A Romanian priest sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the exorcism death of a young nun in 2005 has recently been released. With assistance from four nuns, priest Daniel Corogeanu bound 23-year-old nun Irina Cornici to a cross, gagged her mouth with a towel, and left her for five days without food or water.
The ritual, Corogeanu explained, was an effort to drive devils out of the woman. Cornici died on June 15, 2005; an autopsy found she had died of suffocation and dehydration. Cornici had a history of schizophrenia that had been mistaken as a sign of demonic possession.
According to a news story in "The Croatian Times" Corogeanu stated,
"I consider myself not guilty because Irina Conrici's death was not down to the fact that we kept her locked up. We tied her up because she kept hitting and harming herself and we would have found her dead in her room eventually.
I admit I tied her up and stuck a towel in her mouth and kept her like this for five days....Four nuns helped me tie her up and guarded Irina for days. They tried to give her food and water but she refused. All she accepted was holy water.... My biggest mistake was that I called the ambulance when I saw she was not moving.... Had I not called the ambulance, she would have been well now. It was the last stage of her exorcism and it is normal that a person possessed by demons faints when all the prayers end. She was supposed to recover after that."
Corogeanu stated that the exorcism he and the nuns performed was appropriate (in fact he called it "quite normal") and instead blamed Conrici's death on an overdose of adrenaline administered by paramedics who rescued her.
This is not the first time that exorcisms have cost innocent lives, often of young people. In 2003, an autistic 8-year-old boy in Milwaukee died during an exorcism by church members during a prayer service held to exorcise the evil spirits they blamed for his condition. In 2009 a young woman named Naila Mumtaz was killed by her husband, his parents, and a brother-in-law during an exorcism in England. A year later, also in England, 14-year-old Kristy Bamu was beaten and drowned by relatives during an exorcism.
The Croatian newspaper noted that "After his release the priest said he planned to return back to his monastery where he wanted to start a new monastery dedicated to the nun's memory. But when he got there angry villagers in the commune of Zapodeni in Eastern Romania chased him out of town saying that they would never forgive him for what he did. In the end he set up home in a wooden hut which he now refuses to leave, according to a local council official."