Lev Tahor Appeal Successful

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

A Superior Court judge has ruled 13 Lev Tahor children will not be sent back to Quebec and placed in foster care.

Justice Lynda Templeton has released her decision in the on-going custody case. Lev Tahor has won its appeal of an Ontario judge’s decision to uphold a Quebec court order forcing 13 children into foster care in Quebec.

The children from the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect will remain in the care of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services until a provincial court can decide whether they are in need of protection.

“These children have already been found to be in need of protection. To create further upheaval and instability in their lives would most surely have disastrous emotional and psychological ramifications for them,” writes Templeton. “They have been found to be at risk with respect to all adults who were responsible for them and in need of protection. Armed with this information, the state’s agency where the family is newly located is in a position to continue the quest for an appropriate order to take such further and other steps as the state deems fit.”

Seven Lev Tahor children remain in Jewish foster homes in the Toronto area. Members of the sect fled Chatham-Kent ahead of their initial appeal hearing last month. Justice Templeton then issued an emergency motion ordering that all children in the case be apprehended. Six were discovered in Trinidad and Tobago, two were discovered at the Calgary International Airport and six remain in Guatemala. A 17-year-old girls has since been released from custody, but her infant child remains in the care of CKCS.

Members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect left Quebec in the middle of the night last November and settled in Chatham-Kent, citing pressures from the education system as the reason.

Quebec youth protection authorities allege Lev Tahor forces girls as young as 14 into marriage, isolates its members and feeds its children anti-psychotic drugs. The group’s leaders continue to deny all allegations.

The parents of the children currently in foster care will return to provincial court next month in a bid to ultimately have them returned to the community.