The father and step-mother of a teenage girl, who claimed they repeatedly tortured her because they “thought she was a witch”, have been released without charge. A court in western Sweden decided that the evidence against the pair was not strong enough to convict, despite the prosecution’s claim that they locked up the 14-year-old to protect her younger siblings for her “inherent evil”, tied her up and shaved her head.
“According to the girl’s version of events, she has been locked up, has had her feet tied together, been assaulted through being burned with a red-hot knife in a torture-like manner and other violent rites and exorcisms,” prosecutor Daniel Larsson wrote in a statement.
The parents and two priests, all from a small religious community in Malmö known as The River, were charged but denied the allegations. Although the court admitted that some circumstances supported the girl’s version of events, they said others disputed them.
The teenager lost credibility for failing to come forward quickly enough after the alleged events, with the court deciding that she may have been influenced by footage of exorcisms she had watched on YouTube. Statements from social workers and teachers, as well as a scar on the girl’s arm, were not deemed to be enough to secure a guilty verdict.