Future unclear for 8 children removed from cult members

Boston Herald/October 25, 2000
By Tom Farmer

Now that investgators have recovered the remains of two babies who allegedly died in the care of an Attleboro cult, it remains unclear if eight children permanantly removed from cult members will ever be returned to their parents. Attleboro Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Nasif will conduct a custody hearing tomorrow on a ninth child - the infant daughter of David and Rebecca Corneau who was born last week.

The Corneaus' three other daughters were permanantly taken from them in August when Nasif also terminated the parental rights of cultists Jacques and Karen Robidoux and Mark and Trinette Daneau.

"We have no indication of any change," said Carol Yelverton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services which has permanant custody of eight of the nine children.

"They were removed last November and placed in foster care last August. The Juvenile Court terminated parental rights of (three) different families and the kids are free to be adopted."

Jacques Robidoux and Mark Daneau remain jailed in contempt of court for refusing to answer questions about the deaths of Robidoux's 10-month-old son, Samuel, and the Corneaus' son, Jeremiah, who died shortly after birth.

Nasif terminated custody of Robidoux's four surviving children and the Daneaus' custody of their infant daughter.

Only Dennis Mingo, who left the cult several years ago after disagreeing with the sect's fundamentalist Christian ways and underwent cult deprogramming, has been able to regain custody of his five children.

Mingo's wife, Michelle Robidoux Mingo, is also being held in contempt of court and could face prosecution in connection with Samuel Robidoux's death, sources said.

Yelverton said there is a legal process where the parents could attempt to regain custody of their children.

She declined to speculate on what kind of conditions they would have to meet to get their kids back, but pointed to Dennis Mingo's case without additional comment.

"It remains to be seen what choices these parents want to make," she said. "We don't know what's going to happen with the children. It's hard to say. We're just concerned with the children's safety."

The Corneaus' attorney, Robert A. George, indicated yesterday his clients will try to regain custody of their four children now that David Corneau has led investigators to the Maine site where the two babies were buried.

"David Corneau's main concern is the preservation of his family unit and the return of his children," said George.

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