Runaway Teen Convert to be Returned to Ohio

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By Ethan Cole, Christian Post Reporter
October 14, 2009|4:30 pm

Runaway teen convert Rifqa Bary will be returned to her home state of Ohio, Florida and Ohio judges decided Tuesday.

Bary, 17, will be turned over to foster care once she arrives in Ohio, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Both state judges agreed after weeks of discussion that the teen, who ran away to Florida for fear of being physically harmed by her Muslim parents for converting to Christianity, is under the jurisdiction of Ohio.

But before Florida state relinquishes custody of Bary, Florida circuit Judge Daniel Dawson required the teen's parents to provide documents that prove they are legal residents in the United States. Bary’s temporary guardian raised concern that if the teen is staying illegally in the United States then she could be sent back to Sri Lanka where her family is originally from.

John Stemberger, Bary’s attorney, said his client’s immigration status is “very critical” because she fears being killed, harmed or placed in an insane asylum if she is sent back to Sri Lanka given that her conversion has been made public to the world.

Earlier, Bary said her parents had threatened to send her back to Sri Lanka after they found out she had become a Christian.

In July, the Ohio teen ran away from her home near Columbus saying that her father had threatened to kill her for adopting a new faith. She boarded a Greyhound bus and headed to Orlando where she was taken in by an evangelical pastor couple in Orlando that met through a Facebook prayer group.

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Bary stayed with the pastors for two weeks until Florida authorities discovered her parents had filed her as missing.

Since then, she has stayed in a Florida foster home during the custody trial. The Barys want their daughter to be returned to Ohio, while the teen wants to stay in Florida.

Investigators from both states have reported that they found no “credible” evidence that the teen convert is in danger of being harmed by her father.

The Barys’ attorney said they can turn in the immigration documents this week.

 

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