Sect Member Pleads Guilty in Baby's Death

Associated Press/February 10, 2004
By Denise Lavoie

Boston -- A member of a religious sect whose self-described vision from God led to the starvation death of an infant pleaded guilty Tuesday to an accessory charge and was allowed to go free.

Michelle Mingo pleaded guilty to two counts of being an accessory before the fact to an assault and battery on a child. A judge sentenced her to concurrent 2 1/2-year terms on each count, but because she has already been in custody for nearly four years, she was allowed to go free.

Mingo, a member of a tiny religious sect known as The Body, was charged after her nephew, Samuel Robidoux, died of starvation three days before his first birthday in 1999.

Prosecutors said it was Mingo who started the chain of events that led to Samuel's death when she told her brother, Jacques Robidoux, and sister-in-law, Karen Robidoux, that she had a vision from God about Samuel.

His parents followed Mingo's instructions, and Samuel became weaker and weaker and eventually died of starvation, after 51 days of receiving only small amounts of breast milk.

In 2002, Jacques Robidoux was convicted of murder in Samuel's death and is serving a life sentence.

Last week, a jury cleared Karen Robidoux of murder charges but convicted her of assault and battery. Because she had been in custody for nearly three years, she was not required to serve any additional time.

Mingo left the courthouse by a side door Tuesday and both she and her lawyer declined to answer questions from reporters.

Assistant District Attorney Walter Shea, who prosecuted Mingo and the Robidouxs, said he was satisfied that three people were convicted and at least a dozen children were removed from the sect and placed with other families.

"They are now living happy and healthy lives,'' he said.

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