EXORCISM ATTEMPT Minister gets jail for death
An autistic boy suffocated during the service.
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee minister whose attempt to perform an exorcism ended in the death of an 8-year-old boy was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison and 7 1/2 years of state supervision for the botched ritual last August.
The sentence bars Ray Anthony Hemphill, 46, a former maintenance worker with no religious schooling who conducted services in a strip-mall sanctuary, from attempting any more exorcisms during the next 10 years without formal training in the practice. Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto said the prohibition, and the extended supervision, were needed to protect Milwaukee from Hemphill's unorthodox religious practices.
"The community cannot risk another child being hurt, much less being killed, in a religious ritual," DiMotto said.
Altogether, the sentence meets the 10-year maximum Hemphill faced after a jury convicted him in July of child abuse -- recklessly causing great bodily harm.
Hemphill was also ordered to pay $1,224.75 in restitution.
He spoke only briefly at the sentencing hearing:
"Your honor, I'm truly sorry for what happened to Terrance Cottrell Jr. That is what I would like to say. Thanks."
The boy had been coming to prayer services at Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith, for about three weeks. They were intended to cure the boy's autism.
The services, Hemphill told police, ran an hour or two most nights and involved close physical contact, sometimes with his body lying across the child's torso. But on Aug. 22, 2003, he noticed the boy, who was being held down by his mother, two other women and Hemphill, had stopped breathing. Hemphill called 911 and performed CPR, but Terrance died.
None of the other three have been charged in the death.
District Attorney E. Michael McCann said his office decided against homicide charges because the state would have been required to show that Hemphill realized his actions presented a "great likelihood" of causing great bodily harm or death to the boy.
An autopsy found Cottrell suffocated and the jury found Hemphill responsible even though his attorney, Thomas Harris, argued that the boy had toxic levels of medicines in his bloodstream.
Harris contended that his client needed only probation, with a stayed prison term hanging over his head, to keep him from endangering others.