A quartet of former Seventh Day Adventist Church members went on trial in France this week for nearly killing a 19-year-old girl they tied up during a crucifixion-like exorcism.
Three men — including the teen’s boyfriend, Eric Deron — and a woman allegedly bound the girl to a mattress and hung her in the position of Christ on the cross when they believed she was possessed by the devil in 2011, the Agence France-Presse reported.
Police found the girl, identified only as Antoinette, in the Grigny housing estate just south of Paris after she had been tortured for seven days. Officials said the girl was emaciated, dehydrated and showed signs of being beaten, the AFP reported.
The teen told investigators that the four religious fanatics had kept her alive by feeding her small amounts of oil and water.
Prosecutors said Deron, who had delusions of being a prophet, had instigated the disturbing act as part of a divine mission.
But all four, who are of French Caribbean origin, claim the girl consented to the exorcism after she allegedly pounced on her former boyfriend while babbling incoherently.
“To them, she was possessed. That is why they did not call a doctor,” their lawyer, Jacque Bourdais, told the AFP. “You call a doctor when someone is sick. When someone is possessed, you exorcise them.”
Antoinette met Deron and the three others through the Seventh Day Adventist Church about three years before the alleged attack.
The Protestant church, based in the United States and boasts 17 million followers throughout the world on their website, said they expelled the people involved a year before the exorcism — which they claimed could not be justified by any of their teachings.
Deron and the three others face a litany of charges that include kidnapping, acts of torture and barbarism.