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Canadian newspaper: York County woman held captive by Taliban for 5 years accuses husband of abuse

OTTAWA, CANADA — A York County native who spent five years as a Taliban hostage in Afghanistan with her famiy says she was physically and emotionally abused by her husband during their period of captivity, according to a lawsuit filed in Canadian court.

Caitlan Coleman, originally of Stewartstown, claims her husband, Joshua Boyle, “regularly threatened to kill me by setting me on fire,” according to an affidavit filed in June.  The Ottawa Citizen reports that Coleman is suing Boyle in family court to gain sole custody of the couple’s children.

Coleman, Boyle and their three children were rescued in October 2017 by Pakistani security forces after living as prisoners for five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Coleman, 32, has returned to Pennsylvania after being granted temporary sole custody of the children by an Ottawa court ruling in July.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Tracy Engelking also issued an order restraining Boyle from contacting or coming near Coleman and their children, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

Boyle, 34, has denied Coleman’s allegations, and accused her of abuse in a failed motion to prevent her from leaving Canada with their children. He says Coleman assaulted him and neglected the children, citing untreated mental health issues.

He also accused her of trying to push him in front of a subway in Toronto years before they married, the Citizen reports.

The Ottawa Citizen obtained the case documents through a court application, and reports the affidavits offer a look at the couple’s troubled relationship and details their years in captivity.

The couple met online in 2002, the Citizen reports, and became romantically involved in 2006. They married during a trip through Central America in July 2011, but soon separated.

Coleman began divorce proceedings in March 2012, the Citizen says.

One month later, Boyle visited Coleman at her home in York County, where they reconciled, and agreed to go backpacking through Central Asia.

They departed in July 2012.

In her affidavit, Coleman insists that she reluctantly agreed to the trip only after Boyle promised not to go to Afghanistan, the Citizen says.

Boyle disclosed his true intentions after they landed in Central Asia, she says, “so that I would not back out.”

In his countersuit, Boyle insisted that Coleman knew he intended to go to Afghanistan.

The couple was taken hostage on Oct. 10, 2012. Coleman was five months pregnant at the time.

Over the next five years, the couple was moved through 19 hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan and underwent severe physical and psychological abuse from their captors, according to the affidavit filed by Boyle.

The Citizen reports the couple offers differing accounts of their relationship while they were held hostage. Coleman reports Boyle became erratic and irrational, and fixated on depicting her as an enemy. He began to get more and more abusive after three years in captivity, the Citizen says.

After a disagreement in February 2017, Coleman says, Boyle “hit me in the face hard enough to break my cheekbone.”

In his affidavit, Boyle alleges that Coleman neglected their children while in captivity, leaving him as the primary caregiver. He says he slapped his wife once while in captivity as she attempted suicide by trying to overdose on stockpiled medication.

He often went without food, Boyle says, to give more to his children or pregnant wife, and spent hours whittling toys and gifts for them with a spoon.

He built a small garden beside the family’s squat toilet, he says, and planted okra, bean and mango seeds so that his children could appreciate gardening. He captured mice for the children to keep as pets, and sewed them clothes from blankets and scraps. He wrote them songs, taught them sign language, made up stories to entertain them, and helped them memorize selections of the Bible and Qur’an, according to his affidavit.

Coleman told court that she was the primary caregiver, and was responsible for home-schooling the children during the family’s captivity.

In a second affidavit filed in response to Boyle’s, Coleman alleges she did not share her husband’s interest in Central Asia or the extremist ideologies it harbored, the Citizen reports.

Coleman pointed to his previous marriage to Zaynab Khadr as evidence of his interest in extremism. Khadr is the eldest daughter of Ahmed Said Khadr, a member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle who died in a firefight with Pakistani forces in October 2003; she outraged many Canadians with her comments in a 2004 documentary in which she suggested that the Sept. 11 terror attacks were justified.

The Boyle family was rescued last October in a dramatic shootout that made international headlines. Weeks after returning home, the Boyle family met Justin Trudeau in the Prime Minister’s Office.

In his affidavit, Boyle says that readjusting to life in Canada has been a traumatic experience. “While captivity was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” he says, “the adjustment to coming home was a very close second.”

Coleman is due to give birth to the couple’s fourth child this month, the Citizen reports.

SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen