'Warlock' slapped with restraining order in new Salem witch trial

By Valerie Vande Panne

SALEM, Mass. (Reuters) - A judge in Salem, Massachusetts, on Wednesday granted a self-proclaimed witch's request for a restraining order to keep a self-proclaimed warlock and business rival from harassing her.

Lori Sforza, 75, who calls herself a psychic and a "hereditary high priestess" had appealed to Salem District Court Judge Robert Brennan to issue an order stopping Christian Day, who calls himself the "world's best-known warlock" and owns magic-themed stores in Salem and New Orleans from making what she said were harassing phone calls.

The two are well-known in Salem, infamous as the site of 17th century trials that led to the executions of 20 people found guilty of witchcraft. Modern-day Salem capitalizes on its morbid reputation with tourist attractions both ghoulish and historic that help the city draw about 1 million visitors a year, with crowds peaking in the run-up to Halloween.

Sforza, who serves as founder and Head Mother of Our Lord and Lady of the Trinacrian Rose Church, in the waterfront city 16 miles (26 km) northeast of Boston, welcomed the ruling.

"I love Salem so much," she told reporters after leaving the courthouse. "No one should ever be abused, man or woman."

Day told reporters he had never harassed Sforza.

"All of this comes from business competition. All of this comes from when you're the best at what you do, you're going to have people who want you to fail," Day said. "We get people who get jealous. Might I have had a snarky comment on the Internet once in a while? Sure, but that's free speech. Do I call people with private numbers? Never."

Day hosts a "Festival of the Dead" in Salem, where participants can learn to become a paranormal investigator, hear from departed loved ones, or cast a magic circle on Salem Common.

Salem's tourism office estimated that tourism brought $100 million in economic activity to the city of almost 43,000 people last year.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Sandra Maler)