As she awaits trial, Karen Robidoux ends 3 years behind bars

A member of an Attleboro religious sect charged with starving her infant son to death was released from the Bristol County House of Correction on $100,000 cash bail yesterday, the Bristol County Sheriff's Office said.

Karen Robidoux, 27, left the House of Correction after nearly three years of incarceration that began when she and her husband, Jacques Robidoux, were indicted in November 2000 for the death of their 11-month-old son, Samuel.

Joseph J. Krowski, Karen Robidoux's Brockton-based lawyer, said a group of her friends and family who are not affiliated with the religious sect has been working for months to raise her bail money.

"They probably pulled a lot of resources to get that kind of money," he said. "They're not a family with a lot of wherewithal."

Robidoux faces a second-degree murder charge for Samuel's death, with a possible January trial date.

She and Jacques Robidoux were members of "The Body," a small religious sect that rejects modern medicine, the courts and schools.

Jacques Robidoux testified in court that the couple stopped feeding their son solid food in 1999 after his sister, Michelle Mingo, claimed she had a prophecy from God that Samuel should receive only breast milk.

But Karen Robidoux was pregnant again and could not produce enough milk to nourish Samuel. Prosecutors said over the next 51 days, the baby starved. He died in April 1999, three days before his first birthday.

The baby was buried by Jacques Robidoux and other sect members in Maine's Baxter State Park in September 1999. Sect members later helped investigators recover the body.

Jacques Robidoux was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in June 2002. Mingo was charged with two counts of being an accessory before the fact of assault and battery on a child. She remains in custody at the Bristol County House of Correction, the sheriff's office said.

Karen Robidoux was scheduled to go to trial last January, but was deemed too emotionally distraught after an evaluation at Taunton State Hospital.

She remained at the hospital and received psychiatric treatment until last Wednesday, when Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Donovan ruled that she was competent to stand trial.

After Donovan's decision, Robidoux was handed over to the custody of the Bristol County sheriff, and ordered to appear at an Oct. 30 status hearing to discuss a possible trial date.

Krowski said Robidoux regained her competence only when she resolved to actively oppose the case against her.

"She really didn't start fighting back with a realistic approach until this year," he said. "I think before, she was willing to sit in custody and wait for God to help her."

He said the release will help Robidoux prepare for her court appearance.

"It's not good to keep anybody locked up for an extended period of time," he said. "You want to keep their spirits up."

Bristol County Asst. Dist. Atty. Walter Shea said Robidoux's release on bail will not help her court case.