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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dozens of kids seized from Manitoba Mennonite community amid abuse allegations

DEAN PRITCHARD | QMI AGENCY
WINNIPEG -- Dozens of children have been removed from a small Manitoba Mennonite community as an investigation into allegations many of them were physically abused continues.A man and woman were arrested Monday and charged with 27 counts of assault and assault with a weapon. They appeared in Brandon court Tuesday and were released on bail.
The two accused and their community cannot be identified under terms of a publication ban. Two male co-accused were arrested on similar charges last March.
The total population of the community is believed to be under 100.
"It is my information that Child and Family Services has seized all (but one) of the children," defence lawyer Scott Newman told court Tuesday.
The abuse is alleged to have been inflicted under the guise of discipline and to have involved the use of whips, straps and cattle prods. The abuse is alleged to have spanned a period of two years.
More arrests are expected. The two newly arrested accused will return to court in September.
"The investigation is ongoing and is not expected to be complete until July 30," Crown attorney Grant Hughes told court, explaining the lengthy remand. Newman "also needs to assess conflicts and whether he can represent all the individuals he is assisting today," Hughes said.
A provincial government spokesman would not confirm how many children have been seized from the community.
"Child protection professionals are working with the families and children involved in this difficult circumstance, including providing counselling services and supports during their participation in the ongoing RCMP investigation," the spokesman said. "The child protection staff are also working to ensure culturally sensitive placements for the children."
-- With files from Jim Bender
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