Thursday, July 18, 2013

1977 Cal-i-for-ni-a

August 23, 1977, Ukiah Daily Journal, Ukiah Weekly Target of $5 Million Lawsuit, by George Hunter,
November 10, 1977, The Sun Reporter, Charles Garry Visits Jonestown: 'I Have Been to Paradise',
November 13, 1977, San Francisco Examiner, Scared Too Long, by Tim Reiterman,
November 13, 1977, San Francisco Examiner, Temple investigations bogged down,
November 19, 1977, San Francisco Examiner, Jones Temple Asked to Return Child, Parents Awarded Custody, by Tim Reiterman,

page 327

August 23, 1977, Ukiah Daily Journal, Ukiah Weekly Target of $5 Million Lawsuit, by George Hunter,

Stoen reacts to Grapevine article

Timothy Oliver "Tim" Stoen, former assistant district attorney for Mendocino County whose beliefs are closely linked to those of the Rev. Jim Jones, pastor of the Peoples Temple Church, is preparing to file a $3 "million lawsuit against the Mendocino Grapevine, a Uriah weekly.

Stoen, who flew here last weekend from New York City to confer with Ukiah attorney Pat Finnegan, told the Daily Journal that he would also seek damages of some $13 million from New West, a San Francisco bi-weekly magazine which has carried two "expose" articles relating to Peoples Temple and its pastor.

Stoen said that an article appearing in a recent issue of the Ukiah weekly had damaged his reputation. "I intend to practice law here in Ukiah and it is essential that I clear my name," Stoen

"I must show the world that a newspaper cannot wrongfully hurt innocent people without being brought to account."

Noting that he was prepared to do battle on all levels, Stoen said: "I'm a street fighter. People will come to appreciate that fact that I'm a street fighter."

"I feel like Alfred Dreyfus," Stoen said, referring to the French Army officer of the 19th century who was convicted by an Army court and imprisoned on Devil's Island for defending his religious beliefs.

"I'm experienced enough with our jury system to believe in it. I'll put my trust in the system," Stoen said.

Stoen reacted strongly to inferences that he was "afraid" of Rev. Jones. "I want to dispel that allegation," he said.

The former assistant district attorney also was sharply critical to charges that he had used his public office to spy for Jones. "I've always made known my esteem for Jim Jones," he said. "I have nothing to hide and no one can show a single instance where I ever used my public office to show favoritism toward the church.

Stoen charged that the reporting of New West magazine was irresponsible in that the magazine article quoted the Mendocino Grapevine verbatim. Stoen said he would prove the statements to be untrue and malicious in motivation and that the Grapevine violated the newspaper canon of ethics, giving Stoen no chance to reply to the accusations.

The demands for retraction and damages will be contained in a complaint filed here. The suit against New West magazine will be filed in San Francisco.

Stoen was "loaned" to San Francisco city and county in 1975 to prosecute voter fraud after a large-scale scandal surfaced. Out of 39 indictments returned by the Grand jury, 37 convictions were obtained. Stoen was then asked by San Francisco District Attorney Joseph Freitas to accept the post of special prosecutor with "a large staff of attorneys to fight organized crime and public corruption. Stoen accepted the post then resigned when he felt that he was needed in Guyana, a small South American country, to help Jones in establishing a communal-type center, Jonestown, for minorities and the underprivileged.

Stoen has established residence in Manhattan in order that he may be admitted to the New York State bar.

"Jones has helped me develop an empathy toward the persecuted," Stoen said "I intend to develop a national law firm to help people who are prosecuted, on some pretext, for their religious beliefs. Stoen said he was worried about "creeping totalitarianism" that left no room for dissent.

Stoen hopes to attract idealistic young attorneys to his organization.



November 10, 1977, The Sun Reporter, Charles Garry Visits Jonestown: 'I Have Been to Paradise',

On Nov 6 Peoples Temple welcomed Charles Garry, who represents Peoples Temple as its attorney. Garry has recently returned from a visit to the temple's agricultural project in Guyana. Jonestown (so named by the Guyanese government). He had much information to share.

"Last Monday night I was on a talk show." he began, "and I had the opportunity to tell that I had seen and I had been in paradise I saw it. It's there for anybody to see. and I'm hopeful that in the next few day or weeks we'll be able to have a documentary, which everyone will be able to see.

"I saw a community where there is no racism. No one feels the color of his skin, whether he's Black, brown, yellow, red, or white. I also noticed that no one thinks in terms of sex. No one feels superior to anyone else, I don't know of any community in the world today that has been able to solve the problem of male sex supremacy completely "That does not exist in Jonestown.

"I also saw something else: There is no such thing as age-ism. The community is comprised of the little children, the teenagers, the young adults, the old adults, the senior citizens, all together.

"I have never seen so many happy faces in my life as I did in Jonestown the three days I was there. I want that captured (on film) so that skeptical America will know what it is when you live without fear of the rent being due, and all the other problems we're surrounded by.

"There are some 800 persons or more there now. They've got cottages set up that you just could not believe. I saw sanitation there that I had never seen in any part of the world, except Switzerland. You can eat oft the ground."

He went on to speak of the consistently high level of medical care, organized under a doctor who is thorough, conscientious and dedicated." The medical team has the latest in medical equipment and books," and "every person who goes to Jonestown is medically thoroughly examined, and charts are prepared."

He recalls that he urged Dr. Schacht to start keeping daily, hourly diaries, to put the operation of the medical compound in writing, so that some of our medical schools, and the American Medical Association, can learn from what is being done at Jonestown.

A high point of his talk related to the care of senior citizens, which he said moved him deeply. "All of the senior citizens' cottages are built around the immediate vicinity of the medical compound. Every single morning a member of the medical team knocks on the cottage of the senior citizen and inquires, 'Did anybody have any problem during the night? Do you have any problems here this morning?' Can you imagine the security that the senior citizens feel with this kind of care? I'd like to have a representative from a body here that's trying to improve the lot of senior citizens who are left to be beggars and paupers to see what is going on in Jonestown."

He spoke of the many agricultural projects, including an improvised method of developing feed from protein food grown in Jonestown. The area of Jonestown devoted to raising animals also drew praise.

"Those pigpens, as we call them, looked like palaces. Many of the homes that I've seen in America could not measure up to the sanitation, the cleanliness, the spaciousness of the place we call a pigpen."

The chickens raised and butchered at the project he called "luscious." and the food generally is "delicate, nourishing, and it's type of food that will make your blood pressure go down, your diabetes will disappear. It's substantial, nourishing food--the kind that will take away the fat you accumulate by the type of food we eat here."

The project as a whole is described as quite developed: a thriving sawmill, generators to meet electrical needs, wells, streets, refrigeration. The school is open-air. In a large covered area, with 15 to 20 youngsters in a class.

Teachers are drawn, in part, from "at least 50 people there who have advanced degrees." He spoke of the enthusiastic participation and discussion on the part of all the students, which is something he had not seen here, with the exception of the Oakland Community School.

Does Jonestown lack for entertainment and fun? Not at all, Garry says. "There's this beautiful auditorium, and for three-and-a-half hours I saw the most beautiful entertainment in the world. I've never seen such talent in my life. I saw children from toddlers through about the age of seven putting on a demonstration, with voice, and clapping, and marching, and children six and seven years old getting up and reciting poetry with meaning and gusto. It was just remarkable.

"Why are those people so happy?" he mused again. "They are learning a new social order. They are learning an answer to a better life. When I returned to the States, I told my partners in the office that had I seen paradise. From what I saw there, I would say that the society that's being built in Jonestown is a credit to humanity."

And then, as if to reinforce the amazing description, he added. "This is not propaganda. I'm not a propagandist. I'm a hard-hitting, factual-analysis lawyer. I saw this with my own eyes I felt it."



November 13, 1977, San Francisco Examiner, Scared Too Long, by Tim Reiterman,

People's Temple and a father's grief

"I just can't understand now my son, bright as he was, could be taken in by a thing like this. Ir must be like a cancer; it grows slowly and takes a long time to come to a head."

After 40 years of photographing news and sports events for the Associated Press, Robert "Sammy" Houston was speaking out for the first time as a private citizen.

He was speaking out became he was outraged and wounded by the way People's Temple treated his son before he died beneath the wheels of a freight train.

He was speaking out because his dead son's two daughters were sent on a "vacation" to New York and wound up at the church's agricultural mission in Guyana — without their mother.

He was speaking out because he didn't have much speaking time left. Doctors cut out his cancer-choked voice box just a few days later.

"Tm tired of being scared," the 99-year-old photographer rasped, his voice crackling. "I've been scared too long. I might lose my voice and everything else — so I gotta say it now. And I cant say it in a soft tone."

Until now, the wiry little Texan said he has treaded softly around People's Temple for fear his granddaughters would be taken far away from him, for fear he would become estranged from their mother, who still is a church member.

The high-pitched, chattering voice that was so familiar around the dugouts and sidelines of Bay Area ballparks, had never before asked the agonizing questions aloud: What prompted his only son, Robert Houston Jr:, to work, two jobs and turn over $2,000 a month to the church? How did his son, a probation officer moonlighting as an railroad worker, end up crushed on the tracks? Are his granddaughters in Guyana of their own free will — and can they get decent medical care, education and love?

Bob Houston's ex-wife Phyllis, says she's happy her daughters are in Guyana and is convinced their life there is healthy and beneficial.

"I last heard from them about a week ago and they said they really like it there," she said in a telephone interview from temple attorney Charles Garry's office in San Francisco. "There also is a condition that if they don't like it there, they can come back."

Phyllis said she had no recollection of Bob Houston being boxed, beaten or berated by anyone in the temple, as reported. by several former members. "As far as I know, he was a highly regarded member," she said.

Garry said he recently visited the temple mission In Guyana and found it to be a paradise with good food, housing, education and medical care. He said he saw no evidence of any physical punishment and added that it was prohibited by the temple "If I had any children, I wouldn't hesitate to send them there," Garry said.

Still, interviews with Bob Houston's family, his widow and friends paint a less than idyllic picture of his involvement with the controversial temple headed by the Rev. Jim Jones.

The terrible incongruity of Bob Houston's death materializes on the pages of the family photo album Pictures of proud parents — Sam and Nadyne Houston — and a bright, studious son the other kids called the "little professor." School work with A's and 100"s scrawled by teachers over the years. A photo of an Eagle Scout playing taps at the dedication [illegible] or shaking hands with John Kennedy.

A smiling young man in glasses standing before the Campanile at the University of California at Berkeley. A baton-flourishing student director of the UC marching band. A young married man working his way through school and supporting two baby daughters.

That was Robert Hascue Houston Jr., born March 13, 1943, in Dallas, a descendant of the great Texas general. A gentle fellow who wouldn't fish with a barbed hook; an accomplished musician who was more interested in helping people than being famous.

In 1969, Bob Houston and his wife and first love, Phyllis, joined People's Temple, and became discipies of Jones, the church's charismatic leader. His parents were surprised that their well-educated son, who had belonged to the Methodist and Presbyterian churches at various times, would be attracted to a faith healer. But they were more than dismayed when two years passed without a visit from their son's family.

"The first time we talked, I ridiculed the faith cures and pulling the cancers out," Sammy said.

"I wasn't critical of him or what he was doing with the church," he added. "In fact, I was proud of him. I believe we raised him to be a good boy. I admired what he did and was almost envious of what he did to help his fellow man."

By 1970 Bob and Phyllis were members of the People's Temple board in Redwood Valley in Mendocino County. Bob liked his work as a [ ] therapist [illegible] he felt he was helping people, but he couldn't stomach a later job as a Xerox salesman

When Joyce Shaw, an A student from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, attended her first temple meeting in May 1970, Bob Houston was somewhat conspicuous. First, he was visible as a band member at the revival-like meetings. Second, he was one of the few well educated intellectuals in the congregation.

By 1972 Houston's marriage was getting so rocky that it was the subject of at least one "catharsis," or criticism session. (Shaw says Jones told the couple they could each have relations with other members, but Phyllis Houston says Jones encouraged them to stay together for the sake of the children.) Nonetheless, Bob and Joyce spent more and more time together, working long hours on a church publication called "The Living Word." Then their relationship was discouraged.

"In the beginning of 1973 through December, I was working full time in the church publication office," Shaw said recently, "Bob was working for Xerox full time and putting in another 40 to 80 hours doing photography for the church. He also was continuing to play in the band. And he drove the temple bus on trips to San Francisco and Los Angeles. He got three or four hours sleep, at the most and was running himself ragged like the rest of us.

In December 1973, Joyce Shaw and Bob Houston were summoned to a meeting of the planning commission, the temple's governing board, and were asked by Jones to marry so they could work as
a missionary team.

"Bob and I went off and talked about it," Shaw recalled. "Jones didn't want people in love or with deep feelings to get married; he wanted people married to tie them to the church. But Bob and I decided we'd go ahead and do it.

"We were compatible intellectually and ideologically. I really cared about him."

The divorce of Phyllis and Bob Houston was finalized in September 1974. Then Joyce and Bob brought their marriage papers to Jones. "He signed them." Joyce said. "And as we were walking away, he said, "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Then he laughed. To him it was a joke. I don't think we even had time to go to a movie.

Their honeymoon suite was a $20 a month studio apartment [illegible] to defray half their rent and they worked two jobs each [illegible]

About six weeks after their marriage, the newly weds were called in the middle of the night by a high-ranking church member and asked to provide a home to a boy who had been in trouble with Ukiah authorities.

One extra person was no problem, but Shaw says Houston's children were assigned to live with him. "We had no more room," Shaw said. "We rented a big three-story frame house with a garden in back on San Bruno Avenue."

The commune started out with seven children, but soon the total reached 24, most of whom were children living two or three to room. For a while, it was remarkably harmonious. The Houstons made sure the children received good medical 2nd dental care and fed and clothed them.

"Most of them came to us in rags, so I spent hours mending and we went shopping at used clothes stores," Shaw said. "If any of the kids got in trouble at school. Bob went over to talk to the teachers and we did individual tutoring at the house. Four or five of the children were taking music lessons at school. We bought musical instruments for two of them, and Bob would coach them at home."

The couple took the children on birthday outings to drive-in movies, the beach, Chinatown and ice skating, and they had all they could eat —though the food bill averaged 60 cents a day per person.

Despite his ardor as a worker, Bob Houston was a black sheep in Jones' flock, someone whose intellectualism was mocked, someone reportedly ridiculed by Jones for falling asleep at all-night meetings and branded a "narcoleptic" despite a brutal schedule.

On at least a couple of occasions, his widow recalled, Houston was disciplined in front of his children and the congregation for untimely dozing or showing "male chauvinistic tendencies.'' His punishment was being boxed by a larger man until Jones saw fit to stop the beating, In one he got a shiner and was embarrassed." Shaw said. "They beat him to a pulp. He understood the unwritten rule that you weren't supposed to fight back. Jim was sitting up there laughing. It was apparent that Jim was threatened by Bob's intellectualism and education. Jim took special [ ] in seeing him beaten.

Temple members were used to [illegible] how to structure the commune operation. The temple decided that Bob was a destructive influence, and contrary to his wife's intentions, was made to work full time in rebuilding the temple's burned-out San Francisco church. He worked 13 hours a day, living in the church for the sake of convenience.

Bob Houston returned to the church and, as a disciplined and penitent member, he sat in the front row at services, standing and waving his hands to show he had the"spirit."

"He looked on himself as a responsible adult," former church member Gary Lambrev said. "But he was laughed at everywhere, even at home. He was the traditional beating boy. Everyone tore into him. He was terrorized."

According to former members, Jones had declared open season on Houston, branding him "bourgeoisie" for expressing intellectual thoughts in front of poorly educated members of the congregation. "Jim Jones was down on him for not talking earthy," recalled Jeannie Mills, an ex-member who ran church publications. "Bob talked on a higher plane, using big words and intellectual concepts. Even the kids were urged to use foul language, but I don't remember Bob ever swearing."'

Friends said the scrappy and. sometimes argumentative Houston was at the same time a good soldier and faithful to his own intellectual curiosity. In fact, his ability to ask probing questions of Jones and to argue with fellow members got him into trouble more than once.

"Bob believed Jim Jones wanted people to think creatively but this was the last thing Jim Jones wanted," Lambrev said. "Bob was interested in learning and would get up and ask questions — about things like the movement in Portugal and Communist countries in Western Europe."

Bob Houston — a man dedicated to remedying inequalities —realized he could make more money than less-educated temple members. So he felt it was his duty to work two Jobs — days as a counselor at Youth Guidance Center and nights as a switchman in the Southern Pacific railyards.

"At one point in 1976, he alone was turning over $2,000 a month to the church," according to his widow, Joyce Shaw. [illegible] by the board. He never would have taken any of those jobs in terms of fulfilling himself.

"He really thought the temple was a worthwhile organization. He was very entrenched in socialist ideology, and he believed that doing his work would help his daughters and other children find themselves in a better world"

While the private Bob Houston would confide love for his parents, the public Bob Houston infrequently saw them in their neatly conventional San Bruno suburban home. While the private Bob Houston's devotion and love for his daughters was total, the public Bob Houston showed them no favoritism. While the private Bob Houston had a good relationship with his wife, the public Bob Houston had scraps with her.

In January 1978, Jones initiated a rule that commune members had to eat at the temple headquarters on Geary Street to save money.

Rather than shuttling two dozen commune members from Potrero Hill to dinner each day, the temple rented a flat on Sutter Street nearer the church.

Still, long dinner lines, an empty refrigerator and eat-and-run meals eroded the commune's unity. In a planning commission meeting— Houston's first as a member of that elite group — he stood up and backed his wife when she complained about bad nutrition in the temple's high carbohydrate diet. "Bob was intractable," Joyce said. If he made up his mind, he could not be swayed."

On July 16,1976, Joyce bought a bus-ticket and left in the middle of the night, convinced that the household was breaking up and the temple was a destructive force. "If. you leave, it will hurt a lot of people," Bob told her in a phone conversation the next day.

On Oct 2. 1876, Joyce Shaw called her husband to wish him a happy second anniversary and to tell him she wasn't returning to the church.

"There was no disharmony between us, but you're either in the church or out," she said. "It wasn't possible for him to go to church and me to stay away like in other churches, I knew that as a principled person he would realize what was going on and would get out."

In the small hours of Oct 5, 1978, there was a knock at Sammy and Nadyne Houston's door. It was
one of Sam's golf partners, Ben Rhoten, a railroad worker.

"Sam, I got something to tell you," he began.

Robert Houston Jr, 33, was found mangled along the tracks at Sixth and 16th streets. His light was left on the brake wheel of a flatcar, his glove on the coupler.

After her husband was buried, Joyce Shaw made one of the most difficult decisions of her life. She wrote her in-laws letters telling them what People's Temple was all about — about the control exercised over members, about the false admissions and blank pieces of paper members were required to sign — and about the pressure to avoid all non-members, including relatives.

Then the elder Houstons could better understand why they seldom were visited, why they were discouraged from taking their granddaughters on shopping outings; why they were required to give presents to all the commune children if they wanted to treat their granddaughters, why their former daughter-in-law and grandchildren did not sit with them at the funeral,

"When I heard about Bobby Jr. getting boxed, I was sick, Nadyne said. "I could not believe why any person who was a [illegible]

After their son's death, the Houstons saw much more of their granddaughters-— Patty, 14, and Judy, 13 — but the girls and their mother often were accompanied by a temple chaperone.

And then, in August the Houstons were told their granddaughters were going on a temple vacation to New York. Less than a month later, the girls were sending letters from the temple's agricultural mission in Guyana.

While his wife is concerned about the physical hazards of Jungle life and their granddaughters' emotional and educational well-being. Sammy said, "They are there without their mother. I'm worried there are people there who don't want to be there and shouldn't be there for physical or other reasons. I have hopes my granddaughters will get out of there, and I believe they want to get out."


November 13, 1977, San Francisco Examiner, Temple investigations bogged down,

While the Rev. Jim Jones remains la Guyana with no immediate plans to return, several investigations into People's Temple activities continue without tangible results.

"Jim Jones wants to return very badly," said temple attorney Charles Garry. "He's happy there, but he's the kind of person who wants to be involved. He can't come back here for reasons I can't disclose at this time."

Garry indicated the reasons did not involve the ongoing investigations of several government agencies into accusations that the temple beat its members, bilked some out of property and misused public funds in the operation of care homes. The temple has denied all the allegations.

'Jones, a faith healer with political clout and a following said to number in the thousands, resigned as head of the San Francisco Housing Authority last summer. He submitted his resignation letter from the temple's agriculture mission to Guyana, where he had been since New West magazine printed sweeping accusations by former members.

Garry said he visited the mission recently and found about 850 persons living there. He described it as a nearly self-sufficient, "paradise."

The San Francisco district attorney's office has spent about three months investigating the allegations of dozens of ex-members.

But investigators say they have insufficient evidence to prosecute and have been hampered somewhat by the exodus of many, temple members to Guyana.

A report on the investigation is being prepared, but it is not known whether the district attorney will make it public. Some information on the temple has been relayed to other jurisdictions looking into temple activities, investigators say.

The Mendocino County sheriff's office has been investigating allegations by former temple member Marvin Swinney, who said he never signed a legal document that transferred his property to the temple. Sheriff Tom Jondahl said his office and state technical experts detected no evidence of forgery, but he said the investigation is not closed.

Tim Reieterman

November 19, 1977, San Francisco Examiner, Jones Temple Asked to Return Child, Parents Awarded Custody, by Tim Reiterman,


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