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Old Order Mennonite

An Old Order Mennonite woman, Louisa Bauman, 57, who previously pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a weapon and admitted to disciplining two young children with an electric cattle prod, was sentenced in a Brandon, Manitoba, Canada courtroom to 3 years’ supervised probation. During the term of her probation, Louisa Bauman will be required to live with a brother in Ontario and have no unsupervised contact with children under 14.

Of particular note in this case, both victims told police Louisa treated them better when her husband wasn’t present. “People close to Louisa Bauman believe she is the victim of emotional abuse by her husband,” attorney Nicole Roch said. Roch told the court that Bauman’s husband, Enos Bauman, holds no authority within the church but wields great authority in the local community and is its de-facto leader.

The Baumans had various children from the community living in their home, “in the context of what was purported to be counseling,” according to Roch. Enos Bauman introduced the cattle prod as a disciplinary tool, and other adults in the community adopted it to correct what they saw as “extreme misbehavior on the part of the children.” Considered innocent in this case, Enos Bauman remains before the court facing several charges. (Winnipeg Sun, 9/12/14) [IT 6.1 2015]

Twenty-three of the children taken from the Manitoba, Quebec Old Order Mennonite Community by welfare officials last year are now home, according to Jay Rodgers, CEO of the General Child and Family Services Authority in Manitoba, and he expects almost all will be back in the community by the end of summer.

A number of adults were charged with multiple counts of assault, including assault with a weapon, between July 2011 and the end of January 2013. The charges stemmed from how the children were disciplined. The youngest of the alleged victims at the time was less than a year old, and the oldest was 17.

The province’s child and family services authority removed all children but one while the matter was investigated. “It’s been a process of working with these families around parenting capacity, parenting techniques, learning about child development, learning about appropriate discipline approaches,” said Rodgers.

Many of the charges have now been stayed, but a community member told CBC News that seven people still face charges. Nobody from the community, or its location, can be named to protect the identity of the children who were apprehended.

“We desperately want to do things differently,” a man from the community told CBC. “We are very committed to trying to stay here, build here and put our community back together again,” the man said. (CBC News, 6/19/14) [IT 5.3]

In an update to police charges of assault last November against 15 adults in a Manitoba Old Order Mennonite community (which remains anonymous to protect the identity of its children) that alleged the adults were subjecting children to “extreme discipline,” the court recently dropped the charges against four of the men originally charged, and the charges against others are expected to be stayed if they agree to undergo counseling and sign peace bonds.

Child and Family Services (CFS) has now returned to two families six children who had been taken to foster care, but 36 still remain with other Mennonite caregivers. One father of nine children, whose charges have been stayed, said he is hopeful his community can rebuild. “I’m very happy to have the charges resolved, and hopefully that’s a big roadblock out of the way to the return of the children.”

The four men who signed 1-year peace bonds to have their charges dismissed this week did not admit to any criminal misconduct. Also this week, the charges against one other man and two women, one of whom is the only teacher for the community’s one-room schoolhouse, were moved to Winnipeg court; the three are also expected to sign peace bonds and have their charges stayed. Three women still face assault charges in relation to alleged abuse, but it’s not clear whether the court system will offer them peace bonds or some other diversion. Crown attorney Nicole Roch said the decision about whether these events will speed up the return of children to their homes is up to CFS. (Brandon Sun, 2/12/2014) [IT 5.2]

A female member of an Old Order Mennonite community, which can’t be identified because of ongoing court proceedings and a publication ban, pleaded guilty to assault charges in March. The Crown says adults strapped, kicked, and shocked children with a cattle prod. The 57-year-old woman who pleaded guilty admitted to two counts of assault with a weapon against two girls who were placed in her home after they were removed from their own.

The woman’s sentencing will be at a later date. Seven community members remain charged; charges against six of them were stayed. (Winnipeg Free Press, 4/5/14) [IT 5.2]

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