God's love sustains family facing abduction charges

The Hamilton Spectator/October 30, 2006
By Sharon Boase

A man charged with forcibly trying to "deprogram" his daughter from the effects of an alleged religious cult says he and his family are being sustained by their faith in God.

"I don't want to come across as an overly religious fanatic or something but I think that there is a God and, in the end, God wins," Dr. Renato Brun Del Re told The Spectator yesterday.

Brun Del Re, a family physician, is charged with the kidnapping and forcible confinement of his daughter, Mirella, in an alleged attempt to lure her away from Dominion Christian Centre, a downtown Hamilton church.

Brun Del Re's son, Giancarlo, 25, faces the same charges, while his wife Lucie, a high school French teacher, is charged with forcible confinement. They are scheduled to appear in court Nov. 20

The family's bizarre yet compelling story was told in the season premiere of W5 Saturday night, an investigative news show on CTV.

It portrayed Peter Rigo, pastor at DCC, as an unorthodox religious leader who peppers his sermons with slang, swear words and even sexually explicit language as he portrays his church as superior to others.

The hour-long documentary quoted the Brun Del Res as heartbroken and desperate to rescue their daughter from an oppressive environment that has changed her profoundly.

They were charged after Mirella Brun Del Re was allegedly abducted by five men around 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 21, 2005, near the DCC on Park Street North. She was allegedly shoved into a van and taken to a location in Halton and later to her parents' Milton home where she eventually met with Tennessee-based cults expert and deprogrammer Mary Alice Chrnalogar.

The daughter eventually fled and contacted police.

Mirella Brun Del Re appeared calm and unperturbed at the prospect of her parents, brother and others facing possible jail terms over the affair.

W5 hosted a town hall-style meeting with dissatisfied former DCC-goers. Some 75 parents and young adults described a tightly- controlled atmosphere in which Rigo dictates all, including who may date whom.

Other Hamilton parents described watching their 20-something children cut ties with them as well as friends unconnected to the church.

Three others have also been charged with forcible confinement in the case. Being found guilty of forcible confinement carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, while kidnapping can net a life sentence.

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