Runaway Ohio girl to remain free of Muslim parents

Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:48 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:48 a.m.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A runaway teenage girl from Ohio who converted from Islam to Christianity has reached a court settlement that allows her to remain free of her Muslim parents.

Fathima Rifqa Bary
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Fathima Rifqa Bary

This Sept. 3, 2009 photo shows Rifqa Bary in the courtroom at the Thomas S. Kirk Juvenile Justice Center in Orlando, Fla. A former colleague says a Florida pastor ignored warnings that he was breaking the law when he housed a teen who had fled Ohio after converting to Christianity. In an affidavit filed in Franklin County juvenile court Tuesday, former church administrator Brian Smith says he was told at a July staff meeting that 17-year-old Rifqa Bary feared her suburban Columbus parents would kill her for leaving Islam.

Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/The Associated Press, file

The agreement Tuesday says that 17-year-old Rifqa Bary will stay in a foster home under state custody in Columbus until she turns 18 in August. After that, she'll be an adult and free to live where she chooses.

Bary's attorney read a statement in Franklin County Juvenile Court, saying that the girl and her parents love and respect each other and will try to resolve their differences through counseling.

Bary ran away to Florida last summer, saying she feared her father would harm or kill her for leaving Islam.

Her father denied the claim, and a law enforcement investigation found no credible threats to the girl.

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