SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Italian police uncover gang that ‘brainwashed kids and sold them to foster parents’

Italian police have arrested 18 people, including a mayor, doctors and social workers, for allegedly brainwashing vulnerable children into thinking their parents had abused them so they could then be sold to foster parents.

Italian police uncover gang that 'brainwashed kids and sold them to foster parents'
Police in northern Italy say authorities led children to reject their own parents so they could be rehomed for cash. File photo: Romain Lafabregue/AFP

Police in the northern city of Reggio Emilia made the arrests after an investigation started in 2018 revealed an alleged network of carers who used methods including electroshock to make the children believe they had been sexually abused.

The network then allegedly gave the children to foster families in exchange for cash, while keeping gifts and letters sent to the children by their real parents hidden in a warehouse that was discovered by police.

READ ALSO: One in every 100 children in Italy is abused

The alleged abuse was reported by Italian media and confirmed to AFP by police in Bibbiano, near Reggio Emilia, on Thursday.

The accused include psychotherapists working for a social work association in Moncalieri, near Turin, and the mayor of Bibbiano.

“These accusations, if confirmed, are frightening and shocking,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said at the G20 meeting in Japan.


A church in the town of Bibbiano. Photo: SIG SG 510CC0, Wikimedia

To brainwash the children, those arrested allegedly forged child-like drawings with sexual connotations and used electroshock therapy as a “little memory machine” to create fake abuse memories, while the therapists are accused of dressing up as “wicked” children's story characters.

The probe, codenamed 'Angels and Demons', revealed a scheme to “pass off as a model welfare system for abused minors what was in reality an illegal business to the children's detriment,” La Repubblica newspaper reported.

“According to investigators, the aim of the arrested group was to take children away from families in difficult social situations and to give them, for money, to other parents,” said the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Some of the foster parents have been accused of sexually abusing the children they paid money for, La Repubblica reported.

Police declined to say how many children were involved, or of what age.

Hundreds of thousands of euros were involved, Italian media reported. 

Member comments

  1. This is too bizarre for me to immediately accept. After the McMartin Preschool debacle, I’m much more hesitant to immediately believe these crazy conspiracies… unless of course it is about Hillary Clinton in the basement of a pizza parlor. Then, I’m all in. 😉

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

READ ALSO

Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

SHOW COMMENTS