We're back with our ongoing exposé on Geraldo Riveria's exposé on Satanism! If you missed out on our last two parts, you can find them here and here. When we last left our investigative reporter, he had just finished putting the fear of God into us with reports of Satanism that are running rampant across the United States. We've already glossed over why his assessment is nothing but bullshit. Still, it's an hour and a half and he's got another hour twenty to try and make his case. We just finished hearing about the horrific murder-suicide, allegedly committed by Tommy Sullivan. Geraldo then takes it back to the studio where he talks some more about Detective Paul Hart of Jefferson Township who was the lead investigator in the case.
Studio Segment One
Hey Paul, You Beleive in Possession?
Geraldo comes in with the appearance of warmth and compassion toward this tragedy when he addresses Detective Hart. He then asks Detective Hart, point blank, "Do you believe that Tommy Sullivan was possessed?" This is the look on Paul Hart's face
Trying to keep a serious face, he says "I think possession is a state of mind" and says "It would have been a hell of an interview if we found Tommy" and stammers off, reminding everyone that Tommy was dead like we didn't just watch what he did. There is a brief moment of awkward silence and Hart raises his eyebrows like "that's all I got."
Without skipping a beat, Geraldo goes onto his next guest....
Reverend James LeBar
Why He's On the Show:
LeBar was a member of the New York Archdioses at the time, and when asked if he believes in demonic possession, LeBar concurs. He goes on to say that it has happened all throughout the centuries, and still happens to this day. He doesn't cite any examples. But he's said enough for Geraldo's purposes so he changes guests.
Here's the Thing About Rev. James LeBar.....
James LeBar isn't all that controversial compared to other members of the church. In the late 70s, he was recruited by the Office of Communications of the Archdiocese of New York to investigate the apparent rise of cults and occult activity. He wrote a book called Cults, Sects, and the New Age in 1989. It's a dry read to be honest, it is basically 200 pages of him droning on about why you should follow good old fashioned Christianity instead of other organizations. His descriptions of other religions are so banal, he even made an explanation of Scientology sound boring. It also goes through several chapters how to deprogram people who follow one belief and then reprogram them to worship Christianity, completely oblivious to the hypocrisy. The icing on the cake was an entire chapter focusing on Satanism in which he tells the reader that people often confuse Satanism with Witchcraft, then proceeds to do just that. The guy has a foregone conclusion that Satanism = Enemy of Christianity, that his research is flawed and biased. At one point he absurdly suggests that Aleister Crowley was a Satanist (he wasn't, he was an occultist, there's a difference) and that LeVay had plagiarized Aleister Crowley's Satanic Bible. Except... Aleister Crawley never wrote a book called the Satanic Bible. Also, the idea that LeVay copied the book and called it his own is not accurate at all. LeVay's philosophy was inspired by many others, not just Crawley. These include Neitzche and Ann Ryand as well. That said, LeVay cites his sources. Also, what religious philosophy doesn't borrow from other sources? The New Testamate is a -- pardon the pun-- a testament to that concept.
Still, this rather bland book landing him a gig as the New York Archdiocese's top exorcist. He ended up being part of some controversy in 1991 when he agreed to televise an exorcism on live television in 1991. You can check it out below:
The exorcism was on a 16-year-old girl whom they claimed that she was possessed by a demon. However, what any rational person could see was that the child was suffering from some kind of mental illness given her past of sexual abuse and poorly dealing with her parents getting divorced. Although the priests claimed that the exorcist was a complete success on live television, an article from People Magazine discovered that not even a day later she stated she was still hearing voices and was hospitalized. Doctors started treating her mental illness and after being put on a regular treatment schedule was slowly starting to reintegrate into a normal life.
Still, LeBay's exorcist squad got what they wanted: a huge rating boost and the phones were ringing off the hook for help with more exorcisms.
Credibility Rating: F
As far as credibility goes... after reading his incredibly boring book, I can say he can do proper research about other religious groups unless so long as he finds them preposterous. He's let his preconceptions cloud his investigative skills. He also used his position as a member of the church to sensationalize and misdiagnose a mentally ill teenager. In other words: Fuck this guy.
Why He's On the Show:
Ozzy Osborn is considered the Godfather of heavy metal music. Geraldo had him on the show because of the Satanic elements of some of his songs. I would also suspect that Ozzy's rather public struggle with drugs and alcohol was another motivating factor. At the time he was notorious for biting the head off a dove in 1981 and later the head of a bat in 1982 during a concert. His drug and alcohol abuse during this period was also legendary.
Geraldo likely relied on the musician's reputation at the time, hoping that Ozzy was going to come off as an unintelligent lunatic on his show.
Geraldo believes that heavy metal music plays a part in Satanic crimes. He basis this on all the cases ("that we know about" Geraldo is careful to say) that they have researched for this program. He asks for Ozzy's thoughts on the statement. Ozzy responds that he doesn't write his music to intentionally freak people out. He then goes on to say that a lot of his early songs came from a darker period when he was growing up in poverty. As he says that not all of his songs are about Satanism.
Before Ozzy can get anything else in edgewise, Geraldo cuts him off to change to another guest.
The Thing About Ozzy Osborn:
Ozzy's troubled upbringing and how it influenced his desire to become a musician, and the type of music he played, is a matter of record. He was telling the truth and was about to probably make a valid point before he was cut off by Geraldo. During Ozzy's tenure with Black Sabbath, a lot of their songs were about the devil, the occult, and witchcraft. However, that wasn't their only musical go-to. However, by this point, Ozzy Osborn had been a solo act for many years, and the his output regarding the devil is incredibly minimal. It's like comparing Danzig's Misfits to Jerry Only's Misfits. Both are theatric acts that sing about spooky things for entertainment value, but they also had two very different tones to their music.
Even though he was probably on something when he did this interview, Ozzy was probably the best person to explain what his teenaged fans are going through, because he lived it himself. Also, as I mentioned in the first part of this series, Ozzy Osborn was a Christian and a member of the Church of London. If there was anyone who would have been the most down-to-Earth person to talk about this subject and actually send a message to troubled teenagers, it would have been Ozzy Osborn. By focusing on the sensationalism of the subject, Geraldo basically ruined any sort of positive message he could have gotten. Again, it's another opportunity where he could have done some balanced journalism and completely dropped the ball.
Why He's On the Show:
Sean Sellers just barely eeks into the category of a serial killer with only 3 kills to his name. He killed his mother, step-father, and a convenience store clerk. He claims that he was demonically possessed by the devil, hence why he committed these heinous crimes. He was also the youngest person in America to be placed on death row when he was only 17 years old. While in Oklahoma State Prison he repented his sins and found Christianity.
When asked what Satan had to do with killing the convenience store clerk, Sean said:
nThe interview with Sean isn't done, but it's already time to do some fact checking.
Here's the Thing About Sean Sellers:
I'm sure you noticed that Sean Sellers didn't really have anything rehearsed for this interview and his answer is the type of half-assed response that you would expect from someone who was 19 years old. It should also come as no surprise that Sean regularly changed his story to suit the narrative he needed, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
First of all, the convenience store clerk he killed -- Robert Bower -- was shot and killed because he refused to sell Sean and his friend Richard Howard a case of beer in 1985. A year later, he shot and killed his step-father and his mother while they slept. The motivations for these killings has regularly changed. The variations of the stories play out through various stories published by the Oklahoma News from 1986 through 1999, his reasoning for committing the murders changed. Incidentally, the story changed every time he was up for parole and he tried to get his death sentence commuted.
First of all, when he reported the death of his parents, the police determined that he staged the scene to look like a break and enter. His lawyer even went so far to say that his client did not commit the crime. On September 26, 1986 he stated that he was angry at his parents. He stated he was a Satanist, but didn't say anything about possession at this point. The next day the story suddenly changes, now he wanted to start his own Satanic cult called "The Elimination". The only thing this testimony has to do with elimination is the fact that it's full of shit. On the 30th, they then claimed that Sean was slowly brainwashed by Dungeons & Dragons. However, Sean Sellers himself would later recant this, saying that the idea was absurd. Then he tried to convince the jury that he sold his soul to Satan, saying that he didn't remember the killing. The jury didn't buy the idea that Satanism prevented him from realizing right from wrong. By October 6 of that year, Sean was found guilty. Suddenly, he renounces Satan and says he has found Jesus Christ. After being sent to prison, Sean suddenly (as if by magic) suddenly remembered killing his victims. Sellers then did an interview with People Magazine. He claimed that all of these murders were sacrifices to Satan. Also, he was now saying he heard voices in his head that he thought were demons. He also suddenly complained about his abusive childhood and how he moved around a lot as a kid.
Seeing that he was getting all sorts of attention, Sean suddenly wanted to talk about how he was possessed by the devil. Hence his appearance on this special. He later collaborated on a best-selling book on his "story". By the time of his first parole hearing in August 1990. he had written a second book warning children against Satanism. Seeing that this was a transparent ploy to become a "folk hero" in the eyes of the public, Seller's parole was denied. He was rejected again in 1995, changing his story once again. This time, he stated that he was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, and that was the reason why he killed his family. In 1998, although he had sufficient clinical evidence that he suffers from MPD, they rejected his appeal again in 1998. Suddenly, he wasn't possessed by a demon anymore, but governed by 3 personalities named Danny, Ninja and the Controller. By this time, Sean Seller's believers started a website for him to tell his story. His "confession" to the families of his victims is a sob story where he doesn't take ownership of his crimes, changes his story -- yet again -- and makes a half-assed request for forgiveness. With his execution imminent, he tried mental illness yet again in January of 1999. He changed his story so many times, that prison staff reported that he was manipulative. Instead of apologizing for his crimes, when he was executed on February 4, 1999, he told the families of his victims to find God, because all they felt was hate.
Sean Sellers couldn't keep his story straight. He's another person who was using Satanism as a scapegoat for his crimes. Think about it, past serial killers like Berkowitz and Ramirez used Satanism as excuses for their murders. I wouldn't be surprised if Sellers lawyers heard his own Satanism excuse and rolled with it. The fact that he was mentally ill, probably no surprise, but MPD? Not knowing right from wrong? Please.
When We Come Back...
We're not done with Sean Sellers! There's still more bullshit on the way! If you're lucky, we might even get to the part where actual Satanists try make their case. Ugh... We're only 17 minutes in. I did not realize what sort of rabbit hole this series of articles would be. However, I will soldier on, and hopefully so will you!