Salem’s Latest Witch ‘Trial’ Makes News

Terence P Ward —  November 5, 2015 — 29 Comments

SALEM, Mass — An October court hearing found Christian Day facing allegations of harassment by his former business associate Lori Sforza. Due to the timing, this brewing conflict must have felt like a golden opportunity to someone at the Associated Press (AP). Leading up to Halloween, the “Witch Sues Warlock” angle proved impossible to resist, and the story achieved viral status in short order. What Sforza, who goes by the business name of Lori Bruno, actually wanted was a simple restraining order, claiming that Day had been harassing her online and over the phone.

Downtown Salem [Photo Credit: MO Stevens]

Downtown Salem [Photo Credit: MO Stevens]

Some of Sforza’s more recent allegations surprised Day. After the Oct 28 hearing, “the world’s most famous warlock” told local reporters that he would give $10,000 to anyone who can prove that he made these particular harassing calls to Sforza from an anonymous number. It is this specific allegation that then led a judge to sign the restraining order against Day, forbidding him from any contact with Sforza over the next year.

The Wild Hunt spoke with both of the litigants, as well as a non-legal mediator, to understand how a falling out between former friends could lead to a court hearing.

What both parties agree on is that Sforza worked in one of Day’s shops, performing psychic readings, from 2009-2012. Day charged nothing to Sforza for the use of the space. However, they have quite different recollections as to why this was the case. “He begged me to work in his shop,” said Sforza, while Day maintains, “I was doing her a favor.”

No matter his motivations, their business relationship — which had included plans for a reality television show — ended, and Sforza opened a competing business. That’s apparently when the former close friends allegedly started going at it hammer and tongs, including (if the accusations they each level against the other are true) through proxies and on the internet.

The Complaint for Protection from Harassment, which Sforza signed on September 28, lists abuses she said had been heaped upon her by Day. These abuses included “cartoons depicting me in a vicious way,” ethnic and racial slurs, allegations of organized crime involvement, and “calling me the ‘c’ word.” Sforza is Italian, and identifies herself as an hereditary witch. She told The Wild Hunt that Day had also maligned one of her ancestors.

Day downplays — but does not deny — what he characterizes mostly as “snide comments” about Sforza, and said that the judge agreed that it fell under free speech. However, in an additional affidavit signed on October 13,  Sforza alleges that for the past three years, Day has been “calling my home phone up to 3 times a week from a private number” between 2 and 3 in the morning. The most recent of the calls, which were comprised of threats and obscenities, had occurred on September 29, Sforza wrote in the document.

[Twitter: @LoriBruno]

[Twitter: @LoriBruno]

Sforza’s attorney, Fiore Porreca, said that his client was more concerned with what she called disparaging “cartoons” — memes, really — that had been posted on Facebook. They used publicly-available pictures of her, with captions suggesting she is a liar or not a legitimate practitioner of the Craft. “They were out there for millions to view,” Porreca said.

He went on to explain that the phone calls only came up once he was retained by her, because he recognized that it was important. “My client has never been in court before . . . it’s not like she’s filed a million harassment orders.” Massachusetts law makes these proceedings informal, with no need for an attorney, so she didn’t use one to help her complete the initial paperwork. Once he learned of them, “I told her the calls were an important factor.”

According to Porreco, the judge directed them to file a supplemental affidavit on the day of the hearing, Oct 13. However, the actual hearing was then rescheduled to Oct 28, because Day could not be in Salem on that earlier date.  He now resides in New Orleans.

According to Day’s account of the proceedings, it was the phone calls that ultimately convinced the judge to sign the restraining order. That morning, the warlock’s attorney called in sick. As a result, he had to hire a new one right in the courthouse because no further adjournment would be granted. “All [this new lawyer] was able to do was rebut the plaintiff’s allegations, but not to prepare me to testify,” he said. “In retrospect, I wish I had taken a chance and done so, because the judge said he gave no weight to my side.”  However, he does not think the judge was in error. Day said, “He had 20 television cameras pointed at him, and a little old lady. What was he going to do?”

Regarding what befell Day’s original attorney, Sforza said pointedly, “I certainly did not cast a spell. He had the right to speak, as I did. He did not.”

Day said that he understands that his public persona may make it easier to presume him guilty, but that no evidence was presented. He freely admits to having made “saucy” remarks and said that he even drew an unflattering cartoon of Sforza once. But, Day said that the work shown in court was not his. More importantly, Day said, “Even my haters realize I am not the anonymous-phone-call type.” Calling himself “the Donald Trump of witchcraft,” he acknowledges that he’s “said a thing or two that people don’t like.” That includes an online spat last year that enraged many Pagan bloggers. “I never denied the mistake,” he said. “I own up to things.”

That’s how Witchdoctor Utu sees it. Utu is one of the “hundreds of mutual friends” Day said he and Sforza share. Utu once agreed to mediate between them, because their dispute was causing ripples in the community. He said that “they were inseparable” before the business disagreement. This can be seen in the many, varied public photos and media accounts of the two witches practicing together.

Christian Day

Christian Day [Courtesy Photo]

Over a period of time, Utu recalled speaking to each of them, hearing their specific grievances. He eventually secured an agreement from Day to stop posting about Sforza, which Utu said that Day has honored since July. However, Sforza “was less than cooperative, yelling and screaming” during phone calls which took place over a period of months. “All of these issues she had with him … from years ago.” And not once, Utu said, did Sforza ever mention the late night harassing phone calls. “If she had, I would have done my best to make it stop,” he said. Utu questions why she never mentioned them and never filed any police report about them.

But Sforza has remained steadfast in her position and claims.

Utu added that, he believes Sforza “doesn’t care about collateral damage,” including abuse heaped on people who appear at Day’s events. Utu understands that Day’s outrageous behavior causes him problems, but he said, additionally, “in the end people make [stuff] up about him. He’s the first to admit all his faults.”

There are many unanswered questions about this situation, but it is clear that its genesis is in a personal dispute between two people who, in Witchdoctor Utu’s words, “once loved each other very much.” Because the court action was seeking an order of protection, it was not a “trial” in the normal sense; the rules favor the alleged victim out a sense of caution.

As for how it may have impacted the lucrative Halloween business in Salem, Day himself expressed worry. But also said that his stores and books do better each year, whether the attention on him is negative or not. “Attempts like these never undermine my success,” he said. Nevertheless, he’s hoping to have a new hearing on that restraining order, and unless it comes around on the docket next October, it’s unlikely that his day in court will be picked up by the Associated Press.

Terence P Ward


Terence P Ward is a moneyworker, journalist, Hellenic polytheist and convinced Friend who lives in the bucolic Hudson Valley with his wife, five cats, and multiple household shrines.
  • Shylo Beck

    I thought that O. Zell was “the world’s most famous warlock”.

    • Charity Bedell

      Wizard. Different term.

  • Christian Day

    The difficulty for me in all of this is that, while I was not the one who, according to the Associated Press reporter I spoke to, “leaked this anonymously” to them, I am forced to be part of this media circus so that the narrative presented is a true one.

    FACT: The order in question was granted based solely on the alleged obscene phone calls that were said to have been made by me via a private number three times per week over three years. None of the other items brought to the court’s attention (most of which were also not done by me) were assessed by the judge in question to rise to the level of the court’s attention.

    FACT: No police reports were made in the entire three years that these alleged phone calls were being made. Wouldn’t someone who is claiming to the court to be in fear report these calls in three days, three weeks, or even three months?

    FACT: Not a single mutual friend of ours who had heard complaints from the plaintif about me, including Lorelei Stathopoulos, Stephanie Taylor, Raven Grimassi, Orion Foxwood, Witchdoctor Utu, Hillary Coniglio Lit, Francine Gambale Coniglio, Tim Reagan, and even the plaintiff’s own son, who I have been in communication with over the three years since my falling out with his mother, has ever, ever brought these alleged phone calls to my attention and every one of them that I have spoken to about it has said that no phone calls were ever mentioned. Wouldn’t someone who was complaining about my alleged misdeeds include something that even the court and the media felt was the most egregious of the claims?

    FACT: No mention of these alleged phone calls were even on the original affidavit filed on September 29th. On October 13th, the date of our first intended appearance—which I could not make because I live 1,400 miles away from Salem, the plaintiff, accompanied by her lawyer, amended the original affidavit to include these alleged phone calls.

    I think reasonable people can draw their own conclusions from these facts. I don’t need to paint the picture.

    • Cedar Cat

      Methinks thou dost protest too much. As the harasser perhaps it is time to own up to doing harm. And harm ye none is our creed.

      And it smacks of woman-hating, too. Especially the “Donald Trump of witchcraft” comparison.

      No son of the Goddess would ever make such a comparison fondly nor debase another publicly.

      Is your heart true?

      • Christian Day

        Cedar Cat:

        I think what matters more than my heart being true—which is a personal matter between me and my spirits, is that my words are true. I know that my heart is true but the facts bear out that my words are true as well.

        I reference Donald Trump in the sense that he says whatever’s on his mind. I disagree with most of his public statements and policies, but I applaud his determination to speak what he says. I’d never vote for him, though. I’ve also called myself the Joan Rivers, Kathy Griffin, and Howard Stern of Witchcraft.

        Having owned up to all of my mistakes in life, sometimes on a very public stage, I would never own up to something I did not do, and my reply to Fox Woods below makes clear why it is so important to challenge this ruling because to not do so sets a stage that could cause me more unjust harm. While on the surface it seems that a restraining order may just imply “no contact,” in effect they can be far worse, with false allegations of violations made, children taken away, careers destroyed, and numerous other effects. I protest the first step on this potentially disastrous staircase because to not do so would be to deny my own due process and freedom.

        In 1992, I saw Alan Dershowitz give a speech by satellite to Salem State University on the subject of the Salem Witchcraft Trials. In it, he drew a correlation between the victims of 1692 and the false accusations of sexual assault that occur in modern times, specifically speaking about the daycare scares of the 1980’s. In that speech he said something that has stuck with me every since. He said that “no crime should be so heinous that even innocence is not a defense.”

        I realize that owning up to something I did not do might serve various political narratives but keeping both my heart and my words true is more important to me than someone else’s narrative.



        • Michala Daya Lee-Price

          Correct me if I am wrong, as the law might be different here in Australia, but haven’t you just broken the law, Squire Day? Haven’t you just BREACHED the Order by commenting on the case and as such indirectly contacting her which can be deemed further harrassmen?

          … And as you state you did not leak this information to the Media why are you boosting your Ego once again by commenting here.

          Give it a rest. People like you give The Craft a bad name.

          • Christian Day

            No, it is not in violation of the order to speak about my innocence in the case and I got that permission from the judge. I am prevented from contacting her either personally or via third parties and I would never do so, but I have every right to state my innocence here. The hearing was not a trial and I was not proven guilty, nor was any evidence of these phone calls presented.

            I am commenting so that the truth is established for those who can open their minds to hear it. If you’re not among those, then have a nice day. 🙂

  • Dana Corby

    To quote Shakespeare: “A plague on both their houses!”

  • Charles Cosimano

    I would love to see the first amendment case the cartoon issue would produce. I think that is protected speech.

    • Christian Day

      The judge actually made it clear that the memes were protected speech. This entire case rested on the alleged phone calls that, according to this article, the plaintiff’s lawyer stated, “only came up once he was retained by her.”

      We honestly thought we had won the case. I’m guessing that many people in that courtroom were shocked at the outcome. But given that my lawyer, hired that day on the courtroom floor, had a half hour to prepare, he was unable to assess which of my witnesses were most effective, whether I would be good on the stand, or anything, so I didn’t testify, but it was not for fear of cross-examination or anything else, which is why we are requesting a re-hearing. I can sympathize with a judge hearing an elderly woman in front of god knows how many television news cameras, but I am also eager to have my day in court and I don’t think this has happened yet.

      • Stephen McCavour

        Wouldn’t the phone company have records of the calls she recieved?

        • Christian Day

          … or lack thereof. But no phone records were provided. That does not, however, mean that none can be obtained.

  • Fox Woods

    I don’t see what the big deal is. If Christian Day is not the one calling her and harassing her on the phone like a petty child and he no longer has a business connection to her, then who cares if there is now a piece of paper from a court saying not to contact her? He should have no reason to contact her and, if his claims are true, he has not been contacting her…then why is he so upset that there is a court order telling him not to?
    He is, after all, known for having the attitude that any press is good press and free publicity, so why raise such a fuss over all this free publicity unless the accusations hit close to home? Me thinks the “warlock” doth protest too much.

    • Christian Day

      That’s actually an easy answer. I’m not as concerned about the restraining order. I’m concerned that there is a history in restraining order law of false allegations of violation and, if I am correct in my claims that I did not not make the alleged phone calls, I also don’t think it’s that far fetched to wonder that someone someone might say such calls still going on in order to stage a violation that would carry a 2.5 year prison sentence. If you read up on the critics of restraining order law online, you will see exactly why people are encouraged to fight these orders: because they can lead to business loss, children being taken away, false allegations of violations, and numerous other problems. If this were just a matter of the order itself, I’d have just walked away and called it a day. Mind you, any violation allegation will carry with it a far higher burden of proof than your garden variety restraining order hearing, but they also mean I have to pay to fly my husband and I up there, pay for hotels, and deal with the other expenses associated with such travel. It is in my interest to vacate this order for myriad reasons.

      But, if you still believe I made the calls, there’s a $10,000 prize saying I didn’t.

    • Christian Day

      Also, to address the press angle, I think Bill Cosby has proven that not all press is good press. While I’m certain that this publicity could be a “net positive” in terms of reminding potential tourists that Salem is there on the map as a possible destination, I would rather not be embroiled in this kind of press and I’ve turned down media appearances over the years that would be framed in this way, including Judge Judy, which is one of the most consistently successful shows on television. My only involvement in this press is to continue to state my innocence, which I have already demonstrated my reasons for doing.

  • Michael Fortuna

    “Public persona” or not – ask author Sorita D’ Este how she felt about being repeatedly called the “C” word by Day on his Blogtalk radio show “Hex Education” (ep 114) a few years ago – when for whatever reason (seemed like a lot of miscommunication) she failed to appear at the appointed time. It was *hardly* “saucy.” Also on another episode it was very clear from the on-air conversation that Lori Bruno was *asked* by Day to come to Salem and work in his shop and she was not keen on it since the Salem Craft community was so fractious. There was no mention of his “begging” Bruno to come. It’s all out there archived in iTunes. And other mainstream media news outlets have written about this not being the first time in court for Day with this same sort of harassment – “alleged” or otherwise. Do a little more digging Pagan Journalists.

    • Christian Day

      All this proves is that I have no issue telling someone directly what I think of them, even over internet radio airwaves, which rather underscores the point that I’m not the type to do so anonymously behind private numbers.

  • People are quick to jump on the “hate” bandwagon. Too many people like to post snippets and run down others on their newsfeeds on Facebook. Just a day or so ago I removed someone who decided to post something “without comment” and then went on to call names, and drag Christian over the coals. He and I have had our differences in the past. He will tell you exactly what he’s thinking and tends not to sugar coat things. We laughed once because we have both been described as abrasive. I think that people spend entirely too much time running other’s down and should maybe get to work on keeping their own affairs in order before worrying about other things. No one deserves to be lied about and not get a fair shake no matter who they are. Justice is for everyone, even those you don’t like.

  • ChristopherBlackwell

    Personal vendettas are hardly unknown in Salem Wiccan politics. That is one reason I have never had any interest in ever going to Salem. The other fact is that it was Danvers, Massachusetts [once know as Salem Village] not the town of Salem where the history happened. Later ashamed of what they had done, Salem Village changed their name to Danvers.

    So the whole Salem thing is a bit of a carnival, hokey, and a bit of a fake. None of the victims of the trials were Witches whatsoever, so it actually has nothing at all to do with modern day Wicca. In fact it is not likely that any of the fifty odd thousand victims of the alleged burning times were Witches. The same is true of the modern day victims of Witch Hunts that go on today around the world. The witch hunts never did stop they just changed locations. More people have been accused as, and killed as Witches, since 1945, then during the entire alleged burning times.

    We Wiccans don’t need phony ancestors, or phony witch victims to justify our present day existence. As to any real Witches, we know next to nothing about the because they did not write anything. Remember, most of the people were illiterate back then, including the rulers. All of the stories at Witchcraft came from people who were not Witches.

    As to those that are Witches, the few, the I have heard of, do almost none of the things that we Wiccans do. No protective circles, no calling quarters, no purification, little if any ceremony, no atheme, no gods or goddesses. Witchcraft is a craft, not a religion. If it was dressed up with religion for the sake of the comfort of the customers, Witches used whatever the local main religion was. So we have centuries of “Christian” Witches.

    Most of what we Wiccans do ceremonial wise comes from Ceremonial Magic, and then our founders decided to make it a Pagan religion. ay of our Wiccan community are nearly ignorant of both Wiccan history, and of Witch History, such as it is.

    • Christian Day

      Hi Christopher,

      In the interest of Salem history, while many of the persecuted where from nearby Danvers (particularly those executed), people were imprisoned from throughout the region, including nearby Andover. The imprisonment and trials themselves, however, took place in Salem Town proper. In fact, if you study Boyers and Nissenbaum’s Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft, you will see how the tensions were actually fueled by conflicts between those who desired to be connected to the emerging mercantile shipping center that Salem Town was becoming and those who wanted to remain simple farmers.

      As to why Witches or Wiccans might want to live in Salem when it is unclear if anyone in 1692 was an actual magical practitioner of one kind or another, there are two primary reasons why.

      1: When Laurie Cabot first came to Salem in the late 1960’s, she was unabashedly open about being a Witch. By doing so, it encouraged other Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans to come there to also be open about who they are. There are all kinds of traditions in Salem. My husband and business partner, who co-owns are two shops, walking tour company, and event businesses there, is a 3rd Degree High Priest of the Alexandrian Tradition and there are a number of British Traditional Witches and covens in Salem, as well as more eclectic Wiccan traditions, those who call themselves simply Witches (or warlock like me), wizards, druids, and numerous other magical people. But this odd question, one I am frequently asked, that implies that we shouldn’t live in Salem if the victims of 1692 weren’t Witches is silly. Mohamed didn’t make a pilgrimage to Dearborn, Michigan. Jesus didn’t walk on water in Virginia Beach. There’s no Temple Mount in Brooklyn. Sometimes, religious people find places they can call home and be with others of like mind. Salem is just such a place for Witches and other magical people.

      2: Whether the victims of 1692 were magical people or not, the city of Salem, Massachusetts is more branded into the public consciousness with the word Witch than any other single location on Earth. For those wishing to educate the world about the ways of Witchcraft, whatever that means the individual espousing them, there is no bigger stage than Salem. My growing up in that area absolutely gave me a special privilege to speak on the subject of the Craft to the world that I many not have had if I lived somewhere other than the Witch City. I’ve often encouraged leaders in the community to come to Salem and take advantage of this platform because it is a powerful one.



  • Meg

    Years ago, Witches were hung on hearsay and without merit. Fast forward to 2015, we have one Witch making claims against another…without merit. The order was granted without evidence, and is no different than the events that caused Salem to become historic. Has society not learned anything since then? Why were there no police reports, if this has been going on for so long? We all know the rumors from both sides, but when one side is speaking not of truth, it is time we acknowledge this. One should not have a name or career tarnished with no evidence, and potentially done out of spite. Had the circumstances been reversed, you bet that this judgment would not be seen as acceptable without the evidence to back it up.

  • guest

    I give this 5 minutes until the feminists jump in on the show and give
    Day the full Tim Hunt treatment. Every man with the temerity to
    criticize a woman must be silenced.

    • Hecate_Demetersdatter

      How interesting that you post as “guest.” So brave.

    • Christian Day

      I don’t think this is appropriate or helpful to the discussion, “guest.” I think most reasonable people, including feminists, care about the truth.

  • Catherine Lynch Monks

    My father often said, play the Pagliacci and you’ll be treated like a clown. When an individual has a history of a certain kind of behavior they ought not to be shocked when people conclude they’ve behaved badly.

    • Christian Day

      So does innocence not matter to you, Catherine?

      • Catherine Lynch Monks

        Because your word is good and you’ve never made bad choices when you lost your temper.

        • Christian Day

          But did I not admit it? I mean that, Catherine, take a step back from your year of rage and ask yourself, did I ever deny what I said in anger over something I continue to maintain that I falsely accused of? No. Could I have denied it? Absolutely. I could have said my account was hacked or anything else. I never lied about a thing and, realizing that my words were wrong in that case, I did my best to make up for it. I’m not owning up to this, Catherine, because it didn’t happen and if you read the facts presented above without emotion, you are too intelligent not to hear the ring of truth in what I said. You are more than welcome to call me to discuss any of this at any time.

        • Christian Day

          I think the question must be asked, does my innocence matter? If you knew proof positive I was innocent, would you want me to fry either way? And, if so, that raises so many other questions.