Poulin set free from jail this Thursday

Charlottetown Guardian/April 15, 2003
By Jim Day

Lucille Poulin, the former nun convicted of assaulting five children in her religious commune on P.E.I., is getting out of jail Thursday.

Charlottetown lawyer Zia Chisti, who represented Poulin during her dramatic trial last fall, spoke briefly to his former client Monday for the first time since Poulin was sent to the Provincial Correctional Centre.

Chisti said Poulin called him to seek advice when the RCMP came to question her Monday as part of their investigation into the death of a boy who was living in Poulin's religious commune in Hazel Grove.

"I told her to tell them the truth,'' he said.

RCMP Const. Anne O'Shaugnessey told The Guardian Monday that the interview portion of the investigation has been completed, including several interviews on P.E.I. and in Alberta, where many former commune members now live.

The investigating officer said it will be at least two more weeks before the case into the boy's death is concluded. The boy suffered from a rare blood disorder and the boy's parents refused to allow him to receive blood transfusions.

Meanwhile, Chisti said he is representing one of the remaining commune members in the woman's battle for custody of her 13-year-old daughter.

The woman is the estranged wife of a man who has been charged by RCMP with sexually assaulting one of the children who had been living at the commune. The couple had 11 children together, including the boy with the blood disorder who died.

In July 2001, five children were removed from the commune. Poulin was later charged with assaulting all five children by beating them with a wooden paddle.

The self-described prophet of God was found guilty and sentenced to eight months in jail. The judge also ordered Poulin not to live with, or care for, any children under the age of 14, for three years after her release.

That creates an interesting scenario with one of the remaining commune members expecting to give birth in May.

Police said recently if Poulin lives in the same house as the child, she could be charged with breaching probation and returned to custody.

Chisti said he spoke to the pregnant commune member and her husband on Monday. The couple told the lawyer that they plan to "live separately from Lucille.''

However, Chisti said he wasn't sure if that meant Poulin planned to live in one of the two adjoining houses on a farm property owned by the commune members with the child and parents living in the other.

The other concern the pregnancy raises is the protection of the child once its born.

The mother defended Poulin's use of the wooden paddle to discipline the children. Her husband testified he used the paddle to hit the children.

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