Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

RCMP investigate abuse allegations, two men charged

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BRANDON – Mounties in western Manitoba are investigating allegations that numerous children who live at a Mennonite community were physically abused over an 18-month span.

It’s alleged the victims were assaulted multiple times, with such weapons as a leather strap, a cattle prod and a board, reports the Brandon Sun.

Two men have been charged and are identified as a leader of the community and his son.

It appears that the alleged assaults might have been carried out as a form of "discipline."

The incidents are alleged to have been committed at the "Old Order Mennonite Community" in the RM of Westbourne near Gladstone – about 150 kilometres from Winnipeg -- between July 1, 2011 and Jan. 31 of this year.

In general, Old Order Mennonites have a lifestyle that rejects certain technologies. They don’t use computers or the Internet, for example, and don’t believe in having their photos taken. Certain Old Order Mennonites live without telephones and electricity, and use horses to pull farm machinery.

At this point, it’s alleged that at least seven children, aged seven to 14 years, were assaulted at the community near Gladstone.

According to court documents, between the two men, each victim was allegedly assaulted multiple times.

For example, it’s alleged that one victim was strapped and assaulted with a cattle prod numerous times.

It’s alleged that the same victim was assaulted repeatedly by the other man.

Five of the children were allegedly strapped and three of those same children reportedly had a cattle prod used on them multiple times. A board was allegedly used in one case and a whip in another.

The two men were arrested at the community on Tuesday and appeared in court on Wednesday where they were granted bail with the consent of a Crown attorney.

Two men, age 54 and 29, face numerous counts of assault and assault with a weapon. One suspect's charges include a count of assault causing bodily harm.

As part of their bail order, the men are to live in the RM of South Cypress and can’t attend within 10 kilometres of the RM of Westbourne.

They also can’t have contact with anyone under the age of 18 years without a court order or permission from Child and Family Services.

In addition, they can’t possess weapons.

The allegations against the accused haven’t been proven in court.

Meanwhile, the investigation continues and it’s unclear whether there will be more arrests or potential victims identified.

ihitchen@brandonsun.com

History

Updated on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 10:41 AM CDT: Removes names of suspects to avoid identifying victims.

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