02/11/2014 04:46 EST | Updated 04/13/2014 05:59 EDT

Charges stayed against some old-order Mennonites, many children still in care

MINNEDOSA, Man. - Some orthodox Mennonites accused of child abuse in Manitoba have had their charges dropped.

A justice official says charges have been stayed against four men and one woman from the old-order community but they must still comply with a peace bond.

The people were arrested last July, along with eight others, and accused of assaulting children with cattle prods, whips and leather straps.

Social workers seized as many as 40 children from the community.

A few of the children have since been returned to their parents.

Defence lawyer Scott Newman says the Crown has asked to go straight to trial on four of the remaining accused.

Old-order Mennonites shun modern conveniences, including electricity and cars, and adhere strictly to Biblical teachings.

Many of the Mennonite parents have expressed bewilderment and frustration at the apprehension of their children and the slow pace of their return.

The identities of those involved are protected under a publication ban and The Canadian Press is not naming the small community where they live.