Magistrate rules that runaway doesn't have to sit down with parents

The Columbus Dispatch/December 22, 2009

The magistrate in the Rifqa Bary case ruled today that the 17-year-old who ran away from her Columbus home in July does not have to sit down for mediation with her parents.

There were several issues resolved today at the hearing in Franklin County Juvenile Court, including:

    • Mediation. Magistrate Mary Goodrich said issues now being discussed would best be resolved with individual counseling instead of group mediation.

    • Third-party messages. Bary's parents don't want her to receive any cards or letters directly, and had filed a motion that any messages first go to Franklin County Children Services. Omar Tarazi, the family's attorney, withdrew that motion today.

  • Rifqa's mental health. Assistant County Prosecutor Chris Julian said that a counselor was trying to determine whether 17-year-old, whose full name is Fathima Rifqa Bary, has post-traumatic stress disorder.

In July, Rifqa ran away and moved in with two pastors - a married couple - in Orlando, Fla., whom she had met on the Internet.

Rifqa said her father, Mohamed Bary, had threatened to kill her for leaving Islam - the family religion - for Christianity.

Authorities in Florida and Ohio could find no credible threat to her safety, and she returned to Franklin County on Oct. 27 and has been living in a foster home.

A case plan that Franklin County Children Services filed recently with the court says the family should try to work out its differences, with the goal of having Rifqa move back in with her parents. But only Children Services signed the plan, which is not binding unless it becomes a court order.

The next hearing is set for Jan. 19.

[Note: Rifqa Bary has been linked to Xenos Christian Fellowship and Global Revolution Church]

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