In a bizarre and disturbing series of events, an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been put on trial for torturing and starving his 11-year-old son, whom he considered to be possessed by the devil. The officer also attempted to enlist his brother — a Catholic priest — to perform an exorcism on the child.
“I thought the devil’s inside him. I saw his eyes and heard his voice,” the Mountie (whose identity is being withheld for the sake of his son) testified in court Wednesday.
Conflicting reports are not clear regarding whether the exorcism was actually performed.
An article in the National Post states that the exorcism was carried out “sometime before September 2012,” before the Mountie chained up his son in their Kanata basement, while CBC News has reported that the priest denied performing the exorcism.
The boy, who is now 14, told investigators he recalls his father and his priest-uncle using a crucifix from the kitchen wall to perform the Rite of Exorcism on him.
During cross-examination on Wednesday, attorney Anne London Weinstein, lawyer for the Mountie’s wife, asked the man whether he had approached his brother about performing an exorcism on his son.
“Yes but he (the priest) freaked out and told me to calm down,” the man replied. “But I’d seen his eyes and heard his voice and I told my brother: ‘You’re going to have to exorcise him because the devil is in him.’”
The grim details emerging in the case suggest a pattern of such extreme cruelty that investigators have called it the “the worst case of abuse” they had ever seen.
The 44-year-old Mountie has admitted to burning the genitals of his shackled, naked son with a barbecue lighter as a punishment for his “impure thoughts.” He also kept the boy on a starvation diet such that he weighed only 50 pounds on the day he escaped from his confinement. In 2013, the child somehow managed to extricate himself from his fetters and went in search of water while his family was out shopping.
The court was shown a unsettling cellphone video of the 11-year-old boy taken in the basement of the family home. In it, the naked child is chained up, crying and pleading with his off-camera father.
When confronted with the heinous nature of his actions by Crown Attorney Michael Boyce, the Mountie appeared visibly shaken and said that he was a different man then.
“I was in a deep fog. I didn’t appreciate what I was doing to my son,” the man testified.
He also stated that at the time he did not understand that hitting and burning his son was criminal and that he could be charged. “I thought then I was morally justified in doing it,” he said.
Both the Mountie and his wife—the boy’s stepmother—have been charged with aggravated assault, forcible confinement, and failure to provide necessities of life. In addition, the father is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm, and three counts of assault with a weapon.
According to the Mountie’s testimony, his wife was not present when he tortured the child, and was unaware of the extent of his abuse.
The man and his wife have pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his lawyers are suggesting that the man suffered from Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD) and therefore lacked the necessary mental capacity to form intent.
In his testimony, the Mountie said that his condition emerged from his own problematic childhood in war-torn Lebanon, where he says he was raped as a boy and witnessed dead bodies and bombs going off.
London-Weinstein asked the Mountie whether he now believed that his son was the devil.
“No, I don’t know why the hell I thought that,” he said.
Both the man and his wife are currently free on bail and the trial is reportedly scheduled to finish next week.
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