Jessica Barela, a 34-year-old mom in Bluefield, North Carolina, appeared in court Monday hoping to learn her fate after she entered a guilty plea in April to four counts of child abuse and two counts of sexual abuse by a parent, in a bizarre and disturbing case involving a man whom Barela believed to be a “magical warlock” who could heal her various ailments.
In January of 2007, Barela (pictured above left) was living in a Bluefield home also occupied by James Roland Irvin, 57, who apparently convinced the young mom — whose kids were under the age of 12 at the time of the abuse — that he possessed magical powers and had the ability to heal her of the many mental and physical disorders from which she said she suffers.
According to a criminal complaint against Irvin (pictured above right), one of the young female victims told police that her mother believed that Irvin did, in fact, possess magical abilities.
She then told her daughter that she “was going to have to do something to keep her well, which involved magic with Irvin,” the complaint stated.
The “magic,” according to the girl’s statements, consisted of visiting Irvin in his bedroom when she came from school every day over a two-week period — at which time, he sexually abused her.
Irvin claimed to be a follower of a pagan religion, and that the sex acts with children were part of his magical rituals, the complaint said.
Another of Barela’s young kids told investigators that Irvin described the sex abuse as “magic” that would “make mommy well.”
A third victim, a friend of Barela’s children, also said that she was abused by Irvin on four separate occasions — acts of molestation that Irvin called “magic” that had the power to bring her father, who had only recently died, back to life.
At his trial last year, Irvin described himself as “an innocent man — wrongly accused and convicted.” But he was, indeed, convicted on 30 counts of sex abuse against children and sentenced to 950 years in prison.
The sentence leaves him eligible for parole — in 235 years.
Barela had originally been charged with 30 counts of sexual abuse, but under a plea bargain which prosecutors said was reached to spare the children the trauma of testifying in court against their own mother after already suffering the ordeal of abuse by Irvin and the trial of the “magical warlock,” she pleaded guilty to only six.
When Barela entered her guilty plea on April 30, she told a judge that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, among other conditions.
Her court appearance Monday came three days after a husband-wife couple in Pennsylvania were arrested and charged with sharing in the sexual abuse of two young children over a period of years.
Jessica Barela now faces up to 20 years in prison, but when she appeared in court Monday — hiding her face from cameras with a hood and her long hair — a judge delayed sentencing and confined her to her home until the court finishes a sex offender evaluation of the mom, who also reportedly has failed drug screenings and violated instructions from her parole officer.
[Images: WVNS-TV, WOWK-TV Screen Grabs]