the truth of that "image", but millions of people shared it: everybody’s reading the newspapers, listening to the radio and watching the TV.
Reading Antonella Beccaria’s book, of which I will quote some part in brackets and in different colour, today I could reflect on those years and I understood much more on what happened then and on the role of the GRIS in the story.
Antonella Beccaria refers that the first contact between the GRIS and the protagonists of this story "is dated august 1995, when the father of Elisabetta Dozza (the superwitness, note of the author), who would have started attending satanists, asks information on Marco Dimitri and his group just to the association of Mount street (the seat of GRIS in Bologna is in Mount street). Then in October, when they start to suppose that Federico (the three years old child who would have been raped by Dimitri and his friend and then put in the coffin with the corpse of Margherita, note of the author) has been victim a ritual satanic abuse, the mother of the child applies to Padre Dermine. Meanwhile also the mother of Elisabetta asks again support for her daughter. The psychologists suggested to the families are indicated by the group of study".
From the reconstruction of the author it seems that everything started with a notice from parents having problems with their sons (Elisabetta and Federico), they ascribe them to Dimitri and his sect and they apply a local helping group: one of many requests arriving in the helping groups. The parents, in this case, feared their sons could be “victims” of a satanic sect. So the story begins as many other similar ones of which I talked in the First fragment.
In her reconstruction Antonella Beccaria continues like that: "... as the first hypothesis of crime is formulated, the seat of GRIS becomes an obliged step also for the police, as confirmed by the depositions of marshal Cabras on February 1996, which will resort to the experts found here as its consultants. Furthermore the GRIS already knew the Satan’s children, as it had been the object of some phone jokes from Dimitri, and – more relevant – received the fanzine cured and diffused by the satanists. Following, the relationships with the police were often characterized by requests for bibliography on the subject and information about the relationships existing between the satanic groups active in
This too is a script continuously repeating when you assume crimes happened inside religious or para-religious groups. The information nearly always comes from associations of victims: their use strongly depends on the magistrates inquiring and on the public prosecutor.
As I already stated in the Fourth fragment the issue of the trustworthiness of the information and of their use from the magistrates and the police is a very serious one. The Dimitri case is a typical example. Dimitri goes to jail at the end of January 2006 and then again for 400 days in June of the same year.
His lawyers will have no problem "to demonstrate that the dates of the presumed violence (the rape of Elisabetta, note of the author) are unlikely, that you cannot bundle like a sweet a wicked paint big near as a wall to bring it around for the umpteenth black mass. Or again that the corpse of the victims of a ritual sacrifice couldn’t have gone into a small gas ring used, according to the reconstruction of the prosecutor, as an improvised crematory because its dimensions wouldn’t have been sufficient to burn even a wedding cake". "There is not even trace of the first aid medical report written by the doctor who would have visited Elisabetta Dozza the night of the rape, would have she used a true name or a false one ".
Every detail revealed by the girl shows to be unproved. For example that of the "Master": a mysterious man named “the Master” would have taken part in the rape of Elisabetta. It will be then clear that the mysterious Master is Damiano Berto, a man “sui generis” who "to eke out, gives private lessons to fathead students. With these words becomes clear the origin of the nickname “the Master”. Anyway the day of the presumed rape Berto was not even in
Very soon the second accuse arrives: Dimitri put a three years child, Federico, in a coffin with the corpse of a woman, Margherita, after raping him together with the others. But who is Federico? Federico is a child starting to show strange behaviours: he accepts only milk and no solid food, he doesn’t want to be changed the napkin, he gets angry if the father takes care of him, he awakes frightened in the midst of the night, he shows anxiety and becomes uncontrollable when the mother, psychologist, goes out to work. Federico begins a therapy and in that period he remains at home with the baby sitter, a lively fourteenth cousin of Federico. He doesn’t improve, meanwhile a small sister arrives. The baby sitter is sent away and later on will be accused of having brought the child (Dimitri’s prey) in the sect. As Federico’s parents are convinced that the child is influenced or possessed by the devil, they entrust to a local exorcist. Federico is exorcized and, later on, he will be followed also by another priest who’s already following Elisabetta.
Meanwhile the number of the inquired people rise to nine: among them also Efrem Del Gatto (roman satanist), the marquis Bevilacqua and Federico’s baby sitter, all finally proved completely uninvolved in the facts. The "poor" Efrem
Antonella Beccaria, in her book continues like that: "So, summing up, Federico has strange behaviours and hence violences are desumed, Elisabetta confirms them saying she personally participated to rituals, and the words of the girl are supported by the exorcist, father Clemente Leonardi. Apart from the words of the witnesses, no shadow of any proof".
Anyway the press goes on amplifying the panic and increasing the target: thanks to the “Resto del Carlino” also the "Satan’s Children Corporation" is born: the news of ritual and satanic groups operating under the name of Dimitri now come from any corner of Italy: Pompei,
The last step towards the thesis of the big conspiracy is done: there is a "third level". Personalities and high society persons would be involved in the satanic context. One first example of these presumed untouchable and influential persons is the unlucky Ippolito Bevilacqua Ariosti, a marquis from
But let’s go back to the "third level". I well remember that in those years I often heard speaking of the existence of a "third level" in anticult contexts and inside associations helping victims. They told me that satanism in
As Antonella Beccarla says: "Said otherwise, Dimitri and his fellows would be too much bum to be more than simple mercenaries of the occult, in the end they would operate with the only aim of selling human flesh, better if children’s. At this point, the fear of the paedophile is tangible...".
I was frightened by the idea of a third level more important than Dimitri and his group: if they were so criminal, what could be done by those heading the pyramid? What nobody could explain me was why they passed from a first level (that of Dimitri and fellows) to a third level skipping the second (who was at this second level?).
I never got it until I discovered a third level never existed. This thing and many more I would have discovered later on, when I began to study and not to rely "in toto" on second hand information. The end of the Dimitri case is exemplar: it renders a bit faith in justice. He’s acquitted the first time on 20th June 1997. The Judging Committee reads its decision acquitting the accused ones from all the “satanic” accuses “because the fact didn’t happen”. "The 2000 is the year of the second degree acquittal of Marco Dimitri: the 25th of January, indeed, the Court of Appeal confirms the first degree decision of two years and a half before closing definitively the judicial chapter of the Satan’s children without going to the Supreme Court".
In the new decision, completely similar to that of the judge Sergio Cornia, it’s stated once again the innocence of Dimitri, Bonora, Luongo and the other accused. It’s confirmed also the untrustworthyness of the super-witness Elisabetta Dozza while, as far as little Federico is regarded, it’s repeated that maybe the child suffered some kind of violence, but more probably he was imposed the silence after seeing the cousin baby sitter having sexual relationships with her boyfriend. The president of the Satan’s children got one hundred thousand euros compensation for undue jailing, money come out from the State cash, that is from our pockets.
After more than ten years what has happened to the Satan’s children? Antonella Beccaria says that "Now the Satan’s children comprise more or less 1200 fellows. But the activists aren’t more than twenty. Much of the associates subscribe on internet and don’t even pay the association fee, fifty euros per year. Meanwhile the website has grown, collecting documents on pagan satanism and on exoteric culture."
So, the story created much pain, signed the life of innocent persons on both sides but it has not cancelled Dimitri and the Satan’s children from the face of earth, as someone wished. The opposite: it gave them more visibility. It didn’t prove useful neither to prevent further crimes in other satanic group of greater criminal weight like the Satan’s Beasts, in which case the police intervened when unfortunately they already had made victims.
I don’t know which has been the destiny of the super-witness and her family nor that of Federico and his family: I hope that they solved their problems, but if this has happened it was certainly not due to the scandal and the witch hunt created by persons (I insist to believe it) in good faith doing only what they thought to be their duty. Anyway it would be nice if the story of Dimitri would have taught us something, especially to us committed in giving help, advice and trustful information to families worried about their relatives belonging to some “strange” religious group.
In his graduation thesis, Simone Zanin quotes Jenkins (1992), who, "at the end of his study on moral panic in late 80’s and first 90’s England, thinks that the social alarm about “women” and “children” will keep on growing, mainly due to the irreversible change path of the family in its traditional sense and the feeling of awkwardness link to this social process" and another researcher, Stanley Cohen (1980), who "asks at the end of a famous book: who will be the next one?".
I would change his question to the plural: who will be the next ones? After Dimitri we got further "demons" and "witches" accused and there are still many other put today on the mediatic gallows. We cannot illude ourselves: there will always be some because, as Lucarelli says in the preface to Antonella Beccaria’s book:
"This books makes us reflect also on this morbid and deviating charm of evil. On that anxious excitement that make us run to the newspapers anytime we read that word, satanic, just as if we were crazily wishful to see realized our worst fears, instead of asking ourselves what exactly does it mean that word, on what is it practically based the right to evoke it, and pretending accuracy and professionalism from those using it. And then, maybe, extending this care to many other words equally abused by the chronicle and by our fancy".