Three Commune Members Arrested
SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ Authorities have arrested three members of a commune where 15 children allegedly were subjected to severe punishment that included being hung by ropes from a ceiling.
Mary L. Taylor, 41, her husband, Edwin R. Taylor, 35, and Patricia A. Paskell, 17, were arrested Thursday, and each was charged with three counts of criminal mistreatment and two counts of assault.
Authorities said the indictments resulted from an investigation into allegedly excessive punishment of children by members of the Good Shepherd Tabernacle commune, a non-denominational religious group in West Salem.
The three were being held in lieu of $50,000 bond each.
Members of the commune, who occupy six houses on a 3.9-acre estate, allegedly mistreated 15 children. The children have been in state custody since they were removed from the commune in separate raids Nov. 9 and Nov. 12.
They have been placed in foster homes pending the outcome of a hearing to determine their permanent custody. The group’s leader, Ariel Sherman, 55, is being sought by police and the FBI on five charges in connection with the alleged abuse of the children.
Authorities say they believe Sherman fled the state Nov. 10 - the day after the first raid. The children were subjected to harsh forms of punishment for such misdeeds as not doing homework, taking food from the commune kitchen and bed-wetting, authorities said.
Punishment included forcing the children to sit in an empty swimming pool for long periods and tying them up in a dark room, some by ropes from a hook in the ceiling. Marie Taylor, 11, and her brother, John, 9, told CSD officials they were roped together with their hands tied behind their backs and placed in a pump house for a day.
The boy told of being tied in a dark room with a rope stretched over a hook in the ceiling so that his feet barely touched the floor.