Sep 27, 2013

Yoga Teacher, Cameron Shayne, Feels Just Fine About Banging His Students

Ami Angelowicz
The Frisky
September 27, 2013

In the light of recent sex scandals involving yoga “gurus” Bikram Choudhury and John Friend, Miami-based Budokon teacher, Cameron Shayne, who’s known as the “world authority on yogic and martial arts integration,” penned a lengthy, braggy, philosophically dense missive for about why having sex with students is totally ethical. In his piece, “Hot Sex For Real Yogis: Can I Have Sex With My Yoga Teacher?” Shayne seeks to answer the question: “Should we as Yoga teachers, and others as yoga students be restricted or limited regarding our sexual partnerships in order to accommodate the beliefs of others?”

The “beliefs of others” being? Well, I’m not sure, but his answer is obviously NO considering that he opens by confessing that he’s slept with several of his students. “As a single male yoga teacher, I have had on more than one occasion engaged in deep and meaningful intimate relationships with a woman I have met either in my class, workshops or in the yoga community,” Shayne writes. In addition, he makes it clear that he doesn’t regret any of these sexual relationships — even the ones that ended like a “Woody Allen tragedies” because “mistake-making [is] essential to the human experience. Therefore you cannot have sex with the wrong person — only a person that provides you with another intrinsic part of the whole that becomes your story.”

I don’t know what that means either. Perhaps I’m not deep enough? But I think when you apply his paradigm to rape or sexual assault, it becomes problematic. Full disclosure: I’m currently in the process of getting my 200-hour certification to be a teacher myself. I have been an active member of the yoga community for the last 17 years. I have never come in contact with Shayne, but have taken class with a couple of John Friend’s disciples when I lived in Los Angeles. I have had many teachers — both male and female — and have never have any untoward experiences in class. I’ve never slept with a teacher or anyone I met in class. But I happen to know, as yoga studios are tiny, insular places with devoted students, that having sex within your yoga community (it happens often) is kind of like having sex with someone who works in your office. It’s something that you’d want to think twice about.

You may be like, sex between two consenting adults, what’s the big deal? In yoga practice, you become very attached to your teacher and often have one for a long period of time — whether you consider them a guru or not. Shayne argues that “gurus are dead.” I happen to agree, but many come to the practice of yoga seeking healing/solace/wholeness. Many think of the practice as a spiritual one where you’re making yourself vulnerable at the feet of a teacher as if they were a human God. And that’s the problem, which Shayne points out. But instead of taking responsibility as a teacher to see certain students’ yearning to “fill a void” and steer clear of sexual involvement, he blames teacher worship in the form of sex on the student:

“The guru/students manipulation — like cocaine — is the symptom of a larger problem; the student’s lack of self worth, identify and voice. Clearly the corrupted guru is a problem, but the student, like the user, is the real disease. This desperate effort to replace an absent father, or experience a feeling of wholeness, or fill some void are the root cause, not the guru. And sadly these women were going to fall prey to some man whether he showed up as the out-of-work freeloading boyfriend, the white-bearded chanting sage, the manipulating boss, or the latest yoga celebrity. This projection of responsibility onto the teaching community to think for their students is only dumbing down the students and furthering them from being self-realized. I will not further dull-down the already diminishing intellectual reputation of the yoga community by suggesting that we need to be regulated.”

In response to the question of why teachers teachers “sexually misbehave” (he doesn’t place himself in this category), he takes a snarky pot-shot at male “gurus” who aren’t quite as handsome as he is:

“The majority of all yoga sex scandals involve one or more desperate devotes and a teacher who figures out, maybe for the first time in his or her hopelessly hip-less life, that they can get laid. After all, most of these men and women are conventionally unattractive, socially uncool, religious oriented geeks, and always have been. I would go as far to say that I have never seen one that I would measure worth being taken advantage of by. But tastes vary … Only the naive and emotionally underdeveloped would fall prey to it. Which means that at some point we’ve all been lured or persuaded by powerful people, as that is part of developing as a human being.”

So being taken advantage of sexually is part of our human development? Um, no. I don’t agree with that. Again, I have no problem with two consenting adults having sex with each other. But in light of recent rape allegations against Bikram Choudhury, bragging about sleeping with your yoga students seems irresponsible and tone deaf.

Sep 26, 2013

Investigating Religion: The Continuing Story of Clergy Abuse

Religion Newswriter Association (RNA) Annual Conference

September 26, 2013

Karen Jonson also made a presentation about her abuse at the hands of an Indian Guru. The book is called “Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus”. Karen went on to share how they are virtually impossible to sue for civil damages as they hide their immense wealth in Indian Trusts.

You can listen to a full recording of the program at this link.

Sep 16, 2013

The Hold

The psychology of how godmen come to contol the minds of millions of devotees
September 16, 2013

  • How Devotees Are Brainwashed Into Fandom
  • Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person
  • Control the physical and social environment; control the devotee’s time
  • Keep the person unaware of what’s going on & how he is being changed step by step
  • Manipulate rewards, punishments and experiences to check the expression of the person’s former identity
  • Manipulate rewards, punishments and experiences to promote conformity
  • Set a closed system of logic, a hierarchy permitting no feedback, with top-down orders
If you for some reason decide to surrender in devotion to Swami Nithyananda, the following anecdote is likely to be part of your initial lessons. It’s one he keeps recounting to the multitudes at his ashram in Bidadi, near Bangalore, curious and eager to have his wisdom rub off on them: A professor happens to visit a Zen master. While the master quietly serves tea, the professor blabbers on about Zen. The master keeps filling the visitor’s cup till it started overflowing. The professor blurts out, “It’s full! No more will go in!” “This is you,” the master says. “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Become empty first. This is one of Nit­hya­nanda’s first commandments. It’s also probably one of the most essential. As devotees drop their critical defences, he fills them with his worldview, his aura to transform them into loyal followers. This model of indoctrination is not unique to Nithyananda. Across India, for that matter elsewhere, one of the first sermons that godmen will drill into devotees is, outsource the thinking to the guru while devotees free their minds in pursuit of the blissful feeling of spirituality. As Bhargavi Hemmige, a research scholar at Mysore University who spent some time at Nithyananda’s ashram out of academic curiosity, recollects, “He kept telling us not to use our minds. It’s a monkey that misleads, he told us.”

What else but complete control over the mind can explain the ineluctable hold India’s godmen have over their devotees? So much so, grievous accusations of colossal financial transgressions, rape and child abuse, even murder do not seem to diminish their faith. On the contrary, in the case of Asaram Bapu, a godman mired in controversy and recently arrested by Rajasthan police on charges of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, they seem to shore up their belief in defiance.

As Asaram evaded imminent arrest, throngs of his followers gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to push for his release and sounded the battle-cry from a makeshift stage. “Our fight will go on until the conspiracists give up trying to tarnish Bapu’s image. We should send a clear message by amassing at the next satsang in such large numbers that there should be no place left for us to sit,” said one, to loud roars of approval from the crowd. “Our victory is certain. Only then will we leave,” exclaimed another devotee. “I have not eaten a thing in 48 hours, but gurudev is giving me the strength to go on and I can for another five days.” At Jantar Mantar, they spend most of their time chanting ‘Hari Om’; in other places, Asaram’s devotees have blocked roads and railway tracks and even assaulted media personnel.

Godmen and controversies have been bedfellows for long in India but this poses no threat to their cult appeal (see box for some of our flourishing gurus and the controversies associated with them). At the Jantar Mantar demonstration, an Asaram devotee from Himachal Pradesh began to tell Outlook of his indebtedness. “Even if Lord Shiva himself appears and tells me not to believe in Bapu, I will tell him I cannot give up. I know what I have gained from him. He has saved me from committing suicide. So, even if he kills off the entire world, Bapu will still be god for me. It’s another matter that he will not do something like this,” he says, before he’s whisked away by other followers angry with the media. Asked what was so special about Asaram, Akanksha Bhatnagar, a 20-year-old mca student from Delhi, gushes with a twinkle in her eyes, “You will realise when you come to one of his sermons. I have no words to express.” For his devotees, Bapu is akin a body of water—you can thrash him as much as you want, there will be a few splashes, but nothing that will affect him. “I am sure he will come out shining even brighter after this episode,” Bhatnagar adds. Ask devotees of other godmen, like Sai Baba, Ramdev, Jayendra Saraswati or Nirankari Baba, and

How is it that godmen manage to win such unquestioning submission? Interviews with devotees, some of whom have fallen out with their gurus, detail an elaborate spiel that gurus have in place to control a devotee’s free thinking capabilities. The initial assault on independent thinking often comes with sleep deprivation: devotees are often allowed no more than four hours of sleep. What is thought of as a part of the frugal character of ashram life actually undercuts a devotee’s critical thinking. This is combined with a heavy work schedule and unreasonable deadlines that overwhelm a person’s routine. “This just doesn’t leave any time for you to sit and reflect. And the moment you do, you fall asleep,” says Anushka Gopal (name changed on request), a Bangalore-based woman who spent five years at the ashram of a popular south Indian guru but chose to walk out after his sexual misconduct was caught on tape.

Another cog in the brainwashing machinery is a pseudonym that goes on to become the ‘real’ identity of the person. The change is subtle but its long-term impact is drastic when it comes to erasing a devotee’s past. This is demonstrated effectively in the case of 35-year-old hotel management guru Santosh, now known as Shantimayananda after “great healing and transformation”. His parents unsuccessfully petitioned the Karnataka High Court to have him come back from Nithyananda’s ashram in Bidadi, where he has been living for six years now. “He has no concern for his mother and father, he simply thinks Nithyananda is god,” says Munnur Krishnamurthy, his distraught father.

The next stage is to have older devotees perpetuate the guru’s aura and suppress an acolyte’s individuality. What the group believes is what you should believe, they are told. Meanwhile, the guru does his bit by instilling the ideal of gurubhakti and the fear of gurudroha. “He kept brainwashing devotees by saying all sins can be forgiven—but not guru­droha,” says Hemmige. To add more enigma to their aura, several of them even take to dressing as gods—Nithyananda often pretends to be Shiva-like and Asaram and Kripaluji takes on a Krishna-like get-up. Prabir Ghosh, a noted rationalist from Calcutta who claims to have taken on several hundreds of godmen, says all of them inevitably make claims of possessing some supernatural power—another important component in their marketing strategy. Rationalists argue that what is merely a placebo effect is often touted as a miraculous cure. One devotee at Jantar Mantar said Asaram cured her mother of breast cancer. Devotees also seek to protect their belief (and thus self-interest) by perpetuating the guru’s cult and refusing to buy into accusations of wrongdoings. “For them it’s not an issue of right or wrong,” says Indira Sharma, president of the Indian Psychiatric Society. “It’s as basic as protecting the one who protects you. It’s all what matters to them.”

Many followers come from a religious background, exposed to a reverential following of gurus. Then there are some hapless souls who submit to faith afresh. But the well-oiled machinery at ashrams is powerful enough to work on the minds of those with advanced degrees in science (who often possess a fine streak of credulity) or even without any of the circumstantial or emotional baggage that makes some people prone to unquestioning submission to a strong guru figure. “To the more sceptical devotees, the guru would say don’t believe what he says. When we realised he was not trying to sell us his ideas, we became more receptive,” says Gopal, who studied at top engineering institutions in India and the US. “All this while, I had no idea I was being subjected to psychological slavery. It’s a kind of mind trickery,” she adds. It took her six months to realise her guru could be wrong. The revelation of the sex tapes was what finally led her to walk out of the ashram.

There is also the obvious influence that money power can bring for these gurus. Lenin Karuppan, who is now acknowledged as the whistleblower who leaked the sex tapes that allegedly feature Nithyananda and a Tamil film actress, recounts how he himself once helped snuff out dissent as the publications-in-charge for the guru. When Nakkeeran published an article that the guru deemed unfit for the public, he rushed to Tamil Nadu, and along with Nithyananda’s followers, he bought about a lakh copies and burnt them. But even he has words of praise for Nithyananda’s “mesmerising oratorical skills and knowledge of Hindu religious texts”.

Katharina Poggendorf-Kakar, a Goa-based scholar who has studied godmen in India, says devotees often attribute exaggerated positive qualities to their guru—unlike adults in a mature love relationship, who are in touch with their partner’s realistic qualities and failings­. “They deny unwanted characteristics that cause a ‘split’ in the mind. The disciple longs to merge into a good and powerful, wise and perfect self-object­—which is the guru. In other words, the guru is great, and thus, participating in his power, I am great too,” she elaborates. “The violent outbreaks by stern believers in support of their guru, as we have seen in Asaram’s case, are linked to this: accepting that the idealised self-object has failed means also accepting one’s own failure, which might lead to a disintegration of the self, which needs to be fought off by denying any (countering) facts and better knowledge.”

It’s not difficult to imagine that perhaps it is this systematic domination of the mind of the devotee that lay behind a poster at a Jantar Mantar that read, “Nigorey bhi kah rahey yeh baat, bapuji hai paak saaf (Even the most stubborn proclaim that Bapu (Asaram) is squeaky clean).”

Catholic church hid abusive priest from victim
September 10, 2013

THE orders the Reverend Carlos Rodriguez got from his religious superiors after he confessed to molesting a 16-year-old boy just hours before were swift and decisive.

"Leave immediately. Check into a motel. Don't tell anyone where you are going. Wait for further instructions."
Rodriguez, then 31, picked up cash at a Catholic retreat centre and waited by the phone. The next day, the regional leader of his religious order called and told him to book a plane ticket out of California.
By the time the victim's family went to police, he had checked in at a residential treatment center for troubled priests in Maryland.
"I felt like a fugitive. But what else could I do under the circumstances. I had no other choice but to follow orders,'' he wrote years later in an essay that was included in his Vatican petition to be defrocked.
The essay was part of a 330-page confidential personnel file on the priest that was released yesterday along with files for five other priests who were also accused of molesting children while working for their Roman Catholic religious orders - the Vincentians, the Norbertines and the Augustinians - while assigned to parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Rodriguez's file stands out among the dozens of priest files that have become public in recent months because it includes a candid and detailed autobiographical account of his actions and the steps his religious superiors took to shield him from the family and civil authorities.
The file also makes clear that officials with Rodriguez's religious order, the Vincentians, and the Los Angeles archdiocese worked together to intercede.
Both the order and the archdiocese knew of Rodriguez's confession, but no one spoke with police until the boy's family filed a police report a month later, according to the file.
"The thing that Carlos Rodriguez does is, he lays out the truth, the underbelly, and exposes that for all that it is,'' said Ray Boucher, a lead plaintiff attorney in the clergy litigation who secured the release of the files.
The religious order files are the second set to be released this summer and at least a half-dozen more releases are expected in the coming weeks as religious orders comply with the final terms of a 2007 settlement with hundreds of clergy abuse victims in Los Angeles.
The archdiocese itself released thousands of pages under court order this year for its own priests who were accused of sexual abuse, but the full picture of the problem has remained elusive without records from the religious orders, which routinely assigned priests to work in Los Angeles parishes and schools.
Without access to Rodriguez, the police case dried up and the priest was back at work within seven months, where he molested two brothers beginning that same year.
Rodriguez, who was defrocked in 1998, was convicted of that abuse 17 years later, in 2004, and sentenced to prison. He was released in 2008.
Now 57, he lives as a mostly unemployed registered sex offender in Huntington Park, a gritty, industrial city southeast of Los Angeles. He has been accused of abuse in at least five civil lawsuits.
"It still weighs heavy on me,'' Rodriguez, who wore a cross around his neck, said yesterday when reached at his apartment. "It's nothing proud to talk about. I still feel remorse and it still hurts.''
The Reverend Jerome Herff, the Vincentian regional provincial who told Rodriguez to flee after his 1987 confession and placed him back in ministry the following year, said he urged him to leave because the boy's family was irate and he feared for the priest's safety.
"I did what I thought was best and had to be done and what happened, happened,'' Herff said in a brief phone interview. "I've lived with this for years and I just don't want to go back there anymore.''
Rodriguez's abusive spree began in the summer of 1987, when he took two teenage boys on a trip to the Grand Canyon roughly a year after he was ordained.
The three checked into a Holiday Inn in Flagstaff, Arizona, and in his essay, Rodriguez wrote he began molesting one teen after he fell asleep on the floor.
The boy awoke and the novice priest, terrified at being discovered, drove nearly 800 kilometres through the night to deliver both teens to their families and immediately went back to his parish, where he took a shower and confessed.
The Vincentians sent him to the residential treatment center, where he stayed for seven months.
While there, Rodriguez fretted in letters home about the "seriousness of the law in Arizona'' that could get him up to 15 years in prison and asked the Vincentians for help gathering character references that could help convince the Arizona prosecutor not to press charges.
When the family finally contacted the Los Angeles police a month later, Rodriguez's superior told the investigating detective that the "church was aware of the situation and the defendant was currently hospitalised,'' according to court papers from a criminal case filed years later.
The victim's former attorney, Drew Antablin, said his client, who could not be reached for comment, received a settlement in 2007 as part of an agreement with hundreds of plaintiffs in Southern California.

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES—INDIA January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011



Jehovah’s Witnesses have been present in India since 1905. A national office was established in 1926, and a charitable trust was registered in 1978 to represent the Witnesses’ legal interests. At present, there are over 33,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in India who worship in more than 400 congregations.

Discriminatory acts are on the rise. There were over 80 documented incidents during the period 2002 to 2011, including 24 mob attack cases that are still pending before the police or in courts. In many instances, the police sided with the attackers and falsely accused Jehovah’s Witnesses of instigating the violence. In other cases, the police failed to act while mobs physically assaulted the Witnesses and destroyed their personal property. Witnesses have been beaten by the police, arrested, and charged with criminal activity while simply exercising their religious freedom.


Ongoing Nationwide Denial of Outside Funding
Current laws severely affect funding for Jehovah’s Witnesses in India, restricted by the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, unlike other religious organizations.

On November 8, 2000, the Ministry of Home Affairs, under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976 (FCRA), issued an order prohibiting The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of India (Watch Tower-India), which is the main legal entity used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in India, from receiving foreign contributions. Watch Tower-India had received foreign contributions annually since 1978. On January 8, 2001, Watch Tower-India filed an appeal for “interim relief” from the Ministry’s order in the Bombay High Court on the grounds that the order falsely claimed that Watch Tower-India’s receipt of foreign contributions would affect prejudicially the harmony between religious groups and was issued on grounds different than the purported administrative violation that the government initially asserted.

Despite Watch Tower-India’s repeated efforts to bring the case for a hearing on the merits, the High Court has refused to schedule the case, which has been pending now for almost 10 years. During these 10 years, Watch Tower-India has not been able to receive foreign contributions and remains on the government’s “black list” of organizations that are prohibited from receiving foreign contributions. During this time

Watch Tower-India has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to review and rescind the order, but the government has not done so.

Under the FCRA, if a recipient of foreign contributions was criminally convicted a second time for a violation of the act, that recipient would again be eligible to reapply for permission to receive foreign contributions after three years from date of the subsequent conviction.

Remarkably, Watch Tower-India has not been able to apply for foreign contributions for about 10 years based on an administrative order—worse treatment than if it had been guilty of a criminal conviction under the FCRA. One must conclude that this is because of religious discrimination on the part of the Indian government.

2011 Nationwide Anti-Conversion Laws
There are now seven states in India with anti-conversion laws: Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Rajasthan.

During 2011, several physical assaults on Witnesses engaged in their public ministry (and related police unresponsiveness) presented a cause for concern.

August 28, 2011 Dharmasthala (STATE: Karnataka)
Mob Attack/ Police Misconduct

The five-member family of Mr. K. J. Kunjumon was cruelly beaten in a village near Dharmasthala. Included among the victims were the family’s 18-month-old baby, Anmiya, and 60-year-old grandmother, Mrs. Mary John. The Witness family was returning to visit a neighbor who had expressed interest in learning more about the Bible when they were accosted by a mob. After falsely accusing the Witness family of forcibly converting people, the mob began beating the two male members of the family with their fists and with sticks while the female members of the family suffered sexually degrading speech and even threats of rape. One of the attackers struck the 18-month-old baby as she was being held in the arms of her mother. All four adults suffered injuries due to the brutal encounter that lasted for over an hour. Both the mob and the Witnesses filed complaints with the police. It was only after seven hours of detainment that a counter-complaint from the Witnesses was accepted. The family was then permitted to travel to the government hospital in the town of Belthangadi for medical attention.`

Later the same day, the Witness family was put under arrest on the charge of “maliciously insulting the religion or the religious beliefs of any class.” The attackers, however, were charged only with “voluntarily causing hurt.” The magistrate at Bantwal, Mr. Srinivas, granted bail to the assailants, while the family, including the baby, spent the night in jail. The following day fellow Witnesses posted bail for the family and rushed them back to the hospital for treatment for their injuries.

July 9, 2011 Chikmagalur (STATE: Karnataka)
False Imprisonment/Mob Attack/ Police Misconduct

Mr. Vedantha and his minor son were speaking to two young college-aged men in a park and offered them religious magazines. Two men observed this activity and started shouting at the Witness and accused him of conversion. They verbally abused him, hit him on the head and recruited more people to form a mob.

When the police of Chikmagalur city arrived, the inspector verbally abused the four and then took them to another location, where he kicked and slapped the Witness and forcefully tried to obtain information regarding other Witnesses and elders of the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Statements were coerced from the two college students. After returning to the park and accepting bribes from the attackers, the police took the four to the town police station. The police also searched the home of the Witness for literature and confiscated about 150 magazines.

They threatened the Witness’s wife and daughter with arrest. A judge remanded the Witness to judicial custody. The Witness was released on bail on July 12, 2011. A private complaint with the magistrate of Chikmagalur city is planned as the First Information Report (FIR) against the perpetrators is not yet lodged.

June 28, 2011 Hubli (STATE: Karnataka)
False Imprisonment/Mob Attack/ Police Misconduct

Two male Witnesses, Mr. Sundeep Muniswamy and Mr. Isaac Gopali, were engaged in the house-to-house ministry. When they were talking at one door, a group of four people came from behind, pushed both the Witnesses inside the house of the householder, and prevented them from leaving while assaulting and verbally abusing them. They then took the Witnesses to a nearby Hindu temple. On the way, another man joined them and started to verbally abuse them, insulting Jesus Christ and the followers of Jesus with filthy language. He beat and threatened the Witnesses and told them that if they return they would be burned alive. A mob convened when the media arrived. The mob tried to elicit information from the Witnesses as to who their leader is and how they finance their activity. A news clip of the mob attack was shown on a local news channel.

The police arrived and took the Witnesses to the Old Hubli police station. While the leaders of the mob were allowed a lawyer to prepare the complaint letter, the Witnesses were prevented from receiving a lawyer, medical care, or the option to lodge a counter complaint. The two Witnesses spent three nights in jail until they were released on bail on July 1, 2011.

One of the Witnesses suffered injuries causing hearing loss. The local police tried to prevent filing an FIR against the perpetrators, but on the persistent efforts of the Witnesses, the counter complaint was accepted and FIR filed.

April 9, 2011 Bhandup (Suburb of Mumbai) (STATE: Maharashtra)
Mob Attack

A mob gathered and attacked seven different Witnesses, Mrs. Eunice Joseph, Mrs. Hetal Pithwa, Mr. and Mrs. Timothy D’Cunha, Mr. Ravikumar, Mr. Jagan, and Mrs. Chhaya Jadhav, who were preaching from house-to-house in the area. They cruelly beat the three male Witnesses and verbally abused the female Witnesses. At the Bhandup police station the leaders of the mob arrived and accused the Witnesses of offering money to the people to convert to Christianity. The police accepted the false complaint and filed a FIR under Section 295A and other sections of the Indian Penal Code only against two female Witnesses, Mrs. Eunice Joseph and Mrs. Hetal Pithwa. They were sent to jail and were released on bail four days later.

One of the male Witnesses, Mr. Ravikumar, has had his eardrums damaged due to the beating he received. The police have not yet filed a FIR against the perpetrators even though a complaint was given to the Deputy Commissioner of Police. Now the Witnesses plan to file a complaint through the courts.

April 1, 2011 Bangalore (STATE: Karnataka)
Mob Attack/ Police Misconduct

Two male Witnesses, Mr. Vincent and Mr. Navin Singh, were sharing a peaceful message with a man, who then called his friends by phone. Soon a mob gathered and beat these two Witnesses and two others, Mr. Sachin Singh and Mr. Justin Edward, who were preaching nearby. They were taken to the police station and a fabricated complaint was filed against the Witnesses: one of the attackers tore his own shirt and told the police that the Witnesses had assaulted him when he refused to convert. All four Witnesses were arrested and spent a night in jail.

April 1, 2011 Madikere, Nandimatte (STATE: Karnataka)
False Imprisonment/ Mob Attack/ Police Misconduct

For purposes of a counter-complaint, three Witnesses, Mr. Prasanna, Mr. Divakar, and Mr. Tobias Dias, went to take photographs of the area where the mob attack incident had taken place on March 26, 2011 were waylaid by a mob on their way back. They verbally abused the Witnesses with obscenities and accusations of conversion, and beat them. They forcibly stripped the Witnesses and made them walk in their underwear on the public road.

After some time, the police including the Sub-Inspector came and rescued the Witnesses and took them to the police station where a FIR was registered against the three Witnesses solely on the basis of the fabricated complaint by members of the mob. The Witnesses were not allowed to give any statements and were told that they could give their complaints after they were released on bail. While they were at the police station, the police brought them out of the station so that they could be photographed by the news media. The Witnesses were released six days later. One of the conditions of the bail order was that the Witnesses had to report to the Police Station every Sunday; for one Witness this required 5-6 hours of bus travel each way every Sunday. The court later relaxed this onerous bail condition for that Witness. A counter complaint has been given to the police and they have registered a FIR on behalf of one Witness. A complaint has also been filed with the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission.

March 26, 2011 Madikere (STATE: Karnataka)
Mob Attack

When four Witnesses, Mr. Divakar, Mrs. Felcy Divakar, Mrs. Agnes Louis, and Mrs. Sunitha, explained their activities to a man who inquired, he got angry and called a mob. The mob threatened to burn one of the Witnesses alive and even tried to tie him to a tree. They threatened to rape the women and used vulgar language. The mob called the media and when the media arrived, the mob began to beat the man and threatened the women. A short time later a constable arrived and took the Witnesses to the Madikeri Rural police station, where a FIR was lodged. The Witnesses were in jail for four days before being released on bail. A complaint has been filed with the National Commission for Minorities.

February 15, 2011 Kalyan, near Mumbai`(STATE: Maharashtra)
Mob Attack

Three Witnesses who were preaching from house to house were stopped and abused verbally with filthy language. A mob gathered and prevented them from leaving. They slapped the Witnesses and seized their literature, and then took them to the police station. However, the Witnesses were not arrested.

December 20, 2010 Davanagere (STATE: Karnataka)
Mob Attack/ Police Misconduct

Two Witnesses, Mrs. Deenah Johnson and Mrs. Lakshmi, sought out a widowed acquaintance to console her with passages from the Bible. When they exited the woman’s house a man accused them of converting people and gathered a mob. The Witnesses returned home for safety, but the mob entered the house and threatened them. They took all the publications that were in the house, threw them on the floor and stomped on them, mocking Jesus and Christianity. They called a Witness who is a widow a prostitute and several men offered her money to marry them. Some women were called to beat one of the Witness women. After some time, a policeman appeared and took the two Witnesses away to the Davanagere police station, where they were given some papers to sign, without being allowed to read them. The next evening the Witnesses were released on bail. A private complaint will be filed through the courts soon.

October 23, 2010 Brahmavar (STATE: Karnataka)
Mob Attack/False Arrest

Two female Witnesses, Mrs. Mini Dias and Mrs. Naomi Rodrigues, were stopped by a mob of 50 people on a road and taken to the police station at 1:45 p.m., where the mob expressed insults against the Witnesses, Christianity and the Bible, but did not file a complaint with the police. The Witnesses were made to wait in the Brahmavar police station for nearly 10 hours. The Sub- Inspector Mr. Hosakareppa, arrived after 9:30 pm and called a few leaders of the Bajrang Dal (a Hindu fanatical group), whose members had brought the women to the police station, and filed a FIR against the Witnesses. The two Witnesses were arrested and taken to jail in the early hours of the next day. They were remanded for two days until they were released. The court has adjourned the case to be heard on November 16, 2011.

July 17, 2010 Kamakshipalya, Bangalore (STATE: Karnataka)
False Imprisonment/Mob Attack/ Police Misconduct

Two Witnesses, Mr. Ganesh and Mr. Aldrick Lewis, were attacked while preaching. A man (Bette Gowda) forced them inside his home, confined them, and called others to come and join him. The mob of 15-20 beat the two Witnesses for over an hour, and verbally abused the two, threatening to kill them and shouting vulgarities about them, their families, Christians, Jesus, and Mary. They then took the two Witnesses to a public street where a crowd of 100 took part in the beating, tearing the Witnesses’ clothes off until they were only in their undergarments. The beating included pricking with needles, hitting the bare bodies and heads of the two Witnesses with their fists and sticks, and dragging the men on the road. This public beating lasted almost 45 minutes.

When the police arrived, they delayed in stopping the abuse, and then took the two Witnesses to the Kamakshipalya police station where officer Hemanth Sharan and constables Rajanna and Ramu continued the verbal abuse. One of the inspectors recommended that the man Bette Gowda accuse the two Witnesses of the rape of his wife. Another inspector mentioned that he would have allowed the mob to kill the two Witnesses. One of the Witnesses was forced to clean a dirty room in the station in spite of his many injuries. The police of Kamakshipalya, Bangalore city, then beat the two Witnesses and forced them to sign documents without having read them, despite their objection. The two Witnesses were then criminally charged and arrested. They were remanded to judicial custody for three nights until released on bail. They needed hospitalization due to their injuries and are still undergoing medical treatment for their injuries. The Metropolitan Court of Bangalore city registered the complaint and ordered a police investigation that was due by October 22, 2011. As the Police have not yet filed the FIR, the court has given another three months to the Police to do so and hence the next date of hearing is on January 24, 2012.


Jehovah’s Witnesses in India and as a worldwide organization respectfully request the government of India to:
(1) Protect their fellow Indians and their property from brutal, unjustified physical attacks.
(2) Demand that local police not tolerate or become party to violence against Jehovah’s Witnesses.

(3) Protect the fundamental rights of all, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, by providing protection against violence and preserving the freedom to share one’s faith publicly as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. This is especially so for the Witnesses living in Bangalore and other parts of the state of Karnataka, where recent criminal acts of violent behavior against the Witnesses have been on the rise.

At An Austin Ashram, A First-Person Account

The author of Sex, Lies and Two Hindu Gurus shares her experiences by Karen Jonson

September 16, 2013

In 1991, American writer Karen Jonson wasn’t in love and was in a dead-end job when she joined an ashram, the Jagad­guru Kripalu Parishat (JKP) in Austin, Texas, attrac­ted by local guru Prakashanand Sara­swati’s talks “about god and loving god”. 

The JKP proclaims the divi­nity of Kripaluji Maharaj. In the beginning, she was happy to be among a group of people who had the same feeling and purpose, picking green beans by the moonlight, cooking meals, acting in skits. After living in the ashram for 15 years, she quit in 2008, three years before Prakashanand was found guilty on 20 counts of child sex abuse. Jonson published a tell-all book, Sex, Lies and Two Hindu Gurus, which JKP followers dismiss as a ‘Christian conspiracy’. Here Jonson tells Debarshi Dasgupta how her spiritual quest went awry:

In hindsight, I always had some small doubts about both Kripalu and Prakash. But I had no proof of anything. I was also very religious and wanted to believe what they were telling us, about achieving God realisation and becoming a gopi in divine Vrindavan. All we had to do was ‘surrender’ to them, they said. So I tried really hard to do that, and whenever I stumbled, I believed it was because of my own lack of devotional qualities. So whenever I had doubts, I would push them back into the corners of my mind.

But the major onset of scepticism occurred when Kripalu was arrested in Trinidad for raping a young woman in May 2007. It was while he was on a ‘world tour’ that year for a few months. He had just spent about four weeks in the JKP ashram in Austin where I had lived full-time since April 1993. His plan was to go to Trinidad, then Canada, then come back to Austin.

Some uncomfortable events took place when he was in the Austin ashram, called Barsana Dham at the time (the name was changed to Radha Madhav Dham later, after Prakashanand fled to Mexico on his own cases becoming public). For the first time ever, I was invited to Kripalu’s bedroom to perform a secret ritual they called ‘charan seva’. I had never heard of it before. But I later learned that many of the women in JKP’s ashrams participated in this ritual, which took place several times every day at specific times.

During this ritual, 5-6 women are brought into the guru’s bedroom. He is lying on his back in the middle of his bed on several pillows with his arms and legs spread out. The women each climb up on his bed and kneel near one part of his body, the thigh, calf and feet. (At that time, one foot was not available for massaging due to an injury, which I later learned was tuberculosis that had gone into his bone.) We had been instructed to “press him very hard.” So we just pressed hard on whatever body part we had.

My first time was his left thigh. The room is very dark so it was hard to see what else was going on. Also, my attention was very focused on massaging him correctly, as instructed. While pressing him as hard as I could, his hand reached down to mine and tried to nudge my hand up to his groin. At the time, I naively thought he wanted me to massage him higher on his thigh, so I tried, but there was really nowhere else to go. He nudged me again. And again I went a tiny bit higher, but that was it. Then it was over and we were told to leave. “Jao!”

I had four more pressing sessions. In two, nothing that I know of happened. But then I wasn’t really expecting anything. But one time, when I was on the left thigh again, I saw movement on his groin from the opposite side. While focusing on my pressing, I also kept glancing over. It looked like another woman, who I knew, was massaging his penis. I really could not believe my eyes. I kept glancing, but was in shock. But I now knew that is exactly what was happening.

That’s when I started putting together pieces of the puzzle—including my past doubts and experiences in ‘charan seva’.
Another time I was on his left calf, and out of the corner of my eye I saw some movement. When I glanced up, I saw that Kripalu’s hand was up the woman’s blouse. I knew this woman too. Again I was in shock. Each of these three times, I tried not to think about the incidents. I still tried to believe that Kripalu was God and that I could not understand God’s actions. Plus, with him in residence there is way too much work to do and no one gets enough sleep, so we are sleep-deprived every day. I was constantly exhausted trying to keep up with the brutal satsang schedule from 4 am to 10 pm. Plus the work we had to do. My job was baking “birthday cakes”. They offered a thing called a “birthday seva”, where an interested person paid US $2,500 for the privilege of having Kripalu acknowledge their birthday—even if it wasn’t the person’s birthday. I baked over 50 cakes in four weeks for this!

About a week after his arrest in Trinidad, one of the preachers gathered us together one night to inform us. After spinning the story in Kripalu’s favour (she didn’t use the word rape), she told us: “Do not go on the internet and read about this.” I think that was the exact moment I got my mind back under my own control and snapped out of my cult delusion. Because I decided that is exactly what I was going to do: I went online, typed in ‘Kripalu’ and ‘Trinidad’, and started reading. I was in complete shock.

That’s when I learned the truth. So many people from around the world were commenting on the real JKP and Kripalu. I just knew they were telling the truth. Everything. The sex, the money collection, the abuse. That’s when I started putting together pieces of the puzzle—including my past doubts and recent experiences during “charan seva”.

It took me a little more time to accept that Prakash was as bad as Kripalu, because I knew Prakash first and had hardly known anything about Kripalu until the fall of 1999. Prakash had stopped talking about him after Kripalu’s first arrest for raping two underage girls in India in the early 1990s (I joined in 1991). That case has never been resolved. He ‘reintroduced’ us to him in late 1999, saying he was the fifth jagadguru, an incarnation of Radha-Krishna and Chaitanya, and a lot of other fairy tales.

One day, I realised that Prakash had to be as bad as Kripalu, because he served him and brought us to him. Within a couple of months, I heard from the young women who had been molested by Prakash as children while living in the ashram.

I’m not sure why certain people calling themselves “gurus” in India are so popular among Indians. I don’t fully understand the beliefs, culture and history surrounding this relationship. I’ve been told by some of my Indian friends living in the US that to worship so blindly is an aberration of the traditional guru-disciple relationship. In fact, an Indian man living in Austin wrote a chapter in my book on that subject. He stressed that there should always be an element of verification on the student’s part. In other words, be sure the person is a true guru. But it seems that some people have completely abandoned this step.

I believe that conmen gurus don’t leave any room for verification. In my case, Kripalu and his preachers went out of their way to teach that it’s a sin to doubt the guru, question him or second-guess him. The only option is 100% unquestioning belief. I now know that this is a red flag. Only a cult would not want a person to use their reasoning mind to make an informed decision.

If a person stays in such a situation, well then they are just sitting ducks. This unquestioning attitude gives the conmen complete control and allows them to shape the followers’ minds anyway they choose. The conman has effectively stolen the individual’s personal power and used it for their own purposes, much like a vampire sucks a person’s blood to stay alive.

At the same time, they claim a kind of shield. Just before his arrest in Trinidad, one day at the Austin JKP temple, Kripalu said: “The actions of a saint may seem more worldly than the most worldly person’s actions. But you cannot judge them, because you are worldly and a saint is divine.” That’s the kind of thinking that gives a person a licence to kill. Very scary.

Sep 8, 2013

State of Arizona-v-James Arthur Ray Motion in Limine No 9 To exclude Testimony of Rick Ross Witness Rick Ross in State of Arizona v James Ray

SUSAN DETOMI AND STEVE DETOMI VS RYAN (Case Dismissed) result not reported by

Detomi v Ryan Case Dismissed:

Legal case result not reported by


Case Dismissed SUSAN DETOMI AND STEVE DETOMI VS RYAN  (Civil Docket Report Case ID 050301175).

23-MAY-2006 11:54 AM
Docket Entry:
22-NOV-2005 03:19 PM
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22-MAR-2006 03:07 PM
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21-APR-2006 01:11 PM
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25-APR-2006 12:01 AM
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23-MAY-2006 11:54 AM
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23-MAY-2006 11:54 AM
Docket Entry: none.