William Paterson University has an idyllic campus, two national baseball championships, and an exorcism problem.
The public college in North New Jersey appeared in the state’s appellate court this week, party to an ongoing dispute over a series of occult hazing rituals that allegedly occurred in the school’s dormitories. According to a William Paterson student, a group of students locked her in a dorm room, accused her of being possessed by an Eastern European sex slave, and forcibly performed occult rites on her.
The student, identified only as S.B. in court records, says her troubles began in early April 2013, shortly after she started dating another William Paterson student, identified as M.M. After dating for over a month, S.B. accompanied M.M. to a gathering in a dorm room, where a small group of students “told S.B. about demons and spirits, and explained to S.B. that they had ‘alters,’ which were a form of alter egos,” the New Jersey court’s 41-page ruling reads.
These alter egos could take control of the students at any time, they explained. During the meeting, student Krishani Nadarajah appeared to have one such episode, going into a seizure and foaming at the mouth as her “alter” allegedly took over.
Nadarajah, who has epilepsy and later stated that the alter egos were part of a role-playing game, was one of two students disciplined over the activities. She and student Jedediah Rockwell received a one-year suspension and a one-year suspension, respectively. Both admit that their group of friends enjoys “rough-housing” and role-playing, but that the activities were all in good fun, and were misconstrued by the university.
But S.B. wasn’t buying it. After watching Nadarajah have a seizure, S.B. told M.M. that she did not want to associate with his friends, whose mental health concerned her, court records show.
M.M. countered that S.B. was crazy, that no one would believe her if she reported the occult activities. He and his friends allegedly began convincing S.B. that she was “possessed by a spirit named ‘Olivia,’ who the group claimed was raped as a young adult and also had sexually assaulted and baby-sat Rockwell.”
In order to purge S.B. of the demonic babysitter’s presence, the students locked S.B. in Nadarajah’s dorm room, and repeatedly slapped her, S.B. says. She was barred from using her asthma medication, and not allowed to use the bathroom or get food without strict supervision. When she attempted to escape, students allegedly tackled her and dragged her back into the room.
After the lockdown failed to cleanse S.B. of demonic spirits, the students took her to the school’s outdoor volleyball courts for a proper exorcism, court documents say. Students led Latin chants while splashing Holy Water on S.B.’s face, a process they say purged the spirit of “Olivia” from S.B.’s body.
S.B.’s possession-free days were short. Just weeks later, the students allegedly told S.B. that the spirit of “Violet,” an “Eastern European sex slave,” had taken hold of her, and that she should call Nadarajah “mistress” and M.M. “master.”
It was around this time, at the end of April, that William Paterson University received a tip-off about “cult-like” activity occurring on campus.
An internal school disciplinary hearing found Rockwell guilty of violating the school’s anti-hazing policy, and Nadarajah guilty of hazing and assault. The students’ joint lawsuit to overturn the ruling failed in the New Jersey Appellate Court on Monday.
For her part, Nadarajah still denies S.B.’s claims, calling her a “pathological liar that does not know how to act in certain social situations,” court records show.
She and her friends would fight each other during role-playing sessions, she acknowledges, but any violence stopped short of “punches, kicks, hair pulling, or anything else beyond the occasional wrestling match.”
Rockwell, who maintains that most of the violence occurred when he and his friends were acting out scenes from anime or video games, admits that he slapped S.B. to “drive out an evil spirit from her.”
But even if he slapped S.B. as part of an exorcism rite, he says, it “would not have been a slap that even made a sound.”