SALT LAKE CITY - Top officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints say they are investigating reports from members that as children they witnessed human sacrifices and "satanic abuse" at the hands of renegade Mormon-affilliated cliques.
Glenn Pace, a member of the Church's three-man presiding bishopric, reported in a memorandum dated July 19, 1990, and made public last week that an internal church investigation detailed 60 cases in which Mormons described undergoing ritualized abuse in Utah, Idaho, California, Mexico and other locations.
Pace wrote that he is convinced that at least 800 church-affilliated Satanists now are practicing occult rituals and devil worship in Utah's Salt Lake Valley.
Many of them, he added, pose as devout Mormon leaders and include bishops, a diocese president, patriarchs, temple workers, members of the church's Young Women and Young Men groups, and even members of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
"Not only do some of the perpetrators represent a cross-section of the Mormon culture, but sometimes the abuse has taken place in our own meetinghouses," Pace wrote to the committee set up by patriarchs of the 8 million-member church to investigate the claims.
However, Pace wrote, he made a point of asking the victims to identify their tormentors only by their church rank. He gave no reason for this.
Church spokesman Don LeFevre said he did not know whether Pace reported his findings to law-enforcement officers.
Pace, he added, is traveling in South America and is not available for interviews.
LeFevre said many law-enforcement officials have expressed scepticism about Pace's allegations of widespread satanic abuse. He appeared to share that view.
"It seems to me that even though one actual case is tragic and is one too many, the reports of ritualistic kilings are likely overblown, whether they be in connection with members of our church, of other churches, or any other segment of society, none of which is immune," LeFevre said.
Sgt. Don Bell, chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department's intelligence unit, said his office recieves about a half-dozen reports alleging satanic abuse each year. But there are no reports of finding the body of a sacrifice victim.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that these people who describe enduring satanic ritual abuse are victims of some very profound type of abuse," Bell said, "But I do not believe that there is an intergenerational network of Satanists active in this valley."
Pace's memo, marked "Do Not Reproduce" at the top, was made public last week by anti-Mormon crusaders Jerald and Sandra Tanner.
"We do not know that these tales of satanic rituals and human sacrifices are true," Sandra Tanner said last week.
"But we do know that Pace is a very high-ranking church official, and we know that the memo in question is authentic and therefore of great interest to all people concerned about Mormonisim, both those inside the church and those on the outside."
Pace had written he also was sceptical of the allegations until he spent a year interviewing survivors of the rituals, many of whom suffer multiple personalities and other psychological problems commonly associated with child abuse.
"When 60 witnessess testify to the same type of torture and murder, it becomes impossible for me, personally, not to believe them," Pace wrote.
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