Argentine court frees Canadians in sex case
'The nightmare is over,' says relative after hearing the news
by Dale Brazao
Two Canadians were among 21 members of a religious sect freed yesterday by an Argentine appeals court after being cleared of allegations involving sexual abuse of children.
Susana Borowick, 33, of Burlington and Jesse Jude Mara, 21, of British Columbia - the only Canadians involved - were among those set free.
It's all over. All charges have been dropped," an elated Steven Borowick, Susan's brother, said last night in a telephone interview from Burlington.
"The nightmare is over."
Susan Borowick and Mara were among 90 adults and 137 children taken into custody Sept. 1 after police raided the homes of members of The Family, an offshoot of the Children of God sect.
Most were released but 21 were detained and were facing charges of corruption and concealment of minors, deprivation of liberty for religious purposes and racial and religious discrimination.
"All the adults have been released and are being transported back to their homes and the children will probably be released in the morning, Borowick told The Star.
"The judge responsible has been removed from the case."
Borowick said his mother, Jacqueline, a Toronto justice of the peace, phoned from Buenos Aires last night to confirm earlier news reports that the entire group had been set free.
Federal Judge Roberto Marquevich ordered the raids after several former members reported alleged instances of kidnapping, physical and sexual abuse of children, incest and prostitution.
Marquevich said literature and videotapes found at the homes showed that the sect encouraged sex between adults and children and the use of sex to attract new members.
All 137 children found in The Family compounds were taken into state custody.
The children have been ordered returned to the sect.
In Marquevich's report, a copy of which has been obtained by The Star, he claims that doctors who examined the 137 children found that nine had been subjected to "cruel and atrocious mistreatment."
The Family has denied any of its children have been sexually abused and were demanding that a team of doctors, paid by them, be allowed to examine the kids.
In ordering the raids, Marquevich relied heavily on the sworn testimony of Abigail B., a former member who claims she was repeatedly raped by sect members since the age of 7.
Abigail claims that Borowick's husband, Jose Manuel Sabatasso, raped her when she was 13 and that Borowick not only condoned the atatck but ordered her to have sex with other leaders of the sect.
In her deposition, Abigail says she and other females in the group were ordered to prostitute themselves to raise money for the group. Group elders routinely filmed themselves having sex and showed the videos to the youngsters.
Borowick has denied the charges, saying the group is the victim of religious persecution. The massive amounts of evidence seaized in the raids were fabricated and planted by Argentine police, Borowick claimed in a telephone interview with The Star.
The Family has denounced Marquevich's findings. Lawyers for the group have been trying to get the charges thrown out, and Marquevich removed from the case.
Borowick's mother has been in Buenos Aires for the past month awaiting the appeals court decision.
Jaqueline Borowick has visited her daughter's son Esteban, 12, in state custody. His head is covered in lice and he's extremely depressed, Steven Borowick said yesterday.
The Family is an offshoot of the a Children of God cult founded in the late 1960s by the self-styled prophet of love, David Berg, also known as Moses David and Father Mo.
Today, The Family has Branches throughtout the world and claims as many as 10,000 followers.