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Former sect member describes ordeal

Associated Press, USA
Mar. 4, 2004 • Thursday March 4, 2004

BOSTON (AP) A former member of a religious sect released last month after her trial for starving her child said she “suffered a lot” at the hands of her fellow sect members, and was pained by her child’s slow death.

Karen Robidoux, who made the statements in interviews with WBZ-TV and the Boston Herald, said she was only concerned with the well-being of her son Samuel.

“I knew he was sick, I knew he was suffering, and that ripped me up inside, and nobody would help me,” she said.

Last month, Robidoux was cleared of murder charges but convicted of assault and battery for starving her infant son to death to fulfill a prophecy. Judge Elizabeth Donovan sentenced Karen Robidoux to 2 1/2 years in prison, but she was set free after the verdict because she has already spent nearly three years in state custody, mostly in a psychiatric hospital.

Robidoux, 28, and her husband Jacques were members of a tiny sect called “The Body,” which rejects modern medicine. After another member of the group told them about a message she received from God, they began withholding solid food from their son.

Her defense lawyer had argued that Robidoux was brainwashed and tortured by her husband and other members of the group. Prosecutors said the victim was Samuel, who died in 1999 just days shy of his first birthday.

After nearly two weeks of trial in Taunton Superior Court, the jury deliberated for parts of two days before reaching its verdict on Feb. 3.

In the interview broadcast Wednesday, Robidoux said she was not a “hard-core, cold mother,” and was pained by her child’s suffering.

“I don’t think I could ever have true peace, because there is a hole in my heart that’s very big, and I don’t know that it will ever get filled,” she said.

Robidoux also expressed fears that other children in the sect, to which members of her family still belong, could be at risk.

“There’s been no repentance, and they’re just going to continue,” she said of the sect.

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