Police documents list allegations of abuse, forced marriages in Lev Tahor sect
Published Friday, February 14, 2014 8:11PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 15, 2014 11:44PM EST
Police in Quebec began investigating the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor back in 2012 amid allegations of child abuse, forced marriages and violence, newly released documents allege.
According to documents used to obtain search warrants, the Quebec provincial police started looking into Lev Tahor after allegations emerged that some teenage girls in the group were beaten and sexually abused.
It was alleged that some girls as young as 14 or 15 were being forced to marry much older men and that some children were taken from their biological parents if the community leader felt they were not being properly taught.
The documents, which contain allegations that have not been proven in court, also allege that some members of the Lev Tahor community were kept under psychological control with medication and that physical violence was used as an educational tool.
Lev Tahor denies all those allegations and insists that no children or young girls were ever harmed.
“We do feel that the whole process from the beginning was unfair…they pick a small community as an easy target,” said spokesperson Uriel Goldman.
In a video released Friday, the group’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, denounces Quebec authorities and accuses them of persecuting Lev Tahor members.
He says the group had no choice but to flee Quebec.
The community of about 200 people left Quebec in November while it was being investigated by social services, and settled in Chatham, Ont.
An Ontario judge recently ruled that 14 Lev Tahor children must be turned over to child protection authorities in Quebec and placed in foster care.
The order is currently under appeal.
With a report from CTV’s Vanessa Lee