Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Giving Us All a Bad Name

One thing I have said in the past, and will continue to say about the Skeptic movement, is that its members perform a valuable service by exposing fraudulent psychics. While my opinion on paranormal phenomena differs markedly from theirs, it's also true that there are far too many confidence artists out there claiming powers that they don't have in order to profit off the gullible. As this story out of Wales shows, not only do these confidence artists profit by exploiting their clients; a handful of them are outright predatory.

Karl Lang, 49, was convicted of 12 counts of causing women to engage in sexual activity without consent at Newport Crown Court. Lang, of Newport, targeted two women in their 20s who sought him out in the belief he could contact dead relatives. The judge said jail was inevitable. Lang, who denied the charges, will be sentenced at a later date.

The court heard that both women were encouraged to perform sex acts in front of him and pressed to act more and more outrageously as his influence increased. One woman told the trial she was conned into acting like a "porn star" in the belief that it would boost her own spiritual powers.

The court was told that Lang generally sat watching, fully clothed, but would occasionally take his clothes off and join in. His manipulative behaviour lasted nearly four years and covered a period from November 2005 until September 2009, the court heard. A jury found him guilty of all 12 charges, dismissing claims that he was an innocent spiritualist instructor. All 12 counts were majority verdicts.

One would like to think that this verdict might serve as a deterrent to others seeking to set up a similar scam, but in reality most people who commit crimes do so imagining that they won't get caught and deterrence is rarely a factor that has any real effect. However, since Lang is headed for jail, at least there will be one less of these criminals roaming the streets. With stories like this one it's no wonder that the paranormal has a bad reputation in some quarters - charlatans like Lang give us all a bad name.

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Hypnovatos said...

This sounds almost like he promised to teach them some form of sex magic. They did not get the results promised and decided to sue him. What would stop someone from suing someone that charged for a class on magic if they did not get the results expected? Looks like a rather slippery slope unless i did not understand the story correctly.

Scott Stenwick said...

Since this is a criminal case and not a lawsuit, the clients have very little to gain from the proceedings. This is especially true in Britain, where prosecution and conviction rates for sex crimes are appalling low and generally the victims have to go through a whole gauntlet of shaming and questioning even if, say, they were attacked by a stranger in an alley and had a dozen witnesses backing up their story.

I might be tempted to agree with your assessment if this were a civil lawsuit going on in the United States. But for a British jury to find this guy guilty of a sex crime the criminal case against him must have been absolutely ironclad. That probably means there's more to it than was reported in the article.

Hypnovatos said...

This makes me even more curious about the case. How does someone convince two women over the course of 4 yrs to do this in a way that can be considered criminal and not voluntary. We see in the US and even in Greece, that when a psychic advertises, they state "For Entertainment Purposes Only", much like all the aftermarket car and motorcycle parts which state for "Offroad Use Only". Its a way of avoiding getting blamed by someone for not getting what you expected or using the item/knowledge and getting hurt by it.

Here we have someone that convinced these women to do this over an extended period of time. Hopefully we can dig up some more information on this. I know of many people in this country that teach sex magic and have heard of others offering sex magic seminars where the physical act takes place between students and teachers. I could see this case at least putting a bit of fear into them and their practices :p

It only requires someone in need of money (which is unfortunately why many turn to magic to begin with) to be in a similar situation in this country and see this case... find an enterprising atty and off they go.

V.V.F. said...

Anything that causes sex magicians to act more cautiously and judiciously is a good thing. I say this as a person who's been in circle as the Great Rite was being performed: sex magic is NOT the sort of thing that can or should be taught in a "seminar" setting. If you're worried about being falsely accused of fraud (or a sex crime), then don't teach sex magic to a bunch of strangers, and definitely don't do it for money. Shouldn't be that hard.