Sylvia Browne is refusing to apologize to the family of kidnapping victim Amanda Berry after the television psychic wrongly told the girl’s family she was dead.
Browne has been coming under intense fire on social media in the days since Berry and two other women were discovered in a house in Cleveland where they had been held hostage for more than a decade. Browne had told the mother of Berry in 2004 that her daughter was dead.
One of the world’s most famous self-proclaimed psychics, Browne was a weekly guest on The Montel Williams Show, where she dispensed psychic readings and other “paranormal” advice. In 2004, Amanda Berry’s mother Louwana Miller was a guest on the show.
As Miller pleaded for her for information on her daughter’s whereabouts, Sylvia Browne, got it completely wrong:
Miller: Can you tell me if they’ll ever find her? Is she out there?
Browne: She’s — see, I hate this when they’re in water. I just hate this. She’s not alive, honey. And I’ll tell you why, here we go again. Your daughter was not the type that would not have called you.
Miller: So you don’t think I’ll ever get to see her again?
Browne: Yeah, in heaven, on the other side.
To make matters worse, Louwana Miller would die two years later of heart failure. Family members said Browne’s reading left her heartbroken, which contributed to her demise.
After days of not acknowledging the case, Sylvia Browne finally spoke up on her Facebook page, though she refused to own up to her supposed deception:
“For more than 50 years as a spiritual psychic and guide, when called upon to either help authorities with missing person cases or to help families with questions about their loved ones, I have been more right than wrong. If ever there was a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time. Only God is right all the time. My heart goes out to Amanda Berry, her family, the other victims and their families. I wish you a peaceful recovery.”
The explanation did not go over well with fans, who called her a “hack” and “fraud.”
“I remember you on Montel Williams telling the family of Amanda Berry she was dead,” wrote one commenter. “What do you have to say for yourself? What a horrible horrible thing to say to a family holding on to nothing but hope and faith.”
“I hope todays events seal it for you and everyone else who take advantage of those in mourning,” wrote another.
It’s not the first time Sylvia Browne compounded the grief of desperate parents. In 2007 author Jon Ronson profiled Browne in a book on predatory psychics, noting that she often wrongly forecasted life or death when speaking to grieving family members.
She told the parents of Shawn Hornbeck that their son was buried between two boulders, but he was found alive four years later. Sylvia Browne refused to apologize in that case as well, with a rep telling CNN in a written statement: “She cannot possibly be 100% correct in each and every one of her predictions. She has, during a career of over 50 years, helped literally tens of thousands of people.”