On January 29th, police from Quebec and the Chatham-Kent Regional Police arrived at the Lev Tahor apartments north of Chatham, Ontario with a search warrant looking for documents and computers in two homes.
Lev Tahor was recently in family court to fight a move by the Chatham-Kent Children’s Aid Society to remove 14 of its children from their families. Last November, the sect packed up and moved in the middle of the night to Chatham, before a Quebec verdict of whether or not children should be removed and placed in foster homes, came down. Ontario Justice Stephen Fuerth upheld a Quebec child protection order, and has ordered the removal of 13 of the children to be sent to foster homes in Quebec.
The merit of the concerns held by Quebec child protection officials is reflected by Justice Stephen Fuerth’s ruling in support of the Quebec order. His ruling was balanced with a decision which allowed 30 days for any appeal by Lev Tahor even though Lev Tahor’s legal counsel only requested a stay of 10 days before implementing the order.
The question now arises as to the contents of the sealed search warrant. A Quebec judge has since ordered the unsealing of search warrants used to raid the homes.
Apparently, the warrant was issued as part of an investigation as to whether or not marriages of children under 16 years of age take place within the Lev Tahor community. This comes as a result of allegations from Adam Brudzewsky, a former member of the sect, who testified in a Quebec court that the leader, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, the sect’s leader, exerts strict control over its members and that underaged forced marriages are commonplace within the community. Brudzewsky testified that he knew of seven marriages arranged by the rabbi that involved girls under 16.
As I indicated in a previous post, a documentary was made about Aryeh Laver in November, 2012. Aryeh, is a former member of Lev Tahor, who was taken by his mother with his siblings to become a member of the sect. He was subsequently banished from the sect and returned to Israel. After being separated from his family for 7 years, he returned to see his mother who had been brainwashed to turn against him. Part two of the documentary shows Aryeh’s younger brother, Yochanan.
At the time of the film, Yochanan was 18 and half years of age. According to him, his wife, Miriam Helbrans was 2 months older than him. Somewhere during the nineteenth minute of the documentary Yochanan states that he got married at the age of 16, and that his son was 2 years old and his daughter was born 3 months ago. He was later corrected by his mother who said that the child was only one and three-quarter years old.
However, according to the court documents filed and contained within the website that Miriam Helbrans created, their son was born on May 13, 2009 which would make him 4 and half years of age at the time of the making of the documentary. Therefore, Yochanan would have been 15 years of age or younger at the time of marriage, with his wife being 2 months older than him.
An excerpt from the documents filed by the CAS is shown in the following:
In his testimony Brudzevski also stated that the middle daughter of one groups leaders, that is Miriam Helbrans, was married at 14, and had her first child when she was 15. Her husband was 2 months younger.
This evidence clearly shows that marriages of 15 year olds and those possibly younger does happen, is true, and may even be the norm within Lev Tahor. So, the concerns of Quebec Child Care authorities that underage marriages take place, is a fact.