DSS takes steps toward cult kids' custody


Boston Herald, March 3, 2000
by Franci Richardson

The state Department of Social Services placed an ad in an Attleboro newspaper this week, a step toward taking custody of four children raised in a controversial fundamentalist Attleboro cult. The legal advertisement in Wednesday's issue of the Sun Chronicle concerned three children of Jacques and Karen Robidoux and one child belonging to Mark and Trinette Robidoux Daneau.

In November, 11 children were removed from a Knight Avenue duplex in Attleboro after the 26-member group - known for shunning conventional medicine and public schooling - became the focus of a criminal investigation into the suspected deaths of a 1-year-old and a newborn, both children of members.

Police have yet to locate the bodies of the missing boys, even after an extensive search of the northern Maine woods, where is it believed they are buried.

DSS spokeswoman Carol Yelverton declined to explain why custody of only four of the 11 children was an issue, citing confidentiality issues. Yelverton said because neither the Robidouxs nor the Daneaus have marriage certificates, the state can't assume the men in the families are the fathers. The legal advertisement is meant to alert the fathers in case they object to the state seeking custody.

"When there is not this kind of information available, there is a possibility that there may be another father, according to the law," she said. "Efforts have to be made to make contact."


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