Manitoba Mennonite community reeling over assault charges
A Manitoba Mennonite community is shocked after assault charges were laid against two men.
CBC News reporter Ryan Hicks has spoken to relatives of the two men, aged 54 and 29, who say the allegations are hard on everybody and they're trying to cope.
One relative said the community just wants the truth to come out and put some of the rumors to rest, though he wouldn't elaborate on the nature of those rumours.
According to RCMP, their investigation began Jan. 16 into allegations of assaults against children. The arrests were made in March.
The 54-year-old man has been charged with seven counts of assault, and seven counts of assault with a weapon.
The 29-year-old has been charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm, eight counts of assault, and five counts of assault with a weapon.
According to court documents, the weapons used include a whip, cattle prod, board, and leather strap.
The incidents are alleged to have occurred between July 1, 2011, and January 31, 2013.
"I can tell you that they're serious charges, involving children and young people," RCMP Cpl. Miles Hiebert said Friday.
"We take that extremely seriously, and the welfare and safety of those kids is our very first concern and we want to make sure that they are looked after."
The two men have been released from custody and are scheduled to appear in court at a later date. Their names are not being made released to the public in order to protect the identity of the victims, RCMP said.
Police are working in conjunction with Manitoba Child and Family Services and continue to investigate. No further information is available at this time.
Older Mennonite community
The men are part of an old order Mennonite community — those who practise a lifestyle without many elements of modern technology, such as using a horse and carriage for transportation.
They also have a single phone that everyone shares.
Gladstone is located about 65 kilometres northwest of Portage la Prairie, Man.
Residents in Gladstone say the Mennonite community is made up of about 150 people, approximately 15 families, some with around nine to 13 kids.
The Mennonites have business relationships with the town, but otherwise keep to themselves, neighbours said.
They also said some 20 police and other government vehicles pulled into town Monday and left on Thursday.
David Single, reeve of the Rural Municipality of Westbourne, told CBC News the case is a police matter and he has no comment.