North Carolina Druid arrested for “Disseminating Obscenities”

Heather Greene —  November 4, 2016 — 21 Comments

GASTONIA, N.C. — Druid Daniel Scott Holbrook, also known as Cú Meala, was arrested Wednesday and charged, according to records, with one count of the “dissemination of obscenities.” As noted by the Gaston Gazatte, 29-year-old Holbrook “allegedly sent [an undercover] detective a photo of a nude child around 8-10 years old.”

TWH has been in touch with the local Gaston County authorities, but have not yet been unable to confirm the reported specifics of the sheriff’s investigation or details of the arrest. What we do know is that Holbrook was in fact arrested Wednesday on the stated felony charge and placed in the Gaston county jail. His bond was set at $25,000.

[Sheriff Gaston County, N.C.]

[Sheriff Gaston County, N.C.]

Holbrook is a resident of Gastonia, but is originally from Maryland. He recently took a job at a local Walmart and, along with his wife, is co-owner of Cait Sidhe Designs, a company specializing in “specialize in original artwork, devotional jewelry, and spiritual and ritual supplies.”

Over the past five years, Holbrook has become an up-and-coming leader within Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)‘s eastern-based communities. He began his own spiritual journey with Maryland-based Cedar Light Grove and then, after moving south, he started Raven’s Hollow Protogrove in 2015. As noted on its site, Raven’s Hollow was conceived when “its founder was told in ritual by the Irish goddess the Morrígan to ‘establish a Druid Grove in honor of Herself,’ in order to bring together the widely decentralized Druid population of the Carolinas, and provide a public space for Pagans of all denominations to feel safe to come and worship.”

After the grove’s establishment, Holbrook reached out to Coru Cathubodua, another Pagan organization uniquely dedicated to the Morrigan. In response, the California-based group sent a gift and a blessing to Raven’s Hollow for their growth and continued success.

Additionally, Holbrook is one of the organizers for the area’s Piedmont Pagan Pride Day event. His grove led the 2016 opening ceremonies. He, himself, hosted a talk on “The Many Faces of the Morrígan: Worship of the Great Queens, Past and Present” and participated on an interfaith panel representing Druidry.

Holbrook’s community efforts did not go unrecognized. In May 2016, he was appointed to the position of Deputy Regional Druid by the Regional Druid Rev. Nancy McAndrew.

Public reaction to the news of Holbrook’s arrest has been heated and varied, from surprise and disappointment to frustration and anger.

Rev. Caryn MacLuan of Maryland’s Cedar Light Grove told The Wild Hunt, “Scott was a member in good standing with our grove for a number of years. We have never known him to be less than honest and ethical at all times. I have spoken to two witnesses of this event and it sounds like a download trojan of some sort. We will wait for the outcome of the legal system before considering further moves.”

Coru Cathubodua issued a reaction, saying, “The Coru Cathubodua stand firmly and unwaveringly against all forms of abuse and predatory behavior. We have not met Mr. Holbrook personally.The ADF’s Raven’s Hollow Protogrove reached out to us based on their devotional focus on the Morrigan. Given that they were an ADF Protogrove, we felt that their values would be in alignment with ours and wished to encourage and support a new group in their devotion. We would never knowingly tolerate or support a child predator and we stand with the community in protecting itself from dangerous and predatory behaviors.”

When ADF’s Mother Grove learned of the arrest, the organization was quick to announce that it would be assessing the situation very carefully. On Nov. 4, the board released this public statement:

It has come to the attention of the Mother Grove that one of our Grove Organizers was arrested a couple of days ago on a single charge of distributing inappropriate material. We pray for the family involved, and we hope that, innocent or guilty, justice will prevail. In the United States, we work under the presumption of innocence until proven guilty; however, the Mother Grove has a responsibility to act accordingly for the protection of its members, and we also will allow the party involved to work through the justice system. This individual has been removed from all leadership positions while they are navigating through the legal system. If the person is found innocent of the charge, they will be allowed to ask for reinstatement if they so desire.

As noted in the ADF statement, Holbrook has been removed from all leadership positions, including his new Deputy Regional role. Additionally, ADF chose to make Raven’s Hollow Protogrove inactive; Holbrook has since closed it down completely.

We were unable to reach Holbrook, his family, or grove members for comment in time for publication.

TWH did learn that, after being taken into custody, Holbrook appeared in court on Nov. 3. He was assigned a public defender and a trial date of Nov. 22. Holbrook posted bond and is no longer being held.

We will continue to follow this story and update you as it unfolds.  

Heather Greene

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Heather is a freelance writer, film historian, and journalist, living in the Deep South. She has collaborated with Lady Liberty League on religious liberty cases, and formerly served as Public Information Officer for Dogwood Local Council and Covenant of the Goddess. She has a masters degree in Film Theory, Criticism and History from Emory University with a background in the performing and visual arts. Heather's book on witches in American film and television will be published by McFarland in 2018.
  • Eric Singletary

    Just to clarify some things… I was present the weekend of the incident, and was in constant contact for most of the precedings leading up to the arrest, and was privy to all of the conversations with the detectives and judges. Over the Fourth of July Weekend, we were trying to watch a movie… Scott has hit on some financial hard times this year, and unable to access the regular streaming services had resorted to using Torrent to watch films. The movie we were trying to watch that night (which was a perfectly innocent PG-13 Rated film), wound up having a mislabeled link, which was clicked, but instantly deleted. This hasn’t even been brought to trial yet, and even the detective who was leading the investigation has said to the cops that he doesn’t think Scott did anything wrong. I am truly ashamed at the way the Pagan community has handled this, dragging someone’s entire reputation, and tie to their community network through the mud without even approaching him directly, asking questions, or even trying to get the straight story. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? There are multiple witnesses to what actually happened, and nobody is even bothering to try to get the truth here.

  • This sounds horribly painful for everyone involved… but also, that the Mother Grove is handling a difficult matter with some professionalism and grace. Neither rushing to judgement nor averting our gaze from a painful possibility of guilt, nor ignoring the importance of being watchful where there are people in positions of trust… that is probably the best any of us can do.

    I am saddened for everyone who will be wrestling with this situation as the story unfolds.

    Thank you for professional, quality coverage, Heather. It’s on days like this I am grateful for how far the Pagan community has come.

  • Katherine Mathiowetz

    Is there solid prove he did it? Seriously is there? I hope not. this is sad indeed

  • Chris Aldridge

    How come when someone of a minority religion commits a crime, the mainstream news blasts their religion all over, but when a Christian commits a crime, they never mention their religion? Why even bring it up unless to try to punish the entire religion and all of its members for the actions of a few that they will most certainly denounce?

    • Tbh when a pedophile priest is arrested, they call them for what they are, most of the times.

      • Rowyntree

        Raven’s Hollow is still up.

        • I do now know who that is…

    • Lailoken Scathach

      Because we have to be held to a higher standard – because we’re ourt side the mainstream – but, yes I completely agree with you. All the criminals in our justice system never have their “beliefs” brought up.

      It’s a double standard!

      • kenofken

        There is a bad history in handling stories where minority religions are concerned. At the same time, it has always been the case that news value is punched up a few levels when the person getting busted for something is a public or quasi-public figure. Holbrook is not just some dude who happens to be Pagan. He’s a fairly prominent leader regionally, and his position will translate to many non-Pagans as something on the order of a pastor if not bishop.

  • ChristopherBlackwell

    I seriously this is not true and that he is innocent. If actually guilty then for swift punishment. But it is far too early to rush to any judgment, and we do have a principle of innocent until proven guilty. I feel sorry for his grove, his fellow Druids and for his family and friends as well as they suffer as well.

  • Rylin Mariel

    I have known Scott for several years, and I believe he is innocent of the charges! These allegations are so completely unlike the character of the man I know. I believe that he will be vindicated in the end.

    • kenofken

      I think he should be entitled to a presumption of innocence and fair process like everyone else, but of what use is anyone’s perception of someone’s “character” in cases like this? It presupposes that there is something easily recognizable about pedophiles. We tend to assume that they all must be that guy in the rusty conversion van with bad skin who spends his days lurking near playgrounds and schools. Some of course are.

      The vast majority are completely unremarkable in day to day life. They span the full range of education, incomes, professions etc. Back in my journalism days, I covered a number of these cases, and many of the guys getting arrested for this sort of thing were very highly regarded teachers, community leaders etc. There were not usually “bad guys” in any global sense of the word. They were men who for whatever reasons of biology and psychology had a sexual predilection which cannot be accommodated or tolerated by modern civilized societies. Very few of them had any past criminal histories. Sometimes, in hindsight, it became apparent that some had displayed borderline boundary issues with minors, but most seemed to express that part of themselves only online and probably never would have been detected but for law enforcement stings, chance discoveries by computer repair professionals etc.

      • Rylin Mariel

        I realize you have only my word on this, but I can’t offer you more than that, I’m afraid. My prayers are with Scott and his wife at this time – the gods know they need them!

  • Sophonisba

    Another victim of the all-men-are-rapists attitude of our society. Had it been a woman, this would have ended with a quiet discussion and reprimand to watch one’s browsing habits, no charges filed.

    I hope he passes through this with minimal damage to his psyche and his soul. My prayers are with Mr. Holbrook.

    • Lailoken Scathach

      Wow, so true – that is an excellent point.

    • Damiana

      That’s not true.

  • Friday

    I’m really holding out a great deal of skepticism for now on these charges, maybe cause it’s North Carolina and I’ve heard about five too many ’email’ based accusations based on stuff hacker types did lately.

    Also I dunno about North Carolina statutes, but it’s strange they even charged the guy for ‘disseminating an obscenity’ rather than child porn charges, (I expect a real kiddie-porn sting operation would have more than one photo to go on and something more solid-sounding,) so I gotta wonder if it’s not just an email trojan like has been suggested.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      trojanCan we accommodate a refugee from the Twentieth Century whose sole computer training was learning to code in FORTRAN in the Sixties? I get the action of the software from the name, concealing one code in the appearance of another, but how does it counterfeit the emailing of an image from one computer to another? Don’t tell me to just f’n’ google it; I tried and am as befuddled as ever.

      • kenofken

        I’m a fellow refugee from that century and not an IT sort of any kind, but it’s incredibly common for trojan malware to be able to take over a user’s machine for spamming. Email accounts are compromised en mass every day. There are also all sorts of other hacking tricks and software which make it pathetically easy to fake the “from” address of the email, at least to casual observation.

        The issues in this case then become: A)How did a spoofed email happen to end up reaching an “undercover detective”, and B) What is the context? What else was or was not happening with the suspect’s computer? If this truly was a one-off email, it’s very conceivable, or at least arguable, that there was no criminal intent or knowledge. Hacking happens, and for that matter, illegal underage images will sometimes pop up under unrelated legal porn search terms, or sometimes even under searches which have nothing to do with porn of any kind.

        If, on the other hand, his hard drives and browsing histories are full to the brim with “young teenie” images and six months of chat records with the detective whom he believed to be a fellow enthusiast, well, then, his defense attorney has what the call in legalese “A Real Problem.”

        • Baruch Dreamstalker


      • Friday

        I neither profess nor expect everyone involved to be cutting edge on the damn computers. One thing’s clear, lately, many have means and motive to fake things, yes, via email attachments.