A Franklin County teen who vanished for more than two weeks was in protective custody Tuesday after she claimed that her father would kill her over their religious differences.
Rifqa Bary, 17, says her father, a Muslim, has threatened to kill her because she converted to Christianity, 10TV's Cara Connelly reported.
"If they love God more than me then they have to kill me," Bary said.
During the past weeks, Bary has been living in Orlando with a pastor and his wife. She said that is where she wants to stay.
"I don't want to see my father," she said.
Bary said she hitchhiked and then rode a bus from Ohio to Florida to escape her family, Connelly reported.
An attorney representing the girl's mother said the parents were allowing Bary to explore her Christianity. The parents claimed that their daughter was not afraid until she made contact with Pastor Blake Lorenz in Orlando.
10TV attempted to contact Lorenz's Global Revolution Church in Florida, but officials there said they were too busy to discuss the case, Connelly reported.
A Florida judge is expected to review the case in 10 days and could order Bary back to Ohio.
Former Franklin County family court Judge Yvette McGee Brown said the law is straight forward.
"Parents have the right in the religion that they choose," she said. "Now the child, when they are 18, can choose something different, but unless there is evidence of emotional or physical harm or neglect, the court is not going to interfere with the parents right to raise the child in the religion that they choose."
In the meantime, Bary was in protective custody and allowed supervised visits with Lorenz and his wife. She was also given the opportunity to visit with her father, who recently traveled to Florida for a court hearing.
He was returning to Ohio on Tuesday night.
Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for continuing coverage.
August 7, 2009:
Missing Teen Found Safe In Fla.
July 31, 2009: After Nearly 2 Weeks, New Albany Teen Still Missing