A West Virginia man who prosecutors say conducted ritualistic sex acts with young girls who believed him to be a "warlock" has been convicted on multiple counts of sexual abuse involving juveniles.
Jurors found James Rolan Irvin, 57, of Bluefield, guilty Monday of 30 counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse involving juveniles.
Irvin faces a minimum sentence of 220 years in prison, according to Mercer County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler.
The verdict came after three days of deliberations by the jury in the case, which gained notoriety as claims of Nolan’s use of magical powers surfaced during testimony.
Police say Irvin used those claims to get close to children and sexually abuse them. According to an arrest report in the case, a teenage girl told a Bluefield Police Department detective her mother was engaged in wiccan and pagan practices with Nolan and “believed him to be a magical warlock.”
The 17-year-old testified last week she was approximately 10 years old when Irvin began to sexually abuse her. Irvin, who was living in Bluefield with the girls and their mother, said the acts were happening in order to help her mother, the teen stated when being questioned by Sitler.
She said Irvin was “friendly” at first, but when Sitler asked if she had liked him, she replied that he made her uncomfortable.
“I had a gut feeling he was not a good guy, that he was off,” the teen said. “I didn’t feel right around him.”
She added that her mother, who told her she had a blood disorder, asked her to perform a “ritual” with Irvin, which involved going to the home’s living room and removing her clothes with both Irvin and her mother present. Under Sitler’s questioning, the teen said she did not recall what happened afterward.
On another occasion, she said, Irvin took her to his bedroom, told her to undress while he undressed from the waist down, and was told to touch his genitals. Irvin said the act would help her mother, she said. These activities continued for more than a week and progressed to sexual acts.
“He told me to think about my mom and her being healthy,” she said, later adding she never told her mother about the abuse.
Later testimony from the teen’s sister, now 11 years old, alleged abuse by Irvin when she was about three years old. Questioned by Sitler, she said she “vaguely” remembered being alone with Irvin. Sometimes crying, she recalled being in Irvin’s bedroom.
“I remember crying a lot,” she said.
“Why were you crying?” Sitler asked.
“I didn’t want to be around him,” she continued.
“Why not?” Sitler said.
“I don’t like him. The stuff that he said and the stuff that he did. He tried to use witchcraft on me,”
If Nolan’s sentences run consecutively — as the state will request at the Dec. 1 sentencing hearing — Irvin would not be eligible for parole consideration until after serving 225 years, Sitler said.
Nolan was found not guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual assault involving a third juvenile in the case.