PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP/WHDH) — Prosecutors have dismissed charges against two Massachusetts women who had been accused of hurting and threatening two children during what authorities described as a Voodoo ritual.
Sisters Rachel Hilaire, 42, and Peggy LaBossiere, 53, were scheduled face trial Monday on charges including assault and battery on a child with injury, but the case was withdrawn last week, according to Beth Stone, a spokeswoman for Plymouth District Attorney’s Office.
The case was withdrawn because the children would not be available to testify at trial, the prosecutor wrote.
“The facts of this case were disturbing and there is no question that these children have been impacted by the circumstances in this case. As the trial date approached, however, it became evident that these two child victims would be unable to testify or would be substantially limited in their ability to testify,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement. “Accordingly, we chose to file a nolle prosequi because, in the absence of testimony from the victims, it was determined that we could not meet our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In making that determination, we carefully considered how best to protect these children from being further traumatized so that they may continue to move forward with their lives. If circumstances should change or additional evidence is developed, we have the ability to refile the charges”
The East Bridgewater women were arrested in January 2018.
They tied down and burned a 5-year-old girl in a “Voodoo ritual” meant to rid her of a demon, authorities said. LaBossiere also threatened to cut off the head of the girl’s 8-year-old brother with a machete, authorities said.
The rituals were requested by the children’s mother, police said.
Hilaire and LaBossiere denied harming or threatening the children. The newspaper left messages with their attorneys.
Voodoo is a religion primarily practiced in Haiti and parts of Africa; it is known in Haiti as Vodou.
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