Cult-ivating a new defense: Sect leader serving life for starving son claims he was brainwashed

Boston Herald/November 22, 2005
By David Wedge

Killer cult dad Jacques Robidoux has pulled away from the controversial religious sect and is seeking a new trial, copping an insanity plea similar to one that got his wife off the hook for their son’s 1999 starvation death.

“He’s reconsidering everything,” said Robert Pardon, a cult deprogrammer who has frequently met with Robidoux behind bars. “He’s away from the group. He’s had a chance to think. He’s cooperating with his attorney. He understands things in ways that he didn’t before.”

Pardon said Robidoux has had problems in prison and is currently in protective custody in MCI-Bridgewater after being moved from MCI-Concord with other lifers. Pardon said Robidoux, who was a leader of the sect, has withdrawn and is now questioning his allegiance to the controversial religious group.

Robidoux, 32, is serving life without parole for starving his son, Samuel, to death as part of a twisted religious prophecy. While he has always been described as a leader of the cult, Robidoux recently filed an appeal claiming he was brainwashed by the Attleboro-based sect. The claim is similar to the mind-control argument that led a jury last year to clear Robidoux’s wife, Karen, of second-degree murder charges.

“It sounds to me that he saw the deal that his wife pulled off and wants to get a piece of the same,” Bristol District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. said.

Robidoux reportedly rejected an insanity defense before his 2002 trial. His trial attorney, Frank O’Boy, said he’s satisfied with the advice he gave Robidoux.

“I pride myself on always informing my clients of all of the options involved, the risks that they raise and the rewards,” O’Boy said. “But it’s the client that makes the decision.”

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