SECTS AND SATANIC CULTS4
Even a minimal legal analysis of the phenomenon of sects relative to
Italy requires reflection on a few principles established by the
Constitution of the Italian Republic, the so-called Fundamental Charter,
and found in articles 17, 18 and 19.
Basically, by Italian law citizens have a right to assemble "peaceably
and without arms", they have the right to associate freely,
without authorization, for purposes that are not forbidden to
individuals by Italian law. They have a right to profess their own
religion, in any form, alone or with others, to publicize it and to
worship in private or in public, as long as these rites are not immoral.
With this premise, it follows that sects as such do not concern the
Court system; a contrariis, the intervention of the Court is
necessary when a sect, whether satanic or not, commits, through its
founders, priests or adherents, acts that are punishable by law,
i.e., crimes. When such a situation occurs, the investigative and
repressive machinery of the State is inevitably set in motion, through
the combined action of the Criminal Investigation Department (Polizia
Giudiziaria) and the Court. This intervention is justified by a
basic principle of our code, meant to guarantee the right of equality
among all citizens, according to which the public prosecutor is obliged
to take penal action, obviously, if it appears that a crime has possibly
The illegal aspect of sects includes for the most part, several types
of crime that, by summa divisio, we can divide into patrimonial
crimes, sexual crimes and, more generally, crimes pertaining to the
sphere of personal liberty, and crimes against respect for the dead.
Sects engage in fraud and subterfuge
The least common denominator in the above-mentioned categories is the
correspondence between the actual behaviour that occurs and the
normative provision or legislative paradigm envisaged by our system of
fundamental penal law. The positive assessment by the public prosecutor
that this correspondence exists requires that the investigative and
repressive procedures referred to above be initiated.
Satanic sects carry out their illegal activity of a so-called
economic nature by the perpetration of fraud, that is, by actions
consisting of deceit and/or subterfuge on the part of an agent who leads
the offended person into error, inducing him to dispose of his estate in
a way that brings unjust profit to the swindler.
The crime of fraud is a psychological consequence of the offer, made
by the sect, of magical practices for achieving a great variety of
objectives in the areas of love, the family, work, etc.
Very frequently the fraud is followed by more serious crimes, such as
extortion accompanied by violence and threats, forcing the victim to do
or obtain something that realizes an unjust profit for the agent, with
corresponding damage to the offended person.
This type of crime occurs whenever the victim, upon discovering that
he has been tricked, refuses to pay the agreed sum for the magic
promised but not received. In these circumstances, the dangerous nature
of the sect is revealed by the violent demand for a sum of money,
causing in the subject a true and proper situation of metus
towards the Satanists.
In this regard, it must be emphasized that those who belong to a
satanic sect are people of great weakness. Often the subjects are young
in age, including minors, who are still maturing and, for the most part,
are "orphans with a family", that is, lacking adequate family
support. Even when they are of age, their personalities are
underdeveloped and above all, they lack even a minimum of appropriate
Fear of sects hinders criminal investigations
This intrinsic, overall weakness of those who come into contact with
a sect implies, as the other side of the coin, greater criminal
potential for the sect itself, which, as a consequence, has the
advantage in carrying out its dangerous illegal activity.
The weaknesses of its members, as noted above, which
makes them easy prey to Satanists, has an important negative consequence
for further investigation. Since we are dealing with persons tied to a
sect by a very strong bond (at times even an oath of blood),
co-operation with the Court, and, in general, with investigative bodies
is reduced to a minimum, which impedes the course of the investigation
and the collecting of evidence to be used against Satanists. To have
been the victim of a crime, obviously, is not enough to persuade such
weak individuals to file the necessary complaints with the investigative
authorities. Thus, with regard to the investigation of Satanism, we face
a true and proper omertā (silence), similar to what is found in
Mafia-related crimes, with absolutely negative consequences for
conducting the investigation.
The intimidating power of the membership bond, and of the condition
of subjection and its resulting silence, for committing crimes, a phrase
taken from art. 416 bis of the Penal Code (Mafia-related
association), also seems to apply to Satanism, when one considers the
particular condition of the members, who are tools in the hands of the
Satanists, as mentioned above.
Other types of crime traceable to a sect have to do with personal
sexual freedom, in the sense that during the rite it is necessary to
perform certain sexual acts with consequent ejaculation in order to
establish a relationship with Satan. The victims of such actions are
usually women, very often made incapable of understanding and willing by
taking adulterated drinks or stupefacients, or they are minors, even of
a tender age. These latter have a particular significance in satanic
rituals, in that the painful mistreatment of a child, who by definition
is pure and close to God, means causing suffering to God himself and,
thus, giving pleasure to Satan.
Obviously in these cases, whenever there are sufficient grounds for
proceeding, the intervention of the Criminal Investigation Department
and the Court begins immediately, since we are dealing here with serious
Another type of crime that can be committed by Satanists is included
in Book II of the Italian Penal Code as "crime against respect
for the dead" (delitto contro la pieta dei Defunti). In
particular, we refer to article 407 (desecration of a grave), 408
(disrespect for graves); 409 (disrespect for a corpse); 411
(destruction, elimination or removal of a corpse). The use of corpses is
essential to satanic ritual. Therefore, these cases also involve the
repressive and punitive intervention of the Court.
Although in Italy no alarming manifestations have occurred, such as
the mass suicide of members, nevertheless the phenomenon of sects
involves a serious danger because of the deleterious effects they cause
to their adherents and for the crimes which naturally result from the
activities of the sects themselves.
In view of this situation, the author thinks that the weightiest task
is not that of the Court and the Criminal Investigation Department,
whose role is limited to investigation and repression, but is rather
that of the family and of society, which must in some way provide
support for young people and, in general, for those in difficulty, in
order to avoid the useless and damaging recourse to satanic sects.