25 Mar 2009
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23 Mar 2009
by Jamie Glazovy
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Dave Gaubatz, the first U.S. civilian (1811) Federal Agent deployed to Iraq in 2003. He is currently the Director of the Mapping Sharia Project and the Owner of DG Counter-terrorism Publishing (dgaubatz.blogspot.com). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
FP: Dave Gaubatz, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
You have been conducting some Counter-Terrorism (CT) field research during the last month. Tell us the results.
Gaubatz: I want to thank FPM for the opportunity to bring an issue to the attention of the American public.
In early Feb 2009, I went to a prayer and lecture at a Sunni mosque in Richmond, VA. I was informed a group of Muslims originally from Somalia, had relocated to Nashville, TN. This subsequently led me (with support from concerned citizens) to conduct first-hand research in Nashville.
My CT researchers and I conducted ‘first-hand’ research at a predominately Somalia based mosque, Al-Farooq Masjid, 1421 4th Ave. S. Nashville, TN. Initially I conducted a pre-assessment of the various Islamic Centers within the area. Although there are other mosques in the area advocating the ideology of Sharia law for the U.S. and advocating the same ideology as Islamic terrorists groups, our research uncovered more frightening and disturbing intelligence. Not only does Al-Farooq provide materials by convicted Islamic terrorists to their worshippers, they practice polygamy (per statements made by Al Farooq worshippers) as allowed under Sharia law, which also advocates children to be taken as ‘child brides’ married to older men. One need only research how often this occurs in Somalia.
In Feb 09, I obtained evidence and there were several indicators the children were being physically and emotionally abused. I immediately provided my analysis and concerns to authorities. Almost immediately First Amendment religious freedom rights came up and their fear of being sued by Islamic organizations. I knew from the beginning when I had to explain the basics of Sharia law and who Islamic scholars such as Ahmad Sakr (U.S. based scholar who lectures to children and informs them to not follow the U.S. Constitution, but instead to follow Sharia law) are, it would be useless to rely on them alone to protect the innocent children of al Farooq, which ultimately means our country is not being protected. The objective of my company is to simultaneously provide the research intelligence to the American public and to Law Enforcement (LE). In our current times it is often necessary for news organizations and the public to become involved before issues are taken seriously.
In Mar 2009, I sent two researchers (male and female) to Al Farooq to obtain further information. On 9 Mar 2009, a female child informed one of our female researchers she and other children are ‘hit’ at the ‘Al Farooq School’ by a teacher and ‘her’ legs hurt. Additional lectures by convicted terrorists and their supporters were provided to my team. Again I notified authorities, but received no encouragement the allegations of child abuse or the evidence pertaining to Al Farooq leadership advocating violence would be responded to.
Authorities wanted ‘hard evidence’ children were being abused and Islamic leaders at Al Farooq were educating the worshippers to commit violence against innocent people, America, and Israel. Respectfully I advised authorities Americans rely on them to take the lead and conduct investigations pertaining to allegations. My organization is limited in manpower and funds. Taxpayers pay our LE and elected officials to protect our country. It is beyond my capability to convince authorities that distributing material by Al Qaeda, Mawdudi (JI), and Ali Al Timimi to children can lead to violence and is dangerous for all concerned. One need only look at the Palestinian schools who are educated by Hamas.
FP: Do Islamic leaders of Al Farooq, Nashville, TN, advocate and encourage the worshippers of the mosque to hate America and to follow the teachings of convicted Islamic terrorists such as Ali Al Timimi?
Gaubatz: Yes. My team and I were provided several hours of Ali Al Timimi lectures (and others) I had previously never heard, and I have listened to hundreds of hours of lectures by ‘Islamic scholars’.
FP: Do Islamic leaders distribute material in America encouraging Muslim men to violate U.S. laws in regards to ‘polygamy’ and to force children (6 -16 years old) to marry older men?
Gaubatz: Yes. Al Farooq has these materials and polygamy is being practiced. On my blog at www.dgaubatz.blogspot.com, I have attached a one minute clip showing the library of al Farooq. I will update my blog continuously to show exact materials obtained and being distributed at Al Farooq.
FP: Do they (Al Farooq leaders) advocate an Islamic nation in America to be ruled under Sharia law?
Gaubatz: One need only review lectures/materials by Mawdudi, Timimi, Sakr, and Siraj Wahhaj. My team collected evidence supporting the above and can provide sworn affidavits to law enforcement/Department of Justice Officials (DOJ) at any level, but first the American public must convince Nashville authorities that advocating innocent Muslim children to be involved in ‘physical Jihad’ against America is illegal. If we do not have elected officials who can and will do this, then our government should discontinue the double standards of convicting some Islamic scholars (such as Timimi) and ignoring the actions of others.
LE, criminal justice officials, elected officials, and Americans must also understand Islamic Jihadists and their supporters are well educated and understand U.S. law better than most U.S. attorneys do. After 11 Sept. 2001, they will no longer stand at the podium and advise worshippers to commit treason, sedition, and to commit terrorist acts against America. They will provide you lectures advocating the same on professionally manufactured DVD’s and written materials funded by Saudi Arabia. Islamic scholars understand Americans will look at books and DVDs as protected materials under our laws.
FP: Will you continue CT research in other cities across the U.S.?
Gaubatz: Yes. Each week I will conduct first-hand research at a different Islamic Center and will provide the results on my blog. Based on my analysis I will provide a ranking of 1 – 10, pertaining to violence being advocated by the Islamic scholars. LE, elected officials, and Americans can ignore, or they can work together to obtain legal action against the scholars who advocate the destruction of our country and the futures of our children. Again, it is beyond my capability or means to convince authorities that providing material by Islamic terrorists to children can lead to violence.
I would like to again stress my team consists of researchers from various faiths and cultures, to include Muslims. Thank you again Jamie and I have completed reading your book, “United In Hate”. Highly recommended reading for all.
FP: Thank you Dave Gaubatz. We cherish your fight for the security of this country and also your effort to protect abused children.
Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was found at:
by BART JONES
In Los Angeles, the Roman Catholic archdiocese cut its central staff in half and sold its 12-floor headquarters. In Tucson, the diocese sold 85 pieces of property in the Arizona desert. In Davenport, Iowa, church officials posted a "for sale" sign on the bishop's residence - then moved him into a modest bungalow.
Catholic dioceses across the United States have been hit with hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits stemming from child sex abuse cases in the past decade. Now, as lawmakers in Albany consider legislation that would create a one-year open window for victims to sue regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse occurred, church officials warn it could bankrupt the Catholic Church in New York.
If the bill passes, it would become the third child sex abuse "open window" law in the country, after California and Delaware, whose two-year window closes in July. Legal experts said that in New York they anticipate hundreds of abuse victims, whose claims could involve not just the Catholic Church but also other religious institutions, public agencies and even long-ago cases of incest.
Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the 1.5-million member Diocese of Rockville Centre, said recently that the bill, sponsored by Assemb. Margaret M. Markey (D- Maspeth), could be "catastrophic" for the church.
"Financially it could bankrupt the Diocese of Rockville Centre," he said. "It could decimate Catholic education. It could decimate Catholic health care. It could decimate our parishes."
Advocates and trial lawyers who have represented sex abuse victims say churches have not gone out of business because of the claims, and that the potential consequences are being exaggerated. "No diocese has gone belly-up or even close," said Marci Hamilton, a professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a leading church/state expert.
Nonetheless, "open window" type legislation or even the simple accumulation of sex abuse lawsuits in places without such laws has had a powerful impact. Like Los Angeles, some locations have been forced to sell their headquarters and cut back on central office staff. But most also say no schools or parishes closed, and the cutbacks shielded most outreach services such as health care or programs for the elderly or homeless.
Dolan said it is difficult to compare different dioceses, and no one knows how an "open window" law would play out in New York. And Hamilton predicted numerous victims could come forward in New York because advocacy groups and lawyers representing victims are so much better organized now than they were in 2002 when the church sex scandal broke.
California cases To date, six dioceses in the United States have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because of the sex abuse cases, though in California - which passed a New York-style law in 2002 - only one of 12 dioceses filed. The total settlement bill in California was $1.2 billion for about 1,000 cases that included about 200 that did not involve the Catholic Church.
Church leaders in California say the payout was devastating.
"What happened here was a financial tsunami," said Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which was hit with a $720-million bill to settle 553 abuse cases. "We took a tough hit, and I don't think we could take another."
Still, he said no parishes or schools were closed as a result of the settlement, and outreach services generally survived. Tamberg said that was partly the result of a deliberate decision by the 5-million-member archdiocese - the largest in the country - to protect its core ministries.
Selling the headquarters in downtown Los Angeles was a sign that "the hit is going to be taken by the administration first to protect the schools and the parishes," he said. The staff at headquarters has dropped from 450 to 200, he added.
Los Angeles survived the settlements partly because insurance covered about one-third, or $236 million, of the bill. The archdiocese was responsible for $292 million, which it raised in part by selling 51 properties including the headquarters. The rest of the settlement was covered by religious orders or others involved in the cases.
Tamberg said one case dated to 1929, demonstrating what he called the unfairness in the process.
"How do you defend a case that is a dozen years before Pearl Harbor? You can't," he said.
Irwin Zalkin, one of the lead plaintiff attorneys in the Los Angeles and San Diego cases, said that sales of church properties would easily raise billions to pay off any settlements and prevent any diocese from shutting down large parts of its operations. He also noted that church institutions, such as Catholic Charities that provide outreach services, receive substantial government funding.
He called talk of the church's potential demise in New York a "PR ploy. . . . I think they are crying wolf." He said he believes many of the dioceses that have gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - San Diego; Portland, Ore.; Spokane, Wash.; Tucson; Davenport; and Fairbanks, Alaska - did so in an attempt to pay out less in settlements to victims.
Zalkin noted that the judge who handled the San Diego bankruptcy case, Louise DeCarl Adler, at one point warned the diocese against misusing bankruptcy proceedings.
"I decided this morning to reacquaint myself with the exact definition of 'disingenuous,' " the judge stated in court in 2007. "Chapter 11 is not supposed to be a vehicle or a method to hammer down the claims of the abused."
Chancellor Rodrigo Valdivia said the Diocese of San Diego had no comment on the judge's statement.
'Crippling' times Dioceses that have gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings say it hasn't been easy. In Spokane, officials shut down the diocesan youth ministry office and another that was in charge of evangelization.
In Davenport, where the headquarters went on the market last month and the staff has been halved, church officials aren't even sure where their new offices will be.
The bankruptcy proceedings were crippling, said Davenport diocese spokesman David Montgomery. "We're trying to provide services and it's hard to do if you are trying to get out of bankruptcy."
In Los Angeles, most essential missions were preserved, but Tamberg said he doubts that would be the case if another large settlement came.
"If this were to happen to us again," he said, "without a doubt I believe it would be catastrophic for the archdiocese."
This article was found at:
21 Mar 2009
by Gerry Bellett | Vancouver Sun
When Susan Duncalfe summoned the courage to report her father’s sexual assaults on her, her story would uncover not only the calamity of a childhood’s stolen innocence, but also how a religious fellowship in the Fraser Valley failed her.
Over the past 20 years, scandals involving illicit sexual relations within churches and the way they were either ignored or covered up have caused untold damage to reputations of churches in Canada and resulted in civil damages that have entered the hundreds of millions of dollars.
In an Abbotsford courtroom earlier this month, Provincial Court Judge John Lenaghan sentenced Susan’s father, Kenneth Duncalfe, now a frail 69-year-old, to nine months in jail.
Lenaghan passed judgment, too, on Duncalfe’s Mennonite church, the Abbotsford Church of God in Christ, for knowing of his transgressions since 1990 but failing to report them to the police.
His behaviour had first been reported to the church’s minister 19 years ago by another family member. As a result, he was summoned before a church assembly and excommunicated for “lasciviousness,” a punishment that lasted for a number of months, at the end of which he was allowed to rejoin the congregation.
Assaults started at 14
In a telephone interview from her home in Nelson, Susan Duncalfe, 43, said she had been subjected to hundreds of sexual assaults and molestations starting in 1980, when she was 14.
“It began the night I became a Christian and it lasted until the very day I left the church when I was 22,” she said.
“I left the church because I realized once I left, he would stop touching me. Being a member of the church was a very sheltered thing, men were the authority figures, and while I was a member he could touch me with impunity because he knew I wouldn’t complain,” she said.
“The night I told him I had left the church, it stopped.”
By the time he was “outed” to the church assembly, she was 24 and not living at home.
It would take her years before she took the matter to the police. But in 2006, after becoming concerned for the safety of grandchildren who were within her father’s orbit, she gave police a statement.
Asked why she didn’t complain earlier, she said she was too naive. “I was scared. You don’t know if anyone would believe you,” she said.
It was the failure of the church to help her — “I was made to feel like I was not worth looking after” — that caused her to have the court-imposed ban on publication of her identity lifted when the issue finally came to trial.
“They have to open their eyes and change their practices,” she said.
Susan had initially avoided going to the police and wrote a letter to her parents saying the family needed counselling, and that her father needed psychiatric help and therapy.
“Our whole family is dysfunctional and we all needed help. I thought if he got help, and we got help, we could get through it and heal the family,” she said.
The letter resulted in a visit to her home by Pastor Bev Toews of the Abbotsford Mennonite Church of God in Christ.
“He came to Nelson and wanted to see reconciliation between myself and my dad, and didn’t think laying charges against him was the way to go. He told me he was going to get Dad the help he needed and so I left it at that,” she said.
However, she would later discover that Toews was the one doing the counselling, not an outside professional.
“That wasn’t good enough. I went to the police. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Kenneth Duncalfe pleaded guilty to two counts — sexual assault and indecent assault against his daughter.
His lawyer urged the judge to impose a conditional sentence that could be served at home, but Lenaghan rejected that as inappropriate.
“The degree of culpability of this defendant is enormous. Instead of nurturing and protecting his vulnerable young daughter, he callously and selfishly exploited her for his own sexual gratification,” Lenaghan said.
“The effects his criminal behaviour has wrought on his daughter’s person and life are manifest and tragic. Every child is entitled to an innocent childhood, and to believe that his or her parents are wonderful people who will take care of and protect him or her from harm.
“The defendant robbed his daughter of such a childhood and inflicted great harm upon her. As a result, her life has been characterized by physical and psychological problems, some of which persist,” the judge said.
In a victim impact statement, Susan said the attacks had left her afraid of the dark. She sleeps with her back to the wall, usually on a couch, still needs counselling, suffers flashbacks and has experienced difficulty establishing intimate relationships, she told Lenaghan.
Crown counsel Laura Berman asked for a jail sentence of a year to 18 months for each count.
Lenaghan found a sentence of 15 months for sexual assault to be appropriate, but taking into account the accused’s age and bad health, he reduced it to nine months, with the indecent assault warranting six months. The sentences will be served concurrently.
But Lenaghan was clearly disturbed by what he had heard regarding the church’s response to Duncalfe’s confession, “which occurred in 1990 when he admitted his sexual involvement with his daughter to members of his church.”
Had Duncalfe owned up to his crimes [to the civil authorities] at that time, his daughter might have enjoyed a happier life and “been relieved to some extent of the horrors that bedevil her to this day,” the judge said.
“It is clear from the letters of reference written by members of the defendant’s family and members of his church that ... they seem to regard his actions as sins and to be of the opinion that the actions taken by the church should suffice as far as punishment is concerned. ...
“The defendant’s actions were not merely sins which could be expiated by confession to spiritual mentors, but crimes, offences against the social order which fall to be dealt with by civil society,” he said.
“Both the defendant and members of his church appear to have forgotten or ignored the biblical injunctions to render unto Caesar those things that properly belong to Caesar,” Lenaghan said.
Judge quite right
Prof. Ross Hastings, who teaches pastoral ethics at the University of B.C.’s Regent College, said Lenaghan couldn’t have put it better.
“The judge was quite right in viewing it like that,” said Hastings, who teaches clergy their ethical responsibilities at the college, an interdenominational Christian graduate school.
“There is no question these were crimes and should have been reported by the church to the civil authorities,” he said.
Any pastor who is told such a thing must report it to the police, he said.
“It’s simple and clear. This sort of thing can’t be dealt with in-house, although the Mennonite church is of the Anabaptist tradition and tend to be ‘antinomian,’ that is, to put the church above the law. They have the tendency to believe everything can be solved in-house,” he said.
“I categorically tell pastors they can’t guarantee confidentiality when someone comes into their office. If they are going to confess a crime — if they tell them, for instance, they have molested a child — the pastor has to tell them he is duty-bound to report crimes to the police.
“That position is supported in the gospel, where it is clear that Christians have to obey the law of the land, except when any law violates the law of God,” Hastings said.
He said he knows of an instance where a person confessed to a murder “at the communion table.”
“The pastor sought advice from a lawyer and in the end, counselled that person to go with him to the police where he confessed his crime,” he said.
The Vancouver Sun was unable to contact Pastor Toews for comment.
But he was interviewed by the Abbotsford News following Duncalfe’s sentencing, and said the church didn’t inform police of the abuse because the victim was an adult at the time and no longer a member of the congregation.
As for Susan, has the experience shaken her faith?
“I still believe in God. I know what’s right and wrong, but my church now is my beliefs. I’m not suggesting the church didn’t teach me good things, it did. But I hold on to the more powerful things,” she said.
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By LEVI PULKKINEN | SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF
Seven former students at Seattle-area Catholic schools have filed suit against the archdiocese, claiming the church order operating the schools withheld crucial evidence of clergy abuse during earlier lawsuits.
In three actions, former students of O'Dea High School in Seattle and a now closed Kent orphanage allege that officials with the order affiliated with the schools, the Christian Brothers of Ireland, failed to release documentation showing that two priests had previously sexually abused students. Each of the plaintiffs had previously settled with the order and the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese, but now assert that they would have pursued the litigation had the information on the decades-old abuses been available.
In one of the cases, officials with the Christian Brothers initially denied the accused priest had ever served in Washington, said Michael Pfau, a Seattle attorney representing all seven clients. Only after the case was settled did they provide documentation from Rome showing the priest had been kicked out of the order following abuse allegations, he said.
"It really begs the question about whether the comments made by church leaders about transparency are accurate or not," Pfau said. "We don't know if they are at this point."
At issue in two of the cases is former O'Dea teacher Edward Courtney, a disgraced priest who was forced from teaching in 1988 after at least 31 years as an educator with the order.
In court documents, six of Courtney's former students allege that he sexually abused them while he was a teacher at O'Dea in the 1960s and 1970s.
Courtney left O'Dea in 1976 to enroll at a Canadian sex offender rehabilitation program, according to court documents. He returned to the area two years later, holding positions at Our Lady of the Lake school in Wedgewood and St. Alphonsus Parish school in Ballard before being convicted of a sex crime in 1988.
In 2004, Pfau's clients filed suit against the Christian Brothers order and the Seattle Archdiocese claiming that church authorities failed in their duties to protect students from a known sexual predator. As a result of the action, the order and archdiocese were ordered to surrender any documentation regarding abuse perpetrated by Courtney.
Pfau now contends in court papers that the church withheld key documents either intentionally or through negligence. Lacking that information, Pfau said, his clients settled for smaller payments then they otherwise would have received.
"We're not accusing these defendants of fraud, per say," Pfau said. "Whether it was fraud or poor bookkeeping, we don't know. But what we're saying is that the defendants had information in their possession that they were required to provide to us that they didn't."
Repeated calls to a Seattle Archdiocese spokesman were not returned Wednesday.
Asked to elaborate on the new evidence, Pfau declined to comment in detail because of concerns about the ongoing litigation.
Similar revelations prompted another clergy abuse survivor to file a second suit against the Christian Brothers and the archdiocese for sexual assaults he endured while at the Briscoe Memorial School, a church-run orphanage formerly located in Kent.
In that case, the former attendee claimed he'd been abused by Brother George Dwyer while enrolled at the orphanage in the 1940s.
Facing the allegations, officials with the order initially denied that Dwyer had ever worked at the school, Pfau said. When photos of the priest surfaced through litigation, the order began to claim that no evidence existed that Dwyer had abused children.
With very little evidence to support his claim, Pfau's client opted to settle with the order. Month later, Pfau said, the order released documents from a Rome archive showing Dwyer had been expelled from the Christian Brothers in 1947 following an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse.
Without offering details, Pfau said all seven clients expect to see a "significant" increase in the amount of compensation they receive, more than additional compensation. More than that, though, he said they want to see justice done for the abuse they suffered as children.
"It's not just about the money. They're really angry," Pfau said. "They went through a very difficult litigation process, and they believe they were not treated fairly."
Neither the order nor the archdiocese has responded to the lawsuits, which have been filed in King County Superior Court.
This article was found at:http://www.seattlepi.com/local/403997_suits18ww.html
by Paul Kiesel
A little over two years ago, a Fresno jury found Father Eric Swearingen guilty (9-3) of molesting a former altar boy, however, Bishop John J. Steinbock has continued to allow this man to work with children at the Holy Spirit Parish in Fresno, California.
What is Bishop Steinbock thinking? Would a school district allow a teacher faced with the same situation as Swearingen (I find it inappropriate to refer to him as "Father," as it shows deference to a man who, frankly, doesn't deserve it) to continue working with children? As a parent, would you want your children around a man like that?
Bishop Steinbock, based on his actions, could care less about the future safety of children within any of his parishes and this was especially punctuated yesterday, as he waltzed into a Fresno courtroom, for another clergy sexual abuse case involving one of his former priests, and casually winked at the jury. His attitude, though, changed almost immediately after being questioned by the plaintiff's attorney, Jeff Anderson.
Jeff Anderson: Bishop, when did you first realize or learn that when an adult lays his hands on the genitals of a child and manipulates the genitals of a child and places them on the body of a child for sexual purposes, it was a crime? When did you first realize that?
Bishop: You know, it's really hard for me to say. I think society --
Anderson: No, you.
Bishop: I think I thought along with society for so many years it was --
Anderson: Bishop, I'm going to ask you to focus on the question. When did you first learn that it was a crime for an adult, a person over the age of 18, to engage in sex with a kid?
Bishop: Well, I think we would all think that was always a criminal case.
Anderson: If you knew that, then why didn't you turn it over to the law enforcement for them to determine whether or not a crime had been committed and the statute of limitations had passed or not?
Bishop: Because I do not have an allegation of that against him. This is way back in 1995. As I said, I had no cause to take his faculties or away. There was no allegation.
Anderson: You were concerned about a civil suit because you go on to say [in the Bishop's own notes from 1995], "There can always be a civil suit," right?
Bishop: Well, there can always be a civil suit. But I'm also thinking of his, you know, that might be a civil suit against him. I mean, I wasn't aware that they'd probably just come at the Diocese alone. I figured they would also go after the priest.
Wow! Steinbock's responses at one point show that back in 1995, when the current allegation was brought to his attention, he was more concerned with a civil suit than turning over any evidence of wrongdoing by his clergymen to the authorities.This article was found at:
20 Mar 2009
By Simone Weichselbaum | Daily News Police Bureau
A Borough Park man was slapped with a 135-count indictment Thursday after a teen neighbor charged he had endured years of sexual abuse.
Moshe Spitzer, 24, was indicted in Brooklyn Supreme Court for sex acts and sex abuse, and similar charges, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said.
The victim, now 18, confided to a neighborhood Yeshiva principal about the abuse, said law enforcement sources.
The principal encouraged the victim to speak to his parents about the illegal meetings inside various motel rooms and apartments. Spitzer was 20 when he started taking his younger neighbor out.
"Open lines of communication between communities and law enforcement are essential to fighting crime, and we are pleased that this victim came forward," said Hynes spokesman Jerry Schmetterer.
Authorities are hoping the case will prompt more help from the usually tight-lipped leaders of Brooklyn's Hasidic sects about sexual abuse in their communities.
"The principal did the right thing and didn't try to cover anything up," said one law enforcement source.
In one notorious case, Borough Park rabbi Yehuda Kolko was accused of molesting his students at Yeshiva Torah Temimah. Some victims said the school purposely kept the abuse quiet and hit the yeshiva with multimillion-dollar lawsuits.
"The whole issue is that yeshivas were covering these up," said Orthodox Jewish community child abuse advocate Mark Appel of Am Echad. "Because of the publicity, schools are getting frightened. They don't want to get sued."
Since October, at least five men living in Brooklyn's Hasidic enclaves have been charged with sexually abusing children ranging in age from 7 to 15.
"It is remarkable progress," Appel said.
Investigators said they are seeing more families willing to cooperate and think more abusers will end up behind bars.
"People are starting to realize, teachers and the rabbis, that the only way to stop this is to go to the authorities," said another police source.
"It takes a lot for a teenage boy to stand before a grand jury," the source said. "The system is accommodating to the victim. The district attorney's office and the police department are trying to make it as comfortable as possible."
This article was found at:http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/03/19/2009-03-19_borough_park_man_moshe_spitzer_charged_w.html
by Jon Gambrell | Associated Press writer
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The new defense lawyer for jailed evangelist Tony Alamo said Thursday that his client's poor eyesight and diminishing physique would have made it impossible for him to have had sex with underage girls, as federal prosecutors claim.
California lawyer Danny Davis told The Associated Press that "it would be physically impossible" for the 74-year-old man to have sex with girls in showers and buses - accusations lodged by authorities who arrested Alamo on Sept. 25.
"As a younger man, he was a strong bull of a man. At 74, he's close to half of the weight," Davis said of his client.
Alamo faces a 10-count federal indictment accusing him of transporting young girls across state lines for sex.
Davis, 63, said that the young girls in Alamo's case may have "cross-contaminated" each other's stories with similar allegations. The lawyer also said Alamo's poor eyesight showed he couldn't have driven any vehicle across a state line and that his followers likely crossed on their own.
Whether Alamo could take part in a sex act would be examined and possibly included in his defense, Davis said.
Davis recently took over Alamo's defense from Little Rock lawyer John Wesley Hall Jr. Davis said Alamo worried that Hall's busy practice might prevent him from focusing on his case.
Davis also represented Alamo in 1991, when the evangelist was accused of child abuse in California stemming from a 1988 beating of an 11-year-old boy at an Alamo compound north of Los Angeles. The case didn't go to trial after Alamo went to federal prison over tax evasion charges.
Davis claimed that case "went away under its own failed merits."
This article was found at:http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/AP/story/959018.html
by Andy Davis
A judge's ruling Wednesday gives two teenagers an extra three months to find the man they say beat them while they were members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and serve him with a copy of their lawsuit.
But the teenagers' attorney, W. David Carter of Texarkana, Texas, said he doesn't expect to wait that long to move forward with the lawsuit, which seeks damages against the ministry's leader, Tony Alamo, and John Kolbeck, whom authorities have identified as Alamo's "enforcer."
If he can't find Kolbeck in the next month, Carter said, he'll ask U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes for permission to serve Kolbeck by publishing a notice of the lawsuit in newspapers in Texarkana and Fort Smith. Kolbeck would have 30 days after the notice is published to respond or risk having a judgment entered for the teenagers by default.
"Since he's on the run and not going to show himself, apparently, voluntarily, that's typically the best way to get reasonable notice to them that they've been sued," Carter said.
In the lawsuit, Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna, who were both 18 when the suit was filed in November, say Kolbeck, 49, beat them with a board, at the direction of Alamo, on multiple occasions while they were in the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in Fouke and Fort Smith. Both teenagers left the ministry last year.
Kolbeck is wanted on a second-degree battery charge in a beating that police say Calagna received at a ministry warehouse in Fort Smith last year and on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is being sought by the FBI, Fort Smith police and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Under federal court rules, the teenagers had until March 25 to serve Kolbeck with the suit. In January, Carter asked the judge for the deadline to be extended by four months, saying the teenagers hoped Kolbeck "will be apprehended by law enforcement officials during that time and will be available for personal service of process."
In an order Wednesday, Barnes extended the deadline, but by a month less than Carter had requested.
Carter said he has been checking with authorities for any news on the search for Kolbeck, and he has been in talks with a producer for the Fox show America's Most Wanted, which plans to feature the case.
America's Most Wanted producer Diana Nolan said the show has been working on a feature about the case since November and tentatively plans to air it in May, when Alamo is set for trial on sex charges.
"Obviously, any violence against children strikes a chord with our show," said Nolan, noting that the show's host, John Walsh, became an advocate for crime victims after his son Adam was killed in 1981.
Sgt. Levi Risley, a spokesman for the Fort Smith Police Department, said authorities haven't received any recent leads on Kolbeck's whereabouts. He said anyone with information can call the Fort Smith Police Department at (479) 709-5000.
Alamo, 74, has denied ordering beatings. His trial, on charges that he transported five underage girls across state lines for sex over the past 15 years, is set for May 18.
This article was found at:http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/255228/
19 Mar 2009
Talk To Action March 18, 2009
By Kathryn Joyce
Today my first book, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, which I've written about at Talk to Action before, was published by Beacon Press. In it, I've investigated the growing ranks of the explicitly pronatalist, and self-named, "patriarchy" movement, which advocates strict interpretations of wifely submission to male headship, women forgoing all forms of contraception to bear as many children as God gives them, and homeschooling their daughters to do the same. So far, the book is being received as a fair and accurate depiction of a growing movement within conservative evangelicaldom (including kind words from Christianity Today) that deserves more attention than it has received to date.
An excerpt of the book has been published at religion journalism site Killing the Buddha:
There were complications when Geoffrey Botkin's first daughter, Anna Sofia, was born. The problems were physical--Anna Sofia's mother, Victoria, could have died--and more esoteric, too. Geoffrey Botkin is one of the leading voices of a ministry called Vision Forum, the intellectual avant-garde of fundamentalism. One of Vision Forum's chief concerns is child-rearing, which the movement considers both a process of theological conditioning and an art lost sometime in the 19th century. So as Botkin held his newborn daughter perfectly still in his cupped hands, he prayed to God for guidance: after having raised two older sons, how should he raise a daughter? He felt God move him to a specific prayer for the infant sleeping in his hands, a prayer for her body. He remembered baby girls are born with two ovaries and a finite number of eggs that will last them a lifetime. He placed his hand over his new daughter's abdomen and prayed for Anna Sofia to be the "future mother of tens of millions." He prayed that the Lord would order everything in his daughter's life: "What You will do with every single egg here. How many children will this young lady have? Who will be her husband? With what other legacy will these little eggs be joined to produce the next generation for the glory of God?" He explained to a room full of about six hundred fathers and daughters gathered for the annual Vision Forum Father and Daughter Retreat that he had prayed that his new daughter might marry young.
Today, Anna Sofia and her sister, Elizabeth, strikingly poised young women in their early twenties, are the preeminent Vision Forum brand for promoting biblical womanhood to the unmarried daughters of homeschooling families, girls largely raised in the patriarchal faith but susceptible to temptations from the outside world. In all their testimony to fellow young "maidens," the Botkin daughters, raised in both the American South and the Botkins' Seven Arrows Ranch in New Zealand, stress the dire importance of one of their father's favorite talking points: "multigenerational faithfulness." That is, the necessity of the sons and daughters of the movement--especially the daughters--cleaving to the ways of their parents and not abandoning the dominion project the older generation has begun.
Some children do rebel, as Natasha Epstein recalls. There were several runaway girls from Boerne Christian Assembly, the church pastored by Doug Phillips, the founder of Vision Forum, Epstein says. Some ultimately succeeded in leaving the lifestyle after having been caught and brought back to the church by their fathers and other men in the church. Natasha herself ran away from home following the excommunication of her family, living with her grandparents in Oregon for a period before returning to Texas and taking up the modern young woman's lifestyle that her mother grieves. But the more common--and more dangerous--rebellion is the quieter assimilation of movement children into modern society, not running away but merely drifting into more lax expressions of the faith and away from patriarchal adulthood.
A common nay-saying liberal reaction to the patriarchy movement and "Quiverfull," a conviction that Christian women should birth as many children as God gives them as a means of "demographic warfare," is to assume that the children of strict homeschooling families will rebel en masse--like the 1960s youth rebellions against a conservative status quo. However, the heads of the movement are already well aware of this threat, and they are taking all the precautions they can to cut off the possibility of such defection in the cradle.
As Jennie Chancey tells the Botkin sisters in their book, So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God, children of the movement should have "little to no association with peers outside of family and relatives" as insulation from a corrupting society. Daughters shouldn't forgo education but should consider to what ends their education is intended and should place their efforts in "advanced homemaking" skills.
Concretely, Geoffrey Botkin explains, this means evaluating all materials and media that daughters receive from childhood on as it pertains to their future role. The Botkin sisters received no Barbie dolls--idols that inspire girls to lead selfish lives--but rather a "doll estate" that could help them learn to manage a household of assets, furniture, and servants in the aristocratic vision of Quiverfull life which Botkin paints for the families around the room. The toys the girls played with were "tools for dominion," such as kitchen utensils and other "tools for their laboratory": the kitchen.
R. C. Sproul, Jr., in a book of advice to homeschooling parents, When You Rise Up, describes the critical secret of God's covenants as the cornerstone of the homeschool movement: the imperative of covenants, he says, is to "pass it on to the next generation." He's done so himself, he relates, in what he calls the R. C. Sproul, Jr., School for Spiritual Warfare, in which he crafts "covenant children" with an "agrarian approach" and stresses that obedience is the good life in and of itself, "not a set of rules designed to frustrate us but a series of directions designed to liberate us." In that freedom, boys and girls are educated according to their future roles in life, and girls are taught that they will pursue spiritual warfare by being keepers in the home.
To gauge the amount of secular baggage his homeschooling readers are trailing, he tells the story of a family friend whose homeschooled nine-year-old daughter still cannot read. "Does that make you uncomfortable?" he asks.
Are you thinking, "Mercy, what would the superintendent say if he knew?" . . . But my friend went on to explain, "She doesn't know how to read, but every morning she gets up and gets ready for the day. Then she takes care of her three youngest siblings. She takes them to potty, she cleans and dresses them, makes their breakfasts, brushes their teeth, clears their dishes, and makes their beds." Now I saw her, rightly, as an overachiever. If she didn't know how to read but did know all the Looney Tunes characters, that would be a problem. But here is a young girl being trained to be a keeper at home. Do I want her to read? Of course I do . . . . But this little girl was learning what God requires, to be a help in the family business, with a focus on tending the garden.
Read the entire excerpt at Killing the Buddha.
Order Quiverfull from Amazon.
This article was found at:
The Huffington Post - July 7, 2008
by Christine Wicker
Remember when George H. W. Bush promised us a kinder, gentler form of Republicanism? Did that happen? No. We're now being told that the Religious Right is becoming a kinder, gentler political force. Is that happening? No. In fact, core supporters of the Religious Right are moving only one direction -- farther out. And that is exactly where they want to take the country.
Last week, I told you about a sermon given by Bruce Ware, a professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He used the Bible to back up his notion that God means for women to be submissive to men and that men because of their sinful nature beat women who because of their sinful nature aren't submissive enough.
Now I want to tell you about some of the other ideas coming out of this seminary, which has become a primary mouthpiece for the most fundamentalist positions of the Southern Baptist Convention. This is the seminary that defended the use of torture in the fight against terrorism. It is also the seminary that is bringing us a new theology featuring what Kansas City Baptist minister Keith Herron calls a religious sexual obsession that links the Bible with "the ickiest viewpoints about sex and procreation and pleasure."
This new teaching is being called "the full quiver theology" and is based on Psalm 127: 3-5 which reads: "Children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. As arrows in a soldier's hand, so are the sons of the young. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them." So the more children, a couple has, the better.
But fundamentalists never stop with what's good. They always address both sides of the question. Obedient insiders get God's blessing. The disobedient get God's condemnation.
According to the seminary's president, Albert Mohler, couples who choose childlessness are guilty of "rebellion against parenthood [that] represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design." God will decide whether to open or close the womb. Using birth control is an act against God's will. The truly Christian couple will allow God to decide whether each act of sex will result in procreation and sex will be returned to its proper place in a Christian's life.
And the Christian woman? She'll submit, of course. Couples who delay marriage until they are older are also guilty of disobedience under this new theology. When President Mohler explained the teaching some years ago to the Chicago Tribune, he explained that under-population was a pressing concern.
"We are barely replenishing ourselves," he said. "That is going to cause huge social problems in the future."
That led Miguel De La Torre, professor of social ethics at Denver's Iliff School of Theology, to wonder exactly whom Mohler meant by "we." The world's population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050. The United States' population is expected to grow to 400 million by 2040. No under-population there.
But wait. There is one U.S. population that's declining. White people. If present trends continue Euro-Americans will cease being the majority race in the United States by about 2050. Over the next half century, America will become a predominately non-white nation.
"Hence, the religious call for 'full-quiver' theology is white-supremacy code language advocating for the increase of white babies," writes De La Torre. "Mohler's call, whether he realizes it or not, is a race-based warning. It is a call for white fecundity, lest America becomes overrun with "colored" children, which would only lead, as Mohler puts it, to 'huge social problems in the future.' "
Oh, yes. And one more point, for decades Southern Baptists have loudly declared that their fundamentalism is the "right" Christianity and pointed as proof to their own growth while mainline denominations were declining. But the Southern Baptist Convention's growth rate has been shrinking since the 1950s, according to new statistics.
It has now fallen enough that the Southern Baptist Convention is recording membership losses. One reason? Birth rates among Southern Baptists are declining. President Mohler and Professor Ware back up their contentions with plenty of Bible verses. For some people, that means they are teaching the truth. But other evangelicals say their interpretations are as wacky as using the Bible to defend slavery, segregation, white supremacy, oppression of the poor and unjust wars.
"Dr. Ware needs to have his head examined. He and the others who share these views need therapy and should be banned from teaching the next generation of ministers who sit at their feet learning about God, about human pain and suffering," writes Rev. Herron.
"Warning signs should be posted at the entrance of the seminary: "Warning! Sexual Obsessions Abound Here ... Enter at Your Own Peril!"
Professor De La Torre writes, "It is the height of biblical naivete to impose modern concepts upon ancient texts." Women and children were considered property when the Bible was written. When Job's cattle and sheep and goods were taken away, his children were also killed, De Le Torre points out. In the happy ending, God restored them all. The property was interchangeable. Cows dead. Children dead. No real difference. Just get some more. Happy ending. That was a very different time.
Few commentators are going to be willing to call fundamentalist evangelicals' positions sexual obsessions. Few will be willing to call them racist. So this could be the only place and the only time that you will see them labeled as such.
These positions, in fact, are unlikely to be broadly brandished as the campaign moves on. But Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is not a fringe institution. Albert Mohler and Bruce Ware are well respected and their words are heeded. Young people do sit at their feet, learning.
This article was found at:
He did not believe that 12-year-old was sexually abused
By Clifford Ward |Special to the Tribune
A former Elgin pastor found guilty Wednesday of spanking a girl with a piece of wood in his office admitted he wasn't prepared for the task of counseling a child who claimed to have been sexually abused.
"The situation was over my head," said Rev. Daryl Bujak, who avoided jail time when he was sentenced to 12 months of supervision. "I didn't have the ability to deal with the situation I confronted."
Bujak was found guilty of two counts of battery for spanking the 12-year-old during counseling sessions in 2005 at First Missionary Baptist Church in Elgin. He was accused of beating the girl with a piece of crown molding, in part because he did not believe her allegations.
Bujak was found not guilty of violating a state law that requires clergy members to report allegations of sexual abuse.
"I've spent many hours reflecting on the situation, and I regret some of the things that have taken place," Bujak said before Kane County Judge Allen Anderson sentenced him after a two-day bench trial.
In addition to sentencing Bujak for battery, a misdemeanor, the judge ordered him to perform 80 hours of community service and pay a $350 fine. Bujak is to have no contact with the girl.
The girl's parents approached Bujak in March 2005 after the girl said she had been sexually abused. The mother did not believe the allegations, and neither did Bujak.
It was the start of a series of weekly meetings with Bujak, where the mother would report on her daughter's behavior. Bujak would spank the girl 15 to 25 times, depending on how she had behaved the previous week, the girl and her mother testified.
The mother later believed her daughter's allegations, and in October 2005, Matthew Resh of Ingleside was charged with sexually abusing the girl. He is awaiting trial in McHenry County on five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault.
Bujak's attorney, Ross Bartolotta, argued that the parents had given his client permission to do corporal punishment as part of the counseling.
But the judge rejected Bartolotta's assertion that a clergyman had a right to spank with parental permission.
"The right of corporal punishment would not extend to a teacher who decided to improve the grades of a student by administering weekly spankings," Anderson said.
The girl's testimony, he said, was very credible. "The problems she suffered through, I hope, are past, and I hope she is able to move on," the judge said.
Bujak resigned as pastor in August 2008, a decision that was unrelated to the charges, said Robert Steele, the church's treasurer.
"He just felt the Lord was through with him here," Steele said.
This article was found at:
18 Mar 2009
Raleigh, N.C. — Judge Ned Mangum released his ruling Tuesday in a custody case that has become a cause célèbre in the homeschooling community, saying three children must go to public school next year.
Click here to read the court ruling (.pdf)
Mangum reiterated his oral judgment that the children of Thomas and Venessa Mills must be enrolled in public school in the 2009-10 school year. Venessa Mills is in the fourth year of home schooling her children, who are 10, 11 and 12 years old.
Thomas and Venessa Mills are in the process of divorcing. Thomas Mills cites Venessa’s involvement with the Sound Doctrine Church for their split. “She became unrecognizable as the person I married, and, in the name of her religion, she distanced herself from me,” his affidavit said.
He admitted that distance led him to stray from his marriage. He admitted to an affair. “Venessa Mills expressed appropriate concern for his transgressions,” the court order stated.
Venessa Mills asked the court to order that her husband have no decision-making authority related to the children’s education or religion.
The majority of the testimony supporting Mangum’s ruling dealt with Venessa Mills’ membership in the Sound Doctrine Church. According to the ruling, her mother, father and sister said under oath that “they are concerned about Venessa’s involvement with Sound Doctrine and are particularly concerned about the effect on the children.”
A woman described as Venessa’s “life-long friend” who served as her maid of honor at her 1994 wedding said, “Because of my friendship with Venessa Mills, it is extremely hard for me to make this affidavit, but I want to make the court aware of my concern for the Mills children.”
Since joining the Sound Doctrine Church, “Venessa has pushed her loved ones away,” Shanna Winkler-Hanson said. “From what I observed, it was apparent to me that Venessa has an extreme amount of control over the children,” her affidavit said.
Former members of Sound Doctrine Church also wrote affidavits questioning the practices of the church, calling them “very cult-like” and saying the church was “run by fear and manipulation.”
In his custody ruling, Mangum wrote that both parents should have the opportunity to influence the children’s religious development. “This court can not and will not infringe upon either party’s right to practice their own religion and expose their children to the same,” he wrote.
In addition to outlining the children’s physical custody and school arrangements, Mangum ordered that Venessa Mills undergo a mental health assessment.
This article was found at:
Judge says religious group is cult-like
The News & Observer - North Carolina
March 17, 2009
Wake District Court Judge Ned Mangum had ruled on March 6 that it would be in the best interests of Venessa Mills' children to go to public school this fall.
The ruling, in an ongoing divorce case between Venessa and husband Thomas Mills, has sparked national attention from conservative groups who maintain Mangum has overstepped his bounds.
Among other provisions, the written order says the parents will have joint custody of the children and that both parents can "practice their own religion and expose children to same."
The order quotes people named as former members of Sound Doctrine who describe the institution as abusive, controlling, practicing brainwashing and run by fear and manipulation.
This article was found at:
by GARANCE BURKE | Associated Press Writer
Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles made a rare court appearance Tuesday to testify that he knew nothing of sexual abuse two brothers claim they suffered years ago at the hands of a priest in rural central California.
by Clifford Ward
A girl whose pastor allegedly spanked her with a piece of molding because he thought she was lying about being sexually abused testified for two hours today at the minister's trial.
Now 16, the girl told a Kane County judge that Rev. Daryl Bujak struck her on the buttocks and lower back between 15 and 25 times at each of eight weekly sessions in the spring of 2005 when she was 12.
The girl's mother brought her to Bujak for counseling after she told her mother that another man had sexually abused her. The man, Matthew E. Resh, was later charged with sexual abuse, but the mother at first did not believe her daughter's allegations. Resh is scheduled for trial in July.
Bujak, 33, pastor of the First Missionary Baptist Church in Elgin, was charged with battery and failing to report the girl's account of sexual abuse.
The girl testified today that Bujak reportedly told her: "He didn't want me to grow up and become a liar and go to hell."
Attorney Ross Bartolotta, who is representing Bujak, argued in his opening statement Tuesday that the girl's parents were aware the pastor was using corporal punishment in their sessions.
The girl admitted during cross-examination that she was a rebellious child who was sometimes disciplined for being untruthful.
The bench trial before Judge Allen Anderson was expected to continue this afternoon.
This article was found at:http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/03/daryl-bujak-pastor-minister-spanking-sexual-abuse.html
17 Mar 2009
By Matt Coker
In May of 2007, the Weekly published "Spare the Child: Amy Bril Wants to Make Sure Her Kids Don't Grow Up Like She Did--Inside the Notorious Cult Known as The Family" by former staff writer Derek Olson. The story [see below after this article] centered on a custody battle between Amy Bril and her former husband Nathanael Bril over their three children, then ages 13, 10 and 8.
At the time, the mother had no job, no lawyer and barely enough money for frequent trips to an Orange courthouse in hopes of gaining sole legal and physical custody of the kids. She feared if she did not fight for her children she would never see them again due to threats from the historically perverse cult known as The Children of God, a.k.a. The Family International, which she grew up in and to which Nathanael pledged his life.
"Needless to say, this is a great success for the client," says Jeanne Beach of Los Angeles-based Weber Shandwick, Dorsey & Whitney's Los Angeles-based public-relations firm.
Amy and Nathanael were both born into The Children of God, which was founded by David Berg in Huntington Beach in 1968 as an offshoot of the Jesus Movement. Members lived in communes, crammed Bible scriptures and engaged in street preaching. But it disbanded in 1978 amid allegations of serious misconduct, financial mismanagement and abuses of power by leaders.
It re-formed as the Family of Love that same year, expanding into more countries, proselytizing door to door and conducting classes on various aspects of Christian life. But the practice of "flirty fishing," where female members would demonstrate God's love by engaging in sex acts with potential converts, led to court actions, prostitution charges (later dismissed) and eventual abandonment in the age of AIDS.
The cult became known as just The Family in 1982 and internal statistics showed membership and pages of printed literature soared. But Berg was forced to admonish his own writings condoning sex between adult and child members when cult leaders were confronted with sex-abuse allegations all over the world.
Following Berg's death in October 1994, Karen "Mama Maria" Zerby took over leadership of the cult and ushered in a charter that allowed members greater freedom to choose and follow their own pursuits. But Zerby also penned the "Loving Jesus revelation" that told members as young as 12, but generally age 14, that Jesus wanted to engage in a sexual relationship with them.
In 2004, the cult became known as The Family International and major internal changes were instituted. They peg membership at more than 11,200 members in over 100 countries, from South America to Thailand. It is estimated 35,000 have passed through the cult.
Several years ago, Amy and Nathanael separated. She left the cult in 2002 and entered mainstream society, but he continued to live in an Anaheim commune with the children -- who are now 15, 12, and 10 -- whom they successfully co-parented for several years. However, in early 2007, Amy Bril began speaking out in the national media about the horrendous abuse that she and many others had suffered as children growing up in the cult. She especially singled out the cruel, sadistic leaders and their cohorts. In retaliation -- and likely at the urging of cruel, sadistic leaders -- Nathanael cut Amy off from the children almost completely. Around the same time, she says, she received reports that her children were being abused and threatened by other cult members at the Anaheim communal home.
Immediately upon taking the case, Dorsey & Whitney requested and obtained temporary orders giving Amy Bril full custody of all three children, with monitored visitation for Nathanael. The family court ordered a full custody evaluation to be conducted on Nathanael's dime. After a four-month examination, extensive written discovery, several lay- and expert-witness depositions, discovery motions resulting in sanctions against Nathanael and his attorney, numerous ex parte applications for interim relief on various issues (such as enrolling the children in school), a nine-day pre-trial evidentiary hearing, and several rounds of settlement negotiations, a 10-day trial was set for October 2008.
On the eve of trial, Nathanael offered to settle for full custody of all three children going to Amy, which she accepted before directing her Dorsey & Whitney representatives to negotiate a detailed, custodial arrangement. She allowed Nathanael to see his children in exchange for taking more responsibility when it comes to time and money needed for shared child-rearing.
Her lawyers were quick to point out the pact incorporates safeguards to protect the children, probably more from the twisted cult than Nathanael.
This article was found at:
Spare the Child: Amy Bril wants to make sure her kids dont grow up like she did inside the notorious cult known as the Family
by DEREK OLSON published: May 31, 2007
Six years after they first separated, Amy and Nathanael Bril realized that divorce had become inevitable. Too much had changed. Amy Bril says she scarcely recognizes her former self, a mostly homebound mother who home-schooled her three children.
Before she began living apart from her husband, Bril had no driver's license, work history or social life. Once on her own, she dated for the first time, bought her first car and learned to assert herself.
Now 35, in light makeup and a breezy summer shirt over a swimsuit top, Bril still bears striking resemblance to her childhood pictures. Her big brown eyes roam the generic strip mall where she sits, as if this mundane suburban setting still holds some novelty for her.
Her words are steady and measured as she describes her new life. The world has become easier to navigate with each passing season, but Bril fears she hasn't gained enough ground to face the challenge ahead. She must put all of her faith into a system she was raised to believe is the Antichrist incarnate: the law.
Bril was recently laid off from her job as a tax preparer, has no lawyer, and has barely enough money for the frequent trips to the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange to file paperwork and gear up for a custody battle with Nathanael.
In April, he filed for sole legal and physical custody of their three children, ages 13, 10 and 8.
Amy fears that if he gets custody, she will never see her children again. She says the threat comes not from Nathanael himself, but from a historically perverse cult known as the Family International, to which he has pledged his life—and in which Amy grew up.
Because of their ages, Amy says she can't fully disclose to her children why she doesn't want their lives to completely revolve around the Family.
"I don't want to fill their minds with that—they're too young," she says. "But some day, when they're teenagers, they're going to know.
"What I'm doing today, they are going to respect me for when they're old enough to understand," she says.
In 1968, Amy Bril's father, a 14-year-old high-school dropout, met a defrocked Evangelical minister named David Berg in Huntington Beach, Bril says. At a seaside Christian café, Berg, preaching virtues like abstinence and salvation through Jesus, found an eager audience among a flock of spiritually starved, post-Summer of Love teens.
Fueled by the adoration of his young followers and a sense of superiority over the mainstream Christianity that rejected him, Berg placed himself next to Jesus Christ as God's chosen prophet, according to former followers. He preached a peculiar mix of communal living and hellfire and brimstone, but soon he saturated his doctrine with sexuality.
Throughout the following decade, Berg and his prophecies led his flock down a path of debauchery, authoritarian rule and child abuse. Some members delved further into the abyss each year, eventually leading to incest and pedophilia with the children they bore, according to court documents, news reports and witness accounts.
Amy Bril, whose legal first name is "Armendria," was born on a communal compound in her mother's native Texas in 1972. Her birth came two years before Berg predicted California would sink into the ocean and the rest of the world would be decimated by a comet. She would spend the next 17 years living in more than 30 countries. She says she was given away by her parents at age 8 to be groomed as Berg's sex slave; locked indoors, sometimes for 6 months at a time; and denied an education.
Instead of an adequate high-school curriculum, Bril and hundreds of other children were force-fed Berg's sometimes-perverse doctrine, she and other former members say.
According to Nathanael Bril, Amy is bringing up the history of the group as a scare tactic. In a telephone interview with the Weekly, Nathanael says Amy knows her children have not suffered any abuse at the hands of the Family and that she's using stories from long ago to manipulate the outcome of the custody hearing.
"Her only card that she can use against me in court are stories from 25 years ago that happened to her," he says.
"She abandoned her family over five years ago," he says. "Now that I've filed for divorce, all of a sudden, she's shown an interest in having the children."
* * *
Inside a ground-level apartment in a Los Angeles suburb, Sam Ajemian keeps one of the only repositories of literature from the Family, formerly known as the Children of God. The 62-year-old Ajemian, of Armenian descent but born and raised in Greece, speaks in a sometimes hard-to-decipher accent, has bushy black eyebrows, silvering hair and big hairy forearms.
In 1969, Ajemian was 24 when he joined the Family as it made its way through Berkeley, he says. He had become a Christian only one month prior to his introduction to Berg.
"You know how churches are very boring and dead? Well, this guy was full of fire," he says. "We were all very young, and he was a 50-year-old man. He was very impressive. He said he spoke to God and he was the Endtime prophet."
Ajemian, who was known in the group as "Zach the Greek," was a member for the next 10 years and participated in Berg's free-love practices, such as wife-swapping and orgies. By then, the Family had dispersed into several small homes spread throughout Europe, Asia and South America.
Ajemian says he wasn't aware of the pedophilia in the group because only some communal homes actually did it, but when molestation started becoming part of the written doctrine, he took a long reflective walk through the Acropolis at Athens and decided to quit.
Ajemian says at first he felt somewhat ambivalent about his experience. As time progressed and he awoke from Berg's spell, he became angry. About 17 years ago, he began in earnest to collect as much material as he could that shows what he says is the Family's true nature. His collection contains thousands of examples of literature from the group's beginning up until the mid-1990s.
Ajemian, who wrote and published his own book, The Children of God Cult, a.k.a. the Family, using his archives, says he hopes someday the members of the group who carried out the alleged crimes will be brought to justice. He has eight bookshelves of the Family's literature stacked up to the ceiling in a bedroom he's dedicated to his library.
In the early 1990s, authorities raided or investigated Family homes in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Italy, Sweden, Spain, France, Australia and Los Angeles, according to a 2004 Family International publication called "Religious Freedoms on Trial." Nearly 600 of the group's children were held by social services in those countries but were eventually returned, according to the publication. Although the group was never convicted of child abuse in court, the pressure from law enforcement, court battles and media scrutiny, beginning in the mid-1980s, compelled the Family to clean up its public image. They purged much of their explicit literature and doctrine and outlawed deviant practices that had become widespread, according to previous media inquiries into the group.
Books and pictures were ordered burned, former practices of pedophilia were ostensibly outlawed, and the Family put on a new face, ex-members say.
Amy Bril says she does believe that, in large part, the Family has changed, but unless it turns over the members who participated in child abuse in the past, she says, pedophiles are still within its ranks.
In an e-mailed response to a list of questions, Family International spokeswoman Anne Cunningham said the group now has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse of minors.
"The Family will immediately expel and excommunicate any adult member deemed guilty of physically or sexually abusive behavior toward children," she wrote. "Family members are advised to conduct themselves in conformance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which they live and to cooperate with the justice system of the land."
Among the documents the group purged in the '80s and '90s are several of Berg's prophecies, some of which he disavowed publicly before his death. The prophecies came in the form of long, semi-structured diatribes known as the Mo' letters (Mo' is short for Moses). Replete with grammatical errors and exclamation points, the letters read like the semi-educated ramblings of a mentally ill street preacher.
Former members of the group who lived with or near Berg said he would sequester himself from the others for days, often drunk, and emerge with his "prophecies" from God.
Among his detailed instructions to members were ways to raise money, including deceiving churches, going door-to-door for donations, bilking men through sanctioned sexual usury known as "Flirty Fishing," or prostitution. Prostitution and "Flirty Fishing" were both banned by the group in 1987.
Much of the older literature is peppered with nude photos and drawings of men and women, often depicted in sexual intercourse or in orgies. Sex and orgies are considered communion, Ajemian says. He says that when he was involved with the group, members in communal homes would make schedules of who would have sex with whom each morning; those not willing to give themselves, sometimes including children, were reprimanded as being "full of the devil."
Berg's own writings claimed any kind of sex done in love was natural, including incest. He referred to it as "the rule of love."
In a 1980 publication, now removed from the doctrine, called "The Devil Hates Sex!" Berg wrote, "There's nothing in the world at all wrong with sex as long as it's practiced in love, whatever it is or whoever it's with, no matter who or what age or what relative or what manner! And you don't hardly dare even say these words in private! If the law ever got a hold of this, they'd try to string me up! They'd probably lynch me before I got to the jail!"
Although the group says all forms of child-related sexuality have been purged from its doctrine, one bizarre ritual from slightly more than a decade ago might still be practiced, Ajemian and other ex-members say. In a doctrine titled "Loving Jesus," members as young as their early teens are encouraged to masturbate while fantasizing about having sex with Jesus Christ. The multipart series, produced by the Family during 1995 and 1996, is part of Ajemian's collection and also available on the website xfamily.org, which is run by former members. Since homosexuality is forbidden in the group, young boys were told to imagine themselves as women.
Cunningham said the group does not encourage children to sexually fantasize about Jesus.
Nathanael Bril says his children have not been exposed to any of the sexual teachings of the prior generation, and, he says, they "don't even know the meaning of the word 'sex.'"
In a previously published statement by Family International spokeswoman Claire Borowick, she said the family now has changed its policies about sex, completely forbidding it before age 16.
But the records of the more disturbing Mo' letters from 25 and 30 years ago still remain, as do many members from that era. Although Berg's deviant sexual teachings are now mostly a buried embarrassment, many of his letters are still considered Gospel to members of the group. Some of the Mo' letters still in circulation can be viewed on the Family's website, thefamily.org.
One video in Ajemian's collection includes a vulnerable, prepubescent Amy Bril. She enters the frame and begins dancing, appearing somewhat reluctant. She is in a forest, partially exposed and clothed only in a translucent-pink sarong. In the video, Ajemian says, Bril removes her clothes completely. She was 9 years old at the time.
Bril says that, like many young girls in the group, she was forced to make the striptease videos every year from age 8 until 13. The videos were sent to Berg, who also shared them with other men in the group, she says.
At age 13, Amy became one of Berg's many child-brides in a mock wedding in the Philippines, she says.
* * *
Among the piled letters, books and compilations in Ajemian's collection is a faux-leather-bound book with the gold embossed title The Story of Davidito.
The book, published in the early 1980s and repudiated by the Family a few years later, contains more than 700 black-and-white pages chronicling the early years of the Family's young Messiah, a child born to the current leader, Karen Zerby, and an unknown father. Zerby served as Berg's personal secretary, then his wife, and eventually became the group's prophet after Berg's death in 1994. She now leads the group with a man named Peter Amsterdam. Berg lived to be 75 and was never prosecuted for any of the alleged instances of child abuse.
The book contains explicit details and photographs depicting the young boy being molested from the time he was born. One picture shows a twentysomething nanny fellating the smiling toddler; the book then describes in detail how much he liked it. Other photos show the young boy in sexual poses with other nude children.
In many of the photographic examples of pedophilia, the faces of the perpetrators are obscured, replaced by eerie, smiling, hand-drawn masks. The practice was commonly used to protect members' identities, former members say.
On Jan. 8, 2005, Davidito, who had changed his name several times throughout his childhood and most recently, at 29, was called Ricky Rodriguez, allegedly murdered one of his former nannies by stabbing her and slitting her throat. He then shot himself and was found in his car.
The night before the killing, Rodriguez nonchalantly loaded his .40 caliber Glock in front of a video camera and talked about his thirst for revenge for the abuse perpetrated on him and other children. The full video is available on the Internet.
In the video, he expressed remorse that he couldn't kill more of the leadership, especially his own mother. Rodriguez had confided in friends that his mother had sex with him when he was 12, they said.
The killings brought the Family back under the national media microscope; stories about the group soon followed from Rolling Stone magazine, Dateline NBC, ABC's 20/20 and The Montel Williams Show.
* * *
Armendria and Nathanael Bril were married in Brazil when they were 17 and 18, respectively. Both were born into the Family and even stayed in the same compound in Texas as babies. Bril says their marriage was loving, and he is a good father.
She says Nathanael truly believes the group has changed. She calls him "deluded."
"For all of the things we don't agree about, we were in love," she says. "In a different situation, in a different country or in a different time, if we had met each other, we may still be together today. But we were in very difficult and very complicated circumstances."
Amy left the Family six years ago, partially because her father and brother, both former members, committed suicide, she says.
The pressures of the group's continued advocacy of free love and polyamory, which she says are part of the group's core beliefs, also strained her marriage.
"In my opinion, it breaks up families," she says. "Eventually, it destroys marriages because you can't keep up that constant, no-boundaries falling in and out of love with whoever you want—and maintain a relationship, unless there's something wrong with the relationship or someone's in denial."
Amy says Nathanael is dependent both financially and emotionally on the Family. She considers him a victim. Like all of the Family's members, Nathanael sends 14 percent of his income to the leadership, some of whom personally abused Amy and countless others, she and other former members say.
Cunningham says the money is not pocketed by the leadership, but rather goes to help the group's charity work in Third World countries. Most of the family's 13,000 members are involved in mission work across the globe, she says.
Recently, Nathanael has expressed a desire to return to a communal home in Brazil with their three children, Amy says. His home telephone number, contained in court documents, is also listed as a contact number for a missionary group in Brazil known as RioVision.
Nathanael did not identify an attorney in his divorce and custody paperwork, but Amy says she will fight him in court rather than give him sole custody of the children.
"We weren't going to use lawyers—until I found out he wanted full custody and wanted to go back to Brazil," she says. "That leaves me where? Mother of three children, the only thing in my life I have that's worth fighting for, and he's going to go back to Brazil and take my kids away from me. In some cult that he supports that were my abusers. It's like, wait a second, that's not going to happen.
"If he has full custody, he can take them any time he wants, and I'll never get them back," she says. "There's no way I'm letting my kids out of this country. As long as they are in America, I have a chance. If they leave America, I don't have a prayer."
Nathanael denies that he wants to take the children to Brazil full-time. He says he hopes they will be able to do missionary work in poor countries, including Brazil, but only on short-term trips.
"I have an affinity with Brazil. It is a special country to me. Two of my children were born there," he says. "As far as relocating there to live, I have no plans to do that."
* * *
On May 4, witnesses outside of Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss' Sherman Oaks office saw a man gluing swastikas on the door. Adonis "Don" Irwin, 32, was arrested and charged with vandalism, performing a hate crime and posting a swastika. If convicted, he faces a maximum of two and a half years in jail and $11,000 in fines. News reports speculated Irwin was a neo-Nazi, but his first spiritual mentor was not Adolf Hitler. It was David Berg.
Irwin was born into the Family. A close friend of Ricky Rodriguez, Irwin gave a eulogy at his funeral. According to news reports, Irwin twice visited Weiss' office the week before the incident and filed constituent complaints, claiming he was affiliated with a group opposed to child trafficking.
Friends say Irwin is not an anti-Semite, that he is one of several former Family members who have succumbed to the psychological damage and pressures of their childhoods. The same pressures have led to at least 30 suicides of former members in the past 12 years, former members say. The Family, in a statement that followed Rodriguez's suicide, claim the number is closer to 10.
Irwin's sister, Merry Berg, was David Berg's granddaughter. Former members say she was the victim of repeated sexual and physical abuse from members of the group, including from David Berg himself.
Friends say she lives on the streets in San Diego. Amy Bril says she periodically receives phone calls from her, always from different phone numbers.
In his suicide video, Rodriguez says the beatings of Merry Berg helped engender his obsession with revenge.
Sarah Martin, born into the Family as "Sarafina," says she and other children who doubted their religion were put into reeducation camps called "Victor Programs." In the programs, Martin says she was often not allowed to speak for months at a time and suffered multiple beatings.
When she was 16, Martin says, she was punished by being brought up on a stage in front of more than 30 people and spanked on her bare bottom with a wooden paddle until she cried. Other times, she says, she was locked in a room and forced to listen to a tape of Berg's teachings 24 hours a day for weeks, sometimes months.
The combination of isolation, lack of boundaries and corporal punishment has wreaked havoc on the psychological states of several members raised in the group, she says.
Martin now spends countless hours compiling news reports, documents, pictures and other Family material, which she posts on the websites xfamily.org and movingon.org, which are among several sites dedicated to supporting former members.
Nathanael says he believes some of these former members are peer-pressuring Amy into fighting for custody of the children. He doesn't deny that some children growing up in the cult were abused, but he and many other children were never exposed to the dark side of the group, he says.
"I wasn't even 10 years old when this stuff was happening," he says. "I think a lot of things happened to her that were very sad and shouldn't have happened to her.
"But there is a point where you have to let it go. You need to move on," he says.
* * *
When Amy Bril left the Family at age 29, she says she was wholly unprepared for life outside. She didn't know how to drive or how to balance a checkbook; she had absolutely no street smarts and held only a diploma issued by the group.
After six years, she says, she is becoming comfortable in mainstream society—a place, she was taught as a young girl, run by minions of the Antichrist.
"When you're in there, you're basically like a zombie," she says. "They train you to only to read their materials, not to seek outside knowledge. There's other people around you that all believe the same, so you're basically surrounded by a lot of peer pressure."
Martin says she attempted the GED test after she left the Family at age 18 and failed miserably. She says she tested as having a seventh-grade education, which she believes is typical for adults raised in the Family. According to its website, thefamily.org, the Family advocates home schooling for all of its children.
A statement on the Family's website says, "Our children follow an orderly, progressive and well-planned curriculum, and it is an ongoing project to keep this updated and expanded on when possible with new books, videos, audiotapes, computer programs, etc. The emphasis is on the joy of learning rather than on marks, grade levels and competition."
Nathanael Bril rejects Amy's assertions that his children aren't getting an adequate education at home. He says the children follow an accredited home-schooling program called the Etiwanda Academy. The two youngest children are two years above their grade level, and the oldest child is on-pace, he says. He expects the children's academic progress will be inspected during the divorce, and he welcomes such scrutiny.
"They're going to find out that, scholastically, they are not only doing well, but they are doing very well," he says.
Amy Bril says the group sees education as less than a primary concern because they believe the Second Coming of Jesus and the Rapture will happen soon. She says they've shied away from pinpointing a date after being wrong several times.
"I was raised never believing I would live past 13 years old," she says. "The shortsightedness is not a good thing because they don't train the children and people for their futures. They don't plan for retirement. None of the people in the Family have savings. They don't own property.
"There's a lot of a lot of churches that believe Jesus is coming back, but those people in the churches are saving for retirement. They have a plan B," she says.
Nathanael admitted that he believes the Endtime will come soon, but that belief is not destructive to his children.
"Living your life as if today's the last day, you will do a lot more than if you thought you had another 30 or 40 or 50 years," he says. "In that respect, I think it is healthy to think we're living in the Endtime."
* * *
Sarah Martin has been compiling literature produced by the family and affidavits from former members and friends of Amy Bril to help bolster her case, which is scheduled to begin June 18.
Amy's greatest worry, however, is not having an attorney.
Without a college degree, she doesn't earn the kind of money that would attract the kind of representation she will need to fight a long custody battle, she says.
Whittier Law School graduate John Patton, who discovered Bril's case while researching a forthcoming article for the Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy, says he has asked several lawyers to consider the case. They've all been unwilling or unable to pick it up, he says, mainly because the work would be pro bono or heavily discounted.
"There is still this ongoing effort to get her into an attorney's office," he says. "But you either need someone who's familiar with the Family, or you need someone who's willing to take the time to research the Family."
Patton helped persuade the staff attorney at the family-advocacy center at Whittier to help Amy fill out the paperwork necessary to file for custody, but she alone will not be able to stand against the resources at the disposal of the Family, he says.
Although Nathanael Bril had not named an attorney in his January and April divorce and custody filings, Patton, who researched several past court cases involving the Family, says, "The attorneys for the Family are vicious; they're not going to give up."
Amy Bril says she wants the discussion to not get personal and to focus on what's best for the children. She says she only filed for sole custody in response to Nathanael wanting full custody. She doesn't want them taken away from Nathanael; she just wants to ensure they have a bridge to the outside world if they ever choose on their own to leave.
"Their father loves them. He is a good father—I'll be honest with you. I think he means well, and he loves them, and of what he has to offer, I think he's given his best. [Nathanael] isn't an abuser. In court, I'm not going to say he is because he isn't," she says. "But he is holding back the chances of my children having a normal and an educated life.
"They are home-schooled right now. They don't socialize with children outside of the Family. To me, that represents everything I just came out of. And I came out late in life. They have an opportunity, by having a mom that has left, to start reasoning, start questioning things. To start being more prepared for society the way it is."
Nathanael says even if he gets the sole custody he's seeking, he wouldn't try to cut Amy out of their children's lives.
"Nothing is going to change with our divorce than the way it has been for the past six years. The only difference is that I'll be able to move on with my life," he says. "Our divorce has nothing at all to do with the Family—nothing. I could not be in the Family tomorrow. People leave the Family all the time. I've come close several times."
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