January 2011, Paul Morantz.com, Escape From Jonestown, by Paul Morantz,
Dedicated to Tim and Grace Stoen
In the days following the Synanon murder attempt on my life by placing a rattlesnake in my mail box in October of 1978 while I was recovering in the Los Angeles County hospital I was surprised by all the publicity. “Rattler Death Trap” was a headline banner. For several years now I had tried to alert the media as to the danger of destructive cults that believed both they were persecuted and on a holy mission. After a few days I was wheeled on a bed into a hospital room for a press conference where I was confronted by a flood of lights, cameras and journalists.
The message I gave was that there were may more dangerous cults out there and people needed to understand how ordinary people can be converted into terrorists by being convinced of a holy crusade. Two newsmen present got the message and took the opportunity to go travel to investigate another group outside United States borders the the next month. There they died.
It was only six weeks after my near death when at home watching TV a news anchor broke in and said, "900 dead in Guyana…news at 11." I knew immediately it was Jonestown and that "White Night" had happened. I also sensed that but for my still recovering I might have been there, either dying or preventing it. Maybe due to the snake I had escaped Jonestown. Whatever, my hospital speech was proven. ABC interviewed me for a four nights series on how cults turn violent. It was a coup as they aired it the week following the mass suicide/murders.
It was not that I was involved fighting Jim Jones; that is not how I was up on Jonestown. My knowledge was from having been in contacted with San Francisco attorney Tim Stoen.
Stoen graduated from Stanford in 1964 and later became a Deputy District. But in l967 he did a liberal turn about and headed for Haight Ashbury to assist the flower children working for Legal Aid Society of Alameda County.
By the end of 1969, when Berkeley was a war zone over Peoples Park, students studying in the Cal Berkely library brought gas masks and the center of students' right, Stoen, impressed by the good deeds of Jim Jones, began to integrate his personal life with the Temple. He provided legal aid for the Temple and wrote of his political conversion to the Temple's socialism vision.
In 1970 Tim moved into the People's Temple. The same year Stoen married the pretty Grace Lucy Grech, whom he had met on a march at the San Francisco Civic Center against overpopulation and pollution. Despite typical cult pressure, as would happen in Synanon in 1976, to abort pregnancies to eliminate "selfish" purposeful distractions, she gave birth to John Stoen in 1972.
Jones got Tim to sign a document saying Jones was the true sire of the child. At the same time Jones elevated Grace in the hierarchy but let her be called an "elitists" which Tim accepted and they were pulled apart. Jones wanted access to all women and to be more bonded to than any spouse.
Jones was very political and his followers supported SF mayor George Moscone, Joseph Freitas and Richard Hongisto in successful election bids. He established a relationship with President Carter's wife and her sister Ruth Carter Stapelton, queen of the Aquarius era.
Amongst Jones biggest supporters were state senator Willie Brown, Vice President Walter Mondale and SF councilman Harvey Milk. Jones also helped Governor Jerry Brown, Jr. get elected in 1975 and Jones was now the Chairman of the State Housing Commission. Brown also gave a staff appointment to Synanon's Chuck Dederich's wife Betty. Brown offered Dederich, too, but he declined.
Shortly thereafter, San Francisco District Attorney Freitas hired Tim Stoen as an Assistant District Attorney in the consumer frauds division. Stoen was assigned to investigate whether there was fraud in Moscone's election involving the People's Temple of which Stoen was now a member.
Gov. Brown in 1976 appointed Stoen as advisory council on legal aid. By then Grace Stoen had grown to hate the Temple, having given up her son John to Jones per pressure that John be raised communally, being constantly berated and watching her son paddle punished, and listening to Jones portray Tim as a homosexual. Jones once pointed a gun at her and threatened to shoot her if she fell asleep in a meeting and witnessed the beating of a 40 year old woman who had claimed the Temple turned members into robots. In July 1976, she fled to Lake Tahoe.
Jim Jones vowed that he would never give her John and to assure little John was taken to Guyana. In February 1977 Grace threatened to legally divorce Tim and Jones sent Tim to Jonestown to avoid being served with legal papers. There Tim discovered that Jones had turned John against his mother. Tim disappeared in June of 1977 then resurfaced shouting for someone to do something about People's Temple abuses. Stoen had knowledge of the Temple's transferring millions to foreign banks.
In July 1977, Jim Jones and several hundred Temple members moved from Georgetown to Jonestown the same night an editor at New West magazine read Jones an article to be published by Marshall Kilduff detailing allegations by former Temple members. Most politicians broke ties with Jones but a rally against "Jones' enemies" was held at the Temple attended by Willie Brown, Harvey Milk and Art Agnos.
Tim and Grace Stoen began a custody battle for John and in September 1977 a Georgetown court ordered the return of John to Grace Stoen. A few days later, that same court issued a second order for the arrest of John by authorities. Guyana officials would not invade Jonestown for the child and the Stoens pressed on, Tim and I both now consulting with each other.
Stoen, heard about me fighting Synanon, and would call to exchange notes and ideas. That Synanon and Jonestown, and their founders, were identical twins, both urging o child birth and giving children to the community, both obsessed with enemies, both imploding at the same time, bound us together in a pledge to help each other. When I was hospitalized by the snake in October of 1978 Tim actually offered to fly down and help cover my cases.
Meanwhile Jones started preparing to run again, inquiring about immigration to North Korea and Stalinist Albania. The Stoens then could never find five year old John.
But it never got that far.
The Stoens with others related to Jonestown residents began calling themselves the "Concerned Relatives." They shared details of their encounters, interviewed defectors and went over short wave radio transcripts containing communications between Jonestown and the Temple's San Francisco headquarters. Meanwhile, Temple surveillance teams checked license plates in front of the meeting houses to determine the identity of their "enemies," something Synanon did in Badger, Calif when local dissidents met at a tavern. Tim started writing Campaigns to the Secretary of State and the government of Guyana. He went to Washington to try to get an investigation.
In November 1977 a San Francisco court granted Grace Stoen custody of John. In January of 1978, Tim Stoen traveled to Georgetown, Guyana, get the Guyanese to help him take custody of the child, but he was unsuccessful. The judge recused himself from the case because his life had been threatened over it, and stated that a new judge would have to restart the process from the beginning. A Guyanese official then approached Stoen and told him he had to leave within one day, one week before his visa expired. While at the airport, three Temple members surrounded Stoen and threatened his life unless he dropped his legal action. Although Stoen wanted to travel to Jonestown to retrieve John himself, he thought "if I went back, I thought I would probably be a corpse within 30 days."
After Stoen returned to Washington D.C. from Georgetown in January 1978, he visited with nine Congressman, including Leo Ryan. Stoen also told Congress of Jones' illegal taking of John, warning action by the Guyanese Army could result in harm to John or others.
Congressman Leo Ryan's interest was aroused by the Stoen custody fight and he wrote a letter on Stoen's behalf. Several Congressmen wrote the Guyana Prime Minister about concerns raised by Stoen.
In June 1978 Stoen assisted Peoples Temple defector Deborah Layton in drafting an affidavit alleging crimes by the Peoples Temple and poor living conditions. Layton, however, had previously signed affidavits, when she was a member under Jone's influence, accusing Stoen of "capitalist selfishness and who was not the father of John Stoen."
In later affidavits and lawsuits Stoen filed in 1978, he cited communications the group had intercepted through their radio monitoring. Stoen in three different actions sought over $56 million in damages.
On July 10, 1978, as Synanon would do to me, the Temple sued Stoen charging he violated his attorney-client relationship with the Temple by using privileged information in his suits against the Temple. The cases would never be tried.
After November 19, 1978 I would be in phone contact with Tim who was going to search the Guyana jungle for his son.
John was found dead.
James (Jim) Warren Jones, born in 1931, started his own church, The Wings of Deliverance in 1955 in Indianapolis, later changing the name to the more descriptive People's Temple. There he preached a combination of theology, socialism and communism. In 1965, convinced a thermonuclear war was inevitable, Jones brought his racially mixed flock of the poor and working class by bus to Ukiah, California, thinking it to be safe from fallout. Once on the west coast, where new religions flourished, he was able to recruit more affluent professionals as followers. Rich and poor alike, they all called him "Father."
A master manipulator, he raised an average of $250,000 a month, including $60,000 from social security checks and members' cashed-in estates, using a variety of means to tap people's emotions and their pocketbooks. After being robbed and assaulted, a blind woman was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where her "alleged" broken arm was set. When she came to the Temple for the first time later that night, Jones amazingly recounted these events from a "vision" he had, then removed her cast and healed her arm as parishioners shouted praise and the woman sobbed in gratitude. None of these people knew that Jones had rigged the entire thing, from the robbery, to the attendants, to the makeshift clinic.
Under the above described weight of press and IRS investigations accusing him of bilking followers and a court-order to remove John, Jones led his followers to a remote, 27,000-acre commune in Guyana, where outsiders were barred. While they worked non-stop from early morning to late night to build a self-supporting community, former member Debbie Blakely was testifying in a court case that Jones had a rehearsed Doomsday plan wherein they would all die, children included, for the "Cause."
In Jonestown, the thought-reform process was relentless. Subsisting on rice and beans, commune members, many over the age of 50, slaved away in the fields while Jones harangued them with lectures and sermons over a public address system. Public beatings and humiliations were standard punishments for any breach of loyalty, as they had become also in Synanon.
In November of 1978 Congressman Leo Ryan, 53, and a 12-member entourage, including journalists, flew into a small airfield near the Commune to investigate. Ryan was not new to cults having led the effort to free Patty Hearst. After a night at the commune they set out to return after 16 followers asked to leave with them. Ryan made the mistake of telling Jones of the defections. If I had been there for advice I would have told him to keep it quiet. Further, I would have told him that while they had been smart enough to leave Tim Stoen behind in Georgetown, and I understood a politicians desire for publicity, it would be a great mistake to bring members of the media into Jonestown which would obviously threaten Jim Jones paranoia of exposure and destruction of his great place in history.
Fearful of the tales they would tell the journalists, Jones mounted an assault on the departing plane, killing Ryan and three newsmen and wounding six others. Two that died, as stated, had been at my hospital press conference the prior month. I ended up representing the parents of the third, a photographer.
That night, Jones urged his flock to die with dignity, as they had practiced, rather than be herded into prison camps by the government forces that would surely follow. He said fascists "were going to invade Jonestown and take all to prison but rather (as the poisoned cool-aid was distributed)." He knew he had ordered a mass murder away from the compound and that he had decided to die rather than face consequences.
He taped the grisly mass suicide that followed, convinced, as are all totalistic leaders, that history would look back on him favorably. On a tape, a father says "no" to end his daughter's life. But when it is illustrated the terrible things the enemy would do to her, the man acquiesces, as the flock applauds. Jones asked a black woman to sing that song he like so much, and she begins to solo "No no one has ever spoken like this man before… And all of my life no one has spoken like this man before…" Jones join in a singing and soon everyone was singing, eerily singing a song to their death compounded with speaking in tongues. "Mothers, you must keep your children under control," Jones later shouts, amid a tumult of shrieks and gun shots, as the unwilling died with the willing, all while Jones declared they must die with dignity."
Thirty-three people escaped. Eleven people, four small children, trekked almost 30 miles through jungle to another town. Fourteen departing church members survived the airport ambush, including five kids who were lost for three days hiding in the jungle to hide. Some made it into the jungle and escaped.
On Jones recording he can be heard saying "What we'd like to get are the people that caused this stuff, and some — if some people here are p — are prepared and know how to do that, to go in town and get Timothy Stoen, but there's no plane. There's no plane. You can't catch a plane in time. He's responsible for it. He brought these people to us. He and Deanna Mertle (referring to Jeannie Mills). The people in San Francisco will not — not be idle over this. They'll not take our death in vain, you know. . . .
"It's suicide. Plenty have done it. Stoen has done it. But somebody ought to live. Somebody — Can they talk to — and I've talked to San Francisco — see that Stoen does not get by with this infamy — with this infamy. He has done the thing he wanted to do. Have us destroyed. . . .
"Tim Stoen has nobody else to hate. He has nobody else to hate. Then he'll destroy himself…"
Jones also discussed whether the Temple should include John Stoen among those committing "revolutionary suicide." When the discussion of including children occurred, Jones stated:
"Do you think I'd put John's life above others? If I put John’s life above others, I wouldn't be standing with Ujara [a man who attempted to stab Congressman Ryan]. I'd send John out — out, and he could go out on the driveway tonight. . . .
"I know, but he's no — he's no different to me than any of these children here. He's just one of my children. I don't prefer one above another. I don't prefer him above Ujara. I can't do that. I can't separate myself from your actions or his actions.
Jones often spoke of "translation," the process by which he and his followers would die together and move to another planet for a life of bliss (a similar false line that would be used by Marshall Applewhite in Heaven's Gates mass suicide many years later). The lie had to be given to make it work. The truth was simpler– Jones would rather die than face prison and humiliation, and like other totalistic leaders he wanted his followers to validate his choice by joining him –, but the truth would not have such success. All told, 914 died, including 276 children.
By phone Stoen told me the fate of his son. I met Grace in the aftermath at an anti cult related media function. She was an impressive and intelligent woman.
I remember once's thinking that based upon all the powers I put into the nursing home kidnapping case my contingency fee equaled $.50 an hour. I joked if I lost the case I would end up on skid row with my clients (see escape from Golden State Manor). I spent so many hours on Synanon my office and me parted company. While there would be a $300,000 judgment, and several settlements, including my own case, my hourly rates versus Synanon probably worked out to be far less than the nursing home case.
Jonestown would be different. I was involved in the bankruptcy mop up where the more clients you had ultimately the bigger share of the pot you got. Surprisingly, given the publicity I had, I did not have the most of the family survivors, but had a significant group that made me a lead counsel in the San Francisco proceedings. Those attorneys with most clients ended up making the most money. While I earned my fee, it was new experience, representing people who's kin were murdered.
It is not pleasant.
Judge Ira Brown, perhaps the most famous San Francisco Judge, presided over the bankruptcy proceedings. On the first day, all counsel came before the bench and stated their positions. In the hallway I met the King of Torts, attorney Melvin Belli who seemed more curious to meet me, the now infamous Synanon fighter, than I was the most legendary civil trial lawyer of all time.
Born in 1907 Belli once convinced a jury to give a woman a lot of money under the claim that being in a bus accident caused her to become a nymphomaniac.
Belli represented pro bono Jack Ruby for shooting and killing Lee Harvey Oswald. Belli argued Ruby had a history of mental illness and had gone insane. In 1964, Ruby was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Belli was not a criminal lawyer and it was determined Ruby did not get a fair trial but Ruby died of cancer before the retrial could take place.
And Belli, knowing the funds would be limited in the Jonestown estate, made an immediate pitch for it all, stating those claims based on Jonestown members' death should get nothing because those followers committed suicide. The money, he said, should all go to those shot at the airport and, with great theater, stated if he could not prove the People's Temple responsibility he would surrender his bar card, which he then held high in the air before placing it on the table.
Impressively, he sat down and I was called up next to state the position of my clients. As to the wrongful death claims of the cult followers, I said while Mr. Belli's suicide argument sounded good if I could not prove that Jim Jones, the alternate ego of the Peoples Temple, brainwashed his followers to kill themselves, i.e. therefore the estate was responsible for murdering them, I would turn in my bar card.
The trustee, doing a great job, rounded up from liquidation, foreign banks, insurance polices an estate fund of around 9 million.
The who-is- going- to- quit- law duel between Belli and I never took place. It all settled. It had to. The trustee and its attorneys did a great job of collecting the money from foreign banks, gathering the insurance available, resolving debt and in the end there was a fund of about 9 million but against a large multitude of personal injury claims. To litigate the circumstances of the death of 900 people, etc. would use up probably the fund itself. The only way for people to get any money was to find a basis for settlement of all claims. First, it was recognized that the claims arising out of the Ryan's party had a better basis and more significant harm (relatives of families in Jonestown were generally not in contact with them) and individual settlements were made with those parties. Even those settlements, of which I represented one father, had to consider the vast amount of claims and limited funds.
The balance was then applied to a formula basis using a point rating system. You got more points for being a child than a parent, and more for a parent than being a brother of a victim. The younger the victim the greater the points because the longer the period over expected loss.
In trustee's final report I was cited for efforts at bringing to a halt what would have been the largest (and most wasteful) mass trial of personal injury claims in the bankruptcy proceeding ever.
It is not unusual for alledged cult figures such as Scared Straight co-founder Betty Sembler and Scientology® founder L. Ron Hubbard to have a day named in their honor. March 13 has been declared L. Ron Hubbard Day in 150 American cities by mayors impressed with Hubbard's alleged work in areas like drug rehabilitation, education and reform of criminals. The Los Angeles city council was so impressed with Hubbard's life work that they named a street after him: L. Ron Hubbard Way. It doesn't matter that for actions in late 70's members of the Scientology's Guardian Office and Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, were convicted of criminal conspiracies arising out of efforts to thwart perceived Scientology enemies. L. Ron Hubbard was in an unindicted co-conspirator who could not be located. One Judge after a civil trial called him a psyhological liar.
In May of 1977 Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Betty Dederich Day in honor of her humanitarian work at Synanon. At the time of her death she was Queen to "Her Majesty's Imperial Marines" a hit squad (see True Story of Synanon violence).
After the news broke on Synanon the state did institute a Syanon task force, the health department did sue….but the only action for fleecing the charity was brought by Arizona.
Behind Senator Nick Petris, California passed a law keeping the state from taking actions against religions for diverting funds or misdeeds despite the actions of Synanon and the Peoples Temple. Petris was a long-time Synanon supporter.
After Charles Dederich was arrested for conspiring to murder me, Synanon held a press conference to argue his case and suggest I set it all up for publicity against cults. United Farm Worker's Ceaser Chavez attended and spoke on behalf of Dederich.
Melvin Belli had many celebrity clients, including Zsa Zsa Gabor, Errol Flynn, Chuck Berry, Muhammad Ali, Sirhan Sirhan, the Rolling Stones, Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker, Martha Mitchell, Lana Turner, Tony Curtis, and Mae West. He won over $600,000,000 in judgments during his legal career.
Belli was also a founder in consumer rights law, arguing several landmark cases in the 1940s and 1950s that formed the legal field for later lawsuits by advocate Ralph Nader. He was one of the first major attorneys to prominently use demonstrative evidence and courtroom exhibits (such as graphics, charts, photographs, and films). Belli became very critical of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover; and the agency compiled at least 367 pages of evidence about Belli's activities.
In 1969, the Oakland police department received a phone call from a man claiming to be the Zodiac killer who said he wanted Melvin Belli to be his attorney if they could not get F. Lee Bailey. Hours later, Belli was the guest on a KGO television station several times, and, during conversation with Belli, a man phoned in and claimed he was the Zodiac and that his name was "Sam." Belli asked him to surrender. The Zodiac was never caught.
KGO ended up in litigation with Synanon (See Fall of Synanon 2).
Belli appeared in a 1968 Star Trek episode, "And the Children Shall Lead." In it he appeared as Gorgan, an evil being who corrupted a group of children.
Despite all the success, Belli's firm filed for bankruptcy protection in December, 1995. Belli was representing 800 women in a class action lawsuit against breast implant manufacturer Dow Corning. Belli won the lawsuit, but when Dow Corning declared bankruptcy, Belli had no way to recover the $5,000,000 his firm had advanced to doctors and expert witnesses. A year later he died.
Belli was married six times and divorced five and was ultimately compelled to pay one ex an estimated $15 million.
I am honored for a short time I was his friend.
On February 19, 1978, San Francisco Board of Supervisor member Harvey Milk wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter supporting Jones and making statements about the Stoens. After the Temple assisted in Milk's 1976 election race to become a California State assembly member, Milk had visited and spoke at rallies at the Temple, though he claimed privately to have told friends he saw them as strange. All this was left out of the movie "Milk."
My association ended with Tim Stoen. His war was over and mine with Synanon would go on another decade. It is hard to be around sadness and John's death was the saddest thing I knew and no father could ever fight harder for his son.
From 1980 to 1984, Stoen was Corporate Counsel for Pacific Energy & Minerals, Ltd. Then he went into private practice. In 1998, Stoen ran for California State Senate but lost in the Democratic Party primary. Later, Stoen became a district attorney in Humboldt and Mendocino counties.
Finally he lost the liberalism that led him to the Temple. He is a Republican now who opposes abortion.
However, he remains an environmentalist.
Grace Stoen has appeared in two documentaries on Jonestown made in 2006 and 2008.
Larry Layton, who posed as a defector, and opened fire at the airport was convicted in 1986. He was paroled in 2002.
In 2010, 25 years later, Jerry Brown ran again for governor. His opponent Meg Whitman, of e-bay fame, office contacted me and wanted to know if I would do a TV spot on Brown's past relationship with Jones and Dederich when he was governor before.
I said Brown, Jr. was worse than that. Many of his appointments lacked credentials and got into trouble. His selection for Chief Justice, Rose Bird, of the California Supreme Court, was even recalled. They should have, I said, wrote a book called All The Governor's Men. I said I would give them the information but would not appear on television. I was never called again for detailed information and I don't know if this was thrown at Brown in the campaign or not.
All I know is that Brown won and unhappy days are here again. Where have you gone Arnold Schwarzenegger?
fn1 This is the same Moscone who apologized to Synanon for the SF police helping enforce a custody order and blamed it on me, leading to the attempt on my life (see Escape from Synanon 3).
fn2 Gov. Brown was infamous for refusing to live in the mansion and for dating Linda Rodstandt who was then called "First Chick."
fn3 At the same time of "Concerned Relatives" former Synanon members and family formed the "Network of Friends."
fn 4 Synanon had similar short radio system called "The Wire." If you got close enough it could be picked up and listened to on a radio.
fn 5 Synanon used the "outerview" tape recording those leaving saying they saw nothing wrong. Other groups have given money to people leaving in turn for promises to never testify.
fn6 On the Jones death tape an 11 year old boy says he is ready to die. Jones says he is of age to pick up a saber and fight if necessary.
fn7 A cult apologist Mary McCormick Maaga wrote Hearing the voices of Jonestown By Mary McCormick Maaga defending the choice and attacking claims it was a cult, Jones was insane and no one was brainwashed. This idiotic book was cited in another idiotic book Rise and Fall of Synanon by Rod Janzen
January 2011, Paul Morantz.com, Escape From Rajneeshpuram, by Paul Morantz,
(c) January 2011
"He moved about, going to Crete where he was arrested. He tried Geneva, Stockholm, Heathrow, Canada, and Ireland but was refused entry. Ireland let him land to refuel but he could only stay two weeks on agreement not to publicly speak. When he landed in Madrid the Guardia Civil circled the plane. He was tossed out of Dakar and Uruguay told him to leave when he spoke publicly. Jamaica gave the group 12 hours to leave."
In the early l980’s while I was litigating against the now defunct Center for Feeling Therapy the flavor of the decade thought reform and destructive cults was Orange.
The middle class found retreat in an Oregon commune where sex was urged similar to the freedom of the Manson family at the Spahn Ranch in the l960’s creating a media controversy as well as did the Indian founder Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s passion for purchasing Rolls Royces with his followers assets and an L.Ron Hubbard and Howard Hughes obsession over germs.
Like Charles Manson, Chuck Dederich, Jim Jones, Richard Corriere and Werner Erhard, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh gained popularity by using the language of Abraham Maslow’s Human Potential Movement, luring to his commune—Rajnesshpuram– those seeking self realization, the popular meditation craze of the 70’s, benefits and dressing in orange robes.
One follower, Learjet Heiress Pat Lear, was so infatuated with his charisma and philosophical poetry she made an agreement to publish a small book containing quotations from the guru. After she was finished, when they came to disagreement, the Bhagwan withdrew his consent and filed suit against Ms. Lear to prevent publication. Ms. Lear concluded he was villain and not saint and sued back for her loss of expected profits and other claims. I was the attorney she chose.
The Bhagwan’s attorney was former top Los Angeles defense lawyer, Philip J. Toelkes, now going by an Indian name, Swami Prem Niren , who was always, without success, trying to convince me that Rajneeshpuram was not like Synanon, Jonestown, Spahn Ranch, Center for Feeling Therapy or other bad movements I had litigated against; that the Bhagwan was a true religious humanitarian.
When I noticed the Bhagwan’s deposition in Oregon, Niren informed me that I must take several special showers, wear a robe, bow and question from a kneeling position. I told him I would not shower for several weeks and show up in sweat clothes having just come from the gym and a two-mile run. And I expected Bhagwan to shake my hand.
“He may be God to you,” I said, “but he is not to me.”
The Bhagwan actually made a motion to try enforce his rules and it was hard not to laugh in court. The motion was denied.
But later there was no humor when I warned authorities in Oregon that based on upon personal telephone conversations with, television observations and press releases of, Ma Anand Sheela, the power behind the throne, the Rajneesh were completely paranoid and the group’s “we vs. they” mentality now supported the use of violence which was inevitable. To this date, I don’t know if I was believed. They asked what proof I had and all I could say the only evidence I had was “experience.” I knew cults. I also felt I knew evil.
Two weeks later the plot to murder members of the population of surrounding Oregon citizens became public ending the Bhagwan’s reign, as well as the murder plots against several attorneys. Like the People’s Temple, the Synanon snake in my mailbox and later a Japanese cult, poison was the weapon of choice.
Many historians, although mistaken (see very end), call it the first act of mass bio terrorism in the history of the United States, 16 years before letters delivered death following 9/11.
Born Chandra Mohan Jain in 1931, the eldest of eleven children of a cloth merchant living in a small village in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh, Bhagwan was first an atheist, dabbled in hypnosis and explored socialism. He changed to spiritual enlightenment in 1953 following an alleged mystical experience in the Bhanvartal garden in Jabalpur, typical of most religious founders.
He called himself Acharya Rajneesh from the 1960s onwards and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh during the 1970s and 1980s. In the 60’s Bhagwan warned, as did Jim Jones, eventually, that “the third and last war is now on the way” and frequently spoke of the need to create a “new humanity” as did most cult leaders of those times.
His rise to fame and power came at the use of two wealthy women. His secretary and his first disciple took the name Ma Yoga Laxmi and used her wealth to build his empire.
In 1970, Bhagwan lectured and received visitors, including Westerners, and became teacher to sannyasins. In 1971, he changed his name again, this time to “Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh”. Bhagwan means “blessed one.” His criticism of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalized religion such as Hindu, along with a penchant for material things, made him controversial as well as did his press designation as the “sex guru.” He said socialism socialized poverty and Gandhi worshiped poverty.
In 1974 the second wealthy woman, Catherine Venizelos (Ma Yoga Mukta), a Greek shipping heiress, aided the purchase of property in Koregaon Park, Pune. The ashram, which had an arts/crafts center producing for sale clothes, jewelry, ceramics and organic cosmetics, attracted the West during its New Era religion craze. In 1975, Human Potential Movement therapists added meditations and therapy encounter groups to the ashram which Westerners paid for despite criticism of physical aggression as well as sexual encounters as had already existed in the 70’s in Chuck Dederich’s Synanon, Jime Jone’s People’s Temple and Richard Corriere’s Center For Feeling Therapy and in the 60’s in Charlie Manson’s Family.
Richard Price, co-founder of the Esalen institute, which existed to exalt the new age touchy-feely groups, alleged to have exited the Pune ashram with a broken arm following a period of eight hours locked in a room with participants armed with wooden weapons.
Like Werner Erhard before him, Bhagwan could adjust to criticism. In 1979, he admitted the violence and announced it had ended having “fulfilled its function” in evolving a spiritual commune. But there were other concerns, stories that Western sannyasins raised money through prostitution and drug-running with Bhagwan approval.
By 1981 it has been claimed Bhagwan hosted 30,000 visitors per year, aided by an attraction, some said, to his use of ethnic or dirty jokes ala some washed up Las Vegas comedian.
Then in 1981, having discoursed daily for nearly 15 years, Bhagwan started more than three-years of public silence and satsangs (readings from spiritual works).
It was during this era entered a third wealthy woman who Bhagwan relied on– Ma Anand Sheela (Sheela Silverman). Sheela, from Baroda, India, at age 18, came to America to be educated at Montclair State College. She married wealthy Marc Silverman, resident of Highland Park, Illinois.
Upon returning to India in 1972, Sheela and Silverman became “sannyasins” and she took the name Ma Anand Sheela while her husband became Chinmaya. Her husband later died and she married another sannyasin.
The India government hostility increased. It, as the U.S. would do with Synanon, canceled the ashram’s tax-exempt status retrospectively resulting in an estimated $5 million tax bill.
Sheela stated in public Bhagwan was in grave danger medically if he remained in India and needed to go to America. On 13 June 1981, Sheela’s husband paying $5.75 million bought a 64,229-acre ranch–The Big Muddy Ranch–located in Oregon counties and renamed “Rancho Rajneesh.” Bhagwan’s move created local hostile community reactions which probably started seeds of paranoia, as did the same for Synanon founder Charles Dederich who found attacks wherever he and Synanon located.
Within a year a series of legal battles ensued, as did With Synanon, over zoning and permits. In May 1982 the residents of Rancho Rajneesh incorporated it as the city of Rajneeshpuram which brought on more violation claims. As with Synanon, the Rajneesh was uncompromising, confrontational and accused critics all of bigotry.
Bhagwan lived in a trailer next to a covered swimming pool with other trimmings of the good life. Daily he drove past his followers lined up on the road in one of his many Rolls-Royces. As did Synanon, he had a fleet of vehicles, eventually 93.
But as Bahgwan never sought outside medical attention the Immigration and Naturalization Service ultimately would conclude that he had lied with a preconceived intent to remain there.
In November 1981 the former atheist applied for residence as a religious worker, which was refused on the grounds that he could not lead a religion while unwell and in silence, a ridiculous position that was later overturned and left to stay status as a religious leader was granted three years later, in 1984.
Significantly, Bhagwan gave Ma Anand Sheela power of attorney in 1982. In 1983 Sheela announced that Bhagwan would henceforth speak only with her. From this unholy alliance were the roots of eventual terrorism. She then ran the ashram backed by loyal women called moms.
Bhagwan continued his prediction that the world might destroy itself by nuclear war or other disasters sometime in the 1990s which he said required the quick building of the Oregon commune. In March 1984 Sheela announced that Bhagwan had predicted the death of two-thirds of humanity from AIDS. Sannyasins were required to wear rubber gloves and condoms if they had sex , like Synanon’s Dederich, being ahead of society on multple health issues.
Bhagwan ended his period of public silence in October of 1984 resuming daily speech discourses. It appears Sheela did not like losing command and a rift began. Almost a year later, in September of 1985, just after Sheela and her cronies suddenly departed for Europe, Bhagwan held a press conference and shocked the world by accusing Sheela’s gang of having committed crimes starting in 1984 (the year of George Orwell’s prediction) including the attempted murder of his personal physician, poisonings of public officials,bugging the commune (including his own home) and a biological attack (salmonella) on the neighbor town of Dulles, Oregon.
Generally the press all laughed at the “sex guru” claims until U.S. authorities not only confirmed it but convicted Sheela and some of her assistants.
(The salmonella attack has been claimed to be the first known use of chemical or biological terrorism to have occurred in the United States, but that is not true and those who make the claim have short memories and do not want to acknowledge what our government has done –see end below discussion)
While Bhagwan stated he was unaware of the crimes until Sheela and her gang left, other sannyasins claim Bhawgan was behind everything and blamed her only as revenge for leaving and further to exonerate himself if plots were discovered.
Sheela admitted she bugged Bhagwan's living quarters but said it was in fear she would be scapegoated and made her tapes available to the U.S. authorities as part of her own plea bargain. Bhagwan was never criminally charged but some law enforcement officials who listened to hundreds of hours of tape recordings and conducted investigation believe the guru was guilty of more crimes than those prosecuted. One expert asserted Bhagwan's philosophy was not "disapproving of poisoning" and that he felt he and Sheela had been "genuinely evil"– the same thing I told authorities in l985 from listening to and observing Sheela.
In October of 1985, months after my telephone warnings, a federal grand jury charged Bhagwan and several other disciples with conspiracy to evade immigration laws. As would happen in Waco in l993 to David Karesh's Branch Davidan's commune, fears of a National Guard invasion and arrest of Bhagwan led to tension and fears of shooting. Just as the SLA and Jim Jones had done in the 70's, and would happen in Waco, there was fear followers would die protecting him.
In October of 1985 Bhagwan and some sannyasins were arrested while aboard a rented jet on a North Carolina airstrip waiting for takeoff to Bermuda to escape Rajneeshpuram and prosecution. They had aboard $58,000 cash, 35 watches and over a million in jewelry.
Instead of photos in Rolls Royce, the world now saw the sex guru pictured in chains. As would Dederich did years earlier when charged with my attempted murder, Bhagwan entered a guilty plea through which a suspect does not admit guilt but does contest the charges of having concealed intent to remain permanently in the U.S. at the time of his original visa application in 1981 when claiming medical need and to having conspired to have sannyasins do sham marriages to become U.S. citizens. Per the plea bargain, similar to the one Synanon's Dederich made in l980, he received a suspended sentence, five years’ probation and a $400,000 penalty. While Dederich agreed to have nothing to do with the running of Synanon, Bhagwan agreed to leave the United States.
I never concluded Pat Lear’s litigation. Niren had two good defense arguments. One, new businesses with no record of profits can’t collect damages as they are too speculative. To counter, I tried to establish the mean profit of Bhaghwan’s other books and claimed that at the very least the books would be bought by his followers. Niren also asked me how was a jury going to conclude Pat was harmed in not publishing her collection of Bhagwan’s sayings when in fact she now considered him a manipulative destructive cult leader.
Given those arguments, Niren offered what seemed a reasonable settlement but Pat turned it down. While she had that right I no longer felt comfortable taking her money as I did not think I could accomplish anything for her, i.e. a greater award then offered. A few years later a similar occurrence would happen with a former Scientologist in litigation with Scientology. I thought Scientology surprisingly made a reasonable offer and I did not feel comfortable continuing believing I could not get a better result. These were only two cult cases I did not complete to a satisfactory outcome, leaving them before they ended.
I don't know what happened to the case but since shortly after my exit the Rajneesh ceased to exist I doubt it had any outcome. But I am confident Ms. Lear found the end of Rajneeshuram and arrest of Bhawgwan more exhilarating than any financial award to the Learjet heiress.
My interest in the Rajneesh did not drop even though the case was. My main source of information was Win McCormack, the editor of the Oregon. Like Dave Mitchell of the weekly Point Reyes Light that pursued relentlessly Synanon all the way to a Pulitzer Prize, McCormack obsessively reported on the orange people. As I had been a subscriber to the Light in Marin in the 70’s, now I subscribed to the Oregon paper in the 80’s.
The irony was that McCormack was my client for five years having been one of the many victims of the Center for Feeling Therapy that destructed in l981 (See Escape from the Center For Feeling Therapy). He particularly hated Richard Corriere who was accused of forcing the abortion of Win’s unborn child by making the mother see what carrying a child around would be like by directing she carry a doll with weights tied to it. After learning about cults from me, and his experience, McCormack believed Corriere should have been arrested for murder.
Now Win applied what he had learned at the Center and from me to his paper’s efforts to inform of the malignancy in Rajneeshpuram. And I became his pupil in learning more of what was happening in the Dulles ashram.
Sometimes Ma Anand Sheela, who called herself the Queen and met everyday with Bhagwan, spoke directly with me during litigation by telephone, with unusual attorney allowance, and her arrogance and attitude of self importance and power was unnerving as I heard it all before from Synanon and the People’s Temple.
I watched Sheela in action on Television and read in McCormick’s paper the battles going on in Dulles that so reminded me of Synanon’s battles against Santa Monica, Marin and Badger.
Ma Anand Sheela felt the Wasco County Court, a county commission, was out to get Rajneeshpuram; the only explanation of its demands Rajneesh follow codes and zoning laws. Sheela, as Synanon also tried in Marin for same reasons, attempted to get two followers in November 1984 publicly elected. At the time there were 15,000 registered voters in Wasco. Rajneeshpuram had 4,000 inhabitants but most were not United States citizens and thus could not vote.
Synanon in late 70’s tried to bring outside members to Marin County to win elections but Marin held it off by passing a zoning law for limiting the Ranch’s population per it now being re-zoned as an agriculture area. Now in 1984 Sheela brought in 2,000 transients, all voter eligible, to Rajneeshpuram proclaiming it was to aid the homeless. After a judge ordered registration hearings the majority of the transients left ending Sheela’s plan. In several appearances on national television, I watched as Sheela called officials “bigoted pigs”, “fascists”, “full of shit”, and threatened that, “If they touch any one of our people, I’ll have 15 of their heads, and I mean business.” I had heard the same from Charles Dederich in a l977 press conference after refusing to let health officials (which I had pushed) to enter the property and in TV interviews where Dederich said “bombs could go off” in the homes of those “clowns” against Synanon.
I remembered Synanon's Dan Garrett shouting to a defense firm secretary, "Paul Morantz does not get it. I am going to get him. If I don't my children will and if they don't my grandchildren will."
Eventually NBC asked Sheela about Bhawhan racial slurs and she responded defining the holocaust as “five hundred jews in the ashtray.”
Once when the Rajneesh won a case in Oregon, Sheela called me so she could tell me the news and have me to listen to the celebration in her ashram office.
So I, too, made some long distance calls. McCormack believed me when I said violent attacks were just around the corner. But he had known me for five years and knew my expertise. When I called law enforcement officials I wasn't sure they just concluded I was a nut case.
In reality, my prediction was slightly off. Violence was not about to commence, it had been already going on for some time, just not discovered, and if it hadn't been discovered eventually I might have faced a second murder attempt—and once again the agent might have been a poison.
Rajneeshpuram, as also occurred with Synanon and People’s Temple, frustration over not having their way turned it criminal. Sheela by her own eventual admissions conspired to cause the salmonella outbreak to prevent the locals from voting in the county council elections.
It was also later admitted Sheela and mom Ma Anand Puja discussed with Rajneesh leadership using “bacteria and other methods to make people ill”. Sheela claimed Bhagwan preferred not to hurt people but, ala Synanon’s Dederich, “if a few died not to worry.”
Puja, a nurse, former Dianne Y. Onang, and Sheela thought of using Salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid fever, before settling on Salmonella typhimurium. Salmonella typhi it was feared might cause such an outbreak of typhoid fever that it would cause an investigation. They obtained the salmonella from a medical supply company called American Type Culture Collection.
It was as easy as that.
Discovery was aided by citizens who counted the number of ill and concluded they had to have been deliberately poisoned. The culprit seemed obvious. As would be found out, by then the Rajneesh had a complete “germ warfare” laboratory. It has been asserted Sheela congratulated Puja for making people sick, but added “too bad you didn't make more people sick.”
Affidavits of ex-members stated the murder conspirators belonged to a group known as “the 38,” and, as similarly happened in Synanon, were trained in “commando tactics,” the Orange using Uzi semiautomatic rifles and handguns. Synanon 7 years earlier bought over $300,000 worth of weapons and trained the elite “Imperial Marines.”
After her capture, my former client McCormack quoted her in The Oregon as calling Bhagwan a liar. “The hell with Bhagwan!,” she was quoted.
Arriving back in Delhi Bhagwan was given a hero's welcome by his Indian disciples who denounced the United States and declared "Either America must be hushed up or America will be the end of the world." He moved about, going to Crete where he was arrested. He tried Geneva, Stockholm, Heathrow, Canada, and Ireland but was refused entry. Ireland let him land to refuel but he could only stay two weeks on agreement not to publicly speak. When he landed in Madrid the Guardia Civil circled the plane. He was tossed out of Dakar and Uruguay told him to leave when he spoke publicly. Jamaica gave the group 12 hours to leave.
Finally the guru returned to Mumbai, India, in July of 1986 and in l987 he returned to his original ashram in Pune where business resumed as a "Multiversity" with therapy, meditations and an array of colored robes. Bhagwan claimed his health was failing due to due to poisoning by the U.S. authorities while in prison, a charge similar to one Dederich made when imprisoned in the early 60’s for operating Synanon out of zone.
In 1988 the guru turned to Zen and in 1989 re-named himself "Osho." He spoke last publicly in April 1989 and returned again to sitting in silence with his followers.
He died January 19, 1990, age 58, allegedly of heart failure. His epitaph was eerily like Heaven's Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite seven years later, stating he had no life nor death but "Visited this Planet Earth between Dec 11 1931 – Jan 19 1990."
Following his death some India scholars put Bhagwan in the category of Gautama Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi; and he is considered among the ten people who had most changed India's destiny.
In 2006 Indian singer Wasifuddin Dagar held a festival celebrating the 75th year since Bhagwan’s birth. In Nepal by 2008 there were reported 60 Osho locations with 45,000 initiated disciples. His entire works have been placed in the Library of India's National Parliament in New Delhi.
It has been claimed over 650 books quote his views on all facets of human existence. His books, none by Pat Lear, are in 55 different languages and have been on best-seller lists in Italy and South Korea. More than ever Rajneesh has been classified as one of the modern age religions. His followers present a history appearing far less benign to today’s outsiders.
Just as Center For Feeling Therapy’s Richard Corriere re-arose as a life coach and business consultant, the Osho group runs stress management seminars for corporate clients such as IBM and BMW with a claimed 2000 income somewhere between $15 and $45 million annually in the U.S.
Bhagwan’s ashram in Pune is now the Osho International Meditation Resort, popular with tourists, calling itself a “sacred space” for discovering one’s true self and claiming it attracts some 200,000 people each year, including entertainers, actors, politicians, media and the Dalai Lama.
It has not been reported whether visitors have to take showers, wear robes, bow or remain in a kneeling position.
And as the beat goes on, cult experts claim the Bhagwan was typical of other charismatic leaders first described by Edgar Shein in his book Battle For the Minds in early 60’s. –In his paper The Narcissistic Guru: A Profile of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Ronald O. Clarke, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Oregon State University, observed fit the bill of narcissistic cult leaders, characterized by unrealistic belief in self-importance and uniqueness; a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success; a need for constant attention and admiration; typical responses to threats to self-esteem; disturbances in interpersonal relationships; a preoccupation with personal grooming, a penchant for outright lying; and, most importantly, a complete lack of empathy.
Generally, he fit the classification of an anti-social personality (sociopath). I have no idea if he ever underwent psychological testing.
Two moms, Sally-Anne Croft and Susan Hagan, were extradited from Britain in 1994, after an unsuccessful attempt to block it, and were convicted in 1995 for their participation in the murder plot.
Ex members, some per plea bargain, testified to their guilt and both women were sentenced to five years in prison.
Judge Malcolm Marsh described them as "people of obvious goodwill who had committed an extremely serious offense against the criminal justice system. It is a statement I said once similarly of Synanon—it consisted of people wanting to give help or seeking it, all victimized. The same can be arguably said of the SLA, Center for Feeling Therapy, People's Temple, Heaven’s Gate, People’s Temple, Branch Davidians, etc.
Croft and Hagan were released from imprisonment at FCI Dublin, California in April 1998, and returned to Britain.
In December of 2002 mom Phyllis McCarthy, aka Ma Yoga Vidya, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, and was sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of $10,000. In court statements, McCarthy stated, as I have heard from so may former cultists, declared,” “I cannot forgive myself for not being tougher at the time,” and called her time with the group “psychological torture.”
I believe her.
Hard for me to believe looking back is that in one lifetime I conversed with Tex Watson, Charles Dederich and Ma Anand Sheela.
Sheela's robes, along with 5,000 copies of the Book of Rajneeshism, were burned by 2,000 Rajneesh followers. After her rift with Bhagwan on 60 Minutes Sheela asserted Bhagwan was responsible for "exploiting people by using their human frailty and emotions." She called the religion simply a confidence trick.
Sheela maintains that Bhagwan directed every criminal act she did.
Helen Byron loaned money for Rolls Royces and in 1985 she filed a lawsuit to get it back. As Synanon did when Dederich was arrested, the organization submitted a survey suggesting it could not get a fair trial but it was ignored. Sheela testified the money was a donation but the jury awarded Bryon her money plus punitive damages. It has been claimed it was the jury decision that led Ma Anand Sheela and others compiled a hit list of people, as many claim Synanon’s hit on me was motivated by a civl judgment of $300,000. The list is claimed to have included Byron, Byron’s daughter, United States Attorney Charles Turner and Oregon Attorney General David Frohnmayer. Sheela and other followers did obtain handguns in Texas and false identification in New York, but the plot was never known to be attempted.
After fleeing Sheela was arrested on October 28, 1985 in West Germany and extradited to the U.S. in February 1986, on charges of immigration fraud, arranging more than 400 sham marriages, and an attempt to murder Rajneesh’s personal physician, Dr. George Meredith, by poisoning.
The prosecution of Sheela and Puja was split between state and federal law enforcement. Sheela and Puja ultimately plead guilty in Oregon state court in July 22 of 1985 to charges of first-degree assault and conspiracy/assault related to the poisoning of a Judge in 1984. Sheela and Puja also plead to the poisoning of a court Commissioner.
Sheela and her co-conspirators also admitted to the attempted murder, poisoning two county officials, setting fire to a county office, and setting up an elaborate wire-tapping network at the commune’s telephone system, among other charges. Sheela and Puja were sentenced to 24-year jail terms in federal prison and fined $470,000. Sheela received three concurrent 20-year terms in prison. The State of Oregon agreed Sheela’s jail time be spent in federal prison and Sheela and Puja served their jail time in Pleasanton, California, oddly in a prison for nonviolent white-collar criminals. She was released after just two and a half years and immediately left for Switzerland in December of, 1988. The State of Oregon intended to charge Sheela and Puja with additional crimes when their federal sentences were over, but caught off guard by early release, the two left for Europe before the United States Department of Justice had given notice to Oregon.
But she did lose her green card.
Sheela returned to Europe and married Urs Birnstiel. She gained immunity from extradition from future charges, including those related to the 1985 plot to assassinate US prosecutor Charles Turner; however, she was convicted by a Swiss court in 1999 for "criminal acts preparatory to the commission of murder", but did not serve additional time.
In Switzerland she started a new profession managing two nursing homes.
After the former mayor of Rajneeshpuram, Krishna Deva, aka David Berry Knapp, plead guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, the Rajneeshees abandoned Dulles and sold off the property.
Meanwhile my old adversary Swami Prem Niren claimed the federal government poisoned the Indian guru in 1985 while he was in Oklahoma City jail in order to get him to leave the United States.
Also, as would happen to former Synanon attorneys, he was subpoena to testify in front of a grand jury and his assertion of attorney-client privilege, as it was with Synanon lawyers, was denied.
He also asserted his fifth amendment rights but in January of 1986, Niren was granted immunity under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 6002. Reportedly, he then revealed one source of information but refused to divulge from whom that source had received its information.
Niren returned to practicing law in San Francisco. But first he asked an Oregon court to to change his name back to Philip J. Toelkes.
In late 1990's Toelkes on behalf of the Institute for Justice and Human Rights filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act asking for the release of government's Bhagwan Rajneesh files.
Today is he inactive living in Washington having retired in 2010.
Pat Lear was most likely a continuation of Bhagwan using wealthy women. Thus her road, and therefore mine to Bhagwan and Ma Anand Sheila ending with bio terrorism, before she woke up and escaped from the Rajneesh, started in 1952 with the development of the the Swiss fighter aircraft FFA P-16 which first flew in 1955 and was later abandoned following a crash of a prototype in 1958.
Bill Lear, who also invented the first car radio ("Motorola") in the 1920's and developed the 8-track cartridge which dominated the 1960's and 1970's, purchased the tooling for building the FFA P-16 in 1962 for a plant near the Wichita's airport which was then under construction. The company was renamed in l964 the Lear Jet Corporation.
Lear had no formal education past the eighth grade other than the courses which he took in the Navy during World War I. He married four times and had seven children.
In 1971 the successful Learjet 35 hit the market and by 1974 the company produced its 500th jet. By late 1976, the company produced ten jets each month. From thereon new models were designed all leading the field.
In 1978, the year Synanon and People Temple cults dominated the news, Bill Lear at age 75 died of Leukemia.
While daughter Pat Lear in 1983 was in orange robes in Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, her father's company produced the Model 55 which set time-to-climb records.
In 1984, while Pat's following out with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh commenced, Learjet started an Aerospace Division. In 1985, the Aerospace Division was awarded a contract to produce parts for the Space Shuttle's main engines.
A Learjet at one time held the record for the journey from Los Angeles to Washington DC at 4hrs 12mins. The Lockheed SR-71 later did it in 64 minutes.
In 2009 Learjet honored the 45th anniversary of its first flight. One of the designer's sons died at 81 later that year. I have no information as to Pat.
By 2009 a new industry existed of a handful of specialists who set out repossess unpaid for Gulfstream II Learjets from neo-Nazi freaks and drug lords.
When authorities arrested Bhagwan he was on board and waiting to take off in a Learjet.
My son, born the year Bhagwan was arrested, is part of the team that will send a robot to Mars in 2011 to search for indicators life once existed there.
While historians consistently call the Rajneesh the first to attack in the United States by bio or chemical-terrorism such statements are very short sided and simply not true.
Fact is not only were there such prior attacks, but it was government personnel who did it, all long before Saddam Hussein used such warfare on his people.
Native American Indians lacked immunity to white man" infectious diseases that for eternity engulfed Europe and Asia. While such diseases as measles, chicken pox, typhus, typhoid fever, dysentery, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and later cholera were deadly even together they could not equal the horror to the Indians in the form of smallpox.
Smallpox enters the air from discharges and spreads from the lungs to lungs of non-resistant. It can survive years on clothing and bedding.
While many historians-in-denial argue it never happened to the Indians there are many stories reported of small pox blankets given to the Indians.
At least on incident is undeniable. During Chief Pontiac's siege of Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) in 1763, Captain Simeon Ecuyer showed the Indians good faith by delivering blankets and handkerchiefs to the Indians surrounding the fort, concealing they were small pox infected, which started an epidemic. Letters indicates Jeffery Amherst, then commanding general of British forces in North America during French & Indian war (1754-1763, encouraged Ecuyer to carrying out the bio-terrorism.
Existing in Library of Congress is a letter from Colonel Henry Bouquet to General Amherst, dated 13 July 1763, suggesting a distribution of blankets to "inocculate the Indians." Another existing letter from Amherst to Bouquet, 3 days later, dated 16 July 1763, approved the plan along with efforts "to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race."
Many other letters exist between the two referring to Indians as vermin that should be eradicated. At the same time Amherst would refer to the French they also fought as noble and worthy.
In the following spring, Gershom Hicks, who had been amongst the Indians, reported at Fort Pitt that the small-pox was raging amongst the Indians.
The Journal of William Trent, commander of the Pittsburgh local militia during Pontiac's seige of the fort, has an entry for May 24, 1763, stating:
".. we gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect."
The United States allowed the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama, by the U.S. Public Health Service, to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis. While the disease was not intentionally inoculated it might as well have given what occurred.
The Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, in 1932 enrolled to study 399 poor African-American sharecroppers from Macon County, Ala. infected with syphilis. In return the men got free medical exams, free meals and free burial insurance. None were ever told they had syphilis, nor treated for it. They were instead told they were being treated for "bad blood."
The failure to treat patients by government researches went on for appropriately 40 years; way past the 1940's discovery of the cure, i.e. penicillin.
Our own government also used chemical warfare unwittingly on its citizens. In 1953 after military prisoners returned from the Korean War spouting Communist doctrine, the CIA, upset the Communists were ahead of us on brainwashing, and in an effort to "catch-up," from 1953 to 1966, without permission experimented—code name MKULTRA–by using dangerous drugs, including LSD, aimed at obtaining the same brainwashing effect on unknowing members of the American public. The secret project, thought up by Richard Helms and approved by Allen Dulles, consisted of 149 sub-projects involving over 80 universities, research foundations, similar institutions and 185 private researchers. Many victims suffered impaired health and at least two died.
In l973 the CIA destroyed all known records relating to MKULTRA, although some financial records accidentally survived and were discovered in 1977, one year before the stories of brainwashing in cults would dominate the news following catastrophic events at Synanon and Jonestown, and 7 years before the Rajneesh plan to poison Dulles, Or.
An Entire Southern California County is named after Mexico's Santa Ana who led the assault killing all the Texans at the Alamo, refusing to let them surrender. L. Ron Hubbard, an alleged unindicted (could not be found) co-conspirator in a 70's plot to destroy lives of his perceived enemies has a Los Angeles street named after him. Chuck Dederich had trained the Imperial Marines to attack, even kill, the enemy and experimented on his followers by ordering abortions, vasectomies and changing mates every 3 years. When he died in l997 a Congressman stood up and honored him for his contributions to fighting addiction and his experiments to better society.
Following Synanon's closure in l981 UCLA established a Synanon archives existing of water-downed documents for historians and led one poor soul, Rod Janzen, to write an inaccurate book on Synanon–The Rise and Fall of Synanon, Inc.
Named after Sir Jeffery Amherst are Amherstburg, Ontario, (including General Amherst High School), Amherst, Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Amherst College (school's athletic nickname is "the Lord Jeffs"), Amherst, New Hampshire; Amherst, Nova Scotia; Amherst, New York; Amherst County, Virginia; Amherst Island, Ontario, and Amherst Island, of the Magdalen Islands, Quebec
In 1818 the New York senate named the Town of Amherst, 20,000 acres that King George III rewarded Lord Amherst, but never visited by Lord Amherst. The town contains an Amherst Museum.
Fn1. Similar to Bhagwan taking power back from Sheela, forcing her to split, in Synanon after Dederich became incapacitated from alcohol, Dan Garrett took over. When Dederich recovered he demoted Garrett who then left.
Fn2. Dan Garrett saying his children would get me was ironic since his son Mike split Synanon, went into hiding, then testified to the violence and a belief his father would want him dead for talking.
Fn 3 Following revelations of the syphilis study where blacks were denied treatment, the U.S. passed laws and regulations to protect participants in clinical studies. Now studies require informed consent (unless excepted by Executive Order), disclosing diagnosis, and advising of test results.
Fn 4 One reason I left the ex- Scientologist case is that Scientology officials had sued him for defamation claiming he called them liars. Although the case against him I believed was very weak I felt eventually his insurance carrier could avoid defending on the ground that to be liable he had to have intentionally stated a falsehood as they were public figures and therefore I made a cash out settlement with the carrier that was suitable to another attorney to take over and allowed me to concentrate on other cases I felt more important in terms of public consequences, including eventually another Scientology matter.
Afterwards a legal decision issued saying insurance companies did not have to so defend. But the ex Scientologist with his new attorney did get a better settlement with Scientology than the one I and Tom Girardi had reached, which I believe was to Scientology's credit to see what would happen if they went to trial based upon the facts and the many civil judgments that had been going against Scientology.
Fn 5 A couple of years ago a former Iranian was repairing my computer. Upon realizing I was of Jewish heritage he asked me what facts I had to prove the Holocaust ever happened? I responded, "A better question to ask is why is it so important to yourself to believe it never happened?"
Fn 6 When I used to lecture on cults and was asked how do you know when a group is a destructive cult I responded, "Count the number of Hollywood celebrities in attendance and if there is more than 5 you get the hell out."
Fn. 7 Switzerland recently made history for refusing to extradite fugitive Roman Polanski.
Fn 8. As I graduated USC law school, being young, I considered a phony marriage to my brother's opar from Japan who converted from robes to blue jeans and did not want to go back. But then I realized I could not participate in deceit, as well that was not the way to start a legal career.
Fn 9. In l974 Rolling Stone Magazine held a party for me in San Francisco to celebrate my publication of the Jan and Dean story for which I later wrote the story for the movie Deadman's Curve. I ended up spending the night in a small town outside of San Francisco I thought accurately was named Pleasanton. I never forgot the place and often wished I could live in a small town like that, and in Los Angeles choosing Pacific Palisades was as close as to Pleasanton I could get. Sheela served her prison time in Pleasanton.
November 2012, Paul Morantz.com, Aftermath–the Synanon legacy, by Paul Morantz,
In the introduction I asked the question was Charles Dederich just another sociopath who rose to power or was he a Jedi Knight seduced by the Dark Side. As I wrote, starting in 1998, off and on for 3 years; then quitting, starting again in 2009, stopping in 2011 to write the book “Escape”: My Life Long War Against Cults,” and picking up in 2012, that question continued as did the question did Synanon leave any positive legacy along with its revelation that its processes dictated its ultimate outcome and was predictable from the start?
As to CED I have no clear answer, but certainly his childhood trauma's and abandonments were likely to produce pathology. As to the legacy, conclusion was not difficult.
The main reason in stopping in 2000 was a telephone call from Rod Janzen asking to confirm the date I was bit by the Snake. He told me he was completing a book on Synanon. He had beaten me time wise. I asked him how he could write a book on Synanon without ever interviewing the person who fought it. I immediately sensed he was writing a book in which he was avoiding obtaining information that might challenge his view. He told me that he had interviewed Synanon people and examined the UCLA records. I informed him that some of the people he interviewed were in fact the ones who participated most in the violence and that he had been lied to. I further told him that UCLA records were selective and I alone had Synanon's internal documents which tells another story.
I offered them to him but he declined. He interviewed Richard Ofshe but then without explanation he wrote Ofshe's discourses of brainwashing "interesting," but not applicable. When I asked if he had studied brainwashing he said he had not. So I asked him how he could then discount it and he responded because if it existed, he would have to consider it occurring in religions (he is a Christian and lover of utopian communities) and other groups. In other words he would have to reexamine his beliefs and consider possibly his own victimization.
While forced to admit the attack on me, there is no mention of Phil Ritter or Eidson, etc., in his book, "Rise and Fall of Synanon" (which was same working title I had) rather a statement that the media exaggerated the violence and that there was no violence inside Synanon. I responded to him that the media never knew the extent of the actual violence and as far as violence inside Synanon, "how many incidents would you like to know about?" Later I sent him a copy of the "History of Synanon violence" with over 80 incidents and he never responded nor did I hear from him again, nor did he ever apologize to the public for writing a book in which he intentionally avoided the actual evidence.
It was clear, that like Yablonsky, decades prior, he was enamored by Synanon. He wrote that the Synanon experience in playing the game, peers caring for peers without doctors, created a cure for drug addiction. He was so wrong and he refused to write many who studied Synanon came to an opposite conclusion.
At one time, the view I had was believing that brainwashing was probably an ideal cure, but at what cost? I also believed that Synanon's many clones, adding doctors, and other proper variations, had established successful drug rehabilitation. Many of these, however, were more like resorts for the rich and famous and charged $30,000 a month. I just imagined Charles Dederich rolling over in his grave at that news.
But today, as will be discussed below, it is the general professional view these rehabs were, and are, not necessary, many people went to them for escape, without really major addiction, fueled by the publicity when Nancy Reagan unnecessarily went and Green Bay quarterback Bret Farve went to one believing he was addicted to pain pills. If one thought about it, does one really need to go to a rehab to stop taking pain pills or a little drinking or smoking marijuana; these were and are issues that the medical profession could not fail in guiding if one wanted to quit–reducing, changing or eliminating prescriptions. Or a person could just stop. But Farve had the money so he could be self indulgent.
Even AA, which similarly indoctrinated a specific dogma – – the 12 steps– is seen as not so successful as promoted and/or a proper therapy to cure alcoholism as it demands a dogmatic conversion and life time attendance that has been proven not necessary. AA, as Synanon did, says one must participate in AA for life and have a religious belief in AA 12 steps. It also provides no real therapy and is the same program for everyone. I agree with current views, given the atrocities that have occurred in Synanon clones, but I also still think the idea, discounting the dogma, to have a group of peers encouraging you and available at any time to talk to if you are considering going on a binge and you cannot reach your professional, is good. And of course, this was what was best in early Synanon, i.e., peers to talk to and help if the craving starts; also support when kicking cold turkey, food and a roof.
Both AA and Synanon provided this insight, but unfortunately each bounded its members with an ideology and demand to never quit the organizations. Synanon added the game and other systems of punishment to compel compliance that would be copied by many sociopaths seeking riches, as discussed below, and lead to horrors to the participants in the clones that exceeded what occurred in Synanon.
In reality, who was cured depended on how much each wanted it; and that generally holds true in all programs.
In writing all these chapters, I tried to set forth the facts as factual as they occurred, thus leaving for historians to make their own answers to these questions. When I was first fighting Synanon, however, things were very black and White.
Whatever value Synanon might have had, I believed then, it had been long-lost. The monster that now existed had to be stopped. People had to know its dangers before making choices to support or join. Even if the system had worked, the price was too high– free will. Dederich said free choice in the hands of an addict was like a gun in the hands of a baby. Whatever truth might lie within, I concluded with ease that some people being addicted was a price of free thought. Communist Russia was safer with freedom taken away. But is there anything worth giving up freedom of thought? Totalitarianism societies in the end always end in abuse and a "we vs. they" war concept.
There is likely truth that allowing contact with past relationships might lure someone to leave or want to get high, but that is the person's choice. Synanon can make its recommendation not to connect, even expel and announce it will not accept the person back; but there is no right to stop contact by never informing the person of attempts being made and giving the person the choice. Further, while brainwashing might be a form of keeping a person from drugs, leaving all decision making to the masters was a recipe for disaster. Eventually, the future could only be Orwellian.
When all the litigation finally ended, I had some regret that Synanon had been closed, wondering what it might have evolved into after Dederich's complete removal. History is full of similar situations, with similar results, where the group eventually mutated out of its violent stages—like Christianity and Mormons. But I also concluded that Synanon would always be dangerous because of the nature of the Synanon game.
Since I had as friends, people like Bernie Kolb and Ben Parks, who went from long-term addictions to long time great human beings, I concluded something there must have worked. I was also impressed by stories I was told about the early days and when the Synanon website first started it had lot of anger expressed towards Dederich. Per Dr. Robert J. Lifton, this is what one would expect from any totalitarianism environment after removal. So is the eventual years later reverting to a longing for the days of comrades and cause.
I would say probably every decade my views changed, either up or down, but only in small degrees. But they have settled now, particularly, as stated below, as I slowly learned the results of so many of the Synanon clones, which resulted in so much death and brutality.
There are more successes, like the Rolling Stones Rick Jones, that stemmed from bona fide psychotherapy. After 30 years of pondering, I came full circle and realized that sociologist Richard Ofshe had analyzed it right from the start. Ofshe who had been allowed inside Synanon to study it contacted Dave Mitchell in 1978 to ask if he was serious about investigating Synanon because violence could not occur randomly under Synanon's controls and can only occur at direction of management (later admitted by Dederich at deposition).
Eventually, on the subject of rehabilitation, Ofshe would write, Synanon was "the failure that’s gave birth to an industry."
Today there is argument, but generally it only comes from true believers like Janzen or long time residents who once condemned Synanon, , but now in their old age, as is generally the final stage for victims of brainwashing, per Dr. Lifton, rewrite their memories so each night they are at peace with what they took part in, including, if not outright participating, knowing of the Imperial Marines and all the beatings. Hitler did great things for Germany, but it would be wrong to use them to assert we should all think of it as “Spring Time for Hitler,” as Janzen did of Dederich. And in end, its Synanon’s holocaust that is its legacy, particularly since there were so many who predicted it as early as the 60s from nothing more than reading the books written about Synanon.
So let’s say you wanted to give the Third Reich some credit, which could be done, what positives can you say about Synanon? I would say some things are not debatable. First, while our government says that all people are equal the fact is they are not born equal. Some people, whether from genes or experiences, or combinations thereof, just are not capable of living a good life on their own. This is not limited to addicts. Such people probably would be happier in a small environment with given friends, lovers, jobs and a sense of purpose, where most needs are fulfilled. Whether a small town, island or, commune, they have a better chance for a part of the American dream than if on their own in the big city. The problem is, however, is how to ensure they are taken advantage of.
Still, to glorify Synanon, as some do, like Yablonsky, Janzen, is to show a lack of humanity and spit in the face of the vast amount of victims of violence in Synanon’s own holocaust.
While Synanon's bragging of curing drug addiction was far off from reality, its public relations system did promote the concept that drug addiction was not impossible to overcome as many had thought when Synanon was conceived. So in that sense, Synanon contributed to the idea that one could get off addiction. Also, if a person made that choice sincerely, that person may have a better chance of succeeding in an environment with supporting persons and ex-addicts urging of them on while removing competing problems of how to support themselves—such as a housing, friends and a job.
In terms of drug addiction, that's where it ends. Synanon's punitive system of verbal attacks and humiliation was counterproductive and drove out most that entered.
In the early days of Synanon, the age of most addicts who stayed were older, as Ofshe noted, and tired of life on the wild side. A small portion decided they had enough, and gave too much credit to Synanon and not enough to their own will power. No doubt their belief in Synanon was so strong that they had a good influence on others, but unfortunately they were also subjected to the Synanon system which from the early days warned of the enemy at the door (which Dederich eventually confessed at deposition he made up to bond followers), and later declared that you could never go home or contact outsiders. And that’s it for the idea that Synanon played a role in curing drug addiction.
Not only did the system drive people out, Dederich eventually admitted it was designed for that purpose.
And while because it was so small, its influence in non-publicized areas is doubtful. It can’t be denied that Charles Dederich in many instances, while playing Skinner, was ahead of the times with positive ideas. Society would have to catch up with Dederich on his ideas of dieting, exercise, and no smoking. And while it may be true that economics was a motivation, economics are part of the motivation for everyone on these issues.
While a credit to Dederich’s foresight, it also unfortunately was a feature of his harmful megalomania. Those who chose to reject his ideas were removed. Free choice is an American ideal, and we sacrifice for it, to preserve it, because as a nation we believe it is our greatest freedom. Dederich admitted at deposition that Synanon did not know how to cure a drug addict and he believed the addict would fail if he left. So, as stated, when Dederich also admitted his notions were intended on each occasion to drive people out, so only the fanatical remained, and he profited by the resulting lowering cost, he was in fact knowingly in his view sacrificing former addicts to untimely ends for profit.
His motive, which Janzen missed, was the eventual plan to steal all the money. By 1976 the plan to transfer the money to the Dederich family was cemented and implanted.
Another myth perpetrated by old time Synanon members, and apology writers, like Janzen, looking for fans among ex-Synanon members, is that Synanon played a role in civil rights. It was good that Synanon took in minorities, and when Dederich married Betty mixed marriages were not as commonplace as today. It did make news. This is not a criticism of that policy; but just the fact that it was insignificant in relation to the civil rights movement which was raging in the 60s and pushed by the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, and many black actors and athletes and my generation that marched and died in name of civil rights.
By the 60’s the Los Angeles school system had schools (not all) already well integrated and taught anti-bigotry. Synanon just wasn't that big enough to be an influence. There were countless communes and entities much larger that took in people of all races. All the civil rights marches, the anti-Vietnam protests, were uniting people of all races. Sidney Poitier did more for race relations in one movie than most of the world combined. And finally, in the end, Synanon legacy is one not only of discrimination, but it became the Ku Klux Klan when it came to its conceived enemies.
Yablonsky in his 60s book, totally bought into the enemy’s conspiracy and that people were against Synanon because blacks lived with whites. As stated, Dederich, himself, admitted at deposition that he created the boogeyman to bond people and keep them from running away.
The truth is Santa Monica was enforcing a valid zoning prohibition. Zones are designed to separate business from residential, etc. Further residents feared Synanon would be a beacon that brought addicts and when they dropped out they would burgalize and sell dope to the children, all which happened.
Also Santa Monica acted because Synanon did not have a license to treat anyone. Even when Synanon was given an exemption for cold turkey treatment, Synanon created an illegal clinic and took in persons needing care other than addiction for which it required a license. That is why the health department took action in 1977. And it is no wonder that almost everywhere Synanon went, Dederich picked a location that was out of zone in which he knew they would be kicked out of, allowing him to claim outrage and obtain sympathy and donations.
Synanon’s most important legacy was to fulfill sociologist Edgar Freidenberg prediction after reading Yablonsky’s book that the organization was punitive, brainwashed and would ultimately create a dangerous state of mind. He wrote the failure of Yablonsky to see the horror of what he had written raised questions suggesting a lack of humanity in Yablonsky. As I said, I would say the same of Janzen. Further, Yablonsky married a Synanon woman and admitted he felt any attack on Synanon was an attack on her.
In the book “The Tunnel Back” Yablonsky, Dederich and another Dr. discuss that the Synanon system is similar to Dr. Lifton’s discussion of Chinese brainwashing. The same result was stated by Steve Simon in his Harvard dissertation only in much more elaborate detail. Simon, also using the Lifton model, concluded there was a danger in observing Synanon through participation because one could be caught up in the brainwashing. This was written before he joined. Janzen could have had this dissertation, but he was not looking for truth.
Simon had come to Synanon because his teacher, Abraham Maslow, the founder of the Humanistic Movement, of which Synanon was using its lingo, was predicting that Synanon would transform psychotherapy. Simon did not follow his own warnings, and after being destroyed in a Synanon game, and then befriended by Dederich, never left, became the keeper of the flame and ultimately went to prison for participation in a scheme to destroy evidence concerning Synanon’s violent conspiracy. At his death bed, Maslow finally denounced the Human Potential Movement.
How all of this occurred is set forth in the first book “So Fair a House” by Dr. Casriel. He had the addicts psychologically tested and found Synanon did not change people internally–that they were still antisocial. But he failed to see while controlled and anti-social pathology still existed—it awaited release– and that many were eager to respond to their old days ways if the message to do good turned to do bad.
Ex-members have no idea how close they all came to being arrested for conspiracy of RICO violations. I was not for that idea, because I saw most members as victims. But that idea was bantered by law enforcement as because of the wire, and the wire logs, knowledge could be proven against all who stayed in support. Synanon did not even keep it from the public. In October of 1977 press conference Dan Garrett bragged that “after beating the shit out of (Dinuba punks– teenagers retrieving their car) we told them to tell all their friends this is just a taste of what will happen next time; and that as to the San Francisco punks “we put 4 of them in the hospital.” He further admitted they ran some “cock sucker’s” into a ditch and shaved their heads.
Guy Endore’s book, “Synanon, noted ex-members very early complained that Dederich had forced out the original Board of Directors and replaced them with hand picked trained seals. He wrote that many ex-members said that one day there would be a scandal and Dederich would run off with all the money. But he ruled them out as “heretics,” not ever once, as did Janzen, do, as Deep Throat suggested to the Watergate investigators: “follow the money.”
Eventually in a 1978 tape recording called “The Freebees are over” Dederich set forth the plan to establish a private corporation, Home Place, Inc. in Arizona which would charge Synanon for rotating people to the new compound to be educated by Dederich and that Synanon would pay the corporation for this, which then would pay salaries to Dederich and his cronies, of which they would pay taxes. A scheme that was illegal, it led to arrests in Arizona.
The Distribution Network:
Another idea of merit was “The Distribution Network” which was to obtain distressed goods which would be distributed to charities. Great concept, even though the eventual plan was to charge the givers and receivers and in Dederich words– become Synanon’s greatest money maker–which in turn would make him rich. After all why should they not get paid for all that work? The evil was he boasted that they would cut off any charity that did not do as Synanon told them to do.
The belief that Synanon was a breakthrough, as stated, was mainly because of its public speaking bureau. And it was repeated in books by Yablonsky and Endore and unfortunately repeated a decade ago by Janzen. But their position was based on incomplete data, in Janzen ‘s case that was intentional. By example, as compiled by Dr. Ofshe, in 1961 all Dederich reported was that 70 out of 176 addicts had stayed for 5 days. Ofshe further pointed out Dr. Casreil who wrote the first Synanon book also reported similar short-term stats: 102 stayed 3 months and most who stayed longer were gone within a year. Dr. Casriel in 1963 reported that of 62 people located of 160 entries, 19 were graduates, while 43 remained inside Synanon. No one knows the actual final fate of the 19. In 1964 a New Jersey Drug Study Commission opted not to give Synanon any funding after reviewing rehabilitation statistics supplied by Synanon Foundation. Out of 1,180 addicts who had entered Synanon in its first five years of operation, only 26 had graduated. Yet it was from this that the “miracle” was proclaimed.
Per Ofshe, Dr. Elizabeth Missakian, former Pres. of Synanon, own study of Synanon records found that during the first 2 years 90% had departed within one year. And while in 1978, he noted, Synanon publicity reported 20,000 people had gone through its doors, they were exiting at even a higher speed. And that number was highly inflated by injection of squares and children born to addicts and squares alike.
What is known about the early days, was that the older joiners were more likely to stay than the younger, and its initial opening success per Ofshe reflected that then the current age of entry was 34 or older; they were people who had a strong desire to remove themselves from the demanding regime of an addict/criminal life. For those, as stated above, there is no doubt Synanon served as Ofshe stated, a “realistic shelter” while they got their act together. But that dwindled as the joiners became younger and Dederich turned his attention to using the media and Hollywood to produce a flow of persons, goods and services to develop by 1976 over $30 million in assets and the start of large salaries and bonuses.
Dederich in the early days would not release statistics claiming that a dope fiend would identify with whatever percentage failed and therefore would not come; finally declaring in 1967 it was such a failure that no one should ever leave. Dederich said those who left fell through the open manhole and would post descriptions of their calamities for all to see as a warning if they ever left. Once the population bought that, Dederich had complete power by threat of expulsion which he continually exercised out right or by “squeezes.”
Many who studied Synanon agreed. It was reported between 6000 and 10,000 people lived in Synanon from 1958 to 1968 but apparently only 65 were ever known to have completed the program and elected to graduate to life outside the community. Others who completed the program were absorbed into the organization as low-paid or voluntary staff limited to walking around money. Others reported in 1973 that the Synanon absorbing members was retention, not rehabilitation, a result found unfortunately in many of the Synanon clones, which Synanon bragged 2,400 existed.
By 1971 Dederich would submit that while 10 to 12,000 people had gone through Synanon only about 10% stayed free of drugs for as much as 2 years, which was similar to the statistics everyone else concluded, which were the same at Lexington Hospital when Synanon was founded.
Ultimately, as stated above, Dederich would testify they never knew how to cure a dope fiend and nobody does. All he knew was that if someone stayed they didn’t do drugs.
In 1971, Dederich stated, as Ofshe noted:
“we want at the idea of ‘graduate.’ This was a sop to social workers and professionals who wanted me to say that we were producing a ‘graduate.’ I always wanted to say to them, ‘A person with this fatal disease will have to live here all of his life.’ I know damn well if they got out of Synanon they are dead. A few, but very few have gone out and made it. When they asked me, if an addict enters Synanon, how long will it take?’ My answer is, ‘If he is lucky, it will take forever.”
As stated above, as Dederich believed this, his squeezes and toss outs—like old timer Bill Crawford– was willfully sentencing one to death for CED’s ego and financial gain. The Old Man would testify that he never gave a splitee a single thought from the moment each left.
Worse, when others, like Dr. Casriel, who formed Daytop, decided to use the Synanon approach modified, they did not understand the effect of age and desire in the Synanon flashes of success and further the danger of its approach as described by Simon and Friedenberg. A belief system based upon coercive persuasion is expected by all who have studied it to be largely abandoned when the pressures are removed.
In one of his many papers on Synanon, Ofshe noted that it is doubtful that all the therapeutic communities that cloned themselves after Synanon would have done so if they heard Mr. Dederich testify as he did in 1979:
“it’s always a mistake to let anyone into Synanon. Anybody. Every time we let somebody into Synanon we assume an enormous liability and this is done consciously. We let, we let crazy people into the door and we don’t discriminate. Any dammed fool who wants to come in and say I’d like to live with you and we let them in. That’s the nature of our business. We either do that or we stop. Now, if it is not very God damn profitable, I would go into another business. But it is a calculated risk we take. It’s a calculated risk. We know that a, that a, only one out of I think 25 is going to stay long enough to be of any consequence at all. What was it one in 25 days for 2 years?
“It still such a bracing business that I like to stay in it. I don’t have to stay in it anymore. I’m rich. But I, it’s a marvelous business to watch these assholes come in and fall all over themselves and try bite me in the ass. You know ts great fun, to watch that. Its like, its like the story I’ve always told you, you know about the warden standing up on the, looking out the window of his office and down in the big yard and saying, ’Come here, George, watch ‘em they’ll all fuck each other pretty soon’ you know, we, we, we most of the people to come into our house and say I would like to live here and turn out to be very, very real crazy people. Real crazy people. I suppose if they weren’t why I’d have to find another business.
“ There just a, lots of them down in the Bank of America building in San Francisco, Pacific Union club, various law offices throughout the country, the streets, the ghettos, the penitentiaries. It’s a real field day.”
Yet by 1968, to justify ending graduation, if Dederich was correct, there was little success in curing addicts. By then only 1000 out of the 12,000 claimed to have entered were there and leaving was defined as failure. And, as stated, many of those who left were purposely ejected or forced out by Dederich “squeezes.” Indeed, that same year Dederich, in his “The Wrath of God” speech accused addicts of stabbing him in the back by failing to negotiate an apartment complex purchase, and threatened to get rid of all of them and replace them with squares.
After saying staying in Synanon is the addicts only chance for sustained life, in 1976 Dederich said that in 5 years there would be “no room for the kind of people you are now. You won’t be here. No one will be mad at you. It’s wonderful. Good luck. God bless you. But there won’t be any room for the kind of people you are now. Now there’s a little room for you now. 5 years from now we won’t need people like you.”
Finally, even the founder was not cured, returning to marijuana by 1977 and to an alcoholic stupor in 1978 that led to drunken parties throughout Synanon, as Phil Ritter’s and my murders were plotted, and the supposedly rehabilitated and reformed celebrated at the news of resulting injuries. Rather than a commune wonderfully described by Yablonsky and Janzen as reforming criminals, it made criminals out of non-criminals, and took former reformed criminals to a higher level of criminal violence.
The example story might be that of Joe Musico and Lance Kenton. From Musico’s past, one can infer antisocial makeup, but when he came to Synanon he was able to function and had acceptance, something he probably could not otherwise obtain. But he was tapped for his past violent tendencies and unleashed like Russell Crowe in “L. A. Confidential.” Ordered by the court out of Synanon, he returned to a life of crime and was murdered. Kenton, through no fault of his own, was placed in the Synanon school by square musician parents and at age 18 became the youngest member of the Imperial Marines. He participated in several missions, and arguably would have lived a better life but for his exposure to Synanon.
As stated in the Skeptics Dictionary, law enforcement officials, politicians and religious leaders helped push those fearing addiction to what it determined was primarily rackets designed to make money with little regard for human well-being (like Elan and CeDu). It reasoned that success stories generally had little to do with the programs themselves. It’s first example, naturally, as failure, was Synanon, and like Synanon, its clones became the darlings of the media and politicians in election years. The problem of these programs was it was believed it was justified to use any means, denying human and civil rights and treating people who didn’t need treatment; all this done without any proof that behavior modification programs ever worked. Further, it is foolish to treat all persons in the same manner. Neither AA, Synanon, or those that followed, were based on any scientific studies. Rather, the organizations said they worked, so people believed it. Today as it is known that alcoholic recovery has a 40% success rate with no treatment at all; it is doubtful AA can surpass that. Similarly, there is no evidence that every substance abuser is such for life and can only avoid destruction through one of these programs.
As provided by Wes Fager in 2000:
“Synanon was the first therapeutic community devoted to the treatment of the drug addicted according to the Encyclopedia of Drugs and Alcohol, which is edited by the first White House Drug Czar; Dr. Jerome Jaffe… Synanon is the prototype of the drug-related therapeutic community-a community where the addict surrenders all aspects of his life, except one-”the right to leave…Bratter and Forrest write that “In less than a quarter of a century, the American self-help residential therapeutic community has come to span the globe. [Chuck] Dederich [Synanon's founder], an exile from A.A., is credited with being the genius behind the TC [therapeutic community] movement.”… Leon Brill acknowledges in The Clinical Treatment of Substance Abusers that the original therapeutic community directed by ex-addicts was Synanon though others, he writes, such as Daytop Village, Odyssey House and Phoenix House in New York City have used psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other professionals as part of their staff.”
“In 1984 a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia awarded Fred Collins, Jr. $220,000 for being falsely imprisoned at Straight.Inc. Straight’s attorney for that trial was a prominent Washington, DC civil liberties lawyer named Ronald Goldfarb. Seven years before that trial Goldfarb had written a book calling for prison reform using the Synanon-style therapeutic community. The reviewer for his section on synanons for prisoners is none other than Dr. Robert DuPont, the second White House Drug Czar and founding director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and who administered a whopping $1.8 million contract to an experimental, start-up synanon for kids-only called The Seed in Fort Lauderdale. And furthermore, the National Institutes of Health (NIDA’s parent) had funded the first Synanon copy-cat program in NYC called Daytop Lodge. (Joe Ricci was a former Daytop student who went on to found his own program for troubled youth in Maine called Elan–see below.) NIH had even started its own experimental synanon at the federal lockup hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. This program was called MATRIX. Eventually Dr. DuPont left government service and became a paid consultant for Straight, which had replaced The Seed after the US Senate likened its methods to North Korean brainwashing.
” A recovering alcoholic named Art Barker in 1970 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and run almost entirely by kids for kids. Barker had been arrested at age 16 for burglary and when he was 18 he was charged with assault and robbery, for which he joined the Army a few days later and then went AWOL. According to newspaper articles of the day he has publicly disclosed, “I’ve smoked pot, popped pills, but none of the hard stuff.” Hereceived a degree in psychology from a mail-order company in Florida. One feature of Seed was the Spanking Machine where a child’s father must publicly whip his kid before the large peer Group. Dr. Jerome Jaffe, the first White House Drug Czar, had written the foreward to Dr. Meyers’ book which had called for caution in the use of synanon-style screaming matches against kids. Despite this, despite the warnings of so many other notables, despite Art Barker’s total lack of credentials and less than admirable past, The Seed received a $1.8 million U.S. government grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) soon after it opened. And the grant had been administered by the founding director of NIDA who also happened to be the second White House Drug Czar-Robert DuPont. By 1975 Barker had opened four expansion Seeds, but in 1974 both houses of the US Congress had investigated and made the brainwashing charges.”
Wrote Fager: “Despite the fact that the only way Synanon Church could keep addicts off drugs was to keep them at Synanon forever–that is Synanon was a cult–and despite Synanon’s sordid past–Synanon was a violent cult–the idea of the Game became the basis for a new breed of therapy where the addict himself helps in his own recovery just as Chinese thought reform students help in their own recovery. Almost all modern day therapeutic communities–and there are hundreds of them–are based on the game. This is due, in part, to many Synanites having left to form their own lucrative drug rehabilitation companies–a degree in medicine is not a requirement…
“A popular TV series was based on John Maher, a colorful former Synanite, who formed his own second generation Synanon in San Francisco called The Delancey Street Gang. Synanon’s advertising of its few success stories was so convincing that many professionals like New York psychiatrist Dan Casriel had become convinced of the Game’s efficacy. Casriel teamed up with Father William O’Brien to form Daytop Village which today is one of the largest therapeutic communities in the world. Early on they selected former Synanite David Deitch to run Daytop but later released him when they claimed he tried to set up a Communist-based political action committee of ex-drug addicts. In 1966 New York City Mayor John Lindsay hired Puerto Rican psychiatrist Efren Esteban Ramirez to run the city’s Addiction Services Agency. Ramirez set up the synanon-based Phoenix House which hired former Synanite Ted Dibble to manage one of its centers. Phoenix House is one of the biggest TCs today. Psychiatrist Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber visited Dr. Ramirez in Puerto Rico and setup her own synanon-based TC in New York City called Odyssey House. Many entrepreneurs, previously excluded from the lucrative drug rehabilitation trade because of lack of a medical degree, have opened their own second, third, and fourth generation synanon-type therapeutic communities.
“And just how successful were the Synanon imitators? Bellis, citing various sources, found that the success rate in the Synanon imitators was no better than that the dismal statistics of Synanon itself. Glasser, he wrote, found that eighty six of every hundred admissions to a large residential program terminated themselves against the advise of staff with most terminating within the first 30 days. Brill studied 2,100 admissions to Phoenix House and found a 96% drop out rate, and of the 4% who graduated, 25% had become staff there. He found that at Odyssey House only 25% of admissions stay more than 30 days, that the rate is down to 9.7% after six months, 5.6% at 1 year, and 2.8% after 18 months; the program’s required length of stay to “graduate.”
Books have steadily been written stating the same, perhaps the best was “Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids” by Ms. Maia Szalavitz.
Elan was known of using such standards as haircut, pull- up, the game and humiliating signs; but added a boxing ring for resisters to be plummeted by bigger guys until a bloody confession was extracted, regardless of its truth. A former member of Elan wrote:
“Elan is best described as a, “sadistic, brutal, violent, soul-eating hellhole.” At Elan, the Game was transformed into constant screaming and degradation and the physically rough treatment became all day violence. We were beaten for the slightest infractions of the rules. Spankings with paddles often drew blood and Phil Williams was beaten to death in the ring. I was forced to watch twenty men and women beat a 14 year old girl in what we called a, “Cowboy Ass kicking,” for ten to twenty minutes. I had never been arrested nor done drugs. None of us were hardcore drug addicts. We were mentally ill.
“Chuck Dederich would not only envy the Money Elan made, but the protection they got. Joe Ricci, the owner, survived the state of Illinois pulling residents out because of the abuse and beat them in court. Joe was a thug and a gangster, but when a law abiding citizen said so, Joe sued his bank and won ten million dollars. Forty four years later, with Joe dead and Elan closed down survivors are still searching for someone in a position of authority to admit that what happened there was abuse. If CED had that kind of protection, he would have died a king.”
Liam Scheff describes CeDu:
“Students quickly found themselves in a new, strange, uncomfortable and often frightening world of intense group relationships and heightened, invasive and violent group therapies. Relationships at the school between students – and staff – seemed to have little formal structure or sense of normal boundary – and a student’s life was always under threat of intense and unpredictable disciplining and punishment.
“The Cedu schools (one in California, and one in Idaho) were each located in a mountain wilderness, and students soon discovered that they were teenage captives, without identification or money, in an imposing geography they could not easily or safely negotiate or escape.
“The real origins of the Cedu schools remained hidden from the students, their parents – and much of the staff – until years after their graduation or departure. At the heart of the Cedu program was a philosophy that had grown out of various self-help movements of the 1960s and ’70s, such as Lifespring, Werner Erhard’s EST, and most directly, from Charles E. Dederich’s “Synanon” cult, “church,” and street-level heroin-cure program. The Cedu Schools developed into an industry of sister schools, clones and copy-cats, that are now a multi-million dollar, international – and unregulated business.”
As with The Seed, at Straight abuse was omnipresent—including beatings and kidnapping of adult participants. Facing seven-figure legal judgments, despite ties with the Bush family and Nancy Reagan, it closed in 1993.” In 1993, Dr. DuPont testified that the progenitor of Straight was Synanon and that those places which used Synanon’s methods are called therapeutic communities and that there are two rules for these therapeutic communities: No Sex and No Violence. But these rules had long been eradicated at Synanon– the root of today’s confrontational-type therapeutic communities. Synanon was the first therapeutic community devoted to the treatment of the drug addicted according to the Encyclopedia of Drugs and Alcohol, which is edited by the first White House Drug Czar, per Wes Fager, who also noted Dr. Jerome Jaffe stated Synanon is the prototype of the drug-related therapeutic community-a community where the addict surrenders all aspects of his life, except one-’the right to leave.’ Fager further noted Bratter and Forrest write that “In less than a quarter of a century, the American self-help residential therapeutic community has come to span the globe. [Chuck] Dederich [Synanon's founder], an exile from A.A., is credited with being the genius behind the TC [therapeutic community] movement and Leon Brill acknowledges in The Clinical Treatment of Substance Abusers that the original therapeutic community directed by ex-addicts was Synanon though others, he writes, such as Daytop Village, Odyssey House and Phoenix House in New York City have used psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other professionals as part of their staff;” in an article for Substance Abuse: Clinical Problems and Perspectives written in 1981, Deitch and Zweben acknowledge that Synanon is the progenitor of the present-day therapeutic communities.”
As Fager summarized: “Almost all modern day therapeutic communities–and there are hundreds of them–are based on synanons. This is due, in part, to many Synanites having left to form their own lucrative drug rehabilitation companies–a degree in medicine is not a requirement.”
The Synanon Game:
One could argue that the destruction caused by the Synanon game was a legacy to the extent that it helped quash the humanistic movement and the over self indulgence in encounter groups. As stated in earlier chapter, one study on encounter groups in 1971 found the Synanon methods of attack therapy was the most likely to create psychological injury, and the experiment led to mental breakdowns and one suicide. Unfortunately, came the imitators who sold the idea it was rehabilitative and copied it leading to a much greater list of damaged individuals than Synanon could ever achieve. Worse, they continue today despite strong efforts to expose them. Perhaps worse, was Dederich’s friendship with Caesar Chavez wherein CED convinced Caesar to live like a rich man on La Paz and import the game which led to mutiny and the downfall of the UFW.
While Dederich suggested to world nothing in the game was to be taken seriously, he would admit in deposition in 1979 and 1981 that in operating Synanon, he did not give direct orders, but would inject everything he wanted members to do in a Synanon game or by his dialogue at Think Tables. He stated he “consciously” directed the Synanon population through this method. He also admitted violence could not occur without his approval but he forgot the details due to his stroke.
The game and all other methods of forced confessions, real or false to conform, are the essence of Lifton’s brainwashing. Even today, some ex Synanon members, including many who had claimed they were harmed and/or were critical upon leaving, have played an on-line version with each other that slowly brought them back into the fold, confessing what others want to hear and afraid to say what they don’t.
Fager, in 2000 wrote:
“Some had warned of the potential dangers of using synanons (game) on adults. Professor David Bellis was one. He wrote that, “High discipline programs usually employ the confrontive ‘Synanon game’-a leaderless group encounter session to create aggressive and provocative interchange, using ridicule, cross examination and hostile attack. During these group assaults on individual residents in the ‘hot seat,’ especially newcomers, any castigation and ridicule appear to come from the whole community of clients. One either plays the game and is rewarded with privilege and favorable discharge, or one ’splits’ from the program. Experience indicates that when these counselors use an especially intrusive, aggressive approach, frequently debasing and harshly confronting clients, they may do more harm than good. . . This intrusive, assertive therapeutic style works well for a few clients but may injure many more.” Professor Bellis noted that, “A number of clients. . .relinquish all independence and subjugate themselves to these staff and senior residents, accepting humiliation and total control of their lives even to the extent of accepting complete direction of their sex lives. . .” And he told of the case of one TC therapist who forced female clients to perform fellatio on him while he talked on the phone to their probation officers.”
The Punk Squad:
While the abuse in Synanon was bad enough, it pails in comparison to a stream of sociopaths who hijacked the system to become Millionaires through the abuse of children; in some cases even as morally deprived as organizations that kidnap children and sell them for profit.
Fager wrtoe further in 2000:
” Dr. Roger Meyer and psychotherapists Thomas Bratter and Gary Forrest warned about using synanons on kids. Dr. Roger Meyer, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University, and formerly the Acting Chief of the Center for Studies of Narcotics and Drug Abuse at NIMH, was one of the first to question the wisdom of subjecting kids to the brutality of the Synanon Game. In 1972 he reported on the case of a 12 year old boy who had been admitted, along with older clients, to a second generation Synanon called The Odyssey House in New York City. He noted that the child seemed lost in the “rigid hierarchy and confrontation tactics of the program.” He wrote:
‘As a clinician I am concerned about the effects of intense, violent verbal interaction upon young teenagers engaged in a sensitive process of identity formation. The effects of this type of interaction upon a fragile self-image and upon later impulse control in the world at large have not been determined. This issue obviously needs further elaboration and research, but there are suggestions that there are age limits below which this form of treatment is contraindicated. Arbitrarily, I would say that young persons under 16 years of age should be excluded from these programs and that careful evaluation be given admitting persons between 16 and 18 years of age . . .It is also clear that the psychological effects of this modality upon different age groups have not been adequately studied.’
“In 1974 Arnold Rachman and M. Heller warned about using the Game with kids when they wrote: “There is a serious shortcoming within the theory and the practice of the T.C. in the understanding and treatment of adolescents. The experiences with the original population of adult addicts still pervade the thinking and functioning of most T.C.’s. Many programs report a high dropout rate with younger adolescents, which is directly related to this factor…. In addition, group practice becomes an anti-therapeutic factor with the T.C. when the uniqueness of adolescent psychological development is not understood and incorporated into clinical practice.(16) In 1985 psychotherapists Thomas Bratter and Gary Forrest echoed the conclusion of Rachman and Heller and added a caution of their own when they wrote that “such a treatment [for self-destructive drug abusers] may not be necessary or appropriate for other treatment populations, i.e. borderline schizophrenic patients, schizoid personalities, and acutely anxious, neurotic adolescents.(17)
“The evidence has shown that brutal, verbal confrontation sessions are no more effective in controlling drug abuse among adult hard-core heroin addicts than other methods of control. Some have shown that synanon confrontations can potentially be psychologically damaging and may not be suitable for all audiences-especially for adolescents. In 1974 Rachman and Heller had noted that many youths had dropped out of TCs because the methods were geared to curing adult addicts. S. B. Sells noted in 1976 that, ‘The more strict the program the lower the percentage of clients retained in the [TC] program..’Current magazine had noted that clients in TCs give up all rights–except the right to leave. Former Synanite Dr. David Deitch, then a Phoenix House director, has stated, ‘A client must have the choice of leaving treatment, even if the youngster is on probation and the alternative is jail.”(19) Richard Ashley wrote in Heroin that, “The only power of decision the member retains once he enters a TC is the decision to leave.” Dr. Efren Ramirez, founder of Phoenix House, has said that “you don’t rehabilitate a person against his will.”
Researched by Maia Szalavitz for a book in 2006 and for Mother Jones in 2007 she described the clone horrors and traced them back to Synanon. Some of these programs were in the wilderness, some were high in the Mountains, or in deserts, or per parents trading children and keeping them in locked rooms when they were not in camps– many of which were like old time chain gangs– this saving cost of shelter and food. Some children were taken to foreign countries, or islands, although foreign countries have done more to stop them than our government. Many have the support of state agencies, because of the past publicity for Synanon, unaware of what happened in California and assuming therefor these programs worked. Instead it is led to countless deaths, destruction of lives and still continues today. Some children have been placed for nothing more than marijuana smoking, and some because the programs told the parents unless they gave them the younger kid they would expel the older sibling. Some of the kids when graduated became counselors for cheap wages, and there is probably nothing more vicious than an 18 year-old who was abused and now given the power to abuse.
Ms Szalavitz wrote there are hundreds of “emotional growth boarding schools,” wilderness camps, and “tough love” anti-drug programs that make up the billion-dollar teen residential treatment industry.
One clone—Vision Quest–it has been written had 9 deaths; forced marches, black uniforms in triple-digit temperatures, harsh discipline and a daily diet limited to an apple, a carrot and a bowl of beans, all which were common to these orgs. Vision Quest’s leader was convicted of smuggling cocaine. Maia wrote:
“No fewer than 50 programs can trace their treatment philosophy, directly or indirectly, to an anti-drug cult called Synanon. Founded in 1958, Synanon sold itself as a cure for hardcore heroin addicts who could help each other by “breaking” new initiates with isolation, humiliation, hard labor, and sleep deprivation.
“Today, troubled-teen programs use Synanon-like tactics, advertising themselves to parents as solutions for everything from poor study habits to substance misuse. However, there is little evidence that harsh behavior-modification techniques can solve these problems. Studies found that Synanon’s “encounter groups” could produce lasting psychological harm and that only 10 to 15 percent of the addicts who participated in them recovered. And as the classic 1971 Stanford prison experiment demonstrated, creating situations in which the severe treatment of powerless people is rewarded inevitably yields abuse. This is especially true when punishment is viewed as a healing process. Synanon was discredited in the late 1970s and 1980s as its violent record was exposed. Yet by the time Synanon shut down in 1991, its model had already been widely copied.
“In 1971, the federal government, through he second White House Drug Czar, Robertq L. Dupont, Jr. MD. gave a grant to a Florida organization called The Seed, which applied Synanon’s methods to teenagers, even to those only suspected of trying drugs . In 1974, Congress opened an investigation into such behavior-modification programs, finding that The Seed had used methods “similar to the highly refined brainwashing techniques employed by the North Koreans.
“The bad publicity led some supporters, Melvin and Betty Sembler of The Seed to create a copycat organization under a different name– Straight Inc.–but employed Du Point as a consultant. By the mid-’80s Straight was operating in seven states.
But, Ms. Szalavitz writes, the shuttered programs simply changed their names and reopened, often with the same staff, in the same state—even in the same building. The money was too good; parents panicking at the finding of a joint and willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money to anyone with the sales pitch, never quite understanding the tortures and deaths that awaited.
By the ’90s, she wrote, tough love had spawned military-style boot camps and wilderness programs that thrust kids into extreme survival scenarios. At least three dozen teens have died in these programs, often because staff see medical complaints as malingering. A 15-year-old boy died from a staph infection at a Colorado wilderness program. His family claims his pleas for help were ignored. In his final letter to his mother, he wrote, “They found my weakness and I want to go home.”
Another boy froze to death (given no coat or shelter), and the victims even included former Synanon children who were placed in these camps by parents still believing in the Synanon system.
14-year-old Anthony Haynes died while attending a five-week boot camp operated by the America’s Buffalo Soldiers Re-enactors Association.
The medical examiner’s office said Haynes died of complications from dehydration and near-drowning — dehydration after being made to stand in the sun for up to five hours, the near-drowning from being left in a motel bathtub, where he had been taken to cool him off.
Children say they were punched, kicked and forced to eat dirt for minor infractions such as failing to stand up straight. Campers say they had bruised ribs from an exercise in which they were ordered to lie on their backs while counselors ran across their chests in boots.
In “Is This A Camp Or Jail?” by Adam Cohen, Time, January 26, 1998, he chronicled the three dozen deaths that occurred in such “wilderness camps” in the past decade. Children’s deaths in “tough love” boot camps include:
Michelle Sutton, 15, Summit Quest, Utah, 1990. Died of dehydration.
When Michelle ran out of water, a counselor told the other hikers not to share, and joked that Michelle’s parched mouth was so white “it looks like you’ve been eating marshmallows.” After complaining she couldn’t see, Michelle collapsed and died of dehydration.
On June 27, 1990, six weeks after the death of Michelle Sutton, 16-year-old Kristin Chase died at the Challenger wilderness camp in Utah of hyperthermia and dehydration after a 5-mile forced march in 105-degree heat. Once again, her counselors said that she was faking when she complained.
Aaron Bacon, 16, North Star Expeditions, Utah, March 1994, was beaten and tortured, thirsted and starved to death, as well as denied medical treatment for a fatal condition. The autopsy report stated that he died from a perforated ulcer, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. The sicker he became, the more he was tormented and tortured by the staff. He was constantly accused of being a malingerer and faking it when he complained of being sick and unable to go on. When he begged to see a doctor, the staff sneered at him and called him “a faker” and asked him if he were “homosexual.”
Dawnne Takeuchi, 18, was killed when she was thrown from a semi-truck near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, in June 1994. Kimberly Stafford, the Vision Quest counselor who was driving the supply vehicle, was convicted of careless driving.
Nicholaus Contreraz, 16, died at the Arizona Boys Ranch near Oracle, Arizona, March 2, 1998, of cardiac arrest, after instructors continued to harass him and force him to exercise even though he told them he was sick. Saying his death was caused by “cardiac arrest,” said Cohen, is really sugar-coating the pill as he was tortured to death and also denied medical treatment.
Gina Score, 14, at the state-run juvenile prison camp at Plankinton, South Dakota, 1999 was run to death. That is, she was forced to run in the summer sun until she collapsed, and then she was left laying in the hot sun until she died. Her alleged crime—petty theft.
65-pound Michael Wiltsie, 12, at Camp E-Kel-Etu, a private Florida facility, in 2000 was suffocated to death by a 320-pound “counselor” who sat on him until he stopped breathing.
Fourteen-year-old Martin Lee Anderson was murdered within 3 hours of his arrival at a Florida boot camp that was run by the local sheriff, Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen, on January 6, 2006. They covered his mouth with a hand and forced him to inhale ammonia, which caused “spasm of his vocal cords” and prevented him from being able to inhale.
The article listed more; interesting the largest number of abusive clones were in Arizona, where several juvenile probation officers had became visitor/participators in Synanon and recommended Synanon to officials and courts even though Marin County juvenile probation had stopped all sending of kids to Synanon and returning runaways.
In Maia’s book it is described one woman was not even allowed to leave a teen rehab after she turned 18, the organization threatening her mother to toss out her younger child if the mother took the older one back. When she finally was rescued by a grandmother, the organization was fortunately wiped out by the resulting civil judgment for damages. Below is a chart made by Maia in Mother Jones:
(CLICK ON CHART TO SEE)
A. Orange on his website lists interesting quotes:
“Tough Love: Abuse of a type particularly gratifying to the abuser, in that it combines the pleasures of sadism with those of self-righteousness. Commonly employed and widely admired in 12-step groups and treatment.”
— Charles Bufe
“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”
— H. L. Mencken
C. S. Lewis wrote:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Fager wrote: “Dr. Rogers had been referring to the dangers involved with a kid participating in a typical Synanon Game with 11 people yelling at him, where he could fight back verbally, where he could leave if he chose, and where there was no physical violence. But nobody, especially Dr. Rogers, ever imagined children sitting in one continuous synanon 12 hours a day, 5 ½ days a week for several years–with 200 kids screaming and spitting at him, where the child could not verbally defend himself against his indicters, where he would be beaten and physically restrained, and, most importantly, where he could not leave–namely Straight, Inc.
“In other words Straight took a program that had been designed (and poorly so) to control hard-core adult heroin addicts and used it to control kids who had experimented with pot and alcohol–sometimes worse, but sometimes no drugs at all. Straight used Synanon’s vaginal and anal searches to search for contraband for years even though they never found any. Kids were assaulted and restrained without cause and all the rest. In short Straight took a bad treatment modality, made it worse, and then force their young subjects to endure it. And when former clients sued Straight for holding them against their will, Straight pressured parents into letting Straight fight for them for the right to force their kids into treatment with the force of a court order.
In conclusion, while the notions in Synanon arose out of Dederich’s troubled childhood, I don’t think all blame is on Synanon—such systems existed all throughout history. Synanon just gave it a giant shove through its PR machine which unfortunately attracted sociopaths wanting an easy road to riches and unfortunately led many governmental agencies and politicians to back their concepts.
In one sense it becomes like the question of which came first– the chicken or the egg. Were they all out to get rich at the sadistic treatment of others, or was this end in part of natural consequence of using such a punitive system, as suggested by the Stanford experiment on role playing of prisoners and guards?
But that question—while interesting—is really moot; the fact is that while shelter and support is of assistance, the Synanon system based on hate (as stated by Dederich) and punishment was not only a failure but its achievement in publicity, like a Synanon movie starring Ed O’Brien, has led to 50 years of horror to countless victims all over the world and continues to do so.
That's the legacy.