A German man is headed to prison after trampling his mentally challenged daughter to death while attempting to perform an exorcism, then raping the dead girl’s body in what he said was an attempt to revive her.
The man was sentenced by a Swiss court this week to spend the next nine years behind bars for the death of the 25-year-old woman, the German public media outlet Deutsch Welle reported. The trial drew significant attention, with the prosecution even creating a video of the assault on a life-size straw puppet, the report noted. The video showed the father swiftly kicking his daughter in her stomach and standing on top of her, the report noted.
After the woman died of her injuries, the father raped her dead body in what the report claimed was an attempt to revive her. The woman died of internal injuries, an autopsy reportedly showed.
An exorcism is a religious ceremony meant to drive out a demon from occupying a person’s body using prayer, and it can also involve restraining them or exerting other kinds of physical force as well.
The story comes amid growing controversy over the use of exorcisms, which critics have said can often be dangerous and unnecessary. Others have died during exorcisms while being restrained, but the demand for the religious procedure is rising worldwide, and the Vatican is even training more priests on how to perform exorcisms to meet this demand.
The training course is meant to cut down on self-taught exorcisms, which had been seen as more dangerous and not always performed to proper standards and procedures. The church noted that those learning the exorcism procedure would go through a period of apprenticeship to gain real experience.
Critics have said that exorcisms are often performed on people with mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder, and is often wrongly used instead of properly treating the condition. As the New York Post noted, there is concern that exorcisms are actually putting people with mental illness at greater risks.
The German man convicted of stomping his daughter to death during her exorcism had only met the 25-year-old woman two years ago, Deutsche Welle reported. His conviction was for negligent homicide, a lesser offense than murder, and lawyers for the man said they plan to appeal the conviction.