Haitian judge weighs new charge for Silsby
Baptist Press
March 16, 2010

Haitian judge weighs new charge for Silsby

Haitian judge weighs new charge for Silsby
Baptist Press
March 16, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Laura

Silsby, the last of 10 Baptist missions volunteers detained in Haiti on

suspicion of kidnapping, now faces a new charge.

Silsby, who led the team, now is accused of attempting to take 40 children out

of Haiti without proper paperwork on Jan. 26, three days before the 10-member

team was prevented from crossing the border into the Dominican Republic with 33


Haitian Judge Bernard Saint-Vil announced the additional charge of “organizing

irregular travel” March 12. He had released the ninth team member, Charisa

Coulter, March 8 after more than five weeks in jail. The other team members

were freed Feb. 18.

The new charge is based on information provided by a Haitian official who said

he prevented the Jan. 26 incident after being alerted by a concerned citizen

about a bus loaded with Haitian children, news services reported. The official

asked not to be identified, claiming fear of reprisal.

The new charge is based on a 1980 travel law implemented by Haiti’s dictator at

the time, Jean-Claude Duvalier, the Associated Press reported. It carries a

penalty of three to six years imprisonment. The judge said he has until early

May to decide whether to release Silsby or order a trial.

The 10 volunteers 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.

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

Meridian, Idaho. The other group members were Carla Thompson and Nicole and

Corinna Lankford, also 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.