Former Cult Leader, Michael Hawron, Hiding in Plain Sight in New Boston, Texas


Former Cult Leader, Michael Hawron, Hiding in Plain Sight in New Boston, Texas

He kept his past a secret from everyone in town, including the Boy Scout troop he volunteered with

by Perry Bulwer, August 12, 2019

On August 6, 2019 a lawyers group called Abused in Scouting filed a new lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America alleging a continuing cover-up of sexual child abuse within the organization. Boy Scouts of America have a pedophile epidemic and are hiding hundreds in its ranks, lawyers claim” by Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, August 6,2019

The lawyers represent over 800 victims who have identified 350 more abusers previously unknown to law enforcement, and not contained in the Boy Scouts internal database of known or suspected sexual predators, often referred to as the 'perversion files'. Most of those victims live in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas, where the Boy Scouts are based.

This blog contains thousands of news reports since 2007 concerning religion related child abuse, including cases involving the Boy Scouts
This blog also has a stand-alone page specifically for articles about the religious cult Children of God, also known as The Family International, or just The Family. That brings me to the title of this article and the reason I referenced the latest Boy Scout lawsuit.

Michael Hawron is a former top leader and media spokesperson for The Family. Several months ago, Hawron came to my attention in an online group for former members of that cult. Someone posted links to his website promoting three memoirs he self-published as the True Tales Trilogy, and to a 2018 online radio interview in which he is promoting one of those books.

I didn't recognize his name, but as soon as I saw his photograph I knew that Michael Hawron was the cult leader I knew as Isaac Numbers, or Ike. He also went by Tony, and as the group's media spokesperson used the alias Michael Anthony. I first met him in a cult compound in Japan where he and other leaders were meeting with the cult's infamous founder, David Berg. I then lived with him briefly in Hong Kong not long before I left the cult in 1991.

Hawron, a U.S. citizen, was a leader of The Family in Australia in the early 1970s. He was one of the cult's top financial officers when I lived with him in 1990 in his highly secret cell in Hong Kong. Under his leadership, that unit was laundering money sent from members around the world. Much of it was converted to gold for the use of Berg, and his inner circle. Hawron remained a member and leader of the cult until at least 1993, possibly longer. That year he appeared as the group's spokesperson on the Larry King Live show.

If not for that former member posting the information in the online group, I likely would not have been aware of Hawron's three memoirs. Even if I had read his books I wouldn't have known who he really was, unless I had seen a photograph. That's because Hawron does not mention anywhere in any of his books that he was a member and top leader of a notorious cult for over two decades. That truth, and other facts about his cult life, do not appear anywhere in Hawron's deceitful True Tales Trilogy.

On the “About” page on his website, Hawron refers to being a missionary for over 30 years, spreading the gospel on 5 continents. He does not mention belonging to any church or organization, yet somehow he was able to support a large family living and travelling around the world all those years as an unaffiliated, independent missionary. He claims without mentioning names that he “ran various successful small businesses ... [and] worked as a book editor for a PR firm” while living in Hong Kong. I know those are lies that misrepresent and omit the facts. Any business he might have been involved in was a cult front business, and he may well have edited books, but that 'PR firm' was The Family and those books were the group's own publications.

After former members became aware of the Texas Radio Show interview with Hawron, several of us began posting comments on the show's Youtube page exposing Hawron's true past. At first Hawron responded to some of his critics with several comments. For example, former member Sandy Ellis, who also knew Hawron when was a leader in Australia, calls him out in a few comments. Hawron responds not by denying she knows him, but by claiming he has “undergone several FBI background checks over the past decades ... [and] Got a clean bill of health from them.”

In another comment Hawron replies to comments exposing him as the cult's spokesperson on the Larry King Live show. Hawron denies he was ever a Family member, falsely characterizing his role on that show by saying: “I was hired to do a P.R. job several decades ago. Did my job, and that was that.” That is as close as Hawron has come to admitting at least some connection to the cult. However, his claim that he was merely a third party PR consultant for the group is completely false. Never in their history did the Children of God/Family International trust outsiders to speak for them.

In that same comment, Hawron refers to a “foundation” that advocates for cult survivors and he threatens legal action against his accusers for harrassment and extortion. Peter Frouman, a director of the Safe Passage Foundationwhich assists survivors of that cult, replies to Hawron and challenges his claims. Soon after, Hawron deleted all of his comments on that Youtube page, but not before a few people took screenshots of some them. I have copied below a few of those screenshots.

All the other comments by Hawron's critics remained on the page for awhile, so no one thought it necessary to save those too. However, I recently discovered that all of the comments, including mine, have now been removed from that page by the people responsible for the Texas Radio Show, without any explanation.

In that radio interview Hawron was promoting his book, The Little Town With The Big Heart, about his life in New Boston, Texas. Around the 18 minute mark of the interview he discusses the New Boston Chamber of Commerce using that book as its promotional theme for their annual banquet in March 2018. Hawron says, "they were very proud I had made a tribute to New Boston like that."

In an article about Hawron dated April 25, 2018, the local newspaper in New Boston, Bowie County Citizens Tribune, also refers to his good standing in the community. The article is about Hawron winning an award from the Texas Association of Authors for a spy novel in which the protagonist is his alter ego, but it also references the book discussed in the radio interview: “Hawron received local accolades with his previous book, The Little Town With The Big Heart, a book in which he chronicled the nostalgic charm of living in small town America.” (see article below)

It greatly concerned me that the citizens of New Boston had been deceived by Hawron and were unaware of his past life in an abusive cult in which thousands of children were abused in various ways or denied basic rights. Because the Bowie County Citizens Tribune had already written about him, I emailed the editor, Kenny Mitchell, and informed him of the facts about Hawron.

Kenny replied to my email the next morning, asking me to call him. We spoke on the phone a few hours later and I was surprised to learn from him that he already met with several prominent people in town and showed them the material I sent him. He told me everyone was shocked by the news, and that the library had removed Hawron's book from its prominent position on a display shelf. He also told me that one of the persons he met with was a friend of Hawron's who was particularly concerned by the information because he was a local Scout leader and Hawron volunteered with him. Kenny also said he personally talked to Hawron, but he denied any knowledge of or connection to the Children of God/Family International.

Kenny told me he would investigate further and asked me to send any other evidence that could confirm Hawron's identity as a cult member. I explained that the cult's secrecy, use of aliases, and destruction of documents and photographs made that difficult, but that I would try to find something. I told him other survivors besides myself knew Hawron while in the cult and they would contact him too. I know at least a few did, including Sandy Ellis.

Sandy and I were able to find photos from the early years of the Children of God in which Hawron is clearly visible and identifiable as a Family member. Sandy found a photo on the Facebook page of Hawron's first wife, Erica, showing them as a young married couple in Australia using the Children of God's unique three-finger saluteThe post with that photo is dated January 16, 2018. Someone commented on that photo, asking when and where it was taken, and Michael Hawron replied using his full name, acknowledging it was him in the photo and identify the location as Melbourne. Although that post and photo remains on Erica's Facebook page, the comment thread that included Michael's comment was deleted around the same time he deleted all his comments from the Texas Radio show Youtube page. Sandy took a screenshot of the photo and Hawron's comment before it was deleted, which I've copied below.

We found other similar clues we hoped would satisfy Kenny's request for further evidence of Hawron's cult involvement. For example, near the end of the radio interview Hawron talks about getting a letter from the Catholic priest who married him and Erica in Australia. On a Children of God website of archived photographs from the group's early years there is a photo of them and that priest officiating at their wedding. 

I sent Kenny additional information about the cult, and all the photographs we found and screenshots we had. I didn't hear back from him, so a week later I emailed again and asked him if he intended to publish a report or not. He replied: “Still working on research.” Eleven days later, on June 26, 2109, I emailed Kenny again with a link to a news article about the cult published the day before in The Telegraph newspaper in England. The article features a photo of Hawron in the cult's early years, refers to him by his real name, and discusses his appearance on the Larry King Live show using his alias Michael Anthony. I included in my email to Kenny the excerpt where Hawron is mentioned:
[Tina Dupuy's] uncle Rick Dupuy, who left the group in 1992, was one of the people who spoke out most prominently about the cult, calling David Berg a child molester on Larry King Live! in 1993. On the programme he says that the Family told him to have sex with a 10-year-old – an act he confesses to having carried out (though he says there was no penetration) because the grip of the cult was so strong. For this admission he is called a liar by Promise Rimes, a member of the cult. Michael Hawron, then known as Michael Anthony, sits in the studio and disputes Dupuy's every accusation. Dupuy committed suicide less than three years after the episode aired. Hawron now writes about his time in the group with no reference whatsoever to its name or its sexual practices. In an email to me, he says, “I am afraid that I cannot be of much assistance to you as I have nothing to do with the organisation(s) you mentioned.”” 
Hollywoodsex cults before NXIVM the story of the Children of God” By Ralph Jones, The Telegraph June 25, 2019

One thing I mentioned to Kenny in my email was that Hawron's email statement to the Telegraph reporter denying his cult involvement must be understood in the context of the cult's Deceivers Yet True doctrine, which permits and instructs members to lie and deceive outsiders to protect themselves and their mission. 

In an early 1990s child custody case involving a Family child, a British judge discussed that doctrine of deceit near the beginning of his 295-page judgment. In a section titled “The Family’s Attitude to Lies and Deception,” Justice Ward speaks to the dishonesty of Family witnesses who appeared before him by specifically referring to the Deceivers Yet True doctrine, stating, “I regret to find that in many instances there has been a lack of frankness and a failure to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Ward then gives six specific examples of how The Family’s witnesses were less than honest in the proceedings and goes on to say, “These are worrying examples and they are not the only ones of the ingrained habit of lying if they have to and of telling half the truth if they can get away with it.” Throughout the judgment, Ward provides further examples of Family witnesses “dissembling the truth—deceiving yet true” and withholding incriminating documentary evidence from the court.

Michael Hawron had years of practise using that doctrine, which is one reason he was chosen to be the Family's spokesperson on American television. His dissembling and denials on the Larry King Live show were straight out of the Deceivers Yet True handbook.

Notice that in his email statement to the Telegraph reporter, Hawron uses the present tense "I have nothing to do with...", instead of the past tense. The reporter contacted him about his past in relation to his TV appearance, but Hawron doesn't address that and avoids the truth by spouting a half-truth, which is a lie by omission. It may be true that he no longer has anything to do with the cult, but it is not true that he had nothing to do with it in the past. This is exactly what Hawron has done with his three memoirs, going so far as to call them a True Tales Trilogy, while hiding the full truth about his life.

I had hoped an article in the local paper would alert citizens to this situation. I thought parents should be aware of Hawron's past so they could decide for themselves if they wanted him involved with their children. But Kenny did not acknowledge my email containing the Telegraph article, and has not communicated with me since then. I also contacted the Texarkana Gazette, which also serves New Boston. I thought the editor, Les Minor, would be interested to know the facts about Hawron, and that on his website he promotes his books using a review from the Gazette. I sent him three emails, but he ignored me.

I was concerned about what Kenny had told me about Hawron volunteering with the Boy Scouts. So, I contacted the Boy Scouts, sending an email to Anthony Escobar, an administrator responsible for that region. I explained the conversation I had with Kenny, and provided him the information I had about Hawron. Escobar replied a week later that they were reviewing the information I sent them, but that they could not discuss any personal information about current or former volunteers.

At the same time, I sent an email to the New Boston Chamber of Commerce about Hawron, reminding them of their role in promoting his book at their banquet a year earlier, and explaining that they had been deceived by him. While waiting for their reply, I searched their website looking for locals I could contact about this situation. On the community organizations page I discovered a name associated with the local Boy Scouts troop, Tim Graham. Graham is also the Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce. I assumed that Graham is the same Scoutmaster Kenny Mitchell told me about who was Hawron's friend. When I received no reply after nine days, I sent another email, this time addressed directly to Tim Graham. I haven't received any reply. 

Those of us trying to expose Hawron have met similar silence, or resistance, from other people and organizations we've provided information to. For example, the Texas Authors association has promoted Hawron's books, but like the affiliated Texas Radio Show, has refused to allow any critical comments exposing the facts about Hawron to remain on their social media accounts.

Sandy and I also contacted Kirkus Reviews, a company that provides authors reviews of their books for a fee. Hawron's three memoirs all have reviews on the Kirkus website. They are combined on his author's page, and each review also has its own page. We emailed Karen Schechner, Vice President of Kirkus Indie, providing her facts about Hawron and how their positive reviews of his deceptive books help him cover-up his past. After reviewing the material we sent her, Karen replied to me: “What I would need to take any action is an article from a credible news source that links Hawron directly to the Children of God cult.”

This was before the Telegraph article, so we didn't have that particular evidence yet, but we had plenty of sources that proved what we were saying about Hawron. I continued to try and convince Karen, but she grew increasingly annoyed with me and eventually told me to stop contacting her unless I could provide her with a credible media report. Then, a full month later, the Telegraph article was published and I sent it to Karen. She replied: “Thanks so much for letting us know. We’ll take it from here.” She didn't explain what that meant, and I never heard back from her again.

A couple weeks later, I asked Sandy if she had heard from Karen. She hadn't, so she emailed her and got this reply on July 18th: “I have proposed a response and sent it to our lawyer. I'm now waiting to hear how to move forward. In the meantime, I don't see why someone couldn't post a link to the Telegraph article below the reviews in the FB comment section. That might be helpful for readers.” That is the last communication we've had with Karen. The reviews of Hawron's books remain on the Kirkus Reviews website.

It is tempting to think there is some kind of conspiracy of silence surrounding Michael Hawron. It's hard to resist that idea when both The Family and the Boy Scouts have histories of covering up child abuse and protecting predators. The Family had a culture of secrecy which allowed rampant child abuse and hindered child welfare authorities from intervening. The Boy Scouts have long been accused of a lack of transparency and lax child protection policies, as the most recent lawsuit demonstrates. Both of those stories intersect with Michael Hawron's life.

It is immoral for Michael Hawron to be profiting from his memoirs, gaining undeserved respectability if not monetary benefit, by deceitfully hiding his role in the systemic abuse of an entire generation of children. There has been almost no justice for all those who suffered that abuse, so covering up his past adds insult to their injuries. I think the people of New Boston, and readers of his books, deserve to know the truth about him.

*****








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