Attempted Exorcism of Autistic Teenager in Indiana

22-year-old Edward Uyesugi II of Paoli, an usher at the Cherry Hill Christian Center in in Bloomington, Indiana, faces charges of confinement and misdemeanor battery with bodily injury in the wake of an attempted exorcism of an autistic 14-year-old. The July 31st IndyChannel reports that the exorcism occurred in May in the boy’s bedroom in his family’s house. The boy’s family attended the Cherry Hill Christian Center; Uyesugi is said to have told the boy’s family that he could cure him of autism.

“(Uyesugi felt that) the boy could be prayed over and the demons could be cast out of him,” Detective Brad Swain told 6News’ Ben Morriston.


[In the exorcism,] Swain said Uyesugi “forced the boy down, punched him in the face several times, put his fingers in the boy’s throat, causing him to vomit.”

“When the family objected, Uyesugi told them that the vomit was demons being cast out,” Swain said.

After the family called the church, which the family also attended, the pastor notified authorities of the incident.

The boy’s mother told investigators that after the exorcism attempt, the boy’s face was nearly twice its normal size, and his eyes were swelled nearly shut, according to police. She told investigators that Uyesugi had pried the boy’s eyelids open when the boy attempted to close them, authorities said.

New channel WTHR also notes that Uyesugi was a pastor in training at the Cherry Hill Christian Center and has since been removed from the parsonage. While pastors at the Center would not “….comment on the alleged exorcism,” they did tell police that “while they do teach how to cast out demons, their methods don’t include violence”; the Center’s website has a “miracles” section that includes testimonies about healing from scoliosis, a stomach disorder, a blind eye, and other conditions.

The autistic teenager and his family no longer attend church at the Cherry Hill Christian Center.

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    • Kassiane

      …So what about this is misdemeanor rather than felony?

      The victim is a minor, severely battered, in what generally qualifies as ritual abuse. Felony.

      Oh wait. He’s autistic. Downgrade everything and pray to the god of normal. *pissed off*

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      I am feeling outraged and terrified at reading this story.

    • Aidoann

      Sorry, this is nauseating and very wrong that it happened in the first place. If they’re going to pray about getting better, so be it, but this violence has to stop. As a Christian myself, I don’t think so highly of this “church”. After all, you’re supposed to treat others with kindness and compassion, right? There are several points in the Bible (the Holy Book for Christians) that specifically tell people to “love others” and, sorry, but that doesn’t include physically beating them in order to “cure” someone.

      If you read Luke 9:42, where Jesus is healing a boy from an evil spirit, the “demon threw him [the boy] to the ground in a convulsion” (NIV). That wasn’t Jesus (who was healing him) beating him to the ground; that was the evil thing. Uyesugi was way out of line with this matter and he should have NEVER beat the person.

      Quite frankly, I’d be pissed off, too. I just hope that this incident hasn’t completely hardened this family (or others) towards Christianity or church.


    • KimJ

      There was an exorcism in Phoenix, during which the grandfather (not a religious professional) was choking his 3 year old granddaughter. The police came in and Tasered the man and he later died.
      The role the attendant mother had is unclear (she was a teen, battered yet chanting) and unclear why the 3 year old was thought to be “possessed”.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      How long ago did this happen?

    • KimJ

      Sorry, I realized I should have posted a link. It happened last Saturday (7/28)

    • Regan

      Monday, July 30, 2007
      Exorcism gone horribly, horribly wrong

      The weird thing is that the headline is suggestive that the reason it went horribly wrong is because the grandfather choking the girl died of tasering, not necessarily that the girl was being choked in the first place. I have a sinking feeling that some followup story is going to point out that the child has, or is suspected of having a developmental disability. I sincerely hope that the suspicion is incorrect, although NO child should go through this in some kind of misguided belief that it represents a practice of religious faith.

      On a different note that just makes you want to tell the broadcast news to shut up:
      VIDEO: Hannity & Colmes Discuss The Basics Of Exorcism

      That poor boy got punched in the face by Uyesugi for 11 hours? I’m surprised that the family is not being charged with child endangerment for not kicking his butt out immediately and calling the cops.

      I was curious about Kassiane’s comment, so I looked up IN statute:
      a Class D felony if it results in bodily injury to:

      a person less than fourteen (14) years of age and is committed by a person at least eighteen (18) years of age;
      (C) a person of any age who has a mental or physical disability and is committed by a person having the care of the person with a mental or physical disability, whether the care is assumed voluntarily or because of a legal obligation;

      I also noted that if someone else was being beaten up, and that kid was merely in the room being exposed to it as a minor under 16, that the perpetrator would be liable to charges of a class D felony.


    • dkmnow

      WTHR: “Police say Uyesugi also punched the autistic teen in the face, a ritualistic beating that lasted for eleven hours.”


      INDY: “…investigators say the emotional damage from an attempted exorcism will likely linger.”


      “Misdemeanor”? WTF is wrong with these people?

      Excuse me — I have to go break things now.

    • David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction)

      Kassiane was right yet again. A downgrading of the event’s significance because the target is autistic.

      I am horrified.

    • Another Voice

      I hope the parents are charged and jailed.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      Thanks Kim for the link—-I think we need to ask why these sorts of things are happening.

    • mommy~dearest

      I don’t even know what ot comment. I am disgusted that this “religious professional” would even think that physical abuse would benefit this boy in any way, and I am absolutely appauled that the parents let it continue for eleven hours.

      I’m just imagining what must have been going through that kid’s mind at the time, and after the fact. How do you even try to make up for that? I’m curious to hear what Uyesuai will use as his defense. Absolutely inexcusable.

    • March Day

      I don’t know what sickens me more – the thought of this man performing such violence under the name of Christ, or that the parents seemed to be so desperate to “cure” their autistic child that they would allow this violence to continue for eleven hours before putting a stop to it.

      Indeed, you are correct, Kristina. We need to ask why this is happening. This kind of abuse has got to stop.

    • athina

      These parents lived with their son’s autism for 14 years. What happened to make them try these methods after all this time? Did they suddenly become religious? Or, were they so disappointed from trying everything else, so they thought they sould give violence a chance? I dread and fear everyday that my child will become victim of bullying and get beat up when he’ll live our house nest and I believe I share this fear with all other parents who have autistic children. So, what causes a parent to allow such violence to be practised on their child. I wonder…

    • Eleanor

      My reaction was the same as Kassiane’s and David’s: Why is this a misdemeanor? So I looked up the Indiana battery statute (IC 35-42-2). Here’s my summary of it: “Battery” in general involves touching someone, and becomes a Class A misdemeanor if it results in “bodily injury.” It is elevated to a felony under a number of circumstances, including if it results in “serious” bodily injury (disfigurement, unconsciousness, extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of a body function or organ), if the victim is under 14, or if the victim “has a mental or physical disability and [the crime] is committed by a person having the care of the person with a mental or physical disability.”

      So the problem may be in the way the statutes are drafted. Here, the boy was 14, so the age restriction doesn’t apply; he had a disability, but the abuser wasn’t his caretaker; and he apparently wasn’t considered to have suffered “serious” bodily injury. I wonder if lack of “serious” bodily injury was decided based on his inability to describe how painful it was to be subjected to this kind of treatment for 11 hours?

      Maybe somebody in Indiana needs to look into amending that statute to cover ritual abuse…

    • natalia

      i think if they are letting him do stuff to a kid for a purpose, that puts the child in his care. but i am not sure if the law would read it this way. what if a dentist did similar gratuitous violence (above and beyond the necessary “violence” that some dental work involves, of course) while the parents were near? would not the child be in the dentist’s care at the time?

    • Kassiane

      So who wants to find out what county in Indiana and write emails on this kid’s behalf? His parents clearly don’t have the gonads to push for felony charges, and technically the statute applies (age restrictions tend to be inclusive, NO state allows ritual abuse–what if he had been pagan not Christian?–and of course they DID say his face was double normal size).

      So if they won’t, I will. It’d just be nice to have some help.

    • Eleanor

      Kassiane: It was in Bloomington, which is in Monroe County.

      Maybe an email to the prosecutor’s office there, asking why 11 hours of torture shouldn’t be considered protracted impairment of a bodily function or extreme pain? Of course, we have to keep in mind that the facts as reported in the news may not necessarily be the same as what a prosecutor thinks he or she can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt… Still, I would have charged a more serious crime had it been my decision.

    • Chuck

      The prosecutor probably can’t charge the church for anything because Uyesugi isn’t the pastor, he is only an usher. The parents are probably too ashamed for going to the wrong man and not even knowing who was in charge of the church.

    • mommy~dearest

      The parents should be ashamed of much more than that. It still sickens me that any parent could endure eleven hours of watching their child being abused, and not recognizing it as such.

    • Another Voice

      I doubt that we will see an end to such abuse. The state of Indiana clearly does not feel the parents did anything wrong, they face no charges.

      Where is the ACLU now? Where is the FBI? This boy either has civil rights or he doesn’t. Beating someone in the face for 11 hours either violates their civil rights or it doesn’t. Just because this boy can not express the horror he went through should not allow people to walk away with no responsibility.

      No law can force a parent to love a child, but the laws should protect the child from abuse. Evidently our laws allow parents to take a child in for a beating and walk away clean. Time for court reform, and getting back to basics.

    • http://removemy2comments Mia

      remove my 2 comments.

      didnt know your from canada

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    • nikki

      This story has so many holes in it. Being someone close to the family I know what REALLY happened. You shouldn’t believe everything you read about or hear on the news. I dont agree with the actions that took place but there is a lot more to this story then is being exposed. The media should be ashamed for making a STORY that only gives half truths and exaggerates the little amount of facts that they do have.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      I think many would like to know more about what was going on here.

    • mary

      I just want to say I knew Ed, & you would never know he was capable of something like this. He was known as Christian Ed because he always carried his bible & preached. I never would have thought he was so out of touch with reality. This is aweful. I also want to mention that people who are very concerned with this situation ought to research it more. For example, I think the victim was in foster care… basically get the facts people.

    • Kassiane

      The victim being in foster care doesn’t make it right.

      Is that like “it’s ok to abuse him because he was already abused before”?


      Spare me. He did wrong. He deserves to share a cell with Tiny and Bubba.

    • landonsmom

      What in the world does the boy being in foster care have to do with anything????? This is still a crime no matter whether the child was autistic, NT, in foster care or living w/ biological parents….I am from Indiana and the fact that this happened in my home state, totally FREAKS me out….what were these parents thinking? why did they let this go on?

      My sympathy goes to the victim, who most likely had no idea WHY he was being treated this way…it breaks my heart and right now, just thinking about it and trying to imagine what this child went through and what he could have been thinking…it makes me cry.

      No matter the circumstances, the treatment of this boy was WRONG!!! the “priest” AND the parents should be held accountable for this.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      It is very shocking to many (most, all) that someone today in the USA would think that autism is something to be exorcized.

    • wouldnt give out my name on this one

      Wow! What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?? Its true that most of the people making comments here have only half truths. I guess its not your fault relying on the media has always been a problem when it comes to the truth about something. What really is interesting to me is how many glass houses are being lived in these days. Abuse should never, never happen to anyone period, especially to children. I fell sorry for the boy who went through this. If any of you knew what the boy’s mother has gone through, which by the way is not his bio mom but grandmother, to take care of her son and get him the kind of services he needs to live the best and most full life he possibly can well, maybe there wouldnt be so much ripping and shredding. I only know this person through a close friend but people’s reality of this entire situation is a little slided. I am sure that if some of the inside info was not known to me and all I had were some of the public facts I would be on board with everyone else. Mistakes happen every day all the time that affect peoples lives in a negative way everyday, only they are not made public. The church is being judged because of someone elses severe lack of judgement. To this I say nobody should base Christianity on people but rather on Christ because people will always let you down. For the young man who did this. Well I feel sorry for him as well. From what I know about him, he was a kind young man, smart and wanted to become a doctor. I know people have commented on the fact that if you believe in exorcism you must be a whack job that is just your ignorant opinion. This young man showed a sever lack of judgement. I dont feel that autism is demonic but that does not mean that someone with autism cant be possessed. Just like any other person! I dont know why this mother showed such lack of judgement but I would think that of all places where comments are being posted someone with a severely autistic child might understand the desperate hope that your child could be cured and live a normal life. I mean isnt that what every parent wants? No one should have ever laid a hand on this boy, ( just in case you didnt know casting out demons does not require physical abuse of any kind) And just because people seem to be living what appears to be normal lives does not always mean they do not have a mental disorder. Just something I try to keep in mind. I dont know if that is the case or not but if this young man can do what he did without any prior history of being violent and he seems to not have been in touch with reality??? One can only guess I am just glad that I am not the judge or jury on this one. O yeah and just because mom made a huge mistake does not mean that the child should be ripped from the parent. I know this boy will have long term affects because of what he went through but as someone who has adopted multipal children the long term affects of being taken away from your natural parents can be far more devestating, especially when you are not a baby, which this boy is not. I choose to pray for restoration, and recovery not more trauma.

    • Mattew

      Nobody is getting the true story here from the press. Uyesugi was asked by the boys mother if he would pray over the boy to see if he could cast out what she felt was a demon. The boys mother was also in a dispute with the church at the time I might add. Edward did hit the boy 2 to 4 times in self defense as the boy was autistic and attacked Ed with a fan. The boys own brother also hit him 2 to 4 times in an effort to defend himself also. The boys mother is lying to the police because if its known that she can not control her autistic son, she will lose him to the state. The church called the police on Uyesugi after the boys mom threatened to sue the church. Why wouldn’t the mother call the police immediately if something terrible like she is claiming now was really happening? It’s because she is fabricating the story in an effort to not have her son taken away from her. Nobody mentions the fact that the autistic boy has a history of violence and has attacked others in the past. The boy was supposed to be on mediction to control his violent outbursts and had been taken off his medication by his mother at the time for some unknown reason. Uyesugi is one of the nicest people you will ever meet or want to know and was there out of the goodness of his heart. The church won’t stand behind Uyesugi now because they are spineless and are making no comments because the mother is threatening a law suit. The boy’s family stated that the boy had attacked others in the past and got beat up much worse. The autistic boy is 6foot tall and over 200lbs and has a propensity for violence and proceeded to attack Uyesugi and Uyesugi tried best to defend himself and help the boy at the same time. You can’t believe a word you hear in the press. Its absolutely ridiculous!

    • Janet Rumple

      Today, Judge Harper sentenced Uyesugi to only 6 months home detention and 2.5 yrs probation (as well as a few other details). What a sad day for how little society values children with autism.

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    • Ben

      This is the CORRECT story. I love how [good Christian(?)] people can make judgements without knowing ANY of the facts.