Anyone sitting in a dank, fetid Haitian jail for any reason probably deserves at least a measure of sympathy, so in that sense I feel sorry for the Baptist missionaries from Idaho charged with kidnapping 33 "orphans" and trying to take them out of the country. But what the do-gooders allegedly did was not just misguided. It could be criminal, and Haitian authorities are right to hold them accountable.
Even in the midst of a terrible natural disaster, spiriting away a busload of kids in that manner -- with vague plans to worry about the "paperwork" later -- is no act of charity. The missionaries' misadventure can only make the work of those truly interested in the welfare of neglected or abandoned children more difficult.
It doesn't help the missionaries' case that their leader, 40-year-old Laura Silsby, has, according to the Idaho Statesman, "a history of failing to pay debts, failing to pay employees and failing to follow Idaho laws." The newspaper reported last week that Silsby has been the target of eight lawsuits and 14 claims for unpaid wages, mostly relating to an Internet business that she founded in 1999, and also that she had received four traffic citations since 1997 for having failed to register or insure the vehicle she was driving.