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, attempts to relive her glory days by writing crime fiction and hosting FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast available for free subscription on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and other popular podcast apps. Her nonfiction book FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives and her FBI corruption squad police procedurals featuring Special Agent Kari Wheeler are available wherever books are sold.

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