Seven out of thirteen children from the "Lev Tahor" anti-Zionist cult who were placed in foster care in Chatham, Ontario, have been returned following the cult's last-minute flight to Guatemala, according to Shalom Toronto.
Last week, several members of the cult flew from Toronto to Trinidad and Tobago, where they were to continue on their path to Guatemala. Immigration authorities later apprehended them.
The escape attempt occurred on the very day that several families from the cult were to appear at an Ontario court, to hear a ruling placing 13 children under foster care, thereby upholding a Quebec court decision. The ruling followed reports pointing to rampant child abuse, underage marriage (at 14) and a lack of adequate medical care in the cult.
According to the reports of cult-like behavior, group leaders imprisoned children in basements when they misbehaved, and physically and psychologically abused them. Additionally, children allegedly were sexually abused and forced to take psychotropic drugs.
But on Tuesday, several of the children were returned to safe hands.
"Chatham-Kent Children’s Services staff were at the airport with Peel police assistance and carried out Judge Templeton’s order to bring those children into the agency’s care,” said Stephen Doig, director of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, to CBC. “The agency continues to work with various authorities to locate the remaining children, and if found, those children who are subject to the [order] will also be placed in the care of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services."
Besides the seven children, who were immediately returned to Canadian custody, a 17-year-old young mother and her five-month-old baby were stopped at Calgary International Airport on Sunday. Both are now in the care of Chatham-Kent's Children's Services.
Miriam Helbrans, an adult member of Lev Tahor in Ontario, also told the agency that a 15-year-old teenager from the sect is on a hunger strike protesting their treatment by the authorities and has been transferred to hospital for treatment.
Twenty-one-year-old Joel Helbrans, another Lev Tahor member at the center of the custody battle, spoke to the media about the cult's treatment - wearing a yellow star with "Jew" on it, in the same manner as the Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust.
“It’s 1939 coming back,” he said. “[If you want to] hate me because I’m a Jew, hate me. But I’m a Jew. It’s what I am. Don’t say I abuse children because no one abused the children."