Two pagans were sentenced to more than a decade in prison today after being found guilty of abusing children in bizarre sex rituals as part of a witches’ coven.
Peter Petrauske and Jack Kemp were said to have worn ceremonial robes and pagan paraphernalia while they abused young girls in Cornwall during the 1970s.
Police believe one of their victims may have been as young as three when the abuse started.
The judge described the victims’ experiences as ‘nothing less than harrowing’ as he condemned their ‘utterly horrifying’ crimes, sentencing Petrauske to 18 years in prison and Kemp to 14.
Convicted: Peter Petrauske, left, and Jack Kemp, right, have been found guilty of sexually abusing young girls
The pair, aged 72 and 69, showed little emotion as they were led from the dock at Truro Crown Court and into custody.
Petrauske, who described himself as the high priest of a white witches’ coven in St Ives, was convicted of one count of rape, one count of aiding and abetting an attempt to rape, and one count of indecent assault.
Kemp was found guilty of indecent assault and indecency with a child.
‘I am satisfied that you have both had a lifelong sexual interest in young female children,’ judge Graham Cottle told the defendants during sentencing.
‘You were two of the surviving members of a paedophile ring. Together with others whose names have been repeatedly featured in this trial, you were members of a ring that operated in the Falmouth area in the 70s and 80s.
‘During the course of this trial some of the evidence in this case in relation to the offences committed against young children has been nothing less than harrowing – it has featured ritualistic sexual abuse of young children.’
He added that many of the pair’s victims had little prospect of recovering from their experiences and had suffered years of emotional problems including flashbacks.
The judge described their offences as ‘utterly horrifying’, say they were ‘terrifying events’ involving ‘defenceless children’.
‘Finally the truth about your lies and your undoubted propensities has caught up with you,’ he concluded.
The jury of nine men and three women are still considering their verdicts on several other sexual offences.
Mr Cottle said he would accept a majority verdict on the remaining charges.
Deadly relationship: Peter Solheim, left, who was killed by his girlfriend Margaret James, right, was also believed to have been involved in the pagan sex crimes
The pair’s victims gave harrowing evidence from behind a screen during the three-week trial. They said they were abused by their tormentors, then given money and sweets to buy their silence.
In a dramatic twist, witnesses also named murdered pagan Peter Solheim and notorious Cornish paedophile Stan Pirie as among their abusers.
Solheim was a 56-year-old parish councillor whose body was found five miles off the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall by fishermen on June 18 2004.
He had been drugged and mutilated by a machete or an axe, and his girlfriend Margaret James was later convicted of conspiring to murder him, though her accomplice was never discovered.
The child abuse was only investigated further by police last year when Kemp was arrested in connection with another incident, causing rumours to spread around his home town of Falmouth and prompting the alleged victims of the historic offences to contact detectives.
The other charges include indecent assault and other sexual offences, and were believed to have been committed much more recently.
Petrauske was backed up by female members of the coven who said that while children were occasionally present, nudity never played a part in the ceremonies. One female friend also described him as ‘a gentleman’.
Kemp denied any involvement in paganism, saying it ‘wasn’t his cup of tea’, and claimed he was the victim of a bizarre conspiracy. He said the girls were wrong to name him in the case.
The jury have retired to consider verdicts on the remaining counts. The two men are set to be sentenced this afternoon.