Hamilton Spectator: Burlington woman free in Argentina cult case

From XFamily - Children of God

Burlington woman free in Argentina cult case

Hamilton Spectator/1993-12-14, p. A1

by Kate Barlow

Susan Claire Borowick is free.

The former Burlington resident was released from an Argentine jail yesterday after all charges -- including child sex abuse -- against 21 members of The Family religious sect were dropped by an appeals court in Buenos Aires.

The 16 men and five women were released after the Chamber of Appeals in San Martin, near Buenos Aires, ruled that the federal court does not have jurisdiction in the matter, said Alberto Jurin, the group's spokesman.

"All charges have been dropped and their homes restored to them," said Steve Borowick, the woman's brother, from his Burlington home late last night.

Mr. Borowick received confirmation that the charges had been dropped from his mother, a Toronto justice of the peace, who has spent the past month in Argentina trying to get her daughter released.

Ms Borowick's son Esteban, 12, was among the more than 100 children of group members also freed from a children's jail.

Known as Clara to group members, Ms Borowick is in need of medical attention related to a previous health problem but had refused treatment in the jail hospital for fear of contracting AIDS.

Esteban is very depressed and his head is covered in lice, according to Mr. Borowick's mother.

Ms Borowick, 33, is alleged to be the leader of the sect, whose members were held on the sexual abuse and other charges, including corruption and concealment of minors, illegal servitude, deprivation of liberty for religious purposes and racial and religious discrimination.

It's not known if provincial authorities will prosecute. However, Mr. Borowick believes no further prosecution will ensue.

The cult members were arrested in police raids Sept. 1 on Buenos Aires homes belonging to the Argentine-based group, an offshoot of the Children of God sect founded in California in 1969.

Also taken into custody at the time were 138 children of group members. Mr. Jurin said the children were to be released to the religious community today.