Police Charge Two over Sex-And-Angels Case

September 12, 2008

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Two men accused of sexually molesting a woman at church prayer sessions while claiming to speak to angels and banish curses were charged by Australian police on Friday with more than 220 sex offences.

The pair, aged 61 and 38, assaulted the woman who told police in Sydney she believed she and her family had been cursed by a member of the Australia-Greek community skilled at black magic.

"We will allege these women have been the cruel prey of callous individuals who used religious fear to manipulate and abuse them for their sexual gratification and financial gain," Police Acting Superintendent Gary Bailey told reporters.

He was referring to a second woman who last year reported similar offences of aggravated sexual assault and extortion against the pair. He said other victims could also come forward. No charges have yet been laid in the second case.

The offences occurred between 2001 and 2005. The first woman told police she was blindfolded and sexually assaulted during prayer sessions for which the men also demanded payment of up to A$1,000 (459 pounds), Bailey said.

The older man, who police said was a respected member of the Greek and Coptic Orthodox communities, told the first woman he was a spiritual mentor able to talk to angels and convince them to lift curses and banish evil spirits.

The two men were to face a Sydney court later on Friday.


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