Mother and grandmother of 6-year-old girl charged after shocking voodoo ritual

June 19th, 2009 - 2:51 pm ICT by admin  

QUEENS, New York (BNO NEWS) — Two New York City women have been charged after allegedly carrying out a shocking voodoo ritual on a 6-year-old girl, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Marie Lauradin, 29, who is the mother of the girl, has been charged with first-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Sylvenie Thessier, 70, who is the grandmother of the girl, has been charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child.

The 6-year-old girl was transported to William Randolph Hearst Burn Center on February 6 with life-threatening burns over 25 percent of her body. “During the performance of a Haitian voodoo practice known as ‘Loa,’ the child’s mother is alleged to have intentionally poured an accelerant over her young daughter’s body, causing her to be engulfed in flames,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Despite the child’s cries for help and the severity of her injuries, both defendants are accused of failing to seek immediate medical attention for the child,” he added.

According to the charges, the girl was home on February 4th with Lauradin, Thessier and a family friend known as “Sketch” when the mother poured an accelerant on her head and in a circle on the floor, better known as a voodoo practice called “Loa.” The mother then set the circle on fire and placed the girl, who was naked, inside the ring of fire, at which point the accelerant on her body ignited and flames engulfed her. Thessier and “Sketch” were allegedly present in the room during the voodoo ritual but neither intervened - even after the girl cried out for help.

Instead of seeking immediate medical attention for the girl, the grandmother allegedly bathed her with cold water and placed her in bed at around 4 p.m. local time, where she was discovered the following evening by another relative who insisted that the child be taken to hospital. “The child has suffered permanent scarring — both physically and emotionally,” Brown said.

The girl was admitted to hospital with second- and third-degree burns covering 25 percent of her body, including her face, torso and legs. As part of her treatment, the girl was placed in a medically-induced coma and hooked up to a respirator. Her current condition is unknown although she was released from hospital in May.

At the time, the mother told police that, in the early afternoon of February 4th, she was in the kitchen preparing rice on the stove and that as she was transferring the pot from a front burner to a back one, the girl approached her from behind and hit her hand, causing her to spill the pot of boiling water on the child. The girl’s grandmother, Thessier, was said to have been in the bathroom at the time of the incident. The mother told police that she “did not see any burns” on her daughter until they arrived at the hospital. After the girl was released from the hospital and placed into foster care, however, she told her foster family a different account of what had happened.

If convicted, the mother faces up to 25 years in prison and the grandmother faces up to seven years in prison. The investigation was conducted by Detective Michael McNelis of the New York City Police Department’s Queens Child Abuse Squad, under the supervision of Sergeant Robert Garrity. Although the identity of the girl is known, it is BNO News’ policy to not identify victims.

The defendants are awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court and both deny the allegations. The girl remains in foster care.

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