HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Dozens of people spoke out at a public hearing before the judiciary committee in Hartford on Wednesday to push for a bill that would overturn convictions for victims of the Connecticut witchcraft trials.
Members of the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project and decedents of the victims spoke out at the hearing. They are asking the state to right a wrong and to apologize for their prosecutions.
“Two years ago a DNA relative informed of my relation to Alse – or Alice Young of Windsor, the first witch executed in the English colonies,” said Susan Bailey of Hartford.
Connecticut witch trial victims may receive justice for convictions over 300 years later
They’re pushing for a bill that would overturn witchcraft convictions in Connecticut from 375 years ago and have the state apologize for the prosecutions.
“This may seem like an old issue irrelevant after being buried over centuries but I have difficulty telling my granddaughters and grandsons what happened to their ancestors,” said Dr. Suzanne Vogel Scibilia.
Nine women and two men were executed by hanging for witchcraft in Connecticut between 1647-1697, decades before the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts.
William Schloat, 9, of Avon is learning about the witch trials from his mother Jennifer, a history teacher. William feels the state needs to do something.
“We should protect people who do not have the power to defend themselves… Even though we know they weren’t actually witches, we want historical records saying these people weren’t witches – they didn’t do any crimes,” Scholat said.
At certain moments during the hearing, there was pushback from state representatives and senators about exonerations.
“Once we go down that path… Where does it end,?” said Sen. John Kissel (R).
Beth Caruso, the co-founder of the Witch Trial Exoneration Projec,t believes this bill is long overdue and the time is now.
“Why is it so hard today – to just say they weren’t witches? They were not. It was not happening and we recognize that in [the] present day,” Caruso said.