Priest arrested for exorcism on anorexic girl

A judge in Burgos has called for the arrest of exorcist, Jesús Hernández Sahagún, along with the girl’s priest after she went through 13 exorcisms while still a minor.

Sahagún, the official exorcist of Valladolid, is facing charges of gender violence, causing injury and mistreatment according to local newspaper, Diario de Burgos, and has been asked to make a statement on the events.

The events date back to 2012, when the girl began to suffer from anorexia. According to El País, her religious parents became convinced she was possessed by the devil and decided to have their child exorcised.

She was tied up and had crucifixes positioned over her head, according to El País.

The girl subsequently attempted suicide and an investigation was launched after her aunts and uncles filed a complaint.

In a statement the girl’s parents told the court that the exorcist was aware that the young girl was in medical treatment at the time and had full access to her clinical records.

The priest reportedly assured the parents that the exorcism would not interfere with their daughter’s medical treatment, but voiced disapproval of the number of medicines the girl had been prescribed.

In an interview with El Mundo in December 2014, Hernández Sahagún defended the 13 exorcisms, explaining the girl was “possessed by the devil”. He also told the Spanish newspaper that he had performed 200 exorcisms over the past four and a half years.

In December 2014, the archbishop of Burgos issued a statement saying “the young woman’s suicide attempt was not a result of the exorcisms practiced on her.”

He also defended exorcisms as “a religious practice maintained as part of the Church’s tradition, as a right available to all the faithful.”

In July 2014, Pope Francis made exorcisms official Catholic practice, with the Vatican hailing them as “a form of charity”.

There are currently around 15 priests in Spain with Church authorization to conduct exorcisms and in 2013 a specialist exorcism squad was chosen in Madrid to tackle the “unprecented rise in demonic possession”


I think one question that needs to be asked, was Canon Law followed?

For starters, the Bishop must authorize an exorcism before the priest has any authority to act.

Is there any hard evidence that the girl was actually mistreated in some way during the exorcism?

The girl being suicidal does not implicate the cause as being from the exorcism, though it’s possible.

From the article, it seems the criminality was tying the child up or perhaps provoking her to attempt suicide???

This was one of my initial thoughts as well.

In July 2014, Pope Francis made exorcisms official Catholic practice, with the Vatican hailing them as “a form of charity”.


Agreed. Like so many internet articles, the article is not well-written, complete or accurate.

Would the Vatican condone having to tie up a child to perform an exorcism? Sounds like child-abuse to me.

Without knowing more of the facts, It’s hard to say. I’ve heard that in some cases the possessed has to be restrained for their safety and the safety of the other participants, though that appears to be the exception rather than the rule.

What I’d like to know is did they put this girl through psychological and medical tests beforehand, as dictated by the Church, to rule out a physiological or mental cause? If she was mentally disturbed rather than possessed, the ordeal of the exorcism could possibly have done her more harm than good.

Is this priest also a doctor?

When forced restrained is used in the mental hospitals, the patient is quickly injected with medication that produces sedation. This medication should certainly have been given to the teen to greatly reduce the psychological trauma of the forced restraint.

Are you a doctor?
Do you have more knowledge about this case than what was presented in the article?

This is awful. I don’t think anorexia is a sign that you are possessed. That’s strange…

I think the bottom line is the article has no real substance and therefore no meaningful conclusions can be drawn.

I have my PhD in research psychology and have actually seen someone having to be subdued and restrained. I would probably have a panic attack if it happened to me.

I believe if a minor is restrained, the parents have to sign off on it and may even be required to be present.

An exorcist is basically required, or it is at least considered extremely imprudent, to not have witnesses at the exorcism, especially when persons of the opposite sex are invovled.

A person who is possessed can have the strength of ten men and they are a danger to themselves and others in the room.

As I said, no real conclusion can be drawn in this instance.

Since when are parents legally allowed to have somebody tie up their child?

Do you believe in demonic possession, Robert?

Sounds like possibly lots of evil in the area. They should do a blessing and consecrate the area. Prayer intercession indeed. :gopray:

Anorexia was also involved in the case of Annelise Michel from whom the character of Emily Rose is taken in the popular exorcism move some years back.

I believe Annelise actually did die from complications relating to her anorexia. Possession is a complicated business, but the laity and world at large will forever be second guessing the actions of the Catholic Church in this area.

However, if one says that possession does not exist, then that person is saying the four gospels are erroneous because numerous times in scripture Jesus encounters and casts out demons that are possessing people.

Yes, of course, but I condemn the child abuse which this girl went though as a result of being tied up. Never did Christ tie anybody up. Our using evil so that good may come about is forbidden, and child abuse is an evil.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit