Another perfect example of religion as a cover for insanity and criminal behavior.Â Read this article and tell me that, had the mother’s excuse been “I’m performing a ritual in the name of the High Folderol,” or “Instead of taking him to a doctor, I just thought this was the rational thing to do,” she wouldn’t be sitting in jail right now.
Instead, this judge chickens out because he doesn’t want to step on the toes of Gwinnett Countians who believe in God, Satan and demon possession.Â His boy needs medical attention, and the courts are turning him back over to his crazy mother.Â Unbelievable.
Judge rules on side of religious rights in exorcism case
Charges dropped against mother restraining, performing rites on psychotic teenage son
By Chip Towers
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, June 25, 2009
In a decision likely to get the attention of both scientists and theologians, a Gwinnett County magistrate on Thursday dismissed warrants against a mother accused of abusing her child in the course of performing an exorcism on him.
Sandra Alfred, 46, of Lilburn, was arrested June 12 on charges of false imprisonment and cruelty to children for using handcuffs on her 15-year-old son and denying him food or water for long periods of time over three days. But Gwinnett County Judge Robert Mitchum, offering a long explanation of his ruling, threw it out Thursday morning.
“Here’s all we have: Parents who chose a course of action that the government does not like or does not understand. That’s what we have,” Mitchum said at the end of a 40-minute preliminary hearing at the Gwinnett County Detention Center. “It may actually be inappropriate. There may actually be a more appropriate way because of science, which has developed quite a bit over the last 2,000 years since people didn’t know how to treat psychosis and schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia… .
“But I have to decide whether or not she can be held on these warrants. And she cannot.”
Alfred was subsequently released from Gwinnett County Detention Center, where she had been the last 13 days.
Defense attorney Michael Kay of Duluth advised his client not to comment.
“I believe justice was done today,” he said. “I believe Judge Mitchum made the right decision.”
Mitchum said the prosecution was free to pursue an indictment through a grand jury. Assistant district attorney Christa Kirk, who represented the county, said it would be up to Gwinnett D.A. Danny Porter.
Police responded to a 911 call from Alfred complaining of an unruly child on the night of June 9. According to Lilburn Police Officer Stephen Weed, who testified Thursday, they encountered a 15-year-old boy who was “in a psychotic state.”
Defense attorney Michael Kay asked Weed to explain how he came to the determination the boy was psychotic.
“The child was flailing his arms around,” Weed said. “He was making statements that his name was Alfredo. He was spitting, hissing at officers. He was making statements such as â€˜lick my lollipop,’ very incoherent statements that I found to be extremely irregular behavior for a normal person.”
Weed testified that Alfred and her friend Thomas Powell explained that her son was in the third day of an exorcism and that it was supposed to be “the worst day.”
“She told us we were sent by God as angels to help her this evening,” Weed said, and that “her son was possessed by Satan.”
Weed said their investigation revealed that Alfred had kept her son in handcuffs for long periods over the three days, including sleeping with his wrists and ankles restrained for five hours one night. He said the teenager was also handcuffed the previous Sunday while being transported to a church in the Stone Mountain/Tucker area where an exorcism was performed by Alfred, a preacher and members of the church using “holy oils.”
The defense argued that injuries on the boy’s wrists discovered in an examination at Gwinnett Medical Center could have come from police restraining him in handcuffs. Kay also pointed out that, while the boy did not have food or water for the three 12-hour periods over three days, he had been provided nourishment the other times of those days.
Ultimately, Mitchum ruled for the defense because he felt the mother had a right to restrain her “very ill” son and that dehydration and malnourishment had not been proven.
“If you have a 2-year-old that wants to run out in front of a car, is the state of Georgia going to say that parents can’t grab that 2-year-old even hard enough to bruise that 2-year-old, to hold him still from running out in front of the car,” Mitchum said. “Is the state of Georgia going to say that? No, it’s not.”
Mitchum’s ruling also came on behalf of Alfred’s religious rights.
“I have a hard time believing you’re going to get anybody to say in Gwinnett County, Ga., that Satan doesn’t exist, that the Bible doesn’t exist, that the actual Biblical descriptions of possession are not true,” he said. “You’re not going to get anybody to say that that’s all false. So it’s going to be really hard to claim that the basic precept behind any of her actions were false, malicious or criminal.”
Mitchum seemed to expect his ruling was going to create controversy.
“It’s a gift I have to get these kinds of cases,” he said with a smile.