When A Possession Isn’t A Possession

The Times of Malta and other outlets, milked a rape case for all it was worth as Media pundits are wont to do, a story that probably should have been handled like any other that involves sexual assault. But this story had a unique angle, one the judge referred to as macabre. You see, the accused was said to be demonically possessed, while the defense claimed it was the victims who were playing demonic games.

Our sordid story begins in 2019 B.C. (Before Covid) when a teenager was charged with assault of his girlfriend and her Mother. The Times writes:

The 18-year old unemployed Cospicua resident, whose name publication was banned under court order, was remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to rape and other charges of a sexual nature mingled with alleged occult phenomena.

He was also charged with the rape of his mother’s girlfriend, besides holding her and her daughter against their will, forcing both women to perform indecent acts, slightly injuring them and causing them to fear violence.

He was further charged with having engaged in sexual acts with his 15-year old girlfriend, with whom he had been living at her mother’s home.

Prosecuting inspector Eman Hayman explained how the police had been contacted by the 15-year-old, who complained of the young man’s violent treatment and controlling behavior.

Inspector Hayman went on to detail how the Mother was a practitioner of the occult and the defendant used this knowledge to instill fear in the 15-year old girlfriend claiming that her Mother had opened a doorway to Satan himself. Testimony indicated that the defendant played on his girlfriend’s beliefs to coerce her into, not only sex with him, but incestuous acts with her Mother as well.

In one of the earliest hearings on the case, four years ago, attorneys for the defense petitioned the court to order a psychiatric examination of the victims, as the Mother had been admitted to a local hospital up to twenty-five times, but the lawyers admitted they did not know the nature of the hospital admissions. The prosecution objected on the claim that the defense was trying to intimidate the victims, resulting in magistrate Rachel Montebello denying the defense’s request.

The prosecution made it’s own requests of the court, asking for a technological expert to preserve video evidence. A Dr. Azzopardi, presumably testifying for the defense stated; “It requires particular attention because the occult is involved. This was not a mere hobby: an exorcist had been summoned and had to celebrate Mass in the property. Objects flew, voices in strange languages were heard. This is why there are certain injuries.” We only make the presumption that Dr. Azzopardi was making this statement as an expert, the Times piece was not clear, a Jason Azzopardi was a member of defense counsel, along with Kris Busietta and Julian Farrugia.

Matthew Agius of Malta Today reports his version of this original hearing, pointing out that the defendant had been denied bail after; “… he was arraigned over a sickening case of sexual abuse, allegedly involving the occult.”
Agius writes that Inspector Eman Hayman told the judge the following;

“When I say ‘control’, I mean that the mother has a hobby of practicing the occult. The control would happen because the accused would play on her superstitions by saying that she had opened the door to the devil. He took advantage of her. He would use a particular voice. This was all done to satisfy the man’s sexual fantasies. He would manipulate the woman, giving her all types of commands, ranging from the simple to the sexual.

“He would give the girl commands to have sex with her mother,” the inspector went on. “On one occasion he had ordered the daughter to penetrate her mother with an object, but the daughter could not and so he did it himself.”

In his report Agius leaves no doubt regarding the statement of Dr. Azzopardi as the Times reporter did; he writes of this of what transpired during the hearing:

The defense requested bail. “Neither I nor my colleagues have ever met such a case in over 22 years,” Azzopardi said. “It requires particular attention because the occult is involved. This was not a mere hobby, an exorcist had been summoned and had to celebrate mass in the property. Objects flew, voices in strange languages were heard. The root of the claims is this and this is why there are certain injuries. The accused had been on police bail since last month, had he wanted to speak to one of the witnesses, he had ample time to do that, even though he does not need to,” said the lawyer. “The court should not take the charges at face value, said Azzopardi, reminding that the accused was presumed innocent and that the law was restrictive on when bail should be refused.”

Later in 2019, an Exorcist testified in another hearing, however he painted a different picture of the events. Edwina Brincat, a lawyer herself who has been a court reporter for the Times of Malta, including the original piece that the preceding first above was quoted from, wrote the following of the Priest’s testimony; “’The only ‘paranormal’ activity I noticed was that as I was blessing the house and walked outside, there was nobody, but as soon as I went outside, something fell from the stairs – a broken clock,’ Fr John Vella testified.

Father Vella reported that the Mother had told him she had explored the occult, at times communicating with spirits, using occult paraphernalia, and even placing curses on others. The Exorcist added that she had demonstrated a willingness to repent and has asked him for help.

The Exorcist recanted the claims made by others that they had seen objects fly around the home, glass suddenly breaking and disembodied voices would be heard ordering victims to do unspeakable things.

Defense lawyer Jason Azzopardi asked the Exorcist if he ruled out the possibility of a spirit speaking in a human voice. Edwina Brincat the reporter in this hearing writes; “No,” replied the priest. “But in this case, I didn’t hear this.”

As with so many other cases that were postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis, this case finally went to trial in January of this year. We once again refer to the reports from journalist Matthew Agius from Malta Today, who begins by reviewing the events of the original hearings for his readers, including the sordid details.

After reiterating the nature of the background surrounding the case, Agius continues with the statements of the Inspector who investigated the case:

The victim had told a social worker that she had returned to live with her mother in December 2018. Strange things would happen, lights going out and objects being thrown around, the girl said. At first the voice would command her to do menial tasks, like cleaning, but this later progressed to her and her mother undressing in front of each other.

“On one occasion, the women were ordered to lie face down on the floor…throwing water on them. Then the ‘demon’ had told them to “switch the fan on speed 3”, which theinspector said he thought was a somewhat ridiculous order for a powerful spirit to make.

[…]

“In her account, the mother always expressed her belief that the devil was taking the form of the accused. She would see him [the accused] performing the acts but to her, he was a quiet boy.”

The first time she heard the voice was on 15 August 2018, when it commanded her to tell her daughter to move back in with them. Inspector Hayman explained the mother’s background to the judge. The woman had stronglong-standing occult beliefs and would often use voodoo dolls, dancing rods and take partin other occult practices. “She had been doing this for 10 years but no demon had ever spoken to her. Until the accused moved in, that is.” An exorcist had told the court of magistrates that in his opinion, the woman needed psychological help more than exorcism but had celebrated mass at the house to assuage her fears, added the inspector.

In another article by Matthew Agius titled: ‘Demonic’ rape trial: Exorcist tells judge he saw no satanic activity at home, published by Malta Today, Agius reports the testimony given by the Exorcist Priest. Agius writes:

Continue reading

Wife and Mother of Four Describes Experience of Possession, Exorcism| National Catholic Register

Teresa Piccola’s harrowing experience of possession and liberation through the solemn rite of exorcism is a cautionary tale that ends with great hope.

Source: Wife and Mother of Four Describes Experience of Possession, Exorcism| National Catholic Register

Writing for the National Catholic Register, Bree Dail goes on to report:

Terese Piccola suffered under so many secrets.
“On the outside, I was the perfect mother, the perfect wife,” she said. “Inside, however, I was broken — and what is worse, I thought I deserved it.”

Speaking exclusively with the Register over the last three months, Piccola related details of her life growing up in an Italian-American home in the suburbs of New York, her marriage and motherhood raising four children, and her activism in the pro-life movement and in her parish — all while quietly enduring years of psychological and emotional torture and unexplained physical ailments.

Her world was turned upside down when extraordinary diabolical phenomena began to manifest themselves as attacks not directly on her, but initially on her children. Her plight ended only after an excruciating year and a half-long battle under the guidance of a clinical psychologist — an expert in possession cases — and through the solemn rite of exorcism.

According to Dail, Ms. Piccola relates how she was sexually abused at a young age, then repeatedly raped when she was thirteen.  Apparently–like too many victims report- Continue reading

The Exorcist: The true story behind the movie…

In what is perhaps one of the most remarkable experiences of its kind in recent religious history, a 14-year-old Mount Rainier boy has been freed by a Catholic priest of possession by the devil, Catholic sources reported yesterday.
Only after between 20 and 30 performances of the ancient ritual of exorcism, here and in St. Louis, was the devil finally cast out of the boy, it was said.

In all except the last of these, the boy broke into a violent tantrum of screaming, cursing and voicing of Latin phrases-a language he had never studied-whenever the priest reached the climactic point of the ritual, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, I cast thee (the devil) out.”

In complete devotion to his task, the priest stayed with the boy over a period of two months, during which he said he personally witnessed such manifestations as the bed in which the boy was sleeping suddenly moving across the room.

A Washington Protestant minister had previously reported personally witnessing similar manifestations, including one in which the pallet on which the sleeping boy lay slid slowly across the floor until the boy’s head bumped against a bed, awakening him.

In another instance, reported by the Protestant minister, a heavy armchair in which the boy was sitting with his knees drawn under his chin tilted slowly to one side and fell over, throwing the boy on the floor.

The final rite of exorcism in which the devil was cast from the boy took place in May, it was reported …

A priest here voiced the belief that it was probably the first casting out of the devil through the ritual in at least a century of Catholic activities here and perhaps in the entire history of the church in this area. …[1]

The preceding is an excerpt from a 1949 article published in the Washington Post.  It is said that  William Peter Blatty, who was attending Georgetown University learned of this event and of course we know that years later Blatty wrote the novel that was adapted to be one of the most famous horror films of all time, one that remains today a cult classic.

“The Exorcist” — both the movie and the 1971 novel it’s based on — was written by William Peter Blatty, who first heard about the demonic possession of a 14-year-old boy around 1949, while he was a senior at Georgetown University. Eugene Gallagher, one of his professors and a priest at the Jesuit college, told Blatty, a New York native, about the extraordinary story of the boy who was believed to be in the throes of demonic possession, but had been saved through a series of exorcisms.[2]

Over the years the true identity of the boy has been a highly guarded secret, designed to protect his privacy.  Countless news articles and historical treatises have been written using the pseudonym  Roland or in some cases Robbie Doe.

Photo of someone using Ouija

Hunkeler’s mother thought the strange occurrences were related to the death of an aunt who taught the boy how to use a Ouija board to communicate with spirits. USA Today Network/Sipa USA

It seems that “Robbie” survived the exorcism and grew up to become an engineer and worked at NASA for forty years.  While at NASA he patented a special technology to make space shuttle panels resistant to extreme heat, helping the Apollo missions of the 1960s that put US astronauts on the moon in 1969. [2]

Researchers and would be sleuths managed to track down those with some degree of knowledge about the case and deduced “Robbie’s” true identity.

While exploring the story  for his podcast, The Devil in the Details–JD Sword explains in an article published in the Skeptical Enquirer [3] — found that folks such as investigative journalist Mark Opsasnick, blogger Mike Madonna, and Dr. Sergio A. Rueda had already thoroughly researched the case and cast doubt on many of its claims, as well as having deduced the real identity of Roland Doe.

Sword tell us that Opsasnick spoke to Mt. Rainier resident Dean Landolt, who stated he was “very good friends with Father Hughes, the priest involved in the case. … Father Hughes told me two things: one was that the boy lived in Cottage City, and the other is that he went on to graduate from Gonzaga High and turned out fine.

Opsasnick was able to obtain a list of names of male students that graduated on that year from Gonzaga then he narrowed the list down to only one student who lived in Cottage City and had been born on June 1, 1935: Ronald E. Hunkeler

In his 1999 Strange magazine article, Opsasnick chose not to reveal Ronald’s identity, “for a number of legal reasons” as he explained to me. However, knowing the address made it possible to deduce Ronald’s identity. As author Kyle T. Cobb explained to me, “TW Scott confirmed the address without naming the boy. The address confirmed the last name and parents. The school annuals and interviews with classmates verified the timeline and identity.” In addition, since the publication of the article in Strange, more than just the full twenty-nine-page diary of Father Bishop had become public knowledge. In his book Diabolical Possession and the Case behind the Exorcist, Sergio Rueda interviewed Rev. Schulze on July 25, 1990, and asked him, “Was the name of the family, the Hunkeler family?” to which Schulze replied, “Yes” (Rueda 2018).[3]

Finally we read in the NY Post:

Hunkeler’s female companion confirmed to The Post that he died last year, a month shy of his 86th birthday, after suffering a stroke at his home in Marriottsville, Md., a suburb northwest of Baltimore. He was cremated, she said.

Blatty’s book “The Exorcist” sold more than 13 million copies in the US alone, and the film earned him an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 1974. It was the first horror movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Universal Studios recently announced that it is planning a rebooted trilogy of the film, with Ellen Burstyn reprising her original role as the mother of the possessed teen, beginning in 2023.[2]

As in many of these cases, those who were not eye witnesses to paranormal events and who want to believe that possession and the Devil himself are naught but figments of our imagination, go out of their way to dismiss and discredit the stories told by those who personally were present and observed phenomena that they could not offer a rational explanation for.  Even I have seen things that I try to find a rational explanation that fit for that which I have experienced.  We would all–even those of us in the ministry–love to say that the devil is just a myth, but that would put us in the position of being culpable, aiding and abetting  in Satan’s grand deception.

May the Peace of the Lord be with Mr. Hunkeler.

 

[1]Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil’s Grip By Bill Brinkley Post Reporter Friday, Aug. 20, 1949, Washington Post Archives;https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/features/dcmovies/exorcism1949.htm

[2] https://nypost.com/2021/12/20/is-the-exorcist-a-true-story-what-happened-to-ronald-hunkeler/

[3]Demoniac: Who Is Roland Doe, the Boy Who Inspired The Exorcist?
by JD Sword From: Volume 45, No. 6 November/December 2021 https://skepticalinquirer.org/2021/10/demoniac-who-is-roland-doe-the-boy-who-inspired-the-exorcist/

Exorcist claims ‘psychic possessed’ woman could ‘see people across world in real-time’

Excerpted from: Exorcist claims ‘psychic possessed’ woman could ‘see people across world in real-time’ | Daily Star UK


A qualified physician who turned to exorcism work has recalled the story of a “once in a century possession” where the patient supposedly gained psychic abilities that allowed her to see what people were doing across the world.

Dr Richard Gallagher is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at New York Medical College. While he claims not to be an exorcist himself, he has assisted in a number of cases involving paranormal behaviour.

Speaking on the Unsolved Mysteries podcast, Richard recalled one of his most difficult cases, involving a “demonic high priestess” called Julia who supposedly had psychic powers.

He explained: “What made her case particularly striking is, not only did she exhibit an enormous amount of psychic ability when she was in a trance state… but even outside of her trances she had these amazing psychic abilities.”

Richard recalled how he challenged Julia to tell him where the Chief Exorcist was to prove her powers.

He claimed she managed to guess the correct location, as well as correctly identifying the “khaki pants and blue windbreaker” the exorcist was wearing at the time.

Julia believed the ability, which paranormal psychologists call “remote viewing”, was given to her by Satan himself.

[…]

But despite Richard describing this as a “once in a century possession”, he suggested that Julia was still reluctant to get help because of her allegiance to her satanic cult.

 

Discount Store Chain in England Pulls Controversial Ouija Boards from Shelves | Coast to Coast AM


Excerpted from: Discount Store Chain in England Pulls Controversial Ouija Boards from Shelves, By Tim Binnall | Coast to Coast AM


In response to a growing furor surrounding their decision to sell Ouija Boards at an incredibly low price, a chain of discount stores in England have pulled the controversial items from shelves. The British equivalent to an American dollar store, Poundland made headlines last week when it was discovered that their seasonal offerings for Halloween included a Ouija Board. The problematic product priced at merely a pound quickly sparked concerns among people online who feared that children could easily get their hands on the cheap Ouija Boards.

While it would seem that the Ouija Board backlash simply served as some good publicity for Poundland this Halloween season, the company was finally forced to take action when the issue went beyond the world of social media and a number of prominent figures, including a high profile religious figure and a member of Parliament, spoke out against the spirit boards. Announcing that they would no longer sell the items in stores, a spokesperson for the chain reportedly explained that “we had a message from the spirits to make the handful that were left vanish.”

Excerpted from: Continue reading at Coast to Coast AM

Fr John Corrigan: Lessons learned from an exorcism course


EXCERPTED FROM: Fr John Corrigan: Lessons learned from an exorcism course, By Fr John Corrigan – June 13, 2019, The Catholic Weekly


If you read reports in secular media, you might conclude that the Vatican runs an annual “crash course” on exorcism which certifies 250 or so new exorcists each year.Having just returned from the so-called “Exorcism Course,” I can confirm it is nothing like that. Seven Aussies and two Kiwis attended this year’s course, and only one of us was an exorcist — an assignment he received some 40 years ago, quite independent of the Vatican course.

Most of the Australians present were priests like me, less than ten years ordained, who have recognised a deficiency in our priestly training. (In saying that, I don’t mean to criticise our seminary formation. It’s an impossible task, to condense the expanse Continue reading

Exorcism: A Cottage Industry???


What is it that the French fear so much? Exorcisms see a rise post Paris attacks

The surge in demand has led to accusations that private priests are exploiting those with psychological issues.

By Divya Kishore November 27, 2017 Excerpted from the International Business Times UK


Demand for exorcism sessions has reportedly seen a sudden surge in France with people allegedly fearing demonic entities following the deadly 2015 Paris attacks and the series of terror attacks that followed in the country and elsewhere in Europe over the past two years.

The Roman Catholic Church, which has strict norms for choosing people who can avail of their authorised exorcism sessions, have been turning away thousands of applications Continue reading

5 Facts about Satan you may not know


5 Facts about Satan you may not know

Can he predict the future? Move objects across the room?

by Philip Kosloski | Oct 29, 2017 | Excerpted from Aleteia.org


Satan and his demon followers are mysterious figures of the spiritual realm. They torment us on a daily basis, though usually their actions are invisible to the eye.

Scripture has much to tell us about Satan and his minions, and over the centuries the Church has grown in its understanding of these malevolent spiritual beings.

Here are five facts that help shed more light on these dark creatures

What was Satan before his fall into darkness?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms, “The Church teaches Continue reading

Exorcising the devil is now an English language exercise


US Bishops publish English language version of the Rite of Exorcism to make it easier for priests to drive out the devil

By Cian Molloy – 29 October, 2017 Excerpted from CatholicIreland.net


The US Bishops have published the first official English language translation of the rites of exorcism in a move designed to make it easier for priests to combat demonic possession.

Like the original Latin document, De Exorcismis et Supplicantioibus Quibusdam, which has been the official text of the ritual used by priests in the exorcism ministry across the world since 1999, the American document, Exorcisms and Related Supplications, is Continue reading

Psychiatrist Describes ‘Creepiest’ Exorcism Witnessed; Possessed Woman Levitated From Bed


By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter | Nov 1, 2017 |
Excerpted from The Christian Post


A prominent psychiatrist with decades of exorcism experience has shared details behind the “creepiest” case of demon possession he witnessed, in which a woman displayed unnatural strength and levitated from her bed.

Dr. Richard Gallagher, a board-certified psychiatrist who teaches at Columbia University and New York Medical College, said in an article published Tuesday in the National Catholic Register that in his 25 years as a consultant for a network of exorcists in America, the case of a woman named “Julia” remains the most disturbing. Continue reading