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Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Curious Case of the Witch and the Clergyman

A BATTLE between a transgender witch and a Christian councillor unfolded in the Aussie discrimination courts this week.

Olivia Watts is taking on Casey mayor Rob Wilson under Victoria's new religious vilification laws, claiming he incited hatred against her pagan religion when he outed her as a witch in a 2003 press release.

Entitled "Satanic Cult Out To Take Over Casey", Cr Wilson's statement called on local church leaders to hold a "day of prayer" to ward off occult forces.

The press release came amid a competitive council election in which both Ms Watts and Cr Wilson were candidates. He became mayor; she launched legal action with the Equal Opportunity Commission.

Ms Watts told the Herald Sun that Cr Wilson's comments ruined her life.

"I've had my home wrecked and lost my naturopathy business.


VICTORIAN taxpayers will foot a $50,000 bill so that a transgender "witch" may sue a suburban mayor for outing her....Several top barristers were angered by the use of scarce Legal Aid funds, but Attorney-General Rob Hulls gave his OK to a similar case. "We govern for all Victorians - and that includes witches, magicians and sorcerers," Mr Hulls wrote to the Pagan Awareness Network, which is also suing the mayor of Casey, Rob Wilson. Ms Watts said she became "an emotional wreck" after Mr Wilson outed her as a witch in a press release and on community radio. She was taking Mr Wilson to the anti-discrimination list of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in August.


FRIDAY the 13th was a lucky day for triumphant witch Olivia Watts.Yesterday's inauspicious date saw the end of a year-long legal hassle between the transgender witch and City of Casey Mayor Rob Wilson.
The saga ended when Cr Wilson publicly apologised for comments made about the former police officer in a 2003 press release.
Cr Wilson formally apologised "for any hurt felt by Ms Watts as a consequence of his press release". Cr Wilson confirmed that no money changed hands as part of the settlement.
Ms Watts said later the apology was the best outcome she could wish for.

"It's absolutely wonderful," she said.
"I can start to live a normal life again."

Ms Watts launched her action for religious vilification against Cr Wilson after he sent a press release entitled Satanic Cult Out To Take Over Casey to Cranbourne newspapers.
Cr Wilson's 2003 press release said Ms Watts' declaration she was a witch was a matter of concern for all Casey residents and he warned of a satanic cult attempting to attack or take over the council.
In yesterday's statement Cr Wilson said Ms Watts had assured him she was not a satanist and he did not condone violence against anyone on religious grounds or otherwise.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal began hearing the case on Thursday, but the hearing ended yesterday with the settlement.
Cr Wilson told the Herald Sun last night the settlement had been a victory for common sense.
Cr Wilson said he was unsure how much his legal costs were but said they had been covered by Casey Council's insurers.
Casey Council chief executive Mike Tyler said the council had incurred its own legal costs of about $50,000 after it was joined as a respondent in Ms Watts' case against Cr Wilson.
Ms Watts later dropped her case against the council.

Spelling it out, I'm sorry


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