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Home > Horror News > Local Horror News > Woman Sues Priests For Botched ‘Exorcism’
Woman Sues Priests For Botched ‘Exorcism’
By: RSS/News Feeds

By Leong Su-lin
Aug 31, 2006
The Straits Times

A RARE Catholic ritual made popular by horror movies is the subject of a court case here.
Madam Amutha Valli, 50, is suing Novena Church, two of its priests and seven helpers, for what she claims to be severe side effects of a botched exorcism. She says the exorcism performed against her will two years ago has left her so traumatised that she now needs 24-hour care.

The procedure, which originated in AD200, has never been officially carried out in Singapore, said Father William Goh, a theologist from St Francis Xavier Major Seminary. A priest would have to be specially appointed by the bishop to perform any exorcism – which has not happened here, he said.

But Madam Valli, a former national walker, claims that Father Simon Tan and Father Jacob Ong ignored all protocol on August 10, 2004, when they attempted an exorcism on her. That day, Madam Valli, her daughter and a friend had gone to church with her son, who wanted to pray. She fainted, and the two priests took her to a room to rest.

With her family outside, she claims they performed a 21/2-hour-long exorcism on her, with the help of seven helpers. She said she was pinned down, throttled and verbally abused during the exercise. Her husband, taxi driver Suppiah Jeyabal, 55, said the incident has turned his wife into a hysterical person who breaks down often.

‘She is scared of going out by herself, cannot work, and until recently, was unable to go to the toilet unaccompanied,’ he said. Her medical expenses, amounting to more than $70,000, plus the cost of hiring a maid to look after her, have wiped out most of their savings, and a large chunk of his CPF. This has forced him to take a loan, he added.

So he is seeking damages of more than $250,000, which includes Madam Valli’s loss of earnings as a tutor, and future medical expenses. These include long-term medication for symptoms such as insomnia and stress; and psychiatric treatment. Madam Valli, who has been warded at Changi General Hospital several times, was diagnosed by consultant psychiatrist Dr Angelina Chan as suffering from chronic post- traumatic stress disorder with depression.

In a report last year, Dr Chan wrote that Madam Valli’s symptoms ‘are a direct result of the traumatic incident that she experienced at the church’. When contacted yesterday, Father Tan said he had no comment. However, in an earlier media report, he had denied any act of exorcism on Madam Valli. She had approached them for help, saying she was possessed, he had said.

He and Father Ong, and the seven helpers had only prayed over her, in an act of deliverance. Unlike an exorcism, deliverance is the act of praying for a person, and can be performed by anyone. It helps with ‘inner healing’ and is done commonly, said Father Goh, and has no side effects.

Exorcisms, on the other hand, involve people restraining the person while the priest commands the devil to leave, and targets those ‘possessed by demons’, have ‘supernatural powers, speak in strange languages and display extreme strength’. He warned that it was ‘prudent’ for priests to diagnose a person carefully before telling them that they were possessed.

‘Why would you want to put fear in their lives, where there is none, and cause more problems?’

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