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.
“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.
“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.