Episode 165: Ken Lanning – Satanic Ritual Child Abuse, Confirmation Bias

Retired agent Ken Lanning served in the FBI for more than 30 years. For twenty years his Bureau career, he was assigned to the Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) as a profiler specializing in the study of the sexual victimization of children. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Ken reviews the controversial topics of satanic ritual child abuse, recovered repressed memory, and suggestibility of children. His work in this area and the ramifications of confirmation bias has divided and polarized many child advocates, the media, and the American public.

His professional study of the criminal aspects of deviant sexual behavior included assignments to the Missing and Exploited Children’s Task Force from 1996 to 1998 and the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime from 1998 to 2000. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and a former member of the APSAC Advisory Board and the Advisory Board of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA).

He has testified before the U.S. Attorney General’s Task Force on Family Violence, the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, and the U.S. Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. He has also testified on seven occasions before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and many times as an expert witness in state and Federal court. Ken Lanning has consulted on thousands of cases involving deviant sexual behavior, the sexual victimization of children, missing and exploited children, and the use of computers and the Internet to facilitate the sexual exploitation of children. He has also been retained as an expert in numerous civil cases concerning alleged negligence by youth-serving organizations.

Ken Lanning has published articles in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and other professional journals. He has authored two monographs on child abuse that have been widely distributed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Ken Lanning is the 2009 recipient of the Outstanding Service Award for Lifetime Achievements from the National Children’s Advocacy Center. He has lectured before and trained tens of thousands of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, social workers, mental health and medical personnel, judges, and other professionals on the sexual victimization of children, child abuse and neglect, satanic ritual child abuse, and missing and exploited children. Mr. Lanning is currently a consultant in the area of crimes against children and the author of Love, Bombs, and Molesters: An FBI Agent’s Journey, the story of his life leading up to his assignment to the BSU and his research involving the sexual victimization of children, satanic ritual child abuse, and confirmation bias.

Supervisory Special Agent (Retired)

Kenneth Lanning

1970 – 2000







“Eventually, I came to believe, and the American Psychiatric Association came to believe there is only one way to determine the accuracy of recovered repressed memory, and what is that one way? Independent corroboration and that was what my job was all about.”

The following are links to news articles and reports featuring Ken Lanning regarding satanic ritual child abuse and the phenomena of recovered repressed memory:

New York Times – 3/14/2014 :  McMartin Preschool abuse trial

New York Times –  1/24/1990:  The Longest Trial – A Post-Mortem; Collapse of Child-Abuse Case: So Much Agony for So Little


The “Witch Hunt,” the “Backlash,” and Professionalism by Kenneth V. Lanning

Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis For Law Enforcement Officers Investigating Cases of Child Sexual Exploitation by Ken Lanning

In his training monographs, Ken Lanning cautions that in applying any typology, the law enforcement officer must recognize the difficulty of attempting to put complex human behavior into neat categories.











Love, Bombs. and Molesters: An FBI Agent’s Journey is the story of Lanning’s life leading up to his assignment to the BSU and his research involving the sexual victimization of children, satanic ritual child abuse, and confirmation bias.













Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. David SloggieMarch 11, 2023

    Nice to see your success Ken. Thank you for all the knowledge you shared when I was in the fbina 140th in 1985. You may remember me as I was the Chief in Williamsburg where I believe your daughter went to school. Take care and be safe. Dave Sloggie

    1. Jerri WilliamsMarch 12, 2023

      I will pass along your comment to Ken.

  2. […] his interview, John mentioned former colleagues Ken Lanning and Mary Ellen O’Toole, and ViCap, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. To listen to […]

  3. Hoagan PowellNovember 28, 2020

    This is a great interview filled with so much interesting and useful information. You do terrific of interacting with Agent Lanning and drawing information from him. Agent Lanning truly is a trailblazer in the area of child sexual abuse and a man of incredible integrity. What a fountain of knowledge he is. This interview has been very enlightening and helpful, as my wife and I have a non-profit that serves the disabled. We have had two women clients that have claimed Satanic Ritual abuse. I have no doubt they suffered trauma as they both have traumatic brain injuries. In one of the cases the sexual abuser went to prison, so I am confident she did suffer sexual abuse, however, the Satanic Ritual abuse has been a hard thing for me to get a grasp on. Thank you Jeri and Agent Lanning for assisting me with your knowledge and expertise.

    1. Jerri WilliamsNovember 29, 2020

      Ken is straight talker. Providing clear unambiguous information about his expert knowledge on the topics of satanic ritual abuse and confirmation bias. He’s great! Thanks for listening!

    2. KarinNovember 13, 2021

      The author basically accuses those who have experienced satanic rituals and sacrificial dismemberment and drinking of blood and orgies as IMAGINATIONS, and “proves” this because the afflicted were hypnotized and drugged and CANNOT prove their experience because every witness will cover their own ass, and corroborate their own stories with the other guilty abusers, including those in authority, especially Los Angeles..

      1. ShellyOctober 12, 2022


        This is a super interesting case where an accused ritual abuser talks about how one “trains a child like a dog” to commit sexual acts and acknowledges that ritual abuse exists.

        1. Jerri WilliamsOctober 14, 2022

          Unfortunately, ritual abuse does exist. Fortunately, not nearly as often as falsely reported during the satanic panic era.

  4. […] Episode 165: Ken Lanning – Satanic Ritual Child Abuse, Confirmation Bias […]

  5. Lisa GunnoeJune 3, 2020

    This episode is absolutely fascinating!
    I am buying the book so I can learn how to add to my critical thinking skills tool kit.
    Oh, by the way, you do an amazing job with show notes! I’m a nerd who follows along with each episode. I love seeing the photos of those you are interviewing. Great job.

    1. Jerri WilliamsJune 7, 2020

      It’s a really good book. I learned about confirmation bias.


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