Five American children, whose parents are standing trial in relation to the 1994 beating death of another of their children, were taken into public care last month, it was learned earlier this week.
The five have been a source of concern for Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials since June 2000, when their parents, Terry Beamon, 47, and Jewel Curtis, 41, were arrested on suspicion of inflicting bodily injury that resulted in the death of one of their sons. Beamon is reportedly a leader of a religious group.
On June 20, officials of the Metropolitan Police Department's Tamagawa Station took the five children into protective custody from an apartment in Setagaya Ward, where they lived with one of Beamon's female followers. The children, two boys and three girls between the ages of 3 and 14, were handed over to a public child care facility in Shinagawa Ward and currently live there.
Beamon's youngest child is already in a Tokyo public facility for children under the age of 2. During a previous trial hearing at the Tokyo District Court, the couple denied charges of having beaten a 4-year-old son to death in 1994, saying that the boy died of an illness.
Beamon runs a martial arts school that, according to sources close to the U.S. Embassy, is believed to be engaged in religious practices, promoting isolation in a regimented, commune-style environment and favoring global rule by black Muslims. During Monday's hearing, Beamon said that the charges against him were a "conspiracy" to punish a man that has attracted Japanese members to his group.
The police acted last month after neighbors filed a complaint over children spraying a fire extinguisher at their apartment, a Tamagawa Station official said. Police officials said that the children appeared stressed because they were rarely allowed to go outside but showed no signs of physical abuse.
After the couple's arrest last year, the children were taken into protective custody by a public child care facility in Shinjuku Ward. In October they were handed over to Beamon's followers, who claimed legal authority over them.
During that first stay at the public facility, two of the five children appeared malnourished, while one of the two seemed to have difficulties walking. An official of the public child care facility said that they are now considering repatriating the children to the United States.
During Monday's trial, Beamon complained that the children had been taken to a "concentration camp" and that Japanese authorities now plan to repatriate the children to separate them from their parents.