Extreme religious views in focus for Kelowna custody case

A couple who used a God-channelling, stuffed-lion as legal counsel lost a custody appeal.

A Kelowna couple who spoke in tongues and used what they said was a God-channelling, stuffed-lion as legal counsel recently lost an attempt to appeal a court decision on custody of their child.

A B.C. Supreme Court Justice ruled that the parents of a toddler, who the mother wanted to rename Jesus JoyoftheLord, will not be granted an appeal of a previous custody decision by the courts. This decision paves the way for the child to be adopted by a third party who currently has custody.

In the original trial the couple, who are referred to as D.K. and A.J. in court documents, proved to be unorthodox in their dealings with the court. They declined legal aid, choosing instead to interview witnesses themselves, saying that “Jesus Christ” was speaking through them.

They argued they lost their child due to religious persecution, but that did not sway the trial judge. Nor the appeal court.

“This is a difficult case. The parents obviously love their child and wish to raise her in their home with their Christian values,” reads the decision from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Diane MacDonald.

The decision to dismiss the appeal came down to whether there was any legal error, reliance on irrelevant factors or misapprehension of the evidence in the trial, and MacDonald found there not to be.

“Rather, the reasons disclose an evidentiary foundation to establish that it was in the best interests of the child to order continuing custody to the director (a third party who currently has custody),” reads the decision.

READ ALSO: LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR KILLER

The reason to uphold the process was found in domestic abuse, the ongoing conflict between the parents, the parents’ refusal of routine medical tests and screens for the baby, the mother’s refusal to top up breast milk with formula despite concerns by the medical profession over the baby’s weight and ongoing concerns about the mother’s mental health and the absence of a full mental health assessment.

Also an issue was the parents’ resistance to working with or taking the advice of those who could support them such as the maternity clinic, the public health nurse, doctors, social workers, churches, Christian families, legal representatives, and the mother’s parents.

Concerns about the child were raised before it was even born.

In March or April 2016, A.J. discovered that she was pregnant, which was around the time they started attending a West Kelowna maternity clinic that supports homebirths. By October 2016, D.K. moved to Peachland to live with A.J.

“The couple has a history of arguing, and on at least one occasion their argument became violent. Although A.J. initially reported these violent incidents, she now denies them.

READ ALSO: MOTHER ANGERED BY KILLER’S APPEAL

At that time, AJ told someone that her husband choked her by grabbing her throat to stop her from crying. She claimed he had done this more than once and that he had tied her hands and covered her mouth with tape, which scared her.

She told a third party that D.K. regularly beat her and he grew up in a cult, believing that sex between children should be encouraged.

She said the abuse she was experiencing is “spiritual warfare”. The appellants role-play these sins where she plays the victim and he plays the perpetrator.

As a result of the reported violence, on Oct. 27, 2016 a complaint was made to the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Concerns had been expressed about AJ’s mental health and DK’s potential for violence. A specialist was assigned to work with the family, and the baby was placed in voluntary care with foster parents.

At the age of one month, AJ and DK took custody again, but just two weeks later the child was formally removed from the home as she was losing weight and AJ refused to give her anything but breast milk.

Even as the parents prepared for the initial trial to determine custody, the pastor of one church sought a restraining order against them.

The pair were criminally charged after a disturbance at another church in West Kelowna.

On Dec.15, 2016, the child was formally removed from the home. The baby went back to the foster parents and gained weight.

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