Wiccan Chaplain Accused in Bizarre Hostage Scheme

The newswires have just lit up with the story of Jamyi J. Witch, a Wiccan chaplain at Oshkosh Correctional Institution, who is accused of sexually assaulting an inmate, illegally transporting drugs, and hatching a fake hostage scheme to procure a transfer for her and an inmate.

Jamyi Witch

“The charges stem from a police investigation of an Aug. 10 incident in which Witch, a chaplain at the prison, claimed to have been taken hostage by an inmate. [...]  The inmate told Witch about being jumped by three men while he was in his cell on Aug. 7 and said he needed to get out of Oshkosh. She told him she wanted to leave Oshkosh too because of threats from other staff and she had a plan to get them both out of the facility. Witch told the inmate the plan, which involved him coming into her office, blocking the door and acting like Witch was his mother. She also discussed giving him pills to make him sleepy and allow the guards to enter her office. The inmate said he left his cell on Aug. 10 without signing out and went to Witch’s office. He blocked the door with a board from a bookshelf and Witch’s wheelchair before requesting Witch have sex with him. She complied.”

The story has already been picked up by Gawker and the Daily Mail, who are having a field day. This is in addition to local coverage of the incident. This is not Witch’s first time in the spotlight, she was involved in the “Wisconsin Witch Hunt” scandal of 2001-2002, when now-governor Scott Walker tried very hard to get the chaplain fired from her position.

“Walker objected publicly on the basis of her religion to the chaplain’s hiring, saying: “Witch’s hiring raises both personal and political concerns. Not only does she practice a different religion than most of the inmates — she practices a religion that actually offends people of many other faiths, including Christians, Muslims and Jews.” Walker threatened to launch a government investigation of the chaplain’s hiring, and was joined by Representative Michael Huebsch of West Salem, in his efforts to terminate the woman’s employment. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to accept this hocus-pocus,” Huebsch stated. Huebsch proposed to delete the state appropriation which funded Witch’s position, even though in the past he had repeatedly advocated increasing state funding for prison chaplains. Walker and Huebsch continued their pursuit of the case over the 2001-2002 Christmas holidays. After several weeks of unwanted publicity, the chaplain began to receive death threats and reported that on one day alone she had received 432 emails and 76 phone messages at her home.”

It should be noted that Jamyi Witch was well-qualified for the position, having a masters degree in theology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The question now is if the inmate’s testimony is accurate, and if it is, why Witch, who served for nearly a decade in this position, would suddenly act is such drastic fashion. One that could potentially set back the cause of Pagan and Wiccan chaplaincy in prisons. We will be following up on this story, and will be sharing reactions from Pagan leaders and chaplains soon.

ADDENDUM: A.C. Fisher Aldag has found an interesting news report from the August incident.

“Department of Corrections spokesman Tim Le Monds says it happened about 8:30 a.m. He says prison staff members were able to persuade the inmate to open the door and come out after an hour. He says staff members could see into the room the whole time and could have gotten into it in seconds if necessary.

If that’s true, doesn’t that instantly invalidate many of the charges being made here? Especially the charge of them having sexual intercourse? Wouldn’t that be an event that would make staff member access the room “in seconds”? I think there’s a lot we aren’t being told in regards to this story.

 

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    I am giving Ms. Witch a hearty benefit of the doubt, because inmates make all kinds of outrageous claims.

    • Anonymous

      Inmates as well as those who should be future inmates, i.e. most of Scott Walker’s cabinet. I’ll be amused if this story turns out to be a fabrication that blows up in their faces. If not, this is an epic facepalm moment.

      • Tara

        Scott Walker seems to be a shady character. According to Wikipedia “On April 3, 2011, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Walker had appointed Brian Deschane to an $81,500 per year job overseeing environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce. Deschane’s father, Jerry Deschane, is executive vice president and a longtime lobbyist for the Wisconsin Builders’ Association, which donated $121,652 to Walker over the past two years. State Representative Brett Hulsey noted that the new law which made collective bargaining changes also converted 37 top agency attorneys, communications officials and legislative liaisons from civil service positions to jobs appointed by the governor”.
        So now he has given himself the ability to personally appoint many of the top positions in Wisconsin’s government, and is handing them out to his friends.
        And this very clearly corrupt governor tried and failed to remove Ms. Witch from her post in 2001/2002.
        Hmmm…..

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1384279376 Theo J. Williams

      Same here. I don’t buy this story as presented, because no cleric/chaplain inside a facility should be left in a vulnerable position w/ an opposite-sex inmate. It wouldn’t be allowed w/ my church’s prison-ministry clergy (the ATC in WA State). Something is VERY wrong w/ this whole business.

  • Byron Ballard

    We should wait for the full story. There are lots of triggers here. I’ve done chaplaincy work for a couple of DOC facilities and working with an incarcerated population teaches you a lot about human nature. Yes, she could be guilty. But she could also have been set up.

  • Astro_gail

    I;m not sure why, but this story just doesn’t seem to ring true with me! Maybe I’m just getting older & more suspicious but…..my first gut reaction is that this could be a setup to discredit pagan chaplians all over the country.

    • Fvrnite

      I agree. But it should be noted that there have been some people in recent years claiming to be Pagans ” vampire”‘ and the like who have committed serious crimes, including murder, while hiding behind being Pagan, Wiccan, etc.

      This case does have the feel that she’s being set up due to her past conflicts with various people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1175910198 Anonymous

    Sounds like the inmate is making this up. Someone in the prison system doesn’t like Ms. Witch and maybe offered up something to the inmate in return for this outrageous claim? Happens a lot.

  • Helen

    The majority of this story is completely false. She was sexually assaulted, not him. The powers that be have been after this woman for ten years simply because she is not a Christian. Disgusting. She has far more credibility than an inmate does, and the law needs to look at what makes SENSE.

    • AnonGuest

      Well, yeah, she’s a frail-looking woman who needs a wheelchair. Doubts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001321892479 Kate Dennis

    Something is not ringing true with this story. As a chaplain, I wouldn’t leave myself vulnerable and I won’t do spiritual direction with inmates of the opposite sex without a guard just outside the door. It’s the same in mental institutions: there is always an attendant nearby.

    This is not passing the smell test at all!

  • Anna Greenflame

    Glad to read the complete story. Yes, I find it odd that someone who has been in her position for ten years, and who has a master’s degree from an accredited institution, would suddenly go bonkers and do something like this. I am ashamed to admit that my first reaction to the headline was “facepalm” — assuming her guilt. Never a good idea.

  • Tara

    Is there any evidence for the inmate’s story, or are we just supposed to take his (highly credible) word for it? And why are the daily mail, etc. reporting on this as if she’s been proven guilty? If a Christian chaplain had been raped at work and then their rapist came up with this bizarre story, would the rapist be trusted over the chaplain?

    • Crystal Kendrick

      Because it’s the Daily Fail. It’s a sensationalist rag.

  • Concerned in MI

    Where is her side of the story?

  • son_of_pan

    Sounds to me like one giant set up. Even if it wasn’t, if an inmate locked her in, what other choice would she have if he pressed her into sexual intercourse? And if he wasn’t acting of his own accord, how far do you think a person would go for a lesser sentence? We’ve not heard the last of this.

  • http://twitter.com/YearInWhite Year In White

    I mean, to be fair, her last name *is* “Witch”… She’s obviously up to something… ;)

    • Fvrnite

      Oh please!! Ever seen some of the names other Pagans have chose for themselves? I’m talking the public Craft names, not the private ones between their deities and themselves.

      And the taking names bit is not limited to Wiccans. An obvious Caucasian person calling themselves by a Native American name and claiming to be a shaman, the so-called ” real vampires” with their titles and names, and even the fantasy role players make up names for themselves.

      Granted I’m not thrilled with her last name being “Witch” but then again its a little better than some of the names I’ve seen.

      • http://www.facebook.com/rapture.hoax2011 Roy Linford Adams

        Is it really so bad? Look at the hip name christians are giving their kids “Christian”. I mean, what if I named my kid “Wiccan”?

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    The AP version is way different. http://www.todaystmj4.com/news/local/127512198.html First of all this source has much more credibility than the Daily Mail. Second of all it happened way back on 11 August and the tabloids are just now picking it up. Third, if the authorities could see into the office, obviously there wasn’t anything going on that verifies the inmate’s claims.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Great find AC!

      • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

        Someone on Witchvox’s FB actually found it. :)

  • Khalila Redbird

    Something is rotten in this tale — it doesn’t make sense, as others have already pointed out. There is a large possibility of a setup implicating the admin, or even just lies and such on the part of the inmate. I recall Witch from the 2001 issues, and probably naming yourself Witch is not a career-enhancing move, but, still…

    We need to be careful now about the standard we hold chaplains to — ours and others. I am a little uncomfortable, Jason, with your statement: “It should be noted that Jamyi Witch was well-qualified for the position, having a masters degree in theology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. ” There is a lot more to being “well qualified” to serve as a chaplain than having a masters degree in theology. Yes, many of us serve without full board certification as yet, but Ms. Witch’s credentials as stated fall short of “well qualified”. The 10 years of service are a big plus in that direction.

  • Christopher W. Chase

    Something does seem odd about this. But its not the story for me so much as her background. Even in the early 1980s, it would have been unusual (to say the least) for a major secular university like UW-M to offer a theology program at all, much less a graduate level focus. They have a thriving interdisciplinary Religious Studies major, but that isn’t the same thing and they have no graduate program in the discipline. Again, things may have been different back then–but its worth checking up on.

    • Leslie Fish

      Note that Isaac Bonewits graduated from U. of C. in 1972 with the country’s first BA in “Thaumaturgy”, and his graduating thesis later became the classic “Real Magic”. It’s not beyond reason that UW-M would have offered an MA in Theology as a special program.

      –Leslie < Fish

  • Beket

    I have known Jamyi for years and I find this exceedingly difficult to believe. The accusation must be devastating to her, and I offer her my support and blessings.

  • Kilmrnock

    The whole thing smells of something rotten in Denmark. the Govenor and others in the state have it out for her . It all sounds like a setup , to be rid of Witch and her position . From my reading of the article they tried unsuccessfully to be rid of her before this instance. We shall see, my belief is their whole case will fall apart under closer scutiny. Kilm

  • son_of_pan
  • son_of_pan

    I meant slightly more balanced as far as mainstream news goes.

    • Fvrnite

      Balanced as to mainstream media about us, well we know that’s too much to hope for. :-(

      Wait until next month when they get in heat about Samhain.

  • Crystal Kendrick

    This is the strangest thing I’ve heard in a while. I think we need more information. This is just odd.

  • Christine Doran

    It is apparent that there is a lot more to this story than what has been made public. Remember, everyone, she has been accused…not necessarily charged with any wrongdoing. This initial media field day comes at a time when chaplaincy of any Earth-based spirituality within prisons will be cross-examined to the nth degree, especially since it seems that Ms. Witch herself has not come forth with any statements and the “police” investigation offers only inmate accusations. I, myself, prefer to give Ms. Witch the benefit of the doubt along with a definite sense of “set-up” screaming along the way.

    • Bchmandi

      No, she has been officially charged by the DA’s office. Having worked in a DA’s office, I know that charges are not officially filed unless there is sufficient to bring it to trial and possibly win. An inmate accusation alone would not be enough evidence. There is more evidence in this case than is being made public at this time and will probably come out at trial.

      • kenneth

        The fact that some DA feels like they can sell something to a jury in no way gives me confidence that they have solid evidence. The “satanic panic” prosecutions went forward and won and nothing more than coerced hearsay and panic.

  • Christine Doran

    I read more on these accusations and I still say that there is a lot more to this story than what has been made public. I stand corrected – she has been accused & charged from evidence gathered two weeks after the fact rather than evidence found from two weeks prior. “Set-up” is still screaming along the way….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1006464595 Cathryn Bauer

    Nothing about this story rings true for me. It reminds me of one of those “telephone” games at Girl Scout campfires where a story gets whispered around the circle and is completely different when it comes to the end. And if staff members could have entered the room and intervened immediately but didn’t, wouldn’t that make them negligent, possibly criminally negligent?

  • AnonGuest

    That story is bizarre. She probably ought to find a different job regardless

  • rowen

    agrees with Ms A.C…

  • Noinden

    Living in Wisconsin for seven years, I have to say that the area does NOT need this, the pagan scene in southern WI is somewhat…. fractious. Jamie Witch has had her own set of drama and the like over the years, but of late seemed to be avoiding it. All I can say is there is more to this, and that this really is the last thing the area needed.

    • Noinden

      I better clarify (mmm butter) I no longer live in WI, I am back in New Zealand, the economy got me (well the company I was working for). So I don’t profess knowledge beyond what I know from my 7ish years there.

  • Eveapostle

    Can we please stop the politicizing every dirty thing that comes along. This woman is a walking talking lie and con-artist. She has no degree from anywhere. If you are interested in the truth, take the time to check the facts. That is just another one of her fabrications. When she was hired at Waupun Correctional in 2001, she didn’t even have a high school diploma. She may have been pursuing other things through the years, but a legitimate education is not one of those pursuits. Please, that a look on the Wisconsin Circuit Court for a glimpse of her qualifications. Grow up!

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Can you provide some links/documentation for your claim that “she didn’t even have a high school diploma” at the time of her hiring? If that’s true, it’s pretty remarkable that she got her GED and managed to obtain a masters in theology since then.

      If you’re going to make allegations, you can’t simply say “look it up” you need to provide us with the evidence your basing these claims on.

    • Helenlangley24

      I can assure you that when she was hired at The Walls (WCI) her credentials were throughly checked.

  • Eveapostle

    I see that you took my comment off. Well, so much for the openess and the real desire of the truth. Ms. Witch has no education. For starters, the UW of Madison doesn’t even offer a Masters of Theology. ,http://religiousstudies.lss.wisc.edu/?q=node/3. Ignorance is not bliss, but dangerous.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters
      • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

        I honestly have no idea why people, any time they can’t find their comment, instantly assume I’m censoring them. Glitches happen people. I only delete messages when they are obscenely offensive, are spam, or have broken the clearly-laid out rules.

        • Nick Ritter

          It seems to me that “Ms. Apostle” has an axe to grind. If she were herself interested in “openness,” she might tell us what her dog is in this fight.

          • Grimmorrigan

            She appears to be a simple troll. Her activity section only contains tehse two rants. I wonder what her agenda is? I submit that is it to yell alot and make no sense.

            (>’0′)>

    • http://castwidethecircle.wordpress.com/ Grimmorrigan

      Apparently Ms. Apostle missed the fact that UW of Madison does offer a Special committee Graduate degree which allows students to take courses in programs which are not normally avalible.

      Sounds like a reading comprehension fail.

      • http://lakesong.wordpress.com EvilFerret

        Ms. Apostle also seems to have missed the fact that the Masters Degree was received in 1985, when the university might have, indeed, offered a full theology masters degree. Unless she can provide us with the information on masters’ programs from 1981-1985 (The dates on Jamyi Witch’s LinkedIn profile for her graduate degree) that conclusively prove there was no theology degree or minor or anything offered during that time, she has no ground to stand on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rapture.hoax2011 Roy Linford Adams

    Just looking at the history here, I smell setup BIG TIME. It’s no secret that politicians, legal authorities and prison officials bribe inmates and arrested suspects with perks and plea deals to get what they want. Sounds to me like the powers that be were able to make an offer the inmate couldn’t refuse in exchange for charging and soon, testifying, against her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=649367665 Nicholas Farrell

    I’ll just leave this here for those who doubt the existence of a religious studies program at UW-M.

    http://religiousstudies.lss.wisc.edu/?q=node/1

  • http://www.facebook.com/GreenSpiralDragon Jamie Clemons

    The prisoner had to know they routinely censor their letters. He had to have known they would find anything he wrote to his mother. Why else would he write something he knew they would read other than to throw suspicion elsewhere and try to get his sentence reduced.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GreenSpiralDragon Jamie Clemons

    I just went to the news article and word is that in a preliminary hearing the inmate has admitted he lied about the Chaplain’s involvement because he was facing an additional 25 years jail time for the sexual assault. Jamyi J. Witch innocent.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Could you provide the link you’re talking about?

      • http://www.facebook.com/GreenSpiralDragon Jamie Clemons

        It was just a comment on the original article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GreenSpiralDragon Jamie Clemons

CLOSE | X

HIDE | X