by Jonathan Sher
Publication ban ordered at Church of God hearing
Canadian media filled a small courtroom in St. Thomas yesterday,
but walked away almost empty handed after a judge ordered a
preliminary publication ban at a hearing to determine the custody
of seven children with Aylmer's Church of God.
While Justice Eleanor Schnall of the Ontario Court of Justice
must eventually decide if the children should be removed from
their home, yesterday she considered another issue -- to what
extent the media would be allowed to report what occurs at trial.
Addressing that issue were lawyers representing the media, the
family and Family and Children Services.
Their arguments and even their positions will not be reported,
ordered Schnall, while she considers the matter.
Schnall didn't expect to make a ruling until 10 a.m. today at the
Family and Children Services allege the parents used excessive
corporal punishment and medically neglected the children.
Church leaders have defended their reliance on faith rather than
doctors and their use of foreign objects to strike their
The Free Press has uncovered deaths of children at sister
churches that prompted investigations in Manitoba and California
and a book that instructs parents to beat children as young as
six months with a rod.
The Aylmer children, who can't be named because of a court order,
went home July 26 after their parents agreed not to strike or
medically neglect them until the dispute with Family and Children
The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.