BRIDGEWATER, Massachusetts (CBS Boston) – Jacques Robidoux walked into the visitor center at the Old Colony Correctional Center with a polite greeting. “How are you feeling?” He was barely recognizable from the last time the public saw him.
At the time, he was not a prisoner, he was a cult leader. He defiantly faced a judge in 2000, accused of starving his son to death. “He told other members of his sect to ignore Samuel’s pain,” a prosecutor said during his trial.
It was in prison that Robidoux says he finally faced the truth.
“I became essentially a divided sociopath,” he said. “When the realization came that ‘Holy God, I killed my own son. How did that happen at all?’ Then everything starts to start. Everything starts to unravel. “
The child was about a year old when another member of the Attleboro-based sect called “The Body” had a vision. To save Samuel and another member’s unborn child from a certain hell, Samuel was not to eat solid food, only breast milk. It was something his mother could not produce at the time.
“It did not take long, you know, when I held him, he cried. He cried because he was hungry,” said Robidoux, visibly emotional. “So while I hold him and he cries and I, I cry “Then, of course, comes the thought that in order to fulfill this will of God, I must be strong for my family. I must be strong for Samuel,” he said.
Was there a border where he would have stepped in and said it’s not right?
“To serve God, to save my family, to save my son, who was essentially dying, and to save the baby in the womb, I had to go through with this,” he said.
“He now knows that God was not involved in that decision about Samuel. But at the time, he certainly believed it,” said counsel Judy Pardon.
For years, she and her husband, Bob Pardon, ran a treatment center in Lakeville for people fleeing cults. When investigators uncovered Samuel’s body secretly buried in Maine along with a cousin who had died at birth, the court appointed Pardons as temporary guardians for some of the cult’s other children.
Pardons believes that there are other groups like The Body that currently exist in society.
“Absolutely,” Bob Pardon said. “Society has become more destabilized through the pandemic.”
Other members of The Body are scattered. But from behind prison walls, Robidoux is focused on helping others avoid the trap he says his own mind was entangled in.
“The big twisted yarn wrench,” he said. “It’s taken a number of years to unravel, but every time I do, it’s liberating.”
As he is serving a life sentence for the murder of his son, Robidoux is now attending virtual group counseling sessions for other former sect members.
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