February 19, 1997 in Nation/World

Dad’s Witchcraft Claim Backfires; Mom Gets Custody

Associated Press

A man who tried to win custody of his son by exposing his ex-wife’s witchcraft lost when pictures surfaced of him standing in front of a fire and apparently setting up a maypole.

Rana Kern said the photos showed a pagan fertility ritual. She was granted custody of the couple’s 3-year-old son, Brandon.

Walter Kern, 27, contended his wife’s witchcraft and ritual animal sacrifices made her an unfit parent.

On one occasion, he testified, she returned home at 2 a.m. with blood on her hands and mentioned something about sacrificing animals.

But Rana Kern, 35, denied sacrificing animals and said her pagan beliefs did not prevent her from being a good mother.

She corrected reporters who said her ex-husband was a warlock. Technically, she said, he’s a Druid.

But Walter Kern continued Tuesday to deny he was ever involved in witchcraft. He said he gave up the custody fight for his son’s sake.

Asked about the photographs, Walter Kern said that he once belonged to an outdoor nature group. He declined to explain further.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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