POISON - Extra Episode - A twenty year long night
(Reading time: 20 - 40 minutes)
Twenty years ago, on November 12, 1998, six children from Massa Finalese were removed from their families. Sonia was one of them. Today he tells us his truth. And it is not the only one. There is also Marta. Both are demanding justice.
Live: You go to a door. Intercom. A voice answers: "First floor". Steps on the stairs.
Door that opens with radio noise from the living room.
Live Pablo: Permission ... Hi
Live Sonia: Hi, pleasure
Live Pablo: Can I come in?
Live Sonia: Yes, sure, come.
Live Pablo: Is the dog aggressive?
Live Sonia: No no, it's delicious ...
In front of me is a 29 year old girl.
She is tall, has light brown hair, long and straight.
What is most striking about her are her eyes, an intense green ..
They never smile ..
They cross you ..
It is the gaze of those who have spent a life locked in silence ..
Alone, with his anger ..
Live Sonia: I am what you called Sonia, Daniela's daughter ... The only one of the sixteen children who never spoke, despite all the pressure from psychologists and social workers ..
Live Pablo: I can ask you ... why did you call me?
Live Sonia: (pause) To tell you my truth….
Live Sonia: I feel and I felt seized by social workers, psychologists, judges and everything behind it ..
A few kilometers from that kitchen, in a secluded parking lot, there is a girl sitting in the car ..
He is 28 years old.
She has brown curls and often smiles, she gesticulates, sometimes she also jokes ..
But since the summer of 1997, it brings in a pain and a secret ..
Live Marta: I'm the girl you called Marta. I contacted you after listening to Poison, because we say that in all these twenty years I have always had doubts about what had happened to me. This is because I am ... I have one hundred percent certainty that I invented everything. The whole story I told social workers, psychologists, judges, I'm sure those things never happened to me ..
Live Alessia: So you never told anyone that you invented everything ?.
Live Marta: No, I haven't told anyone ... no. No..
Sonia and Marta are two of the sixteen children removed from the families of Massa Finalese and Mirandola, on the report of the Social Services, in the affair we have called Veleno ..
At the time of the events they were 10 and 8 years old respectively.
The trauma they experienced is very similar, but the way they dealt with it as children has led them in opposite directions.
One has always denied everything and has never been believed ..
The other told an invented story, which had profound repercussions on the lives of several people.
Today, however, both feel anger for those who have not known or wanted to listen to them ..
Live Alessia: You today ... what do you want ?.
Live Marta: In the meantime I would like to introduce myself in front of the psychologists, the social workers, tell him to look me in the face and say that they have no doubt about what they have done. But I know that from them I think it will be very difficult to have answers ..
Live Sonia: I want to see these people out of this environment. They no longer have to deal with children. I ask for this. I don't care about anything else ... nor apologies, nor money ... nothing, I don't give a shit ...
I do it for today's children, because they don't have to suffer what I suffered anymore.
On December 4, 2017 we published the last episode of Veleno ..
The final stage of an investigation to which Alessia Rafanelli and I worked for three years, and which reopened the case of the 'Devils of the Bassa Modenese', the group of pedophiles who would have performed satanic rituals in which children and adolescents were raped and tortured in the cemeteries in the area ..
Our investigation ended with the meeting with Dario, the 'zero child' from whose stories everything had started, who - now an adult - suspected he had been manipulated by the psychologists who had followed him ..
Live Dario: Boh, I honestly am not even more sure of what happened or did not happen because so much ... many psychologists also try to make you say what they want ... that is, from a child you finally bring out what you want ....
Almost two months after the seventh episode was released, an anonymous letter arrived from newspapers and TV, written by those who said they were four victims.
"We are some of the children, now adults, who, as has been said, were" kidnapped by the State "following the now twenty-year affair concerning Satanist pedophiles of the Lower Modena area. We all reassure ... that we have never felt "kidnapped" by the institutions, but on the contrary, by these protected and protected, nor have we ever had "masters" ..
In fact, we did not cry or protest in any way when we were removed from our families of origin, we have never asked in these years to see our natural relatives again, we did not cry when we learned that some of them were no longer there. We had already said what there was to say at the time of the events and there was nothing to add but to confirm, as we intend to do now, our every declaration "..
The letter, we repeat, was not signed, and after these declarations we waited for someone else of these former children to come forward with us too, but unfortunately it did not happen ..
And so we had promised to make a new episode only when other relevant elements emerged ..
For weeks, nothing happened ..
And when we believed that this story was now closed and that we would no longer hear other voices from the past, Veleno came back to our door with two unexpected witnesses: Sonia and Marta ..
We talked about Sonia in the seventh episode, when her mother Daniela told us how she was taken away, at dawn on November 12, 1998 ..
Live Daniela: I missed her best years, a life of shit, believe me ... at night you don't sleep, you take psychotropic drugs, to be able to sleep, because the thought is always there ..
Daniela had never been investigated, but despite this, the Bologna Juvenile Court had ordered the removal of the little girl, who had never returned home.
A few months ago, however, Sonia suddenly showed up again with her mother, after a silence that lasted over ten years ..
Live Daniela: One Sunday morning a year ago I receive a call on my landline number, which is the number I have for 20 years, I always kept it because I had the hope that my daughter would call me back ..
I hear the voice and I have no words to describe the emotion. An indescribable cry, an emotion ... I started to stammer, I didn't believe it ....
Live Sonia: And when we started talking we went straight to the speech what was and had not happened ... and when I also had confirmations from her, that is, enough, it was as if everything had returned as before ...
Okay ... see her tears ...
Live Daniela: The word Mama, which I haven't heard from my daughter for twenty years, I still find it hard to believe ...
Sometimes in the morning I pinch myself ... it's something that doesn't ... it seems like a dream!
Live Pablo: The thing that makes you most angry, of all this story, what is it?
Live Sonia: Never being heard. That my words never meant them, they were just lies. This makes me angry.
Sonia was not the only child of the time to choose to come out of the shadows after twenty years.
A few months after meeting her, one day suddenly, a Whatsapp message arrived from a number we had contacted three years earlier.
“I'm Marta, I don't know if you still have my number, but you had contacted me for that investigation into the cases of Mirandola and the surrounding area. I apologize for sending you away, but I didn't know who you were. I listened to Poison, the thought is harassing me because I think you are right ... I always had a doubt "
Marta's message struck us, and also a little excited, because it was what we least expected.
We have often thought of her in these years.
We asked ourselves how he was and what he did in life, because his story, perhaps, is the most tragic of all.
Marta, in fact, is Francesca's daughter, the woman who had not been able to keep her little girl away and launched herself from the fifth floor of the building in via Pascoli, in Mirandola, on 28 September 1997.
Live Marta: I ... I know that I was a very very attached girl to my mother, because in the end we say that there was only her. And mom is mom ... so yes, surely I loved her very very well ...
Live Alessia: You remember how it was made ... how your mother was, her face ...
Live Marta: Well, I remember that she had glasses, that she had long black hair, quite thin ... but even there, vague memories ... that is, I have flashes of her accompanying me on a bicycle because the school was not far from home and ... we had a little dog, which I loved ...
But there were problems at home.
Her mother Francesca, a 42-year-old woman, came out of a stormy separation with Marta's father.
The girl had stayed to live with her in Mirandola.
But the quarrels between Francesca and the former partner had degenerated, to the point of requiring the intervention of the Social Services, which in that case had the role of simple mediators. In their relationships Francesca is described as very present and attentive to her daughter, even overprotective.
Live Marta: Although ... surely she was not a saint, in the sense that ... maybe at times she could become a little aggressive, a little scant ...
Live Alessia: Tell me like an image you remember ...
Live Marta: Like, I don't know, she who hits me with a slipper, to say, or who slaps me.
Of these things, yes, but not everything else.
Francesca and Marta's neighbors on the landing were Federico Scotta, his Thai wife Kaempet, and their 3-year-old sons Elisa and a few months old Nick.
We told you about them in the third episode.
Federico and Francesca were very close friends ...
Live Scotta: Rather, she didn't eat to try to give her daughter an extra game, to give him an extra shirt, to give him something more ...
She would not only have given her life for her daughter, she would have given further.
In the spring of 1997, when Marta was eight years old, a boy from Massa Finalese was beginning to tell the psychologist Valeria Donati about a disturbing pedophile gang who operated in the area.
It was the little Dario Galliera, whom we nicknamed the 'zero child'.
After accusing the family members, Dario had spoken of a group of parents who sexually exploited their children, and among them Donati was convinced that Federico Scotta and her neighbor Francesca were also there.
However, Dario and Marta lived in two different countries, and actually the child, at first, had not recognized her in photography.
But then, when asked a second time, he corrected himself and said he was raped with her in a house.
Live Alessia: Did you know, at the time of the departure, Dario?
Live Marta: No I have never known him.
Live Alessia: To understand if somehow there were ties between your families as a child, or if it was ...
Live Marta: No, absolutely no connection.
For the Social Services and the Juvenile Court of Bologna, however, the child's declaration was sufficient.
At the first light of dawn on July 7, 1997, a Mirandola police car had stopped in the open space in front of the building in via Pascoli.
The agents then knocked on Federico and Francesca's doors.
Marta removed all memories of that moment, which however we were able to reconstruct through the testimonies and minutes of those who were present.
As soon as the police found themselves outside the door, Francesca panicked and called a friend, who however had not been able to calm her.
Once they arrived at the police station, she and her daughter held each other so tightly that the policemen and the social worker intervened by force, tearing Marta from her mother's arms.
Live Marta: I only have a memory of someone who wanted to take me and I took a bite. I only have this memory, but everything else, dark ... dark ...
Sonia had a life very similar to that of Martha.
In fact, she too, at 9 years old, lived alone with her mother Daniela, in a house in Finale Emilia.
They had recently moved there after the separation of their parents. Daniela had reported her husband Massimo because he beat her, and after the separation Sonia had stayed with her.
Live Sonia: I was a serene child, I was very shy, closed, but I was calm. I had my friends, I was good at school ... a normal girl.
Live Pablo: And what kind of relationship did you have with mom?
Live Sonia: I just loved her ...
One day, however, a cousin of Sonia had been dismissed for suspected abuse and involved in the investigation against the mysterious group of pedophiles whom the prosecutor was hunting.
The little girl had been taken over by the neuropsychiatric service, and after a few months, she had said that practically all her family were part of the satanic sect, and that at night she and her cousins were brought to the cemeteries.
Among them was also Sonia.
Again the little girl's stories had been believed.
Word by word.
Live Daniela: The carabinieri showed up at six in the morning. "Lady, we have to take your daughter away." "How to take it away?".
Live Sonia: I was in bed, nothing, the intercom rings, I hear voices, my mother starts talking, crying ... nothing ... I started crying too ...
Live Pablo: Why did you start to cry?
Live Sonia: Because I understood that something was wrong, because my cousin had already been removed for several months and ... I was already afraid that they would take me away ... and in fact it happened ...
Live Daniela: There was also a ... a woman with them, she said to me, "Lady, you can calm her down because she is very agitated ...
Live Daniela: "You will prepare a backpack with some things inside" ... "Like some things? Where should you take it? "
Live Sonia: My mom made me change, with the policewoman in the room looking at me ... she prepared me a change, put in my school backpack ...
Live Daniela: "Clothes you go with these gentlemen who need" ...
Live Sonia: I felt abandoned because of the way she greeted me, because she said "I'll be back to get you tonight" and I was waiting for her ...
Sonia had got into the car.
Next to her was a social worker, Odette Magri. The woman had explained to her that she would be taken to a family home near Forlì.
Live Sonia: ... Because "we needed to be protected". I didn't say anything. The only question I asked was if there were windows in the family home, because I was afraid of being locked in a prison in the dark ...
A black-covered journal remained on Sonia's desk.
The bookmark is still on the page of that day, on which the girl had last written the homework: "Study Greece".
After Marta's departure, her mother Francesca had not held up. She was thin and worn out. He had lost his job. And she didn't know anything about Marta.
Then, in September, when the Juvenile Court had summoned her, in her file the woman had noticed a yellow post-it that some employee had absent-mindedly left attached to the folder, with the new address where her daughter resided: the Franciscan Last Supper.
The woman had gone immediately.
As soon as she arrived, she had gone around the structure, and through a gate covered by a green net she had glimpsed her daughter, who was playing alone a few meters away.
Live Marta: I remember hearing a voice calling me, so I immediately recognized it even though in reality I just couldn't see it well because there were in the middle I don't know if trees, hedges ... eh ... I I don't remember my reaction well ... that is, I don't know if I was happy, sad, probably a little happy, a little agitated ... but I think I immediately went to the nun to say "Look, my mom is there! "
The head of the Last Supper, Sister Annarita Ferrari, had been furious at Francesca's unexpected visit and had sent her away in a bad way, denouncing her to the Police, who had arrested her the next day for pollution of evidence.
After a few days in prison, Francesca found herself alone at home, under house arrest.
Live Marta: I remember that she had left a nun with a backpack for the nun and ... there was a note inside that, I don't remember what was written, but like "I love you, I'll be back soon", something like that. But I didn't have her ... I didn't see her.
After ending up in the family home of Forlì, Sonia had also been taken to the Franciscan Cenacle.
Live Sonia: And there I met Valeria Donati, my psychologist.
Valeria Donati, you will remember, was a young contract professional at the Social Services of Mirandola, and she had been the first to suspect the abuses suffered by Dario and then by the other children.
His role, within the 'pedophile affair', had been decisive. During the trials, the defense lawyers had accused her of having strongly influenced the little ones during the interviews, causing them to accuse the parents.
Of those meetings with the psychologist, apparently, there is no registration. But Sonia has an indelible memory of it.
Live Sonia: He told me that my mother was not good because she didn't protect me, and she practically agreed with my father that he did those things to me, that he abused me, that he took me to cemeteries, my mother covered him.
Live Pablo: Has your dad ever abused you?
Live Sonia: Never, absolutely.
Sonia had repeatedly asked Donati and her colleagues to see her mom again ...
Live Sonia: They replied that I couldn't ... in fact, I had to forget about her, because as long as I didn't ... I didn't tell what the other children were telling, I would never see her again.
The same thing that apparently was also repeated to Martha ...
Live Marta: I also asked to be able to review it and they always told me it was not possible. Valeria Donati in the first place always told me that it was not possible to see her again ... Because she still told me that in any case she had done bad things to me and ... that this thing had to be resolved first then then, perhaps, after ... But this later is not never arrived…
Both girls had then been summoned by Valeria Donati and the head of the minors' service, Monica Benati ...
Live Sonia: ... and they explained to me in detail that a doctor would have to look at my potato chip, my butt, to see if there were signs of violence.
The doctor is Cristina Maggioni of Mangiagalli in Milan.
It was the doctor who claimed that the hymen of a child victim of violence could grow back with the arrival of the first menstruation.
Live Pablo: Do you think you did your job well? Live Maggioni: Do you want to get rid of order? Live Pablo: No, I don't care ... Live Maggioni: Do you want to stop me from being a doctor for the rest of my days?
Sonia says that Donati and Benati had warned her before entering Maggioni's office.
Live Sonia: I was told that if he didn't take out his camera, there was no problem, but if they took pictures, I had to worry there. Because it meant that there were signs of violence ...
I remember that while he was visiting me he explained what he was going to do ... and ... then they pulled out the camera ...
Live Pablo: And you have there ... what did you feel?
Live Sonia: (pause) Anger ... why not ... it couldn't be true.
Sonia's reaction is also described in the minutes of the social worker who accompanied her, Odette Magri:
"The girl was very tense, visibly in trouble ... the only thing she said in the end was:" I don't want to go to those doctors anymore. "
Marta, at the age of 8, had been in the same study.
But he had reacted differently to the visit.
Live Marta: So ... I remember that he had me ... one of the nuns had accompanied me. and ... I remember a doctor, a fairly quick visit ...
Fast because the girl had not shown particular resistance to be visited. Indeed, his availability had immediately struck Dr. Maggioni, who in the minutes of one of the hearings had commented:
Marta has been visited quite well, indeed so well, that on my leaflet it says "very good", they applauded her ... this exaggeration of availability is not normal, I find it in someone, but only when they have been very abused.
It was as if the gynecologist had deduced that the child had been raped simply by observing her behavior before the exam.
After the visit, Maggioni and her colleague, dr. Bruni, had approached little Marta, and had told her that there were signs indicating that she had been hurt.
Live Alessia: And you?
Live Marta: And I believed it, what could I do? The doctor saw it, how does a doctor tell lies?
Only later, on trial, some coroners will disagree with Maggioni's conclusions about Marta and Sonia.
For them the abuses that the gynecologist had found were not evident at all. But at that moment there were only Maggioni's assessments.
And the outcome of Marta's visit, known only to very few people, had been immediately disclosed to the press.
The next day, the mother Francesca - alone at home - had turned on Teletext to check the news, and found herself reading with her heart in her throat that her daughter had suffered serious sexual violence, which probably would have compromised the possibility of having children as an adult.
At this point the woman had gone mad. He could not leave the house, he could not call anyone.
A few days later, on Sunday 28 September, he had made a phone call to the only people who at that moment could truly understand her: the neighbors Federico Scotta and his wife Kaempet.
Live Scotta: The home phone rings ... and Francesca on the other side. He had a very strange voice: “I loved you so much, I'm sorry that things end like this. Goodbye". And he closed the phone.
Alarmed, Scotta had called the police immediately.
Shortly thereafter, a steering wheel stopped at the corner of the Statale 12 and via Pascoli. An agent had looked up and had seen Francesca astride the railing of the balcony on the fifth floor.
Live policeman: We got there ... there was the door that was ... it wasn't locked, and there was the chain attached, and from the door you could see that she was riding on the balcony. We did not even have time to enter that she had already launched.
A flight of almost fifteen meters.
She died hours later in the hospital alone.
A note had been found on the kitchen table in the fifth-floor apartment. Francesca wrote: "I can't take it anymore, I'm innocent".
Live Marta: I only remember that they said "Your mom is gone" and I said "Eh, where did she go?" "No, it's not that she went away, she is dead" and then something else, I don't remember anything else.
But I remember crying.
In the minutes of social worker Odette Magri, that moment is reconstructed second by second.
The employees of the Services hadn't just told her that her mom was gone. They had also insinuated that she had committed suicide because she had been discovered and had no way out.
A doubt that no one had the right to put on her head, because at that moment there was no evidence against her mother.
Live Marta: This was also my doubt that I have always carried with me. That is: if my mother knew she was innocent, that she had done nothing, why did she throw herself off the fifth floor?
But even there, go and think what's in a person's head, who maybe also had his problems, maybe he wasn't ... he wasn't completely lucid.
Social services and the prosecutor's office were faced with a complicated situation.
There was a mother's corpse. And an orphan girl who had never accused her.
Live Marta: Certainly psychologists, indeed one in particular, has put a lot of pressure, because ...
Live Alessia: Who?
Live Marta: Valeria Donati. Because I remember these endless, exhausting talks ... and ... I have flashes in which I rested my head on the table and I wanted to not hear anyone anymore, because in any case it was all a saying "Tell me what happened to you, if you tell you will see that you will be better ... ". And I immediately didn't know what to tell, because I knew that nothing had happened to me ...
The same situation in which Sonia says she found herself.
Live Sonia: At each meeting I was reminded that the visit was clear, therefore, that is, it was useless for me to continue being silent. Both the signs were now evident, so there was no longer any doubt, it was a certainty.
I absolutely denied it, I said that nothing was true, nothing ... I was not interested in what Donati said or what Maggioni had said. Live Pablo: And at that point what was answered when you denied? Live Sonia: That I was a liar, that I wasn't brave, that they already knew so much because the other children were already talking, so ...
Live Marta: I am sure that it was the psychologists who told me their name and who told me "Look, he also mentioned your name ... so you were there ... you were in that situation there" I remember ... a table, me sitting on one side, she sitting on the other, interrogation mode ...
Live Sonia: Psychological violence and that's it, these were. That is, she spoke an hour, for four and a half years, every week, in front of a crying girl. Impassive she continued with her story, that is, whatever I said didn't matter.
Sonia and Marta were rather shy children.
After being taken away from home, they closed in silence, continuing to repeat that their parents had never hurt them.
The same had happened for the other children, who at first had not spoken, but who after a long time - during which they had no longer had contact with any of their family members - had become tireless witnesses, coming to outline the contours of the satanic sect that we talked about during the seven episodes of Veleno.
In the testimonies the investigators had noticed a series of recurring details, which had convinced the Modena Court of the solidity of their history. Rape, quartered animals, murders.
Sonia remembers one episode in particular, when she told Donati that she liked to play with stray kittens.
Live Sonia: He started telling me that "Of course, we already know that cats were tortured in front of you, at night in cemeteries, they were killed, you were made to drink blood"
Live Pablo: Excuse me, and when she said these things to you what did you answer?
Live Sonia: That was not true ... that nothing had ever happened to me.
Live Marta: Valeria used to say to me “Look, you were there too”, so I think she was the one who spoke the cemeteries first, and I probably embroidered a story on it. Since they said "Speak that you're better" and ... "You have to open up that you're better" ... and they always told me that I always had shiny eyes ...
Live psychologist: Your shiny eyes sometimes tell me you're trying to take a few bites down, right?
In one of the videos we found, Marta is sitting in front of the psychologist Sabrina Farci, who was recording her during a protected hearing.
Live Marta: "Look, you have shiny eyes, you have something inside, throw it out" ... even there, after a while, after ten thousand times they tell you ... in the end I gave in.
Live psychologist: So you were telling me ... mom?
Live Marta piccola: He took me to bad places, to the cemetery and to other people's homes
Live psychologist: And when did it take you to the cemetery?
Live Marta piccola: Mhmm ... towards evening ...
Live psychologist: Towards evening ...
Live Marta piccola: Sometimes even in the afternoon
Live psychologist: Mhmm ... What happened in these places?
Live Marta babe: They hurt me
Live psychologist: Did they all do it or did it only to someone?
Live Marta piccola: To all the children who came there
Live psychologist: Ah, there were so many children who came?
Live Little Marta: Yes yes ... And after that they gave mom money
Live psychologist: They gave mom money ...
Live Marta small: Mhmm ... ...
Live psychologist: You know, this is really sad. I understand you, you know, it must be really difficult for you ...
Maybe in certain periods you were also a little angry with mom then ...
Live Marta babe: yes yes ...
Live psychologist: So you could only express anger after she was gone ...
Live Marta small: Mhmm ...
Live Marta: At this moment I would have liked to say to that Martha: "Don't answer like that!"
Someone made us hate our natural families.
Marta had said that Federico Scotta, the neighbor, also raped her and sold her to other sexual maniacs.
Because of these accusations, which she says she invented today, Scotta ended up in prison with an 11-year sentence, never seeing his 3 children again.
And the sense of guilt has always tormented Marta as she grew older.
Live Marta: Many times I thought: "Enough, now I mean that I invented everything". But then after the mind goes to when you are small, to the judges, to the courts ... and at that moment I said no, that is, I do not want to retrace all this history.
Sonia, on the other hand, had never spoken, and despite the fact that the psychologists had insisted a lot with her, she had been the only one of all the children who were never to say a word against mom Daniela and dad Massimo.
His silence is also mentioned in a 31-page decree of the Bologna Juvenile Court, signed by the then president Elisa Ceccarelli.
On page 23 Sonia's emotional characteristics are described during interviews with psychologists. Hear what they say about her:
“Sonia's mimicry seemed rather stereotyped, characterized by a faint smile that seemed to assume the function of a mask. The frequent "I don't know, I don't remember" and the like seemed to refer to the behavior of a "so to speak" little girl.
Live Sonia: They told me that my parents had been good at brainwashing me ... to make me forget ...
On February 22, 2000, the child was heard by a judge, Dr. Milelli. Here is an excerpt from that conversation:
Question: I ask you this. If you would like to go home to your parents.
Question: Who would you like to go back with?
Answer: With mom.
Question: Do you have a good memory of mom?
Answer: Yes. My parents didn't do anything to me
Question: Are you sure of this?
Live Sonia: I knew the effort I made to enter that room and tell him my truth ... I thought that there was salvation, instead ... when even the judge didn't believe me ... (pause) There I understood that there wasn't nothing more to do.
Sonia, when describing her experience, uses a brutal term: kidnapping.
Indeed what other definition can have to enter the bedroom of a little girl in the middle of the night, snatch it from her affections, her dolls, her school, her whole family, and not listen to it when she swears that nothing has happened to her, and who just wants to go home?
A long time after her departure, her father Massimo had been acquitted of all charges, and mother Daniela - who we repeat, had never even been involved in that process - had managed with great difficulty to obtain permission to meet her again, even if in the presence of psychologists.
Live Daniela: I saw her again at the Franciscan Cenacle in Reggio Emilia.
Live Sonia: Three years had already passed.
Live Daniela: I entered this huge room, I had Donati in front of me, I hear a door open ... I see my daughter ... I would have run away ... she looked at everyone else except that her mother, when she spoke, had to speak on command ...
Live Sonia: Obviously, before the meeting, the psychologists had told me that we ... we couldn't talk freely, that I couldn't ask for certain things, like we couldn't go about the past.
Live Daniela: Five questions out of twenty questions I asked her. Live Sonia: I wanted to go into that room, go to my mother and say "What the fuck happened?", And I couldn't do it ...
Live Daniela: She was no longer my daughter, she was no longer that solar girl ...
Live Sonia: I didn't have to show any feeling, no emotion, no thought ... that is, I was afraid to think because I thought they read me in thought ... That is, we couldn't be spontaneous, to speak, to ... it was a very sad thing.
When Sonia was 14, Daniela had asked to be able to get her back home, at least for a few days a week. But she had been told that it was not possible. Another future had been decided for her daughter, outside the community.
Sonia had been entrusted to a family. Not just any, but that of a lawyer linked to the Franciscan Cenacle itself.
Live Sonia: And ... He was 67 and she was 64. They never showed me affection ... I looked like an object, taken to one side and brought to them ... enough.
Marta had also been placed in foster care with a new family, and over the years she had to learn to live with the frightening traumas that have conditioned her since she was only eight.
And so he raised barriers on barriers to protect himself from all that pain.
Live Pablo: Have you ever thought about your mom in these years?
Live Marta: Yes I thought about it but, that is, in a way ... how can I say ... eh ... a little bit from the outside ... almost not feeling anything. They probably questioned me ... they also questioned me about the feelings to feel, because after all this ...
Yet the impression that Alessia and I had, talking to each other in that parking lot, is that in reality Marta, while remembering her mother, was suffering a lot.
One of the first things he asked us after contacting us were his photos, because from the night of the departure, 21 years ago, he never saw her again.
For months he asked for those shots, but psychologists never gave them to him.
We, however, at a relative's home we found an album full of photographs.
The first feedings, the first steps of Marta, the holidays, the carnivals.
Francesca is always attached to her daughter, looks at her smiling, embraces her.
The girl is well dressed, cared for and above all seems very happy.
But growing up both Martha and Sonia had moved away from those childhood memories. Mothers had become strangers to them.
In 2006, just before her daughter turned 18, Daniela asked Sonia if once they came of age they could meet again.
Live Sonia: When she said to me, "If you want to call me, come and visit me, I will always be there, I hope to see you soon" I replied "I don't think so".
We broke up like this ... at 18 ...
After our investigation, a director of Forza Italia from the municipality of Mirandola, Antonio Platis, asked for access to the documents to know exactly what the overall cost of this affair was.
From the documentation that has been sent to him, it appears that the Union of Municipalities in the North Area of Modena has fully borne the costs for the custody and for the psychological therapies of all the children.
We now know that the total sum of public funds spent is 3.520.900 euros, and if you add 220 euros for the legal costs of minors, we will go up to around 3 million and 800 euros.
From the numbers we have shown that each foster family received on average a monthly refund of 550 euros per child.
All in all a contained figure, considering the important commitment required.
In the list, however, there is an amount that attracts attention: that for 'expenditure for psychological assistance and treatment'.
After the case had erupted, Valeria Donati, who initially followed most of the children on behalf of the ASL, had become responsible for a private structure created in Reggio Emilia: the CAB, Child Help Center, where they had also gone to work his other colleagues.
In 2002 the ASL, not considering itself competent enough to treat the trauma of the children involved, had decided to outsource their therapy to a more qualified facility. And to whom had he entrusted them?
Just at the CAB, considered - we read verbatim - more equipped and specialized on the issues of abuse.
This is precisely one of the reasons why Donati and her colleagues have been attacked so severely: for a strong conflict of interest.
They had identified the children involved, they had always listened to them at the ASL and reported to the Juvenile Court, and now their private structure was paid with public money to cure them from the traumas that they themselves had diagnosed.
Between 2002 and 2013, the municipalities in the area paid an impressive sum to the CAB for this service: approximately 2.200.000 euros.
Live Valgimigli: Not only was it a matter of career, but also a question of market. Keeping kids brought money, expelling kids from families and introducing them to certain other environments, and following them, and bringing them forward, brings career and money benefits.
Dr. Camillo Valgimigli at the time of the events was a manager of the mental health center of the ASL of Modena, on which the Social Services of Mirandola also depended.
According to him, behind the removals of the Veleno case, a much larger project was hiding, which involved the entire public company.
Live Valgimigli: They wanted to conduct a pilot experience, on which the general manager also felt like investing money. Because we are the first in Italy in the protection of minors, that we have the children to be able to hear them at all times, at any time, under our science.
In the end, that project never started.
At the age of 19 both Marta and Sonia - who, we specify it, never met - stopped attending CAB.
Marta devoted herself to teaching.
Sonia found work as a nurse, went to live with her partner and had two girls.
From that moment the perspective changed, from daughter she became a mother, and so she started to feel the need to find her, as a mother.
Live Sonia: I have missed her since the day I gave birth to my first daughter. I found myself alone, in the delivery room, without anyone, with a 3 kg daughter in her arms, I didn't even know how to change her diaper, at 23 years old. I understood from there ... how much I missed ...
In the little things I missed, in the daily advice, how I have to dress her ... how I should behave if one thing happens rather than another, that is ... they seem stupid though ... It is an emptiness ...
And so Sonia, with the youngest girl in her arms and the oldest in her hand, knocked on the door of the house she hadn't seen since Daniela had put that backpack on her shoulders with a change for the night.
A night that lasted twenty years.
Live Daniela: I went back to her 'mom', I went back to get her back, to give him the love that in these twenty years I have not been able to give him. Then ... we sat down at a table to talk, from a wallet she pulled out a photo, a clipping from a photo, that she and I were there as a child, she was two or three months old, in her arms ... me, my heart she said "This has never forgotten you, never, never ..."
Then I have two granddaughters, that is, to feel like a grandmother, it is an indescribable thing, that is, it is as if I had ... if I was reborn.
Martha instead always tried not to think about her past, and her mother ...
Live Pablo: If it hadn't gone the way it was, if your mom was alive, would you go back to her today?
Live Marta: I hoped you wouldn't ask me this question because I don't know ... I don't know ... maybe yes ... maybe yes ... maybe yes ... maybe if the desire to see her was alive, maybe even from a distance there would be, even without asking and saying anything.
The testimonies of Marta and Sonia seemed credible to us for more than one reason. First of all, because it wasn't our series that made them doubt. Marta has always known that she has told untrue stories. Sonia instead has never changed her version since the day she was sent away, always continuing to claim that nothing had happened to her.
What unites them is the desire to be finally listened to and once believed.
Dario, Alessandro, Sonia, Marta.
There are already 4 children who today look at this story with other eyes.
But it is not so much a question of numbers, but of logic.
Because if the other ex children after twenty years confirm, as they said, everything they have told, they are also confirming:
to have drunk animal blood without any consequence. To have been beaten, skewered with awls, beaten with sticks, raped with iron bars and tree branches, without any doctor, pediatrician, or teacher ever having found the signs of these tortures.
To have participated in the kidnapping of other children never identified in the playgrounds, to have brought them to the cemeteries with the complicity of the adults, to have slaughtered them, guillotined, burned at the stake, and to have killed 15 of them a week, without anyone reporting their disappearance and without ever having been found.
Now, this series has always lacked one thing: the point of view of the accusation, that is, of those who at the time were firmly convinced that those children were telling the truth.
It was not our choice, but practically none of the people we interviewed wanted to be interviewed.
Obviously after these new revelations we could not try again.
So we looked for Monica Benati, who in the 90s was the head of the minors service in Mirandola.
Live Benati: Everything we have done professionally has been put on record and there has been no judiciary that has indicated to us how ... having done acts or incompetence or even crimes, so ... in case it is not ...
Live Pablo: So it's okay?
Live Benati: Of course that's okay ...
We also looked for Daniela Cassanelli, the psychologist who had followed Sonia together with Valeria Donati.
Sonia wanted to come there with us.
Live Pablo: Good morning Doctor Cassanelli, I am Pablo Trincia, I am a journalist ...
Cassanelli does not say a word to us or to Sonia.
Live Pablo: You have nothing to say, Doctor?
Live Cassanelli: I am bound by professional secrecy, I certainly cannot speak to you.
Live Pablo: Of course, but look, it's here, the girl is here, because she doesn't speak to her ... come! Sonia approaches, but the doctor enters a building, and closes the door behind her. Finally, we couldn't help trying to track down Doctor Donati again.
Live phone ringing
Live Donati: Hello?
Live Pablo: Doctor Donati?
Live Donati: Who speaks?
Live Pablo: Hi, I'm Trincia. Madam I don't want to look for you everywhere, but I need you to answer a question ...
Live Donati: Look I must if you don't leave me alone I will make a report for harassment ...
Live Pablo: But harassment of what lady, there is an ex-girl who accuses her of very serious things, sorry ...
Live Donati: So, either you stop it or I make a complaint to the judicial authority, because I can't take it anymore. And with this I greet you. Goodbye.
We specify that nobody has 'harassed' Valeria Donati. Before calling her, we had only looked for her once at her house, without finding her.
We thought it was necessary to meet her in person to give her the opportunity to reply to everything that has been said.
Sonia, Marta and all the parents whose children were taken away in the middle of the night deserve answers.
They deserve them from all the professionals who dealt with this case and who at the time worked:
to the Social Services and the Neuropsychiatry Service of Mirandola,
to the Commissariat,
to the Prosecutor and the Court of Modena,
at the Juvenile Court of Bologna,
at the gynecology department of Mangiagalli in Milan,
to the Franciscan Cenacle and to the Child Aid Center of Reggio Emilia,
at the CBM - Center for the Abused Child - in Milan, which in this case supervised the work of Mirandola's psychologists,
and at the Hansel and Gretel Study Center in Turin, where the Court's technical consultants worked.
We ask them:
There are people who want to understand why their life has been hopelessly turned upside down.
What we want to do?
Turn your back on them and ignore them?
Does everything really have to be this way? In the silence?
With kids still living with their heads full of monsters, and families clinging to the thread of hope that on Sunday morning the phone will ring for them too?
Live park noises
Live Daniela: ... Don't slip, huh? Come on touch the leaf come on, come on! Next round, very good ...
Live girl: Grandmother ... I touched the tree! I touched the tree!
Live Daniela: The leaf ...
Daniela is at the park, playing with her older granddaughter, Sonia's daughter. Until a year earlier, he never dreamed of such a scene. Today he pushes her on a swing and the girl starts singing ...
Live girl: I sleep with my grandmother!
Live Pablo: Are you happy that you sleep with your grandmother?
Live girl: Yes!
Live Pablo: What does grandma do to you?
Live girl: Once she made me 4 cheese pasta
Live Pablo: And do you like it?
Live girl: Yes! With gorgonzola ...
Live Pablo: And does it show you TV?
Live girl: Yes!
It is a Saturday morning. It's sunny.
Sonia is also with them. She is leaning against the swing, enjoying this simple moment of family serenity.
But that shadow of sadness in his eyes does not abandon her even now.
Live Pablo: These are the things you missed in the end, aren't they? Saturday morning in the park, right?
Live Sonia: The absolute thing that I missed most is to call 'mom', it seems like bullshit, but it was this ... When I needed and ... I was alone, and instead I wanted to call just 'mom'. ..