A Canadian woman has been charged with witchcraft just two days before the century-old law was to be repealed, CBC News is reporting.
Tiffany Butch, who uses the nickname “The White Witch Of The North,” will almost certainly be the last Canadian charged under the 1892 law, which was officially repealed two days after her arrest.
Butch’s Alleged Crime
Butch says that she’s not a witch, in that she practices neither witchcraft (communing with the Devil, making potions, that sort of thing) nor Wicca (a modern religion based on a pastiche of ancient pagan beliefs and practices). Rather, she says, she’s a psychic.
“People proclaimed me a witch here and gave me a nickname, but I’m not a witch. I’m a psychic.”
Not for nothing, the Timmins, Ontario, police say basically the same thing in their police report.
“[Butch] holds herself to be a self-proclaimed spiritualist, medium and clairvoyant.”
But it’s not her beliefs and religious practices that have gotten her into trouble with the law. Cops say her crime is a far more mundane one: scamming people out of money. Marc Depatie, a spokesperson for the Timmins police, say that Butch was using her status to fleece gullible people out of money.
“(In) this particular set of circumstances, the person gave them a sense of foreboding that a dreadful thing was about to happen to their family at some point… (that) they should provide them with financial compensation so they could perform some sort of mystical service that would prevent that from happening.”
So Why Witchcraft And Not Just Fraud?
Depatie insists that the fact that Canada’s witchcraft law was about to be scrubbed was not a factor in the decision to charge Butch with witchcraft. Rather, he says, his office consulted with Crown attorneys and deemed that the witchcraft law was the one that most closely matched Butch’s alleged crimes.
“That’s why police and the Crown attorneys keep ancient, or aged, versions of the Criminal Code on hand, to see what laws apply.”
Vowing A Fight
Butch, for her part, plans to fight the charges against her. She says that she has committed no crimes – witchcraft, fraud, or otherwise – and says that other psychics framed her.
“Absolutely not. I don’t know who this person [supposedly scamming money out of people] even is, and none of my customers from October to now have put in any complaints with me or asked me for refunds back.”
Butch is scheduled to appear in court on January 22.