Against Satanic Panics > Recent scaremongers > Jim Kouri
Recent anti-Satanist scaremongers:
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2006 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.
Jim Kouri seems to be a person with quite a bit of influence in law enforcement. Accompanying his columns is a brief bio which begins, "Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police." He is also a writer, both for "many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others" and for a bunch of right wing websites on which he has a syndicated column. And he has appeared on quite a few TV and radio talk shows. Here is Jim Kouri's personal website.
- Writings by Jim Kouri on "Satanism"
- Crime Beat: Satanic Cults and Ritualistic Crime
- The Pamela Vitale Murder: Satanic or Ritualistic Crime and Murder, October 22, 2005 (syndicated column appearing on various right wing websites). (See also the critiques listed below, and see also my page about the Scott Dyleski / Pamele Vitale case.)
- Satanic Cultists Get Stiff Sentences for Multiple Murders, Tuesday January 31, 2006 (syndicated column appearing on various right wing websites). (See also my page about the "Beasts of Satan" murders in Italy.)
Critiques of Jim Kouri's writings on "Satanism"
- MichNews Peddles Satanic Panic by Richard Bartholomew, in Bartholomew's notes on religion, Researching religion in the news, 25 October 2005 - excellent critique
- Wren's nest (on the Pagan site Witchvox): comments on "The Pamela Vitale Murder: Satanic or Ritualistic Crime and Murder" by Jim Kouri
- The Pagan Prattle: Archives for category "hypocrisy" (scroll down to October 22, 2005)
Here are my own comments on Jim Kouri's online writings about "Satanism."
His two pages Crime Beat: Satanic Cults and Ritualistic Crime and The Pamela Vitale Murder: Satanic or Ritualistic Crime and Murder are almost identical, differing mainly in their opening paragraphs. Apparently both are largely copied and pasted from his book Assume the Position.
He quotes or otherwise mentions, as his sources, a bunch of the "Satanic and occult crime experts" of the 1980's - all of whom were long ago discredited, but whom Kouri takes seriously for whatever reason. Nowhere does Kouri mention that there was ever a whole lot of controversy about their claims, or about their purported expertise.
I wonder if he is even aware of the history of the Satanic panic at all. If indeed he's just ignorant on this matter, then perhaps he can be persuaded to educate himself. Unlike Dawn Perlmutter, it does not appear (so far) that Jim Kouri has staked his very career on spreading panic about Satanism and "ritual violence."
The first source he mentions is Maury Terry, author of The Ultimate Evil, a book which claimed that David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" serial murderer, was part of some big Satanic conspiracy. Personally, I stopped reading Terry's book when I got to his list of alleged "Satanic holidays."
For a critique of Terry's book by a person with a strong background in law enforcement, see In Pursuit of Satan: The Police and the Occult by Robert D. Hicks, 1991 (on Prometheus Books and Amazon), pp. 69-72 and p. 250. Hicks says, "While Terry's book offers convincing evidence that the Son of Sam killings involved a second killer, evidence that prompted authorities to reopen the case, his evidence for a satanic conspiracy doesn't work." Hicks says that Terry's claim of a "Satanic conspiracy" is based on such things as fanciful interpretations of Berkowitz's letters and jail interviews, plus tenuous connections such as a claim that Berkowitz once knew someone who once attended a party held by one of the murderers in Charles Manson's "family." The first edition of Terry's book loosely implicated the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), which successfully sued him for libel.
For an online critique of Maury Terry's book, with emphasis on Terry's claims about occultism, see this review, by G.M.Kelly, of The Ultimate Evil. (Kelly's review contains some of the usual Pagan/occultist misconceptions about Satanism, but nevertheless contains some good points about common popular misrepresentations of occultism.)
Another of Jim Kouri's sources is Pat Pulling, whom Kouri refers to as a "criminologist." Pat Pulling is the founder of Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (BADD), a group that crusades against role-playing games, alleging that they lead kids into all manner of trouble including, of course, "Satanism." Here are some online articles refuting her claims:
- The Pulling Report: Pat Pulling, Dungeons and Dragons, and Satanism by Michael A. Stackpole, 1990 (another copy here)
- Role-playing games and Satanism: Game Hysteria and the Truth by Michael A. Stackpole
Kouri's sources also include Larry Jones and Jerry Simandl, two of the more infamous self-proclaimed "Satanic and occult crime experts" who ran around giving police seminars back in the 1980's. Jones and Simandl are both cops. In both cases, it would seem that the police departments they work for do not endorse their anti-Satanist scaremongering but are, if anything, a bit embarrassed by it. For some critiques of their claims, see:
- In Pursuit of Satan: The Police and the Occult by Robert D. Hicks (1991): pp. 38-41, 54, 55, 115, 281, 290, 300, 316, 317, and 369 (about Larry Jones and his File 18 newsletter); and pp. 25, 34, 38, 47, 48, 57, 141, 169ff, and 309 (about Jerry Simandl)
- Satanic Cults: A Skeptical View of the Law Enforcement Approach by Robert D. Hicks, 1989 (another copy here)
- Articles about Larry Jones and Jerry Simandl by Kerr Cuhulain in his Witch Hunts series of articles, on the Pagan website Witchvox
- The Vile "File 18" by David Rice
- Inside the "Satan Scare" Industry - The Devil Makes Them Do It by Debbie Nathan, In These Times (no date given; apparently early 1990's, judging by the mention of Robert D. Hicks's book which was published in 1991)
Another of Kouri's sources is Sandi Gallant, of the San Francisco Police Department. Kouri speaks of her as one who believes that ritual murder in the name of Satan is commonplace. In fact, she did believe that at one time, but she later changed her mind in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. By 1991, she had become one of the skeptics. See, for example, the news article Satanism: Skeptics Abound by John Johnson and Steve Padilla, "Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1991, Page A-1.
Kouri even speaks approvingly of Mike Warnke, whose name he misspells as "Warnike." Apparently Kouri hasn't heard that Warnke was exposed as a total fraud. See the famous exposť, Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke by Jon Trott and Mike Hertenstein, in the evangelical Christian magazine Cornerstone.
To Jim Kouri, if by any chance you happen to read this: You really need an education about the history of the Satanic panic of the 1980's and early 1990's. I would suggest that you start with the famous report by FBI agent Kenneth Lanning, including both the 1989 edition (on the Temple of Set site; another copy in the Skeptic Tank Text Archive) and 1992 edition (on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance site). See also the many books and websites listed on my page about The "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare of the 1980's and early 1990's.