After Woman Severely Burned in Boiling Cauldron by 'Witch', Man on Trial Says Police Using Him as Scapegoat

witch burned cauldron
A Halloween costume is seen on a mannequin in the main pedestrian mall in a town where, back in 1692 witch trials took place, October 27, 2005, in Salem, Massachusetts. On Monday, a trial began for a German man accused of dropping a woman into a boiling cauldron during a witches' parade. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Months after a woman was severely injured from being placed in a burning cauldron at a witches parade, a man who stands accused of aiding in the abuse denied his involvement and claimed he's a scapegoat.

During the trial, which began on Monday, Defender Manfred Zipper pointed out flaws in the investigation, according to German newspaper Bild. While his client, identified as Reinhold K., was at the festival and wearing one of the witch masks, he said he was not at the cauldron and that police just randomly picked him out of the group.

In February, the victim, identified only as 18-year-old Janine, attended the Witchcraft Eppingen festival in Eppingen, Germany, with a group of friends. During the parade procession, a float with a boiling cauldron of water placed over an open fire and two "witches" aboard passed by the victim.

A group of attendees allegedly carried the 18-year-old to the cauldron as a joke of sorts, according to The Local. However, once aboard the float, Janine said that one of the "witches" grabbed her under her arms and another grabbed under the back of her knees. They allegedly lifted her above the cauldron, holding her there and then, suddenly, she found herself knee deep in boiling water.

"The pain was overwhelming," Janine said, according to Bild. "I felt like I was burning."

After hearing Jeanine crying out in pain, a friend rushed forward to get her out while the procession moved on as if nothing happened, Bild reported. An investigation was launched into the incident and Eppingen Mayor Klaus Holaschke said that something like what happened during the festival should never have occurred.

Police spokeswoman Corinna Lüke told Deutsche Welle at the time that the woman suffered severe injuries and was airlifted to a special clinic to be treated for her burns. Initial reports said the woman would be hospitalized for two weeks, but Bild reported that 17 percent of her body was burned and she had to stay in a special hospital for eight weeks.

An investigation into the incident proved difficult because of the fact that the perpetrators were wearing masks, according to German newspaper Rhein-Neckar–Zeitung. Officers reviewed photos and videos and took down personal statements from about 40 people.

Prosecutor Patricia Münch ultimately charged Reinhold K. with negligent assault in July. The prosecution claimed that he was the one who held Janine over the cauldron, but she slipped out of his grip and fell into the boiling water.

The use of the boiling cauldron over the open flame called into question the guidelines for the procession. A spokeswoman for the Eppingen city council said changes would be made to prevent a similar incident from happening.

"We will definitely not approve of a move with a kettle of hot water," the spokeswoman said. "We will take a very close look. Because such an incident, we never want [that] again."

The festival is organized by the witches' guild of Eppingen, according to BBC News, and this past event was the 16th year the event was held. Bild reported that the court is expected to render a verdict on Wednesday.