In 1991 Escondido police took Bill and Becky Wallis' children away because they believed that one was to become a "sacrifice to Satan."
The Wallis case was part of what is now seen as groundless "satanic scare." This was a troubled time when some psychotherapists, social workers, police officers and prosecutors believed that "secret cults" were subjecting children to "ritual abuse" and even murder.
San Diego County once had a "Ritual Abuse Task Force."
The Wallis case began when fantastic claims were made by Becky Wallis' schizophrenic sister, which were in turn relayed to the Ritual Abuse Task Force, by a hospital psychotherapist named Candace Young.
The sister said through one of her "multiple personalities" that Bill Wallis was going to sacrifice his son during the "Fall Equinox ritual." This claims was based upon what was referred to as a "recovered memory."
Young, a marriage and family counselor, reported the bizarre claim to Child Protective Services.
Sue Plante, a CPS social worker launched an investigation. Later, both Escondido police and deputy district attorney Jan Via were notified.
Plante was told by Via "we have enough to pick up the kids," according to court records. However, no court order was ever officially issued to take the children into custody.
Escondido Police Officers Diana Pitcher and Ralph Claytor, and their supervisor Ken Burkett, testified that CPS told them to pick up the Wallis children.
The police investigation had turned up information that Becky Wallis' father, allegedly a "satanic priest" according to his schizophrenic daughter, lived on a boat named the "Witch Way." The boat had actually been named by its previous owner.
The Wallis children ended up living with foster families for more than two months amidst allegations of "sexual abuse," which were later disproved by a child-abuse specialist Dr. Susan Horowitz.
Horowitz reviewed a report alleging abuse written by Dr. Mary Spencer, but could find nothing to prove the claim.
In November of 2002 the city of Escondido paid the Wallis family a settlement of $750,000. They had sued the Escondido police, county social workers and a physician for "unreasonable intrusions on their privacy, person and home," which largely ended a lawsuit filed in 1992.
The lawsuit was dismissed twice, but twice appealed and reinstated.
In November of 2002 Becky Wallis told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "We are so happy that Escondido finally admitted they were wrong. That was the main thing for us, it wasn't about money. Hopefully, what we went through in this case will keep it from happening to someone else. The whole thing was so bizarre and such a shock to our family. It's still unbelievable to us that anyone could have put stock in such a story," she added.
"No one now contends that either child was ever sexually or physically abused," a federal appellate judge stated for the record. He also that the city had not done "any significant investigation" before taking the children away.
The Wallis family settled with San Diego county in 1997.
Dr. Spencer was immune from litigation.
The Wallis family also filed a lawsuit against police officers Pitcher, Claytor and Burkett.
Becky Wallis told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "We thought that bad things don't happen to good people. But our kids learned at age 3 and 5 that life sometimes is horribly unfair. We have all been through a terrible experience and our lives will never be what they once were because of all this. I think such people are a lot more cautious when making such critical decisions then they were back then. At least we hope so," she said.
Note: This news summary is based upon an article titled "Parents of 2 seized kids to get $750.00" by Mark Sauer published by the San Diego Union-Tribune November 2, 2007