Healthy Skepticism or Convenient Denial? The Case of Paul Ingram

The case of Paul Ingram is well-known among those who have an interest in the repression and dissociation of trauma. There was even a television movie made about the Ingram family. They run it on Lifetime Television from time to time.

In 1988 Ericka and Julie Ingram accused their father, Paul Ingram, of sexually abusing them and of participating in Satanic Ritual Abuse. Ingram said he could not explain why his girls were making the accusations but said that he did not raise his daughters to be people who would lie. He concluded about himself, “There must be a dark side of me I don’t know about.”

The court appointed therapist had stated that some of those who sexually abuse children will have a lack of memory of the events, and shortly after, Paul Ingram began confessing to having abused his daughters. According to the version of False Memory Syndrome proponents, Ingram was coerced into developing ‘false memories’ by a pastor, the therapist, and detectives. It is said that after a time, Paul began to question his memories but in spite of his doubts, Ingram was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

The Ingram girls had described ritual abuse by their father and various other individuals. The accusations included abortions, Satanism, witnessing murders, and dead babies but apparently (and not uncommonly) medical exams could not prove any of the physical accusations of satanic abuse. 1.

I cannot explain the uncorroborated ritual and Satanic Ritual Abuse memories but I suspect the memories are probably true or possibly the mind of the two girls had dealt with the sexual abuse by symbolically associating it with a Satanic act. To the subconscious mind, one’s own father sexually abusing them is satanic in nature. Actually, it is Satanic to sexually abuse a child, even if the name of Satan is not used and no ritual or religious themes are used in the abuse. The word “Satanic” means anything the opposite of love, the opposite of God. Satanic acts are self-oriented without any thought for the other human being and without any care of how they are being harmed.

With the Ingram case, the satanic allegations might also be the result of screen memories, or possibly Ingram using certain props and mental games to confuse the children. Being in law enforcement, it is possible he knew about the use of such tactics and then used them on his daughters.

Doctors testified at the evidentiary hearing that the satanic abuse memories were not an unusual thing for severely abused people to use in their mind as a replacement for what actually happened to them. The judge felt that the satanic accusations were “gross exaggerations” but said he still believed the girls were sexually abused. Whether the judge is right or wrong about the memories of satanic abuse, the important thing is that in spite of his belief that the Satanic memories were only a part of the girl’s mental processing, he still believed they had suffered sexual abuse by their father.

The reasons I believe the girls are telling the truth:

  • After the daughters disclosed the abuse, their mother asked Ericka why she did not tell her. Ericka replied that she tried to, but her mother would not listen. This is common among those who repress memories of abuse and something that most people do not make up. Most people do not know that many mothers do not listen to their child’s pleas for help; it is an uncommon theme to invent. It is usually a truly abused person who knows this kind of thing.
  • Ingram said towards the beginning of the investigation: “I did not abuse ‘those’ girls.” When one uses the term “those” people or “that” person, it is usually an expression of contempt, not one of love.
  • In the taped interview, the detectives have Ingram describe what he would have done to his daughters if he had sexually abused them. Paul Ingram goes on to describe things like removing his daughter’s underpants, touching her vagina and breasts, and he then said he would threaten to kill her if she had told anyone about it. I cannot fathom how an innocent father could possibly describe what he would have done sexually to his daughter in such detail without wanting to throw up or refusing to be able to even say the words. It was reported that Ingram told of these things with no emotion. An innocent man would most likely not add that he threatened to kill the girls if it were not true, and death threats are linked to repression. An innocent man would not feel compelled to add unnecessary detail to the story.
  • In The Myth of Repressed Memory, Loftus says that two detectives who knew Ingram very well were both “shocked” at the allegations, but yet in the same paragraph, Loftus describes their reactions to Paul Ingram having no memory of the abuse. The detectives said, “Either he was lying through his teeth, or he was one sick son of a bitch.” They could not have been that shocked and supportive because they quickly felt he was lying or sick.
  • Loftus claims that because the detectives (Who knew him so well, and were so “shocked” by the accusations) kept telling Ingram that he must have repressed the memory and was in denial, and that their insistence eventually led him to say he committed the abuse. People do not normally confess to inhuman and sadistic crimes against their own children just because someone tells them they perpetrated the crimes.
  • At one point in a confession, Paul Ingram said, “I may have told the children that they needed to learn the sex acts and how to do them right.” Sexual abusers of children often use this as an excuse for the molestation in order to justify their acts 2.
  • Chad Ingram, Paul Ingram’s son told the Seattle Pardons and Clemency Board that his father sexually and physically abused him from ages four to ages twelve. 3.
  • The evidentiary hearing revealed that Paul Ingram’s wife and sons also told of “bizarre sexual activity” that took place within the family unit. 4.
  • Even the judge in the case believed the allegations of sexual abuse were true. 5.

What convinces me that Ingram is most likely guilty is his detailed description of what he would have done had he committed the abuse. His detailed description is not the statement of someone making up false stories. These are the words of a man who has either fantasized about doing these things to his daughters or who had actually done it. I do not see how an innocent man could possibly spend even five seconds “imagining” how he ‘would have’ sexually abused his daughters and how he ‘would have’ threatened them with death if he is innocent.

Richard Ofshe, one of the authors of Making Monsters seems to be unaware that ‘nice’ people who are ‘good citizens’ and who go to church can engage in the ugliness of child sexual abuse and Satanic Ritual Abuse. Ofshe describes Paul Ingram by listing Ingram’s accomplishments in society, as well as his political and religious status. It is said that Ingram was hailed as an “upstanding member of the community” and that he was raised Christian and spent time in seminary school. 6.

John Wayne Gacy was an upstanding and respected member of his community, who entertained children as a clown at hospitals, was a well-liked citizen, and he entertained and hosted street parties for friends and neighbors. John Wayne Gacy was executed for having murdered thirty-three boys and young men, most of whose bodies were found under Gacy’s home. His victims were handcuffed, sodomized, beaten, and strangled to death, and Gacy recited verses from the Bible to his victims before or after torturing them.

It is said that Ingram did not want his daughters to endure a long trial so he pled guilty. 7 This seems like a highly self-sacrificing act. It is incomprehendable to me that a man would risk a long prison sentence for child molestation so that the people who were falsely accusing him would not have to suffer a trial. This is just not believable. With this logic it is like saying that it is better for the daughters of Paul Ingram to believe that their father is a child molester, and to experience having him in prison for years, than it is to put them through a trial which may clear him.


1. The Prosecution of a False Memory: An Update on the Paul Ingram Case, Daniel Brailey, Ingram Organization)

2. The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse, Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham, St. Martin’s Press New York, 1994, Pages 227-263

3.  Seattle Post-Intelligencer 6/8/96, Son of Deputy Says He Was Sexually Abused; Dramatic Report in Testimony to Clemency Panel by Rachel Zimmerman – Olympia

4. A Reply to the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Revised Edition, Copyright 1994 by John Backus, Sc.D., and Barbara Una Stannard, Ph.D.

5. Excerpts from the judge’s ruling in the Ingram case, In the Superior Court of the State of Washington in and for the County of Thurston Sate of Washington, (Plaintiff,No. 88-1-752-1: Paul Ross Ingram, Defendant.) Report of Proceedings, Volume VII]

6. Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria, Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters, Univeristy of California Press, 1994, page 166

7. The Prosecution of a False Memory: An Update on the Paul Ingram Case, Daniel Brailey, Ingram Organization

This entry was posted in child molestation, child sexual abuse, Denial, dissociative amnesia, evil, false memory syndrome, rape and abuse, repressed memory and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Healthy Skepticism or Convenient Denial? The Case of Paul Ingram

  1. Daniel Brailey says:

    I read your “rant” and clearly you have thrown all objectivity out the window. I can honestly say that no one knows more about the Ingram case then me. (including Ingram) I am a person who worked with Paul. After reading the daily “o” articles I assumed his guilt. After going outside and picking up my brain that I had thrown out the window, I began investigating his case.
    To sum it all up it was all hype hysteria and emotional manipulation.
    Julie told NBC producer of dateline that she knew the memories were not true
    That end the end bad dreams. My translation she is a liar. After Paul went to delaware Julie flew to Delaware and spent a week visiting Paul. I have the photos and all her letters. I know for a fact officers in the investigation who privately agree with me. Mark it is sad you think this stuff was real. All the Ingram family had a choice you were either a suspect or a victim. Sandy sold out and became a victim. Despite your crazy sister saying she was an active participant in all the crimes. The allegation was of thousands of crimes. Rapes murders and scars abortions etc. Isn’t funny how both girls accused some 33 other officers. In fact the star witness ericka said “they were all in on it”. Well all would include the very investigators. Mark why don’t you discuss how Neil mcclanajan actually Lu Econ your property while this satanic group was in action. Why wasnt the evil ring leader Jim rabie prosecuted. There is no statue of limitations on murder. Go ahead and continue to be ruled by your emotions. Throw the dirty water on the baby and then throw the water an baby out the window with all logic and reason. The Ingram case was the most expensive case in keystone county Washington. Yet not one shred of any evidence other then words. I recommend reading the book Salem posessed. There are many simularties to the Salem witch trials and Ingram case. All the blogger would have to do is put on her pointy Quaker hat and grab the rope. Hmmm pointy hat. Daniel Brailey

    • Alethea says:


      You accuse Mark and I of the same thing you have done here –using emotion to drive your opinion. If my article is read objectively, one can see that I have listed, in a very balanced way, the exact reasons that I believe the girls I also titled the article in a way that reflects the fact that I don’t know for certain what happened, and that the case is unclear in so many ways that Ingram might very well be innocent. I believe he is not, you believe he is.

      Regarding my “pointy hat.” Those who deny memories of abuse frequently use the analogy of a “witch hunt” This argument actually works against them. In 1692 The ‘witches’ of Salem were very young women (some were adolescent girls) who began experiencing convulsions, screamed excessively, and went into trance-like states. The ones making the accusations were mostly older men who were Protestant Puritans and they were also authority figures. Town citizens then began to accuse other town people, mostly women, of witchcraft.

      In Salem, the false accusers were religious men in authority positions, similar to many of the current day fathers and mothers accused of abuse who cry “witch hunt.” In 1692 the falsely accused were mostly young women who were labeled with ‘Adolescent Hysteria’, much like many of the women who have remembered childhood abuse are told they have ‘Personality Disorders’ and are suffering from some kind of “hysteria.”

      Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  2. Mark says:

    I want to thank you for writing this article. The sexual abuse did happen. I am the youngest son of Paul Ingram Sr. I now this because when I was a child I walked in on my sisters getting undressed in my dads room. My mom had repressed memories she told me about may years after this happened. So to all the people out there that say Paul is innocent I tell you the truth he is not innocent at all…….

    • Alethea says:

      Hi Mark. Thanks so much for commenting. My father was a police officer too. He raped and molested me for years. My father threatened me with death if I told.

      I am so sorry about your childhood experiences with this man. Thanks for being brave enough to recognize and speak the truth.


    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for replying here. What happened to your family? Where are your sisters now? How are they doing?

    • Just me says:

      Thanks for commenting Mark,
      How is your family now? How are your sisters?

  3. bill says:

    this case has always driven me crazy. I rode with Paul 10 years earlier. I was a reserve deputy and Paul was a very proficient road deputy. I became very suspicious about the case against him when i recieved a copy of a Daily Olympian artical stating that this reported behavior began about the time i had been riding with him. I went back to that time frame and recalled that Paul had probably the heaviest case load in the department, that he also was building a house and that he had bid on 1500 rail road ties which he would haul a load home every night after his swing shift ended and his paperwork was complete. I could not see whereas with all that activity and court time to boot how on earth he could be involved in that sort of mischeif. Also after the conviction i spoke with two retired police chiefs who ran an independant investigation of the case and felt he was totally innocent. Also i attended his appeals hearing years later at the state capital and watched one of his daughters recant her testimony. Also it seemed innappropriate to me at the time of the investigation being he was the number 4 man in the department why they didnt have a higher jurisdiction do the investigation as the Washington State Patrol. I often wonder who within the department stood to gain upon his demise. Years later i was stuck at Dover Deleware Air Force Base for a week trying to get back to Washington. Had i known Paul was incarcerated in Delaware at that time id have visited him. The Paul Ingram i knew was a Damn Good Deputy.

    • aletheamarinanova says:

      Dear Bill,

      You say that Paul Ingram was “a very proficient road deputy,” and that -at the time of the alleged abuse- Ingram had “probably the heaviest case load in the department, that he also was building a house and that he had bid on 1500 rail road ties which he would haul a load home every night after his swing shift ended and his paperwork was complete.”

      I hope you aren’t suggesting that men who are good at their job can’t possibly be molesting their kids, or that police officers don’t have the time? My father was a police officer and he raped and abused me for years. Maybe you don’t know this, but job stress and other stress factors often contribute to a man sexually abusing his own children. It sounds like Ingram had some stress during that time frame.

      Your comment that he could not have been “involved in that sort of mischief” is also bothersome. The sexual abuse and rape of children is much more than just mischief. It is a vile and heinous crime against an innocent soul that is done out of violence, a degenerate sex drive, and other dysfunctional psycho-dynamics.

      Victims who recant their story is nothing new under the sun. Many many true molestation victims recant their stories.

      “The Paul Ingram i knew was a Damn Good Deputy.”

      Not synonymous with someone who cannot possibly harm a child. Some of the most outstanding and well-respected citizens have been convicted of, and admitted to, the crime of child rape.

  4. Jim says:

    Some recent articles about false memories reminded me of the Ingram case, which I’d read about in 1994, in articles by Lawrence Wright published in The New Yorker and later collected into the book Remembering Satan.

    Why don’t you cite Lawrence Wright’s articles or book? What do the many reports of a complete absence of forensic evidence suggest to you?

    Ingram pleaded guilty, so was never tried. No evidence ever came before a judge or jury. If that’s wrong, what “judge… heard all the evidence?”

    I’d like to believe that an innocent man wasn’t wrongly sentenced to years in prison, but it does appear that’s what happened.

    • aletheamarinanova says:

      I didn’t cite Wright’s articles or book because I didn’t know about them. I never claimed to be an expert on the case.

      There was evidence presented before a judge. You can read about it here:

      snip: “Ingram’s own “retained psychological expert [Dr. Lennon] indicated that Mr. Ingram was a pedophile” who “was badly in need of treatment” (Gates, 1996, p. 24). Judge Peterson (1990) thought the Ingram investigation was not perfect but did not taint the confession. As a result, the judge refused to set aside Ingram’s guilty pleas.

      Ingram’s appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was also denied as the court noted “mere advice or strong urging by third parties to plead guilty . . . does not constitute undue coercion” (Browning, Wright, & Nelson, 1995, p. 4). Having run out of legal appeals, Ingram’s case was brought before the Washington State’s Clemency and Pardons Board on June 7, 1996 (Shannon, 1996; Zimmerman, 1996). On December 13, 1996, having considered the testimony, the Clemency and Pardons Board (1996a) voted to deny Ingram’s petition. He remains in prison.

      The accusations by the daughters of sexual abuse against Paul Ingram were not without some degree of corroboration by others. Despite the inconsistencies and fragmentation in stories, his wife Sandy reported instances of sexual abuse. When Ingram’s oldest son, Paul Ross, who had left home as a teenager, was interrogated by detectives he stated that “he had no knowledge of the investigation, had not seen anything on TV about it and does not read the newspaper” (Schoening, 1988, p. 2). However, when he was asked by detectives why he thought his father would be in jail he “immediately replied that he would feel it would be because of sex abuse on the girls (sisters)” (Schoening, 1988, pp. 2-3). Paul Ross also “related an incident when he was younger of seeing his mom being raped” (Schoening, 1988, p. 3). He reported memories of his mother, tied to a bed, having sex with men (including his father) (Schoening, 1988). When the detectives began to press him about his possible victimization, Paul Ross requested a break to collect himself. He then disappeared, leaving both his job and home (Schoening, 1988; Wright, 1993b).”

  5. Maggie says:

    Your writing is a failure of logic. Your reasons to think Paul Ingram is guilty are not based on fact, but opinion. If you did follow up on the fact finding of this case you would find that there are none. The entire confession was basically a regurgitation of what interrogators described to Paul. The girls claimed to have countless scars all over their bodies, yet examiners found no evidence of scars or abuse. You clearly read Loftus & Ketcham’s (1994) “The Myth of Repressed Memories”, but you were extremely selective about what you presented here. Besides the fact that there was no evidence of abuse or satanic rituals and that the girls kept changing their stories, you also ignored why Paul was able to be convinced that he committed a crime he didn’t remember. As a fundamentalist Christian, he believed that if he did these things, the devil would have erased his memory. His pastor got involved and told him that if he confessed, the memories would come back. Well, he confessed and the memories still didn’t turn up (probably because it never happened). Furthermore, did you forget that Julie wrote a fake letter from her father to herself saying that she broke up the family and that he’d like to see her dead. She wrote the letter herself. Paul did describe figurative statements about what he would have done because interrogators, his pastor, and psychotherapists convinced him that the memories were there. Ofshe even did a field study where he made up a new accusation and got Paul to make up a corresponding scene, completely convinced that it happened and that it was real. His daughters had previously tried to accuse neighbors and an acquaintance of rape before accusing their father, but those allegations turned out to be false. This is a really sad salem witch hunt case involving girls who love attention. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • aletheamarinanova says:

      “Your writing is a failure of logic.”

      According to you. Maybe you have failed to use common sense?

      “Your reasons to think Paul Ingram is guilty are not based on fact, but opinion.”

      My opinions are based on facts from the case. This is a Blogsite, what do you expect, other than opinion???

      I already addressed the issue of satanic ritual abuse, but lack of proof of SRA doesn’t mean there was no incest.

      “As a fundamentalist Christian, he believed that if he did these things, the devil would have erased his memory. His pastor got involved and told him that if he confessed, the memories would come back.”

      If Ingram believed this, then he had serious problems to begin with. Maybe someone ought to put the fundamentalist “Christians” and his pastor on trial.

      “Furthermore, did you forget that Julie wrote a fake letter from her father to herself saying that she broke up the family and that he’d like to see her dead.”

      I didn’t “forget” anything. I don’t recall ever reading that. However, if true, it could be a subconsciously driven letter because most victims and survivors of incest feel they have broken up the family. The victim blames themselves, when in reality, it is not the secret being let out that breaks up the family, but the INCEST itself. Victims and survivors often don’t understand this until they have had many years of healing and intensive therapy.

      If he did threaten his girls with death, then her saying Paul Ingram would like to see her dead is probably true! Nevertheless, victims do all kinds of odd things when they are dealing with having been severely sexually abused.

      The false accusation of the neighbors could have been screen memories. This is when a victim has a memory of a neighbor or some less emotionally threatening person as having abused them, so they don’t have to face that it was someone they loved.

      “This is a really sad salem witch hunt case involving girls who love attention. Nothing more, nothing less.”

      Maybe. Maybe not. But the judge, who sat in on the entire trial and heard all the evidence, certainly believed the girls, and the opposite is usually the case. Many judges will disbelieve true victims and put them back in the care of their perpetrators.

      Thanks for posting.

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