26 Nov 2007

Girl's eyes gouged to get rid of devil

Dominion Post - New Zealand
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

by Emily Watt

A 14-year-old who nearly died during an exorcism needed emergency treatment to save her sight after relatives scratched at her eyes to remove the devil.

The girl is a cousin of Janet Moses, the woman who died during the October 12 ceremony to lift a Maori curse. The girl had chunks gouged from her eyeballs.

The Dominion Post has learnt that her family believed they saw the devil in her eyes - and tried to scratch out the curse with their fingers. Relatives also syringed water into her eyes and poured it down her throat in an attempt to drive out the curse.

Ms Moses, 22, a mother of two, also had her eyes scratched and water syringed into them before she drowned as up to 40 relatives watched. Members of her family say Ms Moses was "marked up" on her upper arms, forearms and torso with bruises that they say were caused as she was being held down. After her death, family members continued to work on her young cousin in the same way.

Family members gazed into others' eyes at the ceremony to judge whether they were cursed, treating any believed tainted.

Another five people, aged 14, 15, 16, 29 and 31 were also treated in the curse-lifting ceremony, but not harmed.

The 14-year-old was taken to Hutt Hospital close to death.

An eye specialist from Wellington Hospital was called in to treat her injuries.

She needed to wear eye patches and remained in hospital for several days.

It is understood that doctors believe the girl will not lose her sight.

The teen was later taken into Child, Youth and Family care. The agency has reportedly been monitoring the family out of concern for other young people involved.

Child, Youth and Family would not confirm whether she was still in care.

A spokeswoman said the girl was in a safe and secure environment and the agency was working with the family.

The curse was believed to have started after Ms Moses' sister stole a stone lion statue from the Greytown pub.

Ms Moses' two daughters, aged one and three, are being cared for by Janet's mother.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Levy said police were still working through evidence, seeking legal advice and consulting Maori experts.

"We know what's happened, but we're assessing the culpability of individuals," he said.



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