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Lev Tahor Children Not Sent to Quebec
April 16, 2014 permalink
An Ontario appellate court has overturned a ruling and allowed Lev Tahor children to remain in Ontario. A judge in Chatham had earlier ordered the children forcibly returned to Quebec.
Court allows Lev Tahor children to remain near sect in Ontario
TORONTO (JTA) — The haredi Orthodox sect Lev Tahor has successfully appealed a ruling to place 14 children in foster care in Quebec.
The decision, delivered April 15 by an Ontario court, gives Lev Tahor, whose memebers fled Quebec for Ontario, a rare legal victory. It allows the 14 children named in a Quebec removal order to remain near the sect in Ontario.
The Ontario Superior Court overturned a lower court decision that upheld a Quebec order to place the children in foster care in Quebec. The lower court had delayed enforcement of the ruling to give the Lev Tahor parents 30 days in which to appeal.
Removing the children to Quebec “would be contrary to [their] best interests,” the higher court ruled, saying such a move would have “disastrous emotional and psychological ramifications for them.”
However, the judge said she had “grave concern about the health and welfare of these children and their protection.”
Seven of the 14 children named in the Quebec order are now in foster care in Ontario. They and their parents fled Canada last month but were forcibly returned from Trinidad and Tobago after a Canadian court ordered an emergency seizure order. Six Lev Tahor children remain in Guatemala, where officials have agreed to monitor their activities but have stressed that they and their parents entered the country legally.
The 200-member Lev Tahor community has been under constant scrutiny since settling in rural Ontario last fall when they fled from north of Montreal just before the children could be seized by child protection services. There have been allegations of poor hygiene, underage marriages, forced ingestion of drugs and physical abuse.
The community has denied all allegations, saying they are victims of a religious smear campaign.
The case will now go back to a lower court in Ontario to determine whether the children are in need of ongoing protection.
Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Addendum: Over the next four months the problem gradually faded away as, one by one, Lev Tahor members relocated to Guatemala.
Lev Tahor, ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, quietly moves to Guatemala
Of the 200 sect members, only half a dozen families remain in Chatham, Ont.
Most of the members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor have moved from Canada to Guatemala amid allegations of child abuse.
Of the nearly 200 members of the sect, a half-dozen families remain in Chatham, Ont., where the group has been based since November 2013. The members left in Canada include some of those who have been involved in a custody dispute with the region's children's services authorities for several months.
Radio-Canada's sources said the bulk of the families began leaving Canada one by one starting in June to join some of the members involved in the custody battle who had left for Guatemala in March.
The sect picked up and moved to Chatham from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., last November after Quebec's youth protective services (known by its French acronym, the DPJ) initiated steps to remove 14 of the children. One of the children was a mother to a young child herself.
Case workers at the DPJ's department in nearby St-Jérôme, Que., alleged that some of the children experienced physical punishment, had poor hygiene and were not being educated according to the province's curriculum.
At Quebec's urging, Chatham-Kent Children's Services picked up where the DPJ left off.
Families left Canada in March
In February, an Ontario judge upheld a Quebec ruling that ordered the 13 children who were part of the original group involved in the dispute with DPJ but did not include the young mother to be surrendered to child welfare authorities.
The sect appealed the decision.
In March, 12 of the children involved in the custody dispute and six adults left Canada on two separate flights: one group of nine flying through Mexico City, and the other group of nine travelling through Trinidad and Tobago.
The group travelling through Trinidad and Tobago were intercepted by immigration authorities and returned to Canada. The group travelling through Mexico City arrived safely in Guatemala, where they remain.
The young mother and her child were stopped at the Calgary airport and returned to Ontario, as well.
In April, Lev Tahor members won their appeal of the February ruling ordering the return of the children to Quebec.
Representatives of Lev Tahor have always vigorously denied all allegations of child abuse.