- The Slammer: The Crisis in Canada's Prison System
- Fatal Mistakes
- Apprenticed in Crime: Young Offenders, the Law and Crime in Canada
- Witches, Pagans, and Magic in the New Age
- Ritual Abuse: Canada's Most Infamous Trial On Child Abuse
It began as a highly unusual custody battle and escalated into the most infamous child abuse trial in Canadian history. Two sisters, not yet eight years old, recounted explicit stories of being sexually molested by their mother, her boyfriend and their violent estranged father. As appalled social workers listened, the girls revealed horrific episodes of pornography, orgies, cannibalism, and ritual murder involving many other children - allegations so extreme so bizarre, so graphic in detail it seemed impossible they could have been made up.
The book describes the children's allegations and the way they were investigated, as well as the startling revelations and unexpected developments that emerged during the course of 18 months of court testimony. It also puts the case in the context of an ongoing debate about how society can respond to extreme allegations of ritual child abuse and pornography.
"What typically might be a book for concerned professionals or unsavory thrill-seekers has become in the author's hands a thought-provoking social document. Ritual Abuse is Marron's first book, and one hopes he continues to apply his particular skills and gifts to difficult social issues."
- Mary Lassance Parthun, Globe and Mail
"A thoughtful summary of the trial and its background, combining solid reporting with the vivid characterization of a good novel."
"Poignant and compelling. Everyone who purports to care about protecting children has something to learn from this important book. I salute Kevin Marron for his obvious caring and commitment to create something positive from this tragedy."
- Sylvia Fraser, author and journalist
Child abuse is just one of many frightening realities that it would be more comfortable to ignore. There is overwhelming proof of its pervasiveness, but many people work very hard at denying the seriousness of the problem. In this context, it is not surprising that few people would want to believe young children's bizarre stories of cannibalism and ritual murder. In looking at the documented cases of child exploitation that surround us, in observing the images of violence and dehumanized sexuality that are part of our everyday cultural landscape, it is not hard to believe that, conspiracy or no conspiracy, the Satanists' goal could easily be achieved without much effort on their part.
Title: Ritual Abuse: Canada's Most Infamous Trial On Child Abuse
Author: Kevin Marron
Published by: Seal Books, McClelland-Bantam Inc., Toronto
Order: used hardcover and mass market paperback available at www.amazon.ca
Witches, Pagans and Magic in the New Age documents the revival of the ancient practices of pagan religions in contemporary society. The author visited witches, druids, magicians and other occult practitioners from coast to coast and found that they included teachers, civil servants and police officers, as well as radical environmentalists, feminist academics and a wide range of extraordinary ordinary people from almost every walk of life. The book gives readers a unique view of a world in which magic is commonplace. It presents an outsiders' view of a wide range of beliefs and rituals that are often exotic, mostly benign and occasionally creepy. It attempts to explain why and how people are drawn to old religions, while exploring some of the challenges that present-day pagans face, focusing particularly on their struggle to distinguish themselves from public images of Satanism and Black Magic.
"A well-balanced, informed overview of alternative religions and their followers, ...seduces the reader as effectively as a good novel."
- The Ottawa Citizen
"A well-researched, interesting history of witchcraft and magic, and their links to 'new age' thinking."
- The Kingston Whig-Standard
"Entertaining and instructive... He presents the pretentious and absurd without mockery and treats the beliefs he encounters with sympathy and respect, neither assenting nor dissenting. Though some of his reports are disquieting, the book is never sensationalistic and his comments on what he hears and observes are shrewd and sensible. There have been many partisan and hysterical books on different aspects of the 'New Paganism.' Now, at last, we have an informative survey that is based on actuality, not fantasy."
- Robin Skelton, Quill and Quire
Those who attempt to use magic for evil purposes have good reason to fear its power. However, what they need fear is not so much magic as themselves and the psychological consequences of a deliberate pursuit of malevolent goals. If you evoke demons, it is quite likely that they will appear.
When we strip away the veil of mystery from magic and look at it without fear, we can see something that is quite simple and ordinary. What we see is a way of harnessing the natural energies of mankind, strengthening the will, focusing the intellect, tapping spiritual and emotional depths, and directing all this towards the realization of practical goals.
Title: Witches, Pagans, and Magic in the New Age
Author: Kevin Marron
Published by: Seal Books, McClelland-Bantam Inc. Toronto
Order: Used hardcover and mass market paperback available at www.amazon.ca
The stories of young criminals and their crimes highlight this examination of a disturbing pattern of gang violence, drug abuse, mayhem and murder afflicting small towns, cities and suburbs alike. The book distinguishes between the various kinds of crimes that young people commit and profiles some of the perpetrators. It also looks at the laws that deal with them and the way the youth justice system attempts to deter or rehabilitate. In examining some of the reasons why kids get involved in crime, the author points to some of the ways in which society fails its children and fails to respond adequately when crime and violence erupt.
"An important and essential work."
- Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C
"Timely and necessary."
- Calgary Herald
"Marron has proved himself... as a solid but sensitive journalist willing to forego the flashy headline for the more meaningful story. In this book, he performs the same delicate but thorough task on one of the most sensitive and complicated issues facing our criminal justice system today."
- Wade Hemsworth, Hamilton
"Marron's book provides what is often missing from the emotionally charged public debate over youth crime - an in-depth look at everyone in the youth justice system, from the teenagers themselves to judges and police."
- Bob Cox, Canadian Press
The question of what to do with troubled teenagers who commit dreadful crimes is one that taxes the mind and often wrenches the heart. Should someone not old enough to vote or sit on a jury be held criminally responsible for a careless or ill-considered act of violence. What punishment would assuage the pain and anger caused by an offence that may seem all the more callous when the culprit is not mature enough to care? How can we protect society from the enraged rebellion of a child who has been abused at home, failed at school, and ignored by the community agencies that were supposed to provide protection? Whom do we blame? Whom do we hold responsible? Can we repair the damage and how?
In searching for answers to the problems posed by youth crime, we need to understand how difficult the questions are. The problems are pressing ones that evoke strong emotions and have an immediate impact on many people's lives. Drastic measures are often proposed in communities that are confronted with outrageous, brutal, and unsettling crimes. But sweeping solutions will do no good, if they do not respond to the circumstances that lead kids to commit crimes. In order to deal with these crimes realistically, we need to understand why they occur.
Title: Apprenticed in Crime: Young Offenders, the Law and Crime in Canada
Author: Kevin Marron
Published by: Seal Books, McClelland-Bantam Inc. Toronto
Order: Used hardcover and trade paperback available at www.amazon.ca
In August 1991, Nina de Villiers, a gifted and idealistic university student, was abducted and subsequently murdered, while jogging in an affluent suburban neighbourhood. She was the random victim of Jonathan Yeo, a man with a history of explosive violence, who later murdered a second young woman before taking his own life. Yeo had just been turned away from the United States border, where he was detained by customs officials for carrying a loaded gun, but eventually released - and allowed to keep his gun. The book recounts the life story of these two strangers from different worlds to show how Nina's murder could have been prevented if someone had intervened more effectively to deal with Yeo's problems. Fatal Mistakes also describes how Nina's mother Priscilla de Villiers poured her grief into political activity by forming the victims' rights group CAVEAT (Citizens Against Violence Everywhere Advocating its Termination.) The book concludes with a moving Afterword written by Priscilla de Villiers.
"A stinging indictment of the Canadian justice system and the way in which the dead victims of crime are too often forgotten as the system works to protect the rights of the living perpetrator. By the end of the book, even the most convinced foe of victims' rights will be moved by Marron's skillful presentation of the crime and Priscilla de Villiers' emotional little essay against violence."
- Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail
"You read Fatal Mistakes, freelance writer Kevin Marron's meticulous account of the case, with feelings of mounting anger and frustration. How could people have been so stupid! Why didn't anyone do anything to stop him? Police, prosecutors, the courts, the psychiatric profession, all come in for scorn. But there is an additional and quite surprising element here: the women Yeo assaulted, some of them close to him, either protected him or, fearing they wouldn't get a proper hearing from the police and the courts, failed to report his crimes. The message of this important book, too, is that society isn't something "out there." It's you and me - police officers, doctors, and even the victims of violence who must be prepared to speak up."
- Frank Jones Toronto Star
For many years, Jonathan was able to make something of himself in the eyes of the world by being a responsible wage-earner and home-owner, the loving father of four children. Yet , secretly, he thought of his life as a fašade. In a note found with his body after his death, he concluded that he was a cheap imitation of a human being who did not deserve to be alive. He signed his name, 'Mr. Dirt.'
Nobody in Jonathan's life seemed to care what he really felt about himself. But it became everyone's concern when he acted on his belief that he was worthless and allowed what he called his 'animal side' full reign, unleashing his violent anger on the world. He became a cruel and cunning predator, beyond the understanding of anyone who tried to help him.
After his death, many people would think of him as a monster who should have been caged. What he did made it difficult for anybody not to hate him as much as he hated himself. Nor is it easy to understand him any better than he understood himself. Yet some light needs to be shed on Jonathan's life, not to explain or excuse his crimes, but to see how completely his problems were overlooked and the dangers they presented ignored.
Title: Fatal Mistakes
Author: Kevin Marron
Published by: Doubleday Canada Ltd., Toronto
Order: Used hardcover available from www.amazon.ca. Trade paperback limited availability.
In order to find out what really goes on behind bars, the author visited federal penitentiaries in every region of Canada, interviewing prisoners, correctional officers, administrators, social workers and others. Granted an extraordinary level of access by the Correctional Service of Canada, Marron ventured into the deepest recesses of some of Canada's most notorious prisons and often spent time alone with groups of convicted murderers and other violent offenders. This book provides a disturbing portrait of the violent underground culture of prisons and the everyday struggles of those who live and work on the inside. It raises questions about whether prisons really make our society more safe.
"The portrait of a system in grave crisis, a time bomb which could erupt at any time. It is the portrait of a system torn by unrealistic opposing goals such as punishing and sometimes destroying human beings, while seeking to reclaim their humanity, and trumpeting the goals of justice and rehabilitation while practicing repression... A candid depiction of prison culture in Canadian penal institutions, including aspects prison administrators usually deny, such as the condoning of sex between prisoners, and the prevalence of illegal drugs."
- Harold Levy, The Toronto Star
"It is balanced and thoughtful, frank and compelling, and a surprisingly easy read, considering its dark subject."
- Hamilton Spectator
"Marron's observations about cruelty, violence, searing loneliness, and alienation experienced by the imprisoned, and the consequences for the communities that receive them upon their release are disturbing enough. Just as alarming are the author's revelations about how the system, entrusted with a mandate to promote public safety, often appears most driven by a desire to avoid public controversy and accountability. Marron is a credible and astute guide through the system and his insights, while disquieting, will undoubtedly leave readers better able to get at the truth about prisons and what we can and can't expect them to accomplish."
- Anne Kershaw, Quill and Quire
For those seeking simple solutions to the confusing problems of modern society, there is much to be said for the idea of sweeping criminals off the streets, locking them up and letting them rot in jail. But it does not seem to occur to those people who glibly air such views that in an age of blue boxes we do not even treat our garbage like that.
This is a book about society's rejects and the prisons that house Canada's most serious criminals. It is the story of a system that punishes and sometimes destroys, but also seeks to reclaim the humanity of those whom the rest of us fear and despise. This is an account of the compassion, as well as the horror and turmoil that I found behind prison walls. It is a story about people struggling to keep the hope of positive change alive in a chaotic, degrading and dangerous environment.
The very architecture of Canada's oldest penitentiary appears to embody the confusion and contradictions of our prison system, with its ambitious ideals of justice and rehabilitation, together with the brutal realities of punishment and repression. The stately limestone columns at the main gate of Kingston Penitentiary resemble the entrance to a library, a museum or a place of worship. But this pleasing portico is set in an ugly and forbidding prison wall, overlooked by armed guards in watchtowers. It is a scene calculated to inspire awe and trepidation, a reminder that prisons were built to embody the power and majesty of the law, as well as its naked force.
Title: The Slammer: The Crisis in Canada's Prison System
Author: Kevin Marron
Published by: Doubleday Canada Limited, Toronto
ISBN: Hardcover 0-385-25534-9 Paperback 0-385-25616-7
Order: Trade paperback in print, available through any bookstore. Hardcover available used from www.amazon.ca.