Louise Paulin, once a Catholic nun, became a “prophet” and led a commune some call a “cult.” The “Four Winds” community founded by Paulin, is located on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Paulin now faces charges of child abuse. Children who escaped her community have detailed severe beatings, which they endured at Paulin’s hands. And former members claim she “brainwashed” and controlled them, reports the National Post.

Canada is struggling to define just what constitutes the illegal abuse of children through corporal punishment.

Another controversial religious group called the “Church of God Restoration,” led by David Layne of California with branches in Canada, has also recently been charged with criminal child abuse. Parents were charged in the Layne group, but clearly they were following the dictates of their sect. They claim that corporal punishment is not only their parental prerogative, but also a religious right.

Increasingly both within Canada and the United States the courts are reviewing and in some situations redefining, the parameters of children’s rights and protections from abuse.

When a parent’s punishment leaves welts, contusions and/or bruises, does this then cease to be a “spanking” and instead become battering? And when the influence of religious group and/or its leadership occupies a pivotal role in an abuse case, what is their responsibility?

The case of Louise Paulin is somewhat simpler. She was not the parent of the children involved and decided herself to dole out their harsh punishment. And because she was an absolute leader without limits to her authority, she lacked any meaningful accountability.

But now Paulin is being held accountable for her actions in court. Hopefully, the judge will punish the “prophet” and restrict her ability to inflict further pain upon children.


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