An eye-popping story about religious cults in our region that allegedly perform ritualistic torture of children — and worse — came to The Herald Journal’s attention this week.
Most people’s natural response to this sort of thing is skepticism. Mine was no different, except the newspaper man in me wanted to hear the whole story. Every detail.
After speaking at length to the young woman making the allegations, I came away not knowing what to think. This woman has either been through living hell or she’s spinning one hell of a yarn.
One thing’s certain: Teal Scott’s story is not something that could be easily proven. In fact, when she took her case to the North Park Police Department and Cache County Attorney’s Office in 2005, there apparently wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute.
Deputy County Attorney Barbara Lachmar acknowledged the existence of Scott’s complaint when I phoned her office this week, but she would not speak about it other than to say “no charges to date have been filed.”
The phrase “to date” leaves things kind of open-ended though, don’t you think? Or maybe not.
The newspaper first heard of Teal Scott in a press release about a book she published this month titled “Sculptor in the Sky.” The book itself is not about cults; it’s a spiritual self-help guide to living a happy life. However, in the foreword Scott tells about her road to psychological and spiritual healing after allegedly being subjected to years of abuse by cultists, starting at age 6 and running though her teenage years.
Scott says this was all orchestrated by a non-family member who gained access to her away from home on many occasions.
She told me, and also states in a Park City television interview now featured on YouTube, that this man belonged to a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot sect calling itself the Blood Covenant. According to Scott, the group, which has a dozen or so local members, bases its beliefs on the “blood atonement” doctrine talked about by Brigham Young but not officially recognized by the modern LDS Church.
“They believe their job is to rid the earth of evil,” she said, explaining the group uses children in torture rituals that sometimes include the spilling of blood, much like fundamentalist Catholics practice personal penitence by whipping themselves.
She tells of being drugged and tortured by group members, and she says she has the scars to prove it. She also says her abductor worked tirelessly brainwashing her to do his bidding and remain quiet about it all.
But the macabre tale doesn’t stop there. Scott said the abductor, a man with multiple personality disorder, crossed over into Satanic groups — the rivals of the Blood Covenant in the regional cult underground. She claims he covered her with animal blood to prostitute her to fellow Satanists at a local motel and used her to lure illegal immigrant children to him in Southern Idaho.
Now hold on to your hats. Scott also claims to have witnessed those children being burned to death as human sacrifices.
Scott said it was this aspect of her story, first told to a therapist, that led to the notification of authorities, since any discussion of such a crime during therapy must by law be reported to police. But Scott insists she is no longer interested in pursuing the matter and that she brought it up in the book only as a way of introducing her approach to positive living.
“It was never my intention to go on record as desperate to ‘spill the beans’ or ‘expose’ horrendous activities going on in Utah,” she said. “My intention was to use the story of the truth of my life to show people that there is nothing that can be done to them that will render them unable to find health and happiness and success.”
It’s worth noting that accounts of ritualistic child abuse are not new to Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. Rumors and allegations of this nature were widespread in the 1980s. Most claims were never proven, but one case in Ogden does stand out as a stark example that such things do indeed happen.
In her 2008 book “Hell Minus One,” Anne Johnson Davis writes a horrifying account of sexual torture and abuse at the hands of her parents and fellow devil worshippers. Her mother and stepfather confessed the abuse to investigators with the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
Also noteworthy in the context of possible cult activity in the region was the recent discovery in Ogden of a Santeria shrine that included the remains of apparently sacrificed animals along with two human skulls. The origin of the skulls has not been determined.
Still, it’s critical to note Teal Scott’s claims are just that — claims.
So why even bring it all up in the newspaper?
We talked about this in our newsroom after learning of Scott’s book and watching her videos on the Internet. Given the unsubstantiated nature of the information, it certainly would have been difficult to justify a straight news story, so I had the idea of broaching the topic in a column format. This way, at least, the story could be presented with some qualifying comment.
After interviewing her and making some other inquires on the matter, I really have only one comment:
Wow, the things you hear about while working at a newspaper!