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Roland Robidoux, at 65; led religious sect

ATTLEBORO -- Roland Robidoux, the founder of a religious sect whose beliefs led to the starvation death of his grandson, was found dead in the sect's home this week, police said.

Mr. Robidoux, 65, was found after family members called police Tuesday afternoon.

Police do not suspect foul play, said Detective Sergeant Arthur Brillon.

''As it stands right now, his death appears to be from natural causes, linked probably to a neglect of medical attention," Brillon said.

Police would not immediately release the results of an autopsy.

Mr. Robidoux, who worked for years as a chimney sweep, formed a Bible study group of extended family members that later developed into a sect with strict controls on its followers.

The group rejected modern institutions such as the medical establishment, the legal system, and public education.

Authorities began investigating the group, which called itself ''The Body," after Mr. Robidoux's grandson, Samuel, starved to death shortly before his first birthday in April 1999.

The boy's parents, Jacques and Karen Robidoux, withheld solid food from Samuel for 51 days following a perceived prophecy they believed Jacques's sister had received from God.

Jacques Robidoux, Roland Robidoux's son, was convicted in 2002 of first-degree murder in his son's death and is now serving a life sentence. Karen Robidoux, who argued that she was brainwashed by the male-dominated cult, was found not guilty of murder in a separate trial.

Roland Robidoux was not charged with any crime.

He and several other members of the sect were jailed for several weeks for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating Samuel's death.

Besides his wife, Georgette, 64, and son, Jacques, Roland Robidoux leaves four daughters, Trinette Daneau, Michelle Mingo, Rebecca Corneau, and Nicole Kidson. Kidson and her husband, Richard, left the sect before Samuel Robidoux died.

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