Juan Mattatall wins temporary custody of his five children
Source:Factnet archives, via Xenu directory
10 november 1982
Juan Mattatall won temporary custody of his five children Wednesday
from a judge who heard testimony that children in the religious
community to which the youngsters' mother belongs were whipped.
Superior Court Judge Ernest Gibson III said testimony from former members of
Northeast Kingdom Community Church about child abuse in the church
community "was a large factor" in his decision.
"I was concerned about the best interests of the children and I thought
they'd be better off with their father," said Gibson.
During a daylong hearing in the Mattatall custody dispute, several former
members of the Vermont church community testified children as young as 3 years
old were beaten with rods or belts, sometimes until blood ran down their legs.
Mattatall, 40, and his wife Cynthia, 26, are each seeking permanent custody,
which will not be decided until the resolution of their divorce proceeding --
sometime after April.
Mattatall's attorneys argued his children -- aged 1 to 8 years old -- were
being reared in an environment where youngsters were routinely disciplined by
The fundamentalist religious sect, which migrated to Island Pond from
Chattanooga, Tenn. in 1978, has recently come under the scrutiny of state and
law enforcement officials.
Vermont social services officials say they are probing various reports of
alleged child abuse. State Police, meanwhile, raided an Island Pond delicatessen
by the church group and seized financial records.
State prosecutors say they are checking allegations of tax fraud, as well as
reports that members of the group are unlawfully dispensing prescription drugs.
No arrests have been made.