Charges withdrawn in 'Voodoo ritual' assault case

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PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — 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 Plymouth district attorney’s office withdrew the case last week, according to The Enterprise of Brockton.

The case was withdrawn because the children would not be available to testify at trial, the prosecutor wrote.

“Without the testimony of the children in this case, the Commonwealth does not have a good faith basis to proceed to trial at this time,” the prosecutor wrote. The district attorney could refile charges if circumstances change or additional evidence is developed, a spokeswoman for the office said.

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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