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July 11, 2012

Witch admits to assault on business rival

SALEM, Mass. — A well-known Salem witch admitted yesterday in court to attacking a rival business owner in downtown Salem last summer.

As a result, Laurie "Lorelei" Stathopoulos, 52, of 125 Essex St. will spend the next two years on unsupervised probation, after a Salem District Court judge continued charges of assault and battery and malicious destruction of property without a finding for two years.

"She's a bully," said Joanna Thomas, 39, who said she was punched and had her head slammed repeatedly against the window of her shop, New England Magic, on the afternoon of Aug. 13.

Stathopoulos is the owner of Crow Haven Corner. Both shops are on the same block of Essex Street just past the downtown pedestrian mall.

"There's a big history here," said Stathopoulos' lawyer, Scott Dullea.

Thomas, meanwhile, said she's felt harassed by Stathopoulos since opening her shop in 2005.

Long-simmering tensions between the two boiled over on that afternoon, as Thomas was outside her shop taking photographs of oil that had been poured on her front step.

As crowds attending a street fair outside milled about, Stathopoulos walked up to Thomas and slapped the camera out of her hand, witnesses told police.

Stathopoulos then grabbed the necklace Thomas was wearing and ripped it from her neck, began hitting her, and then struck Thomas' head against the glass window of her shop, prosecutor Jay Flynn told a Salem District Court judge.

Thomas' boyfriend, Karl Sirois, repeatedly warned Stathopoulos to stop, then used a canister of pepper spray, which finally ended the confrontation. (Sirois, who had a license for the spray, was charged with assault and battery but was cleared following a trial last month.)

Both Thomas, who suffered a concussion, and Stathopoulos, who had been hit by the pepper spray, were taken to local hospitals, and Stathopoulos was later summonsed to court.

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