The Children of God/The Family Court Case in Peru, 1990
In 1990, ten adults from a Lima community were charged with corrupting and offending public morals by means of allegedly obscene actions and publications. On July 30th, 1990 all were acquitted.
In consequence to the September 1st raids in Buenos Aires, Argentina, The Family in Lima, Peru was subjected to an intense, aggressive, three month investigation by the District Attorney's office, who examined every aspect of their lifestyle, visiting the Homes with teams of doctors, lawyers, psychologists and accountants. The authorities ran exhaustive checks through various law enforcement and other government agencies such as the anti-narcotics bureau, the anti-kidnapping bureau, the missing persons office, the Immigrations department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Revenue Service and the electoral registrar.
After three months of extensive investigation, the District Attorney's office officially decided to close this investigation, admitting to the total absence of any criminal wrongdoing.
Following are excerpts of these proceedings:
Judicial File No. 307-87, July 30th, 1990
"Preliminary investigation against.., charged with corrupting and offending public morals by means of obscene actions and publications which are an affront to society.
RESULT OF THE PROCEEDINGS:
that during the proceedings neither the alleged crime nor the responsibility of the accused was proven
that an official note sent to the Provincial Prosecutor's office by the Archbishopric of Lima informs that some priests and members of the Church have warned their parishioners about the activities of the COG for being counter to the principles of Christian morals, but the Archbishopric doesn't have any report about the supposed criminal acts.
An analysis of the alleged acts, on the basis of personal inspection carried out by the Court personnel, has not proven in any way whatsoever any acts or activities contrary to morals and good customs and much less has there been any evidence of corruption of minors or of women, but instead we have found that in a private fashion they spiritually exercise their freedom of religion in a way which is compatible with their own personal customs and therefore comes under the protection of the Constitution of Peru, which indicates in the third section of its second article, that every person has the right to exercise his liberty of conscience and of religion in an individual manner. Persecution for reasons of ideas or beliefs in not allowed.
In light of judicial doctrine, as well as of the norms contained in the Peruvian constitution, we ourselves believe that:
b) The prosecutor's office which was an integral part of this process of law and upon which fell the burden of proof as a defender of the people and as accusers, has not proven the crime of corruption...
...dispensing judgement in the name of the country, this 13th court of Preliminary Investigations finds that:
The accused are acquitted of the offense of corruption in damage of society."
RESOLUTION OF DA'S INVESTIGATION, LIMA, PERU
"December 14th, 1993, Lima, Peru
In accordance with resolution No. 1143-93-MP-FN issued by the District Attorney's office, ordering the investigation of the religious group known as "The Children of God" in regards to supposed criminal offences, such as deprivation of freedom or other offences against public decency, which endanger the well-being of minors: after conducting the necessary inquiries; examining the sworn statements received, verifying [all aspects of] the premises in which the aforementioned religious fellowship holds its activities; gathering a considerable amount of documentation about the group; analyzing its publications and official statements; performing medical, gynecological, psychological and psychiatric examinations on the children...
Although a communal lifestyle is preponderant in the group and members live away from their blood relatives and solely with other fellow missionary families who share their beliefs, it has been proven that it is the biological parents who hold custody of their own children. No evidence was found of irregularities in the legal status of any of the minors of the communities.
...there is no sign of neglect or failure to provide for their essential needs, such as adequate food, housing and clothing. Although it is true they have a peculiar way of interpreting the Gospel, which they approach from a material and hedonistic standpoint with special emphasis given to the sensual, in no way is this legally questionable no can it substantiate criminal charges, since such interpretation is a matter of personal convictions.
According to results of medical, gynecological, psychological and psychiatric examinations performed on the children there is no evidence whatsoever of moral or physical damage nor signs of psychosis...
Although it is true that members of this religious group lead a rather exclusive life and often visit and associate with middle and upper class people of our society, this does not necessarily imply that their financial sources are of an illegal or questionable nature... After an extensive and exhaustive investigation, we have not been able to find the slightest shred of evidence nor prove any of the allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the group in the performance of their duties.
this Ad Hoc District Attorney's Office RESOLVES:
There is no merit to pressing charges in this case, therefore we rule that this investigation be closed, hereby officially informing the Attorney General of the present resolution.
Signed: Rebeca Sanchez Fuentes, Ad Hoc Prosecutor"
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CESNUR reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of CESNUR or its directors.
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