Fourteen children from the Lev Tahor cult ordered to foster care are still living with the contentious Jewish group led by Israeli convict Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, the Toronto Star reported.
On November 27, Quebec Judge Pierre Hamel ruled the children were in “extreme danger” and should be removed from their homes.
The sect fled the small resort town of Ste-Agathe-du-Mont, Quebec, just days before the hearing. The families currently remain intact in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, where the more than 200-strong group is renting properties while it looks to purchase.
The group of 14 children, from two separate families, includes a 16-year-old mother of two.
The Chatham-Kent Children’s Services requested on December 4 that the Quebec order be executed, but on December 7 a Quebec justice of the peace claimed jurisdiction and refused the request. An appeal will be heard on December 23.
“Moving to Ontario has been an effective delay tactic,” a Montreal resident familiar with the case told The Times of Israel. “But eventually the authorities will catch up with them.”
Howard Barza, a family lawyer who often works with Quebec’s Missing Children’s Network, told the Montreal Gazette that honoring the judgment in Ontario should be a routine procedure.
“Normally, it’s an easy process to ratify a judgment between two provinces,” Barza said. “Especially here, because children’s welfare is in jeopardy.”
Before leaving Quebec, the group amassed $6 million in assets when it operated as a charity, the Toronto Star reported last week. According to the paper, the group used two “charitable guises,” working under the names Congregation Riminov and the Society for Spiritual Development, run by cult leader Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans and “an eight-person inner circle.”