This past week many residents of Ohio were led to believe that “a Satanic cult [was] operating” in the area.

“Dogs” were found skinned with their “eyes painted orange,” reported News 5 a local TV station.

One resident said, “It’s a Satanic ritual — something to do with voodoo.”

Never mind.

Days later the same News 5 crew reported that these claims were completely false.

The remains were in fact not even “dogs,” but the carcasses of coyotes marked by construction workers with paint to be readily seen for disposal.

Such stories of supposed “Satanism” have become urban myths much like the tales of “UFO abductions.”

Thankfully, this Ohio yarn was put to rest quickly before it reached epoch proportions.

Michael Guillen, the so-called “independent journalist” recruited by Clonaid CEO and Raelian bishop Brigette Boisselier to verify her clone claims, turns out to be an old friend, reports the Boston Globe.

Guillen is a Ph.D. and former ABC science reporter for “Good Morning America.” He joined Boisselier at a recent news conference in Florida to announce his role as a supposedly objective expert, who would organize a “scientific team” to verify Clonaid’s claims.

However, in a recent interview Boisselier’s “spiritual leader” Rael (a.k.a Claude Vorilhon) said, ”I know he is very good friends with Dr. Boisselier. I think they communicated from the beginning. He was the first to make a positive interview about the project. I think that’s why she gave him priority.”

“Positive interview”? This appears to be Rael-speak for a “puff piece.”

Have Boisselier and the Raelians essentially stacked the deck?

Cult groups frequently recruit supposedly “independent experts,” that are often “friends,” to report about them and present papers. These academics have been called “cult apologists.”

Many “cult apologists” eventually cash in, either as expert witnesses defending destructive cults in court cases, or through future funding of book projects and “research.”

Bob Giles, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard said Guillen “crossed a line of independence by appearing to be part of the team that is making the announcement.”

The former ABC reporter says he is “unpaid,” but is there some understanding between this self-described “free lance journalist” and the Raelians? If so, he certainly wouldn’t be the first Ph.D. recruited by a “cult” to provide cover and/or some “positive” spin.

Giles observed, ”It always raises ethical questions when a journalist works under the auspices of an organization such as this group.”

So far Guillen has not identified the supposed “world class experts” he expects to include on his “team” to verify Clonaid’s specious claims.

How will this verification be done? Supposedly by sending blood samples to “world class” DNA labs for testing. Guillen says he has already picked the “expert” to draw the blood, but some observers are skeptical and raising serious questions about the process and Guillen’s past performance.

Robert Park, author of a book on pseudo-science said, “How can they be sure that the samples really came from the mother and the child?”

A pathology professor at Washington University in St. Louis reiterated this point; “An absolutely neutral party has to obtain the samples. From point zero on, the arbitrator must be involved in the whole process. He or she must actually choose the laboratory that is going to do the analysis,” reports Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Giles inferred that without hard scientific evidence made public any alleged “verification” the journalist offers should not be taken too seriously.

Is Guillen simply preparing another “puff piece” for his “friends”? Is this another foray for the former ABC reporter into the realm of “Voodoo Science,” or is it a serious scientific inquiry to establish the facts?

Michael Guillen may have a Ph.D., but he has been “derided in Scientific circles for being overly fond of the paranormal,” reports Desert News.

Guillen’s past work is scrutinized within Park’s book, “Voodoo Science.” The author says the former science reporter has labeled astrology and psychokinesis “as open scientific questions, which they are not.”

It seems now that the real story emerging isn’t the “first human clone.” Increasingly it seems instead to be how Clonaid’s groundless claims became the focus of hard news coverage. Cloning may be part of Boisselier’s bizarre belief system, but why did a cable news network run her Raelian rant as “breaking news”?

CNN seems to have essentially given away 30 minutes of network time for a “cult” infomercial.

Rael must be pleased. What would that time have cost him if the “cult leader” had to pay for it? And there wasn’t even a disclaimer.

The so-called “press conference” seemed like little more than brazen self-promotion for the Raelians and their for-profit company Clonaid. And only those reporters approved by Boisselier were allowed to attend. Half of the media-representitives that came to cover the announcement at the Holiday Inn in Hollywood, Florida were “banned,” reports the Globe and Mail.

One couple has already stepped forward to call Clonaid “nothing more than a slick con,” after being taken for $500,000.00 by Boisselier who promised the parents a clone of their dead son, reports the Sunday Mail.

What’s next for CNN? Will they give a Unification Church spokesperson 30 minutes to announce that Rev. Moon’s mission has been confirmed in heaven? That story was run as paid ad in newspapers, not a news item.

CNN has lost credibility by providing a platform for the Raelians to make their claims without scientific evidence.

Who vetted this story?

The followers of Rael can be expected to uncritically accept whatever their leaders say, but what’s CNN’s excuse?

The announcement of the “first human clone” was clearly not a legitimate news story. Without peer-reviewed supporting proof first verified by the scientific community, all Boisselier’s statements amounted to was little more than prattle about her fanciful beliefs and “spiritual leader.”

And as for Boisselier, she is a major stockholder in Clonaid and stands to personally benefit from recent media exposure. The Clonaid CEO is also a member of the “Order of Angels” waiting to be a “hostess” for humanity’s space alien creators when they land on Earth, reports the Miami Herald.

How could someone like this be taken seriously as a credible source by a news network?

Obviously, CNN should have done the necessary research before giving Clonaid airtime. And by failing to do so CNN appears to be more like a supermarket tabloid than a cable news network.

What’s next on CNN, “Woman impregnated by outer space alien through artificial insemination gives birth”? Wait a minute, that’s Rael’s other story.