Mass. Parents Held After Birth

The Associated Press/January 17, 2002

Attleboro, Mass. -- A couple belonging to a religious sect was held in contempt of court Thursday for allegedly hiding their newborn baby in defiance of a judge's order that it be turned over to the state.

Rebecca and David Corneau were not immediately jailed, pending a hearing later Thursday. Witnesses have said Rebecca Corneau, 33, appeared to be pregnant several months ago, but no longer appears pregnant.

The Department of Social Services has expressed concern about children born to the couple after the deaths of two other children born to sect members.

The couple's four other children have been placed with relatives who are not members of the sect known as The Body. The Attleboro-based group rejects nearly all of mainstream society, including modern medicine, government and education.

The couple's lawyer, J.W. Carney, argued that the state has no proof that a baby exists, or if one does, that it isn't being well-cared for. He said the couple was being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

In 1999, the Corneaus' stillborn son, Jeremiah, was secretly buried in Maine with his infant cousin, Samuel Robidoux.

Prosecutors say Samuel starved after his aunt said she had a vision instructing his parents to feed him nothing but almond milk.

Samuel's parents - sect leader Jacques Robidoux and his wife - face murder charges in a trial expected to start in March.

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