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Judge: Runaway Teen Convert Must Go Home

A Florida judge said Tuesday he planned to send a teenager back to Ohio after she ran away from her home to Florida because she feared physical harm for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson said he will sign an order when he gets documents on Rifqa Bary's immigration status as well as papers showing the 17-year-old's education at an online Florida high school won't be interrupted.

No date was set for her return. She likely would be flown to Ohio accompanied by a Florida Department of Children and Families case worker, officials said.

The Ohio judge who will take over the case, as well as child welfare officials there and attorneys for Bary's parents, participated in the hearing by telephone.

Rifqa Bary will be placed in the custody of Franklin County, Ohio, child welfare officials once she returns.

Bary has been in foster care in Orlando while her case was being reviewed. She ran away from her parents' Columbus-area home in July, saying she feared being killed for changing religions. But a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found no credible threats to Bary.

Dawson said he would consider holding Bary's parents in contempt if they didn't turn over the documents pertaining to their immigration status and their daughter's.

The girl's family is originally from Sri Lanka and emigrated in 2000 to seek medical help for Rifqa, who had lost sight in her right eye when she fell and struck a toy airplane at home.

Rifqa Bary disappeared July 19 and police used phone and computer records to track her to the Rev. Blake Lorenz, pastor of Orlando, Florida-based Global Revolution Church. Authorities said the teen had met him through an online Facebook prayer group.