Two sisters held down and burned a five-year-old girl in the US state of Massachusetts, as part of a voodoo ritual performed to relieve her of a demon they thought was making her misbehave.
Peggy LaBossiere, 51, and Rachel Hilaire, 40, tied down the girl and blew fire over her face, leaving her permanently disfigured, reported the Independent.
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According to the police, the suspects lacerated the victim’s arm and collar area with a needle-like object and poured a burning substance over her eyes. The women further threatened to behead the girl’s brother with a machete.
The sisters from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts refuted the allegations and pleaded not guilty to assault, mayhem, and other charges, according to the Brockton Enterprise.
The victim’s mother, a hairstylist who has LaBossiere as a client, allegedly asked for the ritual. She is currently receiving mental health treatment.
In the past, the pair stated, they have performed "cleansing baths" for friends and family and said children get burned as spirits escape their bodies.
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The five-year-old sustained third-degree burns all over her face with permanent damage. Along with her brother, the young girl was taken into custody by state welfare authorities.
On Wednesday, the women will be back in court for a hearing to determine whether they can be discharged on bail.
Invented centuries ago by African slaves in the Caribbean, voodoo is considered a religious practice. Most followers say the religion is non-violent and widely misperceived, despite its reputation.