Did the Orlando pastors who sheltered an Ohio teen convert who feared her Muslim family help the girl run away to Florida?
A Department of Children and Families document just obtained by the Orlando Sentinel indicates there's a possibility.
A hand-written note on a caregiver home study conducted on Blake and Beverly Lorenz, pastors of Global Revolution Church, said an initial DCF study was approved "prior to being informed that the pastor's family was involved with possibly helping the child run away from Ohio."
"As of 8/10/2009 -- This home study is NOT approved as the Lorenz' are not appropriate placement," the document said.
On Aug. 10, an Orange County judge ordered 17-year-old Fathima Rifqa Bary into DCF custody until social workers can figure out where she belongs and if her Columbus, Ohio, home will be safe.
Bary had been living with the Lorenz family, whom she met through a prayer group on Facebook.
The Lorenz family has not returned phone messages left on their cell phones and at their church this week. Someone associated with the case told the Sentinel the couple is out of the country.
Last week, the Lorenzes said Bary was essentially a stranger when she showed up in Orlando and asked if she could come to their house.
She feared her father would kill her, Blake Lorenz said.
Beverly Lorenz said they didn't initially realize Bary was reported missing from her home state. They eventually called an abuse hotline, which prompted law-enforcement and DCF involvement.
But Rifqa's father said he never threatened to kill the teen.
Mohamed Bary said Rifqa had a falling out with her mother the night before she disappeared she reportedly took a Greyhound bus from Ohio to Orlando.
Rifqa had gone out without permission, and when she came home, her mother scolded her and told her that because of her behavior, the whole family might have to return to their native Sri Lanka, Mohamed Bary said.
Bary said his wife was upset and there were no plans to leave the U.S., he said.
On Friday, an Orange County judge will hear jurisdictional issues in the case.
On the DCF home study report obtained by the Sentinel, a case worker originally recommended Rifqa's placement at the Lorenz home. The Lorenzes do not have a criminal history or sex abuse issues that would present a risk of harm, the report said.
"Child observed to be happy and comfortable with caregivers. Child requested placement with caregivers," the report said.
"Child has been residing with church family for 2 weeks," the case worker wrote. "Child requested assistance based on prayer circle. Child has known ministry through face book [sic]. Child desires to be place with pastor as she will feel safer with them."
Amy L. Edwards can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5735.