The Sydney Morning Herald - Australia January 6, 2011
Mother set to appeal ruling on daughter living in 'cult'
by Kim Arlington
SHE escaped from a group she regarded as a destructive cult, but the Family Court ordered her daughter to live in the religious community she had left behind.
However, the mother will keep fighting for custody of the girl; her lawyers are set to appeal against the court's ruling that the 14-year-old live in the Queensland settlement with her father.
The girl was born into the group, which follows an ''orthodox Christian lifestyle'' and is led by a Sydney-based ''spiritual elder''. She split her time between her father and her mother, whom she believed was living ''in sin'' with a new partner.
The mother, who cannot be named, sought sole responsibility for the girl, arguing that the community exposed her to the risk of harm, including damaging attitudes that women were ''sub-citizens''.
In evidence, she said women were beaten, violence was justified as ''necessary to teach conformity with God's way'' and emotional abuse was rife.
Her evidence was supported by several former community members. Witnesses for the father denied allegations of systemic violence within the group.
Questioned by the judge, Garry Watts, the girl recalled seeing her father slap her mother's face and push her with his fist.
The girl said it would it be all right if her husband slapped her face because ''everything that I believe I get from the Bible … If I deserved it, I guess I deserved it.''
She also told a psychologist she wanted to return to the community ''even if it meant she would be victimised … [If she] married a man who beat her, she would be OK with this because she would rather put up with domestic violence and have children than to not marry and not have children''.
Justice Watts concluded the leader's control over the community ''is not as total and ultimate as portrayed by the mother'' and did not extend to members' daily decisions. While he did not accept that the father was never physically aggressive, he rejected the mother's evidence about the nature and extent of family violence.
The woman's lawyer, Sandra Sinclair, said an appeal would be lodged on the grounds that insufficient weight was given to uncontested evidence of serious violence within the community, and the extent of the father's control over the girl's welfare.
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NineMSN News - Australia January 6, 2011
Mother moves to remove daughter from 'cult'
By ninemsn staff
A mother is set to appeal a court ruling that allows her daughter to live with an alleged cult.
The Family Court ruled the woman's 14-year-old daughter could live in a Queensland settlement with her father, that her mother described as a "destructive cult," the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The girl was born into the community which follows an "orthodox Christian lifestyle" and is led by a Sydney based man described as a "spiritual elder".
The girl's mother, who is separated from her father, is fighting for sole custody, saying the group taught her daughter that women were "sub-citizens".
The court heard evidence that women were beaten in the community and violence was "necessary to teach conformity with God's way".
Witnesses for the father denied there was systemic violence in the community but several former members of the group supported the mother's evidence.
The teenager had been sharing her time living between her two parents.
She told the court she had seen her father slap and push her mother.
The teenager told the judge that she believed it was okay if her husband slapped her because "everything that I believe I get from the Bible … If I deserved it, I guess I deserved it".
She told a psychologist she wanted to return to the community, "even if it meant she would be victimised".
"[If the girl]" married a man who beat her, she would be okay with this because she would rather put up with domestic violence and have children than to not marry and not have children," the court heard.
In his ruling, Justice Gary Watts said the community's leader did not have control over the group "as total and ultimate as portrayed by the mother".
Mr Kingsley was brought to tears when talking about the reaction of his children to the news.
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