Sect Baby Ordered in State Custody

Associated Press/January 5, 2002

Boston -- The state was granted temporary custody Friday of a baby believed born to a member of a religious sect but whose whereabouts are unknown.

The Department of Social Services in obtaining custody cited ``grave concern'' over the deaths of two other children born to sect members.

Officials said Rebecca Corneau, 33, no longer looked pregnant during a court appearance this week; she had appeared to be pregnant earlier.

"We have not yet seen a baby. We are terrifically concerned about its health and well-being,'' department spokeswoman Carol Yelverton said. ``We are trying to determine where the child is, if the baby is alive.''

Authorities said they were turned away from the couple's Attleboro home Thursday when they tried to determine if the woman had given birth.

Corneau and her husband, David, have been ordered to appear in court Tuesday on the custody motion.

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

The couple's four other children live with relatives who are not sect members.

Prosecutors allege the Robidoux baby 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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