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. Thaigirl

    I think they were trying to help. I don't think they went around doing it the right way.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Abd-al-Latif

    Now the world knows, or should know, just how aggressive Christian missionaries can be, all in the name of "religious freedom." This is why countries around the world restrict the activities of Western Protestant missionaries–because most of them are crazies who are out to win as many converts for Jesus as they can, at any cost. Their favorite tactic is deception, and they have a million deceitful ways of selling their bogus, senseless religion. Christianity is the only world religion so ridiculous and so weak, that it has to be actually sold to people by slick, lying hucksters, like a used car.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Andy

    How would you feel if those punks took your kid? Probably not too happy...

    April 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dorothea7

    I'm not surprised the charges were dropped against the nine, at least eight of whom I expect were well-meaning if not terribly bright, and not surprised Silsby is still in jail. She was the one running things, she is the one who ignored prior warnings from Dominican officials, she is the one whose story kept changing on the status of the kids, and she is the one who got an added charge after the judge visited the DR to check on her operation there. I won't get into her legal problems in Idaho, or speculate here on Puello, but Silsby just flat doesn't look good under close scrutiny.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bill V

    missionaries always think that their beliefs are better than the people they are "helping". they didnt come to Haiti to help the people recover but viewed this tragedy as an opportunity to capture some "lost" children and indoctrinate them into their religion. they should just be exposed for the self-rightous people they are and deported back to the US where their congregation will revere them.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Omar, Riverside, California

    First of all they were wrong and should be put in jail and kept there. If they were doing their gods work then they would have had the paperwork to show it was legit. Second of all you will always see religion especially christian religion take advantage of those in dire straights. It is how it propegates itself. You are broke hungry hurt come to me and my god and we will help you. But first convert. Laughable that they are getting away with this.

    Third of all, did the USA pay to get them out, of course. Will it be made plubic hell no because then the truth that they did something wrong would be known. And I mean pay by some act not necessarly cash.

    Fourth and last of all. Anyone would giev up their kids to someone who promises them a better life after you have been hit by an earthquake. And the best lies come from those saying look we are missionaries you can trust us.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cortez

    Just like the same old day of slavery. Does all these self-proclaimed church people really care about those kids? What a joke.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. alex

    so glad that innocent until proven guilty is alive and strong. there are three stories here, 1. haitian authorities stopped individuals with childred, 2. americans were trying to leave a disaster area with children, and 3 the news providied enough information to generate a profit based upon the amount of attention it gathered.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Liligi

    The point of the matter IS... You go to a country and you follow their laws. It doesn't matter who the heck you're trying to help. If I found some poor orphan child somewhere on the streets of London and said to myself, "i'm taking you home with me," and just grabbed the kids and left the country, I'm pretty sure no one would question my being thrown in a jail cell for not going through the correct process according to British law.

    These people weren't jailed because they tried to help. They were jailed because they broke the laws, grabbed some kids, and tried to just fly away with them. That's stupid and that's why they went to jail. Period.

    April 15, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. csh

    any church that does missionary work, knows what permits and fees are needed before they go in, these people were wrong and had something else planned. permission of parents are not it was wrong of them,

    April 16, 2010 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. SMR

    With the little information given about this situation it is hard to prove anything other than that these people were thinking like normal, average Americans. ie. not thinking about international laws or boarders, failing to realize that normal Haitian conditions are not the same as normal American conditions, failing to recognize differences in cultural relations, etc. I am an American living overseas and see how this can easily happen to Americans who have not seriously studied other cultures or been outside of the US other than for short( a month or less) work trips or vacations.

    April 16, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. robert saint amour

    " i rather like your christ, it's your christians that i don't like" m gandhi

    April 16, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. dean

    I think the Haitian authorities have got who they want in this ordeal. Probably most, if not all the others were innocent by supidity. The U.S. bailed the others out of the situation and this should be a strong lesson to all of them, that you don't just go to another country and do anything you want. The ringleader should face and accept her punishment just as any other foreign citizen that breaks human trafficking laws

    April 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jose

    I know people who are close to the situation, the charges were all false. This group had cleared their actions with the Haitian authorities, including a judge that authorized the action. Their intention all along was to bring the children back to the orphanage once they situation in Haiti stabilized. If you look at who was part of the group, they were all normal, every-day people, including a couple of teenagers. When the hit the border, amid the chaos and the corruption they were falsely charged and arrested. The reason why the charges were dropped was not only pressure from the US but the fact they were groundless. I'm glad these people are free, though naïve, they were good people trying to protect these children.

    April 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Falohun OLadipo

    There are two sides to this happening. The missionaries could have had good intentions but didnt follow it up in the right way and also they could have intended the kipnap of the kids. More light should be thrown to occurence with evidence but the remains that REAL christians are good people.

    April 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
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