Attleboro sect member investigated for possible child birth

Boston Globe/January 3, 2002

Attleboro, Mass. -- State investigators trying to determine whether an Attleboro sect member whose stillborn child was secretly buried in Maine has had another baby were turned away from the woman's house Thursday morning, prosecutors said.

Rebecca Corneau, 33, had recently appeared pregnant, and Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh sought at a hearing Wednesday to have Corneau confined to protect the baby.

But Corneau no longer appeared pregnant at the hearing. Walsh dropped his petition and instead filed a complaint with the Department of Social Services.

When DSS workers arrived at Courneau's house on Thursday, they were prevented from entering, said Ed Sirois, chief of staff for the Bristol County DA's office.

''They did approach the home to see if she was pregnant,'' Sirois said. ''And they were turned away at the door.''

Sirois said he did not know who turned the DSS workers away.

DSS spokeswoman Carol Yelverton would not say whether workers went to Corneau's home, but said the agency received a report Wednesday of possible abuse and neglect of a child. Yelverton said it is standard procedure for DSS workers to respond to those reports in person.

Corneau was confined for six weeks when she was pregnant in 2000 because of concerns about the health of her baby. A healthy baby girl was born to her in October 2000 and immediately placed with a foster family.

Corneau has already given birth five times, including her stillborn son, Jeremiah, who was secretly buried in 1999 in Maine with his infant cousin, Samuel Robidoux. Prosecutors allege that Samuel starved to death after his aunt said she had had a vision from God instructing his parents to feed the baby nothing but almond milk.

His parents, sect leader Jacques Robidoux and his wife, Karen, face murder charges in a trial expected to start in March.

Corneau has not been charged in connection with the deaths. All of her other children have been taken by DSS and placed with relatives who are not members of the sect.

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