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French Guyana - exorcism

Church members jailed after exorcism kills teen

Article published on the 2009-06-25 Latest update 2009-06-25 11:20 TU

Cayenne courthouse, French Guyana, where the accused were sentenced(Photo: F. Farine)

Cayenne courthouse, French Guyana, where the accused were sentenced
(Photo: F. Farine)

A French Guyana court has sentenced four members of the Celestial Church of Christ on Wednesday for performing an exorcism on an epileptic teen in 2005 that ended in his death. The members were handed down terms of three to 12 years for "wilful violence that caused death" for 15-year-old Roger Bosse.

Bosse was tortured for three days by church members, who slapped him, beat him with reeds and straps and he was attached to a cross for the final two nights before his death.

Bosse's mother, who suffered from mental illness, approached church members at the end of 2004 in order to get treatment for her son, who she considered "possessed by the devil." They decided to exorcise him.

The head of the parish, Maurice Sainte-Pierre, discovered him dead, gagged, and still attached to the cross. The autopsy revealed multiple bruises, a large hematoma over one eye and blows to the head. The coroner concluded that he could have been suffocated.

Sainte-Pierre was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while the others were handed down sentences of 9, 7 and 3 years, including two with suspended sentences.

Their lawyer announced after the verdict that he would appeal the court decision.

The Celestial Church of Christ was founded in Benin in 1947, and claims millions of followers worldwide.