Australia’s pagan community has moved to distance itself from a jailed male witch who turned teenage girls into sex slaves under the guise of a witchcraft initiation.
Robin Fletcher, who is due to be released from Ararat Prison on June 12 after 10 years behind bars, was convicted of prostituting a child and of sexual penetration and indecent acts against a child aged under 16.
Fletcher, 49, used hypnotism and mind-altering techniques to entice two 15-year-old girls into prostitution, sado-masochism and black magic.
He dressed the girls in dog collars, bound them and flogged them with a horse whip and paddle.
Fletcher consented in court yesterday to an extended supervision order allowing Victorian authorities to track him and restrict his movements for five years.
Victorian Supreme Court judge Justice Bill Gillard said there was a high risk Fletcher would re-offend if released unsupervised because he still believed his religion justified his crimes.
“Mr Fletcher maintains his sex offending occurred as a result of his religion,” Justice Gillard said.
“He asserts he is unable to cease wiccan practice.”
But the Pagan Awareness Network Incorporated (PAN Inc) today said Fletcher did not represent the beliefs or practices of witches and other pagans and had used the pretext of a witchcraft initiation to carry out his “despicable” crimes.
“Every community has its predators,” PAN Victorian co-ordinator Marian Dalton said today.
“The pagan scene, sadly, is no exception.
“Fletcher doesn’t represent who we are or what we do any more than pedophile priests represent the values and teachings of Christian churches.”
PAN, which represents witches, pagans, and other followers of nature-based religions, said Fletcher’s 10-year sentence was too lenient.
“No one in the pagan community that I have spoken to wants to see him released from jail,” Ms Dalton said.
Fletcher was due for release earlier this year but his parole was revoked after authorities discovered he had engaged in “disturbing” correspondence with people in Ghana, West Africa.
Ms Dalton said Fletcher’s failed 2004 attempt to sue Corrections Victoria and the Salvation Army using religious vilification laws had made it much harder for pagans with genuine complaints to be taken seriously.
“He’s set back recognition and acceptance for our religion at least 10 years, a day for every day he’s spent in prison,” she said.
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