- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

ARTEMAS, Pa. (AP) - A woman reported being drugged and raped during a five-day music festival sponsored by a nature-based church, state police said.

The Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary is cooperating with the investigation of the report about what happened on Aug. 2, the last day of the Big Dub Festival, church executive officer Orren Whiddon said.

The event, including camping, vendors and music, is a fundraiser for the church, which is based in Mann Township, Bedford County, about 120 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, near the Maryland border. The woman who reported the assault is from Maryland, police said.

Whiddon said the woman reported the incident to the festival promoter’s security staff, who told her to get tested for rape and report it to police, which she did.

“Other than that, we are allowing the law to work its course,” Whiddon said.

Whiddon described the group as interfaith and including Native American, Christian, Wiccan and Tibetan Buddhist worshippers who gather at outdoor altars on the church’s farm property.

“We are a nature-based church,” Whiddon said. “Some people would call us a hippie church.”

Tickets for the festival were sold in advance, and organizers maintain a 21-year-old minimum age for those attending, Whiddon said.

Although Whiddon told Somerset’s Daily American newspaper that the church is “strictly anti-drug and anti-alcohol” the festival’s website indicates “vineyard wine” would be offered, along with workshops on bondage and sadomasochism and various theme camps. One camp, called Pirates of the Oblivion, describes the group by saying, “Ahoy! We be a ruckas lovin’ group ‘o buckos that drink ‘til th’ spiced rum’s all gone,” according to the festival website.

Whiddon didn’t immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Friday for additional comment on the church’s anti-alcohol stance.


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