FRANCE – A trial has begun in which four former members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church are accused of torture for allegedly carrying out a week-long crucifixion-style exorcism on a 19-year-old girl.
Three men and a woman are accused of tying a Cameroonian teenager in the position of Christ on the cross and keeping her bound to a mattress for a week, believing that she was possessed by the devil. One of the accused is the victim’s former boyfriend. All four are facing charges of kidnapping and acts of torture and barbarism.
The victim, who is referred to only as Antoinette, was discovered by police at a housing estate in the southern Paris suburbs. She was reportedly emaciated, dehydrated, in a state of shock and showed signs of having been beaten. She testified that her captors fed her small amounts of oil and water to keep her alive.
Eric Deron, Antoinette’s former boyfriend, is the alleged instigator and prosecutors say he had delusions of being a prophet on a divine mission. According to the accused, Deron organized the exorcism after he was allegedly jumped by the victim who was babbling incomprehensibly. He reportedly saw this attack as a sign that she was possessed by the devil.
The four accused have denied all acts of violence against the victim claiming that she consented to the exorcism. The trial is set to go until Friday.