Haiti Missionary: 'Did the Best I Could'

Jim Allen Spent Three Weeks in a Haitian Jail on Kidnapping Charges

One of the missionaries jailed in Haiti on kidnapping charges said today he wouldn't rethink the group's actions.

"I don't know that anything went wrong," said Jim Allen, a welding business owner from Texas. "We went to help the Haitian people. We thought we were doing everything we needed to do. ... I did the best I could."

Allen was among the 10 American missionaries who were held in a Haitian jail for three weeks after the government accused them of child trafficking. The group was arrested Jan. 29 when they attempted to take 33 children they believed were orphans to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. But each of the children had parents, according to the Associated Press.

VIDEO: Missionary Jim Allen talks to GMA, recounts experiences in jail.
Jailed Missionaries Home From Haiti

"We thought we had the right documents. ... It didn't work out that way. ... So we spent some time in jail, and here we are," Allen said. "We were under the assumption that none of these children had any parents."

While most of the missionaries hailed from Idaho, Allen said he only knew his cousin, who was a pastor in the group, and his son.

"I didn't know any of the others," he said. "I was going to go and use some construction skills. ... Surely I could use those skills to help the Haitian people in some way."

But Allen hardly got the chance before the group was arrested. After a complex, international legal battle, eight of the 10 Americans were set free last week and landed in the U.S. early Thursday morning. The group's leader, Laura Silsby, and another woman, Charisa Coulter, were not released.

Earlier this month, a lawyer representing the missionaries laid blame on Silsby and claimed the rest of the group was "naive."

Missionary: No Trouble With Group Leader

Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said he released the eight because the parents of the children the group had taken testified that they had voluntarily given their children to the missionaries. But he would not release Silsby and Coulter, who he said had been to Haiti before inquiring about orphans, the AP reported.

According to Allen, there "wasn't any trouble that [he] could see" regarding Silsby.

"Obviously, some questions have been raised," Allen's lawyer, Hiram Sasser, told "Good Morning America." "It's good that the Haitian government took it seriously and is investigating this. We hope everything is fine and [Silsby was] doing the right thing, just forgot to dot some i's and dross some t's.

"The good news for Jim is, everything he saw seemed to be OK. He wasn't privvy to all the conversations," Sasser said.

The group initially feared a guilty verdict that could come with a sentence of up to 15 years for each count of kidnapping and another nine years for each count of criminal association.

Jim Allen's wife, Lisa Allen, said she was terrified watching the group's story unfold on television. She was only able to talk to Allen twice.

"I was scared," she said. "I didn't know what was going on. ... But I'm just glad he's home."

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

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