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Long Arm of Quebec Reaches Ontario

December 12, 2013 permalink

The Lev Tahor group, which fled Quebec to save their children from seizure, is being legally pursued in Ontario. The children's aid society of Chatham-Kent is seeking custody of fourteen children on behalf of Quebec. The hearing, initially scheduled for December 11, has been postponed to December 23. The whereabouts of children is not mentioned, but they may still be with their parents.

In what psychological jargon calls projection, CAS is accusing Lev Tahor of:

  • neglect
  • psychological abuse
  • poor nutrition
  • health problems
  • unkempt houses
  • children slept on beds with urine-soaked sheets surrounded by garbage
  • children being forcibly removed from their homes and made to live with other families
  • poor dental hygiene
  • substandard health care
  • isolating members from their families
  • bogus psychiatric diagnoses
  • anti-psychotic medication to keep followers compliant

Most of these abuses are widespread within the foster care system. Another accusation, home-schooling, may be one of the real reasons for the legal action. Public schools don't like to lose their provincial funding when students stay home.

In other news, the press is beginning to derogate Lev Tahor. The group amassed $6 million and left unpaid bills behind in Quebec.



Ontario Children’s Aid officials seek court order to seize kids from runaway Jewish group Lev Tahor

A court hearing is being held in Ontario on Wednesday to determine whether 14 children belonging to the ultra-orthodox Jewish group Lev Tahor can be taken into foster care.

Lev Tahor
Around 200 Lev Tahor members fled to Chatham-Kent on Nov. 18.
Rick Madonik / Toronto Star file photo

MONTREAL—Ontario Children’s Aid authorities have launched a legal battle to seize custody of 14 child members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor and send them into foster care in Quebec.

The move comes two weeks after a Quebec judge ruled the children, ranging in age from two months to 16 years, are at “serious risk of harm” if they continue living in the community. Ahead of that hearing, about 200 members of the sect fled to Chatham-Kent, Ont., claiming Ontario provided them the liberty to educate their children according to a strict interpretation of Judaism espoused by Lev Tahor’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans.

A feeling of calm had washed over the community in recent days and senior members of the group had claimed good relations with local child-welfare authorities, saying they had made their own inquiries since Lev Tahor arrived last month and found no problems.

But at 7 p.m. Tuesday they learned that Ontario would not be the refuge it had imagined.

Along with 500 pages of court documents, two families in the group received a summons to appear in court Wednesday morning. Among the documents, was the revelation that Chatham-Kent Children’s Services had sought a warrant on Dec. 4 from a Justice of the Peace that would let them carry out a Quebec court order to place the children in foster care under the guidance of Quebec child-welfare authorities, where they would undergo psychological and physical testing.

The application for the warrant was rejected on Dec. 7. The brief court hearing Wednesday morning was an appeal of that decision. The case will be heard again on Dec. 23.

The stealth with which local child-welfare officials apparently hoped to move is telling, as is the lack of comment on the case Wednesday.

About 200 members of the group boarded three buses in the middle of the night Nov. 18 out of fear Quebec authorities would place the children in foster care. The families are now prevented by a court order from leaving the country and there is great anticipation and concern about what could happen next, particularly among those with ties or a past to Lev Tahor.

There is also obvious concern among Lev Tahor members who, in an about-face from previous encounters, refused to discuss their legal situation.

“There is zero information I can give you,” said Mayer Rosner, who is Lev Tahor’s top administrator. “It’s a court order that I have to respect strictly.”

The Quebec investigation into Lev Tahor allegedly turned up evidence of neglect, psychological abuse, poor nutrition and health problems. Denis Baraby, the director of youth protection at the Centre Jeunesse Laurentides has said they found unkempt houses where children slept on beds with urine-soaked sheets, surrounded by garbage, as well as cases of children being forcibly removed from their homes and made to live with other families. There was also poor dental hygiene, substandard health care and a home-schooling regime that didn’t meet provincial standards, Baraby has said.

Critics of the group say Helbrans is operating a religious cult that encourages child marriages, isolates members from their families and uses anti-psychotic medication and bogus psychiatric diagnoses to keep followers compliant.

But Lev Tahor’s legal defenders say the group’s reputation has been sullied by incorrect information.

“Everything that people are saying about them is not necessarily true,” said Armenia Teixeira, a family lawyer in Montreal. “I’ve been with them for a year-and-a-half now and they’re not bad people . . . . They are entitled to their beliefs and they are not putting their children in harm.”

Teixeira said she will file an appeal of a Quebec court ruling from Nov. 22 in which Justice Pierre Hamel claimed jurisdiction over the 14 children who were later ordered into foster care despite the fact they had moved to Ontario on Nov. 18.

Source: Toronto Star

Lev Tahor court case pushed back to Dec. 23

The court case involving the fundamentalist Jewish Lev Tahor sect is being delayed two weeks, until Dec. 23.

Then, a judge will hear a request from Quebec authorities to have 14 children removed from their families and placed in foster care due to child neglect.

Last month, about 200 members of the group left their homes in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts for Chatham, Ont., just hours before the families were due to appear in a Quebec court on child neglect charges.

Yesterday, the Chatham-Kent Children's Aid Society appealed a decision rejecting their request for permission to have the children removed.

Source: CJAD

Addendum: After CAS hastily grabbed two children from a Lev Tahor family a judge ordered them returned. The court has also refused to issue a full publication ban.



UPDATE: Lev Tahor Custody Battle

Chris Knowles
Lev Tahor lawyer Chris Knowles addresses the media.

Two children from the Jewish sect Lev Tahor are being returned to their parents.

According to Lev Tahor Lawyer Chris Knowles, the brother and sister were taken from their home by a Chatham-Kent Children’s Services case worker Thursday night after they saw what they thought to be symptoms of child abuse.

“They observed some marks on the child’s face. They commenced their investigation, they sought the assistance of the police, the police ultimately determined there was no criminal activity, but based on the society’s determination they apprehended the children,” says Knowles.

The judge presiding over the case has decided that there wasn’t enough evidence of abuse to take the children from their family. The issue is due back in court for a care and custody hearing on January 31. CK Children’s Services requested and was denied a full publication ban earlier today.

Source: Blackburn Radio

Addendum: The case was heard in Chatham on January 10. The judge will give a ruling on February 3. Two articles are enclosed.

Chris Carter points out the difference between this case and the usual child protection hearing. This large group can pool their resources to hire top-level legal help. Consequently, the judge knows he cannot issue the quickie decision that comes down in the routine case against a single family, one that can afford little or no legal help. Lev Tahor can be expected to appeal an unfavorable decision, so the judge must take his time to produce a reasoned opinion.




Court hears of hasty Lev Tahor exodus from Quebec to Chatham

Lev Tahor family


They left in the dead of night, leaving their personal things and the community they’d lived in for years.

At stake for the 40 members of Lev Tahor, an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect from the Montreal area, were the children they feared would be taken by child-protection officials and put in temporary foster care.

It turned out they had good reason to worry: After they left, Quebec authorities successfully petitioned to apprehend 14 children from three families.

The group loaded up three buses and high-tailed it out of Ste. Agathe-des-Monts, Que., last Nov. 17 to Southwestern Ontario — to Chatham, nearly 800 km away.

They left so fast, Quebec authorities reported, they didn’t even have time to gather up credit cards and jewellery.

In one house, they left the coffee maker on.

Friday, a court in Chatham heard an application by the local child-welfare agency to enforce the Quebec order to put the kids in care in Quebec for 30 days to assess them. The order is being appealed.

In Chatham, Justice Stephen Fuerth heard there were plans to leave Quebec long before the Nov. 17 night-time exodus.

The group, distinct by the conservative clothes they wear, had been working with a Quebec real-estate broker to find a new place to live.

The broker’s affidavit told how the group had been talking about a move starting in April and visited properties in Eastern and Southwestern Ontario — in Belleville, Brighton, Brockville, Chatham, Hawkesbury, Morrisburg, Peterborough, Picton, Smiths Falls and Vankleek Hill.

They’d also advertised in several newspapers, looking for an appropriate property.

Their reason for leaving was because Quebec authorities, who’d been involved with the group for several months, wanted to act on concerns about children’s education standards that the group said went against its religious beliefs.

But, aas the lawyer for the local child-welfare agency, Chatham-Kent Childrens’ Services, pointed out in court Friday, the flight plan was sped up once Quebec child-protection officials, advised parents Nov. 14 they’d be starting a court action. They were to meet Nov. 18.

Lev Tahor settled on property along Hwy. 40, north of Chatham, known as Spurgeon Villa, which it had visited Oct. 30.

They left without advising child-welfare officials — first arriving in Windsor, then all gradually settling in Chatham by Nov. 27, the same day Quebec child services were granted an order to seize the children.

One of the remaining Lev Tahor members in Quebec told the agency’s director after the group left, “You make us a surprise. We make you a surprise.”

“It’s clearly why they made the move,” so the Quebec court couldn’t get at the kids, local child-welfare agency lawyer Loree Hodgson-Harris said in her argument to let the local agency enforce the Quebec order.

“You can’t allow, in this country, people to pick up and leave just because they don’t like the process or they don’t want to comply,” she said.

But Lev Tahor lawyer Chris Knowles argued the local agency can’t use child-custody laws to enforce the Quebec order, and that the group’s Charter rights are being disregarded.

He also the group didn’t have to tell Quebec officials they were leaving.

The local child-welfare agency, he said, has been investigating the group since it arrived and hasn’t found any reason – specifically, serious health issues raised in the Quebec order – that have led to them to make their own application.

A previous order in Chatham-Kent was overturned that had placed two of the Lev Tahor children in foster care.

Quebec wants to place the children with Hasidic Jewish families in Montreal.

One 17-year-old woman, married with a baby, was on the list to be put in care but was removed Friday.

Her baby remains on the list, arrangements made so she can go with the infant to Quebec if the baby is put into care.

Knowles said the plan doesn’t respect the group’s very distinct and different ”religious values.

He also said it’s wrong to send the kids to a province planning to pass a Charter of Secular Values, “a province that has chosen to place religious rights beneath other rights.”

The judge is to rule on the application Feb. 3.

Outside court, Knowles said there’s an appeal process if the court orders the kids sent back to Quebec.


Concerns raised by Quebec authorities in documents recently released. Allegations not proven.

  • Fungal foot infections because not allowed to remove socks.
  • Girls as young as 14 married off to older men.
  • Reports of some bruises on one child.
  • Administering melatonin to kids to calm them.
  • Isolation, kids not allowed outdoor play; fearful of outsiders.
  • Concern about possible collective suicide pact.
  • Night-time exodus reports of crying, screaming, throwing belongings into garbage bags,
  • Also that frightened kids were sedated for the 14-hour trip.

Source: Chatham Daily News

Lev Tahor Returns To Court

Chris Knowles
Chris Knowles Lev Tahor 2013

A judge will decide next month whether or not 14 Lev Tahor children will be sent back to Quebec and placed in foster care.

A children’s services lawyer tells the judge it is obvious the group is manipulating jurisdiction issues to avoid youth protection authorities. Chatham-Kent Children’s Services is asking for approval to act on a Quebec court order and seize the children, based on allegations of child brides , abuse and extreme neglect.

“The law, as it’s framed here in Ontario, does not permit a children’s aid society to seek relief under a piece legislation that’s meant for parents to work out their custody disputes,” says Lev Tahor Lawyer Chris Knowles, who notes the plan to place the children in Jewish foster homes is not enough. “There is no plan, what is the plan of care for these children? How does the Quebec authorities plan on ensuring that they will respect all of the aspects of the Lev Tahor groups cultural and religious practices.”

Knowles notes this is more than just a children’s aid matter, but a human rights case. The ultra-orthodox Jewish sect moved from Quebec to Chatham-Kent last November.

Source: Blackburn Radio