Shalom

I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176


10 November 2014

The Twelve Tribes in Canada - Winnipeg Case

New growth in a tree stump, photo by J. Stahl



It seems that after the Twelve Tribes has begun being exposed in Germany, that their community in Winnipeg, Canada is also being exposed.


I've been trying to track down any news on the subject since the story broke, but there isn't much being shared at the moment. While I was looking to see if there was any further information, I found that the Winnipeg community has been in the news before.


First things first. In Canada, there are restrictions on corporal punishment and what is considered "reasonable force". Also, using implements when physically disciplining children is strictly out of bounds. This was something that both Focus on the Family and the HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) fought against in 2004, when the laws were firmed up.

Q - What is not reasonable force?
  •  Hitting a child under 2 years of age. Such a young child is not able to understand why someone is spanking them;
  •  Hitting teenagers: This may alienate the youth and promote aggressive or anti-social behaviour;
  •  Using objects to hit such as belts, rulers, etc. because they can be harmful both physically and emotionally;
  • Slaps or blows to the head;
  •  Degrading or inhumane treatment;
  •  Corporal punishment that causes injury.
    Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia - Child discipline

Most folks know the Twelve Tribes by their "Common Sense Deli", which opened in 2010. Others may know them by their online yerba maté store, their "intentional community" or their "Little Mountain Farm" which is an all organic farm that anyone can come to and work on for a time through WWOOF. They are also known for their homeschooling operations, which is registered in Winnepeg as a "Non-Funded Independent School", where they teach grades 1-10.
From what I can tell, the commune has been in Winnipeg for the last 21 years, after moving from Nova Scotia. Since 2013, the Twelve Tribes in Winnipeg have expanded their operations to include a bakery at their deli location, moved from Sherbrook Street to Rue Des Meurons and additionally opened a "Common Sense Natural Foods", and "Common Sense Storehouse".


In 1992-1997 they were under investigation due to child abduction allegations in the Steven Wooten Case.

Prior to the recent infiltration of the community by a reporter in Winnipeg, others have visited and blogged about their experiences. There have also been interviews with members of the Twelve Tribes, ex-members and visitors in Canada.

Joe Hawkins has been quite upset about his wife keeping their children in the commune against his wishes, and his inability to get custody of their children. He has been blogging about the issue for quite a while, and referenced in these recent blog posts.

On October 21st, news broke that the Twelve Tribes have been implicated in child abuse charges. They have defended their use of implements and corporal punishment methods, a reporter detailed his six weeks with their commune. Former members of the Twelve Tribes faced off on CBC Radio about child rearing methods, mind control and spiritual abuse the experienced. Current members defended their beliefs and corporal punishment practices.

Read and listen for yourself:

Welch said the group does use a thin rod as part of how they care for their children, but he noted that "it's biblical."
"We discipline our children with a balloon stick. It's a thin, reed-like rod," he said.
The group invites anyone who's interested to come visit and ask questions about their way of life.
To that end, Welch and other members held a meeting at the Cornish Branch of the city's public library on Monday night to refute the letter and take questions from people.
CBC: Twelve Tribes religious group targeted by child abuse allegations
CBC: Une secte de Winnipeg visée par des allégations de maltraitance d'enfants


The group's spokesperson, Maurice Welch, said the law interferes with parental authority.
"We are basing what we do on the word of God," he said. "The scriptures make it very clear that if someone 'spares the rod,' they hate their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them."
CBC: Twelve Tribes defends use of sticks to discipline children

My very first night at their house on East Gate, I wandered around the premises a little to scope out the place. That very first evening I managed to find five of the rods that were described by ex-members. They are slender wooden sticks roughly 60 centimetres long. I found one above a cabinet in the main floor washroom, one in the classroom they turned into a guest bedroom for me, and three in the basement.
Over the course of the next six weeks I would locate as many as 20 different rods. Usually they were in places you wouldn’t run across them as a casual visitor. It was unsettling to come across these rods and hold one in my hand.
CBC: Opinion: My six weeks with Winnipeg’s Twelve Tribes community

In 2001, Matthew Klein - an Australian - was a member of the Twelve Tribes community in Winnipeg. We reached him in Sydney, Australia.
Information Radio - MB | Oct 22, 2014 | 10:59 --Members of religious group Twelve Tribes speak out
They held a public meeting Monday night to defend themselves against allegations of child abuse, but then said they hit their children with sticks. Our interview with members of Twelve Tribes.


Hopefully this will help clear up some information on what is going on in Winnipeg. To keep up with the news about the Twelve Tribes in Germany, you can read along here:

Part 1, part 2 , part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10,  part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, part 17, part 18  and 19 to be better informed on this issue.You will also find that the Wikipedia page on The Twelve Tribes Community has been updated to include basic information of what is happening in Germany as of September 2013. There have been no current updates in English-speaking papers. However, the German Wikipedia page has most of the information behind what is, for all intents and purposes, an ongoing court case.
You can also find information on the Twelve Tribes from the English-language Sites YATT and Twelve Tribes Ex



11.11.2014 update to fix link errors and spelling errors

09 October 2014

The Twelve Tribes in Germany - part 19

Photo by A. Stahl

If you've not been following along on my blog, you will want to read part 1, part 2 , part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10,  part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, part 17  and part 18 to be better informed on this issue.You will also find that the Wikipedia page on The Twelve Tribes Community has been updated to include basic information of what is happening here as of September 2013. There have been no current updates as no newspapers are carrying information about what is happening in English. However, the German Wikipedia page has most of the information behind what is, for all intents and purposes, an ongoing court case.


In June; the 12 Tribes began a PR campaign in June to help sway public opinion in their favor. Some of this has included inviting people to community meetings and discussing their faith and parenting methods. You can find some snippets about that from Augsburg TV, here.



A Year after the Police Raid, the Twelve Tribes go on the offensive.



 

I've been busy trying to catch some of the more recent news that was airing on television that I missed the following story from August 4th. RTL's program "Undercover Deutschland" covered the Twelve Tribes again, which was discussed on MyHeimat.de
There was a press conference on the first of August in Klosterzimmern held by the members of the Twelve Tribes community and their lawyer. They have begun proceedings against RTL reporter Wolfram Kuhnigk again. They are alleging that the secret camera recordings that have since been published by Herr Kuhnigk on RTL were recorded much earlier than declared and have been heavily edited...
Die Gemeinschaft '12 Stämme' zeigt den Enthüllungs-Reporter an

The Donauwörther lawyer, Michael Langhans, has issued a dispute over the veracity of the claims RTL reporter Wolfram Kuhnigk has made. He criticized a decision of the District Court in relation to the ublication of the documents [made available by RTL and Wolfram Kuhnigk]... At the end of the press release, Langhans announced that out of respect for the court, he would not independently publish the documents in question, but he believes he has the rights to do so..
Zwölf Stämme: Rechtsanwalt kritisiert das Amtsgericht

There was a press release made by the Twelve Tribes Lawyer Michael Langhans which can be found here.

The members of the Twelve Tribes do not give up easily. They announced a press conference to try and make a complaint against the reporter. However, this has not been well received...
... Many are asking, "How do parents who spank their children in the name of faith tick...?"
„Zwölf Stämme“ Die Babyschläger-Sekte!
The courts let it slip that the cost of housing the children has become quite high and they're scrambling to figure out where the funds will come from.


Depending on the type of housing, the age of the children, and additional services needed (such as therapy); the bill for the Jugendamt has risen on average to 130€ per child, per day and also include around 1,000€ for each foster family per month. Since the placement of the children into care in September 2013, the costs required by the children by end of June 2014 are around 473,798.91€ ...
Kinder der Zwölf Stämme kosten Landkreis eine halbe Million Euro and Eine halbe Million: Warum die Zwölf Stämme so hohe Kosten verursachen 


On September the 4th, The Twelve Tribes announced protests on the following dates and times;  Friday the 5th of September at 10am to 8pm, on Saturday the 6th of September at the same time frame and would be holding them at the Königsplatz in Augsburg.  These were relatively quite affairs, though some of the individuals here in Germany working against the group did manage to show up at these protests and at the town hall meetings they held in Gasthaus Krone in Öttingen, of which, they invited the whole community to.

On September 5th, the anniversary date of the raid, Bayrisches Rundfunk published a chronology of the escalation against the sect.  BR also released a 24 second video reminding people it has been one year since the raid on the 12 Tribes, and some images from the demonstration. Groups working against the Twelve Tribes also began sharing information from Sekten Info NRW.   A new Facebook page was also formed, sharing information in English and German about last year's raid.   This page has also been visited by some supporters of the Twelve Tribes, arguing that no abuse has taken place and that beating your children is absolutely commanded by Scripture and must be obeyed, despite the protest of the page owners.

In the same week, several articles were released on Deutsche Welle discussing UNICEF's "Hidden in Plain Sight" paper about child abuse:

In its "Hidden in Plain Sight" report, UNICEF reveals the extent to which children the world over are suffering at the hands of adults. Often their own parents.

The most common form of abuse is violent discipline, with six out of ten children aged between two and 14 (almost a billion) regularly falling victim to physical punishment, the report said.

Under the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which 194 countries are party, every minor is guaranteed a life free of all forms of violence. Except they are not.
Global child abuse shapes the violence of tomorrow

..."Too many victims, perpetrators and bystanders see it as normal, and when violence goes unnoticed and unreported we fuel the belief among children that it is normal."..

..."Violence against children, direct or indirect, can cause trauma, low self-esteem, bad health and poor school performance, and in some cases, it can lead to depression, alcohol and drug abuse, self-harm and even suicide," Gupta said...
UNICEF report finds 'staggering' levels of violence against children
...Between 2000 and 2010, around 8.6 percent of German children and young people were living in poverty. In 2012, child care services took in more than 40,000 children because their parents were overwhelmed.  "If a country strengthens the rights of the child, it strengthens its future," said Jürgen Heraeus, Chairman of UNICEF Germany. There's a need for better functioning help networks, he added....
UNICEF: Governments must do more to protect the rights of children


On September 20th, the Fränkische Landeszeitung and the Süddeutsches Zeitung posted stories about the Twelve Tribes in the paper. I was unable to get a copy due to a situation with our car breaking down, but someone was kind enough to scan in the newspaper articles and send it to me. If you cannot read German, don't worry too much, most of what is covered in these articles are also covered in snippets of news stories below it. I have posted these in the original size so that they are legible for our German-language readers.





Radio 8 and RT1 also had some news articles on their site, but those have somehow gone missing since. Thankfully, I had done a screen capture.

"The Twelve Tribes invite the community to another meeting in Wildbad in Wemding at 7pm..."
 

On last Friday, the first main proceedings against the Twelve Tribes began in Ansbach. The first hearing was about the custody of a two and a half year-old child. The court heard whether the parents custody should be withdrawn. A settlement proposal is currently on the table arguing for the return of parental custody. If this is allowed, it may set a precedence for the other cases yet to be heard.
However, the decision was that the parents were to regain some parental custody rights while the Jugendamt held others...

September 27: Zwölf Stämme: Löst ein Vergleich den Sorgerechtsstreit?
Since mid- September, the District Court in Ansbach has been deciding whether a total of three pairs of parents will have permanent withdrawal of parental custody. This case concerns five children aged two and a half to six years of age. They were removed "temporarily" from parental care about a year ago...
October 1, 2014:  Weitere Anhörungen im Sorgerechtsstreit   Sekten-Eltern vor Gericht vernommen

I was going to quote two SWR articles here, but it seems to have been removed from the archive. Thankfully I had a screen capture of it, which is posted here below with the original link below it.
 

40 children's fate are being decided by district courts between October and December 2014


The custody hearings about the Twelve Tribes in Klosterzimmern are to begin in October. There are 5 hearings already set that will cover two to three families at a time.  This is concerning the children who were removed from parental care in a raid last year.

On Tuesday, the principle proceedings commenced in a custody battle for the children of the Twelve Tribes...
A psychological evaluation should be heard on the opinion of whether the parents are capable of raising their children. So far, the parents have refused to participate in a family psychological assessment. The basis of the opinion to be heard will decide on whether the children are allowed back...
October 7: Sorgerechtsstreit in Nördlingen - Zwölf Stämme-Eltern vor Gericht
In the morning at 9am, two sets of parents who have two children will have their hearing along with a Guardian ad Litem and answer questions...
Today and on the following dates (14th, 21st and 22nd of October) ten families will have had their hearings. A concrete result is not expected directly after the trial as the judge is awaiting expert reports...
Eltern der Glaubensgemeinschaft werden gehört and Gericht prüft, ob Zwölf Stämme-Eltern ihre Kinder erziehen dürfen


...The parents and their attorney, Michael Langhans from Donauwörth are arguing that it is not the parenting abilities of the parents that is crucial, but the children's welfare.
The lawyer admits that hitting children is, in principle, unlawful and is considered "bodily harm", but is not an automatic justification to remove children into foster care. The lawyer and parents invoke the right of religious freedom in that punishment with the rod is prescribed in the Bible...
Zwölf Stämme-Eltern: Züchtigung mit Ruten in Bibel vorgeschrieben
In the first hearing of the custody battle for the children of the Twelve Tribes, there has been no concrete results in the District Courts...
Kein Ergebnis bei "Zwölf Stämme"-Anhörung

Also, the city of Augsburg is cleaning up the city center, much to the chagrin of the Twelve Tribes:

In order to curb excesses... A message that eminates from the Town Hall to the outside is clear: Not all wishes are going to be waved through. The city wants to take a stronger stance on what is allowed to take place in the city center...
 First, there was a large Persil truck for several days, sitting rather out of place at the Martin-Luther-Platz, while members of the controversial faith Twelve Tribes Community danced and sang at lunchtime on the Königsplatz. In both cases, permits were given by the municipality. In the meantime, members of the city have long been unhappy...
Neues Konzept: Was wird aus der Augsburger City?


As discussed in post 18, Robert Pleyer has recently published a book titled, "Der Satan schläft nie: Mein Leben bei den Zwölf Stämmen" [The Devil Never Sleeps: My life in The Twelve Tribes]. He has been present in several newspaper television interviews in the last month and a half.
Aktiv Gegen Kinderarbeit has begun promoting Mr. Pleyer's book.

News was released that Robert Pleyer was to be interviewed on October 1st at 6pm on BR: Abendshau and on Monday the 6th of October at 5:30 on Sat1: Frühstücksfernsehen.

You can find video from the interviews here, here and here.

The former Twelve Tribes member, Robert Pleyer, spoke with FOCUS about his time in the sect, specifically the punishment of the children that he regrets very much.
"Der Satan schläft nie"Zwölf-Stämme-Aussteiger schildert das harte Sektenleben der Kinder


In the book, it says "The foundation of the Twelve Tribes is its children. In the hierarchy, they are at the very bottom of the totem pole. Their feelings, opinions and desires are suppressed by adults until their will is broken. The children have no rights to physical and mental integrity in the cult. "In order to break their will, they are beaten regularly and long with willow branches. They do this to make them mentally and emotionally unfit to decide what happens in their own lives. This begins at very tender ages..."
Sekten-Aussteiger: Die Kinder mussten in einer Schlange auf ihre Prügel warten


..."The opposite is the case," Plyer says in an interview with the news magazine Focus. "Currently, they feel persecuted by the evil state. This persecution complex holds the group together." Every day life was difficult for the Twelve Tribes because some members have been asking awkward questions. Now they have enemies again -- the government, journalists and me..."
Sekten: Zwölf-Stämme-Aussteiger schildert hartes Leben der Kinder - "Der Satan schläft nie" 


...The book is likely to show the faith community in a new light. Robert Pleyer joined in his early twenties. He abandoned his studies and jumped in with both feet. First, he worked in the fields and in the bakeries; later he was appointed as a teacher. He married the daughter of a tribe elder and the couple had four children...
Robert Pleyer veröffentlicht Buch über sein Leben bei den Zwölf Stämmen 
..."The discipline of children is a very important issue to the Twelve Tribes," he says. "Early in the morning, during lectures, the parents are informed by the elders that punishment is good for the children. The spankings are not aggressively administers but are simply a part of the system." Robert Pleyer describes it this way; "A child does not simply put a cup away. The parents will ask 'Have you been obedient?' if the child says 'no', he or she is to bend over and be spanked. It hurts terribly bad to be hit with the rod. The child then apologizes, is hugged and all is well again..."
Er konnte keine Kinder mehr schlagen

I've just been informed that Robert Pleyer will appear again on RTL's "Guten Morgen Deutschland!" this Friday at 6:20 and 7:20AM. I will attempt to record it and also link it up here if I find it on the internet.



Of interest to the public is the following article from 2013 about the Swiss gentleman who is helping the Twelve Tribes. There is nothing Mr. Rovetto would like more than for this to disappear. Sorry bud, this is being shared again.

...Agrippino Rovetto (46) from Rafz ZH, himself a father of four sons, defended the controversial sect - and the spankings they give their children in the name of God. At a vigil for the children of the Twelve Tribes in Nördlingen, he cried out "A child has a right to a loving chastisment!" and "He who loves his child, chastens him!" and the police had to intervene...  Not only in the internet does Mr. Rovetto offer support to the cult members, he has also housed a family of the Twelve Tribes with him in Rafz. A transport that is used by one of their companies has been parked for extended periods outside of his house...
Dieser Schweizer hilft Kinderquäl-Sekte

Also of interest, a new German-language blog has begun to combat the influence of Agrippino Rovetto here.


I did want to re-share information that Green Party in the Bavarian Parliament is pushing for. I'm uncertain if I have shared this information before, but it is just as pertinent now as proceedings have begun as it was when these were presented in the Bavarian Parliament last year and again this Spring.  [PDF]

Meanwhile, the Donau-Ries Aktuell has published texts on the internet that are various important beliefs of the Twelve Tribes. The editorial staff, as reported by Ronau-Ries-Media GmbH, has published several hundred pages of the English-language texts. They received the texts from a former sect member. The texts are from the founder Elbert Eugene Spriggs, founder of the Twelve Tribes.
Found in the documents are several clearly racist, anti-semitic and homophobic remarks. Yesterday, the editors also submitted a summory of a conversation with three cult members from Klosterzimmern who are described as "Open and friendly men" who explicitly warn against misinterpreting the texts...
Originally published December 2013,  „Staatsregierung blind für eigene Fehler“


If you are visiting my site from Germany, there is a German-language site available to learn what you can do to support child protection and learn how to better raise your children. Also of interest to my German-language readers is the UNICEF.de review of the documentary film „Wer seine Kinder liebt, der züchtigt sie“ by Erika Fehse which was aired on Monday, 7.4.2014 on ARD; and this site that questions you whether or not you know the signs of being in a cult. 

You can also find information on the Twelve Tribes from the English-language Site YATT




*  DoNotLink allows one to view a website without actually driving traffic there or allow the bloggers to gain readership or revenue.

05 October 2014

Lev Tahor Homeschooling case - part 4

Tanakh and heart - photo by J. Stahl

If you are unfamiliar with Lev Tahor, you may want to start with part 1, part 2  and part 3; where I previously blogged about the community and their ongoing hearings in Canadian courts.


For now it seems that the Lev Tahor taken a page out of the Twelve Tribes' book and two of their girls are missing from foster care and have been seen in Brooklyn, New York in the care of their father. There are questions as to custody, and due to the girls only speaking Yiddish, they must have been assisted in leaving the country, arranging transportation and arriving in their father's care.

Those in Lev Tahor who suddenly left Canada seeking refuge in Guatamala, are now being driven from their homes. No news as of yet if they've found another home or where they will be going from here.

Please know that the news articles are not being shared to gloat or somehow goad on the members of the sect, but to collect the news together where everyone can see what is happening. Feel free to add any additional news articles in the comments if I missed something.


Here are the latest updates:

“Most of the town wants them to leave,” said Vice Mayor Domingo Gusman Ujpan as he rattled off a list of problems the group has brought to the overwhelmingly Mayan — and Christian — town. He said that Lev Tahor women scold their local counterparts for not having more children, as they say God commands, and that members do not contribute to the local economy because they do not work. He also alleged that group members often fail to pay taxi drivers and landlords.

“We have a constitutional right to protect our village and culture,” Ujpan said. “If they’re going to violate it, the people of the town have to make some decisions.”
August 29th - Al Jazeera: Guatemala villagers try to force out ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect

The Lev Tahor community packed its bags on Friday in San Juan la Laguna around 150km west of Guatemala City, to board buses bound for the capital after weeks of friction with sections of the local population.

The town's Elders Council voted last week to force the group to leave because they say some members of the sect have mistreated indigenous residents and tourists in the area, the AP news agency reported. Verbal abuse, threats to cut off power and eject them by force were, say the Jews, the last straw for the group who began arriving in March from Canada, where the Lev Tahor group's strict religious ways had clashed with authorities.
August 30 - Al Jazeera Jews expelled from Guatemala village

Lev Tahor had maintained a small presence in San Juan La Laguna, a village about 90 miles west of Guatemala City, for about six years, but it expanded considerably in March after a contingent arrived complaining of persecution by Canadian authorities.

Tensions appear to have flared after the newcomers arrived, and leaders of the village told news agencies that the group sought to impose its practices on the indigenous peoples.
September 4 - Intermountain Jewish News - Lev Tahor not welcome in Guatemalan village

...“We will remain in Guatemala because the seed is fertile and it has to germinate,” Rabbi Uriel Goldman said in the lobby of the building he now calls home..
...Speaking with a calm voice, Goldman said he and his people have no hard feelings toward the council of indigenous elders and municipal officials who expelled them from the village. But they do not want to go back.
September 7 - The Times of Israel - Extremist Jewish sect seeks new home in Guatemala

Lev Tahor’s alleged behavioral norms are an affront to the rule of law and human rights. Although the cult was apparently expelled from the village in Guatemala due to anti-Semitism, its members fled both the Canadian and the Israeli authorities to evade prosecution.

And yet for all of its alleged moral depravity and criminal behavior, that fact is that Lev Tahor’s treatment of its girls is certainly no worse, and in many respects better, than the treatment that Islamic societies mete out on their girls and women. And the sad truth is that for hundreds of thousands of Muslim women and girls in the West, their residency in human rights-protecting societies has failed to protect them.
Breaking Israel News - The Dilemma of the Jewish Leftist
 
...Adam Brudzewsky... fled in 2012 with the help of a local Orthodox rabbi, along with his pregnant wife, after he questioned edicts of the group’s leader, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, who reportedly runs Lev Tahor with iron discipline.
...Documents say Brudzewsky told police he was instructed to hit children to enforce discipline... forced to fabricate false documents for the Ministry of Education... [and] that during the prayers at the synagogue in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, people were locked in the building ... the doors were locked with a key so that no one was able to leave,” police wrote in the documents.
September 10 - The Star - Lev Tahor: Court documents reveal a glimpse inside the troubled Jewish sect
According to the Sûreté’s affidavit in support of the search warrant request, the police suspected that Lev Tahor members falsified documents, including passports, birth certificates and marriage licenses.

The documents were released following a media request. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
September 15 - The Canadian Jewish News -  Lawyer rejects latest Lev Tahor allegations
Rabbi Uriel Goldman, one of Lev Tahor's leaders, insisted that his group, so strict that it refuses to recognise Israel - which it declares has no spiritual validity - had been on friendly terms with most locals in San Juan La Laguna. But one of the village elders, Miguel Vázquez Cholotio, said: "We felt intimidated by them in the streets. We thought they wanted to change our religion and customs."

For their part, Jewish community members claimed they had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
September 18 - The Jewish Chronicle Online - Expelled Guatemala group is 'extremist sect'
...Seven children were apprehended and placed in care, while six others are believed to be in Guatemala.

An Ontario judge later ruled that 13 children who are part of the group do not have to be sent back to Quebec, saying they shouldn’t bear the consequences of their parents’ legal fight....
September 19 - The Star - Two girls from Lev Tahor sect have left foster care in Ontario
...Child welfare authorities in New York did not object to the two girls living with their father...
A publication ban prevents identification of the 14 children and their family members.
September 23 - CJAD 800AM News-Talk-Radio: Lev Tahor teens disappear from foster homes, flee to US
George Berger — an advocate for the family of the girls in Israel — said he visited them in their foster family back in April. Berger, a Toronto resident, accompanied their grandmother when she visited them on her trip to Toronto from Israel. The family in Israel had wanted to adopt the girls and their six siblings.

Berger said there was a security guard stationed outside the house in North York 24 hours a day, and whenever the girls left the house, they did so with an escort.
September 24 - The Gazette - Two girls from Lev Tahor manage to flee country
The teenage girl members of Lev Tahor who fled their foster home in Toronto earlier this month could not have managed the stunt on their own, says an advocate for their family in Israel. On Monday, The Gazette reported that the girls — age 15 and 17 — left their foster home on Sept. 12 and fled across the border to New York state. They were reunited with their father and have been staying in Borough Park, in Brooklyn, N.Y., at last report. They had been living in foster care since March after they were apprehended in Trinidad and Tobago, fleeing Canada on their way to Guatemala. ... The sect’s lawyer, Guidy Mamann, said the father returned to Canada to reclaim them, but he was not granted custody.
September 24 - The Gazette - Gazette Midday: Quebec settles with docs but holds hard on Bill 3
September 24 - The Gazette - Lev Tahor girls who fled Canada were helped, family advocate says

Just days before members of the radical Jewish group Lev Tahor fled Quebec for Ontario, child protection authorities received a list containing the names of underaged girls in the community said to have given birth to children fathered by much older men.

It was the second time in the same week that officials responsible for child welfare in Quebec had heard detailed allegations of underaged marriages and possible sexual misconduct...
September 26 - The Star - Police learned of underage marriage, sex abuse allegations before Lev Tahor fled

Documents from a Sûreté du Québec investigation into the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor contain an allegation that a 14-year-old married girl was “bought.”
Parts of the affidavit ... dated Nov. 18, 2013 are redacted. And that includes the portion of text immediately following the allegation about the married girl. It says she had been “bought by a” and the rest of the sentence is blacked out. The identity of who married the girl also isn’t revealed.
The police documents also allege kidnapping of children under the age of 14 from the Lev Tahor community, human trafficking and use of a computer to produce false documents...
September 27 - The Gazette - Court documents suggest 14-year-old bride was “bought”