Judge bars warlock from harassing witch in Salem
SALEM — Witchcraft and jurisprudence are not exactly strangers in Salem.
But even in a city that wears its ties to the 17th-century witch trials like an amulet, a courtroom duel between two self-proclaimed representatives of the occult is an unusual sight.
But that's what happened Wednesday in Salem District Court when a 75-year-old witch priestess and psychic asked a judge to stop a man who calls himself the "world's best-known warlock" from placing vulgar phone calls to her in the middle of the night.
"I can see into my own future. That's why I'm here today," said Lori Bruno-Sforza, who runs Magika, a witchcraft store in Salem. "I want to protect myself."
She identified her tormenter as Christian Day, 45, a man whom she said she loved as a son until he turned on her three years ago. She alleged that he placed crude phone calls to her and posted messages on Facebook wishing death upon her.
She asked Judge Robert Brennan to issue a civil order to prevent Day from harassing her.
Dressed in head-to-toe black and adorned with rings, necklaces, and broaches, Bruno-Sforza said the harassment kept her up at night, made her fear for her store, and left her wondering if she would be physically attacked. The hearing took place three days before Halloween, which Brennan called a scheduling coincidence.
"I am a woman! I am not somebody's footstool," Bruno-Sforza yelled from the witness stand.
The phone calls were placed from a private number up to three times a week between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., Bruno-Sforza wrote in an affidavit filed in court.
She said a friend showed her Facebook posts mocking her, including one that took aim at her predictions of volcanic eruptions.
"Mt. Etna, Europe's most active volcano, erupts again, and yet again, some crazy bat is taking credit for it," read one post accompanied by a picture of a witch rising over a volcano.
Bruno-Sforza was adamant about her powers.
"I've predicted a volcanic eruption quite a few times, including Mount St. Helens," she testified.
Day, who is known for dressing in black and wearing dark eye makeup, came to court in a blue suit and yellow tie. He traveled to Salem from New Orleans, where he said he now lives.
During his years in Salem, some considered Day to be a polarizing figure because of his business philosophy of bringing witchcraft to the masses.
Court records show he pleaded guilty in 2002 to criminal harassment and making annoying telephone calls and was sentenced to probation. Day said he is now good friends with the victim in that case.
In 2011, a judge issued a civil harassment order against Day after a Salem man alleged Day threatened him and tried to get him fired from his job, according to court records.
Day's attorney, Paul R. Moraski, pressed Bruno-Sforza to explain why she never called police about the phone calls. He also asked whether she was a public figure and referenced another person in the spotlight to make his point.
"I'm not Donald Trump," Bruno-Sforza said. "Wishing death on me is not a public figure thing. It came from exactly Mr. Christian Day."
Brennan, the judge, said the comments posted to Facebook constitute protected speech, but he said he was troubled by the "frequent and consistent calls in the middle of the night."
He issued a civil order requiring Day to refrain from harassing Bruno-Sforza for one year.
"You called her repeatedly in the middle of the night and used a word that really no one under any circumstances should use," Brennan said.
Day did not testify in his defense, but later protested Brennan's decision.
"On everything that is holy I did not make those calls," Day said before he stormed out of the courtroom.
Outside the courthouse, Day said no evidence tying him to the phone calls was presented to the judge and that he plans to appeal Brennan's order.
"Anyone who knows me, even my haters because I'm rather well-known, will tell you that when I have something to say, I say it to your face," he said.
Day blamed a business disagreement for the falling out between him and Bruno-Sforza. The pair had worked together at Day's witchcraft shop in Salem, but Day said their relationship frayed during negotiations to do a television show.
"She opened a store behind my back in July 2012," he said. "This is a business dispute and everything that she said in there about my calling her was a lie. . . I am the victim here."
Bruno-Sforza said she came to court for justice and got it.
"In this wonderful courthouse, justice was meted out," she said.