Toronto Star: Couple held after bid to visit kids in custody

From XFamily - Children of God

Couple held after bid to visit kids in custody

The Toronto Star/1993-09-13, Sec. C, p. A4.

by Dale Brazao

BUENOS AIRES - Argentinian police have arrested two more members of The Family religious cult on suspicion of sexual abuse of children.

This brings to 21 the number of sect members who remain in custody since police raided houses owned by the group and scooped up 235 men, women and children.

The new detainees have been identified as Alice Sophia Dow and Mario Roberto Torres. Their nationalities were not immediately known.

The couple were not home at the time of the Sept. 1 pre- dawn raids on seven houses owned by The Family in Buenos Aires and the surrounding area.

They were arrested when they tried to visit their children, who are among the 134 youngsters still being held in protective custody.

A third woman, an unidentified Peruvian, was arrested last week.

On Friday, federal Judge Roberto Marquevich charged 18 members of the cult with corruption and concealment of minors, illegal servitude, deprivation of liberty for religious purposes, and racial and religious discrimination.

The charges were laid after medical and forensic testing of the children revealed that nine had lesions on their genitalia, according to Marquevich who is in charge of the case.

Medical examiners found "boys with anal wounds and girls as young as 9 and 11 with torn hymens and flayed vulvas," Marquevich wrote in an 18-page report accompanying the charges.

Among those charged are Canadians Susan Claire Borowick, 33, of Burlington, identified by police as head of the local sect, and Jesse Jude Mara, 21, of British Columbia.

Marquevich said he was not proceeding with sexual charges against the group because he could not identify suspects.

Marquevich said he included the racism charges because some of the children interviewed by psychologists had exhibited anti-black and anti-Jewish biases.

Family spokespeople around the world have denounced the police crackdown as religious persecution, claiming the cache of pornographic videos and magazines found in the raids were plated by Argentinian police.

Despite protests from the parents about being kept from their children, Marquevich said yesterday that anyone wanting access must first submit to a blood test to prove lineage.

The sect's practice of splitting up children from their natural families and sending them to Family communes around the world has made identification of natural parents difficult, the judge said.

Some children were found to be carrying three and four passports. Police are also checking on the authenticity of the documents.

Meanwhile, Canadian consular officials have discovered another Canadian national among those originally detained, but not charged. He is Jonathan David Tirone, but his home town in Canada is unknown.

"When we asked him if he wanted us to contact anyone in Canada," said a Canadian consular official, "he said he hadn't been to Canada in years and didn't feel much like a Canadian."

The Family is an offshoot of the Children of God cult founded in California in 1969 by David Berg, who in his writings urged his female followers to become "Hookers for Jesus."