Fathers take stand at Poulin trial

Journal-Pioneer/September 19, 2002
By Andy Walker

Charlottetown -- A religious commune in rural Queens County that has been the centre of investigations by child protection officials in two provinces had a rather uneventful beginning, the Supreme Court trial of Lucille Poulin was told Wednesday. Poulin is facing five charges of assault stretching from October 1999 to July 2001 when RCMP and Child and Family Services officials seized the five children from the compound.

None of the children, who range in age from seven to 12, are now living in the province.

One of the two fathers who testified Wednesday told Mr. Justice David Jenkins that Poulin was a relative of his wife.

He said the former nun moved onto their Alberta farm in the early 1980s to help his wife with the children.

However, he said the 78-year-old woman quickly took over the household, quoting the Bible to the family and enforcing strict discipline.

He said other families eventually moved on the farm after hearing about Poulin's decision-making style and the commune was born.

The man said Poulin took strict control of all facets of life and told him to make a rubber strap that was used to discipline the children.

The man explained the commune eventually attracted the attention of the social services department in Alberta.

About the same time, the man said one of the commune members had a dream they were floating over P.E.I. and Poulin and the others took that as a sign they should move to this province.

The two fathers told of ritualistic beatings over trivial matters, such as children laughing over the sound made by mustard coming out a bottle.

One man said he did leave for a few months, but decided to stay when he came back for his wife and children.

The man said Poulin tried to discourage what she called "flesh ties" such as the bond between parents and children or between siblings.

He said the children were forced to work hard at the restaurant run by the commune.

He agreed with the mother who testified on the first day of the trial that the beatings became more frequent following the death of a child in 1999.

Crown lawyer Darrell Coombs assured both men the evidence they presented on the beatings would not be used against them in any criminal proceedings.

One father said he was brainwashed into thinking the beatings were in the best interest of his children.

The father said Poulin often instructed another man to administer the beatings because he could hit the hardest.

The case continues today with the first of the five children taking the stand.

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