Children taken from adoptive parents to attend private school

Date: 2011-09-07
Source: tdn

A judge Wednesday ordered that five children allegedly starved by their adoptive parents should attend classes at a private religious school at the Kelso-Longview Seventh Day Adventist Church

Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock, who face criminal charges of first- and second-degree criminal mistreatment of the children, previously home-schooled their children and argued that the children should continue to be educated at home. However, the Longview couple has been ordered not to have any contact with their children.

The Trebilcock family has attended services at the Adventist church, and the church's school has offered to pay the children's tuition, according to officials involved in the case.

Attorneys involved with the case said the children have been tutored over the summer, but they have not been to school since they were taken from their parents in March.

Authorities say the children, three of whom were adopted from Haiti, were severely underweight when authorities were contacted by doctors last spring, according to court documents. All of the children have put on weight since they were placed in foster care, but a boy, now 14, is about the size of a seven year old and will never grow to a normal size as a result of the malnourishment, authorities said.

On Wednesday, three of the children listened in Juvenile Court as Judge Bashor announced his decision about their schooling. Throughout the hearing, the children, all healthy in appearance, smiled and talked with lawyers and children's services officials. They did not appear to make eye contact with Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock, and the Trebilcocks did not acknowledge the children's presence.

The Trebilcock's attorney, Kurt Anagnostou, explained that his clients were ignoring their children because they wanted to follow the letter of the no-contact order. He said the Trebilcocks worry that their adoptive children will not understand why their parents aren't talking to them in court.

Chelsea Baldwin, one of the attorneys representing the children, cautioned that the Trebilcocks may try to influence the children or communicate with them through the staff at the Seventh Day Adventist school. Baldwin referred to the potential problem as "poisoning the well."

Bashor ordered that no one at the school will be allowed to discuss the case with the children.

Separately, Bashor denied requests that the children be allowed to have contact with biological relatives, saying it was not in the court's purview at this time to consider such requests.

A civil trial to determine whether the children will become wards of the state has been set for March 12. Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock's criminal trial has been scheduled for January in Cowlitz County Superior Court.

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