This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
After a months-long investigation by police in a small Ontario town, a Canadian woman who sold herself as a psychic has been charged with witchcraft.
This weekend police in Milton, a small town in Ontario, arrested 32-year-old Dorie Stevenson who was running a psychic business out of her basement. She was charged with extortion, fraud over $5,000 [$3,813 USD], and witchcraft/fortune telling. If you’re thinking, whoa, Canada has witchcraft laws? Well, the answer would be yes, but they’re probably not exactly what you think.
It's covered under section 365 in the Criminal Code under the title “pretending to practice witchcraft.” It focuses on anyone who “fraudulently” gets paid to tell fortunes, “pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment, or conjuration,” or using their “skill in or knowledge of an occult or crafty science” to find where lost things are.
Police allege that Stevenson, whose psychic name as Madeena, swindled over $60,000 [$45,757 USD] out of one of her clients. Milton police say that the investigation into the “Milton Psychic” took months.
"What we typically see is a tendency for perpetrators to take advantage of persons when they are in their most vulnerable state. Victims are manipulated into believing something bad will happen to them unless they remit cash,” said Sergeant Dave Costantini in a press release.
“When victims cannot be squeezed any longer, the perpetrators rely on the victim's embarrassment in not contacting police."
Police say that the victim was tricked into buying some products—which include “new cell phones, jewelry, appliances, and gift cards—that they would then hand over to Stevenson for cleansing. They would expect these items to be returned by the psychic but, lo and behold, they never were.
A quick search for the Milton Psychic shows a snazzy website that advertises a wide array of “reading” types like tarot, energy, and crystal. It’s $75 [$57 USD] for a reading or $130 [$99 USD] for two—Stevenson even offered gift certificates.
“Through any reading of the palm, tarot cards, crystal, face, life, or energy readings I will answer all of your hart’s questions without one single question—GUARANTEED,” reads her site. “I will reunite the separated, bring back the success in your life, and the happiness in your home; all while removing the evil forces around you and your loved ones.”
Police say that they believe there may be other victims out there and are asking for them to come forward.
The law, which for a long, long time sat on the books without being used, has been invoked a few times in recent years. In 2009 a woman claiming to be from a long line of witches defrauded a lawyer out of thousands of dollars by telling him he was possessed by the soul of his recently departed sister. A few years later in 2012, a 26-year-old Mississauga man was charged after promising to lift a family’s curse—in exchange for some sweet, sweet cash.
There is a proposed bill, C-51, which was introduced by the government last year to remove archaic laws from the books, such as witchcraft. The bill also proposes removing the ban on dueling, and publishing blasphemous libel. If it passes it will mean practicing witchcraft is perfectly legal in Canada.
So, witches, warlocks, and those weird people in robes I sometimes see in the park, rejoice… I guess?
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