From: Ed (Hart)
Date: 18 Dec 2000
Dear Family members and ex-members,
Sometime after I posted my open letter in which I apologized to Family members who had been hurt in Argentina, and asked officer Hugo Gabutti some direct questions, I received a brief letter from Eduardo Lause, asking me to write. I was very busy at the time and wrote him this note:
Hi, Eduardo. Ed here. Thanks for writing. Sorry I won't be able to write too much. I hope you are doing well. I know you are in close contact with Hugo, but I know you also have disagreements with him. After all, Ricky told me that Hugo hreatened you, if you ever betrayed him. I deliberately kept your name out of what I wrote, and I pray that was sufficient, and that Hugo is not mad at you.
I am sorry that Ricky is gone. I wish he were alive right now. It's really too bad.
I pray that poor Abby is doing well. She suffered so much pain.
Just a few days ago, Eduardo wrote me the following letter back. For those of you who don’t know who Eduardo Lause is, he was formerly a leader in the Family in Argentina, and his name was Benjamin Amor. Since leaving the Family, he was active in disseminating information about the Family, and started his own organization in Argentina. When Ricky, Miriam, Abigail and myself came to Argentina to work with the police in the preliminary investigation and give our depositions, Eduardo was called in to help us.
Because Eduardo lived in Rosario, he couldn’t often come to Buenos Aires, which is why I didn’t mention him in my previous letter. He was only with us from time to time. But like us, he did give a deposition concerning the Family, and was video-taped with us when we were filmed by Argentine TV reporters.
Jose’ Baamonde, head of SPES, the largest anti-cult organization in Argentina, didn’t like Eduardo, perhaps because he saw Eduardo’s small organization as a threat to SPES. Jose’ tried to stop Eduardo from being filmed because he didn’t want him promoting his own organization. But the rest of us ex-members insisted that if Eduardo wasn’t allowed to speak, we would refuse to be filmed as well. Jose’ relented and Eduardo was included.
Here now is Eduardo’s letter to me:
Several months ago, at the time of James Penn’s posting on the NDN website, I wrote Sam Ajemian and other ex-members a letter which in part reads as follows:
“All of us, the members who presented our depositions in Argentina, confined ourselves to the strict truth and never produced malicious testimonies nor statements that could be the subject of misinterpretations; what is more, there were others that did not declare out of fear but have lived through the same experiences. Eduardo Lause (Benjamin Amor)”
I have now received your letter and your publication on your web site.
Before going any further, allow me to express my gladness for your happy and prolific life in the company of your family. I’m also happy and I’’m studying law at the University, working at a lawyers’ buffet, carrying on with my life and enjoying every moment of it.
Well, I’ll proceed now to reply to your writings.
In spite of some differences of opinion that I still maintain with Hugo Gabutti (because he sees the things as a policeman), I have always tried to be faithful to the truth and to fight for my convictions. Since I left the Family, I do not allow anyone to control my acts and thoughts. I do not understand how it was that Ricky could have told you that Gabutti threatened me because this never happened. I hope, and I’m sorry if I sound sarcastic, that you aren’t doing as Maria and Peter, that is: to put in Rick’s mouth after his death, words that he never pronounced.
Hugo Gabutti has always been a very honest man who struggled to improve the children’s conditions and you must bear in mind that he only carried out the intelligence and all the previous investigative work. He wasn’t in charge of things at the moment when the raids on the Homes happened, as Judge Marquevich chose a different officer, police Inspector Rebollo to take charge of those proceedings.
All that I declared about the Family as a witness was then, and still is, the truth. I wasn’t acting under any body’s pressure. My intention was to help all those who were deceived by a sick and manipulating leader, who were still in the sect, and to improve the living conditions of those who chose to remain there, particularly the kids.
When I contributed to make the real facts known, I was also in pursuit of my own peace of mind.
I can have wide differences of opinion with Hugo and Dr. Hector Navarro. I have had a lot of discussions with the latter (he was one of the experts called by the Judge for the cases at the Courts of Rosario, Mercedes and San Isidro) and I, as an ex-member have a lot of friends in the Family, people of whom I am very fond of and who have been sincere in their service to God, even if they were in the wrong place or had been deceived. With regards to the ex-members, not all of them are anti-Family or pursue the same interests so, to say the truth, I’’m going to answer your letter in the most honest, simple and sincere way, the way I am.
As far as I know, nobody lied in Argentina and this is something that I’m certain of. Everyone seem to me to be honest and a lot of their testimonies coincided with everything that I had seen, experienced and read. What happened to Mene turned me totally against Mo because everything that she said about what they had done to her, was confirmed by the “The Last State” Letter (BY NOW IT HAS BEEN PURGED) and aunt Crystal letters for the education of youngsters, where they tried to justify such treatments, but never hid anything.
Something I couldn’t actually confirm, and will never be able to, because the only one we could ask about it is now dead, is what Rick Dupuy said about Steven Colon. According to Rick, when they were staying at Tateyama, in Japan, Steven had left the Family and started to traffic drugs. He (Rick) also said that Steve Colon, with whom he had a established a friendship because they had previously worked together, helped the Family with the production of the Kiddie Viddies. And later on we verified the Family’’s opinion about drug dealers, as it’s published in GN 141 where, referring to these drug traffickers Paul says: “The enemies of our enemies, are our friends”, addressing them as their friends and the USA as their enemies.
Besides Ed, you denied nothing, on the contrary, you confirmed everything. You know very well that all of us, including yourself, had spoken the truth as it is confirmed by you in the web page that you set up: http://www.oocities.org/onlyspeakingtruth
You know that the Judges, the legal experts, the policemen and the lawyers became more and more astonished as they advanced in their investigations, which had started with the search for the Frouman children. It was the mother who first abducted them from their father because he wasn’t with the Family. But then she was kicked out when she got ill with cancer because she was no longer of any use to the Family, but they didn’t allow her to take her children, they didn’t even allow her to see her children before she died.
The case started with her request and, after her death, her sister took her place in the struggle to recover the children and return them to their father who by then was living in the USA.
As I live in Argentina, I can see the facts from a completely different point of view. Though in the past the military government was guilty of tortures and the abduction and disappearance of people in the process of an internal war between guerrilla fighters and the army, and 30,000 people just vanished, the case against the Family took place 10 years after the military dictatorship, with a democratic government in office and all the guarantees of democracy.
What is more, by the time the case passed to the Federal Court, the raids had already been scheduled for May and inexplicably, were postponed for September. I’m sure the Family leadership knew that something was about to happen because all foreigners whose documents were not in order, were rapidly moved out of the country; all irregular couples whose marriage papers were out of order, were forced to get properly and legally married, and at the time of the raids, everything was in proper order. They also had won over an intelligence agent, “the black octopus”, who had been FFed, and who informed them about all the moves that were happening.
This became evident when I and Dr. Navarro, a Judicial Expert, arrived from Rosario to the Court at Mercedes, where the case was being in process. It happened out of their regular working hours for the Court at Mercedes. Juan Carlos Cavazza and Clara Borowick, both of them leaders of the Family, were waiting for us at the door of the Court House. Clara Borowick was in evident, close friendship with Angel Centeno, by then the Secretary of Foreign Affaires and Religion (Cultos) of the Argentine Government, as it became evident from the tapes that the police made of one of their conversations over the telephone.
You Ed, show your compassion for Kay Roberts (Charity), the mother of six who pretended to be worried about the fate of her six children. Well, you should know that this woman, together with her husband, Tito, were the shepherds in charge of the Campana del Señor (Province of Buenos Aires) correctional camp for minors. It was a similar jail to that of Macao, where Mene was interned. I would like you to tell me how many of her children actually lived with her because you very well know that while in the Family, nobody is allowed to keep all their children with her/him; on the contrary, they are forced to split and are spread through the whole world so as to avoid the risk of losing them all, should they all leave the group together.
As you have also been in Buenos Aires, I’m sure that you remember that the children at Pilar were allowed to roam in the gardens for only 45 minutes in a day, in limited groups and under strict surveillance. These kids were real prisoners of the Family, with no possibilities to opt for something else. We adults, had voluntarily opted to join the sect, but the children were forced to live in a jail regime, they had no other option, or get to know a different way of life.
My mother works as a regent at some of the correctional institutes in Mendoza. From what she tells me, I know that the Garrigos Institute, where the Family kids were interned, is a model of order, cleanliness, good food and excellent care for the minors interned therein.
The children that were kept there could say, if they had the opportunity to speak the truth, that they have never been ill treated by the Institute personnel. On the contrary, I’m sure that while they were interned there, their life conditions were much better than in that dictatorial jail that the Family had always been, where the kids are always abused and where not even the babies are spared as you very well know: Maria recommends that they should be punished as young as the age of only six months old; remember also silence restrictions, and being isolated under the Victors Program.
James Penn said that he felt no sympathy for “that lunatic fringe, the faction of former members who, in places such as Argentina, knowingly made false accusations against Family Members during the persecution...” He says that as a direct result, many children and adults spent months in State Institutions and Prisons. He also says that, in his point of view, our conduct was reprehensible, literally criminal, and on a par with the atrocities that MO, MARIA AND PETER ARE GUILTY OF.
He continues, saying that “If these individuals had pulled such stunts in a country where the rule of law prevailed, they would likely have ended up in jail. The members of this lunatic fringe need to follow Bithia’s good example and repent and ask for forgiveness from the individuals who suffered because of their criminal behavior. As far as I can see, that would be the Christian thing to do.”
I can tell all of you that for years I had to struggle with the consequences of the psychological ill treatment that I suffered while in the Family, but thanks to God, I am now totally recovered, I’’m studying Law, have a good job at a Lawyers Buffet and my thoughts are totally independent. I have met several members which had been upset with me before because I denounced the abuse of the Family, but today they greet me with affection; I could almost say that they are grateful. A woman, a mother, even told me that the worst judges are her own children (now grown up) and who were the principal victims of Berg’s teachings.
I am totally convinced that if the cases of Argentina and the United Kingdom had not happened, they would never have issued their Declaration of Rights and Obligations (WHERE THE CHILDREN’’S RIGHTS ARE NOT ACKNOWLEDGED) neither would they have accepted Mo’s guilt but at the same time and according with the same James, these appalling conditions have not changed.
I am terribly sorry for those that suffered and if one pregnant sister had a miscarriage because a sonogram that was prescribed by a doctor was never carried out, she could sue the Nation for damages. I know this wouldn’t return her baby to life, but justice will have been done. From my web site I can offer her the opportunity to present her own account of what happened to her and what the children have lived through because of those traumatic exams.
I must also put it very clearly that, though Police Inspector Hugo Gabutti did all the previous intelligence work, he was never in charge of the raids because a new Judge took charge of the case and other Police Officer, Inspector Juan Carlos Rebollo, was appointed to do the job.
Abigail gave a recount of how the leaders had conditioned her to lie about supposed abuses during the 1989 raids, which were ordered by Judge Piotti. That is why Judge Marquevich decided to appoint Inspector Rebollo to take charge of the raids as his federal position was on a different level than that of Inspector Gabutti.
Nevertheless, the Family was able to gather the signatures of fifty lawyers from Human Rights Organizations who filed a request for a political suit against Judge Marquevich for his impeachment with the allegation that his proceedings during the case had been irregular. But they didn’t succeed. I know very well that there were no irregularities, on the contrary, with the Argentine court case the Family received their first big blow with enormous consequences for their operations and was the first step of a deep crisis, of which they still haven’t extracted themselves.
Please visit http://www.oocities.org/RainForest/Andes/3129/. You have my promise that this site publish both your version of the facts as well as our reply. I would be thankful to you if you do the same, both in English and Spanish.
Eduardo Lause (Benjamin Amor)
Here is my letter to Eduardo:
Thank you for your letter. I’m happy for you that you are studying law and getting on with your life. That is good news. I was also touched by your comment about Ava Martin, the lady who lost her unborn child because officials refused to allow her to have a needed sonogram. You said:
“I am terribly sorry for those that suffered and if one pregnant sister had a miscarriage because a sonogram that was prescribed by a doctor was never carried out. She could sue the Nation for damages. I know this wouldn’t return her baby to life, but justice will have been done. From my web site I can offer her the opportunity to present her own account of what happened to her and what the children have lived through because of those traumatic exams.”
Thank you for expressing your concern, even to the point of suggesting that she sue the Nation for negligence and damages. Remember, this wasn’t simply a miscarriage, but the baby was born dead because his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. I’m not sure if Ava will either do the lawsuit or post on your board, but I was touched by the fact that you considered and mentioned it.
Eduardo, I mention this statement of yours up front because I will be disagreeing with you quite strongly on certain issues, but want it to be clear that I am not “against” you, and that even if you have the reputation of a “cult-fighter” in Argentina, you are still human and are not untouched by the injustices that Family members suffered. I never read your deposition, but I have no reason to believe you told any lies. So I hope everyone gives your letter a fair reading. Family members who suffered in Argentina may have a different version of the events you mentioned, and I hope they will post responses, but as long as a civil debate happens, it may bring a lot of truth to light.
First of all, thanks for your statement that I told the truth in my deposition. Yes, I did. But as I mentioned in my apology, I shouldn’t have gone to Argentina to give it, even though I did tell the truth. You mentioned several things in your letter that I am familiar with, but you also mentioned other things that you assume I was familiar with, but which I never knew, or had only heard in passing. In addition, you mentioned some new details I’d never heard at all, such as the secret agent, “Black Octopus,” who was passing on police information to the Family.
Anyway, to address the points you raised in your letter:
You say: “In spite of some differences of opinion that I still maintain with Hugo Gabutti (because he sees the things as a policeman), I have always tried to be faithful to the truth and to fight for my convictions. Since I left the Family, I do not allow anyone to control my acts and thoughts.”
Eduardo, I hope that you didn’t get the wrong impression. I never meant that you had been coerced in giving your deposition. I don’t believe you said anything under pressure from Hugo or anyone else. You were simply giving you testimony like the rest of us.
You say: “ I do not understand how it was that Ricky could have told you that Gabutti threatened me because this never happened. I hope, and I’m sorry if I sound sarcastic, that you aren’t doing as Maria and Peter, that is: to put in Rick’s mouth after his death, words that he never pronounced.”
Here is where I have to disagree with you, Eduardo. When we were staying in the Catholic convent, Ricky and I became close and talked very honestly and sincerely with each other. One night he shared the entire heart-breaking story of all the abuse he had suffered under Josiah and others in the Victor Camp in Tateyama, Japan. And because he spoke far better Spanish than I did, he talked more with Hugo and often passed on to me things that he had learned. So yes, he did tell me that, in his opinion, even Hugo probably had “skeletons in his closet from the martial law days.” And yes, he did indeed tell me that Hugo had threatened you. I have no reason to believe that Ricky was making up that story. If words were put in Ricky’s mouth, they were put there by Hugo, not me.
Here’s how it happened: shortly after I arrived in Argentina, I was taken to the city (Lujan, was it?) where Ricky was staying in a small hotel. We were moved a few days later to the Catholic convent in another city. The reason we moved was because the police were concerned that the Family knew that us ex-members were in Argentina. The reason was that someone who was “in the know” had spoken to a reporter of a small, independent news magazine in Buenos Aires, and told them all kinds of inside details about the investigation that was happening. They even said, “A Canadian has just arrived in Argentina to give testimony”—referring to me.
The police were totally freaked out and had no idea who the “leak” was. Hugo was very concerned that the Family would see that magazine and read it and be warned. He asked Ricky and I what we could possibly do. That’s when I remembered what the Family had done in Tateyama, Japan, when the “Shukun Bunshai” newspaper had published an article against the Family: Family leadership sent members out to all the newsstands in Tateyama very early in the morning, to buy up every copy of the paper before anyone in the city could get a copy. And it almost worked, though the Tateyama officials did eventually get a copy from somewhere else.
So I told Hugo that maybe the police should do that. But after Hugo realized how many newsstands and shops they’d have to go to all over Buenos Aires, and seeing how big the circulation of even that small magazine was, he realized they didn’t have the money or personnel to do that. But as it turns out, the Family apparently didn’t read that magazine, or they would surely have been warned of what was about to happen. I forget the name of that magazine, but if any Family members care to check back copies of small, independent magazines that came out about September or so, these details can be easily verified.
It was after that that Ricky told me Hugo had threatened you, that, “If you betray me in this, Argentina itself will not be big enough to hide me from you.” Apparently Hugo was suspicious that YOU might have been the one to make the leak, and didn’t trust you. But Ricky told me that you assured Hugo that it was not you that made the leak, and my understanding is that Hugo believed you.
Anyway, Eduardo, perhaps Hugo never meant to carry out such a threat, but simply said it because he was freaked out about the leak which threatened to blow the whole investigation. At the time Ricky mentioned that comment to me, my thought was, “Wow, the police sure play rough here in Argentina.” But perhaps Hugo said certain words to you personally, and later expressed himself slightly differently to Ricky when elling him about the incident? At any rate, Ricky DID tell me those words in the convent/guest house. I stand by that.
Eduardo, you say, “Hugo Gabutti has always been a very honest man who struggled to improve the children’s conditions and you must bear in mind that he only carried out the intelligence and all the previous investigative work. He wasn’t in charge of things at the moment when the raids on the Homes happened, as Judge Marquevich chose a different officer, police Inspector Rebollo, to take charge of those proceedings.”
As I said in my open letter, Hugo is indeed very friendly, likeable person, and I therefore hope that he personally had nothing to do with the raids OR the treatment that Family members suffered later in prison and institutions. So if I understand you correctly, Hugo was not the main “pusher” behind the raids, he was merely doing his job in the preliminary investigation? I would be glad if that was the case. However, because of the way he continued to gather information about the Family for years fterwards, I still think he had to have been ONE of the pushers, but I have no way of being certain of that.
But that still doesn’t answer my question: WHO was the person or group of persons who ordered the rough treatment of Family members in prison, releasing prisoners with them who wanted to kill them? Who denied the sonogram? Who ordered the probing tests to be done on Family children? Hugo specifically asked me if such tests should be done, and I answered “No,” so I assumed from that that he had some kind of say or authority in what happened later. But if I understand you orrectly, he didn’t. Rebollo was in charge of the whole operation. Giving Hugo the benefit of the doubt then, he maybe DID pass on my advice to Rebollo, but Rebollo ignored him? Can you confirm that?
You say: “What happened to Mene turned me totally against Mo because everything that she said about what they had done to her, was confirmed by the “The Last State” Letter (BY NOW IT HAS BEEN PURGED) and aunt Crystal letters for the education of youngsters, where they tried to justify such treatments, but never hid anything.”
I will agree with you on this point: the treatment of Mene (Merry Berg) was a terrible injustice. I was living at David Berg’s Hilltop Home in Antipolo when the whole incident with Merry happened. I never had any idea of sexual intrusions happening behind closed doors, so I can’t confirm those details, but I was there the night the entire camp was told that Merry was a “demonic case” and we were all ordered to go to the main house, get down on our knees and pray desperately as Berg dealt with Merry. Everyone prayed loud, very intense prayers to rebuke the Devil and for Merry to yield, and to my shame, I confess that I did as well. I had just arrived at the Hilltop and knew nothing of the circumstances, so assumed that the situation was as I had been told.
I didn’t see Merry being tied to that bed down in the Nipa hut, nor did I ever see her slapped, but I do know that Merry received a lot of exorcisms and rebukes. Even though I and most others didn’t actually see the rough stuff happening, we were aware that Merry was considered a “serious” case. I was assigned to sit with her one time in the Brick House going over a Letter on her reading list. I thank God that a few years later I was able to meet Merry when we were both out of the Family, and fill her in on some of the crazy things that were happening behind the scenes to help her understand the context that her mistreatment had happened in. I believe our conversation helped in her healing, and I was glad that I was able to share those things with her.
So yes, I will agree with you that the things that happened to Merry Berg were very wrong, and it is precisely those kind of things that have made so many ex-members upset at David Berg.
You also say: “Something I couldn’t actually confirm, and will never be able to, because the only one we could ask about it is now dead, is what Rick Dupuy said about Steven Colon. According to Rick, when they were staying at Tateyama, in Japan, Steven had left the Family and started to traffic drugs. He (Rick) also said that Steve Colon, with whom he had a established a friendship because they had previously worked together, helped the Family with the production of the Kiddie Viddies.”
I vaguely remember Rick telling me something about this, but I think my reaction was at the time that, well, the Family needed technical expertise and took it from wherever they could get it. After all, the Family’s chief king in Japan is Mr. Narita, who was a member of the Japanese Mafia and who still had contacts with them. In fact, he purchased the Dorm (the riokan which later became the Family’s Victor Camp) from a friend in the Mafia. So the Family has not been shy about having questionable friends. However, I don’t believe that the Family has at any time or in any way ever condoned the use of narcotics, not even marijuana, so I don’t think that more than was meant should be read into the Steven Colon incident or that GN quote.
You say, “You know that the Judges, the legal experts, the policemen and the lawyers became more and more astonished as they advanced in their investigations, which had started with the search for the Frouman children. It was the mother who first abducted them from their father because he wasn’t with the Family. But then she was kicked out when she got sick with cancer because she was no longer of any use to the Family, but they didn’t allow her to take her children, they didn’t even allow her to see her children before she died. The case started with her request and, after her death, her sister took her place in the struggle to recover the children and return them to their father who by then was living in the USA.”
Eduardo, this is a huge point, and now that you remind me, yes I do remember hearing one time about the Frouman children and the events that you described. I wasn’t aware, however, that that was the incident that sparked the case against the entire Argentine Family. Are you saying that the whole investigation and raids and imprisonments of Family members in Argentina, stemmed from the Frouman case?
Let me say very clearly that the Frouman case is heartbreaking, and parents being defrauded of their own children is very wrong. The fact that a dying mother was not allowed to see her own children is a terrible indictment against the leadership of the Family in Argentina, or whoever made that decision. Such things should never have happened. They are wrong and show only too clearly the abuses that can happen as a result of controlling policies. These are the things that make so many ex-members angry and even make sincere CMers question Family policy.
One thing you have never mentioned though, is how the Frouman case turned out. Did the father eventually get his children? Was the issue resolved? I would be very glad to hear more details, and I’m sure everyone on this board would as well. I would also be interested in hearing from Family members, whether WS or regular CMers, if there is now anything in place in the Charter which strictly forbids such abuses from ever taking place again. Is there?
But let me ALSO say, that the Frouman case could have and should have been resolved within the legal context it began in. If the Frouman case was the original issue that led to the raids, then I don’t understand why the authorities needed to arrest hundreds of Family members and keep them in prison for months, and keep more than one hundred Family children in Institutions separate from their parents for months—if ALL the authorities were looking for were the Frouman children. Do you see what I’m saying? If all the authorities were looking for were the Frouman children, they should have pursued that matter doggedly within a legal framework. But to raid and imprison and punish the innocent for the actions of a few leaders was not justified.
Eduardo, don’t you remember what happened in Rick Dupuy’s case? When he had a lawyer send a letter to the Family, insisting that they turn over his son, Romeo, to him, the Family complied and sent Romeo to Rick. The point is, things CAN be accomplished within the justice system, and the authorities in Argentina should have done that. I understand, as you say, that they were stunned to learn what Family leadership had done with the Frouman children, and I can understand the intensity of their feelings. Nevertheless, the Frouman case should have been handled without nationwide raids. This is why I believe someone or a group of people were pushing to “get” the Family, and the heartbreaking events of the Frouman case were their pretext to raid all Family Homes.
And let’s be honest here: the raids in Spain, Australia and France had just happened and Family leadership in Argentina knew there was a very real possibility of raids there too. That’s why they continuously went to the authorities in the months before the raids, saying, “Here we are. If there’s anything you want to ask us, ask it. Talk to us. But you don’t have to raid us.” That would have been the perfect opportunity for the authorities to say, “Okay, let’s talk about the Frouman children.” Do you think the Family would have complied and turned over the children to avoid the raids? Remember, they had just been through the French raids. I believe they would have. But what DID the authorities do when Family representatives continued coming to them, asking to dialogue and avoid any raids? Did they talk? No. The plans for nationwide raids continued in secret.
You also say, “As I live in Argentina, I can see the facts from a completely different point of view. Though in the past the military government was guilty of tortures and the abduction and disappearance of people in the process of an internal war between guerrilla fighters and the army, and 30,000 people just vanished, the case against the Family took place 10 years after the military dictatorship, with a democratic government in office and all the guarantees of democracy.”
Yes, you live in Argentina, Eduardo, and are closer to the facts than me. But it may also make you too close to the trees to see the forest. This is the first time that I have ever heard of the “Disappeared ones” as “guerilla fighters.” Some of them undoubtedly were, but so many of the 30,000 victims who were imprisoned and tortured and shot and buried by the thousands in unmarked graves all over Argentina were innocent civilians with nothing more than left-leaning views, or with mere anti-military junta opinions. Eduardo, would you walk up to the 30,000 Argentine mothers, still dressed in black, still grieving, and tell them that the “Dirty War” they lost their children and husbands and daughters in was a battle between guerilla fighters and the army? I don’t think so.
I think also many people would disagree with your statement that the passage of ten years would have rid the police force and military of all fascist elements. Yes, there was democracy in Argentina ten years later, but complete transition to democratic processes takes time, and many of the same officers and military personnel who were involved in the “Dirty War” ten years previously, were still entrenched in positions of power in 1993. Their views hadn’t changed, and even if they could no longer get away with the same methods they had used in the past, I believe they would have been willing to bend or break the law as much as they could get away with.
You say, “I’m sure the Family leadership knew that something was about to happen because all foreigners whose documents were not in order, were rapidly moved out of the country; all irregular couples whose marriage papers were out of order, were forced to get properly and legally married, and at the time of the raids, everything was in proper order.”
I have also read a Family publication where they said openly that they knew raids were very possible, so it’s logical to assume they would have made an effort to tie up loose ends beforehand. But you’re assuming a lot to say that “all foreigners” and “all irregular couples” were forced to get their papers in order. Do you know that for sure? Yes, the Family knew that raids were a very real possibility, but were hoping they wouldn’t actually happen. You now say something that I had never heard:
“They also had won over an intelligence agent, ‘the black octopus’, who had been FFed, and who informed them about all the moves that were happening.”
Are you sure of this, Eduardo? If there was a “Black Octopus,” he certainly didn’t do a very good job, as the raids caught the Family totally by surprise.
You say, “You Ed, show your compassion for Kay Roberts (Charity), the mother of six who pretended to be worried about the fate of her six children. Well, you should know that this woman, together with her husband, Tito, were the shepherds in charge of the Campana del Señor (Province of Buenos Aires) correctional camp for minors. It was a similar jail to that of Macao, where Mene was interned.”
I had no idea of this, Eduardo. If this is the case, then Kay Robb and her husband Tito have some serious issues that they need to make right with the children and teens and adults who went through their “correctional camp.” However, my apology to Kay still stands. As I said in my original Open Letter, “The abuse that Family leadership heaped on their own children and teens did not justify incarcerating Family children (who were innocent) for months, traumatizing them by separating them from their parents.” I also said, “I do not feel that I can hide behind this ‘greater abuse’ perpetuated by leadership upon Family members, since I, as an ex-member, have personally caused pain to innocent Family members.”
There is no question that those Family leaders who were in charge of Victor camps have a great deal of apologizing to do, and it is something they should do. You might be surprised to learn that some of them HAVE apologized, not even to Family members but to ex-members. For example, Mark, who was co-leader of the Jumbo in the Philippines and was infamous for treating teens harshly and unlovingly during the Victor program there, later met an ex-member he had mistreated and apologized to her. I am not at liberty to name names, except to say that she said his apology meant a lot to her and helped in her personal healing.
By this I’m not vouching that Mark has totally changed. But I do know that he apologized and that his apology was accepted. So if Kay and Tito have hurt Family members they should apologize, and they have the example of another former Victor Camp shepherd to follow. And you have to remember, Mark was such a tyrant in the Philippines and other places that several teen boys who had been terrorized by him, who later left the Family, swore that if they ever met Mark, that they would kill him. This is how much Mark was hated, and probably still is by some.
But I know of other cases, and again I can’t mention names, of a certain Family leader whose sons were so angry at him that, after leaving the Family, they swore they would kill him if they ever met him again. Yet that father later left the Family and determined to make reconciliation with his children THE highest priority in his life. He humbled himself and apologized, and I’m sure the tears flowed freely, and today that man and his children are reconciled. You can’t tell me that it can’t be done, or that it’s not worth it.
When I apologized to Family members in Argentina, and later read posts on the board of a young girl who wept uncontrollably as she read my apology, and read a letter from a father who said that things were “very emotional” in his home, I was deeply moved. One girl asked, “Why did Ed wait so long to apologize?” I knew in the months leading up to it that I needed to apologize, but I never realized how much pain was buried and waiting to be released in young people’s lives. I don’t know if everyone who suffered in Argentina has forgiven me, but I can say that any humiliation I suffered in making my apology was nothing in comparison to the healing and release it gave in the lives of those who desperately needed to hear me say, “I was wrong. I hurt you and I’m very sorry.”
I see clearly now that apology and forgiveness and reconciliation are not simply “nice” things to do to, but they are urgent needs. I believe that Family leaders ignore the pain in Family teens and SGAs at their own peril. Emotionally-wounded people struggle through life trying to serve God or just trying to cope, as a result. That’s why Jesus emphasized forgiveness and reconciliation so strongly. I think Family leaders who have mistreated teens are sometimes afraid that if they apologize, that that apology will be used as a foot in the door for lawsuits, etc. For sure, wisdom needs to be used, but it needs to happen. If the Family dealt with this issue squarely now it might entirely defuse that Class Action Suit. I believe the Lord is watching and waiting.
Most of the adults and teens who were hurt don’t want the money from a long, dragged-out lawsuit, they don’t want to commit themselves to a long legal battle, and to fight on, hardened in anger and determination to “make someone pay.” What most wounded people want is for the person or persons who hurt them to sincerely say, “I am sorry.” They want their own wholeness more than cash, and that wholeness often can’t happen until the abuser looks them in the eyes and say, “I hurt you, and I’m very sorry.” I know, because I’ve had to apologize, and I still owe apologies to individuals I’ve hurt. I still owe apologies to my own children still in the Family who grew up without me. I look forward to the day when they will contact me.
Please allow me to state clearly that I definitely do NOT believe in the “collective punishment” of raids and imprisonment for all Family members, everyone—the innocent along with the guilty—suffering for the sins of some. I’m not pretending to speak for all ex-members, because they may have horror stories to tell that would shock all of us, but I believe that whenever possible, “restorative justice” is preferable to punishment. This is where the person who hurt another tries to make things right.
Eduardo, you say: “I would like you to tell me how many of her [Kate’s] children actually lived with her because you very well know that while in the Family, nobody is allowed to keep all their children with her/him; on the contrary, they are forced to split and are spread through the whole world so as to avoid the risk of losing them all, should they all leave the group together."
I obviously have no idea how many of Kay’s children lived with her before the raids, or how many lived with her after the raids. I would like to hope that the months of separation would have made them bond more closely together afterwards, and that family relations were stronger, but I have no way of knowing. So that’s a good question and I don’t know the answer. I just wonder, however, how you can assume that Kay only “pretended to be worried,” about her children. You assume that she did not have maternal feelings of love for her own children. Do you KNOW this, Eduardo? Who told you? Or are you only guessing?
I also have to disagree with your sweeping statements that “nobody is allowed to keep all their children.” This is simply not true, as many Family members can testify and as many ex-members can verify. Yes, separation of families happened, and it was unjust and should never have happened, and those who went through such painful separations should speak up and let their voices be heard. So there is truth to what you say, but you should also know that many families have stayed together. Be careful with your words. When you start throwing around generalities like “nobody” and “everybody,” you lose credibility.
You say, “As you have also been in Buenos Aires, I’m sure that you remember that the children at Pilar were allowed to roam in the gardens for only 45 minutes in a day, in limited groups and under strict surveillance.”
I don’t remember ever hearing these details, Eduardo. I do know that children in the Family were under strict discipline and control, especially before the Charter, but I have also heard that those children went out witnessing frequently, and spoke Spanish well. How could they do that if they were as isolated as you say?
I also believe conditions have changed quite a bit since then, with parents now being in charge of their own children and responsible for disciplining and raising them. You mentioned in an earlier paragraph that you were interested in “bettering” the living conditions of those who chose to remain in the Family, so let’s hope that these conditions have now improved from what they were back then. From what I hear, since the Charter, parents DO have most or all of their children with them, and are responsible for their childcare and training.
You say, “My mother works as a regent at some of the correctional institutes in Mendoza. From what she tells me, I know that the Garrigos Institute, where the Family kids were interned, is a model of order, cleanliness, good food and excellent care for the minors interned therein.”
I don’t know the conditions that existed there, and I wish teens who were held there would post on this board and give us some insight. My main issue is that although the Institute was clean, it WAS a clinical institution. The children were held there for months, kept separate from their parents, and suffered trauma as a result. How can you say the children were better off there than with their parents?
You say, “The children that were kept there could say, if they had the opportunity to speak the truth, that they have never been ill treated by the Institute personnel. On the contrary, I’m sure that while they were interned there, their life conditions were much better than in that dictatorial jail that the Family had always been, where the kids are always abused and where not even the babies are spared as you very well know: Maria recommends that they should be punished as young as the age of only six months old; remember also silence restrictions, and being isolated under the Victors Program.”
Eduardo, the Victor’s Program is an entirely different issue. I disagree very strongly with the Victor’s Program, and I’m sure the many teens and adults (in and out of the Family) who have suffered under the Victor’s program would agree. It was an experiment that has mercifully and thankfully come to an end, and not a minute too soon. The abuses that were perpetrated in the Victor Camps show to just what lengths Family leaders were willing to go to enforce conformity and to hold on to members.
I was there at the HCS (Heavenly City School) at the time that the Victor’s Program began, and at first it did seem like a mere time-in-the-Word, retraining program. But it quickly developed into something far more controlling and harmful. The Victor’s program developed into an correctional system that dissidents were sent to. Although in the very beginning, the Victor’s Program was not super abusive, as it advanced it not only took in “murmurers” and “problem cases,” but brothers and sisters who disagreed on matters of conscience, as well people who simply wanted to leave the Family and go home to visit relatives, or people, like the brother who just posted on the General board, who was ordered to separate from his wife, but went through trials about it, so as punishment he was sent to a Victors Camp. How can anyone deny that these things were wrong?
The Family rightfully denounces the abusive, strong-arm methods of incarceration and deprivation of liberty that Ted Patrick and other Deprogrammers are guilty of, yet David Berg himself coined the term “reprogramming” (ML 1740:9) when talking about putting a Family member through a reindoctrination process. And Reprogramming was exactly what happened in the Victor Camps. I will never get the picture out of my mind of a frail young 14-year old girl, Merry Berg, listening to tapes on headphones while breaking up concrete in the Macau detention center. I’ll always have that picture in my mind of a young teen boy, Benjamin Farnsworth, locked in a small attic for days at a time, in “isolation” because he was a “problem case.”—Yet Ben’s main problems were that he missed his father and that he was an intelligent teen who asked questions. I can’t get the picture out of my mind of Ricky Dupuy undergoing one exorcism after another, digging ditches in the rain, all because he had asked to go home and visit his parents. Or of Comic being forced to clean out sewage tanks in the cold, all because he loved his wife and didn’t want to separate from her.
I have very strong emotions about Detention Centers like Macau and the Victor Camps, but I can NOT go so far as to agree with your statement, Eduardo, “that dictatorial jail that the Family had ALWAYS been, where the kids are ALWAYS abused.” If that was indeed the truth, then yes, you would be justified in raiding all Family Homes and taking all children into custody for their own good. But obviously, the Victor’s Program is no longer in effect. Even Family leadership realized that such tactics were causing more problems than the “good” they hoped to get out of them, and put a stop to them. So it cannot be said that the Family ALWAYS abuses their children, or that the Family is ALWAYS a dictatorial jail, particularly now under the Charter when there is more freedom and individual choice. It appears that you are only focusing on certain facts and ignoring the rest of the picture.
In too many cases, yes, the Family has been a punishing place to live, but if you follow your line of logic that the Family is ALWAYS an abusive, dictatorial jail, then it leads to the conclusion that ANY means that can be used to arrest and detain Family members and children is allowable to “fight the greater evil”. And I cannot agree with that. That is why I believe what happened in Argentina was wrong. What do you think about the events in Argentina, Eduardo? Do you believe that the “good” (whatever that was) that came out of Argentina was worth it considering the pain and deprivation of rights it caused to the innocent Family children and teens, nursing mothers and babies? Would you do it all over again today? I wouldn’t.
You said, “I can tell all of you that for years I had to struggle with the consequences of the psychological ill treatment that I suffered while in the Family, but thanks to God, I am now totally recovered.”
I’m happy to hear you giving thanks to God for your recovery. When I was in Argentina and asked you if you believed in God, you said, “No.” So I am very encouraged to see your faith returning, if this is what you meant. Has part of your recovery also included you being able to have faith in God again? I know a lot of SGAs, when they leave the Family, lose faith in God because they equate God with all the things they suffered in the Family, and their conclusions are understandable, but I’m glad to see that you are now able to separate the true, loving God from the things you suffered. God was never in those things and never wanted them to happen.
You say, “I am totally convinced that if the cases of Argentina and the United Kingdom had not happened, they would never have issued their Declaration of Rights and Obligations (WHERE THE CHILDREN’’S RIGHTS ARE NOT ACKNOWLEDGED) neither would they have accepted Mo’s guilt, but at the same time and according to the same James, these appalling conditions have not changed.”
First of all, James did not say that “these appalling conditions have not changed.” He said that the child abuse has stopped, and many other abuses have stopped. So things have changed. Yes, he did point out that certain harmful policies were still in place, but I think you need to be very careful about such sweeping statements without quoting specific sources.
Also, my understanding is that the Charter was brought about as a result of the civilized English court case, and had nothing to do with Argentina. I also heard that the Family’s willingness to lay blame at the feet of David Berg for the sexual abuses of minors also stemmed from the British court case. This is the first time that I have heard anyone say that the imprisonments in Argentina had anything to do with those changes. Good came out of the crucible of the British court case, yes, but I haven’t yet heard of any good coming out of the raids and imprisonment in Argentina.
You say, “I am terribly sorry for those that suffered and if one pregnant sister had a miscarriage because a sonogram that was prescribed by a doctor was never carried out, she could sue the Nation for damages. I know this wouldn’t return her baby to life, but justice will have been done. From my web site I can offer her the opportunity to present her own account of what happened to her and what the children have lived through because of those traumatic exams.”
Eduardo, I believe that you are sincere in your concern and compassion. Ava Martin might hesitate to share on your board, however. Also, I’ve asked Family members who were in Argentina to please share their stories on Barney’s board, but till now, no one has done that. So I think there is a real hesitation on their part, perhaps a feeling that their stories would only be ridiculed. But I don’t think that would be the case, and it would help others to see that the things they suffered should not have happened.
You said, “I must also put it very clearly that, though Police Inspector Hugo Gabutti did all the previous intelligence work, he was never in charge of the raids because a new Judge took charge of the case and other Police Officer, Inspector Juan Carlos Rebollo, was appointed to do the job.”
I’m happy to hear that. I still think Hugo is responsible for a certain amount, but if you assure me that he had nothing to do with the treatment that Family children, teens and adults suffered after the raids happened, that he did not even ADVISE Rebollo to treat them harshly, I would be happy to believe that Hugo is not responsible. I still need a lot of convincing, and as you know, I have asked Hugo a lot of questions in my original Open letter, which I would still like answers to.
If I understand your correctly, you’re saying that whatever abuse and maltreatment Family members suffered is as a result of the policies enforced by Inspector Rebollo? Can you tell me more about him? Or are there others involved as well? Obviously, someone is at fault. I heard recently on the Board that the Family has launched a lawsuit against the Argentine Police Department, so it appears that the Family themselves might know who are the responsible parties. Can Family members share any details?
You said, “Nevertheless, the Family was able to gather the signatures of fifty lawyers from Human Rights Organizations who filed a request for a political suit against Judge Marquevich for his impeachment with the allegation that his proceedings during the case had been irregular. But they didn’t succeed. I know very well that there were no irregularities, on the contrary, with the Argentine court case the Family received their first big blow with enormous consequences for their operations and was the first step of a deep crisis, of which they still haven’t extracted themselves.”
No irregularities? I find that difficult to believe. I sent an e-mail to James Penn asking him about this point (as he spent two months daily handling the situation and trying to get Family members out of prison), and he assured me that the authorities had committed LOTS of irregularities. And I think if anyone knows what irregularities happened, it would be Family members who have since carefully combed over every minute aspect of the case, and who are involved in the lawsuit right now. I look forward to hearing both sides of this from you, Eduardo, and Family members who know about the whole case.
I can’t agree with your statement that “with the Argentine court case the Family received their first big blow with enormous consequences.” Surely you of all people know that the Argentine case was a great victory for the Family and that they have gotten over the setback there a long time ago. Hugo himself once told me that the Family was stronger than ever in Argentina. And they are now suing the police. It seems to me like the police, not the Family, are the ones in a “deep crisis.” Again I repeat, it was the British court case, not Argentina, that has had enormous consequences for the Family, as that happened in a civilized country where the rule of law prevailed. That was the case that had the most far-reaching effects on the Family.
In closing, you say, “Please visit http://www.oocities.org/RainForest/Andes/3129/ You have my promise that this site publish both your version of the facts as well as our reply. I would be thankful to you if you do the same, both in English and Spanish.”
Eduardo, thanks for taking the time to write me and dispute some of the points that I raised in my letter. In so doing you have answered a few of my questions, though not some of the more important ones I raised in that letter. Would you mind to please re-read my Open letter and look at some of the other questions I raised, and see if you can answer them? Or could you please encourage Hugo or Jose’ to write something and post it?
You have answered a few questions, but have also raised new questions in my mind. I look forward to continuing this discussion with you. There will be ex-members and Family members who will have strong opinions about things you said in your letter, but I at least hope that despite some heat and rhetoric, some meaningful dialogue can take place.
I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to browse your website, though I do promise to take a quick look at it. I’m very busy with work and just reading the General and Family board on Barney’s site takes up lots of my time. Writing posts takes time too. But I do promise to look there.
Love, in Jesus,
Asunto: Re: Respuesta a Ed Priebe
Fecha: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 07:18:51 -0300
de Eduardo Lause
A: Only TheTruth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Te voy a contestar más detenidamente, pero estoy de acuerdo con Marina en que me parece que repentinamente estas tratando de quedar bien con la Familia y te olvidas de muchas cosas. Es bueno pedir perdón pero ¿a los Nazis que mataron tanta gente, les cabe el perdón? ¿y a muchos de estos
dictadores?¿también?. Espero no estar metido en una lucha por conflictos de poderes. Y que todos seamos honestos, entre el movil y las razones alegadas Hasta que lea tu carta con más detenimiento.
Felices Fiestas. Eduardo Lause
From: Ed (Hart)
Date: 19 Dec 2000
Hugo Gabutti posted a reply to my Open Letter on the General board, and I mean to reply to him, but have been advised by two ex-members not to get into it. Here's my answer to Jay:
Jay, thank you and Beware for your posts, and points well taken. I do intend to answer Hugo Gabutti's letter, since it is only the decent thing to do, but his letter is different from Eduardo Lauses'. Hugo's letter is detailed and speaks of techical legal issues I don't know about, so actually I won't be able to answer some of the technical issues he raised because I'm not that close to the situation. You know who should REALLY be answering Hugo's letter and who knows enough facts to do so? Family members. I wish they would. Anyway, thanks for your comments!
What do you think? Any Family members involved with the situation in Argentina care to read Hugo's letter on the General board and respond to the points he raised. I simply don't know enough about some technical legal issues to do so. I can speak about what I know about, and ask questions about the rest, but you guys handling those issues know more. So consider posting, please.