Local children’s aid officials are concerned for the safety of 13 Lev Tahor children, after members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect failed to appear in Chatham court this morning.
Stephen Doig, executive director for Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS), said “It is my understanding that the families are not in the courtroom. We don’t believe they are in the community. We’re not sure where exactly they are at this point.”
Doig said CKSC worries for the children’s safety.
“The concern that we would have for the 13 children that are subject to the order is the concern that Judge (Stephen) Feurth upheld the Quebec order, so at this point we have 13 children that the courts have ordered into the care of the Quebec authorities, and at this point we appear to not know where they are,” Doig said. “We are certainly concerned about their well-being.”
A hearing was scheduled for today and a decision was expected to be made on the group’s appeal on the court order.
Doig said CKCS staff have heard rumours that the Lev Tahor group has left the country.
“It’s my understanding that the families who are subject to the Quebec order are not in the courtroom and they are the ones we are hearing the rumours about not being in the country anymore,” he said. “We have been in regular contact with the Lev Tahor group, including the families as result of the judge’s order that was made approximately a month ago. We have had ongoing contact with the families for sure. At this point we are surprised that they are not in court today.”
Reports indicate that an emergency motion has been filed in the case.
Other reports indicate a number of Lev Tahor members, including children, have been detained in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago.