April 15th, 2010
07:02 PM ET

Charges against 9 American missionaries in Haiti dropped

[Updated at 7:01 p.m.] A tenth missionary, group leader Laura Silsby, remains in a Haitian jail. Authorities in Port-au-Prince accused the group, many of whom belong to a Baptist church in Idaho, of trying to kidnap 33 Haitian children after a devastating January earthquake leveled much of the capital and surrounding areas.

Risch spokesman Kyle Hines told CNN that the senator received a call from State Department officials Thursday afternoon, confirming that kidnapping charges against nine of the missionaries were dropped.

"The senator is pleased to hear that the charges have been dropped and is looking forward to the situation being resolved," Hines said.

The 10 Americans have said they were trying to help the children get to a safe place after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake flattened cities and towns in Haiti.

Haitian authorities stopped the group on January 29 as they tried to cross the border with 33 children without proper legal documentation. The group said it was going to house the children in a converted hotel in the Dominican Republic and later move them to an orphanage.

[Posted at 6:27 p.m.] Charges have been dropped against nine of the American missionaries held in Haiti earlier this year, according to a spokesman for Idaho Sen. Jim Risch.

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Filed under: Haiti • World
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. ISD

    I know people that have worked for Silsby in the past and I can assure you that she had every intention of selling those kids. She was up to her ears in debt and owed people money all over the place. Most of the others were mislead but make no mistake this was all about money and nothing to do with religion

    April 15, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |

    I cannot imagine the horror of a Haiti jail

    April 15, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jon

    "accountable for their actions" writes one person! These people were trying to move these children, many of whom were given to them by their own parents to a safe place. Where are all of these 33 children now, and are they safe? Haiti seems to have the ability to house and charge our citizens, but can not feed and cloth their own!

    April 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Paul

    Americans are some of the most generous people I know. But every country has its law. These people broke the law. They were told in the Dominican Republic, before they entered Haiti, that they could not do what they did. Thousands of Amercians have adopted children in Haiti the proper way. I find the Haitian government very gracious toward the 9 against whom charges have been dropped. If I brake the law here in the U.S., regardless of my intention, I will be held accountable. Why should it be different when it is Americans braking the law of a poorer country?

    April 15, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lil haiti

    they should have took the haitians legally

    April 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. George Nolta

    What many people chose to ignore is that this Silsby dame was repeatably warned that what she was trying to do with the kids was illegal and improper, but she tried to force her way ahead anyway. You have to question the true motivation of a person who chooses to operate this way. She is guilty as sin, and deserves to sit in the Haitian jail to serve her penance. Hiding behind the cloak of "do goodism" does not absolve you of guilt.

    April 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DMR

    Everyone of them should have been fully prosecuted to the fullest extent of Haitian law. If they tried a stunt like that in say a poor rural area of the U.S. they would have been thrown under the prison and forgotten.

    April 15, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kat

    i think that they did the right thing by trying to move the kids if there was a nether quake then they would be ferther away from it and them kindnapping them i dont think so if the parents willingly gave their kids to them it is not kidnapping

    April 15, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lil haiti

    i'm from a haitia family and if they took my tatie (aunt) and couisins i would not be happy

    April 15, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RN

    I am not surprised that Laura has continued to be held. I was in charge of the field hospital triage area the day she and her friend were arrested, right out of the triage. I saw nothing but arrogance and indifference of her to the police. The friend was ill with a condition that should have strictly kept her from coming in to Haiti. Precious resources had to be spent to treat her, that could have gone to a Haitian. Although I don't know the motives of their hearts, it was pretty clear to me that they felt that they were above the rules. This situation nearly destroyed the possibility of children getting medical evacuations to the US, and has most certainly cost thousands of orphans the chance at adoption. Amazing what a few bad apples can produce.

    April 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nikos

    These Missionaries are heros. Laura Silsby is a wonderful person who has the interests of children at heart. She should be given special recognition for her desire to help. These Hatians are a sick people. They don't even know who their friends are. Laura is their friend. Wake up Haiti!

    April 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bill

    It's ok they believe in god
    Let them do what ever they want
    After all they were just taking the kids from poor people who don't count

    April 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mattmchugh

    I tend to agree with the dropped charges. I think these people were well-meaning, if seriously misguided. Can't charge people with being chowderheads (though, if you could, it would sure make jury duty interesting).

    April 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. phillip marlowe

    The parents of those kids wanted them to go for a better life and the bigger crime is making them stay in a corrupt life of poverty. Billions raised yet people are living like rats, no Fema trailers, nothing, so after all the corrupt officials steal their take months from now maybe these kids and the others will get a 20 dollars each. Instead of those kids living a hopeful, life they sleeping on the ground under a blue tarp. They would have been Heroes, not criminals

    April 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sharon

    What everyone is missing is this: Laura Silsby much earlier had been actively working to open an orphanage in Dominican Republic. Even to the point of losing her home. What we have a woman who took advantage of the horrific situation for her own purposes. If she only wanted to "rescue" children, why did they had an age limit–which just happens to be the ideal ages in adoptions? This woman simply was planning to get into the adoption business. Church and associates were blind to that and didn't ask enough questions. For that, they bear some responsibility, too.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
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