Salem witch drama unfolds
Woman charged after entrails left on doorstep
SALEM, Mass. — A selfproclaimed high priestess of Salem witches and a second person were accused of tossing raccoon parts on the doorsteps of businesses, allegedly as part of a Wiccan community feud.
Sharon Graham, 46, and a fellow Wiccan, Frederick Purtz, 22, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of littering and malicious destruction of property. Graham also was charged with intimidating a witness.
They were accused of putting a racoon head and entrails on the doorsteps of Angelica of the Angels and the Goddess’ Treasure Chest in May.
The historic seaport, famous for holding witch trials in the 17th century, has an active Wiccan community and thriving witch-related tourism.
Lawyers for Graham and Purtz said the charges were “sensationalized” and argued that the malicious destruction charge wasn’t valid because the storefronts weren’t permanently damaged.
A witness, Richard Watson, told police he accompanied Graham, Purtz and other people when they put the raccoon remains on the doorsteps. He said Graham hoped to frame a Wiccan businessman who had fired Graham from a psychic telephone business last spring.
Watson also said Graham had a disagreement with the owners of the two targeted businesses over proposed regulations that would limit the number of psychics who come to the city during the Halloween season. He said he was told the group had found the raccoon dead.
David Gavegnano, a lawyer for Graham, and Sean Wynne, a lawyer for Purtz, did not immediately return calls Thursday seeking further comment.
Wynne told The Boston Her- ald said there were likely “internal issues within the Wiccan community,” but the tossing of raccoon entrails may be a “bastardization” of Wiccan practice because the religion doesn’t condone harming others.
ALBANY — A south Georgia church that made the inspirational movie “Facing the Giants” has netted $855,000 from the film’s DVD release and plans to use the money to reduce debt and help complete an 82-acre sports complex, the church’s pastor says.
The Rev. Michael Catt told the congregation of Sherwood Baptist Church on Aug. 19 that the church had received an initial advance royalty check for $855,000 from Provident Films.
Catt said $600,000 of the royalty payment will be applied to church debt. The remaining $255,000 will be used for the sports complex.
Made by Sherwood with an amateur cast and crew at a cost of about $100,000, “Facing the Giants” played at theaters nationwide but showed no profits from the theatrical release after distribution expenses, officials said.
The movie focuses on a chronically losing high-school football team and the personal problems of its coach. The coach turns to God to resolve his problems and persuades the team to become winners by doing the same.
The DVD has been translated into 10 languages and is being used as a motivational tool by churches, groups and schools, church officials said.
Falwell insurance policy
LYNCHBURG, Va. — The Rev. Jerry Falwell had life insurance policies worth $34 million and the money has been used to erase the debt of Liberty University, the school he founded.
The televangelist’s son, Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., said his father had named the university and the Thomas Road Baptist Church as beneficiaries to protect their future.
The policies left $29 million to Liberty; its debt had reached $82 million in 1992, but the school had succeeded in paying off a significant amount before the elder Falwell’s death.
Another $5 million went to the 22,000-member Thomas Road congregation, which Falwell had led, according to the News & Advance of Lynchburg.
Falwell Jr. said his father used to joke that when he “kicked the bucket” the school would get a windfall. Falwell, a founder and leader of the Moral Majority, died last May.