- (Photo: AP Images / George Skene, Pool)
The father of the runaway teen convert filed a criminal complaint Monday against the Orlando pastors who sheltered his daughter for more than two weeks before she was taken into Florida state custody.
Mohamed Bary sent a letter to the Orlando Police Department claiming his daughter, Rifqa, was “indoctrinated and coerced” by leaders of the Global Revolution Church in Orlando and “hidden” by the church’s pastors, Blake and Beverly Lorenz.
In response to the complaint, the judge overseeing the current custody battle between Rifqa and her parents said no member of the Lorenz family can visit the 17-year-old runaway, who is in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families. Though the two pastors were already banned from meet Rifqa, prior to the order, their adult children were allowed to visit her.
As for Rifqa, Orange Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson said Monday that the teen from Ohio will stay in Orlando for now.
Dawson also said that he wants to speak with an Ohio judge to figure out who has jurisdiction over the case.
The already complicated case, which involves a minor and non-U.S. citizen family, became more complex Monday when the parents filed a motion for the custody hearing to be moved to Columbus, Ohio, where the family lives.
Roger Weeden, the attorney of Rifqa’s mother, Aysha Bary, argued that the case should be move to Ohio because all the witnesses – from relatives to teachers – are there, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
It has been a month since Rifqa Bary first made national headlines when she said she ran away from her Ohio home to Florida because she feared her Muslim father would kill her for converting to Christianity.
Upon arriving in Orlando in July, Rifqa was taken in by evangelical pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz, whom she met through a Facebook prayer group. They sheltered her in their home until her parents filed her as missing and she was consequently found by authorities.
While Rifqa contends that her life is in danger, the Barys have adamantly denied ever threatening their daughter concerning her Christian faith, and Mohamed Bary has said in interviews that he would allow Rifqa to practice her faith in his home.
The teen’s parents want their daughter to be returned to Ohio, but Rifqa wants to stay in Florida until she turns 18 next year.
During Monday’s hearing, Rifqa had a Bible with her – as she does at most hearings – and reportedly said nothing other than her name when asked to state it, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Her parents were not in court, but listened to the hearing through telephone.
Another juvenile court hearing in Florida is set for Oct. 13, while an Ohio hearing on the case is set for Oct. 27.