Transatlantic custody battle continues
B.C. cult maligned, mother says
The Globe and Mail/1982-01-11
VANCOUVER (CP) - The mother of two children involved in a transatlantic custody battle says Children of God cultists are not the monsters her parents and the press have branded them.
Clair Riley denied in a recent interview that she and her Vancouver- born husband, Jay, are "directly involved" in the sect, which is said to preach prostitution and child sex.
She said "no member I've ever met has been anything like they've been made out to be in the press."
The Rileys flew to Vancouver last month in defiance of a British court order giving custody of the children - Jessica, 18 months, and Jason, two months - to Riley's parents, the McArdles of Yorkshire.
The McArdles believe the children are in moral danger because of their parents' association with the Children of God cult, also known as the Family of Love.
They have taken legal steps to recover the custody of their grandchildren obtained from a British court.
Mrs. Riley said in an interview that her children are in fine shape at the east Vancouver home of Jay's parents, but the publicity surrounding the custody tussle has proved a nightmare.
English and Canadian reporters have phoned her and her husband at all hours, she said. "And it's not just that, I'm really heartbroken that my parents and the press could distort and tell so many lies about us. . . . Everything's been distorted."
She said she was relieved a B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered the children put temporarily in the "care and control" of her husband's parents in Vancouver.
A B.C. Supreme Court hearing is expected this month to help determine whether the children will remain here or be returned to the maternal grandparents in England.
The McArdles, meanwhile, say they are very distressed by the court order handed down on Thursday in Vancouver by Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm.
"We have been given no hope whatsoever," sobbed Clair's mother, Maureen, of Morley near Leeds in England.
"I love my grandchildren, I have loved my daughter," she said in an interview from England.
Jay Riley himself refused comment, angrily saying he didn't want to talk to reporters "about anything."
Mrs. McArdle, 50, said she and her husband, Terence, 53, have no immediate plans to fly to Vancouver because the trip would be too expensive. She said that worrying about the case has made her ill and she has been under sedation.
She said last month her daughter disappeared from their Yorkshire home with the children the day the British court order was obtained.
In Thursday's hearing, Judge Dohm ordered that the children not be removed from Vancouver, that their parents give up their passports to the court and report to police twice a week.
The Children of God cult supports prostitution as a way of gaining converts and raising money. The cult has sold its own pornographic literature, including photos of children.