A young woman was subjected to a violent crucifixion-style exorcism by four religious extremists, a court in France heard on Monday, October 7, 2013.
Three men and a woman belonging to the Seventh Day Adventist Church are accused of kidnapping, and acts of torture and barbarism against the 19-year-old, identified only as Antoinette.
The young woman was barely alive when police found her in a flat in a housing estate in the Paris suburb of Grigny.
Her tormentors are accused of tying her up like Jesus on the cross, and keeping Antoinette in the same position for seven days during 2011. They believed that this would exorcise her from her sins, and get rid of the devil inside her. Antoinette was regularly beaten, and only allowed small amounts of cooking oil and water so as to stay alive.
The victim’s former boyfriend and the defendant, who is thought to have instigated the assault, believed he was on a divine mission.
The boyfriend is on trial along with his mother, and two other men, all from the French Caribbean.
According to statements read out in court, the boyfriend was convinced his girlfriend was possessed because “she leapt on him” while shouting incomprehensibly.
She had met her alleged assailants in 2008, through the Seventh Day Adventists, an America-based Protestant church which has millions of followers throughout the world.
Barrister for the defendants told French news agency AFP: “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 barrister said the victim “was very much in love with Eric. They all shared strong religious convictions, and a thorough understanding of the biblical texts.”
The accused all deny any wrongdoing against the woman, claiming she consented to the exorcism.
A spokesman for the Seventh Day Adventists said all the men had been expelled from church before the alleged attack. He said that what happened had nothing to do with their teaching.