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
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 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”

15 August 2014

The Twelve Tribes in Germany - Part 18

Photo by A. Stahl

I've been made aware of a few websites recently that I would like to share here today. The first is a list of several teachings that have been made available online from Question The Twelve Tribes, which show that the recent investigations in Germany are not without merit.

Also, I'd had Steve Hassan's BITE model shared with me, which explains the cult mentality and how someone gets sucked into a cult.

Robert Pleyer, who was interviewed some months ago about his stint with The Twelve Tribes has recently published a book in Germany. The title is "Der Satan schläft nie: Mein Leben bei den Zwölf Stämmen" [The Devil Never Sleeps: My life in The Twelve Tribes] There is a book preview (in German) available here.

I was mentioned last month on Quantum Leap Television. This video is so informative, but takes about an hour to watch. Please take time to watch if you get a chance. Rose-Marie Cruzado Rodriguez was also interviewed in this video.


Wolfram Kuhnigk has since begun working with RTL's "Undercover Deutschland" series and they've put up a very nice résumé here.

At the end of 2012, the development of "Undercover Germany" began. One of the first undercover topics for Kuhnigk was the Twelve Tribes sect.  ... due to the  explosive nature of his undercover deployment... RTL decided to broadcast this specific topic in advance.

Due to ...securing video and pictures of these abuses, the largest youth welfare office operation since the second world war was made in Germany...
27.06.14 Undercover Deutschland: Biographie Wolfram Kuhnigk

Two children that had been smuggled into Switzerland (they're dual citizens) were returned by the Swiss government due to their family still being involved with the courts in Germany.
On Tuesday, the controversial sect "Twelve Tribes" has again had a police action issued. The District Office Donauwörth announced that the officials were going to pick up two girls that had fled in February and March from two youth centers...
01.07.2014 Süddeutsche Zeitung: Polizeieinsatz bei umstrittener Sekte

hide their young from justice,some members of the Twelve Tribes brought their offspring abroad. Two of them - 17 and 10 years old - found refuge in Switzerland. Therefore, the German authorities appealed to Switzerland to extradite the children, such as the "Tages-Anzeiger" writes
20.06.2014 20 Minuten: Sektenkinder an Deutschland ausgeliefert

The child and adult protection authority (KESB) Upper Aargau BE, in whose sphere of influence the children lived, recognized the ...decision ... before the parents had been consulted ...and the Canton police followed the order to deliver the children immediately. The officers picked them up, brought them to the border and handed them over to the German authorities.

19.06.2014  Tages Anzeiger [Schweiz]:  Sektenkinder wurden an Deutschland übergeben - Mitglieder der Sekte Zwölf Stämme hatten versucht, zwei Kinder in der Schweiz zu verstecken.

The two girls that went missing from foster care are still missing from Bavaria, and it is thought they've been smuggled into another (nearby) country. There was a large police action  searching for the missing girls, and this created a lot of upset in the Tribes, videos uploaded onto youtube and blogging against the police and courts. Some of these videos have mysteriously been removed from the website and also from youtube since then. Here is the video that was filmed from the point of view from the Twelve Tribes and posted by one of their sympathizers.

However, the parents of the Twelve Tribes are sure that this is persecution and the government is against them and they are truly lovely, helpful, well attached parents to their children.  You can see a couple articles with this angle here and here thanks to DoNotLink*.

  RegioTV in Bavaria has a video as does ARD about the police and Jugendamt action, which was posted the evening of July 1st.

 "The family court has since sought a professional psychological assessment, which resulted in a stay  of the children remaining or visiting with their parents in Klosterzimmern" states the press release of the District Office Donau-Ries.
The two eleven and thirteen year-old children were placed by the decision of the Jugendamt, in a home, which they promptly ran away from. There had been "solid evidence" that the girls had returned to their birth parents in Klosterzimmern...
01.07.2014 Augsburger Allgemeine: "Zwölf Stämme": Sektenmitglieder weigerten sich bei Polizei-Razzia - Wieder eine Polizeiaktion bei den „Zwölf Stämmen“: Rund 100 Polizeibeamte waren heute Morgen in Gut Klosterzimmern auf der Suche nach zwei Mädchen.
On this basis, the court granted the Office of Youth and Family the decision to search for the girls. After voluntary participation of the [parents and Twelve Tribes] was not given, the police had been asked to provide assistance.
In the context of  the action
carried out today, July 1, 2104 by the police commission of the localities in Klosterzimmern; the two girls could not be found.
01.07.2014 Donau-Ries Aktuell: Stellungnahme zum Einsatz bei den Zwölf Stämmen

The two girls disappeared from the homes where they were staying, one had been in an interview with Spiegel TV prior to their disappearance. Spokesman Mario Lauser from the police headquarters in Nordschwaben: "This interview was robust evidence that girls stay in Klosterzimmern [where the sect grounds are]."
01.07.2014 Augsburger Allgemeine: Polizei sucht vermisste Mädchen - 100 Polizisten durchkämmen das Gelände in Klosterzimmern. Die Sektenmitglieder leisten Widerstand

The parents who belong to the "twelve tribes" are not willing to cooperate with the Office for Youth and Family. Since a report, which the court had obtained, the result was that the children can not stay with their parents, the return of the children should be enforced by court order. The police ...did not find the girls in the sect grounds of Klosterzimmern.
01.07.2014 Schwä - Polizei sucht zwei Mädchen der „Zwölf Stämme“

There's been some discussion with authorities from Germany with those in Austria about the Tribes and current court case, if I understand the implications of the news article accurately. There had been some discussion in June that the Twelve Tribes were looking seriously towards  moving to Austria.

"We have to warn the Austrian authorities of the tricks and delaying tactics of this sect. This is about the child's welfare. The Twelve tribes' applies corporal punishment methods towards their children as an expression of parental love! This ideological dressing up of child abuse must be strictly confronted by the authorities. "
BayernSPD Landtag Pressemitteilungen
01.07.2014 Warnung vor Sekte "Zwölf Stämme"
An ex-member [of the Twelve Tribes] tells of experiences of violence in the sect... Members of the group are said to have moved to Austria to avoid the German compulsory education law.
"Zwölf Stämme" - Sektenmitglieder in Tirol vermutet

Additionally, the Twelve Tribes have gone against the Bavarian authorities in mid-March, via a disciplinary complaint towards the Jugendamt for the "crimes" they have committed against the sect and their children. The Press Release can be found here.  Besorah gives her opinion of her treatment (in German of course) here.

Members of the controversial religious community ... blame the staff  ...the removal of the children on September 5 are serious crimes and call for the immediate suspension of the employees of this agency... filing a criminal complaint with the Public Prosecutor in Augsburg. 
01.07.2014 BR Schwaben: SPD fordert strikteren Umgang mit der Sekte
"What  the youth welfare office does with our children is abuse and is against the child's welfare. The Youth Office does not enable a "non-violent upbringing." It is, itself, guilty of child abuse and is responsible for deep psychological damage to the children," says in the press release...
02.07.2014 Augsburger Allgemeine: "Zwölf Stämme" nach Polizeiaktion: Man will uns vernichten
The "Twelve Tribes" criticized the approach [towards their children]. The Youth Office was planning to let them speak a cult expert with the foster parents, "to indoctrinate [the children] against the faith and religion of their parents," it said in a statement to the community.
"Zwölf Stämme": Pflegeeltern treffen sich zum Erfahrungsaustausch

Two former members of Tribes, Yael and Christian Riep have been re-interviewed recently. One or two of these interviews were on television and a couple were in newspapers. There is some upset that they are not being believed as SGAs, and that others are looking on only to mock, rather than with the sober understanding that this was not a choice of theirs to make and they are still paying the price after leaving the cult.  I know this feeling all too well.

Yael was interviewed on RTL in the last two weeks again, and the video from last year's interview were shared again on RTL's website here.  I am finding it somewhat frustrating that Explosiv and Undercover Deutschland only have about a week's time that the videos remain on their website before being archived and shared only on iTunes.  Not everyone (self included!) enjoy or use Apple products. ;)
...When he was in the sect, Christian bore the name Zakar...The break with the group began when Reip refused at the age of 13, to celebrate his bar mitzvah.... The family was therefore shunned for months... The feud continued: Reip was to keep his hair long and grow his beared "He who has no beard, is considered to be gay," he says. He repeatedly removed his beard with nail shears.. Even his one year younger sister Amitsa rebelled. "We both had had enough."
06.17.2014 Der Tagesspiegel: "Twelve Tribes" sect - an ex member said "I had no childhood. I have toiled "

Wolfram Kuhnigk is being brought before the court again under accusations that he falsified information that was submitted to the Jugendamt and that much of the video that was submitted under evidence was, in fact, much older video. This is a distraction tactic on the part of the Twelve Tribes to move the direction of the court cases away from the mishandling of their children and towards those who brought these misdeeds to light. Some of the documents that the Twelve Tribes Attorney has handed in can be seen here and here.
Via a lawyer, the fundamentalists doubt the credibility of the filming, which led last year to the withdrawal of custody of their children. This week they showed the investigative journalists evidence of "deliberate false testimony and forgery of evidentiary documents". The timing is not accidental: On Monday, another post about the "Twelve Tribes" to be broadcast on RTL. The transmitter announces "new shocking details" to be released.
Christensekte: "Zwölf Stämme" zeigen Fernsehreporter an

The sect sees himself more in the role of victim: "It's just a film of cheap lies" states the website of the "12 tribes" ...
RTL undercover bei Sekte
Kinder systematisch geschlagen – Sekte spricht trotzdem von „billigem Lügenfilm“

As announced in advance, a press conference took place at noon today at the Twelve Tribes estate in Klosterzimmern with their legal counsel, Michael Langhans. Previously. Donau-Ries-News exclusively reported on evidence that the Twelve Tribes will prove false testimony, documents forgery and violations of the confidentiality of private conversations, as well as incitement to unsworn false statement.
Zwölf Stämme: Anwalt Langhans erstattet Strafanzeige gegen RTL-Reporter Kuhnigk
In support of the criminal complaint, their lawyer... argued that the dates of recording did not fit with the video recordings reporter Wolfram Kuhnigk had made at the time he stayed in the community. Kuhnigk had [allegedly] made ​​his recordings between the 14th and 16th July of last year.... According to the ... so-called "time stamps" the pictures were taken between 1 January 2012 and 19 July 2013. Especially the last date was a "clear indication that the videos have been manipulated,"....
"Zwölf Stämme" stellen Strafanzeige gegen RTL-Reporter
Kuhnigk had brought to light the life of the Twelve Tribes last fall with a report for the RTL-Magazin "extra" and made ​​serious allegations of abuse in public. For months, the journalist had repeatedly introduced himself under a false identity in the headquarters of the sect in Klosterzimmern and smuggled himself into rooms and filmed.
"Zwölf Stämme" zeigen RTL-Reporter an - weiter lesen auf Augsburger-Allgemeine
"Immediately after the removal of the children, there were no traces of mental or physical abuses discovered." said the lawyer, "Yet, the court experts have not held a hearing to this issue to this day." This demonstrates that the ongoing court case is one sided: "There are no investigations in favor of the parents, otherwise you would have already introduced those files into the process, demonstrating that no abuses were evident." The district court Nördlingen has prevented, since May 30, my access to the file, criticized Langhans. The district court Ansbach, where the proceedings against the parents have also been heard, granted the files to Langhans, albeit reluctantly.Sekte startet Gegenangriff

Wolfram Kuhnigk has answered these accusations rather well in my opinion.

.... "I can only interpret as a desperate attempt by the members here distract from the actual offense of child abuse ..."
--RTL Reporter
Glaubens-Gemeinschaft geht in Offensive 
.... I want to emphasize that neither evidence nor film were manipulated. Everything that has been said and filmed is verifiable. "
"Undercover Germany" sums up in the current episode, the events from last year together with new shocking details about the sect. This time, it is the dubious business practices of the '12 tribes that will be discussed, among other things, such as how they make their members economically dependent. Leaving the sect is so obviously difficult...
Undercover Deutschland: Sekte '12 Stämme' zeigt keine Reue

On the other hand, the Bavarian Parliament issued another statement on The Twelve Tribes in their region; and the courts are now pursuing the sect under the Child Labor laws, as children are required to work for the many firms that the Tribes own. This can be run through Google Translate.

Donau-Ries Aktuell has been on the ball in all of this mess and has issued a good German translation of the history of the Twelve Tribes and how they operate. You can find this here. They have also listed all of the (known) German firms owned by the Twelve Tribes here. They also did another lengthy interview with Wolfram Kuhnigk after the August 4th "Undercover Deutschland" video on the Twelve Tribes, specifically on the issue of child labor.

As a journalist and a father, I am very glad that [the video] has been able to prove that children here were systematically beaten and ultimately the youth welfare office should be active [in preventing it]. I'm still shocked that there is no insight into the cult members. It gives the impression that people are conditioned from an early age, so to speak, to accept this system and such educational methods. The children are the biggest victims, because they can not defend themselves and experts know that traumatized children are dependent on the love of parents. I am therefore still convinced of having done everything right.
RTL-Reporter Wolfram Kuhnigk im Exklusiv-Interview mit Donau-Ries-Aktuell has issued a video about the allegations of child labor laws being broken by the Twelve Tribes and that can be found here. This has also been discussed on RTL's Undercover Deutschland last week (which I've recorded and not as of yet had time to watch), and also by the Bayrische Rundfunk's online paper and the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
An ex-member confirmed to Bayerischer Rundfunk, that the members of the Twelve Tribes operate undeclared work for the company, and also include children in employment, working them up to 16 hours a day. The man stated that he, himself, had experience working for a long time as a minor, on construction sites in France - far away from his parents without receiving any wage.
Kinderarbeit ohne Lohn
....the prosecution in Augsburg will not currently  discuss the suspicion of illegal work or child labor against the "Twelve Tribes," said its spokesman yesterday, Attorney Matthias Nicolai. However, the court will check the television report to that effect.
The sect "Twelve Tribes" has denied the allegations.
Zwölf Stämme: Kinderarbeit ohne Lohn?

What Wolfram Kuhnigk also uncovers when he meets with an ex member: The sect can apparently strong arm adults and minors for unpaid work....
In order not to ruin his new undercover operation, he wears an even better disguise than his time with the Tribes in 2013. This time, he will be disguised as an employee of a car dealership... under the pretext of securing a job from the sect operated solar company..
Undercover Deutschland: Kindesmisshandlung und Schwarzarbeit bei den '12 Stämmen'05.08.14 08:17

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 and part 17 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.

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