Salem witch drama un­folds

Wo­man charged af­ter en­trails left on doorstep

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

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.

Church film

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.

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