GASTON, N.C. — A transcript of Daniel Scott Holbrook’s plea deal in court last month doesn’t jibe with his version of events. Holbrook pleaded no contest to charges of disseminating obscenities after, by his account, an attempt to download a movie from a file-sharing site yielded hundreds of illegal images. However, the prosecutor asserted during the proceedings that Holbrook had admitted to the officers who arrived at his home to not only downloading the images in question, but using them for personal gratification.
Wiccan Priest and Rev. Tony Brown, who is otherwise unaffiliated with Mr. Holbrook and his grove, was at the original hearing, and shared his account with The Wild Hunt at that time. He omitted the information because he wasn’t sure he heard it correctly, saying only, “Some of the details in [Holbrook’s and others’] accounts differ from what I heard in court.” Brown is also the person who originally obtained the hearing transcript as verification. He now says, “[I] can verify that it comports with my memory of the proceedings.” Brown added that he is urging caution in interpreting this information.”It is also worth considering that no evidence or testimony was presented in the case. He pled[sic] out. All the transcript provides is the DA’s summation of the case.”
That’s a point brought up by Maria Fergus, who was part of Holbrook’s ADF protogrove and was also present in the courtroom that day. She said that “the accusation that he admitted to masturbating to the images was made as part of the DA’s statement after he had entered the plea of no contest and could not refute them. I was shocked.”
Fergus added that she later confronted Holbrook on that point, saying that she “demanded he look [her] in the eye, and questioned him explicitly.” She said, “I am 100% confident he told the truth about the allegations.”
Fergus, Brown, and Holbrook’s wife Amber all confirm that Holbrook vehemently shook his head in reaction to the prosecutor’s characterization.
When asked about the transript, Holbrook told TWH that he was blindsided by the prosecutor’s comment, which was made during summation and therefore was not subject to an objection. “I can say that my lawyer informed me beforehand that while this prosecutor was generally fair, in cases that related to underage sexuality, no matter the context, she could be especially vicious—and again, she was by no means bound to tell the truth, and may have wanted simply to drill the point home just how seriously she takes cases like this, which she would ordinarily prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, provided she had evidence (e.g. a confession) to do so. I was not prepared, however, for any statements to be made like the ones she did.”
While Holbrook did not include those hearing details in his written account, he said that he had told “numerous people in the local and broader Pagan community” what was said during the summation. We will continue to follow this story and updated if needed.
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OTTAWA — Dr. Lucie Marie-Mai DuFresne, an elder in the Canadian Pagan community, died Sunday, Apr. 23, 2017. DuFresne had been fighting both breast and liver cancer. Very suddenly and unexpectedly, at the beginning of April, she was rushed to the hospital with liver failure. She was given months to live, but that would not be so. A few short days after returning home, Lucie died, in her own bed as per her wishes. She was 65.
DuFresne was well known in the Pagan community for her work as a founding member of the Pagan Federation/Fédération Païenne Canada (PFPC) where she championed the cause of Pagan chaplaincy. She was also the previous owner and proprietor of a popular Pagan emporium known as the Hungry Eye, located in downtown Ottawa.
An anthropologist by training and a teacher by preference, DuFresne was a longtime sessional lecturer at the University of Ottawa in the departments of Classics and Religious Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, and Women’s Studies. Her recent work focused on the history of lace in Canada, based upon her knowledge of religious orders, women’s participation in the French Canadian, Métis and Aboriginal economies, and the religious history of Québec and Ontario.
DuFresne was actively involved in the local committee for Walking With Our Sisters, a travelling commemorative art installation for the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada and the United States. She was also a member of the Lacemakers Guild of Ottawa and the Ottawa Herb Society. She was an active supporter of, and participant in, La Triennale Internationale des Arts Textiles en Outaouais, a tri-annual textile exhibition.
A celebration of DuFresne’s life was held Apr. 30 in Ottawa. Friends and family from Ontario and Quebec participated in a ritual, which was a blend of Pagan and native traditions which acknowledged her as both Pagan and Metis. Altars for each of the four directions were decorated with DuFresne’s personal collection of ritual tools and goddess figurines, as well as her own hand-blended smudges which she created based on her anthropological work in the Yukon, Canada.
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise money to assist the family in transition, to cover funeral costs, legal costs, and the expenses associated with getting Lucie’s archival research to the right people and places. What is remembered, lives.
In other news:
- Pagan Unity Festival (PUF) is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The four-day outdoor camping festival is held annually at Montgomery Bell State Park in the Tennessee mountains. It offers workshops, entertainment, shopping, and a children’s activities. This year’s special guests include Rev. Selena Fox, Christopher Penczak, Oberon Zell, Alex Bledsoe, Gypsey Teague, Rowena Whaling, Fr. David, Tony Kail, Kiki Dombrowski. PUF runs May 18 through 20.
- It was announced that the First Hermetic International Film Festival will be held in Venice, Italy in March 2018. Festival director Sara Fero said that FHIFF is interested in screening films related to “esoterica and the hermetic sciences.” The festival is looking for submissions now in a number of categories. Information is on the festival website.
- The sixth annual WitchsFest USA, billed as “a Pagan street faire,” will occur in Astor Place, New York City, on July 14-16, 2017; it is hosted by Starr Ann Ravenhawk. The long list of presenters includes Christian Day, Lilith Dorsey, and Queen Mother Imakhu; among the performers will be the Dragon Ritual Drummers and Witchmaste. Vendors — including psychics — will be open and workshops ongoing for the entire time. For more information, consult the linked web site.
- Silver RavenWolf will be releasing a new book in fall 2017. Her latest offering is titled The Witching Hour, and is subtitled, “Spells, Powders, Formulas, Witchy Techniques that Work.” The book is being published by Llewellyn Worldwide.
- Brython has launched a new project to “develop a body of Brythonic polytheist devotional material.” Brython is a group of polytheists aiming to research, recover and redistribute this form of Celtic spirituality. The organization has already published four books on the topic. Brython is now looking for submissions from the great community to help “develop and enhance the existing devotional material.” The work will be published on their blog.