The Electric New Paper :
Ex-national sportswoman claims exorcism forced on her. Priests give different account
SHE claimed she was given a forced exorcism.
By Crystal Chan
24 October 2007
SHE claimed she was given a forced exorcism.
The church said it was just a prayer session.
The trial is due to begin tomorrow in the High Court - three years after the alleged incident.
Madam Amutha Valli, 50, is accusing the Novena Church, two of its priests and seven of its helpers of 'exorcising her' against her will.
The former national walker is asking the High Court to award her compensation for loss of earnings and future medical expenses.
She also said that because of the trauma she suffered, she had to stop giving private tuition. The incident has also left her depressed and she is in need of 24-hour care.
Madam Amutha is leaving it to the High Court to assess the damages, which would be at least $250,000 if she wins. Suits involving at least $250,000 are heard in the High Court.
SAVINGS WIPED OUT
She claimed her medical expenses, amounting to more than $70,000, have wiped out most of her family's savings. This included hiring a maid to look after her.
The trial has been set for three weeks before Justice Lee Seiu Kin.
This is believed to be the first time an exorcism is the subject of a lawsuit here.
Madam Amutha said that on 10 Aug, 2004, she, her son, daughter and a male family friend went to the church at Thomson Road as her son, Mr Jairajkumar Jeyabal, then 27, wanted to pray there.
She claimed that she fainted there, and that Father Simon Tan and Father Jacob Ong took her to a room to rest while her family waited outside.
It is alleged that Father Tan came out of the room and told her family that she was possessed by a spirit and would need to be exorcised.
Both Father Tan and Father Ong are said to have gathered seven other church helpers to assist in the 'exorcism'.
The 'exorcism' lasted about 2 1/2 hours, and Madam Amutha supposedly protested against it.
She claimed she was pinned to the floor by five of the helpers while the two priests stood in front of her and two other helpers recited the Bible.
She also alleged that when she insisted on going to the toilet, Father Tan prevented her from closing the door, resulting in her having to relieve herself under his watch.
Madam Amutha also accused the church helpers, who allegedly held her down, of verbally abusing her and threatening to 'break her head'.
She and her family claimed that the church members told them to leave the place after they demanded to call the police and for an ambulance.
However, the church, the priests and the seven helpers gave a different account.
In his defence, Father Tan said that the actual event was not an exorcism, but a prayer session that had been requested by her and her family.
He denied locking her up against her will, outraging her modesty, or injuring her during the prayer session.
Father Tan claimed it was Madam Amutha who hurled vulgarities at the worshippers and at her own family as well.
He said Madam Amutha was 'violently shaking the grilles leading to the prayer hall', and that her daughter told him then that her mother was 'possessed and suicidal'.
He also said that the family was asked to leave the church when Madam Amutha continued to be abusive.
Father Ong's account is similar to Father Tan's, except for one other thing - he claimed Madam Amutha was also creeping on all fours in the church.
He said a man, who claimed to be Madam Amutha's brother, told him she was possessed by a dead soldier's spirit.
Following this, the brother ordered Madam Amutha: 'Soldier, stand up' and 'Soldier, march'.
Madam Amutha then obeyed the 'commands' and started marching.
She then returned to creeping on all fours.
Her family made a police report, but no criminal charges were filed against the defendants.
A report by psychiatrist Angelina Chan of Changi General Hospital stated that Madam Amutha's symptoms are a 'direct result of the traumatic incident that she experienced at the church'.
LAW FIRM REJECTED CASE
The suit was not without its hiccups.
Madam Amutha's family first approached well-known criminal lawyer Mr Subhas Anandan.
But Mr Anandan's then employer, Harry Elias Partnership, told him to reject the case as the law firm has a policy of not acting against a place of worship.
Mr R.S. Bajwa of Bajwa & Co is now representing Madam Amutha.
Novena Church and Father Tan is represented by Mr Tito Isaac and Mr P Padman of Tito Isaac & Co, while Father Ong is represented by Senior Counsel Jimmy Yim and MrDarrell Low of Drew & Napier, as well as Mr Cosmas Gomez of Cosmas & Co.