Eric Pryor |
Author: Kerr Cuhulain
Posted: July 29th. 2002
Times Viewed: 12,811
On 6 June 1992 Eric Pryor showed up in Salem, Massachusetts, along with Jeff Fenholt. Reverend Russell Ely (Lafayette Street Church) and Reverend Kenneth Stiegler (Wesley Methodist Church) were their sponsors. Pryor and Fenholt were supposedly to give a concert at Salem High School, sponsored by Lion Records. A member of the Covenant of Universalist Unitarian Pagans (CUUPs) that attended to check it out (whose name I will not reveal here to protect this person's privacy) reports:
"Eric Pryor, introduced as a former member of Cinema of Transgression and a founder and High Priest of both New Earth Temple and New Earth Fellowship of Mankind, proceeded to stutter his way into a slanderous monologue. At this time, Jeff Fenholt sauntered up to the microphone and excused Mr Pryor's shakiness, claiming that he had been put under a lot of spiritual stress by the WLPA's recent action disclaiming his former titles... Eric bravely went into a Valley Boy accent in which he spoke as a Pagan, 'What shall I worship today? This rock? This tree? Or the grass?' He then stated Witchcraft is not a religion and proceeded to put down my religion, my fellow Witches, and Laurie Cabot, who is an ordained minister in the state of Massachusetts... After more degrading judgements, Jeff Fenholt took center stage with sarcastic challenges and directed an accusing finger at my friends and me who were standing apart from the rest of the crowd to 'come up and pray with me, you pray to your God or Goddess and I'll pray to mine. I test my God tonight that if he exists to prove himself to me tonight. Prove Himself by ridding Salem of its Pagans and Witches forever.' Many other inaccuracies and [alleged] connections between Wicca and Satan worship were hurled at my friends and myself with a pointed index finger that night."
Another CUUPS member there that evening to check out Pryor reports:
"Both Mr Pryor and Mr Fenholt made slanderous, rude, mocking, derogatory statements about Wicca or Witchcraft. At the beginning of the program Mr Fenholt joking (or more realistically mockingly) asked that any Witches in the audience not curse him that particular evening. Both Mr Fenholt and Mr Pryor repeatedly stated that Salem was celebrating 300 years of Witchcraft, and that Salem must be reclaimed from the clutches of Satan. Mr Pryor made the statement: '...They'll go out and buy a book from someone named Margaret Adler (sic), some woman running around the woods somewhere pounding on a drum, 'Duhh, my wand is bigger than yours''.
"He also stated that Witches worship a Goddess that '...someone decided to invent one day.' Mr. Pryor stated that when he was a Witch, '...people would come to him with ailments such as headaches.' He said that he would '...charge them a thousand dollars to put a piece of quartz crystal on their heads and burn enough incense to kill a thousand mosquitoes...'"
Jerrie Hildebrand, the Massachusetts coordinator of the Wiccan Information Network that I was running at the time, reports:
"The concert was prerecorded Christian rock. There was no literature or tapes available. It consisted of roughly 20 minutes [of music] and the rest of the evening was of Pryor and Fenholt teaming up with their information about Wicca, Witchcraft and their [alleged] experiences of them. Of course it was the usual collapse of Satanism and Wicca. They both seem to have known a lot about the Salem Pagan community. They knew that there had been plans for a candlelight vigil out side of the school. The police department of course had asked the Pagan community not to do that and we did not. They especially worked at pinning Laurie Cabot that evening, who was out of town and they even knew where- at her Grandson's birthday party. They even seemed to know the name of the town."
"The primary emphasis that kept getting stressed was that the city of Salem has been 'celebrating 300 years of witchcraft'. They have also said that they will be back in five waves with each one being stronger than the next. I called the United Methodist Church of Salem... to find out when. They asked why and I told them that I had some friends I was trying to save who were involved. They got excited and told me Pryor and Fenholt were definitely coming back to town during October, probably around Haunted Happenings Week (October 23- November 1). They stated that they will take Salem back from Satan and rename the city 'Jerusalem'..."
"A local Witch named Shawn Poirrier was invited back stage by Ely to meet Pryor. Pryor offered him the opportunity to travel with them and make hundreds of thousands of dollars doing what [Pryor] does. Shawn told him to stick it as one might expect. However they did invite him to think about it and call whenever he was ready."
"On Sunday, June 7, the pair travelled around Salem with film crews from Trinity Broadcasting Network after prayer services in the morning at [both of Stiegler's churches]. They [then] went into Crow Haven Corner (Jodi Cabot's store) with cameras and proceeded to harass the store employees and clientele. The store has signs clearly posted about no photography. They pushed a camera in the face of the woman behind the counter and held her wrists so that she could not call the police. When she did manage to [call the police the film crew] left and filmed Salem's finest running down the street to 'save the witches and equalized even that attempt to keep the law as an act of Satan's grip on the city'. They were going to circulate [amongst] all of the New Age stores in town in the same way but Crow Haven had also called all of them to warn them. I was working in the retail department of the Crystal Chamber when they came to Salem's wharf area. The wharf happens to be private property. So they stood on the outside fringes and created a choir and started singing hymns and inviting tourists to save themselves. These tapes were supposedly aired on the 700 Club Monday and Tuesday, June 8 and 9."
"We also received several calls for Shawn [Poirrier] that morning from Russell Ely. He was trying to interest Shawn in going to dinner with all of them. He declined the invitations."
"Also a young female Witch known as Moon was encircled with her small children that day by a group who knew her from her photographs in the newspapers by name. They held her hands down and invited demons to leave her. She and her children got away and at this time she is pressing charges, as is Crow Haven. They also informed her that they know all of the public Witches in Salem..."
"On Sunday, June 12, the Pagan community got together with business, law enforcement officials and folks from the ACLU. Addresses of local government officials were passed out along with the new definition of Witch being published in the Oxford Dictionary by the WLPA. They were also passed [WIN information on Eric Pryor]... I am suspicious about some of those who came forward interested..."
NOTE: Laurie Cabot had the information about her going to her grandson's birthday on her answering machine, so it wasn't any great secret. Pryor is savvy enough to make a few enquiries to feret out information such as this, as evidenced by his remarks at the seminar I attended with VIIU.
I subsequently spoke with Capt Bob Murphy of the Salem PD. I was impressed with his professional manner and genuine concern. I sent him what information I had at the time on Pryor, which he forwarded to the District Attorney along with his own report. Apart from the assault charges already mentioned, Pryor's proselytizing in the school auditorium apparently violated certain statutes concerning keeping religious activities off of school property. This was billed as a concert, not a religious seminar on Pryor's/Fenholt's conception of Satanism. Murphy was also interested in investigating the hate crimes legislation angle.
On 24 August 1992 I received copies of letters dated 15 July 1992, sent to both Pryor and Fenholt from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Attorney General's office, signed by Captain Murphy, Judith Beals (Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division) and S Jane Haggerty (Assistant District Attorney, Essex County District Attorney's Office). The letter informs them both of their office's intention "to take appropriate action against [them] for [their] past behaviour if [they] choose to return to Massachusetts". The letter to Pryor states:
"This alleged conduct potentially subjects you to numerous criminal and civil charges in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Massachusetts criminal laws impose penalties for disorderly conduct, G.L. c. 272, ss. 53, and assault or assault and battery, G.L. c. 265, ss. 13A. In addition, the Massachusetts civil rights laws prohibit harassing and assaultive behaviour directed at persons because of their religious beliefs or practices. The use of force or threats of force to injure, intimidate or interfere with, or to attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with, or to oppress or threaten any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of their religious beliefs is a crime under Massachusetts law. G.L. c. 265, ss. 37. Similarly, it is a civil rights crime under Massachusetts law to assault or batter a person, or to damage the property of a person, for the purpose of intimidation because of the victim's religious beliefs. G. L. c. 265, ss. 39. Finally, Massachusetts law empowers the Attorney General to seek criminally enforceable civil injunctive orders against persons who threaten, intimidate or coerce persons on account of their religious beliefs, or who attempt to do so. G. L. c. 12, ss. 11 H-J."
The letter to Fenholt is similarly worded.
Pryor now conducts charismatic services that might best be described as attempts at excorcisms at the Jubilee Christian Center. He still travels about the country doing a seminars for youth rallies and church services: "The Occult Vs The Bible." He offers a $12 line of audio tapes such as "What is Witch, Really?" and "My Testimony From My Own Mouth" as well as $25 video tapes such as The Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults, Demonic Coat of Arms and Hand in Hand. You can view excerpts of these for yourself on the internet at: http://metroactive.com/papers/metro/01.11.96/pryor.html
In 1996 Pryor was asked for his opinions on the Los Altos School District's plan to ban Halloween celebrations during school hours by a Channel 11 news reporter (KNTV). Pryor attended the Los Altos school board meeting in a grey pinstripe suit with his own cameraman, Renee at this side. The people at the meeting jeered him and several asked him to leave. When he stood up to speak someone held up a sign behind him that read "LSD user." When he introduced himself as "Reverend Pryor" the crowd laughed at him and made fun of his claims of having been a Satanic leader. Pryor handed out copies of his Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults to cops at the meeting, who glanced at it and handed it back. Noe of this phased Pryor, who later told journalists that he is spearheading a national effort to ban Halloween school festivities.
Meanwhile Pryor was still involved in criminality. In 1993, a warrant was issued for Pryor's arrest relating to a dead-beat dad charge involving his ex-wife. Pryor was convicted of two felony wife abuse charges and was placed on probation after serving 5 months in jail. Pryor married Shelly Kolt on 16 July 1994. A month later, on 20 August 1994, Pryor was arrested for assaulting Kolt. Pryor claims that his ex-wife Sherri Kolt attacked him with a knife. Kolt had told the police that Pryor had held a knife to her throat and told her that he was going to kill her. He then knocked her to the ground and struck her 20 to 30 times, telling her: "I'm going to mess up your face so no one else will want you."
Kolt applied for a restraining order against Pryor, alleging that he threatened to "put a bullet through her head" if she left him before a "$1,000,000 book and TV deal" with the Trinity Broadcasting Network developed. According to court records the deal that Pryor made with TBN specified that he had to remain married or the deal was off.
As a matter of interest, Kolt sued the Jubilee Christian Center in 1996 for negligence arising from its hiring David Brimmer. Brimmer was sentenced to 19 years in jail for molesting young boys in Jubilee's congregation. Kolt was the mother of one of the boys.
After Kolt, Pryor ended up in a relationship with a woman named Renee. Renee acted as Pryor's assistant. Journalist Bob Hansen described Pryor's treatment of Renee as follows: "He barks orders at her with the casual authority of a superior officer in the military... Pryor isn't about to win any awards from feminist groups, that's for sure... he terms NOW, the National Organization of Women, 'a Satanist inspired organization.'... Pryor maintains that domestic violence laws are slanted against men. Men get arrested and taken to jail, he says, even when they are the victims. And when men are the instigators, he says, the authorities neglect to look at what motivated the attack... 'Statistics show that women are more inclined to start the physical violence... The Mountain View police failed to protect me." The police report that he was combative during the booking process, requiring the use of restraints. In November 1995 Pryor was sentenced to eight months in jail and three years probation.
Pryor told Hansen that "child abuse is rife within the Wicca community" and that "paganism can lead to Satanism. Pryor had changed his story about becoming involved in Paganism once again.
Things took an even stranger turn in 1998. Pryor left Jubilee Christian Center. Within a month he had been arrested in San Jose for possession of cocaine. These charges were eventually dropped over a ruling by the courts that the search of his apartment was illegal.
Pryor moved to Santa Cruz and joined The Serene Foundation, founded by Arlen Haffner. Pryor claims that the property is the former mansion of Elizabeth Montgomery, the star of the 60's sitcom, Bewitched. He claims that he paid $3 million for this property. Metro reporter Traci Hukill visitted Pryor in October of 1998 and found "junk everywhere. A manager's decrepit office rises from a collection of buckets, old paint cans, used furniture, tools, car parts and geraniums... Inside the house trash bins overflow in the hallway... The Inner Chamber is a fetid mess. Dirty clothes and dishes are strewn everywhere, and the smell makes my eyes sting. But the piles of garbage are punctuated by lovely vases full of fresh flowers." Pryor has blended together elements of Christianity, Satanism and natural healing and claims to be able to cure cancer. He told Hukill that he had cured 28 people of cancer before she arrived. When she asked him if these people really had cancer, he replied: "Well, we can't exactly verify that. It's like- what's that when a doctor doesn't know what's wrong? -a misdiagnosis." Hukill found a number of people in the Serene Foundation buildings obviously high on drugs: Pryor told her that they had taken mushrooms or mescaline. Pryor told Hukill as she left: "Remember, I'm still a Satanist. The meanest of the bunch. I can take out this whole valley."
Hukill subsequently met Arlen Haffner. She learned that the buildings that Pryor is operating the Serene Foundation out of belong to a corporation called Casa De Montgomery, owned by hotel tycoon T.S. Montgomery (actress Elizabeth Montgomery's uncle).
Hukill returned to the Serene Foundation the next day to find Pryor reeking of alcohol and ranting about starting up a "whole new order" which he proposed to call "Eric-ism."
In summary, Pryor is a substance addicted fraud. He is a person best avoided.
It is obvious from our observations of Pryor that one of his tactics is attempted recruitment of Pagans to join his cause, offering sizeable sums of money as an inducement. Pryor's sponsors certainly have the financial resources for this. Some of his knowledge of local Pagan activities may be due to recruiting such "agents", although no hard evidence of this exists at the moment. Clearly, Pryor and his companions are motivated by simple greed and will tell anybody anything that best serves their self interests. Pryor summed it up himself quite neatly when he admitted to journalist Bob Hansen that "Power was always his thing."
Article ID: 4360
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,868
Times Read: 12,811
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Bio: Kerr Cuhulain the author of this article, is known to the mundane world as Detective Constable Charles Ennis. Ennis, a former child abuse investigator, is the author of several articles on child abuse investigation that appeared in Law & Order Magazine. Better known to the Pagan community by his Wiccan name, Kerr Cuhulain, Ennis was the first Wiccan police officer to go public about his beliefs 28 years ago. Kerr is now the Preceptor General of Officers of Avalon. Kerr went on to write four books: The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca (Horned Owl Publishing), Wiccan Warrior and Full Contact Magick: A Book of Shadows for the Wiccan Warrior. (Llewellyn Publications), as well as a book based on this series: Witch Hunts: Out of the Broom Closet (Spiral Publishing).
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