International case of missing orphan has local ties

Published On: Jun 02 2012 03:18:44
Is it a case of kidnapping or an international custody dispute?
Is it a case of kidnapping or an international custody dispute?
In 2011, 69 News was there as a group of Lehigh Valley residents arrived in earthquake ravaged Haiti to help rebuild an orphanage.  Now one of the orphans is missing, and a battle to get her back is beginning right here.
Where is 6 year old July Angela?
It’s a question Mercy Village Home officials in Port-au-Prince Haiti and its board members here in the Lehigh Valley have been asking for a week.
Last Friday, Mercy Village says July was forcibly taken from this home in Port-au-Prince.
To give you a little background..
Mercy Village, formerly Rescue Children Orphanage, was founded in 2005 by a woman named Lynda Morrison of South Carolina.
In 2009, Morrison gave the orphange to Ramon Crespo.
The orphanage was featured in two documentaries and several 69 News reports following the 2010 earthquake.
In recent months, Lynda Morrison has contacted 69 News with concerns about Mercy Village, saying “These kids need help, they need to be rescued.”
Fast forward to last Friday.
Mercy Village officials say Morrison showed up with several men.  One claiming to be a judge and another claiming to be a police officer. Morrison produced what Mercy Village officials say were false documents and forcibly removed July.
Congressman Charlie Dent’s office confirms it worked to prevent Morrison from taking July out of the country.
Morrison referred 69 News to her attorney in Haiti, but would not comment further. Her attorney could not be reached for comment.
“We really want to know where July is, we want to bring July back to her home. And then from there whatever the discussion can be done, it should be done from there,” said Board member Dr. Iqbal Sorathia.
Sorathia says Mercy Village has filed charges in Port-au-Prince and the United Nations could file charges against Lynda Morrison.
But all Mercy Village really wants is for July to come home.
(The original version of this story contained an error pertaining to the ownership of Mercy Village Orphanage. The orphanage is directly owned by Ramon Crespo. LifeChurch of Allentown has provided funding for the orphanage in the past, but has never been the owner or operator.)