Youth protection officials from Quebec’s Montérégie region have taken custody of 10 children who had allegedly been living with followers of a self-styled prophet of the apocalypse in Arizona.
Marcel Pontbriand, a former businessman from Beloeil, Que, who claims he can heal the sick and perform exorcisms, has been living in Marana, Ariz., with his followers and some children.
According to CBC’s French service Radio-Canada, Pontbriand has been fined by Quebec’s College of Physicians for illegally practising medicine.
Mike Kropveld, executive director of Info-Cult — an organization that has been tracking Pontbriand’s activities — said Pontbriand used to operate as healer and claimed to be able to channel spirits while he lived in Beloeil around 1995.
Kropveld said Pontbriand is a “very charismatic individual” who had people follow him even while he worked in Quebec.
He said the self-proclaimed healer may have about 30 followers.
The children apparently had recently been taken away from their parents and authorities have no contact for the parents. This does suggest some “cult”-like status for the followers of Pontbriand who faced charges of investment fraud in Quebec. He had expanded his expertise into healing and prophecy which makes him sound like an all around dubious guy.
UPDATE (30-Nov-2012) Kids have been returned to Canada.