Greek police rescue Dutch toddler from religious sect

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Patmos island, Greece (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Chris Vlachos). Patmos island, Greece (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Chris Vlachos)

The Greek police rescued a four year old Dutch girl from a religious sect on the Greek island of Patmos last week Saturday. The toddler from Winterswijk ended up there after being abducted by her mother on July 23rd.

A spokesperson for Child Protection Gelderland told Dutch newspaper AD that the little girl is doing wells. She is currently housed in a children's home in Athens and her foster parents are with her. They are expected to return to the Netherlands this week.

According to the Youth Protection spokesperson, the mother had an appointment to see her child in Doetinchem on July 23rd. "It was agreed where she would go to and that she would be back at the agreed place at half past four." the spokesperson said to the newspaper. The mother did not return. The supervisor, who would collect the child and take her back to her foster parents, waited until 6:00 p.m. and called the police. "The alarm was immediately sounded nationally and internationally because we suspected that the mother left for Patmos with her daughter."

The little girl's parents are members of the religious sect River of Glory. In the autumn of last year a judge already removed the little girl from the sect - in Winterswijk- and placed her in a foster home. This year the girl's mother mother was convicted for causing 300 thousand euros worth of damage to her parents' house and shop.

The sect is described as follows on its Facebook page: "River of Glory is Jesus Himself, and Moves as an Apostolic-Prophetic Flow through our nation and across borders, worldwide. We Move along"  According to the AD, sect members believe that they do not have to pay rent or taxes because the Holy Ghost did not ask them to. The group expects that the end of time will happen this spring.

The sect was founded by 56 year old Dorien Visser from Zevenaar after she had a vision in 1992. She now calls herself Aguila Deborah. River of Glory was active in WInterswijk for months. Among other things the group turned a production hall where they held services and special ceremonies in which the devil was driven out of members.

Early this year the sect left Winterswijk for Patmos. The girl's father went with them, but the mother stayed in Winterswijk and had visitation rights with her daughter. "First there were only supervised visits, but because the mother had proven that she could behave herself well enough, she was allowed to see her daughter unaccompanied." There were several unaccompanied visits before the abduction on July 23rd.

On July 31st the child's father posted a picture on Facebook which showed him and his daughter posing in a sunny spot. This picture led to the girl being found. Child Protection has pressed charges against the mother, but whether she will be prosecuted remains to be seen. The girl will go back to the foster home where she was staying before the abduction. According to the Child Protection spokesperson, the child has formed attachments there and it is a safe environment.

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