Police Probing Hate Crime Against Girl, 14

Group Says It's Attacked Because Of Beliefs

The Boston Channel/June 2, 2005

Plymouth, MA -- Police in Plymouth are investigating a possible hate crime against a 14-year-old girl. The victim said a woman attacked her because of religious beliefs. The girl belongs to a group known as Twelve Tribes, the Commonwealth of Israel. The fundamentalist Christian sect has several local communities, including one in Dorchester.

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that there are 35 of the communities across the United States and 50 worldwide. In Dorchester, the group owns and operates a health food store. The group appears similar to Amish groups, wearing homemade clothing and home-schooling their children.

The girl who was assaulted, Aremah Delabruere, said she was attacked because of her beliefs while she was walking with her mother and her siblings on Sandwich Street in Plymouth Monday night about 7:30 p.m.

"And she said, 'You are a disgrace to God,' and she started punching me," Delabruere said.

Police said Erin L. Monaghan, 25, of 85 Summer St., allegedly got out of a car and attacked the teenager.

"I was trying to fight back, I was kicking and stuff, but I couldn't. She was bigger than me," Delabruere said.

Witnesses confirmed the attack, police said. Monaghan was charged with assault and battery, a civil rights violation and possession of marijuana.

The Twelve Tribes community in Plymouth lives communally in a large house and runs a store and bakery on Court Street called "Common Sense." They share jobs, households and possessions and believe the world is on a course toward one world government and one world religion, heading toward the brink of destruction. Their founder, Elbert Spriggs, has been called a cult leader by some experts. He founded the sect in Tennessee in the 1970s.

"What we believe is outside the mainstream, and so we're going to be attacked. Whether verbally or people throwing rocks through our windows. All we can do in response is to continue to live our lives," Twelve Tribes leader Kevin Gadsby said.

Gadsby said many of the group's members have been assaulted before but this is the worst attack he can remember since the group moved to the town about four years ago. He said Monday's assault will be prosecuted as a hate crime.

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