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Branded a witch, a 10-year-old girl was tortured by her evangelical father

THE nonsensical belief that children can be possessed by evil supernatural forces is increasingly being spread in the UK by evangelical preachers with African backgrounds.

The problem was highlighted a year ago by a Channel 4 Dispatches team – and this week we were reminded of the devastating effects of child witchcraft belief when an evangelist church leader was jailed for eight-and-a-half years for torturing his 10-year-old daughter.

The man, who came to the UK from the Congo, kept the girl prisoner for four days with no food because he was convinced she was a witch.

According to this report, the twisted 39-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, dripped boiling hot plastic over his terrified daughter’s feet and beat her senseless after she became “possessed by evil spirits”.

The girl was held prisoner and force-fed olive oil and milk for four days after her father became convinced she had powers to make people fall asleep, Coventry Crown Court heard.

Interviewed by Dispatches, this woman said "church leaders are such strong people in our community"

Interviewed by Dispatches, this woman said "church leaders are such strong people in our community"

The preacher admitted child cruelty. His second wife, the girl’s step-mother, admitted wilful neglect of a child and was jailed for four years.

Sentencing the man, Judge Peter Ross told him:

Your daughter, in the last three to four weeks that she lived with you, was subjected to the most horrific torture. She did not even have a bed to sleep on. You bound her, you gagged her, you beat her, you whipped her and then kept her prisoner with no food.

It is hard to imagine any man, let alone a father, quite deliberately inflicting such calculated cruelty on a child. It is your beliefs which led you to believe she was possessed by evil spirits. These beliefs are frankly something an intelligent man would know were nonsense.

The court heard that the girl arrived in Britain from the Congo in May 2007 and moved to live with her father and step-mother in Coventry.

Sally Hancox, prosecuting, told the court the girl was subjected to daily beatings which included being hit with a piece of wood and whipped with computer cables.

She said:

The girl was singled out by her father. On one occasion he knelt down in front of her so he could trap her foot before putting a plastic bag in a candle and dripping the hot plastic onto her feet.

The court heard the girl’s hands were so badly burned after being held over a candle the blisters protruded two inches out from her palms.

On another occasion the man cut his daughter’s shoulder with a knife and smashed her head against a wall before standing on her face.

The court heard the girl was kept prisoner in her home on May 21 last year when she got into a fight at school with another pupil.

Her father locked her in her bedroom and forced her to drink olive oil and milk. She was not given food for four days and only allowed to go to the toilet twice.

Hancox said:

When the officer examined her room he found clothes and school bags sodden with urine. Obviously she had needed to relieve herself in her room but attempted to hide it.

The man sat impassively in the witness box and at points laughed when the crimes against his daughter was read out. He was ordered to serve half his sentence before he is let out on license.

According to the Metropolitan Police there have been almost 60 cases of child abuse related to witchcraft or possession reported to Scotland Yard between 2006 and 2008.

Dispatches reported last December:

Few [witchcraft cases] receive much publicity but perhaps the best known involved eight-year-old Victoria Climbie. Branded a witch by a local pastor in London in 2000, she was tortured to death by her guardians. More recently, the torture and abuse of ‘Child B’ who was accused of witchcraft in London in 2005, and the torture of two boys by their father in Bradford linked to a belief in witchcraft and possession highlight a growing problem.

It is not illegal to accuse a child of being a witch in the UK and members of the UK African community openly acknowledge the growing influence and powers of the pastors – that allegations of witchcraft are taking root here and something needs to be done.

One women interviewed for Dispatches said:

They’re brainwashing them with ideas that they can be witches or possessed with evil spirits. I think we’re finding it hard to see a way out because church leaders are such strong people and are people to look up to in our community.

Dispatches added:

Moreover, with films promoting the idea of child witches being openly sold on London street markets and more extreme Nigerian preachers looking to set up churches in Britain and elsewhere, the problem will only get worse.

Church leaders are such strong people in our community

Watch: video interviews on the growing UK problem

Hat Tip: Stuart W

36 Responses to “Branded a witch, a 10-year-old girl was tortured by her evangelical father”

  1. Buffy says:

    Feel that Christian love.

  2. mikespeir says:

    This is the kind of thing that makes me too angry to comment coherently. Really, what is there to say? Still, how could I not say something?

    Okay, I’ll say something. This is one of those cases where we have to spell Evil with a capital E–an Evil being manifested by the very ones who claim to be delivered from it!

  3. ZombieHunter says:

    How completely utterly fucking disgusting and vile it really makes my blood boil when any innocent child is put through such terror but for own parents to beleive she was a witch is just beyond stupidity somebody should remind these idiots that witch hunting went out of fashion here at least a couple of centuries ago.

    I’m curious to know what made them think the girl was a witch, did they catch her reading a harry potter book or something??

  4. Urmensch says:

    I actually had someone try to argue that Europe in general and Britain in particular would be saved by the Christian missionaries who would be coming from Africa.

    I actually brought up the particular case of the death of Victoria Climbie. The reports at the time skirted around the religious aspect of her torture.
    The particular woman arguing with me at the time fell back on the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy.

    When I pushed her to see what she actually believed she admitted believing that possession by evil spirits was real, that children could be possessed as well as adults, but said that only prayers should be used as exorcism.

    Salvation indeed.

  5. Broga says:

    mikespeir. Same here. This kind of stuff just does my head in. That kind of agony on a child. What is does do is stiffen my will, if it needed it, to hit back at these superstitious sadists as much as possible. Bloody religion.

  6. Stonyground says:

    I hope you new atheists aren’t going to start getting all shrill and strident again. Remember to keep respecting people’s deeply and sincerely held beliefs.

  7. LeProf says:

    I wonder how long before this guy claims he was discriminated against because of his religious beliefs? Where are the Christian Law Centre when you need them?

  8. Broga says:

    Stonyground. Many thanks. We were becoming a little shrill. Perhaps a few minutes by a supporter of demon possession on Thought for the Day might help. What do you think? They seem to miss some of “these sincerely held beliefs” and they told me that “people of faith” were eligible. These demon possession believers are undoubtedly people of faith and permissible on the programme: the real horrors who must be censored are we atheists.

  9. Neal O says:

    This is just outrageous! I am struggling to contain the anger. The keys on my keyboard are flying everywhere. Also I did not know about the Victoria Climbie link.

    Where are the Catholics condemnations. Rowan Williams are you up on your pulpit about this? I think not. Oh how the common cause of the so called faith community will transcend the condemnation of evil again.

    I feel the need to be strident!

  10. asquith says:

    Yes, & what are we doing letting people with such primitive views… be they Christian, Muslim or whatever sub-species of fuckwit, into this country in the first place?

    This is the reason why we have gone from being an almost wholly secular country to one in which utter dimbulbs are listened to with “respect”.

  11. barriejohn says:

    Urmensch, you’re spot on! The fundamentalists whom I used to know think exactly that. They say that Britain has now become so evil, due mainly to the influence of liberal ideas and wishy-washy clerics, that instead of us sending missionaries out to evangelize the world, God is raising up faithful Christians in Africa and other countries, with a love of the country that “saved” them from paganism, to proclaim the truth here, and cause this once-great country to “return to the Lord”! God help us all!!

  12. Tim Danaher says:

    Well, I’ll try again, shall I?

    Anyone notice this gem?

    “He was ordered to serve half his sentence before he is let out on license.”

    Hmmm.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Are you having problems as well, Tim? Comments of mine keep disappearing, and I don’t know whether to repost them or wait to see whether they will show up again later!

  14. Buffy says:

    I hope you new atheists aren’t going to start getting all shrill and strident again. Remember to keep respecting people’s deeply and sincerely held beliefs.

    I fart in your general direction.

  15. dogon says:

    I hope you new atheists aren’t going to start getting all shrill and strident again. Remember to keep respecting people’s deeply and sincerely held beliefs ???????
    Stonyground……………..I do not give a flying fuck what your faith or beliefs are …but if your beliefs hurt someone else then you need some serious help…as in a shrink…..for that matter all believers need help in that aspect of their lives.
    Come to think of it Stonyground …your remarks could have have been intended any other way except as an attempt at humour…way out of place on this on this subject….if you have children as I do this sort of item just boils me over….as of course does religion in general.

  16. Me says:

    The guy clearly needs mental help, as he is quite clearly mentally disturbed.

    I have never seen much difference between religious belief and a mental disorder. Hell, the DSM definition for “Delusion” basically used to be a description of religious beliefs (belief that it is true, that it never changes, that it is impossible to prove wrong etc…) and then have “…except for religious beliefs” after it.

  17. h. allison says:

    Stoneyground, are u kidding me?? Respect for ones’ crazy beliefs that would cause a childs harm. WTF, you religous nutcakes need to take a step back and see what this is doing to innocent children. This is crazy and criminal and needs to prosecuted to the nth degree.

  18. Perspix says:

    @h.allison – Be cool. Stoney is being tongue-in-cheek. I’m certain he’s as disgusted as you and I, or any other half-decent, sane human being.

    I’m thinking the same as Asquith. Why do we allow psychotic people to enter the UK?

  19. Angela_K says:

    I dare say the people of Africa were quite happy without christianity until a bunch of zealots from Europe descended upon them in the 18th & 19th centuries. The Africans have twisted and combined their spiritual beliefs with the jebus rubbish to create a deadly cocktail.

  20. barriejohn says:

    That’s a very good point, @Me. The current DSM definition states that “a person is deluded if some professional in the psychiatric profession considers that he is deluded” (a bit of paraphrasing going on there, of course!). However, look at this definition of “delusion” from MedicineNet.com:

    “A false personal belief that is not subject to reason or contradictory evidence and is not explained by a person’s usual cultural and religious concepts (so that, for example, it is not an article of faith). A delusion may be firmly maintained in the face of incontrovertible evidence that it is false.”

    Take out the italicized exceptions and you have a description of a great number of religious adherents!

  21. barriejohn says:

    What is wrong with this thread? The comment I made last night has just turned up, along with several others I believe, but the one I have just posted has disappeared before I had a chance to edit it!

  22. sailor1031 says:

    Seems to be time to licence “clergy” with loss of licence upon conviction of a crime – be it torturing children, stealing the collection monies, blaspheming against atheists or the ever-popular kiddie-fiddling. BTW this guy was from Congo – can just anybody enter the UK and setup shop?

  23. rog says:

    I hope that this guy gets some serious re-education in prison.
    Whilst we might not be able to tell people in Africa what they can & can’t do, surely we must have laws in Blighty that prevent a church official from encouraging child abuse – must it not fall well outside the bounds of freedom of speech & religion? Or am I just being naive?

  24. barriejohn says:

    As I suspected, I have made a complete cock-up of my earlier comment, which I was unable to edit. The italics in the second paragraph should have started with the words “and is not explained…”.

    So, the MedicineNet.com definition of a delusion, without the religious exception, reads: “A false personal belief that is not subject to reason or contradictory evidence. A delusion may be firmly maintained in the face of incontrovetible evidence that it is false.” As @Me says, how does this differ from religious belief?What I had before was garbage, so I hope this comes out all right!!

  25. barriejohn says:

    I have posted a correction to my earlier comment re the MedicineNet.com. definition of Delusion. It should show up later!

  26. Gutts says:

    I see there are some expert troll feeders around here. Maybe if we keep feeding them, we could domesticate and selectively breed them into something cute and cuddly. Not that this could be used as evidence for evolution, of course. ;)

    Or perhaps Stonyground was just ‘Poe’tically expressing the lunacy that unconsidered faith engenders? :)

    gutts

  27. Broga says:

    I thought Stonyground was taking the piss? Just demonstrates the problem. Religious beliefs are now so beyond the pale that I cannot separate them from someone sending them up.

    Maybe I just lack judgement.

  28. Gutts says:

    I thought Stonyground was taking the piss?
    That’s the way I read it, too. :)

    gutts

  29. Broga says:

    Gutts. Well, thanks for that. Perhaps Stonyground will tell us? It read like a clear send up to me.

  30. barriejohn says:

    I immediately assumed that Stonyground was being cynical, but then I know what his posts are like!

  31. h. allison says:

    Perspix, yes he was probably being tongue in cheek, and for letting them in the UK, dunno we have enough of those whack jobs here in USA to fill a land fill. After all our great USA have been the birth place of many other religious cults that lay claim on salvation!!! Arrgh, does it ever end??

  32. Bryan says:

    i love how 1 ” Evangelical” does a terrible thing and immediatly a bunch of “athiests” are there to make fun of him. Even though that’s 1 “Evangelical” evil parent compared to like 90000 “Athiest” evil parents, but since the ” athiest ” doesn’t live under the same rules the ” Evangelical” does it’s ok.

    We are all imperfect(Romans 3:23)

    Also i have a question. You guys are atheists, so who cares if someone does something wrong…..we’re all going to the same place (dead in teh ground no afterlife) so who cares, especially you guys. This man has the same fate as everyone else (according to your beliefs), there is no heaven or hell(according to your beliefs) so who cares.

    Hitler was an athiest, let’s read an article about that. Let’s read about how an ” athiest” launched a genocide that killed 6 million

  33. Bryan says:

    also, why can’t we just have an unbiased article that tells us the facts, and we can make our own opinion. Instead of a terrible piece of writing with an obvious slant

  34. Barry Duke says:

    Bryan, who said this?: “I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.”
    And this?: “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.”
    Those, my ignorant friend, are the words of Adolf Hitler (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/adolf_hitler.html)
    Think twice before you again use Hitler as an example of atheism!

  35. Bryan says:

    That is the point of mine you are refuting? The little bit at the end about hitler? Wow, everyone knows Hitler was a big athiest/evolutionist and believed in eugenics ( which start Planned Parenthood).

    Why don’t you try to refute my first couple sentences, or my second post?