The Satanic Temple has started a petition asking for a proper investigation into circumstances surrounding the headline-grabbing death of an eight-year-old autistic child, Jude Michael Mirra, who was killed by his mother, Gigi Jordan, in 2010. The Satanic Temple alleges that Jordan was influenced by a Satanic panic–obsessed therapist who had been treating her child.
Six years ago, Jude died Manhattan's Peninsula Hotel after his mother force-fed him a lethal overdose of prescription pills (20 Xanax and 40 Ambien). The former socialite, multi-millionaire, and self-made pharmaceutical executive was charged with manslaughter for his death. She is currently serving an 18-year sentence. Jordan said it was a mercy killing, according to the New York Times: She claimed that believed she was saving her son from a lifetime of sexual abuse at the hands of his father and had planned to kill herself next, but her suicide attempt was unsuccessful.
The Satanic Temple's petition focuses on Ellen Lacter, a therapist whom they say worked with Jordan and her son. Addressed to the California Board of Psychology, the petition claims that Lacter's licensure "arguably contributed to a recent high-profile death of an 8-year old child" because it allowed "the propagation of unscientific, discredited, and patently delusional ideas to the detriment of mental health care consumers." According to her website, Lacter specializes in helping survivors of "ritual abuse and mind control." On the same site, she links to articles about Satanism, "ritual abuse," and government-sponsored mind control.
"[Gigi Jordan] killed her child under the influence of this idea that she was preserving her child from future abuse by Satanic cult conspiracy," Lucien Greaves, founder of the Satanic Temple, told Broadly. According to CBS, Jordan testified in 2014 that Jude had learned how to communicate with her by typing on her BlackBerry, despite being nonverbal and around six years old at the time the "communication" first started.
On the stand, Jordan claimed that Jude had told her that he'd been tortured and sexually abused by dozens of people and that he'd been forced to drink blood and kill animals. At one point, she said, Jude typed, "I want to aggressively punish God." (Likely, Jordan was using "facilitated communication" (FC), a technique for communicating with severely disabled people that has been discredited by the psychological community. According to David Auerbach at Slate, "FC has been repeatedly documented to produce the ideomotor effect, or 'ouija board' effect, in which a person unconsciously influences his or her own motor behavior, in this case guiding a disabled person's hand as a consequence.")
[Gigi Jordan] killed her child under the influence of this idea that she was preserving her child from future abuse by Satanic cult conspiracy.
Lacter did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but she previously told Raw Story that "neither Ms. Jordan nor her son was ever [her] patient." However, according to a 2014 Newsweek article, she did file a suspected child abuse report on behalf of Jude. In a report filed in 2008, which was obtained by Raw Story, Lacter wrote, "Ms. Jordan first contacted me, having found me through my website on abuse (www.endritualabuse.org), concerned that ritual abuse might explain her son's behaviors and the disclosures he had begun to make, Jude's behaviors and disclosures, reported by Ms. Jordan, were consistent with that of other victims of ritual abuse. Ms. Jordan retained me to provide her with consultation to help her to keep her son safe and to help him psychologically."
"Gigi Jordan deserves the consequences that she has brought upon herself, but the power that also encouraged that should be investigated as well," said Sarah Ponto Rivera, point person for the Satanic Temple's Grey Faction, which focuses on mental health and psychiatry malpractice. Even those familiar with the group may not know that The Satanic Temple—and Lucien Greaves in particular—have long and closely investigated psychiatric malpractice, especially problems surrounding the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, which was formerly known as multiple personality disorder. Greaves is deeply suspicious of the notion of repressed trauma: "Often, hypnosis and other memory retrieval techniques are employed to draw forth what is presumed to be accessible in the subconscious mind," he recently wrote on his blog. "Unfortunately, this digging about for 'repressed memories' can serve to create false memories that almost always conform to the assumptions held by the therapist."
The Satanic Temple is an atheist organization—they do not worship a literal Satan. Founded in 2012 by Greaves, The Satanic Temple operates under seven tenets, including "one body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone" and "one should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason." According to the group's petition:
In 2008, Gigi Jordan, mother of Jude Michael Mirra, retained the services of CA licensed Psychologist, Ellen Lacter, to evaluate and help her son, Jude. Jude was severely autistic. By 2010, Ms. Jordan murdered Jude by way of forced pill overdose, under the delusion that she was preserving him from future tortures he was to suffer at the hands of Satanic cult conspiracy. It hardly seems credible that it could merely be a coincidence that Ellen Lacter shares with Ms. Jordan a delusional belief in a conspiracy theory of Satanic cult abuse practices and secretive Government Mind-Control programs. In fact, we contend that much of the content on Ellen Lacter's own professional website (www.endritualabuse.org) is so evidently delusional, irrational, and bizarre, that only a failing of oversight could allow her licensure to remain unexamined and intact.
Indeed, poking around Lacter's website, www.endritualabuse.org, proves to be a bizarre experience and reads more like something out of an X-Files episode than what you would expect from a licensed clinical psychologist's website. One page, titled "Overview of the Differences Between Satanism and Witchcraft," outlines the distinction between the two groups. In Satanism, according to the site, "pain of children is offered in sacrifice to balance the power of the gods, to give more power to Satan, and decrease the power of Christianity and God." In witchcraft, conversely, "pain is used to appease deities and empower followers." This spiritual goal is apparently achieved "in rituals involving extreme physical and sexual torture and human and animal sacrifice."
Another contributor to End Ritual Abuse is Diana Napolis—a former therapist who was arrested for stalking Jennifer Love Hewitt, whom Napolis accused of being part of a Satanic conspiracy (she also targeted Steven Spielberg, who slapped her with a restraining order).
The term "Satanic panic" is typically used to refer to a "period of nationwide hysteria" during the 80s and early 90s over allegations of ritualistic abuse. While it may seem like a thing of the past, Greaves insists it's still an issue in the current day. "I became familiar with [Lacter] back in 2009 following the Ritual Abuse Mind Control Conference I had gone to. She spoke there several times," he said. "People think the whole Satanic Panic is over, and this isn't an issue anymore, so this is the perfect case study to point people to show them what a depraved problem this is and what an outrage it is that we still haven't managed to bring this under control yet."
People think the whole Satanic Panic is over, and this isn't an issue anymore, so this is the perfect case study to point people to show them what a depraved problem this is.
But roughly two decades later, Greaves noted, "We still have people under the authority of professionals licensing within the mental health field who are able to put forward the most delusional, paranoid ideas, which are so self-evidently harmful to the mentally vulnerable who might come their way."
According to Greaves, Ellen Lacter was associated with the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). However, since the Satanic Temple's petition went online, her name has been scrubbed ISSTD's website—although the page for Ritual Abuse/Mind-Control Special Interest, which is Lacter's area of interest, remains. (The ISSTD did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)
The Satanic Temple is publicly calling into question Lacter's credentials as a therapist. "Ms. Lacter's own professional materials are, in our opinion, self-evidently indicative of mental illness, and her incompetence as a mental health care professional insofar as her ability to act as an arbiter of rational truth claims are concerned," their petition reads. "It is our opinion that evidence strongly suggests that Ms. Lacter's mental illness contributed to the murder of an eight-year-old child, Jude Michael Mirra. We further contend that the very public nature of Ms. Lacter's delusional claims call into question the competence of the oversight processes that continue to allow her licensure."
At press time, the petition has garnered 874 signatures, 126 away from their 1,000 goal. "I'm all for it," Rivera told Broadly when asked about the petition. "My understanding of the whole case is that all the therapists that Gigi Jordan encountered prior to Jude's murder helped either instill or helped encourage the delusions that Gigi Jordan already had. Why isn't our system doing something to protect people from therapists who aren't willing to help their patients?"