Delay sought in sect trial

Sun Chronicle/May 30, 2002

Attleboro -- Attleboro religious sect mother Karen Robidoux needs more counseling before she is ready for trial in the starvation death of her son, her lawyer said Thursday.

The 27-year-old woman, who has been diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing today to discuss the status of her case.

She was declared temporarily incompetent in January by Judge Elizabeth Donovan, who made her findings after testimony from a state forensic psychologist who examined Robidoux.

Brockton defense lawyer Joseph Krowski Sr. said his client has ''made some progress, but not enough to make through the ordeal of a trial.''

Krowski said his client might have suffered more than has previously been known and is currently undergoing cult ''deprogramming'' counseling at Taunton State Hospital..

Robidoux may have been subjected to physical abuse ''if not the threat of physical force'' while a member of the sect, known as ''The Body of Christ,'' Krowski said.

''There's been a little rougher treatment than what's been known,'' Krowski said of Robidoux.

The lawyer did not say who might have physically abused his client.

He said Robidoux was subjected to psychological pressure while a member of the "cult,'' which he said brainwashed his client so that her judgment was impaired by the religious dogma of the male-dominated group.

The sect shuns strangers and does not believe in most mainstream institutions, including modern medicine and schools.

Robidoux faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly withholding solid food from her son, Samuel, for 51 days until he died three days before his first birthday in April 1999.

She had four other children who were taken away from her and her husband, Jacques, 30, when authorities began investigating the sect in November 1999.

Jacques Robidoux, a leader in the sect formed by his father Roland, was convicted last year of first-degree murder and is now in prison for life without parole.

Prosecutors say the couple starved Samuel to obey orders they thought came from God, which were received by the boy's aunt, Michelle Mingo, also a sect member.

But Krowski said his client is guilty of no wrongdoing because her judgment was impaired.

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