A Mississauga doctor and his son are facing charges of kidnapping and forcible confinement after an alleged attempt to deprogram a woman who joined an evangelical Christian group in Hamilton.
Meanwhile, members of the Christian group denies allegations of being a religious cult.
Hamilton police laid the charges in connection with the alleged abduction of a woman who joined the Dominion Christian Centre (DCC) three years ago.
Police say the woman was snatched near the church just before Christmas and held 10 days before she was able to escape.
Dr. Renato Brun Del Re, 53, a family physician in Mississauga, and his son Giancarlo, 25, have been charged with kidnapping and forcible confinement.
The maximum sentence on conviction is life in prison.
Lucie Brun Del Re, a 54-year-old teacher in Georgetown, has been charged with forcible confinement, which carries up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Earlier this week, Dr. Brun Del Re told The Hamilton Spectator he believes the Dominion Christian Centre “is a cult.”
Police say the victim was walking to work at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 21 when she was forced into a van by a group of men and taken to a location in Halton.
Police say they are looking for more suspects.
Pastor Peter Rigo, a former painter and decorator who founded the DCC six years ago, says a well known American deprogrammer was brought to Halton to try to talk the woman into leaving the group.
[Mary Alice] Chrnalogar, a Tennessee-based intervention consultant, is the author of Twisted Scriptures: A Path to Freedom from Abusive Churches.
Rigo, 41, runs the centre along with his wife, Peggy. He says the DCC is nothing more than a Bible-based church that believes in praying for the revitalization of downtown Hamilton and positive change for people through believing in Christ.
“Look at us, our doors are open, anyone can come in here,” Rigo said this week.
Rigo, who grew up in Hamilton, said he returned from the United States in 2000 after “God spoke in my heart,” to return home and work to better the city.
“We believe in taking young adults most of the time 20 and over and train them in life skills … and entrepreneurship.”
DCC members meet four times a week in prayer and incorporate a heavy measure of music in their worship.
“People’s first reaction to something new is that there has to be something wrong with it,” Rigo said.
Rigo told The Spectator he received his theological training at Zion Bible College in Rhode Island in the 1980s.
Zion’s dean of academics, Patrick Gallagher, confirmed Rigo took courses at the college but did not graduate. Peggy Rigo, who met her husband at the college and is a DCC pastor, did graduate.
The DCC was once affiliated with the Open Bible Faith Fellowship, a network of evangelical churches across North America. Yesterday, the fellowship said Rigo’s Christian centre is no longer a member.
The accused return to court on Sept. 25 at 9 a.m.