31 Jul 2007

Sex cult's final outrage

The Daily Telegraph - Australia

By Joe Hildebrand

July 31, 2007


FOLLOWERS of cult leader and accused paedophile Ken Dyers have outraged the families of his alleged victims by taking out newspaper advertisements in an attempt to clear the dead man's name.

Supporters of the 85-year-old "Kenja" founder - who shot himself last week while facing 22 counts of child sex assault and indecent assault - took the extraordinary step of placing advertisements in weekend newspapers declaring his innocence.

The full-page ads, which were run in The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, accused Dyers' two alleged victims of deliberately lying and behaving in an "appalling" fashion.

They also claimed police were out to get him to further their careers.

"The actions that both girls and fathers of the girls are attempting to hide in these latest allegations are appalling," the advertisement stated.

"It was Ken's final realisation that there are certain members of the police force who are career-orientated and are apparently less interested in the truth than in getting their man, regardless of facts or nature.

"The proof is overwhelming that the girl making the allegations (against Dyers) deliberately lied and manufactured these false allegations."

The father of one of the girls, who was just 12 years old when she was allegedly abused by Dyers, said the statement was a disgrace.

"To think that our daughters have stood up and been extremely brave and to see this slander being perpetrated by a group within the cult is sickening," he told The Daily Telegraph.

The man, who cannot be named without identifying his daughter, has written an open letter to the cult members, hitting back.

"We took this matter to the courts but Mr Dyers did not want to attend," the open letter reads.

"He knew his time was up. Mr Dyers acted in his own interests when he took his life."

It has also been claimed cult members used fake testimonials in the Sydney Morning Herald advertisements.

One of the most prominent signatories in the ad said yesterday he refused permission for his name to be used, but it was placed there anyway.

Dr Hoc Ku Huynh OAM headed one column of a list of supposed supporters of Dyers, even though he declined a request for his name to be used.

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22159113-5001021,00.html

30 Jul 2007

Novel Faiths Find Followers Among Russia's Disillusioned

By Kevin Sullivan

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, July 17, 2007; Page A01

ABODE OF DAWN, Russia -- Six miles from the nearest road, in the vast Siberian wilderness, a bearded man in flowing white linen robes sat at his kitchen table and talked about his crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate 2,000 years ago.

In a voice barely louder than the rain falling on the mountaintop home his followers have built for him, Sergei Torop said it was painful to remember the end of his last life, in which he says he walked the Earth as Jesus Christ.

Torop, 46, is a former Siberian traffic cop who is now spiritual leader of at least 5,000 devoted followers. They have abandoned lives as artists, engineers and professionals in other fields to move to this remote corner of Siberia, 2,000 miles from Moscow. In empty woodlands, they are building from scratch an entire new town, where they pass their lives near the man they call Vissarion, "he who gives new life."

Russian government officials and religion analysts call his Church of the Last Testament one of the largest new religious groups in Russia, which has become an incubator of novel faiths since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Thousands of new religious groups have formed all over the world in recent years as increasing numbers of people become disillusioned with traditional religions, according to experts who study worship trends. In Russia, millions of people returned to the Orthodox Church after seven decades of state suppression of religion, but hundreds of thousands of others sought new faiths for new times.

Custom-made religions spring up nearly weekly across the world, some attracting a handful of adherents and others many thousands. And whatever their god, gospel or guru, like-minded searchers are finding one another faster and easier than ever through the connecting powers of the Internet.

"It is a massive phenomenon," said Christopher H. Partridge, author of the Encyclopedia of New Religions. The theology of the new groups ranges from esoteric revisionist interpretations of Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism to belief that God will arrive on a UFO.

"A misconception is that these people are all the mad and the gullible and the stupid," Partridge said. "Often they are very well-educated. It's usually people who had thought a great deal about themselves, their place in the world and their life in the world to come. They are looking for something."

Periodically, Torop comes down from his mountaintop home to meet his followers, who bow down and worship him. On Sundays, he receives them at his house. Torop is well-traveled, too -- he has preached in Moscow, Western Europe and the United States.

Critics variously dismiss him as a delusional or perhaps dangerous cult leader. But people who have flocked here declare themselves certain of his divinity. "When I saw Vissarion, my heart said, 'This is him. This is the one, the teacher I have been waiting for all my life,' " said Luba Derbina, 44, a former Red Cross translator from the Russian port city of Murmansk. "Yes, I believe he is Jesus Christ. I know it, like I know I'm breathing, and that's it."

Preaching Kindness

It was already sticky-hot and spitting rain at 7 a.m. one recent day, with mosquitoes swarming in an unforgiving cloud, as a hundred people gathered for morning prayers. They came in ones and twos, many of them men in ponytails, women in print dresses. Most were in their 30s and 40s. They met, as they do every day, at the circular garden at the center of the village they are building with shovels, hammers, saws and muscle.

Kneeling in the muddy grass, they sang hymns amid the tall pines and soaring white birch trees. Others became lost in silent prayer: One woman didn't seem to notice the bugs on her bare ankles, already scarred with raw, bloody bites.

Then they gathered beneath the community basketball hoop and divvied up chores for the day: Work crews were dispatched to create roads and paths, to re-channel mountain streams into plastic tubes for household water supply, to run workshops on woodcarving and embroidery.

Despite harsh winters when temperatures can dip to 50 below, more than 250 people live in the growing village, which doesn't appear on any map. They have named it the Abode of Dawn. Between 4,000 and 5,000 more followers live in about 40 other villages scattered along old logging roads within a few hours' drive.

Framed photos of Torop, wearing purple robes, hang in hundreds of small wooden homes. Here they measure time by the life of Vissarion. Because he turned 46 in January, the followers are now living in Year 47.

By Torop's order, alcohol, drugs and smoking are strongly discouraged, and everyone maintains a strict vegetarian diet. The villagers try to eat only what they grow, supplemented by big sacks of basics such as sugar, grain, salt, flour -- and the occasional box of Earl Grey tea.

The emphasis on environmental awareness is part of Torop's voluminous teachings, contained in a nine-volume "Last Testament" and 61 commandments. He preaches kindness to all, non-aggression and peace. His commandments include "Be pure in your thoughts," "Do good deeds beyond all measure" and "Destroy nothing without reason."

Galina Oshepkova, 54, said that 18 months ago she was a divorced mother of two sons, searching for meaning in her life in her native Belarus. Then a friend showed her a videotape of Torop. To her, she recalled, he looked so much like the classic images of Jesus, with his long brown hair and beard. In his sermon, he said he had come back to Earth because people had forgotten his teachings about peace from 2,000 years earlier.

"That was the end of my search," Oshepkova said, boiling porridge over a propane stove in her dirt-floor kitchen. "I felt my heart beating really fast, and I knew, 'This is the truth. This is Him.' He is the second incarnation of Jesus Christ."

Oshepkova gave her apartment and all her possessions to her sons and moved to Siberia. She said she arrived with two suitcases and no money, and was invited to move in with other followers. She is now married to Nikolai Oshepkov, an engineer who also walked away from his old life in Belarus. Now he designs the village's network of solar panels and generators, and its rudimentary networks of piped water.

"We are building heaven on Earth," Oshepkov said. "The conditions here are severe. Life is physically hard. But we have found what we were waiting for."

Hype or Hope

Alexander Dvorkin, a Moscow academic and one of Russia's leading specialists on new religions, called Torop a cult leader who is exploiting vulnerable followers. "To have this kind of control over people is bad," Dvorkin said. He estimated that as many as 800,000 Russians are members of religious sects.

Torop's followers, he said, are idealists who have had difficulty adjusting to the freewheeling new world of Russian capitalism. "They think, 'I am more important than you because I am with Jesus. The end of the world will come, and where will you be with your money and big car?' "

Many followers interviewed said they were happy to give their money to a community they found so rewarding, but Dvorkin said it amounts to Torop fleecing them. Assets turned over by followers are the main income of the group; it also earns money from sales of handicrafts, such as woodcarvings, knitting, pottery and oil pressed from cedar nuts.

Some onetime followers later dropped out. Mariya Karpinskaya, 55, was a divorced mother of one when she met Torop in 1992 in Moscow. She moved to Siberia. At first, she said in an interview in Moscow, Torop seemed like a strong spiritual leader who dreamed of creating a "beautiful life -- like a new America" in the Siberian woods. In 1995, she said, she came to the conclusion that Torop was only claiming to be Jesus for personal gain. "The hypnosis disappeared and I realized my life was ruined," she said. "He doesn't believe he is Jesus Christ. He is just manipulating people. It's P.R., it's a brand. Jesus is a brand."

Mark Denisov, the local government official in charge of relations with the church, said government heath and education inspectors closely monitor Torop's activities. When the church first started, he recounted, members insisted on educating their own children and rejected childhood immunizations and other modern medicine. A handful of Torop's followers died in the early 1990s, he said, either from suicide, harsh living conditions or sickness for which they refused medical care.

Denisov said those problems are long solved; Torop and his followers now adhere to local laws, and children are taught a state-approved curriculum.

"Our economy was stagnating, our population was aging and people were leaving," Denisov said. "Now we have 5,000 new educated, healthy people who do not drink, do not use drugs, do not steal and who are willing to have children here. From our point of view, this brings hope."

3 Floors and an Outhouse


There is only one path up to Torop's mountaintop home. Visitors making the ascent stop first at the house of Boris Mozhin, a mechanical engineer from the former Soviet republic of Moldova, who acts as the leader's gatekeeper. Mozhin sits at a window next to a Soviet army crank phone, supplemented by two cellphones and a radiophone on a desk. A large portrait of Torop hangs on the wall.

"When you are with a person you love, your heart beats faster -- that's what it's like to be with the teacher," said Mozhin, 54, who moved here nine years ago with his wife, also an engineer.

Past a shed filled with neatly cut cordwood and a snowmobile, Torop stood in his kitchen doorway in white robes, awaiting two visitors. His house has three floors and a majestic panoramic view down to the village and wilderness beyond.

He and his wife live here, along with the younger of their six children. The older ones live in the village with Torop's mother, who is divorced from his father. Electricity comes from solar panels; his bathroom is an outhouse.

Torop spends most of his days in the house painting and praying, followers say.

He asked the guests to sit with him, folded his hands and said, in a soft voice, "How may I help you?"

His hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail streaked with gray; he had soft hazel eyes and high cheekbones.

Speaking slowly, with long pauses, he said he had a typical upbringing as the son of a Siberian construction worker. At 18, he joined the Soviet army and spent two years on a construction unit, firing a gun only once. In 1985 he took a job as a traffic cop working the night shift. "When I had to do street patrols, I would just watch the stars," he said. "I felt clearly that the stars were my home."

In about 1990, when he was 29, he recounted, "something woke up inside of me" and he realized his divine nature. He said he then understood that God had sent him to Earth because hatred and war and environmental degradation had become rampant.

"To do what I'm called to do, I need to have a human body," he said. "I live in a body in order to bring man closer to God."

"This is the first time I have been needed in 2,000 years. This is a critical point. Only when mankind becomes one family on Earth will the doors to the universe become open to them."


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/16/AR2007071601938.html?sub=AR


RELATED ARTICLES ON THIS BLOG



Russian sex cult leader "from the star Sirius" charged with rape, sexual abuse and human rights violations

Waiting for Armageddon 

Sect members dig tunnel, await apocalypse in Central Russia
 

Cult leader seeks to free children, official says
 

Second group of cult followers awaits apocalypse in Penza, Russia
 



Russia bans Satanic sect that indoctrinated and abused secondary school students


Russion court fines Jehovah's Witness mother $170 for allowing 5 year old son to die without required blood transfusion

Russian Orthodox archbishop fires head of convent and other clergy allegedly involved in child abuse scandal

Russian authorities investigate child abuse allegations in unlicensed orphanage in monastery, nun says it is persecution

Experts from Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia meet over concerns about the rapid expansion of sects in former USSR

Death of two Russian children linked to Jehovah's Witnesses results in criminal charges and claims of state persecution





Home for 'Lost Boys'

Deseret Morning News - Utah
July 30, 2007

St. George shelter to help those outsted from FLDS communities

by Ben Winslow

ST. GEORGE — The kids call it "the house just off Bluff."
The eight-bedroom home located just off Bluff Street doesn't have a formal name, but it will soon become a haven for some of the so-called "Lost Boys." They are teens who have either been kicked out or run away from Short Creek — the Fundamentalist LDS Church enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
"It'll work just right," says Ben, who asked that his last name not be used. He left the FLDS Church at 18.
Leaning against a door frame, he looked around, surveying the home's potential.
"This'll be good," he says.
Michelle Benward shows off the shelter with pride.
"This is our welcoming area," she says, walking briskly from one room into another.
"This will be a dining room."
Right now, the residence is empty. The only appliance is an old, beat-up stove.
"We're going to give kids a place to transition from one community into the next safely," she said.
Benward is the clinical director for New Frontiers for Families, a Garfield County-based nonprofit that helps provide social services for families in rural areas. Over the years, she has become more involved in championing the Lost Boys.
"I call them my kids,'" she says with a smile.

Coming together
Working with the Diversity Foundation, they have managed to put together this home. The shelter owes its existence to perseverance, determination and good fortune.
"It's kind of a strange mixture between government, nonprofits and people who just care," said Paul Murphy, the coordinator for the Utah Attorney General's Safety Net Committee, which provides services for people in and out of polygamy.
A wealthy man in the area purchased the residence and donated it to the nonprofits for the purpose of creating a sanctuary for the Lost Boys.
The home will mostly serve boys who otherwise have few services available to them.
Even the Utah attorney general's much-touted "Safety Net" is geared toward women leaving abusive or neglectful situations within polygamy.
"The girls still have other resources," Benward said. "They still have the Dove Center. They still have the Safety Net. The boys don't have that access."
After taking some of the Lost Boys to lobby Utah lawmakers, the nonprofits secured some government funding for "homeless youth." The rest hinges on volunteer labor and community generosity.
"We don't have enough money for food. We don't have money for clothes," Benward said. "We don't have the full amount that we need for utilities. We need furniture. We need a fridge."

Warren Jeffs

The home is nice, but it needs some work. Where a staff member will live, they need to put in a bathroom. The lime green paint has to go.

But if there's one thing these boys know how to do, it is work. Working hard has been a staple of life, both inside and outside of "the Creek," or Short Creek.

"We've got to first paint it," said Ben.

He had been planning to leave, tired of life in the Creek. He saved $2,000 and had bought a car.

"I went over to my brother's house that day," said Ben, who is now 24 years old. "They said, 'No you can't stay with me. Dad will disown you, and you won't have nothing to do with the family no more.'"

Under FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, men have been banished from the polygamous sect and told to "repent from a distance." Ex-members claim their wives and children have been assigned to other men.

Jeffs, 51, is facing a September trial in 5th District Court. He is charged with first-degree felony rape as an accomplice, accused of performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

The stories of the Lost Boys are heartbreaking.

Some committed a "sin" such as wearing a short-sleeved shirt, kissing a girl or refusing to marry. Some grew tired of the rigid structures of the FLDS faith and ran away.

"Some, they intentionally get kicked out by misbehaving," said Jami Christensen, a volunteer at the shelter. "If they get kicked out, their families aren't necessarily dealing with the repercussions."

Some of their parents have turned their backs out of fear for the rest of the family and their eternal salvation in the church. The teens miss their parents and worry about their brothers and sisters.
'Kids raising kids'

The boys live in cars or crash in crowded apartments with dozens of other ex-FLDS teens.

"I left when I was 15, and I stayed in the back of my truck," said Kevin Black.

When they come out of the Creek, the teens have only the clothes on their backs. Then they often go wild — turning to drugs, alcohol, smoking and other vices.

"It didn't matter what you had. It didn't matter how much money you made. It didn't matter how many people liked you. Anything you did, you're still going to hell," Black said. "So what's the use in trying?"

Now 26, Black has sheltered many Lost Boys.

The nonprofits estimate there are more than 1,000 teens who have either left or been kicked out of the FLDS Church.

A network is emerging of teens who have left and are willing to shelter others. The nonprofits say it's a problem of "kids raising kids."

One place many Lost Boys crash at is a crowded little house affectionately referred to as "The Butt Hut."

"We'd have people in the bedroom, down the hall, into the kitchen," Ben said, chuckling. "The only place you couldn't sleep was in the bathroom."

In the shelter, they will have supervision. There will be a book of rules, such as no smoking, no drinking. The kids who stay in the house will have to go to school.

"It's guidelines and structure," said Christensen.

Benward said she already has several boys ready to move in to the home.

"In the last two weeks, we've gotten two 16-year-olds out of the Creek," she said.

In the corner, a teenage boy stands quietly. He's only been out for three weeks now.

"I have my little brother now," Ben said. Raising funds

Compared to the larger problem of the Lost Boys, the drop-in center really is a drop in a bucket.

"More homes will be needed. More apartments will be needed," Murphy said. "It's a community problem, and the community needs to step forward and address it."

Still, Benward said it's a start.

"This is the first time the state has acknowledged that there is a problem," she said.

Armed with a letter of support from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Benward and Christensen have hit up businesses to donate.

"The community can come together and take care of these kids," Benward said.

The list of needs is long.

New Frontiers for Families has set up an account at Wells Fargo Bank to accept donations for "The House Just Off Bluff."

They hope to open the shelter at the end of August.

Much of the support is coming from those who have already left the Creek and made a life for themselves on the outside.

Lacy, who did not want her last name used, left the FLDS Church at 16.

"I didn't conform to what my dad wanted, and so he went and talked to Warren," she said.

She was told by Warren Jeffs to leave the community.

"Warren told me to leave until I could gain a testimony," Lacy said. "I didn't braid my hair all the time. Things that in normal society no one would even look at, but because of the way they live, it was looked down upon and they didn't want me."

Leaving Hildale and Colorado City, she crashed at a sister's place for a while.

Now 20, Lacy has a 2-year-old son. She has volunteered to work at the shelter, planning and cooking meals.

"I think it's awesome for this place to have opened," Lacy said. "They're giving kids a better opportunity to go mainstream in life and not turn to drugs and alcohol."


http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,695196071,00.html

Zimbabwe: 'Prophet' Faces Rape Charges

The Herald (Harare) - July 30, 2007

Chinhoyi Bureau Harare

A SELF-STYLED prophet of Johanne Masowe Apostolic sect in Murombedzi, Zvimba, has been brought to court for allegedly raping a pupil in a classroom at her school during a purported cleansing ceremony.

Madzibaba Mika Chikudo allegedly lured the girl by telling her that he wanted "to cleanse her of evil spirits".

Chikudo was not asked to plead when he appeared before Chinhoyi magistrate Mr Funwell Katewe.

Prosecutor Mr Voice Chivhiya said that on January 16, 2007, the accused went to see the girl at the school and instructed her to follow him to church for what he called a cleansing ceremony.

Instead of taking her to church, Chikudo took advantage of the girl and pushed her into an empty classroom where he raped her, the court heard.

The magistrate remanded him to August 8, pending investigations.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200707300052.html

Cult leader Dyers 'now a martyr'

ABC News - Australia

Australian cult leader Ken Dyers committed suicide last week but the controversy around him and his Kenja group has not died with him.

He had been due to face court in May on 22 charges relating to the sexual assault of two girls but was deemed unfit for trial.

It has now emerged that last Wednesday, Dyers' lawyer rang him to say the police wanted to interview him about further allegations of sexual abuse from a girl who attended his "energy conversion" sessions.

The next day, the 84-year-old ended his own life.

In October last year, film director Melissa McLean asked Dyers about the sexual assault allegations he was preparing to defend in court.

The film, Beyond our Ken, which is an entry in this year's Melbourne International Film Festival, looks at Dyers' group, Kenja Communications.

McLean only got halfway through her first question before Dyers produced a furious outburst.

"Why don't you have that viewpoint as well and do something worthwhile with your thing, instead of asking me to defend myself and defend myself?" he said.

"Defend Kenja, well we're playing a clean game, the cleanest game that's being played here in Australia and why do I have to defend myself for that? I don't and I'm not going to."
'Shock' suicide

McLean says she was "shocked" to discover Dyers had committed suicide.

"This is a man who really believes in himself," she said.

"Ken Dyers has always expressed the utmost confidence in what he believed in and to kill oneself was the opposite of that, so I always expected him to battle on to the very end, whatever that was."

In making the film, McLean witnessed a re-enactment of one of Dyers' "energy conversion" sessions.

It was during these sessions that two girls alleged he had sexually assaulted them.

"It seemed to me quite strange and I said that to him, that I was uncomfortable watching him do that because it is so unusual to watch an old man, an 84-year-old man essentially hit on a young girl, but he said he did that so they would recognise when they were being hit on," she said.

The court case should have started in May but the court ordered a mental health assessment for Dyers, whose health was deteriorating.

In the film, Dyers talks about his health issues.

"I'm on the way out. I don't expect to last more than two years but I'll tell you this much, I condemn these bastards of people," he said.

"I've tried to be honest and I've really opened myself completely to you and you're still asking me stupid bloody questions like that, asking me to defend myself."
Kenja's future

Yesterday, the Kenja group took out full page adds as a tribute to Dyers.

They called him "a great Australian" and criticised police, the media and cult awareness groups for "ruthlessly attacking" Kenja for years.

McLean says it is exactly what she expected.

"It will be to bond together and say the bastards got him in the end," she said.

"He's a martyr to the group now. It's not that he killed himself, it's that the press, everybody attacked him and they got him. They beat him down."

But she says without Dyers, Kenja will struggle.

"They have been functioning without him for the past 12 months - he hasn't been able to have any contact with the group while under sexual assault charges, that's the condition of his bail," she said.

"They always thought he would come back at some point. I don't know whether they will go on though. They need a figurehead and I don't know that they really have on without him."

http://abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/30/1992252.htm?section=australia

Cult leader 'won't face justice'

THE AGE - Australia

Danielle Teutsch

July 29, 2007


A FORMER Sydney MP who raised sex abuse allegations against a cult leader a decade ago says it is a shame he will never be brought to justice.

Stephen Mutch, former federal member for Cook, said Ken Dyers had taken "the coward's way out" by taking his own life last Wednesday.

Dyers, 85, the founder of the healing cult Kenja Communication, was committed last year to stand trial on 22 charges of aggravated indecent and sexual assault upon two 12-year-old girls. He was arrested in 2005.

The trial was deferred after the NSW District Court deemed him unfit for trial in May and ordered a mental health assessment. Supporters of Dyers have taken out a full-page advertisement in The Sunday Age and other papers mourning his death and protesting his innocence.

Dyers' wife and co-founder of Kenja, Jan Hamilton, said the ad was taken out by "angry and upset individuals" who were frustrated that her husband's case had not been accurately portrayed in the media.

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/07/28/1185339333767.html

Clergy abuse: beneath bond of friendship was darkest secret

SignOnSanDiego.com July 28, 2007

By Gillian Flaccus - Associated Press


LOS ANGELES – They were best friends, the kind who shared everything but their darkest secret: sexual abuse at the hands of the same Roman Catholic priest.

Twenty years later, their abuse is no longer hidden. The three boyhood friends will each receive $1.5 million from a $660 million settlement between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and abuse victims.

Yet that money will never undo the guilt that comes with silence. It will never replace the innocence the three teens shared before a new and terrible bond brought them even closer together.

The stories of Troy Gray, Jim O'Brien and Mike Moylan are hardly unique, but together they give voice to the untold numbers of clergy abuse victims who thought they suffered alone, only to learn years later that those closest to them – sisters, brothers, friends and classmates – hid the same secret.

When Rev. Kevin Barmasse first showed up at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Tucson in 1985, the kids loved him. Barmasse was “on loan” from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, but he seemed to fit right into their world.

He was in his early 30s and kept his collar in his pocket. “Rev Kev,” as they called him, listened to their music – he loved Air Supply – and drove a custom van with rotating bucket seats and curtains over the windows.

For Troy Gray, a 16-year-old guitar player, Barmasse's arrival seemed like a gift from God. The teen dreamed of being a priest one day; one of his favorite childhood games was to recite the Mass while dressed in vestments made from a bedsheet.

“It was like, 'Oh, great, this is cool. God's going to bless us here because we're in with the priest,'” Gray recalled. “He was young, he was really cool and really hip.”

Then, the trips – and the abuse – started: weekends at Disneyland, endless summer days at a Southern California beach house, retreats in desert resort hotels. The molestation, Gray rationalized, was a small price to pay for a father figure to replace his own drunken dad.

“A lot of people ask, 'Troy, why didn't you throw him out the window? You're Joe Jock, star football player and track star,'” Gray said. “People just don't understand what religion can do to you.”


Jim O'Brien remembers the “night prayers,” long confessionals alone with Barmasse.

O'Brien knew other teens, including Gray and Moylan, recited night prayers with Barmasse too, sometimes disappearing for hours. But the teen was sure they were just praying – the priest couldn't possibly be doing to them what he did to him.

“We were all best friends, but we never talked about any of our stories. We all went on little trips with him all the time,” he said. “We had no clue.”

At 18, after months of abuse, O'Brien abruptly stopped going to church – but he never told anyone why, not even his best friends. He was terrified the other boys would tease him, that he would lose his popularity. He agonized that the abuse meant he was gay.

“I wish I would have said something. I don't know if I was the first one, I don't know if I was the last,” he said. “I didn't want to have anyone look at me in a different way.”

Mike Moylan was younger, a little bit more vulnerable than Gray and O'Brien.

He moved to Tucson in 1987, just as his parents were going through a bitter separation. He found solace at church, with Father Kevin and his nucleus of cool, older boys.

Moylan was thrilled to find himself singled out by Barmasse for special trips, just like the other boys: camping at Lake Powell, time at the Grand Canyon and Disneyland and visits to Barmasse's family in Los Angeles.

Moylan knew the other boys, especially O'Brien and Gray, also took special trips with Barmasse. He never dared to ask them what happened at night.

“The only thing we had ever asked each other was, 'Oh, are you getting the back rubs, too?'” Moylan said. “We were teenage boys, it's not like you'd ever want to admit that a guy touched you.”

A year after Gray graduated from high school, his mother told him that people at St. Elizabeth's were saying that Barmasse had hurt some boys. She asked her son to defend him.

Gray was stunned. He hadn't told anybody about Barmasse. If people were talking, it meant that he wasn't the only one.

Had Barmasse touched O'Brien? Had he abused Moylan? The thought made Gray sick.

That afternoon, Gray went to O'Brien's house and asked if anything had happened with the priest. Together, they sat on the porch for hours.

“I'm crying and saying, 'I'm sorry to do this to you. I need to know. I need to know,'” Gray recalls. “Finally, he broke down and he said, 'Yes, yes he did.' That's all I ever heard from Jim.”

Next, Gray confronted Moylan and asked him the same thing, but the younger teen exploded and stormed out. Gray wouldn't talk to him again for 15 years.

A month later, Gray tried to hang himself.

In 2003, the Diocese of Tucson released a list of the names of priests who had credible claims of abuse against them. Barmasse's name was on it.

The diocese also acknowledged, in a separate letter on its Web site, that Barmasse had come to Tucson from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles after police there dropped a sexual abuse investigation against him.

Gray, by then in his mid-30s, read about the list of priests in the local newspaper and called the reporter, who referred him to a lawyer. Attorney Lynne Cadigan asked Gray who else might have been abused and he started listing names. At the top were Jim O'Brien and Mike Moylan.

Cadigan paused: Moylan had sent her an e-mail that very same day. Gray promised he'd call O'Brien and give him her number.

Within days, the childhood friends were together again, this time sitting in Cadigan's office sharing the darkest secret of their lives.

“I was shocked,” said Gray. “I thought I'd never see the day that these guys would be sitting in the same room with me again.”

Since that day, the three have grown close again but they have never told each other the details of what happened with Barmasse. The guilt and shame, they say, is too overwhelming.

Gray, who believes he was the first of the three to be abused, agonizes over whether he could have protected his friends. O'Brien wonders the same thing about Moylan, who started hanging out with Barmasse just when O'Brien pulled away.

“To this day, I sit there and I still feel that guilt. When Mike talks about things that trigger him, I'm just like ... damn it. Why, why?” Gray said.

Now, they are focusing on rebuilding their friendship. They talk frequently on the phone and get together for dinner whenever Gray returns to Tucson from his new home in Colorado.

They all still bear the scars of Father Kevin, and of many victims of clergy abuse: alcoholism, depression, troubled relationships, sexual insecurity, trouble with authority.

Most of all, however, the three are overwhelmed with anger at the church that abandoned them – and, they feel, abandons them still. The settlement will never mean anything, they say, as long as Barmasse remains a free man.

Arizona prosecutors started looking into the friends' allegations after the settlement, but Barmasse could be shielded from prosecution by the statute of limitations.

“The priests are out there living their lives, they could be living right next door to you,” Gray said. “It's finished for them, but it's not finished for me. It's something I'll live with for the rest of my life.”

Now 55, Barmasse lives in Westlake Village, near Los Angeles. When reached by phone, he had no comment.


http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20070728-1012-ca-churchabuse.html

Fatal ending to Arizona exorcism response

Yahoo News - July 30, 2007

By PAUL DAVENPORT, Associated Press Writer

PHOENIX - Officers responding to a report of an exorcism on a young girl found her grandfather choking her and used stun guns to subdue the man, who later died, authorities said.

The 3-year-old girl and her mother, who was also in the room during the struggle between 49-year-old Ronald Marquez and officers, were hospitalized, police said Sunday. Their condition was unavailable.

The relative who called police said an exorcism had also been attempted Thursday.

"The purpose was to release demons from this very young child," said Sgt. Joel Tranter.

Officers arrived at the house Saturday and entered when they heard screaming coming from a bedroom, Tranter said.

A bed had been pushed up against the door; the officers pushed it open a few inches and saw Marquez choking his bloodied granddaughter, who was crying in pain and gasping, Tranter said.

A bloody, naked 19-year-old woman who police later determined to be Marquez's daughter and the girl's mother was in the room, chanting "something that was religious in nature," Tranter said.

The officers forced open the door enough for one to enter, leading to a struggle in which an officer used a stun gun on Marquez, Tranter said.

After the initial stun had no visible effect, another officer squeezed into the room and stunned him. The girl was freed and passed through the door to the relative, Tranter said.

Marquez was placed in handcuffs after a struggle with officers and initially appeared normal, but then stopped breathing, Tranter said. He could not be revived and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The cause of death was not immediately known, and autopsy results probably will not be available for several weeks, Tranter said.

Tranter declined to identify Marquez's daughter and granddaughter but said they lived in the house with Marquez.

The mother was not arrested, but police will consider criminal charges, Tranter said.

There was no phone listing at Ronald Marquez's address.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070730/ap_on_re_us/exorcism_death;_ylt=Aq4te.9D4Fz6hzcJWNTgZohH2ocA

28 Jul 2007

Polygamous sect leader Jeffs faces jailhouse interview over whereabouts of toddler

Salt Lake Tribune - July 28, 2007

Judge may now begin issuing penalties until the tot's father can get some answers

by Brooke Adams

Polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs offered no information about the whereabouts of a former follower's toddler son during a jailhouse interview on Friday.

Now, attorneys may seek to compel Jeffs to testify about the child before a Utah judge.

Attorneys for Wendell Musser, a former caretaker for Jeffs' family, spent an hour with Jeffs at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane. They left with no leads on Musser's former wife Vivian Barlow or the couple's son, Levi.

When asked to identify the couple in a photograph, Jeffs "basically stopped answering questions," said Roger Hoole, who, with his brother Greg Hoole, represents Musser. "From that point on, he wouldn't answer any questions related to where Wendell's son is or how he could be located."

Hoole said Jeffs read a prepared statement that said he would not give answers because they might be self-incriminating.

"My view is it was an inappropriate response at this point, but that's up to a judge to decide," Roger Hoole said.

Musser, 22, was cut off from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and his family on Jeffs' orders last year after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Musser's efforts to locate his family proved futile and he turned to the legal system, suing Jeffs for interference with his parental rights.

Jeffs had one of his attorneys, Richard Wright, with him Friday. The sect leader was "very cordial and congenial," Roger Hoole said. The Hooles brought a court reporter to record the interview. They also were accompanied by Sam Brower, a private investigator who has helped in civil and criminal investigations involving Jeffs. Hoole said one option now may be to have Jeffs testify about the situation before 5th District Judge James L. Shumate.

Shumate already approved a number of actions that could be taken if Jeffs refused to provide Musser with information about his son, including assessing a $600-plus daily penalty on the sect leader's jail commissary account.

There is no cap on how much money an inmate may hold in an account at Purgatory, according to Mary Reep, jail commander. The amount an inmate may spend at the commissary ranges from $10 to $50 a week, depending on their classification at the jail. However, inmates may purchase an unlimited amount of pre-paid telephone cards.

Reep would not disclose any information about Jeffs' jailhouse finances.

Shumate also said Musser may lay claim to items found with Jeffs when he was arrested last August, including cash and electronic equipment. He also may pursue seizure of personal and real property of others found to be interfering with his parental rights, the judge ruled.

Jeffs enlisted Musser as a caretaker in December 2005. Musser, accompanied by his family, spent seven months looking after some of the FLDS leader's plural wives in various safe houses in Colorado.

Filing the lawsuit led to a brief meeting between Musser and Barlow, 20, in May. She refused to let him hold their son and told Musser they want nothing to do with him.

He has had no contact or information since then about Barlow or Levi, who turns 2 on Monday.

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_6486442


Priests' Files to Shed Light on Abuse Scandal in L.A.

National Public Radio - July 27, 2007

by Rob Schmitz


Now that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has reached a record settlement with alleged victims of clergy sex abuse, the next legal battle is heating up.

Under the settlement, the archdiocese is preparing to release personnel files of the accused priests. Plaintiffs' lawyers say these files could implicate Cardinal Roger Mahony in a widespread cover-up.

For Lee Bashforth, last week's settlement was a small price to pay for a cardinal he accuses of covering up years of sexual abuse. Immediately following the settlement, Bashforth held up an old photo of his first communion. Father Michael Wempe has his arm around Bashforth, who wears a proud smile.

"There's a picture of him here, with me as a 7-year-old boy, which is when my abuse began and lasted a decade," Bashforth says.

Bashforth says Cardinal Roger Mahony's public apology to the hundreds of victims of sexual abuse wasn't enough.

"Roger Mahony offered a very disingenuous and hollow apology," he says. "And he is sorry. I believe he's sorry. But he's sorry he was caught covering up these crimes."

Mahony has withstood strong criticism for the way he's handled this scandal. He chose to fight the release of priests' files all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He also challenged the California law that gave people a one-year window to file sex abuse claims no matter when they occurred.

Both of these tactics failed. But they did succeed in delaying a settlement for four years. Now, as part of that settlement, Mahony agreed to release all of the church's personnel files. Some of those files may be held up if individual priests raise objections to a judge. Still, it's hoped many will be released in the coming months.

Plaintiffs' attorney John Manly is one of a handful of lawyers who has seen all of these files. He says they show the cardinal routinely covered up sexual abuse in the archdiocese and shuffled abusing priests from parish to parish. Manly believes the release of these files will force Mahony to resign.

"There will be a volcanic reaction by the public and the media," Manly predicts. "And onne of two things will happen: Either he'll be indicted, or he will be effectively promoted to the Vatican, by Rome, because his position here is untenable."

That's precisely what happened to former Boston Archdiocese Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002, when he had to disclose personnel files. Law was forced to resign and now presides over one of the five basilicas in Rome where the pope oftentimes celebrates mass.

However, L.A. Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg says this case is completely different. He says the personnel files of clergy here will show that it was the accused priests, not Cardinal Mahony, who concealed the abuse.

"I think the record will show that these men ... didn't tell the truth to the cardinal, that they went to great lengths to hide what kinds of awful things they were doing to people," Tamberg says.

Plaintiffs' lawyers have called on L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley to investigate Mahony's role in the church-abuse scandal. Many point to Mahony's admission five years ago in a letter to his priests that he transferred one priest, Father Michael Baker, to a number of different parishes after Baker admitted he molested children. District Attorney Cooley says he hasn't ruled out prosecuting Mahony.

"We have to have a plausible legal theory of criminal liability, and we are not at that stage yet," he says. "But I will tell you this. We have not ruled out at some point in time, using the grand jury to probe the outer reaches of criminal culpability or liability in this matter, we are still working on this."

In the meantime, the fallout of the LA Archdiocese scandal isn't garnering as much attention as other large settlements like the one in Boston five years ago.

Phil Lawler, editor of the online magazine Catholic World News, says that's because the public is tired of it all.

"At the time when things were exploding in Boston, everyone was shocked and outraged," he says. "Now, more than five years later, people have seen so many headlines, I think a lot of people just want it to go away."

Lawler adds that Mahony is much more popular among parishioners than Cardinal Law ever was.

In a diocese that is 70 percent Latino, Mahony has created a name for himself by standing up for immigrant rights.

This, combined with his tough stance during settlement negotiations, has spurred many church observers to guess that Mahony will survive this scandal relatively unscathed ... a prediction that, at least in some circles, has already earned Mahony the nickname "The Teflon Cardinal."

Rob Schmitz reports for member station KQED in San Francisco.

Lawsuit against Mormons set for mediation


By WILLIAM McCALL
The Associated Press



PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A $45 million sex abuse lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be mediated by a judge in an effort to reach a settlement instead of going to trial, attorneys said Thursday.

Kelly Clark, a Portland lawyer whose client is suing the Mormon church, said the mediation is set for August 9 and 10.

The dates were confirmed by Stephen English, a Portland attorney representing the church.

If the case is not settled, a trial date has been scheduled for Oct. 18, Clark said.

The lawsuit claims that a home teacher, Kenneth I. Johnson Jr., sexually abused a Beaverton boy as much as twice a week from 1987 to 1989.

The church is responsible because Johnson was authorized to act on its behalf, giving him access to the boy, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit claimed the duties authorized by the church included "educational and tutorial services, counseling, spiritual and moral guidance, religious instruction, and other duties" that would put Johnson "in a position of trust and confidence with LDS members and their children."

Johnson has denied the allegations in court documents.

English has said Johnson was acting as a family friend, not a church official.

The church later excommunicated Johnson, claiming that church officials had not been told about the alleged abuse at the time.

As part of the mediation agreement, the alleged victim — identified only by the initials "D.I." — has asked the church for reforms, Clark said.

"My client is absolutely committed to achieving some changes in the child abuse policies of the Mormon church as part of his settlement," Clark said.

Clark recently won an Oregon Supreme Court ruling in a pretrial motion asking the church to disclose detailed financial information for the first time since 1959.

The ruling could set the course for a larger legal battle over the rights of the church if a settlement is not reached, attorneys said.

"We have a motion in which we're challenging the constitutionality of access to our confidential records," English said.

Clark sought the ruling to determine if $45 million in punitive damages was a reasonable request.

A book co-authored by Richard Ostling, a former Associated Press and Time magazine religion writer, titled "Mormon America: The Power and the Promise," estimated the church's net worth at between $25 billion to $30 billion in the late 1990s.

http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-20/1185496466185800.xml&storylist=orlocal

Polygamous sect leader Jeffs faces jailhouse interview over whereabouts of toddler

Salt Lake Tribune - July 27, 2007


Penalties rise if answers not forthcoming

A father's effort to find his son will move today to a jailhouse interview room, where attorneys will ask polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs to disclose the toddler's whereabouts.

Jeffs had until Wednesday to provide Wendell Musser, 22, with information about his son, Levi. If he failed to do so, 5th District Judge James L. Shumate said Musser's attorneys could interview the sect leader under oath.

"Apparently, Mr. Jeffs is not concerned that Wendell Musser has no idea where his son is after 13 months," said Roger Hoole, who with his brother, Greg, represents Musser.

Musser and his wife Vivian Barlow cared for some of Jeffs' wives from December 2005 to June 2006 while the sect leader was in hiding. Last summer, Musser was exiled from the faith and separated from his family after being arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Musser, who now lives in Idaho, had a brief meeting with his wife and child on May 25 in Hildale after filing a lawsuit aimed at enforcing his rights as a father. Musser said Barlow, 20, refused to agree to let him be involved with their son.

Since then, Musser has had no information from Barlow or anyone else about his son, who will turn 2 on Monday.

His attorneys will meet with Jeffs at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane. Greg Hoole said Richard Wright, a Las Vegas attorney assisting with Jeffs' criminal defense, also plans to attend.

Wright did not return a telephone call from The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.

Roger Hoole said he had prepared four pages of questions for Jeffs.

"We won't have to go through all the questions if we get the answers to the initial things," he said. "I am going to be wondering as I'm asking these questions what could motivate this man to go to such lengths to separate a boy from his father."

Shumate approved numerous sanctions if Jeffs or others continue to interfere with Musser's parental rights. Those include a $600-plus daily penalty on Jeffs' jail commissary account, seizure of personal property such as cash, cell phones and vehicles and liens on property held by the FLDS church or its members.

"We will pursue all remedies," Roger Hoole said. "But apart from the sanctions that he faces, the shocking thing is he seems not to be concerned at all that Levi Musser hasn't seen his father and his father doesn't know how to get a hold of him."

Jeffs faces two felony charges of being an accomplice to rape for conducting a 2001 marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old bride and her 19-year-old cousin. The trial is set to begin Sept. 10

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_6476609

Trial for polygamist postponed a month

Mohave Daily News

By JIM SECKLER/The Daily News
July 26, 2007


KINGMAN - The trial for the last of eight polygamists who belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Colorado City was postponed again Thursday until September.

Rodney Holm, 40, a former Colorado City police officer, is charged with three counts of sexual conduct with a minor. Superior Court Judge Steven Conn postponed his trial until Sept. 5.

Holm's codefendant, Dale Evans Barlow, 49, pleaded no contest in April to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor. A charge of one count of sexual conduct with a minor was dismissed.

After numerous delays, Barlow will be sentenced Aug. 17. Per the plea agreement, Conn will sentence Barlow to supervised probation for up to three years and a possible sentence of up to one year in county jail. The judge must also decide if Barlow must register as a sex offender.

The sect's leader, Warren Steed Jeffs, 52, is currently in custody in St. George, Utah, facing rape charges. He is also charged in Mohave County with three counts of sexual conduct with a minor in a 2005 case.

He also faces new charges of two counts of incest and two counts of sexual conduct with a minor in one case and two counts of incest and two counts of sexual conduct with a minor in another case. Jeffs faces up to three years and nine months in prison if tried and convicted for the incest charge.

http://www.mohavedailynews.com/articles/2007/07/27/news/local/local2.txt

Book on “Malachi” York and his crimes against children details what prosecutor calls his “most significant” case

Fulton County Daily Report - Georgia    July 27, 2007

Writer: cult leader duped politicians

By R. Robin McDonald, Staff Reporter


DWIGHT “MALACHI” YORK was a false prophet, a psychotic thug, a con man extraordinaire and a sexual predator who headquartered his religious cult in rural Georgia, then used his position as a religious leader to deflect scrutiny from his criminal activities, a newly published book asserts.

York’s brazen willingness to attack his skeptics as racist, while portraying himself as a victim of racial and religious persecution, enabled him to con politicians, law enforcement authorities, civil rights organizations, academics and journalists, according to Bill Osinski, the author of “Ungodly: A True Story of Unprecedented Evil.” “Among the dupes,” Osinski writes, “were a mayor of New York and a governor of Georgia.”

“Ungodly” is the story of York’s rise and fall and the sordid secret behind York’s professed dreams to build a black Utopia in Putnam County, Georgia and take global a new religion with him as its self-styled savior. Inside Tama-Re, the faux Egyptian compound he had built on a 440-acre farm in Putnam County, York turned his female followers into concubines and their children into sex slaves.

Today, the man who set himself up as The Master Teacher of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors and the Pharaoh of Tama-Re is in federal prison, serving a 135-year term for racketeering and transporting minors in interstate commerce for unlawful sexual activity.

York’s appeals have failed but his followers still maintain his innocence on a Web site, www.hesinnocent.com.

F. Maxwell Wood, U.S. attorney for Georgia’s middle district, called his office’s prosecution of York “without a doubt the most significant and powerful case I ever prosecuted.”

In an interview with the Daily Report, Wood said that York’s cult and the criminal activities that it engendered “was an incredible instance of an individual manipulating large numbers of people. … The evidence was overwhelming.”

Wood said Howard Sills, the Putnam County sheriff who initiated the investigation of York and the Nuwaubians, “is one of the best sheriffs in this state. I think he showed a great deal of patience with that situation.”

Osinski’s book explains why Sills needed patience and perserverance. For more than three decades—first in New York City and, eventually, in Georgia—York flaunted authorities, declared Tama-Re and the Nuwaubian sect to be a sovereign nation not subject to federal, state or local laws. When challenged, York engaged in vicious “smear campaigns” against his detractors, Osinski writes.

But York’s adeptness at recruiting high-profile political allies and the utter control he exercised over his acolytes masked what Osinski bluntly calls the underlying evil at the heart of York’s growing empire whose followers worshipped him as both a savior and an alien god.

For nearly a decade, Osinski—a former staff writer with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution—pursued the story of York. In his preface, Osinski writes that the York case illuminates the political and social conditions “that allowed a monster to operate with virtual impunity for more than three decades.”

In chronicling that story, Osinski interviewed dozens of former Nuwaubians, including York’s own son, Malik, and many of York’s victims. “That means delving into the ugly depths of what happened to the children,” Osinski writes.

“There is simply no way to soften the harsh reality that Dwight York repeatedly raped dozens of children, some of them on a daily basis, and some of those assaults continued over a period of years,” he writes.

“Some of the girls who were adolescents when he started to molest them grew up to be women who bore him children; and, in a few cases, they groomed younger children to be receptive to be his next generation of victims. In some cases, the adult concubines participated in the sex crimes.”

It was one of those victims who first told her story to Osinski, who later became a witness in the child molestation investigation of York by Sills and the FBI.

Because some of York’s victims remain traumatized, afraid, or ashamed, Osinski has made a commitment to donate half of any royalties he receives from the sale of “Ungodly” to a fund to aid the victims—who he calls “the lambs who brought down the wolf.”

At a recent lecture at the Margaret Mitchell House, Osinski said that reporting on York and the Nuwaubians “was a difficult story from day one.”

Editors at the AJC and other papers around the state “were never enthused about the story,” Osinski said, while local authorities—Sills, foremost among them—came under political attack whenever they raised questions about the man they privately referred to as “the black David Koresh.”

Osinski writes that for years state and federal agents feared that York was spoiling for a violent confrontation with authorities much like the 1993 stand-off in Waco, Texas, that eventually destroyed the Branch Davidians, a remarkably similar, but far smaller, cult headed by Koresh.

Sills, who joined Osinski at the lecture, said he started investigating York in September 1998 after receiving reports from local medical professionals that a large number of York’s female followers were pregnant—and that some of them were terribly young. By then, Sills said he was aware of a secret FBI report documenting York’s activities in New York that linked him or his followers to illegal gun purchases, suspected firebombings, assaults, bank robberies, extortion and an unsolved murder.

In response to the investigations, the Nuwaubians asserted continually that, as citizens of a separate sovereign nation, they were outside the law. This defiance provoked angry confrontations with county officials over liquor licenses, building permits, fire safety standards and zoning. Nuwaubians, encouraged by York, threatened county inspectors even as they barred them from the expanding, motley collection of plastic stucco temples and pyramids they had built, Sills said.

Sills said the local battles over county ordinances were among York’s attempts to provoke an armed confrontation with law enforcement authorities and so gain sympathy for the cult, Sills said. “York wanted to offer up some of his people in an armed conflict with us,” he asserted.

But the sheriff said that when he approached the GBI, the FBI and, eventually, then-Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes for help, he found little in the way of support. As the investigation grew, Sills said “The hardest thing I had to deal with were the politicians who didn’t want to believe what was going on in this case. … Political correctness and playing the race card, you don’t know how powerful that is.”

Said Osinski: “What happened here in Georgia was the continuation of a pattern well-established in New York that authorities left this guy alone. It happened here. It happened up there. By acting so as not to be perceived as racist or intolerant of religion, they enabled this guy to enjoy a long life of crime.”

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, a longtime civil rights activist, was one of York’s supporters.

Brooks said this week that he was first invited to York’s compound by Joe Beasley, Southeast Region director of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Beasley told Brooks he had received reports that Sills was subjecting the Nuwaubians to profiling “based on appearances, based on their looks,” Brooks recalled in an interview with the Daily Report.

Brooks said that when he, Beasley and other leaders of Georgia’s civil rights community met with Sills, he urged the sheriff and his deputies “to be very careful about their conduct” with regard to the Nuwaubians. Brooks said he also took issue with Sills’ involvement as an enforcer of county zoning violations at York’s compound.

“We were concerned that the Nuwaubians were being mistreated and harassed because of the way they looked,” Brooks explained. “They were being perceived as a religious cult.”

Brooks said he always objected to the “cult” designation, one that—according to “Ungodly”—York himself had embraced. Brooks, a Baptist, said that he was always taught, “You’ve got to have tolerance of other religions that you may not even understand”—a principle that was strengthened by his work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Over the course of four years, Brooks visited York’s compound several times—often with members of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, and once with Jesse Jackson. Brooks said he always experienced “good fellowship, good food, a very wonderful experience,” at Tama-Re. “We didn’t see any alcohol. We didn’t see any tobacco products. We didn’t hear any profanity. … There was never anything to indicate there was anything wrong. No one said anything about children being mistreated. Nothing ever came up.”

Brooks said that Sills intimated, during one of their meetings, that there was “another angle to the investigation” of the Nuwaubians that the sheriff declined to share with Brooks. But he never confided that he suspected York was molesting children, the legislator said.

Brooks said that, while he had heard rumors that York might be stockpiling guns—a charge that York denied—if he had been told of allegations that York was molesting children, he would have confronted York. “There’s no way I would ever condone harming children,” he said.

“I have a pretty good knack for knowing when people are telling me the truth. … There’s always two sides to a story, then the truth is in the middle. Just because someone makes an allegation doesn’t make it valid. I don’t necessarily take the word of one person … whether its law enforcement or a civil rights leader. I want to get the facts,” Brooks said.

Former Gov. Barnes declined an interview with the Daily Report about Osinski’s book, referring all questions to his former top aide, Bobby Kahn.

In an interview this week, Kahn said that Barnes had been in office less than three months when he first learned of trouble brewing between the Putnam County sheriff and the Nuwaubians.

Kahn confirmed that the Georgia governor was “taking his cues” about York and the Nuwaubians from Brooks, and from the GBI, which “was concerned we would have another Waco.”

Kahn also said that the Putnam County sheriff didn’t apprise Barnes of the child molestation allegations and that the governor was made aware only that a potentially violent confrontation was brewing over local code enforcement.

“Our approach to this wasn’t who’s right and who’s wrong, and whose fault it is,” Kahn said. “Our concern was how do we avoid a blow-up?”

“Osinski has determined that Sills was a hero,” said Kahn. “Anything that gets in the way of that, he basically ignores. … If he [Sills] were a hero, he would have told us and would have told the GBI he suspected there was child molestation going on.”

But Sills did try, unsuccessfully, to talk to Barnes directly about the Nuwaubians, according to Osinski.

“He wanted to go to Barnes personally and directly. He didn’t want to go through the GBI,” the journalist said in an interview. But Sills feared that the GBI “might have been compromised” and might leak information about the investigation to York, Osinski explained, because the sheriff was aware that GBI agents had gone to Tama-Re to go fishing. “He simply did not want the GBI to know what the real investigation was.”


http://www.dailyreportonline.com/Editorial/News/new_singleEdit.asp?individual_SQL=7%2F27%2F2007%4015591_Public_.htm


RELATED ARTICLES ON THIS  BLOG



Black Hebrews cult leader and six others charged with murder after bodies of missing woman and boy found

Arrest of Black Hebrew cult leader suspected of murder sheds light on shadowy sects preparing for apocalyptic race war



Black Hebrew cult leader suspected of murder arrested along with mother of missing boy

Fired jailer sues sheriff: Probe of cult influence at issue

Nuwaubians Protest in Macon

Mother denies negligence in baby case

Sect believes in the mind over illnesses


Mother of malnourished baby freed


Religious sect at centre of malnourishment case denies medical ban


26 Jul 2007

Jehovah's Witness elder pleads guilty to sex abuse

Montgomery Advertiser - Alabama

By Pat Lewandowski

December 5, 2006


The passage of time.

It dulls memories.

It heals wounds.

For Teresa Rivera Ward, it did neither.


More than 25 years after her abuser fondled and degraded her, Ward found justice to be little comfort.

Roberto Soto Colon, 64, pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse in the third-degree, admitting to touching his niece inappropriately and causing her emotional pain. The plea deal was struck as a pool of 33 jurors was asked whether they could judge the case on the testimony and facts presented more than 25 years after the incident occurred.

Many could not.

Jennifer Jordan, a prosecutor for the 19th Judicial Circuit, saw it on the jurors' faces. They hesitated when asked if the passage of time would cloud their judgment. Above all, Jordan wanted Colon to endure prison time. The plea agreement almost assures that will happen.

"He's now a registered sex offender for life," Jordan said. "The family wanted to end the cycle of abuse that's gone on for more than 30 years. He will spend time behind bars, even if it's only 365 days."

A one-year jail sentence is likely. Colon pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in lieu of a jury trial, where he could have received more than eight years in state prison if found guilty. Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds accepted the plea and asked Colon to describe what he did to his niece. Colon became reticent and barely spoke above a whisper as he described events more than 25 years old. After all parties agreed to the terms, Sibley dismissed the jurors.

Reynolds set sentencing for Feb. 20, during which time, the district attorney will conduct a pre-sentencing investigation of Colon.

Ward left the crowded courtroom in the arms of her aunt and mother and broke down crying. Time had failed to ease the memory of years of betrayal by a close relative.

"When I heard he was working with youth again at another church, I just had to come forward," Ward said. "My cousin is having a baby. The last thing I wanted was for the abuse to continue, I could not live with myself if that happened."

A law passed Jan. 7, 1985, eliminated the statute of limitations in child abuse sex cases. Randall Houston, district attorney for the 19th circuit, determined that the original three-year limit was grandfathered into the law, allowing Ward to file charges based on the last two years she had intimate contact with Colon.

It was not the first time she reported the abuse.

"I told the elders that my uncle was doing this to me and they handled it in the way that conformed to our beliefs," Ward said. "My uncle was an elder in the Jehovah Witnesses. They said I needed another witness to believe my story."

Hector Rivera, a former elder in the Prattville congregation who was at the informal inquiry 30 years ago, explained the concept after the hearing by quoting Deuteronomy 17:6: "On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one," Rivera said. "We believe that two witnesses are required to take action. We warned him about inappropriate contact. We never heard about it again."

Until last week.

As Ward, 38, prepared for the trial at her Dothan home, a cousin, Hector Rivera's daughter, came forward with similar allegations against Colon. The plea agreement spared her the pain of a trial.

Colon's defense attorney, Susan James, said the soon-to-be grandfather adamantly denies the incidents as they were described in graphic detail by Jordan during Colon's allocution. She also questioned the motive for making the charge 23 years after the alleged abuse stopped.

"If you are a parent and you learned about the abuse, would you not get your children out of harm's way?"

http://www.silentlambs.org/ Alabamaelderguilty.htm

Jehovah's Witness Elder found guilty of sexual aggression

Le Soleil du samedi - Quebec, Canada

January 6, 2007


Marcel Simonin, 66, was found guilty last Dec. 19 in Valleyfield corut of sexual aggression against a minor, between 1985 and 1992. When these activities started, his young girl victim was 11 years old.

The mother of the victim had first met the individual when he held the title of Elder at the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Chateauguay. He spoke during services, taught life precepts and spiritually supported members of the congregation.

After he succeeded in winning over the woman's trust and that of her daughter, the man later became addicted to intimate contact with the child, such contact ranging from simple touching to a complete sexual relationship.

During those eight years, the acts of aggressions occurred in several places, notably at his house, in his car, at the home of the girl and at the Chateauguay Kingdom Hall.

In her ruling, Judge Linda Despots of the Criminal and Penal Chamber, notes that the victim had filed a complaint when she was 16 or 17. but she later withdrew the complaint "feeling herself to be under the pressure of the community and under the threat of being expelled" (from the Kingdom Hall).

Another Elder in the Quebec City region where the mother and child had moved, convinced her t5o write a letter to authorities of the congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses regarding what she had experienced with the defendant.

Following reception of this letter, Simonin telephoned his victim to apologize for these acts after recognizing their veracity. The complainant then apparently forgave him.

But when, in 2003, the young girl saw the accused at a Jehovah's Witnesses assembly at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, his presence revived her wounds and made her relive the memories accumulated during those years when she was a victim of touching. Afterwards the young girl went through several difficult years during which she tried to commit suicide on three occasions and underwent therapy treatments from a psychologist.

In 2005, in order to continue her therapeutic progress and free herself from the past, the girl once again decided to lodge an official complaint against the accused.

Believing that the credibility of the defendant - who had always denied being addicted to the acts of which he was accused - was tainted for several reasons, the court declared Simonin guilty of sexual aggression according to three articles of the Criminal Code.(Tr: D.R.)

http://www.hebdos.net/lsc/edition22007/articles.asp?article_id=155860

Jehovah's Witness foster mother guilty of 'sadistic' abuse

The Telegraph - UK

March 21, 2007


A foster mother was yesterday convicted of subjecting three children in her care to a catalogue of “horrifying” and “sadistic” physical and mental abuse spanning 20 years.

Eunice Spry, 62, a Jehovah’s Witness, beat the children with sticks and metal bars, forced them to drink bleach, eat their own vomit and rat excrement, Bristol Crown Court heard.

"Most of the acts were carried out as punishment; others were inexplicable acts of cruelty,” said Kerry Barker, prosecuting.

Spry was able to conceal her abuse as the children were home taught and not sent to school. She also terrified the children so much with her abuse that they were too frightened to alert the authorities.

Spry covered her tracks by forbidding them to be examined on their own by doctors or dentists, the court heard.

The Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board said Spry “was someone who other parents trusted with their children. She deliberately set out to deceive those parents and all of the agencies involved over a 20-year period.”

During her evidence, Spry denied beating the children but added “as a last resort I would smack a child’s bottom”.

She was convicted of 26 charges including child cruelty, unlawful wounding, actual bodily harm, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation.

Judge Simon Darwall-Smith adjourned sentence until next month.

During the four-week trial, which could not be reported until the verdicts due to legal restrictions, the jury heard a harrowing account of how Spry had subjected the children to a regime of abuse.

The three victims, known as Victim A, B and C, said their daily routines were punctuated by random acts of bizarre and sadistic violence at the hands of their foster mother.

The prosecutor said Victim A, now aged 21, was imprisoned in a wheelchair by the woman following a car crash. Spry had tried to stop Victim A from trying to walk again following the crash so she could get more compensation money, Mr Barker added.

Victim B, also 21, said her foster mother believed the three children were possessed by the devil. She said: “We had no friends. We were told not to speak to anyone.”

Victim C, now 18, said his foster mother held his hand down on a hot electric hob until it was left looking like a “gooey mess”. He said he had been force-fed so much washing up liquid by Spry that he could now differentiate between the brands on taste alone.

Victim C told the court: “One summer, when I was seven or eight we were starved over the course of a month.

"We were kept locked in a room with no clothes on and had very little to eat.”

The offences took place in two of Spry’s homes in Gloucestershire between 1986 and 2005. The abuse was finally discovered after another Jehovah’s Witness secretly confronted the wheelchair-bound Victim A about marks to her head caused when Spry rubbed sandpaper over her face.

Victim A plucked up the courage to report her foster mother to the police who interviewed Victims B and C.

Mr Barker added: “The outcome of the interviews was a horrifying catalogue of cruel and sadistic treatment.”

He said Spry would regularly beat the children on the soles of the feet with a “variety of sticks”. They would be “punched kicked and strangled”, and if they cried the sticks would be forced down their throats.

Mr Barker said Spry used unusual punishments such as making the children lean against the side of a wall. If they moved, the soles of their feet would again be beaten with the sticks. Full cans of food would be thrown directly in their faces and they would have their heads forcibly held under the water while in the bath.

Victim A was involved in a serious traffic accident in 2000. Doctors told the girl, who suffered horrific injuries, that she would be confined to a wheelchair for up to six months after the crash. But medical specialists who examined her soon found there was no physical reason why she could not walk. Spry refused a series of tests to find out what was behind the girl’s mysterious condition and deliberately hindered her recuperation in a cynical bid to maximise the compensation payout she could get from insurers, the court heard.

In 2004, Child A fled from her foster mother and walked on the very same day. She later confessed that Spry had forced her to remain in the wheelchair since 2000.

The Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board said: “Although these children were seen by many different professionals, few were a consistent presence.

"Information was not shared so that it was impossible for anyone to have a clear picture. As a result of the Victoria Climbie enquiry, one of the significant safeguards now in place is the requirement for agencies to work far more closely together and for information to be shared.

"This case underlines the responsibility we all have to remain alert to people who deliberately deceive others about their real motive for working with children. Safeguarding children is everyone’s business.”


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/20/nfoster120.xml

Jehovah's Witness elder charged with sex assault of girl, 8

March 27, 2007

By LYDA LONGA

A Jehovah's Witness elder who investigators said raped a girl when she was 8 years old has been arrested, Volusia County sheriff's officials said Monday.

And now police are anxious to learn whether there are any others who may have been attacked by 40-year-old Henry William Hauch of Mims, who has been charged with sexual battery.

Investigators said Hauch, an elder with the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness in Titusville, attacked the girl in 1999 when she was 8.

Information about the assault surfaced in June 2006 when the girl -- now 15 -- was discussing sex and boys with her older sister, according to the report. When the sister asked the accuser whether she had ever had sex, she said, "Yes, but it was wrong."

The girl's parents were friends of Hauch's and attended the same church. She told her sibling that she had stayed at the Hauch home sometime in 1999.

The teen said she had to sleep with Hauch and his wife because the couple had no other beds in their residence, the report states. Detectives were able to secure a warrant recently after another woman who claimed she was sexually molested by Hauch came forward in January.

Hauch was released from the Volusia County Branch Jail on Friday after posting $250,000 bail.

Calls to Hauch's business and home were not returned Monday afternoon.

lyda.longa@news-jrnl.com

http://www.silentlambs.org/ eldereightyearold.htm

Suit claims years of abuse by father, a Jehovah's Witness elder

Victorville Daily Press - California

April 28, 2007


APPLE VALLEY — A former Apple Valley resident has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse against the Apple Valley Cheyenne Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is named in the complaint as ROE, and her biological father, a church minister.

Melanie D. Popper, 29, now an attorney in Berkeley, said she is doing this for her healing and for others who might be victims of incest.

The suit alleges that her father, identified in the suit only as “John Doe,” began sexually abusing her when Popper was 8 years old. The alledged abuse continued from 1985 and 1995. The acts may have included rape and oral sex by force or fear, according to the complaint filed in Victorville Superior Court.

Popper, who graduated from Apple Valley High School in 1995, was born and raised a Jehovah’s Witness.

The Apple Valley congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses did not return calls Thursday and Friday.

According to the complaint, when Popper questioned her father about his behavior in 1986, her father stated, “No, no, no darling. That’s our little secret. But if anyone else tells you about a little secret, you come directly to me and tell me, OK.”

Popper filed a police report with the Apple Valley Police Department and San Bernardino County Crimes Against Children Unit in November 2005. There was no corroborative witness to the sexual abuse, so the crimes against children unit could not recommend to the District Attorney’s office to press charges.

In the police report, Popper wrote that she also witnessed the rape of her twin sister.

In May 2004, Popper sent her letter of dissociation to the congregation. She said that she sent them a demand letter and that they have had two investigations but believe that they are not liable.

“If it wasn’t for the very cult-like nature of the church,” Popper said, “I would have had somewhere to turn.”

Popper said that she is moving forward with the lawsuit aggressively and is working toward serving the congregation with the complaint.

Popper did not mind using her name in this article and is trying to find any other members of the organization who may have more information.


http://www.vvdailypress.com/onset?id=840&template=article.html

Former Catholic priest in L.A. held on child molestation charges

The Los Angeles Times

By John Spano, Times Staff Writer

July 25, 2007


Arrested at his home, George Miller is accused of sexually assaulting a boy from Guardian Angel parish in Pacoima.

A former Roman Catholic priest was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of sexually molesting a child from Guardian Angel parish in Pacoima between 1988 and 1991.

Prosecutors said George Miller, 69, met the boy when he was 5, befriended his mother and allegedly molested him before he turned 14, during overnight trips. Miller was taken into custody at his Oxnard home and is being held in lieu of $600,000 bail.

Four people who accused Miller of molesting them were among more than 500 who joined in a record $660-million settlement earlier this month between the Los Angeles Archdiocese and parishioners who contended church officials had failed to shield them from pedophile priests.

Miller was charged in 2002 with molesting two boys, also from the Pacoima church, in the 1970s and 1980s. But the case was dismissed when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that extended the statute of limitations for decades-old sexual abuse.

Miller's confidential church files, among others, were the subject of a 4 1/2 -year court fight by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who argued their disclosure to a county grand jury would violate priest-bishop communications and priests' privacy rights. Mahony yielded after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 declined to hear his final appeal, turning over files on Miller and on another former priest, Michael Baker, who also faces criminal charges.

The Miller case is "based on new evidence," said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.

"As promised, investigations are ongoing into alleged sexual abuse of minors by priests," Cooley said. "As evidence is developed to sustain criminal filings, we will do so."

Last week, after the settlement was announced, Cooley called Mahony's actions an "incredible moral failure," and vowed to continue investigating how top church officials handled abuse allegations against clergy and other employees.

Tod Tamberg, spokesman for Mahony, said the archdiocese received complaints about Miller's behavior with children in 1977 and in 1989. In both cases, Miller denied wrongdoing, he said.

In 1996, after Miller was accused of sexually abusing a child, he was placed on sick leave. Tamberg said Miller never returned to the ministry and was reduced to lay status by the pope on May 25, 2005, at Mahony's request. Miller's continuing in the ministry despite the complaint in 1977 "would not happen today," Tamberg said in a statement.

Today, any allegations are "immediately" reported to police and the priest is placed on leave pending an investigation, according to Tamberg.

"The archdiocese will continue to cooperate with the authorities as they investigate claims of sexual abuse against individual priests," the statement said.

Ray Boucher, who represented the largest block of clergy victims in the settlement, said a fellow priest who allegedly complained about Miller's over-familiarity with boys, and a housekeeper from Santa Clara Church in Oxnard, where Miller had been assigned, had been prepared to testify against the archdiocese, if the civil lawsuits had gone to trial.

It should have been clear that "with the complaints that existed in 1977, they had an obligation to contact the authorities and turn this guy in," Boucher said. "There's no ambiguity on that. They did not. They hid it."

His clients told him that Miller "reveled in the pain he inflicted" on them. His abuse was "brutal and vicious," Boucher said.

Miller started at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Santa Clarita in 1964 and also served at San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura and St. Philomena in Carson, according to church records.

"It's horrific how the church has been able to get away with crimes," said Mary Grant, an official with an organization for victims of Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse.

"On the one hand, we understand that prosecutors are up against the statute of limitations. On the other hand, we believe that where there's a will, there's a way," Grant said.

Miller is scheduled for arraignment today on three counts of lewd acts on a child and three counts of sodomy of a person under 14.

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-priest25jul25,1,5604281.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california&ctrack=1&cset=true

Sordid shame of sex sect

The Daily Telegraph - Australia

By Lisa Davies July 26, 2007


THE Kenja cult first came under the spotlight up to three years ago after women came foward to claim they were sexually assaulted during its rituals - and when its links to high-profile "refugee" Cornelia Rau were revealed.

Ms Rau, the Australian permanent resident wrongly incarcerated in Baxter detention centre, joined Kenja in the 1990s - shortly before she began suffering schizophrenia.

She was diagnosed with mental health problems shortly after being expelled from the group in 1998.

Former Kenja members have confirmed humiliation tactics were common, as were naked "energy conversion" sessions.

One former follower has told The Daily Telegraph how she was stripped naked and touched all over in a "cleansing ceremony" before she moved away from Sydney with her family.

The woman, named only as Suzanne, said Kenja leader Ken Dyers, who has been found dead, touched her naked body during a sordid "energy" session.

"His hands were almost on my genitals when I pulled away very uncomfortable, and put my clothes on," she said.

"I left then and it wasn't long after that I was taken home by my family.' Suzanne's father Max said his daughter had a mental breakdown when she left Kenja.

"She was so mixed up, you couldn't get a straight word out of her," he said.

Suzanne said only now, more than 10 years after she left, can she see the dangers of the cult.

"They're so reckless with how they treat people. Ken Dyers is a law unto himself," she said.

Her claims have been strongly backed by dozens of calls to The Daily Telegraph.

A cult members' lobby organisation - the Cult Information & Family Support (CIFS) group - has urged State Parliament to look into the practices of cults in NSW, including Kenja.

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/ story/0,22049,22136927-5006009,00.html