When someone is ill, call a doctor
But if they are possessed by demons only an exorcist will do
THOSE were the words spoken this week by a lawyer representing a group of four French people accused of kidnapping and torturing a 19-year-old woman during a shockingly violent crucifixion-style exorcism which lasted seven days.
The lawyer, Jacques Bourdais, said the four – three men and a woman – had acted in good faith.
To them, she was possessed, that is why they did not call a doctor. You call a doctor when someone is sick, when someone is possessed you exorcise them.
The group, who had been members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, went on trial on Monday in France. The trial, according to this report, was due to end today.
The four, including the victim’s former boyfriend, were charged with kidnapping, acts of torture and barbarism.
When police discovered the woman at a housing estate in Grigny in the southern Paris suburbs, she was emaciated, dehydrated, in a state of shock and showed signs of having been beaten.
The victim later testified that her captors had kept her alive by feeding her small amounts of oil and water.
Her former boyfriend, Eric Deron, is accused of being the instigator of the assault and, according to prosecutors, had delusions of being a sort of prophet on a divine mission.
According to statements made by the accused, the exorcism was organised after the victim allegedly leapt on Deron whilst babbling incomprehensibly, an attack he took as evidence she had been possessed by the Devil.
The four, all of French Caribbean origin, deny any acts of violence against the woman and say she had consented to the exorcism.
The victm met her alleged assailants three years before the 2011 attack through the Seventh Day Adventists, a US-based millennialist Protestant church which has millions of followers worldwide but only 13,000 in France.
The church says the people involved in the case were all expelled a year before the alleged attack and has stressed that exorcism of this kind cannot be justified by any of its teachings.
In September, The Local reported how terrified residents of Limoux, south-western France, alerted police of a possible murder in progress after hearing blood-curdling screams from a building in the Saint Antoine neighbourhood of the town.
Police officers, arriving at the address in question, however, discovered it was the home of the Evangelical Assembly of the Deliverance.
What greeted them was not a grisly murder scene, or a horrific episode of domestic violence, but rather the church’s pastor, locked in fierce battle with a “demon” which had possessed a member of the congregation.
In March, The Local reported how an eight-year-old boy was left for dead in a hotel carpark, after his father and aunt attempted an exorcism on him, believing he had been possessed by evil spirits.
Said one police officer:
He was forced to hold out his arms and tilt his head back. While his aunt beat him with a bat, his father whipped him with a belt.
• The photo used to illustrate this report shows a pregnant woman being subjected to a violent exorcism by two pastors at a church in London’s East End.