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Gang-Nab Style

July 5, 2013 permalink

The forty children seized from Mennonites near Gladstone Manitoba will remain in custody following a court hearing. Fixcas research has shown the community to be Westbourne Manitoba, about 20 kilometers east of Gladstone. Two of the men charged are Enos Bauman, 54, and his son Cleason Bauman, 29.



Judge denies bid to have kids returned to parents

Forty children from a Manitoba community of Old Order Mennonites remain in CFS care.

BRANDON -- About 40 Mennonite children remain in the care of provincial Child and Family Services after a lawyer made an unsuccessful bid to get some of them home.

Paul Walsh argued that the child welfare agency failed to follow the Child and Family Services Act, so the children should be returned to their Old Order Mennonite parents.

"The best place for the 18 children, every last one of the children of my clients — some who are being breast-fed, some who are under two, some of who have health issues — would be best served if they were returned to my clients," Walsh said in a southern Manitoba courtroom on Wednesday.

Walsh represents five of 10 families said to have had children apprehended.

Their names, and the name of their "horse-and-buggy" community, can’t be printed due to a court-ordered publication ban.

The children from the parents represented by Walsh are only 18 of about 40 children who remain in CFS care in the wake of allegations of physical abuse at the Mennonite community.

Walsh, a former CFS lawyer who has worked on child protection cases for 20 years, said this is the only case he’s aware of in Canada in which all the children of an identifiable group have been apprehended en masse.

The need for such a widespread seizure of children is now being questioned.

The mass apprehension of children by CFS is the result of allegations of physical abuse against children from the community of 14 homes clustered within a seven-kilometre radius.

Before the children were removed, the population of the Manitoba community was 80 to 90 people.

Ten adult community members now reportedly face charges of assault and assault with a weapon as a result of an RCMP investigation. At this point, details of the allegations can only be gleaned from court documents.

When the first two men to be charged appeared in court in March it was initially alleged that seven children, aged seven to 14 years, were assaulted.

Two further accused appeared in court last month, raising the number of children alleged to have been assaulted to 13.

It’s alleged that children were assaulted multiple times as a form of "discipline" with such objects as a leather strap, cattle prod, a whip and a board.

Last summer, a number of children started to exhibit "extreme" behaviour. They were defiant and acting inappropriately. It was only later that the adults learned the source of what they believed to be the problem.

A number of children came forward with allegations that they had been sexually abused by their father.

One source said that the allegations of sexual abuse against children were more widespread — it included children from three families, and the accused also included three women.

The Mennonite community tried to handle the matter internally before turning to the RCMP.

Ultimately, though, the accused father denied the allegations and was never charged. Instead, the RCMP investigation led to charges against other community members said to have disciplined the children.

Before the crisis, 53 children lived in the community. The 11 children of the father originally accused of abuse had been staying at the homes of other community members but CFS removed them, returned them to their parents and they now reportedly live in Ontario.

In January and June, the remaining 42 children were apprehended from the community by CFS.

However, a source said one teen ran away from his CFS placement back to his Mennonite home and was allowed to stay.

Another 13-year-old boy also ran away from his placement and remains missing. He’s been in contact with community members but they don’t know where he is.

That leaves only one to two children in the community.

In another twist to the case, two women from the community are said to be on the run. They apparently fled in the belief they were about to be charged.

In court on Wednesday, Walsh made a bid to get 18 of the Mennonite children — nine years old and younger — home.

Eight of their parents were present in the gallery — five men in black jackets and pants, and three women in full-length dresses and white bonnets.

Walsh asked Judge Heather Pullan to dismiss an application by CFS of Central Manitoba for a hearing to determine whether the children are in need of protection.

That hearing could determine temporary or permanent guardianship — whether that’s with the parents, another person, or the agency.

Walsh argued the CFS application failed to meet the standards of the CFS Act, should be declared null and his clients’ children should be returned to their parents.

CFS hadn’t specified the times and conditions for allowing the parents access to their children as required by the act, Walsh said.

Only one set of parents of the five families he represents has had a visit with their children within the last month, he said.

The agency’s lawyer, Chad Schaan, said there was difficulty initially reaching or speaking with some of the parents, but access — at least for parents who haven’t been charged — is supervised on a weekly basis at a home at the community.

"The agency is doing what it can," Schaan said, adding that he’d written to Walsh to inform him of details of access.

Walsh also argued that he hadn’t received proper particulars that outline the grounds being used to show the children are in need of protection.

Schaan said Walsh has been provided with detailed particulars and more are on the way, and argued the application shouldn’t be dismissed.

While Pullan expressed concern with CFS’s application — including concerns about the parents’ access to the children — she said those concerns can be remedied and declined to declare it null.

A further hearing date has been tentatively set for August, but in the meantime the case has been scheduled for later this month to discuss issues surrounding the case.

The 40 Mennonite children in CFS care are said to be living in homes across Manitoba with Mennonites from other communities.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Addendum: A new article claims that help is coming to the community, but their children are still gone with no signs of imminent return.



Manitoba Mennonite community gets help after 40 kids seized

Restoration team in place for 'mutual education,' Family Services executive says

Provincial officials in Manitoba are working together to help families involved in a massive seizure of children from a Mennonite community in rural Manitoba.

“This is a very unique and challenging situation,” said Jay Rodgers, chief executive of Manitoba Child and Family Services.

Dozens of children were seized earlier this year after multiple assault charges were laid against 13 adults in the community.

Court documents allege some of the assaults involved a strap and a cattle prod. The children seized range in age from less than a year old to 17.

Now Family Services officials are working to find placements for the children and helping families to create safe environments.

A restoration team has been formed that includes members of the community where the children were seized, as well as child welfare workers.

“The restoration team has come together as a way of trying to build a relationship between child and family services system and this community,” said Rodgers.

He said part of doing that is working with adults in the community to bridge the gap between their traditional beliefs and modern standards. He said child-welfare workers are helping the adults “to understand the laws that we have to work under in Manitoba and what’s acceptable and not acceptable discipline of kids.”

Corporal punishment

Rodgers said the process is about mutual education. “I think the community members have to understand that better from our perspective, and as a service system, we have to understand better from their perspective, their history and their culture.”

Former Mennonite Central Committee executive director Peter Rempel is also on the restoration team. He said the community reached out to him for help when RCMP began investigating the use of corporal punishment in some of the homes.

Rempel said RCMP was originally called into the community to look into another matter, but ended up focusing on the use of corporal punishment.

He said Family Services “started apprehending children because of the corporal punishment aspect of it.”

Rempel added: “That’s the point they called me and said strange things are happening here, which we don’t understand, and so I’ve worked with them since then.”

Rempel was first in contact with the community years ago when they first arrived to Manitoba from another province. He was with the MCC at the time.

Parenting courses

“There is a profound and deep desire to — I’d almost say — do what it takes to have the children returned,” said Rempel. “They came to me and said we need some resources to help us rework things.”

Rempel helped to pull together resources for the families to address Family Services' concerns about child safety. Counsellors have worked with some of the community members already, and parenting courses have been introduced.

“We are basically trying to do some educating and encouraging, and in some ways, maybe helping translate what Child and Family Services looks for,” he said. “We will work at what steps the community can go through to address the concerns about safety of their children and work towards having the children returned.”

About 40 children remain in Family Services' care. Rodgers said children will only be returned when the agency determines they will be safe.

“The mandate of child and family services under provincial legislation — under our laws — is to keep kids safe,” he said.

Source: CBC

Addendum: A hearing took place on September 4. Lawyers are making positive statements but the article shows little real progress in reuniting the families.



Manitoba Mennonite parents closer to getting children back

Some members of a rural Manitoba Mennonite community at the centre of child-abuse allegations are one step closer to being reunited with their children.

A number of children were removed from the private community by child and family services (CFS) officials in June after 13 adults were charged with multiple counts of assault.

The charges are based on allegations of children being struck with cattle prods, whips and leather straps between July 2011 and Jan. 31 of this year.

All but one child was taken from the Mennonite community and placed in foster care. Since then, their parents and community leaders have been in talks with CFS officials towards having the children returned.

Following a court hearing on Wednesday afternoon, a lawyer for five of the Mennonite families said he believes all of his clients' children will be brought home once child-welfare concerns are addressed.

Step in the right direction, says lawyer

Paul Walsh told reporters outside court that the latest development is a step in the right direction.

At the same time, he said he believes the process has taken too long, even though all of his clients have already agreed to conditions laid out by CFS officials.

Those conditions were listed in a CFS letter sent to the Mennonite community in July and include:

  • Only spanking children on their buttocks with their hands.
  • Not to leave marks or injuries on the children from disciplining them.
  • Having children disciplined only by their parents, not by teachers or pastors.

Some of the family members, who spoke publicly for the first time outside court, told reporters that they love their children and it's been an extremely difficult summer, and they would do anything to have their children home.

The family members also said they are worried their children are losing touch with their Mennonite beliefs.

A court-ordered publication ban means neither the Mennonite community nor the people charged can be named in order to protect the identities of the alleged victims.

One mother says her son celebrated his first birthday on Tuesday but she wasn't allowed to see him.

CFS officials have said they will meet with each family to discuss child-welfare concerns before the children are brought back to the community.

Source: CBC

Addendum: One mother, identified as a foster mother later on, has pleaded guilty to a crime. She may be the foster mother from hell, as portrayed in the article. Or if her own children are part of the apprehension, she may be the victim of an offer such as plead guilty or you will never see your children again.

The allegations against the community elders appear strikingly similar to the actions of social workers in other families.

Children were questioned by community elders and other adults -- often with leading questions or with specific hints -- about alleged sexual improprieties within their families, the Crown said.

When the children didn't remember things they were supposed to remember, or would falsely admit to the improprieties, violence would follow.

As of April 2014, thirty of the children are still in CFS care.



Kids shocked with cattle prod

Sins of religious community in court

Incidents of horrific physical abuse of children in a rural Manitoba community were revealed in a Winnipeg courtroom late last month.

During the case of an Old Order Mennonite community member -- a woman who pleaded guilty to abuse charges -- the Crown said "counselling sessions" were held in which children were spanked, kicked, strapped and shocked with a cattle prod for perceived wrongdoing.

One girl was strapped and shocked for not eating quickly enough, and sometimes shocked for as little as the look on her face, court was told.

"The backdrop of it is actually tremendous physical violence with respect to the children," Crown attorney Adam Bergen said in late March, when the woman from the religious community entered guilty pleas to assault charges.

Neither she nor her community can be identified due to ongoing court proceedings and a publication ban.

An estimated 80 to 90 people -- more than half of them children -- lived in the community when allegations of abuse came to light. The community still used horse and buggies and abided by traditions dating back to the 19th century.

About 16 adults were charged with offences such as assault and assault with a weapon. Most were allegedly committed on a number of children from July 2011 to January 2013.

At one point, there were at least 13 victims.

There might have been more, court documents allege.

The 57-year-old woman who pleaded guilty admitted to two counts of assault with a weapon against two girls who were placed in her home after they were removed from their own.

At the time, one girl was 10 or 11 years old, and the other was between six and eight years old.

The woman's sentencing will be at a later date.

Bergen said the trouble within the community surrounded allegations of sexual improprieties among the parents and children of two families.

Those seen as community elders and other adults would hold counselling sessions in an effort to gain information about whether sexual abuse was taking place within families.

Violent methods of extracting information were used, the Crown said.

"Underlying all of this seems to be this sort of hyper-vigilance over any sexual thoughts on behalf of the children, and so that is what the counselling is geared toward," Bergen said.

Those allegations of sexual abuse -- repeated to police by children from those families -- were later all recanted or dismissed by police as untrue, Bergen said. It's how those unfounded sexual allegations were drawn from the children that forms the basis for the accusations of physical abuse, he said.

In a previous hearing, court heard the police investigation included physical examinations of the children.

Children were questioned by community elders and other adults -- often with leading questions or with specific hints -- about alleged sexual improprieties within their families, the Crown said.

When the children didn't remember things they were supposed to remember, or would falsely admit to the improprieties, violence would follow.

"The cattle prod is used for large animals and it's basically got an on-off switch and it's described by all the children as incredibly painful," Bergen said.

Due to the allegations of physical abuse, Child and Family Services apprehended all of the children in waves during February and June of 2013.

At one point, 42 children were in CFS care but community members have worked with CFS toward their return home. So far, about a dozen have been returned and 30 are still in CFS care.

Seven community members remain charged.

Charges against six of them were stayed.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Addendum: A Mennonite man who hid a child for three months has been fined $50,000.



Old Order Mennonite fined $50K for abducting boy from CFS

A male member of an Old Order Mennonite community that was thrust into the spotlight after all of its children were seized by child welfare authorities amidst allegations of severe physical abuse was fined $50,000 Wednesday after admitting to helping hide one of the children for several months.

Neither the man or his southern Manitoba community can be identified by name.

The 31-year-old man pleaded guilty to assisting in removing a child from his community, knowing he was in care. The fine, jointly recommended by the Crown and defence, is the maximum allowed for the Child and Family Services Act offence. Additional charges of child abduction and obstruction of justice were stayed by the Crown.

The boy disappeared May 26, 2013 and wasn’t located until late August.

Court heard the man helped hide the boy at a number of community homes before he was relocated to a home in Saskatchewan and repeatedly told CFS and police he knew nothing of his whereabouts.

“This kind of interference on the heels of a horrible situation ... absolutely has to be denounced,” said Judge Margaret Wiebe. “You sent a strong message to your community and to (the boy) that police shouldn’t be trusted and CFS shouldn’t be trusted.”

Crown attorney Nicole Roch said the man and other community members hid the boy and other children so they couldn’t provide police statements regarding allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

“All of the children that were interfered with ... were all children that had not provided statements to police,” Roch said. “The Crown’s view is that the purpose of interfering with these children was to ensure ... (their) allegations never saw a courtroom and never saw the light of day.”

Defence lawyer Ted Mariash argued the man was aware the boy was unhappy and “struggling” in his foster placement and only wanted to help him. The boy “came to my client in an extreme state of need and my client acted accordingly,” Mariash said.

More than a dozen adult community members were arrested and all of the community’s children were taken into care last year after allegations surfaced that the children had been subjected to severe physical abuse, including being shocked with a cattle prod.

Residents established the community just eight years ago after breaking from their home community in Ontario. Old Order Mennonite communities are traditionally patriarchal, with ultimate authority residing in the hands of church leaders. Community members eschew modern technology and electricity and drive a horse and buggy to get around.

Most of the residents have dealt with their charges by way of peace bonds. The community’s former de-facto leader Enos Bauman remains before the court.

Bauman held no position within the church but wielded great authority in the community, court heard.

Allegations of wrongdoing first came to light in the summer of 2012 when a community resident “escaped to Ontario” and reported he had been sexually abused by Bauman, Roch said.

Police investigated and a number of boys who had been living with Bauman and his wife reported Bauman had used a cattle prod on them as a disciplinary measure against masturbation.

In a victim impact statement, the boy at the centre of Wednesday’s hearing said he is struggling to trust his community and his parents.

The boy remains in foster care “and has expressed significant concerns about returning to his community,” Roch said.

Source: Winnipeg Sun

Addendum: An unnamed man, probably Cleason Bauman, has pleaded guilty.



Man from western Manitoba Mennonite community pleads guilty to child abuse charges

A member of a western Manitoba Mennonite community has pleaded guilty to numerous incidents of child abuse over a three year span.

The 31-year-old accused, who can't be named to protect the identity of the victims, appeared in a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday.

He admitted to five counts of assault with a weapon for incidents involving a leather strap and an iron fire poker.

He admitted to a single count of assault for repeated spankings of a sixth victim.

All of the attacks occurred between 2010 and 2013 against children between the ages of seven and 13.

The accused will be sentenced later this year following completion of several court-ordered reports. He remains free on bail.

Police say the assaults were carried out as a form of discipline at the community in western Manitoba.

In general, Old Order Mennonites have a lifestyle that rejects certain technologies.

They don't use computers or the Internet, for example, and don't believe in having their photos taken. Some Old Order Mennonites live without telephones and electricity and use horses to pull farm machinery.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press