Kamloops Daily News

August 8, 2001

Man who won’t support ex stays in jail

by Robert Koopmans
Kamloops Daily News

A man jailed indefinitely for failing to pay more than $150,000 in child support refused a chance Tuesday to “purge his contempt of court.”

Jeffrey James Unruh, 42, of Dawson Creek, was brought before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Hunter from the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

“Do you wish to take steps to purge the contempt?” Hunter asked Unruh as he stood in the prisoner’s docket.

“Your honour, I cannot, no,” Unruh answered.

“You cannot, or you do not wish to?” Hunter asked.

“I can’t,” Unruh said.

With that, Hunter ordered Unruh back to KRCC for another seven days in custody. He reminded the man he will be brought back next week and again asked if he wants to reconsider.

Unruh was found in contempt of court Aug. 1 and jailed indefinitely. Hunter cited him with contempt for failing to abide by a 1996 court order requiring him to pay $1,500 a month for support of his five children.

Unruh steadfastly refuses to pay the court-ordered family support payments, claiming the maintenance order conflicts with God’s will and his Christian beliefs. As well, he said he believes the justice system’s adversarial approach to family law destroys families.

Mickey MacMillan, president of Parents of Broken Families, spoke with Unruh in custody and said Unruh promises he will die in jail before obeying the court order. Unruh refused an opportunity to speak to The Daily News.

MacMillan, along with Todd Eckert, president of another local men’s group, refused to stand when the sheriff called for order in court as the judge entered the courtroom.

MacMillan said he will organize a campaign to protest the justice system’s treatment of Unruh, including petitions and courthouse protests.

Susan Lore, Unruh’s ex-wife, was at Tuesday’s court hearing to show support for the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program. She told The Daily News Friday her children suffered as a result of her ex-husband’s stubborn refusal to pay support.