Sep 6, 2007

Attleboro cultist who starved son to death wants new trial

Dave Wedge
Boston Herald

September 6, 2007

A baby-killing Attleboro cultist wants his life sentence tossed out, claiming he was brainwashed by the sicko sect and misled to believe he could resurrect his son from the dead.

Jacques Robidoux, who is serving life for the 1999 starvation death of his infant son Samuel, “believed that no harm would come to his child if his food was restricted, and if harm did come to his child, that he could bring the child back to life,” his attorney, Janet Pumphrey, argues in a pleading set to go before the state Supreme Judicial Court today.

Pumphrey is asking the SJC for a new trial, claiming Robidoux should have pursued an insanity defense because he was the victim of “mind control” and “extreme coercion” at the hands of the cult, which was led by his late father, Roland Robidoux.

“At no time did he believe that withholding solid food from Samuel was wrong; rather, he believed it was what God told him to do,” Pumphrey argues. “Everyone in the cult believed that God’s law was higher than man’s law and they followed God’s law.”

But special prosecutor Sharon Sullivan-Puccini said Robidoux rejected an insanity defense because he believed a psychological evaluation clashed with the sect’s belief that doctors are tools of Satan. She also noted that he took the stand at trial and “took full responsibility” for the murder.

Jacques Robidoux, 34, and his wife, Karen, starved the toddler to death after a twisted prophecy delivered by Jacques’ sister instructed them to feed the boy only breast milk, even though he had already been eating solid food.

Karen Robidoux successfully used a battered women’s defense, arguing that she, too, was victimized by the sect’s heavy-handed ways. She was cleared of second-degree murder. No other members were charged.

Bob Pardon, a cult expert who has studied the Attleboro group extensively, said Jacques Robidoux was scapegoated in the case and “took the fall” for his iron-fisted dad.

“The wrong person was convicted. His father was calling the shots,” said Pardon, who has visited Robidoux in jail several times. “Jacques was under undue influence. I don’t think he got the sentence he deserved. He deserves a second shot.” 

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