Cult kids won't be returned to facility

Quebec court order

National Post/May 18, 1999
By Campbell Clark

MONTREAL - A dozen children who were removed from a cult headquarters during a massive police raid last month will not be returned to the St. Jerome monastery.

A Quebec Court judge in St. Jerome issued a court order yesterday entrenching an agreement that will see most of the children returned to the custody of their parents and cared for outside the cult's facility.

Two children will remain in a foster home, however, until youth-protection authorities are satisfied they will be safe in their father's care.

Yesterday's court order ensures that all 20 children who were found at the Apostles' orphanage during the police raid will now be raised outside cult headquarters.

In April, Quebec's provincial police swept down on the Apostles' St. Jerome compound, seeking to arrest four members on charges of abusing children at the monastery between 1966 and 1985.

The four were not found during the raid, but three, including the cult's leader, Jean Gaston Tremblay -- known to cult members as Pope Gregory XVII -- later gave themselves up to police. Mr. Tremblay faces 20 charges, including sexual assault; two nuns, Lise Garand and Ruth-Ann Guzal, each face four charges of assault and making threats.

Authorities who removed the children from the monastery discovered that more than half were of foreign nationality, staying in Canada without documentation, and, in some cases, without their parents.

Child-care workers found no evidence the children were abused.

Three teen sisters were initially returned to their parents at the cult's headquarters, while nine American children and their parents were later escorted to the U.S. border.

The three teenaged sisters will now leave the compound as their parents regain custody of two younger children who had remained in the care of youth-protection workers. A spokesman for Quebec's youth-protection authorities, Francis Gagnon, said youth-care workers will continue to check on all five children.

Two other Canadian children will remain in a foster home until their father -- their sole parent -- has shown he can provide a secure home, Mr. Gagnon said.

Four remaining foreign children will now also leave Canada with their parents, who had not been at the monastery.

Two will return to their native Ecuador with their mother, who had been living in Quebec legally, but not living at the Apostles' monastery. One French girl has already left with her parents, who were in Canada illegally. A Belgian boy, whose parents had sent him to Canada to be educated at the monastery, will return home with his parents next week.


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