Never-before-seen court documents released in Lev Tahor case
Published Thursday, March 20, 2014 9:23AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 20, 2014 9:36AM EDT
Several never-before-seen court documents involving the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor were released to the media Wednesday.
One of the documents was a letter sent from the heads of the sect to Chatham-Kent Children’s Services on Jan. 27. In the letter the group outlined their views on the child neglect investigationin detail.
The statement starts with the Quebec Department of Youth Protection’s original intervention between Aug. 7, 2013 and Nov. 17 2013. The sect claims that the child neglect investigation originated as result of issues with the groups home school curriculum.
“Quebec law dictates that children failing to study the curriculum provided by the Ministry or equivalent thereof, are considered endangered and neglected,” the group says. “This statute provides enough grounds for the Quebec Youth Protection Agency to gain full mandate over the children and their future.”
Lev Tahor goes on to explain this procedure in further detail.
“Due to the religious observance of Ultra-Orthodoxy and subsequently these families, certain secular subjects such as evolution and sexuality studies are not allowed. Therefore, the children of the community were legally considered "neglected" and in "danger" for the mere fact of not studying the Quebec curriculum. The DYP now has legal grounds to intervene on behalf of the ''wellbeing" and "safety" of the children.”
The leaders claim in the letter that testimony from a social worker for the DYP stated that the original goal of the agency was not to seize the Lev Tahor children.
“Well the non-attendance at school was the sub-text that we used for the entire group of children, but the farther we advanced in our elevations, there were other sub-text that were added specifically,” the letter states.
The sect says they were willing to work with DYP to come toa compromise on their curriculum, but nothing was accomplished. They say this ultimately led to their departure from the province.
“The deception of the DYP regarding the education resulted in the community hastening their decision, and actually leaves the province of Quebec on November 17, 2013.”
Approximately 40 families with the Jewish group left Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., and relocated to Chatham in November after a Quebec court ordered 14 children into foster care.
A decision from Justice Stephen Fuerth in Chatham-Kent on Feb. 3, ordered the 14 children from the sect back to Quebec child services, pending a possible appeal.As part of the decision, the children were ordered to remain with their families and couldn’t leave Chatham-Kent until an appeal was made.
On March 5, 14 children and members of their families left Chatham-Kent. Since, six children have been placed in the care of CAS in Ontario after leaving Canada for Trinidad and Tobago. Another two children involved in the case were apprehended in Calgary.
Six other children who left with their families for Guatemala remain in that country.