Samuel Forrest, the father who made international headlines after claiming his ex-wife abandoned their child who has Down syndrome, reportedly has four children from a previous marriage, including one with the same condition. He is apparently barred from seeing the first child with Down Syndrome by the religious group to which he formerly belonged.
Details of Forrest’s background have come to light recently after his accusations against his ex-wife, Ruzan Badalyan, made headlines. According to a new report in the Daily Mail, Forrest left New Zealand four-years-ago after a messy divorce that saw him cut off from his four children, three daughters and one son. One of his daughters has Down syndrome, the condition affecting his three-week-old son Leo.
— The Independent (@Independent) February 8, 2015
Forrest was raised as a member of the Exclusive Brethren church, living with his family in Whanganui on New Zealand’s north island, the report alleges. Following his divorce, Forrest was excommunicated from the church, which created a barrier between him and his family. The children, aged between six and 15-years-old, are now reportedly banned from seeing him.
“All his extended family are also members of the Exclusive Brethren and are still forbidden by their religion to have any contact with him,” a source told the Daily Mail. “It was one of the reasons why he left in the first place and went to Armenia. He had no contact with his children and saw no future for himself in New Zealand. It was all very sad.”
— Irish Daily Mirror (@IrishMirror) February 7, 2015
The report also claims that in emails exchanged around the time he left the church, Forrest accused the organization of the deliberate break-up of his family, asserting that he lost his children to the Exclusive Brethren.
Forrest married Ruzan Badalyan in Armenia 18-months-ago, but the couple divorced a week after baby Leo was born with Down syndrome. Though Forrest is appreciative of the international show of support he has received, it is unlikely he can expect the same reception in New Zealand.
“It’s well known within the Exclusive Brethren community that Sam has been cut off by everyone because of divorcing his wife. He has no one to come back to,” a source asserted.
— The Independent (@Independent) February 7, 2015
A crowd-funding site established by Forrest to raise funds for Leo’s transport and care in Auckland has so far brought in $490,000. While much of the money will be used to give Leo educational opportunities, Samuel Forrest also plans to use some of the funds to assist other families in Armenia raising a child with Down syndrome.
[Image via the Daily Mail Australia]