Crown drops charges in 'cult' kidnapping

Parents abducted daughter because of fears about church

The Hamilton Spectator/October 13, 2009

The prosecution has decided not to pursue kidnapping and forcible confinement charges against a family doctor and his teacher wife who abducted their daughter three years ago because they believed she was being brainwashed by a religious cult.

Deputy Crown attorney Katherine Livingstone told Superior Court Justice James Turnbull she was staying all charges against Dr. Renato Brun del Re and his wife Lucie Brun del Re, both 57, their son, Giancarlo Brun del Re, 29. Livingstone told court she was halting the prosecution in the best interests of the public and the alleged victim of the kidnapping, Mirella Brun del Re, now 26.

Mirella Brun del Re recently met with police and prosecutors to say she had no wish to see her family tried on such serious charges and potentially facing significant prison terms.

Alan Honner, 29, a Toronto law student, pleaded guilty on May 13 to taking part in the brazen daylight abduction of Mirella Brun del Re, who was snatched off a north-Hamilton street, pushed into the back of a van and kept in handcuffs in a secret location for 10 days before she escaped.

In exchange for his guilty pleas to kidnapping and forcible confinement, charges were dropped against Honner's sister, Theresa, and the brother was handed a conditional sentence, which involved a 15-month term of house arrest and community supervision.

At the centre of the bizarre kidnapping plot is a charismatic church leader known as Pastor Peter Rigo, who founded the evangelical Dominion Christian Centre Canada, now known as One Community Church, on Park Street North in Hamilton.

The victim's family saw the abduction as an intervention and hired a U.S.-based consultant who has overseen scores of anti-cult interventions to talk to their daughter.

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