July 4, 2013 4:02 pm
Updated: July 5, 2013 6:22 am

More charges in alleged Mennonite child abuse case

A swing set sits idle after children were seized from a small Old Order Mennonite community near Gladstone, Man., in June.

Josh Arason / Global News

RCMP say the number of people charged in a disturbing case of alleged child abuse in an isolated Manitoba Mennonite community has grown to 13.

Multiple criminal charges were laid earlier this year against three men and one woman in the Old Order Mennonite community near Gladstone, including assault and assault with a weapon, specifically a whip, a leather strap and a cattle prod. Court documents say the alleged assaults took place between July 2011 and January 2013.

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On Thursday officers confirmed the number of adults charged had since increased to 13, but wouldn’t provide any more information about the nature of the charges or when they were laid.

Dozens of children have been seized by provincial authorities and placed in foster care. A member of the community told Global News in June that Child and Family Services took 42 children from their homes.

“We are very distressed,” said a bearded man riding a horse and buggy, who Global News can’t identify to protect the identity of children involved.

“CFS has apprehended all our children that are minors. They walked into the houses, took the babies out of their cribs while they were sleeping.”

“I was surprised when I heard that,” said Peter Dyck, a Gladstone resident.

“I didn’t think that was happening in their community.”

According to area residents, the community of about 100 moved to Manitoba roughly four years ago from Ontario.

“They just kind of go about their daily business, doing their own thing I guess,” said a neighbour who lives near the Mennonite properties.

Gladstone residents said members of the Mennonite community frequent the town for amenities such as the auction and veterinary services. Residents said interaction was limited, but always friendly, which is why the criminal charges are a surprise, they said.

“It’s not that we want to get them out of here.  It’s just … make things right,” said Dyck.

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