Nov 8, 2019

The anatomy of undue influence used by terrorist cults and traffickers to induce helplessness and trauma, so creating false identities

Ethics, Medicine and Public Health (2019) 8, 97—107

The anatomy of undue influence used by terrorist cults and traffickers to induce helplessness and trauma, so creating false identities

Anatomie de l’influence indue utilisée par les sectes et les trafiquants terroristes pour induire l’impuissance et le traumatisme, créant ainsi de fausses identités

S.A. Hassan (MEd, LMHC, NCC) , M.J. Shah (MA) Freedom of Mind Resource Center Inc., 716 Beacon Street #590443, 02459 Newton, MA, USA b Dare Association, Inc., 234, Huron Avenue, Cambridge, 02138 MA, USA

Received 1st August 2018; accepted 1st March 2019 
Summary There is a need to update the legal system to recognize the use of hypnosis and undue influence occurring throughout the world. Extremist groups are deceptively recruiting and indoctrinating people to do terrorist attacks. Human traffickers are grooming and using hypnosis and social influence techniques to create labor and sex slaves. In this paper, a number of key concepts and models will be used to more fully define DSM-5’s Dissociative Disorder 300.15: Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory, along with Robert Jay Lifton and Margaret Singer’s work (1995) are the foundation of the BITE model of mind control (Hassan, 1988). Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional Control are the four overlapping components through which destructive groups bring people to be obedient and compliant to authority. A programmed cult identity is created through a complex social influence process. That false identity dominates real identity. The ethics and morality of undue influence are understood differently. In this paper, we analyze the techniques of breaking down the existing personality and creating a false or pseudo-identity. The Influence Continuum and BITE mind control model and Lifton’s eight criteria for Thought Reform are discussed; Scheflin’s Social Influence Model (2015) is presented as one tool for analyzing undue influence in a forensic and juridical context.

Five Best: Robert Jay Lifton on Worlds Destroyed

The author, most recently, of ‘Losing Reality: On Cults, Cultism, and the Mindset of Political and Religious Zealotry’ selects books on the aftermath of cataclysm.

Commandant of Auschwitz

By Rudolf Höss (1959)

1. Despite its lies, inaccuracies and self-serving distortions, Rudolf Höss’s book, written in 1947 during his trial in Poland, is, as Primo Levi writes in his introduction, “substantially truthful.” Germans serving in Auschwitz, Höss tells us, were expected to join in the killing of Jews as their contribution to German society. Höss’s voice is that of a frustrated bureaucrat bemoaning the incompetence of those around him. “I lived only for my work,” he writes. He also speaks of himself as a “fanatical National Socialist” for whom the “extermination programme seemed to me right” for combatting the danger of “Jewish supremacy.” He believed that inadequate Nazi leaders failed to live up to the Führer’s beautiful principles so that true National Socialism was never realized. Nazism’s malignant normality—fanatical, methodical, mystical—has never found clearer or more murderous expression.

The aftermath in Hiroshima. Photo: Corbis/Getty Images

By Michihiko Hachiya (1955)

The Black Death of 1348 and 1349

By Francis Aidan Gasquet (1893)

3. I came upon this book when searching for historical parallels to Hiroshima after the atomic bombing. Francis Aidan Gasquet was a late-19th and early-20th-century Benedictine monk whose study of the plague included, prominently, the words of its survivors. He quotes a French physician who stressed that the malady “stands apart from all those which preceded it or followed it.” Although Gasquet records some courageous behavior, the overwhelming emphasis is on a breakdown of the bonds of civilization: “From fear of contagion, no doctor will visit a sick man . . . neither does a father visit his son, nor a mother her daughter, nor a brother his brother, nor a son his father, nor a friend his friend.” Thriving metropolises became ghost cities. As in Hiroshima, it was impossible to give proper burial to the dead: “It became necessary to dig trenches, into which the bodies were put by hundreds, laid in rows as goods packed in a ship.” Gasquet mentions the religious revival that emerged from recovery, but his book mostly testifies to another effect of the calamity—the profound spiritual and moral degradation of those who endured it.

By Erving Goffman (1961)

4. An Auschwitz survivor I interviewed told me that there were two kinds of places to which she could never go: dog pounds and mental hospitals. The former is a killing center, and both are examples of what the venturesome sociologist Erving Goffman calls a “total institution,” a place where “a large number of like-situated individuals . . . together lead an enclosed, formally administrated round of life.” Goffman did his field work in 1955-56 at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., at the time a 7,000-patient mental hospital, where he investigated the ways in which inmates developed “a life of their own that becomes meaningful, reasonable, and normal once you get close to it.” Prisons are also prominent in his examples, as are a wide variety of military, religious and political organizations. He views all total institutions as “forcing houses for changing persons.”

Mao II

By Don DeLillo (1991)

5T. his novel, celebrated for the confrontation it stages between writer and terrorist, begins with the mass wedding of Unification Church members at Yankee Stadium. Here is the all-consuming vision of “oneness,” with chants for “one language, one word.” Elsewhere is the oneness of terrorist groups structured around the aura of Mao Zedong. As a sympathizer puts it, “there is a longing for Mao that will sweep the world.” Bill Gray, a writer, is concerned that terrorists are gaining the upper hand in cultural attention and influence. Yet he is drawn to them and even considers offering himself as a hostage, though he’s fully aware that they “carry the old wild-eyed vision, total destruction and total order.” In contrast, he celebrates his credo of the novel as “a democratic shout,” with “ambiguities, contradictions, whispers, hints.” The book ends on a modest note of hope when a photographer, returning from a photo shoot with a terrorist, looks down from her balcony in Beirut to see a joyous wedding party emerge from behind the turret of a tank, and joins in their happy toasts. In Don DeLillo’s portrait of a world grappling with fanaticism and cultural breakdown, we find stubborn expressions of openness, life enhancement and love.

Nov 7, 2019

I was an astrologer – here's how it really works, and why I had to stop

Felicity Carter 
The Guardian
November 7, 2019

Customers marvelled at my psychic abilities but was that really what was going on when I told their fortune?

The man was agitated, with red-rimmed eyes and clammy skin.

“Help me,” he said. “I’m under a curse.”

At first it was just flickering lights, he said. And then a figure, at the edge of his vision. Now something grabbed his fingers or stroked his arm. There was more – and it was happening more frequently.

“I saw a Catholic priest,” said the man. “But he couldn’t help. Can you?”

Yes, yes I could. I knew exactly what he needed to do.

I was a fortune teller. Every Sunday, I climbed the stairs of an old terrace house in Sydney’s historic Rocks district, to sit in the attic and divine the future. I would read Tarot cards or interpret horoscopes.

As a teenager, I’d devoured a book called Positive Magic. An instruction manual for witches, its central idea was that if you wanted something, and you had good intentions, you just told the universe and magic would happen. Although nothing I wanted (fame, money, hot boyfriend) actually arrived, one thing led to another and I taught myself to read Tarot cards. At the time I was a science student, and just considered it a fun game at parties.

That changed after I took my cards to my part-time job and read them for a colleague during the break. She picked the card for pregnancy, which we laughed about, because she wanted her tubes tied.

A week later she said, “Guess what the doctor told me this morning?”

She was pregnant, and I was officially psychic.

Deciding to develop my gift, I enrolled in a psychic class, where I learned to say the first thing that popped into my head. “Your first thoughts are the most psychic ones, before your rational mind interferes,” said the teacher.

I also learned that all things are connected, and everything is a symbol of something else. Suddenly, I saw signs and omens everywhere.

‘The range of problems faced by people who can afford $50 for fortune telling turned out to be limited: troubles with romance, troubles at work, trouble mustering the courage for a much-needed change.’
‘The range of problems faced by people who can afford $50 for fortune telling turned out to be limited: troubles with romance, troubles at work, trouble mustering the courage for a much-needed change.’ 

To test my new skills, I volunteered to be a clairvoyant at the spiritualist church. Congregants would place a flower on the table, and the clairvoyants would choose one and “read” it at the microphone. Nervous, the first thing I grabbed was a packet of silver foil. The rose inside had been packed so tightly, its petals were crushed. I didn’t get a single vibe from it, so I just described the symbolism.

“You are feeling battered and bruised,” I said.

Afterwards, a woman approached and said she was a victim of domestic violence, and what should she do?

I was only 19 and had no idea, but my psychic reputation soared. The attention was intoxicating.

Then the universe told me I wasn’t cut out for science, by sending me my second-year results. I dropped out to pursue theatre and also signed up for a one-year course at the Sydney Astrology Centre, a cavernous commercial building in a seedy part of town.

The course began with the meanings of the zodiac, from Aries to Aquarius. Then the luminaries; the sun (what you will become), the moon (what you brought into this life) and planets. After that, how to calculate planetary positions and cast horoscopes.

Although astrologers use Nasa data for their calculations, horoscopes aren’t a true map of the heavens. The Babylonians who invented astrology believed the sun rotated round the Earth; modern astrologers still use Earth-centred charts, as if Copernicus had never existed. That’s only the start of the scientific problems.

With prospects in the gutter, who can blame millennials for turning to the stars? | Nell Frizzell
The astrological meanings themselves derive from a principle called sympathetic magic, where things that look alike are linked together. Mars looks red, so it rules red things like blood. How do you get blood? You cut, so Mars rules surgery and war.

You forecast by combining meanings with planetary movements. Say Saturn, planet of restrictions, is about to transit the First House of self – your life will contract! You’re going to get more responsibilities than usual. Or maybe you’ll be denied the chance to take on more responsibilities. Or maybe a cold, critical person will come into your life. But anyway, it’s a good time to go on a diet.

Astrology is one big word association game.

I loved it, though I was losing interest in other mystical practices. Partly I didn’t have time, because I was now immersed in theatre while working as a temp typist at St Vincent’s, a Catholic hospital. But as I bounced from one department to another, my views changed. I’d understood organised religion to be something between an embarrassment and an evil. Yet as Aids did its dreadful work – this was the 1990s – I watched nuns offer compassionate care to the dying. Christian volunteers checked on derelict men with vomit down their clothes. I became uncomfortably aware that New Agers do not build hospitals or feed alcoholics – they buy self-actualisation at the cash register.

Finally, I was accepted into a music degree and my days filled with classes, my nights with rehearsals. This caused a cash crisis, because I could only do office work during academic holidays. When I saw the ad for a fortune teller, I pounced.

My credentials impressed the man on the counter (“My name is Ron,” he said. “My spirit guide is Blue Star. He’s on the intergalactic committee”) and I was hired.

We charged A$50 an hour, a significant sum at the time, and I wanted to offer value. No fishing for clues from me – I printed a horoscope or laid the cards and started interpreting immediately, intending to dazzle the customer with my insights.

Half the time, though, I couldn’t get a word in. It turned out what most people want is the chance to unload for an hour.

The range of problems faced by people who can afford $50 for fortune telling turned out to be limited: troubles with romance, troubles at work, trouble mustering the courage for a much-needed change. I heard these stories so often I could often guess what the problem was the moment someone walked in. Heartbroken young men, for example, talk about it to psychics, because it’s less risky than telling their friends. Sometimes I’d mischievously say, “Let her go. She’s not worth it,” as soon as one arrived. Once I heard, “Oh my God, oh my GOD!” as an amazed guy fell backwards down the stairs.

I also learned that intelligence and education do not protect against superstition. Many customers were stockbrokers, advertising executives or politicians, dealing with issues whose outcomes couldn’t be controlled. It’s uncertainty that drives people into woo, not stupidity, so I’m not surprised millennials are into astrology. They grew up with Harry Potter and graduated into a precarious economy, making them the ideal customers.

‘Intelligence and education do not protect against superstition.’
‘Intelligence and education do not protect against superstition.’ Photograph: Alamy
What broke the spell for me was, oddly, people swearing by my gift. Some repeat customers claimed I’d made very specific predictions, of a kind I never made. It dawned on me that my readings were a co-creation – I would weave a story and, later, the customer’s memory would add new elements. I got to test this theory after a friend raved about a reading she’d had, full of astonishingly accurate predictions. She had a tape of the session, so I asked her to play it.

The clairvoyant had said none of the things my friend claimed. Not a single one. My friend’s imagination had done all the work.

Yet sometimes I could be uncannily accurate – wasn’t that proof I was psychic? One Sunday, I went straight from work to a party, before I’d had time to shuck off my psychic persona. A student there mentioned she wasn’t sure what to specialize in – photography, graphic design or maybe industrial design?

“Do photography,” I said.

She looked at me, wide-eyed. “How did you know?” she said, explaining photography was her real love, but her parents didn’t approve.

I couldn’t say, “because my third eye is open”, so I reflected for a moment. Then it hit me. “You sounded happier when you said ‘photography’,” I said. My psychic teacher was right – the signals we pick up before conscious awareness kicks in can be accurate and valuable.

I don’t even believe in astrology, so why am I addicted to this horoscope app? | Stephanie Convery
Well, maybe I wasn’t psychic, but it didn’t matter. It was just entertainment, after all, until the cursed man came in. The one who’d seen the Catholic priest.

“Get to a doctor,” I told him. “Now.”

That very week, I’d typed letters for a neurologist who specialized in brain diseases. Some of those letters had documented strikingly similar symptoms to this man.

“Are you saying I’m crazy?” he said, his hands balled.

“No,” I reassured him. “But Catholic priests know what they’re doing. If he couldn’t help, this isn’t a curse.”

That made the man angrier.

“You’re a fraud!” he shouted, and stormed downstairs to demand his money back.

The encounter shook me, badly. Shortly afterwards, I packed my astrology books and Tarot cards away for good.

I can still make the odd forecast, though. Here’s one: the venture capital pouring into astrology apps will create a fortune telling system that works, because humans are predictable. As people follow the advice, the apps’ predictive powers will increase, creating an ever-tighter electronic leash. But they’ll be hugely popular – because if you sprinkle magic on top, you can sell people anything.

Nov 6, 2019

After the U.S. outlawed polygamy, thousands of Mormons fled to Mexico. Nine just died there.

The killing of three women and six children is a brutal epilogue to a forgotten exodus.

Washington Post

Michael S. Rosenwald 

November 5, 2019


They refused to bend to the will of Congress. So the Mormons set off for Mexico by horse and wagon, their bags packed with dried fruit and baked goods, their belief in polygamy unshakable.

It was 1885. That year, Mark Twain published the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” A French ship delivered the Statue of Liberty to New York City. A skyscraper went up in Chicago. And the U.S. government had just outlawed polygamy, plural marriage that critics equated with slavery.

To avoid arrest, hundreds, then thousands, of Mormons fled to land purchased by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Chihuahua desert, the site of a brutal ambush Monday of a fundamentalist Mormon family. At least nine people — three women and six children — were killed.

Polygamy was eventually renounced by the church. But for Mormons, the colonies established in Mexico represent an important chapter in church lore — an event, as one historian described it, that “constituted the last great effort of Mormonism to retain its peculiar nineteenth-century integrity by physical flight from an unfriendly environment.”

One of the families that made the trek to Mexico was the Romney family, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s grandfather Gaskell Romney. His only wife gave birth there to Mitt’s father, George Romney, who, like his son, ran for president of the United States. (Mitt’s great-grandfather Miles Park Romney had multiple wives.)

Getting to Mexico was arduous.

Without reliable maps, the families traveling by wagon relied on notes and drawings pinned to trees by settlers traveling the same routes before them. They came under constant surveillance by hostile Native Americans. Arriving at the Mexican border, custom officials charged them hundreds of dollars in duties.

In Mexico, life for the Romneys and other Mormons was both backbreaking and mystical, as Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff recounted in 2011 during Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. The family, he wrote:

lived out of wagon boxes and helped chisel irrigation canals along the sides of the valley to plant apple orchards, which soon became the most productive in Chihuahua. When the river ran dry, the colonists prayed for water, according to family lore, and the 1887 Sonora earthquake struck soon after, rupturing an aquifer upriver, as if by providence. Water has flowed reliably through the valley ever since.

About 4,000 Mormons ultimately made the journey to two provinces — Chihuahua and Sonora — where they settled in eight communities, according to “The Trek South: How the Mormons Went to Mexico,” a 1969 academic paper in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly.

But their time there was somewhat truncated.

For one thing, the church began phasing out polygamy, all but ending such weddings by 1904, according to the academic article. That stopped more settlers from coming, depriving the communities of new resources.

And then, during the Mexican Revolution in 1912, the Mormon migrants became targets of violent attacks by rebel leader Inez Salazar. Almost all of the Mormons fled back to the United States, with large numbers of them settling in Texas.

But some Mormons, including Romney’s relatives, stayed and still live in the region today. They are separate from the fundamentalists, who still emigrate to the region to practice polygamy, including the LeBarons, the family targeted in this week’s attack.

Oct 29, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 10/29/2019

Kosmic Fusion, Podcast, Universal Medicine, Australia, Solar Temple, Netherlands, Yoga

"Followers of a woman living in suburban Auckland believe she is the reincarnation of an Indian deity, who can tune into people's souls through special frequencies. But two former volunteers for her group, Kosmic Fusion, have described a frightening experience where they were subjected to gruelling "confession" sessions. Steve Kilgallon and Tony Wall report on the implosion of a New Age cult.

She's short, for a living God.

Despite being, literally, five foot nothing, Kaveeta Bhavsaar is a far more imposing presence than her much taller, quieter husband, Sunil Kumar Porumamilla.

But then he can't cure your ailments with a high-frequency light wave.

In their rented Mission Bay villa, which combines views of Rangitoto with water stains on the ceiling, smells of incense waft through the house as Bhavsaar explains how Kosmic Fusion, a spiritual movement she started seven years ago, was sabotaged from within by "malignant narcissist snakes"."

Let's Talk About Sects: Universal Medicine
"Universal Medicine teaches that entities known as The Four Lords of Form rule over 9-foot-tall spirits that are all around us, and that most people have lived at least 2,300 lives before.
Former student Matt Sutherland told Sunday Night journalist Matt Doran that he would describe Universal Medicine's founder Serge Benhayon as 'a human wrecking ball.'"

Toronto Sun: Solar Temple Massacre: Mystery endures 25 years later

"The cult members thought the baby boy was the anti-Christ.

Emmanuel Dutoit was three months old and this tragic child was stabbed repeatedly. His killers used a wooden stake.
That was October 1994.

In a matter of days it would become clear to cops in Quebec and Switzerland the slain baby was the first salvo in the war for control of the Order of the Solar Temple cult.
Several days later in two quiet Swiss villages, 13 cult members enjoyed a last supper, then killed themselves by poison.

By the time the carnage was finished, 53 cult members were dead by poison, bullets or smothering. Eleven of the dead were Canadians."

BBC: Dutch family 'waiting for end of time' discovered in basement
"A family who spent nine years in a basement "waiting for the end of time" have been discovered by police in the Netherlands after the eldest son turned up at a local pub, reports say.

A man, 58, and his six children - aged 16 to 25 - were living at a farm in the northern province of Drenthe.

They were found after the son ordered beer at a bar in the nearby village of Ruinerwold, and then told staff he needed help, broadcaster RTV reported.
Witnesses said the man looked confused.  

"Yoga is about finding your center. There's a new trend to track down tranquility, but it's a more alternative twist to the usually peaceful exercise.

Amanda Kauffman strolled into the back room at Cinder Block Brewery Monday night with a beer in one hand and a yoga mat in the other. She was there to teach the first ever rage yoga class in Kansas City.

"It's a little bit different than your traditional yoga," she said. "You have dim lights, you have soft music. This is the complete opposite. It's yoga with an attitude basically."

She started practicing yoga seven years ago, but two years back, she came across a new technique she said is more her style."

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. news, links, resources. resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

Children 'spanked 30 times a day' in secretive sect, ex-member says

Eighteen years on from his time inside the Twelve Tribes religious sect, Matthew Klein is still scarred.
Alison Piotrowski
October 29, 2019

Eighteen years on from his time inside the Twelve Tribes religious sect, Matthew Klein is still scarred.

"They not only control your medical care, they control your food, when you get to see your family, they try to control when you make love to your wife, they try and control your children," he told A Current Affair.

"Once you've been there a while, you realise that not everyone is equal. There are leaders and there's a whole hierarchy within it. It's very similar to Animal Farm."

Klein, his wife Tysha, and their two children joined the Twelve Tribes in 1999, drawn to their communal lifestyle and strong faith.

The Twelve Tribes present themselves as a welcoming religious group, growing produce on their New South Wales properties, and selling food through their cafes. For Klein, it felt like a simple way of life.

In the first six months within the Australian arm of the group, Tysha gave birth to another son. A few weeks later, their baby began having breathing difficulties. The elders discouraged them from seeking outside medical help.

This was not the only practice that concerned Klein.

According to Klein, the Twelve Tribes child training manuals provide detailed instructions about severe disciplinary measures for children, starting as young as six months old.

"They would get spanked from morning and night," he said.

"They would get spanked 20 to 30 times a day. Each one of them is six strikes on the hand with a thin rod."

The Twelve Tribes was started by former high school teacher and carnival showman Eugene Spriggs in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the 1970s. Spriggs created the Twelve Tribes as a loose hybrid of Judaism and Christianity, preaching to his followers to live by the "first testament".

When members join, they're baptised with Hebrew names, hand their money and possessions, and live together in a commune.

The Australian arm of the tribe was formed in the early 90s, when Spriggs sent two Americans to set up the group in the Blue Mountains – Scott Sczarnecki and William Nunnally.

Today members live in one of their two Sydney bases: bedroom heritage house in Katoomba, and a 45-acre property just outside of Picton.

The group operates The Yellow Deli in Katoomba and The Common Ground Bakery in Picton.

"They don't pay wages, they don't pay superannuation, they don't pay insurances, they don't pay anything. They don't pay tax because apparently, they're a church. And where all this money goes, I don't know," says Klein.

Children in the Twelve Tribes are put to work from a very young age. Klein's now 23-year-old daughter Tessa remembers being sent out to work in a candle factory when she was five years old.

"Working with this boiling wax, like dipping into it making candles, like completely alone," she tells A Current Affair.

Rosemary Cruzado left the Twelve Tribes in 2010 after nearly 14 years.

"I was brainwashed the whole time I was there … like I was unable to critically think of anything."

Cruzado had two pregnancies during her time there. At 38 weeks during her last pregnancy, the baby stopped kicking and Rosemary experienced seizures.

The Australian leaders of the tribe did not want her to go to hospital. She recalls William Nunnally explicitly telling her "You can't end up in hospital."

Cruzado's baby died in utero, and the baby was taken away immediately.

"They laid it so thick on us on both my husband and I, they said it was all our fault that god couldn't really blessed us with a live baby because of our sin," she said.

While he was living within the Twelve Tribes, Matthew Klein convinced himself that the fanatical religious group was not a cult.

Once he got out, he quickly changed his mind. He's hoping by speaking out, he will prevent others from joining.

"I think it's my social duty to warn other people of what goes on in this place," he said.

"It's the kids who don't have a choice and it's just not on."

A Current Affair has approached The Twelve Tribes for comment.

Oct 25, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by Jehovah’s Witnesses of 2015 California Trial Court

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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by Jehovah’s Witnesses of 2015 California Trial Court Order

The Supreme Court rejected the Appeal of a 2015 Civil Lawsuit Filed by the Zalkin Law Firm on Behalf of their client who alleges they were sexually molested as a child by a JW church leader. The appeal concerned the lower court order for the Watchtower to produce child sexual molestation files in this sexual abuse Civil lawsuit.

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by Jehovah’s Witnesses of 2015 California Trial Court OrderSan Diego, CA, October 24, 2019 --( On October 7, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (“Watchtower”), requesting that the Supreme Court review a case filed by the Zalkin Law Firm in 2013. In the case of JW v. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. et. al., the Riverside Superior Court of California awarded the Plaintiff, “J.W.,” a judgment of $4,016,152.39 plus interest at 10% per year after terminating Watchtower’s defense, because it refused to obey the Court’s order to produce files of known child molesters within the JW organization. In 2018, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in California upheld that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of Watchtower’s Petition (essentially a request for an appeal) lets stand the original judgement and damages granted by the lower court.

In the Brief in Opposition to the Petition filed by the Zalkin Law Firm, attorneys Irwin Zalkin and Devin Storey allege a long history of Watchtower violating similar court issued discovery orders to produce the molestation files in other sexual abuse cases, in particular another Zalkin Law Firm case (Lopez, supra, 246 Cal.App.4th 566), where the court found that “[t]here is no question that Watchtower willfully failed to comply with the document production order.” And just two years later in another court ruling (Padron, supra, 16 Cal.App.5th at p. 1249), that court stated the following:

“Watchtower has abused the discovery process. It has zealously advocated its position and lost multiple times. Yet, it cavalierly refuses to acknowledge the consequences of these losses and the validity of the court’s orders . . .”

Irwin Zalkin, attorney for the Plaintiff, alleges: “Our client has endured years of distress from the sexual abuse she suffered as a child from this convicted pedophile who was protected by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. That suffering has continued for the last six years as the Watchtower has obstructed the legal process. Now the JW’s will finally be held accountable for protecting a known pedophile and our client will receive the justice she deserves.”

Background on the Case
The Plaintiff, “J.W.,” alleged in the civil case that she was sexually molested on July 15, 2006 by Gilbert Simental, a trusted religious leader of her congregation, while attending a pool party at the Simentals' home. Simental was convicted in a criminal jury trial of three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 and sentenced to 45 years in prison. That criminal case involved the sexual abuse of two young sisters aged 9-10. Like JW, those victims were friends of Simental’s own daughter and were molested while attending a sleep over at Simental’s house. A second criminal prosecution was commenced as a result of the allegations by JW, but Simental took a plea.

Although Simental confessed to some of the allegations to congregation elders investigating the charges made by parents, allegedly, the elders did not report to law enforcement despite being mandatory reporters under California law.

Jehovah’s Witnesses Promoted Known Pedophile to Position of Leadership - Letter from 1997 Confirms Awareness of Sexual Predators in Their Midst

During the civil case against Simental, it was alleged that allegations of child sexual abuse had followed him for 30 years, as his own niece went public with allegations that she had been abused by him at age 7. Allegedly, a March 14th, 1997 letter to all Elders within Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations from Watchtower headquarters confirmed they were aware of child molesters within the church and were in the process of compiling a comprehensive database of known pedophiles in positions of leadership. Also, allegedly, o⁹a July 20, 1998 follow-up letter to all Elders makes clear that the information about known abusers was being compiled because of concern for potential legal liability to Watchtower and the JW Organization, and was kept strictly confidential for internal use with no stated intent of alerting law enforcement about cases of child sex abuse.

Despite the evidence in the criminal case, during the civil case brought against it by the parents of "JW," Watchtower attempted to avoid liability by claiming that it had no prior knowledge of Simental’s pedophilia, that the abuse occurred after he had stepped down as a leader in the church and not at a church sponsored event. During the nearly 5 year-long lawsuit, there were numerous court orders for Watchtower to provide documents pertaining to known child molesters and the internal handling and investigation of allegations of child sexual abuse that were ignored and refused by the JW Organization and Watchtower.

About The Zalkin Law Firm
With offices in San Diego, CA and New York, NY, the firm's lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault and achieved results in numerous high-profile sexual abuse and assault cases across the United States. The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented survivors who suffered child sexual abuse and sexual assault while members of religious and other organizations, including the Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, foster care, Boy Scouts, recovery homes, foreign student exchange programs, colleges. Irwin Zalkin was appointed a lead negotiator by United States Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas on behalf of over 144 victims of childhood sexual abuse against the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego. These negotiations resulted in a global settlement of almost $200,000,000. He also was one of the lead trial lawyers and part of the trial team against the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles where a global settlement was reached in the amount of $660,000,000.

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Irwin Zalkin

Oct 24, 2019

'Teen Mom' Leah Messer Joins Alleged Cult Accused of Sexual Violation, Brainwashing

Danielle Long
October 24, 2019

"Teen Mom 2" star Leah Messer has seemingly joined Mastery in Transformational Training, an organization that has been accused of being a cult. 

The California-based group characterizes itself as a self-help group and offers a series of workshops that are a "caring, inspirational, and educational environment for generating breakthroughs in the most crucial aspects of your life. You will realize new ways to be more effective, giving and fulfilled in both your personal relationships and your career while experiencing new levels of self-confidence, vitality, joy, and satisfaction," according to their website. 

However, one former student's account of what happened in those workshops claimed the training imposed "brainwashing techniques," among other things. That student, Dana Sabre, filed a lawsuit against members of the organization in 2017. The case has since been dismissed, but the claims are shocking.

Radar Online reported the court filing, which read, "Such non-consensual imposition of brainwashing techniques generated massive psychiatric stress, which caused Plaintiff to suffer a psychiatrically diagnosed psychotic break."

The document continued, "Such psychiatrically diagnosed psychiatric break rendered Plaintiff to suffer severance from reality which included cycling among extreme confabulations, violent acting out and a catatonic state requiring four-point restraint and psychiatric hospitalization."

In addition, MITT was also accused of sexual violation, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and more. 

Leah first appeared to make her involvement with MITT known when she posted an Instagram photo on Oct. 7. 

Oct 18, 2019

MEDIA ALERT: Dutch Farm Group Are Not 'Unification Church' Members


Family Federation for World Peace and Unification 

Oct 17, 2019, 22:56 ET

NEW YORKOct. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), commonly referred to as 'the Unification Church', was deeply alarmed to hear of the family being held in inhumane conditions on a farmhouse in the Netherlands. While we can confirm that one of the victims, Mr. Gerrit Jan van Dorsten was briefly a member of our movement in the mid-1980's, he is known to have suffered from mental health issues and left our organization in 1987. His estranged brother Mr. Derk van Dorsten, a long-time member of the Unification Church said, "I have not heard from my brother since 1984." In addition, we are unable to confirm any records of Mr. Josef Brunner, the alleged captor, having ever been associated in any way with the Unification Church.

Family Federation champions three ideals: family, peace, and unification. We are grateful that the 6 victims in this tragedy are now under the care of the local authorities and pray that they will be able to heal from their ordeal with time and professional help.

Family Fed USA
Nancy Jubb

Irving Street Rep
Ron Lucas

SOURCE Family Federation for World Peace and Unification

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Dutch farm mystery: Father held as police unpick secret farm 'sect'

BBC News

October 18, 2019

The 67-year-old father of a family found living in a secret room on an isolated Dutch farm has been arrested.

His arrest came hours after an Austrian man who rented the property was remanded in custody.

Six grown-up children apparently spent the past nine years in seclusion on the farm, near the village of Ruinerwold.

Reports suggest the two arrested men may have formed their own sect, and police said they believed the children were held against their will.

Police confirmed that the six children, aged 18-25, included four women and two men and that their father had suffered a stroke.

How the story unfolded

The alarm was raised when the 25-year-old eldest son, Jan, turned up at a local bar in Ruinerwold in the northern province of Drenthe.

The bar-owner raised the alarm with police after the son revealed he had never been to school and said he had run away and needed help.

Police went to the farm where they found Jan's five siblings, his father and the 58-year-old Austrian man. The Austrian, a handyman named Josef B, appeared before an examining magistrate on Thursday and was detained for 14 days on suspicion of unlawfully depriving the children of their liberty and money laundering.

Police said the children had identified the man arrested, named locally as Gerrit Jan van D, as their father, but authorities had not yet confirmed the link.

A large sum of money was said to have been found on the farm.

Were they part of a sect?

In a statement, police said they were investigating whether the lifestyle of the eight people on the farm was connected to a particular philosophy of life or religious conviction.

According to Dutch media, the father and the farm's Austrian tenant had once been neighbours and got to know each other through the Unification Church, the worldwide movement often known as the Moonies which originated in South Korea.

In Austria, Josef B's brothers told the Kronen Zeitung website that he had joined a sect and had not turned up for the funerals of his parents in the past four years. "He thought he was better than Jesus," brother Franz told the paper.

Unification Church spokesman Willem Koetsier said the father, Gerrit Jan van D, left in 1987.

"At the same time he also broke off contact with the family," a nephew told Algemeen Dagblad. "At one point he got some crazy ideas in his head, but nobody in the family wants to talk about that."

Mr Koetsier said older members who knew him in the 1980s had described him as a very "ritual" person who had set up his own group with his family. "But it's not our outlook to go and live on a farm and hide from the outside world," he added.

"Sometimes people who are spiritual start their own church of movement, and I reckon that's what happened to him," he said.

Residents in the father's home town of Herxen thought he had joined the Moonies and died in South Korea. But it is thought Gerrit Jan van D moved to a sister group in Germany before marrying the children's mother and returning to the Netherlands. The mother died in 2004.

What have police found out?

Janny Knol, North Netherlands deputy police chief, confirmed that the children had been banned from going outside the house. "On the farm there was actually a separate, closed-off area and its main aim was to keep the outside world out," she told Dutch TV.

Since Tuesday, police psychologists have had a chance to speak to the family and have found out they were occasionally allowed out of the house but only on land immediately surrounding the farmhouse. Local reports said motion detectors and security cameras had been installed on the farm.

Ms Knol said it was not clear where the children were born but they had never been to school and were not registered by local authorities. She said they were having to tread a careful line between looking after the family's welfare and finding out what was necessary for the investigation.

The eldest of the six, Jan, who was not at the farm when police went there, is being cared for in a separate place. He has had several social media accounts running for the past few months.

Police have admitted going to the farm in the past, following up reports of a cannabis farm on the property, but say they never entered the building.

A team of 30 police are now trying to solve the mystery of the farm at Ruinerwold. The farmhouse is still being investigated and other properties have also been searched.

Oct 17, 2019

Solar Temple Massacre: Mystery endures 25 years later

Police carry bodies out of a farm in Cheiry, Switzerland where 23 cultists died in a mass murder-suicide.
Brad Hunter
Toronto Sun
October 5, 2019

The cult members thought the baby boy was the anti-Christ.

Emmanuel Dutoit was three months old and this tragic child was stabbed repeatedly. His killers used a wooden stake.

That was October 1994.

In a matter of days it would become clear to cops in Quebec and Switzerland the slain baby was the first salvo in the war for control of the Order of the Solar Temple cult.

Several days later in two quiet Swiss villages, 13 cult members enjoyed a last supper, then killed themselves by poison.

By the time the carnage was finished, 53 cult members were dead by poison, bullets or smothering. Eleven of the dead were Canadians.


The Order of the Solar Temple was a secret society that took their cues from the Knights Templar.

Frenchmen Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro founded the cult in the late 1970s or early 1980s in Geneva, Switzerland.

The sect’s beliefs were the usual gumbo of aliens and the godly. For example, they believed in the spiritual over the secular and preparing for the return of Jesus Christ as a “solar-god king.”

In addition, they wanted to unite the world’s great religions under the umbrella of the Solar Temple.

According to the Montreal Gazette, the cult planted roots in Quebec in the mid-80s.

There, they allegedly threatened a number of Quebec MNAs and were suspected of bombing Hydro Quebec transmission towers and plotting to obliterate Indigenous reserves.

For cops and residents, the chilling aspect was that the dead found in Quebec didn’t look like cult members.

“It came as a real shocker,” one relative of the dead told The Gazette. “It wasn’t written on their faces: ‘Hey, I’m a sect member.’”


Cult leader Luc Jouret preached doomsday and hellfire.

The 46-year-old was a homeopath who had been born in Africa and had lived in Belgium and Canada before establishing the Order of the Solar Temple.

And he brainwashed his wealthy followers with a chilling ease.

“They saw themselves as superior human beings whose survival was needed to ‘relaunch’ the human race after a cataclysm they saw coming because of the deterioration in world affairs,” Montreal Crown prosecutor Jean-Claude Boyer told The Canadian Press in 1994.

Jouret himself had the air of a “gentleman,” Boyer added, saying other members “looked like businessmen, there was nothing crazy about them.”

But one former member whose ex-hubby fell under the guru’s dark spell said the cult was only really about taking money from rich rubes.

Rose-Marie Klaus said she and her hubby were burned for about $500,000 in an organic farm scheme near Trois Rivieres. Others lost millions.

“Jouret thinks he’s Christ,” Klaus said in 1993.

“He told people that a great cataclysm is going to take place and that only the chosen will survive,” she said, adding a number of people relocated from Europe to Quebec to wait for the end.


By the early 90s, there was trouble in brain-scrambled paradise.

Jouret’s increasing doomsday vision and alleged messiah complex was causing friction inside the sect.

Some believed a significant amount of money was involved given the horde of cash the cult had shaken loose from wealthy members.

Cult kingpin Jouret apparently split off with his own group of followers after being ousted in favour of grand master Robert Falardeau.

The stage was set for mass suicide — and murder.


On Sept. 30, 1994 cops believe cult members Antonio Dutoit, his wife Nicky Robinson and their three-month-old son Emmanuel were stabbed to death in Morin Heights, Quebec.

Four days later, their chalet was found ablaze. Inside were their charred bodies. Swiss citizens Jerry and Colette Genoud were found dead at a nearby chalet.

Detectives believe the killers were cult members Joel Egger and Dominique Bellaton who flew from Montreal to Geneva in the wake of the murders.

But there was more horror to come.

On Oct. 5, 1994, in the tiny Swiss village of Cheiry, firefighters were called to a raging blaze at a farmhouse.

When it was cleared they discovered a horror show — bodies all over the place.

Twenty-three to be exact.

All were wearing ceremonial robes. Most had been shot in the head.

“It was frightful to enter a place like that and find so many dead,” Swiss police spokesman Beat Karten told reporters. “It’s atrocious. Atrocious.”

Among the dead were the mayor of Richelieu, Quebec Robert Ostiguy, his wife Francoise, Le Journal de Quebec reporter Jocelyn Grandmaison and Falardeau, a civil servant.

Less than an hour later and about 160 km away, 25 more bodies were discovered in two smouldering chalets. Among the dead was Jouret.

So what happened?

The European branch didn’t want to send money to Quebec anymore.

Cops came to believe the bloodbath was a purge of threats to Jouret’s leadership. They never believed Falardeau and the others would willingly kill themselves.

One widower of the slaughter pointed the finger at Jouret.

“Wherever Jouret goes, s— follows,” the man told The Gazette.