A Romanian priest, whose idea of holy exorcism was to bind, gag, and strap a young nun to a cross for five days without any food or water, has fled his village and his said to be living in a remote forest hut.
In 2005, Father Daniel Corogeanu, aided and abetted by four other nuns, strapped Sister Irina Cornici to a cross as he carried out his botched exorcism at an isolated monastery in Romania.
The religious zealots involved in the exorcism pleaded that they were only trying to help Cornici, but a court in the northeast city of Vaslui ruled otherwise and said Cornici's death was a direct result of her enforced captivity.
Corogeanu was jailed for seven years, nun Nicoleta Arcalianu was sentenced to eight years, and Adina Cepraga, Elena Otel, and Simona Bardanas all received five year sentences.
In the wake of her death, it was revealed that Cornici was a diagnosed schizophrenic and her possession was not "demonic" in nature but caused by a series of schizophrenic episodes.
The crime caused a national scandal for the Romanian Orthodox Church. They excommunicated Corogeanu and pledged reforms, including psychological examinations for those wishing to enter the monastic life.
Yet the case is still surrounded by controversy, with critics suggesting that a possible adrenaline overdose injected by paramedics could have been the cause of the unfortunate nun's death.
The Daily Mail reported that, during the trial, Father Corogeanu told the court:
"I consider myself not guilty because Irina Conrici's death was not down to the fact that we kept her locked up. We tied her up because she kept hitting and harming herself and we would have found her dead in her room eventually. I admit I tied her up and stuck a towel in her mouth and kept her like this for five days. I admit that I used to cover her mouth with tape while she took part in daily mass, but only because I did not want her to disturb the service."The failed exorcist added:
"Four nuns helped me tie her up and guarded Irina for days. They tried to give her food and water but she refused. All she accepted was holy water. This was the best solution for her because she had to recover from her constant agitation.The botched exorcism leading to the 23-year-old nun's death was the subject matter for Romanian director Cristian Mungiu's, Cannes and Palme d'Or award winning film Beyond the Hills.
"Had I not called the ambulance, she would have been well now. It was the last stage of her exorcism and it is normal that a person possessed by demons faints when all the prayers end. She was supposed to recover after that."
Father Corogeanu always said that following his release he would build a monastery in memory of the dead nun. Yet when he arrived at the eastern commune of Zapodeni -- the site of his proposed "tribute" -- furious villagers allegedly chased the exorcist into hiding.
Corogeanu is now said to be living in a remote forest hut, no doubt pondering in his bleak solitude that the road to hell really is paved with "good" intentions.