23 children taken from Manitoba Mennonite community

WINNIPEG — Almost two dozen children have been seized from a devout southern Manitoba Mennonite community amid charges that youngsters were assaulted with cattle prods, whips and leather straps.

WINNIPEG — Almost two dozen children have been seized from a devout southern Manitoba Mennonite community amid charges that youngsters were assaulted with cattle prods, whips and leather straps.

Documents from Manitoba Family Services show the youngest of 23 children taken from their homes is nine months old; the oldest is 15. The documents don’t detail alleged abuse but do say one 13-year-old boy “does not want to return home.”

Two adults from the tiny orthodox community were charged in March with various counts of assault and assault with a weapon on several boys and girls between July 2011 and January of this year. Court documents listed a whip, a prod, a board and a leather strap as weapons.

This week, two more adults appeared in court to face similar charges involving 12 alleged victims. The allegations are similar — that the assaults were repeated and over roughly the same 18-month time frame. The two were released pending their next court appearance.

Court documents show the children seized are from five families, including one family of nine kids ranging in age from one to 13.