Ex-Sect Member Convicted in Son’s Death
Feb. 3, 2004
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday February 3, 2004
TAUNTON, Mass. – A former member of a religious sect was cleared of murder charges Tuesday but convicted of assault and battery for starving her infant son to death to fulfill a prophecy.
Karen Robidoux and her husband Jacques were members of a tiny religious sect that rejects modern medicine. After another sect member told them about a message she received from God, they began withholding solid food from their son, Samuel. The baby died in 1999 just days shy of his first birthday.
Robidoux’s defense lawyer had argued that she was brainwashed and tortured by her husband, Jacques, and other members of the group.
But prosecutor Walter Shea said in his closing argument that the real victim was the baby.
“Karen Robidoux made a choice,” Shea said. “She chose her husband and her faith over the life of her child.”
After nearly two weeks of trial, the jury deliberated for parts of two days before reaching its verdict.
Jacques Robidoux was convicted of first-degree murder in 2002 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors had sought a second-degree murder charge for his wife, but jurors also had the option of finding her guilty of manslaughter or assault and battery.
The assault and battery conviction carries a possible prison sentence of 2 1/2 years.
Robidoux’s lawyer, Joseph Krowski, called just two witnesses to the stand – both forensic psychologists who examined her at a state hospital.
An unwed mother at 15, she grew up in a strict religious family and was married off to Jacques Robidoux, who along with his father was the leader of the sect. The group, called “The Body,” isolated itself from society and modern culture, shunning doctors, banks, televisions, radios and newspapers.
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