Haiti judge frees 1 Baptist volunteer
Baptist Press
March 09, 2010

Haiti judge frees 1 Baptist volunteer

Haiti judge frees 1 Baptist volunteer
Baptist Press
March 09, 2010


Haiti judge freed one of two remaining Baptist volunteers Monday but kept the

group’s leader in jail pending further investigation.

Judge Bernard Saint-Vil allowed Charisa Coulter to be released, more than five weeks

after she and nine others were arrested Jan. 29 for trying to take 33 children

out of the earthquake-ravaged country to a makeshift orphanage in the Dominican

Republic. They allegedly did not have the proper paperwork.

Saint-Vil kept the group’s leader, Laura Silsby, in jail, Reuters and The

Associated Press reported.

Both Silsby and Coulter are members of Central Valley Baptist Church in

Meridian, Idaho. The other eight members of the group were released Feb. 18 and

are back in the United States. Coulter, too, is scheduled to fly back to the


Asked by Reuters how she felt, Coulter said, “Bittersweet. I am glad to go back

home but the experience has been very difficult.”

Saint-Vil actually signed the order on Friday to release Coulter but court administrators

could not find the proper stamp to make the release official, preventing her

release until Monday, Reuters reported.

Saint-Vil now is looking into a new charge against Silsby that she “was trying

to organize travel from Haiti for others without proper papers,” which is “a

lesser crime under Haitian law,” Reuters said.

In addition to Coulter, the freed group members are Carla Thompson and Nicole

and Corinna Lankford of Central Valley Baptist Church; Paul Thompson, his son

Silas and Steve McMullen of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho; Jim

Allen of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas; and Drew Culberth of

Bethel Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Bethel Baptist is the only church not

affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist