Kidnapped by family

Trio saving her from 'cult' charged

The Hamilton Spectator, Canada/July 27, 2006
By Paul Legall

A Burlington family charged with kidnapping believed they were rescuing their daughter from a religious cult when they dragged her off a downtown street seven months ago.

"The family believed a church in Hamilton to be a cult and their actions to be an intervention," Hamilton Detective Dave Brady said yesterday.

He declined to identify the family, the woman or the church involved. He added the investigation is continuing and police are expecting to make more arrests, apart from the three family members who were charged this week.

The 22-year-old woman was walking to work on Park Street North at about 8:30 a.m., Dec. 21, when a group of men forced her into a van and took her to an undisclosed location in Halton where she was held against her will until Dec. 30.

On that date, the kidnappers drove her to another house from which she escaped to a neighbour's home. The neighbours alerted Halton police.

Halton police started the investigation but later turned it over to Hamilton police.

This week, Hamilton detectives charged her 25-year-old brother and 53-year-old father with abduction and confinement and her 54-year-old mother with confinement only. In law, confinement means holding someone against their will.

Normally, when someone is kidnapped and held against their will, police jump in quickly to lay criminal charges. But in this case, it took almost seven months to lay the charges and only after consultation with the Crown attorney's office.

In this case, despite the seriousness of the charges, the family members didn't have to appear for a bail hearing and were released on a "promise to appear" pending their trial. They'll make their first appearance at the John Sopinka courthouse Aug. 28.

Police said the woman has resumed her normal lifestyle in Hamilton. She has co-operated with the investigation and is willing to testify against her family.

Often, when a child is rescued from a suspected cult, the family will hire a de-programmer to counteract the brainwashing they believe has occurred at the hands of the group.

But police wouldn't say whether a de-programmer was involved in this case.

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