Defending the Family
Child abuse charges in Argentina groundless, cult members say
Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 1993-09-10, p. A10.
(CP) - Members of a cult that's been accused of sexually abusing children in Argentina say the allegations are groundless, although it's possible sex between consulting adult members of the group does occur.
"We are not a sex cult, we are a Christian missionary community," says Claire Smith, 37, an Australian who lives at the Family's rented commune in suburban North York.
"We have nothing to hide and we are doing nothing wrong. We do not believe in abusing children - they are the most precious things in our lives."
Charges have been laid in Buenos Aires against Canadians Susana Borowick, 33, of Burlington, and Jesse Mara, 21, of British Columbia. Six Argentines, six Americans, two Spaniards, a German, a Frenchman and a Venezuelan have also been charged.
The charges include rape, sodomy, kidnapping children and involuntary servitude.
But members of the cult in Toronto say the allegations are part of a vendetta by ex-members who claim incest, child sex, semi-nude dancing and prostitution are part of the cult's sex-for-salvation creed.
Thirty-six members of the Family - 11 adults and 25 children - live in a large suburban home in North York that includes an indoor squash court, gymnasium, courtyard and swimming pool.
Dan Fisher, the group's spokesman, wouldn't say how the Family pays the rent on the massive home.
"We have lots of friends who support us," says Fisher, 41, who called the allegations of sexual abuse of children "lies" after he opened the doors of the Family's commune on Wednesday.
"You would be surprised how small a part sex plays in our lives," he says.
"It's possible to have sex with other people in the Family. We don't believe that sex between consenting adults is a sin in the eyes of God as long as no one is hurt by it.
"We call it the Law of Love."
Smith says the children - who are schooled at home - are also tutored to answer questions in case they are whisked away by police.
Adult members of the Family - a descendant of the disbanded Children of God, whose adherents sometimes sent out young women who would use sex to attract new recruits - are full-time missionaries.
The group sells children's videos and audio cassettes - with titles like Happy All The Time and Sweet Dreams Tonight - door to door, at schools, shelters and malls.
Abigail B., a former member of the sect, has accused Borowick of condoning sex with children and of ordering her to submit to sex with other members of the Family.
Abigail told Argentine television that she was sexually assaulted by cult members from the time she was 12 and was forced into prostitution to attract new members.
Several people claiming to be former members of the Family have described alleged incidents of sexual and physical abuse, incest, kidnapping and forced prostitution.