Criminal Case Closed Against Religious Mother Accused of Abusing Daughter

February 9, 2011

The Ministry of Internal Affairs division of the Ramenskoye municipal district (of the Moscow Region) has withdrawn a criminal case against a citizen of the Russian Federation, who was accused of abusing her daughter. This news was reported by the internet portal, “Religion and Law.”

On June 9, 2010, criminal proceedings were initially instituted against this resident, V.B., of the city of Ramenskoye in accordance with Article 156 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (for failure to perform responsibilities associated with the upbringing of a minor), at the initiative of her ex-husband, Andrei B. In his complaint, he claimed that V.B. deliberately did not perform the duties associated with child care, forbade her daughter to watch television or listen to pop music, and subjected her to physical beatings.

The husband of the accused tried to use the fact that V.B. is a parishioner of one of the Protestant churches against her. In this relation, he specifically pointed out that, ostensibly against the wishes of their daughter, she was forced to watch what he termed “sectarian” movies, as well as listen to “sectarian” music. Such demands, according to the father’s claims, could potentially trigger a fit of hysterics in their child.

As part of their investigation, local police raided the apartment occupied by V.B. in order to search and seize any notorious “sectarian” literature, “sectarian” films, as well as any audio and video recordings they could find. The police officers even seized a Bible from V.B.’s home, in addition to a folder containing Christian magazines. However, despite the claims filed by the father, who himself was heavily influenced by so-called “anti-sectarian” publications that constantly appear in the press, neither the police nor social service authorities found anything wrong with the literature seized from V.B.’s residence - neither in the Bible nor in any of the other Christian literature.

It also turned out that the daughter of the accused, who was born in 1998, is registered as a patient at the local out-patient psycho-neurologic facility. The child periodically suffers from fits of rage, and it is difficult to calm her down. She is prone to becoming overly excited by both pop music and television programs, which her father wanted to expose her to.

On her doctors’ recommendation, it would be detrimental for her to watch television and listen to any aggressive music, including pop music. Instead, her mother sought to introduce her daughter to calm Christian hymns, didactive (moral-instilling) Christian videos and tried to raise her daughter in the Christian doctrine. The specialized doctors whom they had consulted showed no objection to V.B. doing that, since namely such a method of Christian education could have beneficial effects on the psyche of this child.

According to the accused mother, her own Protestant faith and membership in a Christian church actually help her in terms of caring for her daughter and in overcoming the serious illness that she suffers from.

According to the lawyer, Anatoly Pchelintsev, who represented the interests of V.B. during the pre-trial investigation phase, this particular criminal case was initiated illegally from the very outset. For example, the housing, living and material conditions of the girl were fully satisfactory according to the conclusion of the social service authorities. At school, the girl achieves decent marks in her studies, ranging from “good” to “excellent.” In addition, despite the girl’s illness, V.B. has created all the necessary conditions to ensure her normal development.

During a confrontation between V.B. and her ex-husband, which took place at the request of the legal counsel, the groundlessness of the arguments put forward by the father was clearly demonstrated. His actions were prompted by information that he had drawn from various “tabloid” publications, in which anti-sectarian “horror stories” are regularly featured. According to the father’s logic, he felt that the low and often vulgar culture of today’s TV and pop music were preferable to Christian music and literature.

“It is a pity that the police did not investigate the circumstances of this case at the verification stage following the initiation of this criminal case. But now they have corrected their mistake and dropped the case due to a clear lack of evidence,” stated Pchelintsev.

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