Lev Tahor children in Chatham-Kent. (Photo by Ashton Patis)

Lev Tahor Appeal Hearing Continues

Members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor are back in court for an appeal hearing in an on-going child custody battle.

Lev Tahor is appealing an Ontario judge’s decision to uphold a Quebec court order forcing 14 Lev Tahor children into foster care based on allegations of child brides, forced marriages and abuse.

“If we got involved it’s not because we wanted to persecute. We had worries for these children, the way they are brought up, the way they are taken care of. There are health issues at stake here, if the community was showing intent or making things better for the children we would step down or step back,” says Denis Baraby with Quebec Youth Protection, who notes if the kids are placed in foster care it would be beneficial to send them back to Quebec. “We have a longer history with this community and we know very well what the problems are. We have more resources and access to Jewish services in the Montreal area.”

Members of the sect fled Ontario ahead of their initial appeal hearing date. Six children were discovered in Trindad and Tobago, two were apprehended at the Calgary International Airport and six remain in Guatemala.

The sect moved to Chatham-Kent last November after being served court documents in Quebec.

With files from Trevor Thompson.