Abducted By Witches, Woman Recalls Her Shocking Life in the Coven

At the age of 15, Nikki Russo checked into a California hospital for treatment of an eating disorder. It was in this hospital that she was eventually abducted by a nurse, initiated into a coven of witches and thrown into a dark world filled with drugs, alcohol, abuse and intimidation.

Today, Russo’s story and struggle to recovery is chronicled in the new book The Pomegranate Seed — Nikki Russo’s Sojourn Through Institutional Failure and the World of the Occult.

The book, published by iUniverse, is written by veteran Gulf Coast Newspaper staff writer Bob Morgan, who first interviewed Russo in October 2007 and wrote an article regarding her story.

Why come forward with such a painful book now?

“Timing is everything,” Russo, now 37, said this week. “It’s a means of survival. You can only keep the memories down to a certain point. It gets to the point that more or less you have to deal with it.

“I hope that people walk away with the knowledge of what is out there and what can happen,” Russo said. “I hope this book can open people’s eyes.”

Morgan, who has won 20 Alabama and Mississippi press awards, said Russo’s story is the most compelling he has personally encountered during his years in journalism.

“Two things I would say about Nikki’s story. First, anybody who has a loved one needs to hear Nikki’s story and confront the reality of what can potentially happen when people turn to societal institutions that should be trustworthy. And second, the amount of courage it took for Nikki to come forward and tell this story is beyond question. The book is not only shocking, but intensely personal.”

According to Morgan, the tone of The Pomegranate Seed was set by two considerations. The 2007 newspaper article, once it hit the Internet, was scrutinized by many Wiccans or witchcraft practitioners, some of whom dismissed Russo’s story as so-called “Satanic panic.” Thus, Morgan said the book was written with an eye to dates, court documents and depositions that leave no doubt that Russo’s story happened in the real world.

The other consideration was Russo herself and the personal pain and trauma she continues to go through after nearly 20 years. Going over the events that occurred from 1988-90 during interviews for the book often pushed Russo to her limits, Morgan said. He adds that on some occasions Russo had to take a week off before delving into the material again.

“You and I might take a day for granted but Nikki does not,” Morgan said.

According to Morgan, he got the idea for the book title from a poem of Homer, the ancient Greek writer. The “Hymn to Demeter” tells the story of a maiden who was forced to live her life partially in the light and partially in the dark because she ate pomegranate seed in the Underworld.

It was through this process and release of the book that Russo hoped she would find the closure she has so desperately sought. For Russo, unfortunately, the release of the book has not brought that closure.

“When stuff like this happens, you can’t walk away from it, it stays with you.” she said. “I’ll never get back what was taken. I’ll never be able to get away from the memories.”

Some of the frustrations that Russo encountered almost 20 years ago in dealing with the State of California, she continues to experience today in connection with what she calls the “victim-witness” program.

In the same way that Russo had to change her name years ago to escape threats from coven members, she knows today that the person they abducted no longer exists. At the same time however, she is comfortable with the person she is today.

After she left the “Brotherhood,” the coven of witches in which she was initiated, a deprogrammer told Russo she had two choices: She could either go into a padded room or try and function and contribute to society.

“The padded room was really not that appealing,” Russo said.
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