24 May 2011

Mother pleads guilty to child cruelty and neglect for religious ritual abuse she believed would protect her daughter

The Record  -  New Jersey       May 23, 2011

Mother pleads guilty over Paterson bloody religious ritual


A mother who exposed her 7-year-old daughter to bloody religious initiation rituals in Paterson that included making her watch a chicken being sacrificed and feeding the girl its heart pleaded guilty in state court Monday to cruelty and neglect of a child.

A Paterson couple who were practitioners of the Palo Mayombe religion and who the mother asked to perform the ritual also were accepted into pre-trial intervention Monday for one year.

Yenitza Colichon, 33, of Jamesburg, Pa., brought her daughter to the Paterson home of Julio Cano, 32, and Zahira Cano, 25, in May 2007. Prosecutors have said Colichon was about to begin Army basic training and sought to protect her daughter while she was away at that training by cloaking her in the Palo Mayombe religion, which originated in central Africa.

The girl told a teacher after the ritual that she was having nightmares and felt she could not talk to her mother, Del Russo said. The state Division of Youth and Family Services was contacted, and investigators executed a search warrant at the Canos’ Pacific Street home, where the ritual had occurred.

Dolls, a shrine, religious statues, bones, machetes and bundles of sticks bearing numbers and names were among artifacts found at the home. The items, some of which had blood and animal hair on them, matched a description the girl gave about what she saw at the home.

Colichon and the Canos each were indicted on charges of cruelty and neglect of a child and child endangerment.

Joseph Del Russo, Passaic County chief assistant prosecutor, said outside of court Monday that Julio Cano has since parted ways with the Palo Mayombe religion. Under the terms of their acceptance into the pre-trial intervention program Monday, the Canos each will be required to serve a probation-like term for one year after which their records would be clear.

Colichon, meanwhile, faces up to five years’ probation for her guilty plea when she is sentenced before state Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Portelli in Paterson on June 24.

Attorney Joseph Manzo of Rockaway unsuccessfully argued before Portelli during a pre-trial motion in January to dismiss child-endangerment charges against Colichon because her freedom of religion protects her from prosecution. Manzo argued that other religious rituals — such as Jewish circumcision — might be considered unsafe, bloody or gruesome, yet are not subject to prosecution. The initiation ritual at issue is as necessary to the faith as a Catholic baptism, he said. New Jersey child endangerment laws are too vague and broad, and prosecutors apply the law to some religious rituals, but not to others, Manzo said.

In addition to being fed the chicken’s heart, the rituals included making the girl witness the decapitation of a goat, and the scratching of a religious symbol into her skin.

Del Russo argued during that pre-trial hearing that the Jewish circumcision ceremony is not comparable and that the mother’s actions were emotionally and physically dangerous to the child, which is a crime. Portelli agreed. In the Jewish bris, for example, the circumcision is performed by a trained, sometimes licensed practitioner under sterile conditions, the judge said.

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  1. Traditional healer gets 8 yrs IHL for causing bodily injury to babies in witchcraft ritual

    by Malawi News Agency, The Maravi Post March 13, 2013

    THYOLO--Thyolo Second Grade Magistrate, Lameck Mkwapatira has sentenced a traditional healer to eight years imprisoned with hard labour for grievously wounding two 10-month-old babies on their buttocks when he alleged to have been cleansing them from witchcraft.

    Mkwapatira convicted and sentenced Frank Josamu, 35, who was arrested on February 21 for wounding the children in witchcraft cleansing which ended in the babies sustaining second degree burns that covered 18 percent of their total body surface area which includes the entire bums.

    Police Prosecutor, Inspector Lloyd Kachotsa told the court that the accused deserved a custodial sentence due to the permanent scars inflicted on the unsuspecting children and for not adhering to messages carried on the extensive advocacy on the issues of witchcraft.

    Kachotsa said the culprit deserved a stiffer sentence because the children are in great pain and he also tendered a medical report which disclosed that the children are still suffering in hospital because the wounds are also getting infected with stools when they are defecating.

    However, Josamu who pleaded guilty to the offence told the court to be lenient with him claiming he did not choose to cleanse the people, but was forced by their insistence and that he looks after orphans and his children who will suffer if he is imprisoned.

    When passing the 8 year sentence, Mkwapatira said the convict should spend time in custody for wounding innocent souls who were not aware of what is happening and did not deny as they cannot make decisions of their own. He added that the wounds have inflicted permanent scars on their bodies and it is not certain if they will be potent in future.

    He slapped him with 8 years for causing harm to each child, but the sentences will run concurrently .

    In the cleansing, the traditional healer brought the people from Ntholola Village who comprised 10 children aged between 10 months and 4 years to be exorcized by sitting steaming their buttocks.

    Josamu hails from Namagony a Village, Sub T/A Nanseta in Thyolo.


  2. Boy Dies From Drinking 18 Litres Of Holy Water

    By Khaosod Online, Thailand October 8, 2013

    A 16 year old boy has died from drinking 18 litres of water, which was claimed to possess magical power, during an exorcist ceremony in Songkhla province.

    According to the father of the victim, the boy and his twin brother had joined their family members in a religious ceremony which was held inside the rubber farm owned by the family in Mueang Sadao district on 28 September.

    Ms. Karnchana [surname unclear], 36, reportedly led the ceremony, telling the participants that the rituals would cleanse their souls of sinful elements.

    The participants are said to have mediated in the morning and afternoon, consumed vegetarian diet in the mid-day, and engaged in an exorcist ceremony in the evening which took place from 16.00 to midnight.

    According to the victim′s father, Ms. Karnchana instructed the pilgrims to drink a barrel full of "holy water", 18 litres in capacity, before midnight of each day in order to release the evil spirits from their bodies. The participants were also reportedly instructed to drink the water until they vomited.

    The older twin said the victim suffered seizure after he drank the barrel of water on the first night, but the leading necromancer, Ms. Karnchana, managed to revive him and told his relatives that the spirits were attempting to flee from the boy′s body.

    On the night of 5 October, the older twin said, the boy suffered another seizure and fainted as he drank the water. He was later revived by other participants, who were convinced that a "tiger ghost" was leaving his body, and forced to drink more holy water once he regained consciousness.

    The boy reportedly fainted, and was revived to drink the water, for three times before he eventually lost his consciousness for the final time around midnight. After failed attempts to resuscitate him, the family members finally brought him to hospital at 03.00, where the medical staff pronounced him dead.

    The older twin was also sent to hospital for injuries he suffered from the holy water consumption. His father said Ms. Karnchana slipped past the family members to visit the boy, reportedly telling him she had seen his twin brother "dressed in beautiful garments" in heaven.

    Doctors at the hospital said the deceased victim suffered from lung flooding and heart failure which was caused by excessive water consumption.

    Pol.Cpt. Pawich Ritthamnark of Sadao Police Station told our correspondent he is seeking for further evidence that ties Ms. Karnchana with the boy′s death, in order to issue arrest warrant against her.

    He said he had interrogated the necromancer but she had insisted that she did not coerce anyone to drink the holy water throughout the ceremony.

    Millions of Thais of Chinese descent are observing the holy season during which they abstain from meat and dairy products, and engage in various religious ceremonies.