Kamloops Daily News

August 14, 2001

Dad still won’t pay, stays behind bars

By Robert Koopmans
Daily News Reporter

A man who claims he can’t pay child support due to his Christian beliefs will spend another week behind bars.

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

As he did last week, Unruh told the court he can’t do what is required to clear his contempt.

“It’s not a willful ‘I won’t’ it’s as I stated last week, I can’t,” he told the judge.

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.

He owes his ex-wife more than $150,000.

Justice Powers advised Unruh to seek legal advice, to ensure he knows all the options open to him. He told the man he’s little good to his new wife and his oldest daughter while sitting in jail.

Powers noted Unruh is making a conscious choice to disobey the court order. Meanwhile, another men’s group has pledged its support for Unruh. The Ex-fathers Group, based in Williamstown, Ont. Said in a news release Monday it “wants the judge’s head.” Lloyd Gorling, the founder of Ex-fathers, said Unruh is being victimized by the courts and “man-hating law.”

The Child’s Voice, another Ontario men’s group, said Friday it wants Justice Robert Hunter fired for jailing Unruh indefinitely and has filed a complaint with the Canadian Judicial council. Bill Flores, the group’s president, said he’s heard through the internet protests are possible, including picketing of the judge’s house.

Mickey MacMillan, local president of Parents of Broken Families, said his group won’t take part in tactics based on fear or intimidation, as such acts would be detrimental to the cause.

But MacMillan, along with Todd Echert, president of the Parent and Child Advocacy Coalition refused to show respect for the court Monday. Both men refused to stand when the sheriff called the court to order as the judge left.

Justice Powers took little notice.

Unruh is expected back in court next week, when he will again be asked if he wants to deal with the court order. Unruh’s new wife has said her husband will die in jail before he agrees to abide by the maintenance order.