The Whidbey News Times reports on an ugly instance of Pagan religion being used and perverted as a pretext to long-term abuse and rape. According to accounts, Daniel Doherty, while a resident in Island County, Washington, allegedly raped and molested a woman from the ages of 11 to 19, excusing the horror by saying they were “pleasing the goddess”.
“The woman claimed that Doherty raped and molested her from the ages of about 11 to 19. She said the sexual assaults were frequent, usually one or more times a week. “He convinced her that she should keep their relationship a secret, and that the sexual acts were part of a Druid religion where they were pleasing the Goddess, Epona,” Price wrote. The woman claimed Doherty sexually assaulted her every Equinox and Solstice in “celebration,” the report states. He told her that the sex acts “strengthened the bond between Druid teacher and student,” the detective wrote. The woman described an incident in 2002 when she had friends sleeping over and Doherty asked her to wake them so he could sexually assault them. When she refused, he forcefully raped her on the couch, the report indicates.”
Doherty is now in custody on a $500,000 warrant, and is awaiting extradition to Island County for trial. If there is anyone in Washington state who could perhaps give us some more information, or know anything about Doherty, and connections, if any, with the local Pagan community, please drop me a note. In the meantime I’ll be monitoring this story as it develops.
I’d like to take this opportunity to send a message to all young men and women exploring modern Paganism. No real Pagan teacher or clergy will ever demand sex, especially from a minor, in exchange for initiation, or in “celebration” of anything. If you are in a situation, either with an individual, or group, that makes you feel uncomfortable, or pushes your sexual boundaries, get out, alert someone you trust (parent, relative, teacher), and if they transgressed with you sexually, alert law enforcement officials immediately. No matter how wise or powerful someone seems, there is no basis for mandatory ritualistic sex in modern Pagan rituals. Sex, when it happens in modern Paganism, should be with consenting adults, not with self-styled Druids and pre-teens. That isn’t Pagan religion, that’s abuse.
I say this, not merely as a concerned member of the Pagan community, but as a former victim of ritualized abuse within the Pagan community. It is very difficult for me to admit that in a public forum, but I want to stress that this can happen to anyone, and that no person, no matter how smart or clever they think they may be, are completely immune to the mind-games and power-trips that are often the prologue to outright sexual abuse. If you ever feel in danger, get out, get help, and call the police. Don’t let these monsters steal your power, your happiness, or mar your personal connection to the gods.