Witches Coven: Child Sex Abuse Pair Jailed

Witches Coven: Child Sex Abuse Pair Jailed

Two men have been jailed for a total of 32 years after sexually abusing several children as part of a witches' coven in Cornwall during the 1970s.

Peter Petrauske, 72, and Jack Kemp, 69, were said to have donned ceremonial robes and pagan paraphernalia before abusing young girls.

Police believe one of their victims may have been as young as three.

During the three-week trial at Truro Crown Court, sex abuse victims said they were given money and sweets to buy their silence.

Petrauske, who described himself as the high priest of a white witches' coven in St Ives, Cornwall, was convicted of one count of rape, one count of aiding and abetting an attempt to rape, and one count of indecent assault, all by unanimous verdict.

Kemp was unanimously found guilty of indecent assault and indecency with a child, as well as seven other sexual offences by a majority verdict.

Jailing Kemp for 14 years and Petrauske for 18, Judge Graham Cottle told them: "The offences range from the extremely serious to the truly horrifying.

"(The trial) has featured ritualistic, sickening abuse of young, young children.

"The scars left are so obvious that it would seem extremely unlikely that either of them have any real prospect of recovery."

The child abuse was only investigated further by police last year when Kemp was arrested in connection with another incident, causing rumours to spread around his home town of Falmouth and prompting the alleged victims of the historic offences to contact detectives.

Petrauske was backed up by female members of the coven who said that, while children were occasionally present, nudity never played a part in the ceremonies.

One female friend also described him as "a gentleman".

Kemp denied any involvement in paganism, saying it "wasn't his cup of tea", and said he was the victim of a bizarre conspiracy.

He said the girls were wrong to name him in the case.

Witnesses also named murdered pagan Peter Solheim and notorious Cornish paedophile Stan Pirie as among their abusers.

Solheim was a 56-year-old parish councillor whose body was found five miles off the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, by fishermen on June 18, 2004. He had been drugged and mutilated with a machete or an axe.

Kemp was cleared of five charges, while Petrauske was also found not guilty of one count.

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