Legal Ethics

Lawyer for 10 Baptists Blames Ringleader, Who Had Legal Troubles in US

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A lawyer representing 10 Baptist missionaries accused of kidnapping 33 Haitian children in an effort to save orphans is laying the blame on one of his clients—the ringleader.

Lawyer Edwin Coq, who represents the group in Port-au-Prince, said nine of his clients were unaware the children didn’t have proper documentation, according to the Associated Press and the Washington Post. But ringleader Laura Silsby knew what she was doing, he said.

“I’m going to do everything I can to get the nine out,” Coq said. “They were naive. They had no idea what was going on and they did not know that they needed official papers to cross the border. But Silsby did.”

At least two-thirds of the children the group tried to take out of the country were not orphans, although some of their parents told AP they willingly gave up the children because of promises they would have a better life.

Meanwhile, Silsby faces legal problems in the United States as well as in Haiti, the New York Times reports.

She lost her home in a suburb of Boise, Idaho, to foreclosure. Her business, Personal Shopper, has been named 14 times in complaints for unpaid wages. The business provides shopping services for Internet customers.

Employees won nine of the cases. Personal Shopper paid the claims after the Idaho Department of Labor placed liens on the company bank account.

Chris Holmes was among the workers awarded unpaid wages. He told the Times she was not surprised about Silsby’s legal troubles in Haiti, since she often showed a “lack of forethought” in her work.

“She would come up with an idea on Wednesday, and on Friday there would be a new idea that was 180 degrees different,” Holmes said.

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