Ed and Lorraine Warren are best known for taking on horrific, often demonic cases that spawned the likes of iconic horror movie The Amityville Horror and the entirety of the Conjuring franchise. The Warrens, popularly portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in Warner Bros.’s Conjuring films, have always been depicted as an ideal, loving couple, slow dancing during one memorable scene in The Conjuring 2 and staring lovingly into each other’s eyes.
It seems the real story of the Warrens’ relationship and their sterling reputations might be more tarnished than the public has ever realized.
On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published an exposé reporting on claims that Ed and Lorraine Warren, the renowned demonologists depicted in Warner Bros.’s The Conjuring franchise, have a less family-friendly backstory than the films based on their cases would have you believe.
Not long after the 2013 premiere of The Conjuring, Warner Bros. executives were apparently made aware that Ed had been sexually and romantically involved with another woman for 40 years, starting when she was 15.
At the center of THR’s reporting is Judith Penney, who claims that she began a sexual and romantic relationship with Ed in 1963 at the age of 15 with Lorraine’s knowledge. In a sworn declaration given in November 2014, Penney, now in her 70s, claimed to have lived with the Warrens as Ed’s “lover” for 40 years. Penney was even arrested shortly after moving in with the Warrens for the simple fact that she’d moved in with a married man.
While this is certainly not the first issue to pop up surrounding the Conjuring franchise, as Warner Bros. has been locked in usage lawsuits for several years now regarding the rights to the Warrens’ story, Penney’s story is certainly the most shocking.
“Ed was a pedophile, a sexual predator and an [sic] physically abusive husband,” producer Tony DeRosa-Grund wrote in an email to top Warner Bros. executives. “Lorraine enabled Ed to do this, she knowingly allowed this illegal (read criminal) relationship to continue for 40 years. They lied to the public.”
Although the Warrens claimed to be devout Catholics, Penney also claimed that she became pregnant with Ed’s child in May 1978; Lorraine told Penney to have an abortion due to the social implications and potential scandal that could ruin the Warrens’ business.
Penney said: “They wanted me to tell everyone that someone had come into my apartment and raped me, and I wouldn’t do that. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do, but I had an abortion. The night they picked me up from the hospital after having it, they went out and lectured and left me alone.”
Lorraine’s reported contract with New Line, the Warner Bros. subsidiary behind The Conjuring and its spin-offs, specifically mentioned that the films couldn’t show the Warrens “engaging in crimes, including sex with minors, child pornography, prostitution or sexual assault” and that “neither the husband nor wife could be depicted as participating in an extramarital sexual relationship.” Talent attorney Jill Smith told THR that she’d never seen such specific language in a contract before.
While it’s unlikely that Conjuring fans ever really expected the Warren-based films to be about real true-life events, the disproportionate portrayal of the Warrens’ relationship (given these allegations) might turn some fans away. The fear also seems to be that Wilson and Farmiga wouldn’t want to be involved despite New Line having another spinoff in postproduction and another Conjuring-verse film in development.
Lorraine has claimed no knowledge of the reports via her attorney, Gary Barkin.