man accused of torturing wife, keeping her in chains for decade

A West Virginia man is in custody after authorities say his wife made a desperate escape to a family crisis center after suffering a decade of abuse that included torture and being locked in chains.

A criminal complaint says the 43-year-old victim was burned on her back and breasts with irons and frying pans, and her foot was smashed under farm equipment. She also allegedly delivered a stillborn child while in chains. She also gave birth to another infant who survived.

Peter Lizon, 37, of Leroy was arrested and held in the South Central Regional Jail on $300,000 bond Wednesday. He’s set to appear on a malicious wounding charge Friday in Jackson County Magistrate Court.

On June 18, while the wife, suspect and their infant were returning a rented farming machine and she walked away from the family, the criminal complaint said. She sought refuge in a nearby zomba dance facility and hid from her husband, before seeking transportation to a family crisis center, the complaint said.

Police described the crisis center as a refuge for battered women, among other uses.

Much of the criminal complaint is based on an alleged conversation his wife had with a certified nursing assistant while the two were at the crisis center in the town of Parkersburg. The two allegedly spent the entire night talking about the wife’s life of torment.

Lizon’s lawyer, Shawn Bayless, said his client denies all the allegations and called facts in the criminal complaint a result of a “fertile imagination.”

“She’s never sought a protective order and she’s always been by his side,” Bayless said, talking about Lizon’s wife. “The entire criminal complaint started with a small nugget of information and turned into a giant tree of untruth.”

The nursing assistant said she noticed severe burns on the woman’s back and breasts and bruising all over her body, according to the criminal complaint. The injuries she observed sickened her, the complaint said.

The alleged victim told her about her husband, Lizon, who was originally from the former Czechoslovakia, and how he locked her in chains and metal padlocks for about 10 years, the complaint said. The wife allegedly told the woman that she had scar tissue as a result of the bondage chains.

She spoke about being treated as a slave and how every time her husband would enter a room, she would have to kneel in front of him, the complaint said, at which point he would stomp on her feet.

Upon learning about the conversation, authorities obtained a search warrant and were able to take 45 color images of injuries to the woman, the complaint said.

Many pictures mentioned in the complaint appear to support the nursing assistant’s memory of bruises on the woman’s body.

Tony J. Boggs, Jackson County’s chief deputy sheriff office, told that Lizon was arrested without incident on July 5.  Boggs said the case may be challenging because the information was provided by an independent witness and not the alleged victim.

Still, in an earlier interview, he described the injuries as “much more than just getting pushed up against the wall. She’s been abused almost to the point of slavery and torture.”

When asked about the pictures of injuries to the woman’s back, Bayless, his attorney, said pictures are not indicative of how the injuries occurred.

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Social workers considered sending boy to the Congo for exorcism

The boy, whose family were from Africa, had been taken into care by Islington council in north London.

His mother, who no longer had responsibility for her child, asked for him to be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo for “deliverance”.

The boy’s family claimed this was necessary because they believed he was possessed by “kindoki” or evil spirits.

Islington social services officials then paid more than £4,000 for an expert to travel to Africa to investigate.

The expert, Richard Hoskins, an academic specialising in African religions, was alarmed by what he saw on the visit, and advised the council that the boy should not be exorcised.

After receiving his report, the council – then under Liberal Democrat control – abandoned the plan.

Dr Hoskins said that prior to his trip, some Islington council officials had been “mindful to agree to the request” for exorcism.

Speaking at a conference yesterday, he said the case demonstrated how officials in Britain were reluctant to challenge the mistreatement of children when it was committed under the guise of “religious or cultural practices”.

“This problem is about the underlying failure to tackle abuse when it is masked behind multiculturalism,” he said. “We fear to trend where sensibilities might apparently be affected.”

During his visit to Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, in 2005, Dr Hoskins met the grandparents of the boy at the centre of the case. They told him that the child had been “infected by sorcery” while in the UK and that he “would destroy them all”.

The deliverance that the boy was to undergo would have involved starving him of food and fluids for three days.

At the end of the fasting period, he would be surrounded by the deliverance team who would pray over him and command the evil spirit to be cast out of the child. When deliverance takes place, the child vomits up the “sorcery bread” that has been infecting him.

Dr Hoskins also met the pastor from the Pentecostal church attended by the grandparents, who warned that if the evil spirits were not dealt with, they would cause “strife, illness, divorce, hardship, poverty and death”.

The pastor claimed that the boy would have sorcery tools to perform magic with, such as mirrors, brushes, sticks and string, and warned that these would have to be confiscated.

Dr Hoskins asked whether the boy would be beaten, and was assured that this was not part of the normal deliverance process. However, when he was presented with a boy who had recently undergone the ordeal, he found the child “scared and traumatised”.

Islington paid £4,372 to fund the trip, including Dr Hoskins’s fee of £3,080, half of the cost of the £710 flight, taxi fares, accommodation and refreshments bills.

In his report to the council, the academic wrote: “Whilst I found the family and the church to be very friendly, I cannot recommend that the child be allowed to go through a deliverance service such as that envisaged.

“From my research I think this might be deeply disturbing and traumatising for him.”

Speaking yesterday at the education conference at Wellington College, in Berkshire, Dr Hoskins, a research fellow in criminology at Roehampton University, said: “These deliverances can be very violent.

“In one case I met a girl at death’s door because the pastor had not let her drink for days despite the tropical heat.

“Children are often shaken, beaten and sprayed with chilli peppers. They are sometimes even cut with razor blades.”

Witchcraft or “kindoki” is a widespread belief in parts of central and western Africa and in the DRC in particular. It is not uncommon for children to be accused of being witches and have to endure exorcisms.

The Islington investigation followed high-profile cases in which children born in Africa, or of African heritage, living in the UK had been abused or killed by relatives who believed they were possessed.

In 2000, Victoria Climbié, eight, from the Ivory Coast, was tortured and murdered by her great aunt and her boyfriend in Haringey.

Three years later, the mother, aunt and uncle of an eight year old girl in Hackney were sent to prison for between four and ten years for a “campaign of torture” against her. In both cases the victims’ relatives claimed they were witches.

More recently, Kristy Bamu, a 15 year old from France, was tortured to death by his sister and her boyfriend in an increasingly extreme “deliverance” in a flat in Manor Park, east London, when the teenager refused to admit to sorcery and witchcraft.

Despite the high-profile cases, social services are failing to tackle the problem because of misguided political correctness, according to Dr Hoskins.

The academic, who gave evidence earlier this year at the Kristy Bamu murder trial, is also the author of The Boy in the River, which explores the unsolved case of “Adam”, a young black boy whose mutilated torso was found floating in the Thames in 2001.

Dr Hoskins said he was currently working on a case where a teenage girl, born in the UK of African descent, had been removed from her family following a violent “deliverance” in which she was hit with sticks, cut on her arms with a knife and had chilli pepper rubbed into her eyes and genitalia.

She was placed by social services in the temporary care of her pastor, who had promoted the use of the exorcism and then put pressure on the child to withdraw all evidence.

“Some women and children from diverse cultural backgrounds are suffering horrendous abuse, and even death, because authorities are too afraid to intervene,” Dr Hoskins said.

“There is growing evidence that all manner of evils are being committed in the name of cultural beliefs and practices that should play not part in contemporary Britain.”

Islington council acknowledged it had paid Dr Hoskins to travel to Africa, but claimed it was on the instruction of a judge.

“It is a normal process in care proceedings to assess the extended family when a child has been removed from parental care,” a spokesman said.

“Dr Hoskins was instructed to meet with extended family members to assess their belief that a child of the family was possessed by spirits. This was on the instruction of the Family Court during care proceedings.”

The council said it could not disclose the court order. Dr Hoskins said he had never been aware of a court order asking for the visit to be arranged.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “It is not acceptable for councils to be considering this. These services can be extremely traumatic. We are tackling all forms of child abuse linked to belief, including belief in witchcraft or spirit possession.

“Such abuse is rightly condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths.

“Local authorities and voluntary, community and faith organisations are working together with the Government to understand faith-based child abuse better, raise awareness of this issue among professionals and the public, and support communities to tackle this form of child abuse.”




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South Bay priest accused of being a serial molester testifies

For someone essentially described as a sexually deviant monster — even by the prosecutor who called him to the stand Wednesday — Father Jerold Lindner looked like an average 67-year-old with horn-rimmed glasses and a weight problem as he shuffled into a San Jose courtroom, all eyes upon him.

Lindner was there to testify that he did nothing to provoke Will Lynch to viciously beat him up two years ago at a Jesuit retirement center in Los Gatos, leaving him bruised and with two small cuts requiring stitches. But it was tough to tell on the first day of Lynch’s assault trial just who the real culprit was — Lynch or the priest.

Lynch chose to go to trial rather than negotiating a plea deal so he could “out” Lindner, who he claims molested him and his brother when they were kids. Even though the Jesuits have doled out millions of dollars to settle cases brought by Lindner’s victims — including the Lynch brothers — the priest was never prosecuted because Lynch and others reported the abuse after the brief window of opportunity set by the statute of limitations ended.

So essentially the priest testified Wednesday that he did nothing 35 years ago or in 2010 to incite what he described as a “vicious” beating at Lynch’s hands. Lynch dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief and sobbed while the priest testified.

The cleric said he was tricked into meeting Lynch on May 20, 2010, in a small guest parlor at his residence, the Sacred Heat retirement and medical center.

Lynch allegedly got into the center by using a pseudonym and pretending he needed to notify the priest of a death in the family. The priest testified that Lynch immediately asked if the older man recognized him. Lindner said he didn’t.

Lindner said Lynch then told him to take off his glasses and immediately began landing “stinging” blows on his face, arm and head, as well as kicking him once in the inner thigh.

Priest was “stunned”

“I think he was aiming for my groin,” Lindner said.

The first punch was “a vicious blow, major impact,” he testified. “I was stunned. I had no idea what was happening.”

Lindner testified that Lynch set out to beat him and that the younger man did not accuse him of sodomizing him and forcing him to have oral sex with his brother until after he began the attack.

Prosecutor Vicki Gemetti then asked the question many in the courtroom who knew the priest from decades ago and came to mistrust him were waiting for. The purported molestation of the brothers occurred on camping trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains organized by a religious group of families.

“Did you molest the defendant?” when he was 7, prosecutor Gemetti asked.

No, the priest said.

“Did you molest his (4-year-old) brother?”

Again, the answer came quickly: No.

The exchange was all the more strange because Gemetti had said unequivocally in her opening statement Wednesday morning that Lindner had molested the brothers in the mid-1970s. However, she said Lynch “acted like a vigilante” and still deserved to be convicted.

Gemetti even predicted that the priest — her lead witness — would give untruthful testimony.

“I expect he will lie to you,” she told the jury, referring to what Lindner might say about the alleged molestation of the Lynches. “Or say he doesn’t remember.”

Public opinion

Lynch’s attorney, Pat Harris, strongly reacted to Lindner’s denial.

“He has chosen to perjure himself,” Harris said to Judge David A. Cena after the jurors were dismissed for the day. “He should be advised of his right to counsel.”

Gemetti told Cena that Lindner already has a lawyer who came to court with him. But Harris said the judge should warn him on the record that he may indeed need the lawyer. The judge said he’d take that recommendation under consideration.

Lynch, now 44, is charged with two felonies that together carry a maximum sentence of four years — assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and also elder abuse under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm or death.

Harris will have an opportunity Thursday to cross-examine the priest. In his opening statement, he signaled his line of attack — casting doubt on Lindner’s credibility.

“The evidence is going to show that only two men know what happened in the room that day,” he told the jury. “One of them, the prosecutor already told you, is probably going to lie.”

In another sign that both men are essentially being tried in the court of public opinion, about 30 protesters marched in support of Lynch at noon, bearing signs that read, “Jail Father Jerry,” “Sacred Heart Jesuit Center: Pedophile Playground” and “Help Free Willy.

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