Complete Judgment of Lord Justice Ward

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Editor's note: See Judgment of Lord Justice Ward for additional information and press coverage. After receiving a copy of the original 295-page Judgment, xFamily.org editors have determined that the Judgment text below was edited to remove the full legal names of certain individuals (including Jeremy Spencer, Paul Peloquin, Michael Gilligan and Dawn Gilligan) whom Lord Justice Ward identified by full name in the Judgment itself. It also appears that other minor changes were made resulting in some text and formatting that does not match the original. The xFamily.org editors did not make these changes and only became aware of them in early October 2007. As time permits and to the extent possible, xFamily.org editors intend to correct this and restore the text below so that it matches the orginal.

Editor's note: Some names have been partially redacted to protect individual privacy or for other reasons at the discretion of the editors of xFamily.org.

Note: The text transcribed in this document has been obtained by scanning the original document or a copy and using optical character recognition software to convert it into digital text. It was then manually reviewed and corrected for accuracy. This process may have resulted in the introduction of errors not found in the image of the original or in the correction of errors in the original. Original formatting and spelling, including typographical errors, have been preserved to the extent possible. In case of any question or doubt about the accuracy of this transcription, please consult the scan of the original document linked to below.


THIS IS THE JUDGMENT OF LORD JUSTICE WARD IN THIS CASE WHICH HE GAVE IN CHAMBERS ON THE 26TH MAY 1995 BUT WHICH IS BEING HANDED DOWN IN OPEN COURT TODAY. IT CONSISTS OF 295 PAGES AND HAS BEEN SIGNED AND DATED BY THE JUDGE.

THE JUDGE HEREBY DIRECTS THAT NO TRANSCRIPT OF THE JUDGMENT NEED BE TAKEN AND THAT THE VERSION HANDED DOWN MAY BE TREATED AS AUTHENTIC.

THE JUDGMENT IS BEING DISTRIBUTED ON THE STRICT UNDERSTANDING THAT IN ANY REPORT OF IT NO PERSON (OTHER THAT COUNSEL AND THEIR INSTRUCTING SOLICITORS AND THOSE PERSONS IDENTIFIED BY NAME IN THE JUDGMENT ITSELF) MAY BE IDENTIFIED BY NAME AND THAT IN PARTICULAR THE ANONYMITY OF THE CHILD, A WARD OF COURT, AND THE MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY MUST BE STRICTLY PRESERVED.

SIGNED:

Ward-sig.gif

THE RT. HON. LORD JUSTICE WARD DATED 19TH OCTOBER 1995

W 42 1992 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

FAMILY DIVISION

PRINCIPAL REGISTRY IN THE MATTER OF ST (A MINOR)

AND IN THE MATTER OF THE SUPREME COURT ACT 1991h

Lord Justice Ward


Contents

[edit] PREFACE

For reasons set out in my judgment, I have permitted the publication of this judgment in order that the media, who are aware of these proceedings, may legitimately publish matters which seem to me undoubtedly to be matters of public interest. There is, however, no legitimate public interest in the identity of the parties to these proceedings and I have accordingly granted an injunction to which reference must be made for its full terms and effect but the general tenure of which is to restrain any publication which will identify or which is calculated to lead to the identification of the child who is and will remain a ward of court or of the parties to these proceedings or of the address in Leicestershire as being the home where the child is living. In the course of the hearing I received much evidence of and affecting other children whose identity is confidential to these proceedings and must likewise not be disclosed except under the initials given to them in the judgment. I also received evidence from a number of adults some of whom have already publicly disclosed some details of the life within The family. Others have maintained their silence. As I explained to all witnesses, the evidence they gave me was confidential to the proceedings and I would respect that confidentiality. Accordingly those witnesses are also named by initial only and the identity of those witnesses is likewise protected from public disclosure unless and until that witness freely and not under pressure expressly waives that privilege. If, therefore, the media consider that there is any more to tell then I am about to unfold in a lengthy judgment, then I hope they will conduct there further enquiries discretely and responsibly and above all mindful of my injunctions which they must please respect.

The parties will find at the back of this judgment a list which may be unfolded which will identify for them the names of those who appear in the judgment under initials only. For the preparation of this schedule and for so much other work, I pay tribute to and give thanks for the industry of Mr Marcus Scott - Manderson.

[edit] JUDGMENT

I began to write this judgment on the first day of the new legal year after the service for the Judges at Westminster Abbey and with the words of the lesson read by the Lord Chancellor ringing in my ears. From Romans xiii: 10 "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." The Dean's prayer for the Judiciary was that they "may be granted the Spirit of Discernment and the Spirit of Love that they may boldly, discreetly and mercifully fulfil their sacred duties, to the good of Thy people and the glory of Thy name." It all seemed so apposite, for this case is - or at least it professes to be - all about love. Love is, of course, an old, old story. "Amor omnia vincit et nos cedemas amori" - love conquers all, let us surrender ourselves to love - wrote Virgil; "Love is all you need," sang the Beatles. If the theme was timeless, so seemed this case, especially in my many moments of exasperation during the hearing and in the months it has taken to complete this judgment. It has needed the noble subject of love to expiate the ignoble distinction of being the longest wardship ever tried and I hang my head in shame to publish the fact that this hearing lasted 75 days and that is has taken me nigh on a year to produce this judgment.

These long months have been spent trying the issues joined between the Plaintiff Mrs T., a grandmother, and the Defendant NT, her daughter, each so strongly imbued with that instinctive love for her offspring, and in grandmother's case also her offspring's offspring, that each has never flinched or contemplated surrender in this titanic struggle to secure the care and control of the much loved child in question, the Defendant's son, S. At no time has there been any issue about this young mother's ability properly to love her child and to attend to all his physical needs and the only harm from which grandmother seeks to protect him is the harm she alleges he will suffer from remaining with his mother as faithful members of what is popularly but inaccurately known as a cult, the Children of God, now known as The Family of Love or simply as The Family. This new religious movement, which is a preferable expression to "cult," was founded and led by David "Moses" Berg. They live by the Law of Love, the central principle of which is:

"Now all things are lawful to us in love, Praise God! As long as it's done in love, it keeps God's only law of love." (The writings are invariably given some emphasis which I intend not to repeat throughout this judgment save exceptionally.)

This is another notion of love which I have had to investigate. Much time has been devoted to identifying the extent to which, if at all, sexual excesses have flowed from the freedoms conferred by the Law of Love, and the extent to which inappropriate methods of discipline and control have been imposed upon the members of the group, particularly the children, all in the name of Love on the basis commonly, if not accurately, attributed to Saint Augustine," Ama et fac quod vis" - "Love and do what you will." The Defendant's and the group's love for their leader, "Father David" is so resolute that the Plaintiff invites me to consider whether, as Portia mused, "Love is blind and lovers cannot see the pretty follies that themselves commit".

The mother claims the inalienable right to love her God as she chooses, which is a love she submits brooks no interference from a Court of Law because she is entitled to the fundamental freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

I feel somewhat caught in the spider's web of which the Canadian Chief Justice Lamer wrote in his Alexander Thane Lecture in Law when dealing with the difficulty Judges face in deciding issues of social policy:

"I sometimes think of these sorts of cases as being somewhat like a spider's web. If you pull on one strand of the web, the entire structure moves, but not necessarily all in the same direction. The implications are widespread and, at times, hard to foresee."

Let me now identify some of the main strands of this spider's web.

The child concerned, S, was made a Ward of Court 8 days after his birth on 10th February 1992 when his maternal grandmother issued an Originating Summons in Wardship, the Defendant to which, as I have indicated, was her daughter, NT. It was my unhappy lot to be the Applications' Judge when grandmother applied for Orders directed to the Tipstaff to seek and find S. I soon invited the Official Solicitor to act as his guardian at litem and I am most grateful to him for invaluable assistance. The Plaintiff's has voiced her anxieties about the practices of the Children of God because the group has, over the years and on several continents, excited the attention of the police, the Courts and, inevitably, the media. Even as this case has been progressing, there have been newspaper articles and television programmes about them. The media know about and express interest in the outcome of these proceedings. Because S is a Ward of Court, I would be entitled to give this Judgment in camera in order to preserve the confidentiality not only of my Ward and the parties but also the many witnesses who have given evidence and who were reminded and perhaps consoled by me that it would be a Contempt of Court to publish information relating to these proceedings. That is not to say that they are prohibited from telling their life's story but they are restrained from relating it with reference to these proceedings. In deciding whether to exercise the power I undoubtedly have to give judgment, or a resume of my judgment, in open Court with liberty, therefore, to publish it, I have regard to the following matters:-

  1. The high level of rumour and speculation about the activities of the Children of God.
  2. The proceedings that have been heard in and are still pending in other jurisdictions.
  3. Matters of public importance touching on religious freedom and education.
  4. The time and expense incurred in this hearing, some of it - but happily not all of it - a drain on the public purse.
  5. The implications of this Judgment for the other parents and children within The Family in the United Kingdom and for the local authorities and education authorities in whose area they live - even though these findings are of course not binding on any of them.

In the light of those considerations, I conclude that the public interest is best served by this Judgment being delivered in Open Court, subject, however, and the media must please take note, to restrictions I have placed by way of injunction of general application to restrain any publicity which identifies my Ward or the parties to this dispute or even the identity of children and of the witnesses who gave evidence - all of whom are referred by initials - unless they expressly waive the privilege of anonymity. Furthermore, I am satisfied that the effect of the media descending upon the home in which the child lives - " doorstepping" is, I believe, the colloquialism for this journalistic technique - will be grievously upsetting to the members of the community in which my Ward lives, and will accordingly upset and cause harm to my Ward. The group see that as "persecution" and I agree that "doorstepping" would be exactly that. I very much hope the media will not find it necessary to intrude. The leaders of the community have expressed their willingness to make arrangements for a news conference and I welcome that but I repeat that the anonymity of the parties, the child and the witnesses must be respected. There is surely enough of a story in, and the public interest must be sufficiently satisfied by reporting the facts I am about to set out.

[edit] THE PARTIES

I ask the media please to respect the privacy of the parties who in wardship proceedings ordinarily would not suffer delicate details of domestic differences being disclosed to the general public and I invite, and having invited, I expect the media to be discreet in their reporting of this part of the Judgment.

The Plaintiff is a lady some 58 years of age. She married in 1966 and two children were born of the marriage, NT who is not far short of her 28th birthday and CT who will soon be 26. Both sides of the family seemed comfortably placed and they lived an easy life in Kenya. When NT was about 10 she was sent to boarding school in England, as was CT in due time. It was a conventional step to take, one which I am sure was genuinely believed by both parents to be in the childrens' interest, but the separation of these young children from their parents and the deep unhappiness it caused them, has an ironic edge to it considered against certain Family practices I have heard so much about. This marriage was not a happy one. The Plaintiff and her husband separated in 1981 and were divorced in 1982. It was an acrimonious, bitter divorce which took its toll upon the Plaintiff and no doubt on all the other members of the family and they all still seem to suffer.

In 1983 the Plaintiff's stepfather died. He was a wealthy man who set up a series of Trust Funds from which the Plaintiff and her children, among others, have benefited. Each of them has a substantial private income which has taken them way outside the Legal Aid limit. For a long time both mother and daughter were represented by solicitors with Leading Counsel and Junior Counsel. By October last the Plaintiff had already been forced to dispense with Leading Counsel and the Defendant's Leader availed of the opportunity to make legal submissions to me in the course of that long directions appointment and I gave a separate Judgment, which may now be reported, when I refused to discharge the Wardship. When this hearing began in January 1994, the Plaintiff had to appear in person. I gave leave that she might be assisted by Miss Jenny Kent, who conveniently had knowledge of the case having worked on it as the pupil of Counsel who had been acting for the Plaintiff. Miss Kent who has had perforce to serve much of her pupilage having effective conduct of this case, not with right of audience but only as the "McKenzie friend." The first time she rose to her feet as a fully fledged barrister was to make the closing submissions on the Plaintiff's behalf. What an ordeal. But how well she did it! She won my unreserved admiration for a most polished maiden speech.

It had seemed that the Defendant would also run out of money and appear in person. Mr Richard Barton, not greatly senior to Miss Kent, had some earlier knowledge of the case as the Chambers' Devil, and appeared on the first day of the hearing applying unsuccessfully on behalf of other members of the community to be joined as parties. He was, however, retained by the mother. He was immediately thrown in the deep end, given precious little time to prepare but he has kept his head above the water - and at times below the parapet - in a way which has also won my admiration. Tributes to Counsel would not be complete without my acknowledging the great help I have received from Miss Pamela Scriven QC and Mr Marcus Scott-Manderson ably and fully instructed by the Official Solicitor. Mr Roderick Wood QC breezed in grandly at the end to make an erudite contribution on the law as amicus curiae, having the assistance of notes mainly made by Miss Rachel Platt, at least until she went off to get married!

I have interrupted the story. NT had an unhappy and a troubled time at school and did herself little credit until her third year. She then settled and showed her mettle. It was difficult for her because she was witness to the parental arguments during her school holidays, conscious of her father's infidelity and deeply upset by these troubles at home. At 16 she was caught smoking and was expelled. Grandmother, naturally protective of her daughter, was more angry with the headmistress than with NT.

CT was no more happy. His misfortune was to witness a master at his preparatory school indecently assaulting a friend. He knows, and his sister knows, what a searing and abusive experience that was not only for the victim but for the observer. That knowledge should have induced some sympathy for some of the witnesses called by the Plaintiff but the connection did not seem to be made despite my prompting. The Plaintiff's response on learning of this indecency was wholly predictable: she removed CT at once. Again the parallel with this case is not acknowledged by either of her children. In due time he went on to public school and then to art school. He, too, was unsettled by his life's experiences and was without purpose or direction.

His father had not set him a good example. He is a man of great charm but his lifestyle has defied the convention of his class, upbringing, and military service. He remained in Kenya after the divorce living in a "camp" with a girlfriend. I have the impression of a fairly lax, free and easy mode of life but the detail does not matter at all. He is too much of a roué to be a good really father, but as he gave evidence, I warmed to him more than I had thought likely. It is not at all surprising to hear NT declare that she was much closer to her father than to her mother, nor is it a surprise to me that CT felt more comfortable with his mother than with his father. It is sufficient for this judgment to express the finding that each of these parents, so utterly different in temperament and outlook, established enduring attachments with each of the children. In particular I find that no matter how frequently over the years mother and daughter clashed and opposed each other in the manner of like poles in the magnetic field, they have loved each other with a strength which has survived despite NT's protestations of a present deep antipathy and hostility which she has even described as hatred for her mother because of the action taken by her mother in these proceedings.

1986 was another unhappy year for the family. The strain of the matrimonial difficulties, the struggle to keep the house for the family and to preserve some security for them took its toll upon the Plaintiff who suffered a deep depression and made a serious attempt upon her life. NT having obtained her qualification in business studies, found her employment as a temporary typist singularly unfulfilling and she returned to Kenya where things were no better. "Everyone", she said, "seemed to live rather shallow lives dominated by sex and drugs." The Plaintiff may rue the day she suggested to NT that they attend a meditation course. Father and his girlfriend joined in. It did not appeal to the Plaintiff but it had a very great attraction for her former husband who became an acolyte of a Gurumayi to whose Ashram he retreated for instruction. His 21st birthday present to NT was a holiday in India to join him near Bombay. She went. She stayed, but it did not seem to be exactly her cup of tea. Nepal beckoned. Her modest resorting to drugs gave her respite from the emptiness of her existence. It was an emptiness just waiting to be filled. Little imagination is needed to complete the rest of the story. Members of the Children of God were laudably engaged in their ministry to spread the gospel of Christ along the hippy trail to Kathmandu. They invited NT to pray that the Holy Spirit might come into her life. Deeply sceptical if not also forthrightly hostile to the idea that Christianity offered any salvation, she nonetheless joined in prayer. The prayer was answered. She was reborn. She forsook all and joined the group.

This laconic account is not intended to conceal how momentous an event this was - and is - in the life of this young lady, nor do I wish to denigrate the similar occasion for other members of the group or for so many others of different persuasions who have experienced the cataclysmic joy of becoming what is sometimes disparagingly called "reborn Christians". The change in their life is the obvious evidence of their conversion but the light in their eye is more compelling testimony of the power that drives them onwards. For those, like this Plaintiff, who do not follow suit, the change is often totally perplexing and incomprehensible.

Meanwhile CT had returned to Kenya and sought his solace in heroin. In the summer of 1988 he travelled to India to visit NT whom he found to be a much changed and improved person. At the instigation of The Family, he, too, accepted Jesus into his heart.

The Plaintiff and her children corresponded on affectionate terms, NT showing more affection than had been her wont. She returned to London early in 1989. She and her mother met with some regularity. Some time in about 1990 NT took her mother to a house in North London and the Plaintiff had the distinct feeling that the house was on show to outsiders. NT did not disclose that she lived elsewhere. In July 1991 NT accompanied by a member of the group visited her mother and told her she was pregnant. Again she was not frank as to where she was living. Shortly afterwards the Plaintiff learnt that the group whom NT had described as being "Heaven's Magic", was in fact the Children of God. What she learnt about them from disaffected former members filled her with absolute horror.

At a meeting at her home arranged in August 1992, the Plaintiff introduced NT to former members with close links to so called anti-cult organisations. The daughter of one of them, NT, a young teenager 15 years of age, spoke of her unhappy experiences and later repeated them to me in evidence. NT was unimpressed. The relationship between mother and daughter was fractured and so far there has been little time of healing.

CT had travelled with The Family to Thailand and cancelled his mother's proposed visit to him for fear that she, with the assistance of the anti-cult organisations, would kidnap him and 'de-programme' him against the contamination of his 'brain-washing' by David `Moses' Berg and his followers. These events have assumed enormous significance in the minds of NT and CT. Of course they are right to believe that their mother was intent upon persuading them to leave their group but I am totally satisfied that she did not plan any kidnapping or anything of the kind and no sinister plot for 'de-programming' existed at all.

On 13 December 1991 NT telephoned her mother to say she would contact her when the baby had been born. She wrote saying that she did not wish her mother to be in England for the birth. In fact NT, fearing her abduction, went to Scotland where S was born on 10 February 1992. It is not insignificant as a pointer to the true relationship which exists between mother and daughter that NT confided the fact of S's birth to her mother, not to her father. It is also noteworthy how involved the plaintiff was in these events in contrast with the new grandfather who knew nothing of the birth of his grandson until that information was conveyed to him a month later at a cocktail party.

The Wardship proceedings were started. The information placed before me led my taking the most unusual step of ordering that if S were found by the Tipstaff he should be removed from his mother and placed in the interim care of his grandmother until I could deal further with the matter. It was an unfortunate consequence of that order that the police attended, as agents for the Tipstaff, at a home where the Defendant had been living in Essex and that 'raid' naturally caused fear and alarm to the adults and especially the children, who lived in that community. I regret that it happened and with hindsight I regret making that order. After various attempts had been made to enforce the order, NT made contact with solicitors in a way which satisfied me I could trust her to remain within the jurisdiction whilst these serious matters were investigated. I discharged the order giving care and control to grandmother and placed my trust in NT to look after her child and to keep him here. My trust in her has been repaid not least to the extent that I can be satisfied that S has been well cared for and has grown into a delightful little boy. To be fair to the plaintiff, I should also emphasis that it is has always been her case that NT has all the qualities of a good mother and the plaintiff's only complaint about NT is her continuing membership of The Family.

[edit] THE CHILDREN OF GOD

Their founder and their leader was David Berg. He was born in February 1919 in California of parents both of whom were Evangelists. In his teenage years, he spent much time travelling with his mother as she fulfilled her pastoral and preaching duties. His mother seems to have been a powerful influence on his life. He was drafted into the army but invalided out after a severe attack of double pneumonia which took him so close to death's door that he vowed to serve the Lord if he were spared. He has honoured his promise. He married in 1943. He had four children, Deborah, a disaffected member and now an arch enemy of the group. His second child was Aaron who died in a climbing accident leaving a daughter MB. Hosea and Faithy remain loyal to the group.

In about 1953 Berg and one Fred Jordan, a well known Evangelist of the time, travelled the United States preaching and witnessing on a person to person basis. They pioneered television evangelism. They parted company in 1965. In 1966 Berg, then "Uncle Dave", established "Teens for Christ" and in 1968, a ministry for hippies in Huntington Beach near Los Angeles. Young people, students and even graduates, drop-outs and hippies were attracted to him. He was powerfully charismatic. As the young flock to him, parents began to rumble with discontent. As the group staged public demonstrations to condemn the evils of American society, they attracted the attention of the press. In 1969, a journalist dubbed them 'The Children of God' and the name stuck. The group travelled through the United States and Canada in caravans and during this period Berg became known as "Moses". He travelled abroad in 1970 and began to write his "Mo letters." The group was expanding rapidly as more and more young adults, often from prosperous homes but varying religious backgrounds, joined the communal life which was in such stark political contrast with the individualism of middle class American society. Relationships with established pentecostal and evangelical churches were fractured. The movement had become revolutionary and they proclaimed themselves as such. In 1970 Berg received what became known as the 'All Things' revelation which was based largely on the scripture, 'All things are lawful unto us' (1 Cor. 6:12). 'All Things' meant exactly what it said and out of this evolved the fundamental article of faith that all things, including, notoriously, the enjoyment of sexual freedom, were lawful to those who were motivated by love.

In its early practical application this freedom was granted so that a member, who was required to go on an outreach team to open up a new community, leaving his wife behind, might have his sexual needs satisfied by one of the other woman going on that expedition. At first the freedoms were granted only to the leaders at the Texas Soul Clinic who enjoyed the practice known as sharing, i.e. the free sharing of sexual favours, which favours were to be bestowed sacrificially, unselfishly and in love to meet the desperate need of whomsoever sought that favour. As leaders left the TSC to establish their own communities they took the liberties with them and misused them. Berg made proper attempts to rein in these excesses.

The movement was growing rapidly. What had begun with one home for about 50 members in Huntington Beach in 1968 had grown to about 300 in 1970, 1500 in 1971 and by 1973 there were 2244 members in 180 homes. The sexual revolution continued to be promoted as Berg challenged the restrictive attitudes towards sex fostered by many churches and still held by many of his members. A number of important letters, known as "Mo Letters", were written in this period. "Moses" was a name taken by Berg perhaps because Moses was both pastor and prophet. Others in the group assumed biblical names. Of these letters, 'The Art of Oh' and 'Mountain Maid' extolled the wonders of love, sex and the beauties of the female form; 'Revolutionary Women' informed the reader that sexual attraction was natural and God-given and in "Come on Ma! - Burn your Bra," nudity was encouraged. In 'Revolutionary Sex' no sexual activity, except sodomy, was to be regarded as sinful. In 'One Wife' the theme that sexual relations outside of monogamous marriage could be permissible, was such a revolutionary view, except to the leaders accustomed to sharing, that most of the flock failed to see the message.

Late in 1973 while living in London, Berg and his soi-disant "second wife", Maria came across lonely members of their dance club and began using her sexual charms - and sexual intercourse - as a means of witnessing to and showing them a tangible sample and proof of the sacrificial love of God. This became a major but infamous ministry. A series of letters encouraged the women - and the men - to engage in 'Flirty Fishing', and become "hookers of men for Christ."

The organization of the Children of God was in the hands of a World Council of Ministers appointed by Berg but mainly drawn from his family. There was a structure of ministers, bishops, regional shepherds, district shepherds and finally colony shepherds. The original big 'blobs' were broken down into smaller colonies and each colony tithed 10% of its income derived from the sale of its pamphlets and posters and - not unimportantly - the 10% of the monies received in consideration for the Flirty Fishing activities in which so many of the women had become engaged. By 1978 there was a strong feeling that some of the leaders were using the colonies' income to support their own private life-style, forcing the ordinary members into more penurious circumstances. Berg struck. The leaders were dismissed. In the RNR, the Re-organisation Nationalisation Revolution letter, Berg took over as 'a one-man band dictatorship' with supervision for the local homes coming "straight from the top, primarily direct through the letters, with exactly what to do and what not to do." The dismissal of the leaders had two important consequences. Firstly the deposed Jethro and Deborah Davis became the focus of a growing campaign against the Children of God. Secondly without direct leadership, many homes broke up and the members dispersed even though they still continued to receive the Mo letters.

In April 1981 Berg began the "Fellowship Revolution", reconstituting the homes under the name 'Family of Love' since shortened to 'The Family'. There has been much semantic posturing, much muddying the waters, and much waste of time over the issue of whether or not the Children of God still exist. These diversionary tactics were deployed to obfuscate the real issue which is whether or not the current leadership are responsible for what happened during the period up to the RNR, during the interregnum until the Fellowship Revolution in 1981 and for the organisation since then. I am totally satisfied that there was a continuous line of top leadership with David Berg and Maria at the helm regulating the affairs of the group which despite changes of name and shape, remained one and the same. The Mo letters relevant in the early days of the Children of God remained as relevant after the RNR and they continue to be relevant today. The name may have changed; various echelons of the leadership chain may have altered; but the command remained with Berg, Maria, and his inner cabinet. I find that it was a disingenuous attempt to distance them from their responsibility both for what is and for what was. This abject failure to acknowledge responsibility has diminished the trust I feel able to place in the leaders of the organisation.

Until recently, the leadership structure had Berg at its head. He died in November 1994, after the conclusion of the evidence. Maria, who for some years has gradually been assuming much greater prominence and who has been groomed as his successor, probably is now in charge. Berg and Maria were served by 'World Services' (WS), the administrative branch of which has Peter Amsterdam and Gary as the senior personnel. The American, Pacific and European Central Reporting Organisations, the CROs, report to W.S. Josiah (Paul Pelloquin) heads EUCRO (the European Organisation) in "team work" with Dawn Gilligan, Philip and Galileo, and with Lisa having succeeded Mary Mom as head of the "childcare team work." They preside over "national shepherds", SPM, being the national shepherd for the British Isles. There is an established team work for childcare in the British Isles and that has been assigned to Heidi, SPM's wife and to JL. Beneath SPM are various district shepherds, local area shepherds and home shepherds. They all work "in team work" and the teams are elected by the members over 16 years old voting by secret ballot. The purpose of 'team work' is to spread the burden and responsibility of decision making and to provide checks and balances against abuse.

Another branch of the main administrative organisation is the "Creations Department", which disseminates the group's publications. This department is headed by Apollos (Michael Gilligan) and Pathway who report directly to Maria. I know little about the financial management and have some evidence that the organisation has acquired considerable wealth through Flirty Fishing, through its publications and recently through its expanding video ministry. The ordinary homes are kept in anything but the lap of luxury. Though it is not material for me to make findings about The Family's wealth, I am quite satisfied that within the homes in this country, there is no surplus of money and the members, including their shepherds, live communally to a physical standard of comfort which might be perfectly satisfactory and meet the welfare of the children within the group but it is by no means lavish.

The present membership of The Family is approximately 12,000 in homes spread across the globe. Berg and Maria withdrew from the world sometime in about 1970 and their whereabouts and the whereabouts of World Services and Creations is a closely guarded secret to which I have not been made privy. SPM has, however, revealed to me the addresses of the several homes in England and Wales which addresses shall not be disclosed without my permission. There are 194 children below 16 years of age and 101 members 16 years and older in the British Isles. That SPM should vouchsafe this information to me is to his credit and I take it into account in his favour when assessing the degree to which he can be trusted by the court.

There are various categories of membership. The full members have access to all the literature much of which is marked DO for "Disciples Only". The new disciples are the 'babes' who for a number of months are denied the "strong meat" of the Mo letters. Catacombers are on their way into the group and have restricted access to the literature being allowed "the milk" but not the 'strong meat' which has included some of the more salacious sexual material. DFers do not wish to become missionaries but desire some fellowship with the family and receive a restricted category of literature and known as the "Daily Food". Another publication, "Love is News" is available for another category of supporter known as the LINers. Kings, supporters and provisioning contacts donate money and provisions. In 1989 The Family introduced the Turf Supporter Programme. The TSers are members who were at one time full disciples but no longer live in a Family home. They no longer receive the DO literature but receive DFO material ("Disciples and Friends") as well as GP ("General Public") publications. Mr Barton submits, I find persuasively, that the fact that The Family have encouraged this "pressure valve" to allow those not able to make the necessary commitment to remain in some fellowship with the main body is compelling evidence that this is not a pernicious cult.

[edit] THE ANTI-CULT MOVEMENT

Not all who leave The Family show intense hostility to them. Of course some are embittered by their experiences but others feel nostalgia and affection for the good aspects of life in the community. The expert evidence satisfies me that the majority look back more in sorrow than in anger. On the other hand, there is a vociferous minority who, no doubt with good cause, are deeply antagonistic. Many are involved in or used by the anti-cult organisations. I have become acutely aware of the violent, almost paranoid, mutual hostility and fear between some of these organisations and The Family. Because of the passions aroused, I have been on guard against attempts to deceive me by distortion and exaggeration of the truth. I am alive to the possibility that there has been a cross-fertilisation of the evidence so that hearsay evidence has been falsely dressed up in the guise of personal experience. It is plain that the Plaintiff has had the support of the anti-cult movement in procuring a considerable body of the documentary evidence which has been placed before me. At the end of the day there is very little live challenge to the authenticity of that evidence even if the manner in which it was obtained is open to question. The suggestion is made on behalf of The Family that the Plaintiff is a mere tool and dupe of the anti-cult movement. I reject that submission. She is a remarkably strong and determined lady who, having embarked upon this campaign has carried it through when many lesser individuals would have folded under the strain. NT is no less obdurate and her love/hate relationship with her mother is a demonstration of the observation I make that whilst there is much about both of these ladies which commands my admiration and my respect, each of them in their way and particularly in their dealings with each other, can be jolly difficult!

[edit] THE JOINDER OF ISSUE

As I have already made clear there is not and there never has been any attack at all upon NT's ability to provide proper physical care and to give all proper love and affection to her son. If the child is to be removed from her care, it is only because of her adherence to The Family and because the practices of The Family are harmful to this child. The issues have changed form and substance since the inception of the proceedings. The initial complaints were of sexual improprieties and brain-washing. Happily I was able to contain the latter issue and eventually remove it altogether from the forensic arena, no doubt to the dismay to the anti-cult movement and perhaps to the plethora of experts who would have placed their great learning before me but left me not much the wiser for it.

As more information came to light the scope of the enquiry expanded into issues of education, medical neglect, isolation both from the outside world and from members of the natural family. Still later and indeed even as the evidence was unfolding, the spotlight turned to the methods of control, physical and emotional, deployed by The Family on the errant members, adult and child.

I refused an application by several members of the home in which NT lives to be joined as individual parties because they considered my decision might impinge upon their children. The Family as an entity of its own is not a party. I feel in no way precluded from making findings of fact about The Family, their creed and their practice for I am quite satisfied that NT and they have had every opportunity to lay before me whatever evidence they would have wished. The reality is that to all intents and purposes they have controlled the litigation. The recent literature is littered with examples of the keen involvement of Berg, Maria and World Services in all aspects of this litigation. SPM has sworn 11 affidavits and answered interrogatories on oath. I have over 250 pages of written testimony from him and the material exhibited to his affidavits runs to some 500 pages. His last affidavit placed before me a letter from Peter Amsterdam with numerous annexures and Peter Amsterdam writes that "Senior leadership, including Father David, have read, made additions to and agreed with all of this material." I made it abundantly plain that I would have derived great help from hearing Peter Amsterdam whose unsworn testimony does not carry great weight, being in the nature of hearsay evidence untested by cross-examination. He was offered every opportunity to come to give evidence and be cross-examined and I assured him every protection should he have done so. He declined. It was an unwise decision for he must have known the importance of a senior member of The Family attending to allay my fears and to set the record straight. He surely appreciated that he laid himself open to legitimate fair comment that he must have something to hide. It is equally noteworthy that the leaders on the EUCRO teamwork and childcare Heidi were conspicuous by their absence.

I have taken a long time to prepare this judgment and I am embarrassed and extremely sorry for the delay. I felt it necessary to read and re-read the evidence with an open mind uncontaminated by the lurid features of The Family's past. There are more than 10,000 pages of often closely typed written evidence, about 6000 pages of which were introduced in random order during the course of the hearing. I have looked back carefully over over 2000 pages of my own notes of the oral evidence. The written arguments submitted by all counsel were lengthy but invaluable. That all took time but it was an essential task. I confess I have not found the reading or the deciding easy. I knew the case would be difficult from the moment it started. I only reached a clear conclusion after completing this re-reading during the long vacation. I am very grateful to the President of the Family Division - and to the Clerk of the Rules - for giving me some time off but it was not enough for me to complete the task. Ordinary judicial duties in London, on circuit and in the Court of Appeal eat into spare time. Since hardly a page of this judgment is drawn from any one source, I have had to have constant access to 15 notebooks and 25 various ring-binders of evidence, submissions and notes. So it was hardly possible to dash off a sentence here and there!

The order in which I have approached my task is to remind myself of the basic theme of the law, to identify the issues in dispute, make findings of fact of matters past and present, assess future risks ,and, having directed myself more fully as to the law, to reach a conclusion.

[edit] THE BASIC LAW

My duty is clear. Section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989 prescribes:-

"When a Court determines any question with respect to the upbringing of a child ... the child's welfare shall be the Court's paramount consideration."

Among the circumstances to which I am required to have regard by virtue of Section 1(3) of the Act are whether the child is at risk of suffering any harm and how capable not only his parents, but any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant is of meeting the child's physical, emotional and educational needs.

The mother wishes to continue to live within the group with the result that the child will come into contact with and will from time to time be in the care of other members of the group who will come and go. In order to assess the risk of harm to this boy I have to assess the risk of harm to a child being brought up within the Family. To assess the risk of future harm, I must first make findings of fact as to any harm which has in the past befallen children living in the Family. The law is clear that all matters of fact must be established on a balance of probabilities but the more serious the allegation the more convincing is the evidence needed to tip the balance in respect of it: See Re M (1994) 1FLR 67, Re W (1994) 1 FLR, and most recently Re H & R, Court of Appeal 14th December 1994. When assessing the risk of future harm I need to be satisfied that there is a real and substantial risk of harm, not a fanciful speculative risk. See H v H (Minor) (Child Abuse:) (1990) Fam 86.

[edit] The Disputed Issues

I categorise them under these headings:-

  1. An assessment of the Family
  2. Sexually inappropriate conduct
  3. Medical neglect
  4. Impairment of educational development
  5. Impairment of emotional, social or behavioural development
  6. Physical ill-treatment.
  7. Changes made and likely to be made


[edit] AN ASSESSMENT OF THE FAMILY

I have had perforce to look back over 25 years of The Family's history. I have already given an outline of its development and its structure. It is necessary to look a little more closely at some of those matters for I must not fall into the trap of attributing collective responsibility to The Family as a group when the faults and failings are those of an individual or individuals or even a commune or more than one commune. I have not been given information as to the number of people who have been members of The Family during these past 25 years but since there are about 12,000 current disciples, many, many thousands of many different nationalities must have belonged to the movement over the years. They have lived in communities large and small and in countries near and far. It is, therefore, necessary for me to concentrate on:-

  1. how control was exercised by the leadership;
  2. how loyal and obedient the flock were;
  3. what their view of the outside world was and to what extent they sensed persecution;
  4. Whether they were prepared to deceive.

[edit] CONTROL

As I have already indicated, by 1975 the main world headquarters were in London with missionary colonies established throughout the world. Each area was represented in London by an "Ambassador" who received reports from the home areas on their missionary activities. They were, however, isolated from that home base and the organisation was top heavy. The "New Revolution" created smaller colonies and a more closely involved role for leaders working in a "chain of co-operation". It had broken down by 1978 when Berg declared the RNR and sacked the leaders. He, with his inner cabinet, was in sole control. "Visiting servants" visited the homes to advise and encourage but they had little or no authority. Following the mass suicide at Jonestown, huge media interest inevitably turned against any cult and the already infamous Children of God dropped their name as they entered another revolution, this time the Nationalised Reorganised Security-wise Revolution which had the practical effect of dispersing many of the members back to their home country. The Family of Love was born out of this. The Fellowship Revolution followed in April 1981 creating the present day structure, with a pyramid of leadership this time elected by the members rather than imposed from above. They kept in touch by home meeting home with local area fellowship meetings and national area fellowship meetings. That, more or less, remains the position today. There is, therefore, some force in the point that for a period between February 1978 and April 1981 the leadership's control was lax, and in places may have been non existent and members were therefore much more at liberty to follow their own devices - and desires!

That, however, is not the whole truth. All disciples kept in touch with Berg through his Mo letters. The RNR declared:-

"22. We think the colonies can do better on their own under our direct personal supervision straight from the top! I think the letters are going to be the leaders and will be obeyed better if they don't have any upper officers interfering.
34. Then we can directly supervise your local homes straight from the top, primarily directly through the letters with exactly what to do and what not to do".


[edit] THE MO LETTERS

The unknown author of a document "Understanding and Interpreting Father David's Letters" tells me that:

"Father David's more radical articles could be likened unto cayenne pepper. Used properly, they add a distinctive flavour, but they are not intended as a main course."

I am not consoled. Having been looking at Mo letters over the past 2½ years and in particularly in the past months of preparation of this Judgment, I fear my digestive system will never recover. Mo likes to use them to:

"shock people, challenge them, stir them up, arouse them, awaken them out of their lethargy, even" - he must have me in mind - "cause them to explode over something I have said, at least get them to do something to spur them into action one way or another."

Some of his letters are indeed truly shocking. Some are blasphemous and obscene. By way of tiny example:-

"A Penis? or a Sword!" July 1976 (now thankfully withdrawn from circulation) -

"God enjoys fucking you with his word, just like I am enjoying it right now! I am fucking you (Maria) with the word of God, and I enjoy it because you are receiving it."

"My childhood sex" (June `77 and August `78) - an authoritative letter according to The Family's expert witness -

"I can remember at the age of 4 I was very very interested in little girls and what they looked like down there. I wanted to examine them, and most of them seemed to like having me examine them, if you could get away with it when no adults were around, and play doctor and nurse. (SARA: That proves how sexy the holy spirit really is! Because you were filled with the Holy Spirit from your mother's womb, yet as far back as you can remember you were always interested in girls and sex ....) Fascinated! and why not? Sex is a creation of God, created for us all to enjoy, even children!"

I must deal with the sexual aspect in more detail later and for the moment concentrate on the reference to the sexy Holy Spirit This takes on a different significance as soon as one looks at "The Goddess of Love" letter. It has a drawing of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is drawn as a voluptuous lady naked save for the string of beads and two hearts covering her nipples and a string of beads around her waist with a heart covering her genital area. She is lying on her heavenly bed her arms outstretched to receive her man, her legs drawn up and wide open ready for sexual intercourse and the commentary explains

"So why not picture God's love, His Spirit as a real person? which She is!." The words attributed to her are "Come! I am out of this world! Receive me !I am God's love! His Queen of love! You need me! Take me! I'm yours! Take me! I am your love gift from God! I am all yours for the asking!"

It is the most revolting drawing.

I need not dwell long upon such passages as appear in "Afflictions", November 1976, since withdrawn, where reference is made to Christ suffering venereal disease from his sexual contact with Mary Magdalene and other known prostitutes.

Many would find these writings blasphemous, which is strictly not a matter for me to decide. It is, however, appropriate for me to make the finding that some of the material is highly offensive to right thinking members of society.

It is essential but difficult in a case like this to retain a proper sense of proportion. I am told, and I am prepared to accept that letters on sex, nudity and FFing comprise only 15% of his literary outpouring, that far the greater proportion of his letters deals with inspirational themes and bible studies, the End Time, heaven and eschatology. He wrote on current events, politics and economics, on the administration of the organisation, on outreach and witnessing, on childcare and Family life. That material ranges from the profound to the banal. Of course, therefore, the letters vary in impact, importance and application. What has to be determined in this Court is how the disciples understood and applied the letters on sex, discipline, education etc.


[edit] GROUP LOYALTY AND OBEDIENCE:

[edit] MO - the End Time Prophet

Father David had two roles in The Family, one as its administrative head and the other as its spiritual leader. Age and failing health, and possibly other factors, gradually reduced his administrative duties. He changed from friendly Uncle Dave to stern but loving Father David and then Grandpa. That notwithstanding, as Peter Amsterdam wrote to me in May 1994, his "role as spiritual leader has remained constant". He said:

"The Family holds Father David to be a prophet of God. It is part of our religious belief that Father David often "speaks by divine inspiration". He is a "person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression," and is a "predictor". He is also "the chief spokesperson of a movement or cause." We also believe that he is inspired in his "forth telling". By both our sincerely held religious beliefs and a definition of the word we rightly consider Father David a prophet".
"We revere and love him because of the profound effect he has had upon our lives, and we credit him with having created an organisation that allows us to live our religious faith and to accomplish what we feel is a great deal for the Lord."

Those sentiments have been echoed time after time in the evidence to which I have listened. His disciples did revere and love him. He is, said the expert Doctor Susan Palmer, an icon. To the faithful members he is a godly person. Some of the Plaintiff's witnesses who have now left the movement, though they are still supportive of their friends who are in it, were less flattering and I recall SD, whose evidence was refreshingly candid, telling me, with all the innocence of youth, that:

"He's a nice guy who has dedicated his life to help others to reach a goal in life but he is a few straws short of a bale."

What is significant for the purpose of this Judgment is my clear finding that this mother loves him and venerates him and so do the national shepherds and the home shepherds and such is that unquestioning devotion that they cannot bring themselves to contemplate any ill of him. Their loyalty is total.

Amsterdam explained it:

"To understand Family members' reluctance to speak disparagingly of Father David, one must bear in mind that Family members love him and are deeply appreciative of the extremely salutary effect he and his ministry have had on their lives....Although most people respect and love their fathers, in most cases they will admit their fathers are flawed individuals and not above criticism. Some may even openly voice that criticism amongst members of their own family. Nevertheless, most family members would naturally come to their father's defence and close ranks with other family members should that same criticism or worse originate from an outsider. I believe this is the position adopted by those Family members who have testified in these proceedings."

[edit] OBEDIENCE, CRITICISM AND "MURMURING"

The members of The Family live communally. Communal life breaks down unless its members accept a large measure of discipline and refrain from carping criticism because it is destructive. I understand that. Every institution needs its rules and regulations and depends upon the members' compliance be it at school, in the army or in a learned profession. So it is with The Family. The army metaphor is not uncommon in their writings, e.g. in July 1989 Berg was writing:

"We are a very select army, we are God's crack troops. We are the tough uncompromising insistent members of Christianity who refuse to compromise! We are strictly loyal to our leader Jesus Christ and our officers! We are willing to obey tough rules and undertake tough assignments."

When facing the need to tighten up The Family in July 1989 and listing the various offences and sins for which the guilty parties might even be excommunicated he included:-

"2. Unbelief in the letters. People who are ashamed of what we believe and ashamed of what I write ought not to be in this army, they ought not to be with us! If you want to be part of this man's army, you had better believe what I have to say and what I have said and what God has given me and shown me; or for God's sake, get out.
3. Critical of Dad, Family or the letters. We don't believe in supporting people who don't support us and our works and our ways.
4. Murmurers, troublemakers and bad apples. Excommunicate them.
5. Weak sisters and brothers .... who poisoned the minds and hearts and spirits of others ... get rid of them.
6. Failure to obey Family rules: people who don't obey, people who ignore the Letters, who ignore all my extensive counsel and advice on security, they don't even belong in The Family! Give me obedience and absolute adherence to the rules of The Family or get them out!
7. Failure to obey leadership: insubordination and rebellion against leadership cannot be countenanced in any man's army. ... If people don't obey and don't do what they are told to do and don't follow the Letters and disregard leadership and disrespect all the laws and rules, they are not one of us! We can't have disobedient rebellious wilful stubborn soldiers who can't take orders and even follow suggestions, not in this man's army."

This reference to a suggestion confirms evidence I received that "a suggestion is an order in love." In order fully to understand the significance of this document I must point out now that offence 14 is "sex with minors" and offence 17 is "excessive reading of worldly books, magazines....spiritual junk food."

In October 1991 (GN 482) Dad blasted a young man Tony or Zack Attack. The letter is called "Grumblers Get Out" and that is the strong message of the communication. A month later in GN 485 excommunicable offences were divided into those which were "spiritually polluting problems", namely a chronic murmuring and voicing doubts; those which were "physically polluting problems" which are (a) sodomy and (b) sex with outsiders and thirdly "security risks" which were (a) taking illegal drugs (b) having sex with minors (c) repeatedly yelling and going into angry rages and (d) giving DO literature to outsiders.


[edit] THE ROLE OF THE MO LETTERS

SPM produced for me Creations' advice to The Family's lawyers who have been "blown away by a sudden dose of Mo letter shock". That document points to the need "rightly to divide the word" and not to give every letter literal interpretation. It must be obvious that the threat of excommunication for failure to obey a Mo letter is hardly likely to apply when the subject of the Mo letter is "how to clean a swimming pool" or even when the stricture is against being longer than three minutes on the telephone or using more than three pieces of toilet paper! In interpreting the letters it is, therefore, necessary to bear in mind the intended shock treatment because as Berg writes,

"I'm an extremist, a radical, a fanatic, and in order to pull some people half way, you have got to go all the way in the opposite direction! Then you pull some of the people too far and you've got to go to the opposite extreme, the other way, to try to get some of the extremists back on centre again! Till finally, like a pendulum, you sort of get to where you are more in the middle and more on centre than the opposite extreme".

This letter written in January 1982 is an echo of the "shock treatment" letter he wrote in March 1971. I shall assume, therefore, that he was well aware of this pendulum effect, and that he intended to bring it about when he wrote the letters, about which more later, conferring sexual freedoms upon the former hippy members who had forsaken sex or the straight-laced members who had grown up in a strict Evangelical tradition where sex was regarded as "dirty". The document "Understanding and Interpreting Father David's Letters" informs me that they are "a continually expanding collection of writings and are intended to be read and understood in context, as a body". I shall, therefore, endeavour to follow the instruction and look at the collection of letters on sexual freedom in the context of the whole philosophy they were expounding. I will bear in mind some are just:

"fun and entertaining, some informative, some mysterious, some practical instructions, some prophetic, some correctional, some are personal commentary, speculation or opinion, some are meant for the moment, others are eternal, some are divine, and others are just Dad".

In his letter "Bearing False Witness" Berg acknowledged that he "could be wrong when it's only my personal opinion and it's not the word of God... Unless I say, "God said it!", I could be wrong." I must assume he had that in mind when he wrote "God's Only Law is Love", July 29th 1977, because that letter is about "what the Bible says about true free love." At the end of the day, however, I must accept, and the evidence laid before me confirms that I should accept that any "application of counsel contained in the Mo letters is a matter of personal faith and conscience." Nevertheless in judging the extent to which ordinary members are free to act according to their faith or to listen to their conscience, I must assess the extent to which the letters have fortified that faith and shaped the individuals conscience.

In that regard I note a consistent thread from the following letters:-

[edit] (a) January 1978 the RNR letter.

"We have heard of quite a few instances where leaders have changed the meaning of my letters by their actions or verbal interpretation. My letters mean exactly what they say, literally, and they don't need explaining away, spiritualising or re-interpreting by anyone!"
"The letters are going to be the leaders and will be obeyed better if they don't have any other officers interfering."

[edit] (b) May 79: You Are What You Read

SPM says this letter is of continuing relevance. Timothy, a member of Berg's household, is being told not to read "those ridiculous text books in college full of lies and distortions of man". Even if they were not lies, "it was just a waste of time on foolishness." He says:-

"I don't see what business you've got being in our Family if you are not interested enough to read the Mo letters, including the old ones to see where we came from and how we got this way."
"I am God's man for this hour and I am the prophet of God for you, and you had better believe it or you are in serious spiritual trouble."
"This is the time when you ought to be studying your bible and Mo letters, the word of God, and not wasting your time on ridiculous words, lies, deceits and distortions of man and the devil."

[edit] (c) Also May 79; "Book Burning - You are What you Read: Part 2.

This continues his talk to Tim and the theme is the same. He says:-

"Why don't you read the old letters that you have never read? You will find there is a lot of truth in every one of them. If you find anything wrong with them, please let me know. If you are right, I'll be glad to correct it. .... You either believe the letters or don't. Don't tell me, "I believe parts of it, I believe some of it" .... You can take it or leave it. But if you want to survive in this Family you better take it! Or leave!"

[edit] (d) August 1989 "D.O. is for DOers."

I have already quoted from this letter which lists the excommunicable offences.

[edit] (e) September 1989 Heavenly Security - Part 3

This lists "personal problems" which include worldliness (which means hankering for the world outside), murmuring (voicing doubts or criticism) and backsliding. A backslider is "anyone who says that they don't accept the letters." They are scorned as "God's vomit".

[edit] (f) February 1992 (which is when the Ward was born) Summit 92 - "Our Problems and the Lord's Solutions"

Whereas the letters "You are what you read" are clear expressions of opinion and, according to the passage I have already cited, could be wrong, what is reported in this Good News 495 is the word of God speaking through prophecy. This letter should therefore command obedience from the faithful. It contains these passages:-

"Over and over again the Lord emphasised the point that he had already given us the direction we need through the words of David. The main message ... was that we should go back to the basics, back to the plan he has so clearly revealed to Dad, and obey and do what is already written. During the last meeting the Lord said: "... Doth thou not see that obedience unto the words of David is the key?..." He seemed to want to re-emphasise to us all, through these prophecies, the importance of reading obeying and living the Letters."

The words are capable of wide application, as I am sure they were intended to be, but the narrower issues which confronted that summit meeting related to the progress of the DTR, the Discipleship Training Revolution, to deal with the difficulties being experienced with the young at that time, 1991. The message to the Teens is to obey.

It is difficult to come to an easy or confident conclusion about how influential the letters were. SPM, on behalf of The Family, conceded that they were influential but asserted that the members were at liberty to disagree. The expert Doctor Millikan was is convinced that members believe they have freedom to make their own assessments, which must be right, but the heavy emphasis on obedience leads me to conclude that the choice will be exercised in favour of submitting to rather than rejecting Berg's writing. I agree with Doctor Millikan when he writes:

"but they also live with a belief that gives them no expectation that David Berg could ever lead them astray."

I bear that conclusion in mind when I assess the influence the writings have had on the sexual mores and practices of The Family.

[edit] THE FAMILY'S VIEW OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD

I read in their "Statement of Faith" that through Adam and Eve's fall from grace through sin, all mankind are now sinners absolutely unable to attain to righteousness without the saving power of Jesus Christ. They see Satan as the usurper who now rules as an unholy God of this world. He is an active force for evil in the world. They follow Biblical teaching literally on this matter. They believe that Satan actively subverts the lives of those who do not know Christ as Saviour, that he continues to harass the lives of those who are saved and to undermine their faith and obedience to God. So, writes Dr Millikan, "there is great emphasis within the literature of The Family on trust, obedience, "resting in the Lord" and "yieldedness." Since the world is essentially hostile to the Gospel and to all who are its representatives, they reject "the unchristian pursuits and practices of the world" and believe they should "avoid conformity with worldly attitudes." In their earlier literature they painted horrific pictures of the system and the systemites and the literature abounds with the "traumatic testimonies" of those who leave the group and come to unspeakable harm when in the world.


[edit] THE FAMILY'S PERCEPTION OF PERSECUTION

They believe that Christians who actively witness and live for Jesus Christ will receive persecution. Quite the most frightening persecution has been the action taken by the authorities in Argentina, Australia, Spain, France, and by me. Persecution was the main matter of discussion at their summit '93 and GN 539 of February 1993 acknowledges that benefits have flown from the Court actions taken across the world because "all things work together for good to them that love God" and that "includes persecution."


[edit] THE FAMILY'S ATTITUDE TO LIES AND DECEPTION.

One cannot have listened, as I have listened to over 30 members of The Family without being impressed by and in many ways filled with admiration for their total dedication to their discipleship, to their belief in the teachings of their master, Jesus Christ, and to their spreading of His Gospel. Believing, as they do, in an active Satan, their inclination is, as Berg expresses it: "for God's sake, speak the truth". They are, however, a beleaguered group facing what they consider to be persecution by this litigation. Consequently, they permit an exception to telling the truth when doing so will result in tragic consequences to The Family. In his letter to me, Peter Amsterdam defines that as "being injury, loss of life, severe loss of freedom, or permanent cessation of one's ability to preach the Gospel." that is not necessarily a complete list of occasions when deception is permitted. In "Deceivers yet True", June 1979, Berg seemed to countenance deceit and sometimes outright lies to accomplish God's purpose. In an undated "Deceivers yet True" comic for children, the stories depicted:

"show that the Lord allowed His people to deceive their enemies - and even tell them outright lies - when it was necessary to save His work or the lives of His people."

Caution is urged before doing so. In "More Examples of Deceivers Who were True" The Family were told:-

"We're in a dangerous war and when it is necessary to protect the security of the Lord's work and his children, you may have to lead people to believe that something is a certain way when it's really not that way."

There are, therefore, words of much wider application than Peter Amsterdam suggested and they are certainly wide enough to cover The Family's approach to this litigation.

That is made clear from a letter from Creations to those then involved in the Australian litigation. The Creation team were then in April 1992 creating valuable guide lines on how to tackle tricky questions and answer the accusations that were being made against The Family. In separate publications, one for adults and early adults only and the other as required reading for teens aged 14 and up, "False Accusers in the Last Days" The Family were prepared for having to make the choice between believing God's word or man's word. They were warned of the enemy's dirty tactics and his goal of trying to discredit Dad, the Word and The Family. Advice on how to handle accusations, controversies and concerns was set out in a 48 page document for the adults, "Contending for the Faith" and in 56 pages of "Wise Witnessing Replies", required reading for all over 11 years of age. I find that a huge effort has been made to prepare The Family generally and to prepare the witnesses specifically in how to deal with the challenges to their way of life. The fact that they have been prepared does not, of course, mean that they have been prepared to lie and Peter Amsterdam wrote that as yet unpublished remarks from Maria were passed on to those involved in this litigation to this effect:-

"The Court is a place where they must be honest no matter how embarrassing or threatening to The Family they feel their answers are going to be ..... I would rather have then saying something that would supposedly "hurt" The Family than to ever perjure themselves and destroy their credibility."

Nonetheless, I regret to find that in many instances there has been a lack of frankness and a failure to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By way of example:-

  1. Answers to the Official Solicitor's interrogatories were less than full and frank in material respects which I will deal with later.
  2. EM who has important child care responsibilities, was frank enough to admit that she would lie to protect the children and I regret to find that is at times exactly what she did.
  3. The Family's Australian lawyer considered it appropriate to make a video recording of conditions in various homes in various countries to place before the Australian Court as evidence of what life was like in a typical home. MA was recorded saying that "The barrister has asked me to describe the surroundings of the 27½ acre plot that we live on." He continued, "We live in a very productive part of England ... When we first moved in, this place was completely overgrown and unusable ... We have managed to clear it and make it a place for the children .... In the back garden over here we have our fourth daughter KAS playing with the ferrets." No one listening to that recording could think otherwise than that that was MA's home. It was not. His wife LA told the listener that "in all my experience all these years in The Family, I have found the children to be happy well adjusted children." She said the same to me in her affidavit sworn in these proceedings and repeated that all children she has met were happy and well adjusted. There was no mention of the Victor programmes to deal with difficult children that had been running in her homes as well she knew.
  4. In another video prepared for the Australian Court, film was made of a home in Denmark and the children were asked, more than once, whether they had heard of silence restrictions. No one raised a hand. SC remained mute. He knew about silence restriction. He had been on silence restriction himself. I had been impressed by his evidence until that point and there was much about him which was likeable. When pressed about this discrepancy, he tried at first to shrug it off as not being a "life or death situation." When pressed he explained that he had not told the truth because of his embarrassment for he had no wish to explain why he had been placed on silence restriction and that he was "a rotten apple." What is disturbing, therefore, about this evidence is not only the lack of frankness in presenting material to another Court but also the psychological pressure that had been put upon the boy by the experience of being put on silence.
  5. Another transcript prepared for Australia included an apparently enthusiastic JG telling the Australian Court how happy he was. He was not happy. He lied because he could not stand up to the shepherd and tell them that in fact he wished to leave The Family. It is again an example of a lack of candour together with emotional pressure being put upon the young members of the group.
  6. In September 1990 a boy SM ran away from a Family home, Burnt Farm in Hertfordshire. He was apprehended at Ramsgate trying to cross the Channel. When the Social Services Department investigated the matter, and called Burnt Farm, a shepherd, RM, denied that he had anything to do with the Children of God, It was a blatant lie. Significantly, also, the home was closed in a hurry and the members dispersed. Could there be a clearer example of Deceivers yet True? From the children comic I quote:-

    "If you knew that enemies would persecute you and your Family and all your brothers and sisters and chase you out of their city, if you didn't have to, would you tell them who you are?" (Their emphasis.)

It is an example of a practice I find to have been widespread. "Selah" is a word known to all members of The Family. It means secret. The system must not know it. It is an attitude of mind which prepares them to hide, run away, remove the trunk with The Family literature, take their packed "flee-bag" containing a minimum of essential personal possessions and escape. Things have probably changed over the past 4 years. The Family are more open. The best evidence of that is their willingness to contest this litigation. It was a matter which was the subject of the Summit 93. But even now, The Family still cannot be fully frank, even with their own lawyers. They write:

"We have given some of our legal counsellors nearly full sets of Mo letters so they can properly prepare our defence." (The added emphasis is mine.)

They do not trust even their own lawyers. They do not fully trust their own experts and I gained the impression that Doctor Millikan was less than pleased and Doctor Heller was certainly deeply dismayed because be felt he had been misled by The Family.

These are worrying examples and they are not the only ones of the ingrained habit of lying if they have to and of telling half the truth if they can get away with it. I shall in due time have to give careful consideration to the extent of change within The Family and to the crucial question of whether I am able to trust them.

As I begin the process of evaluating the evidence and arriving at decisions on the disputed matters of fact, I remind myself again not only to be on guard that pressures from the anti-cult movements may have caused distortion of the Plaintiff's evidence but also that the examples I have set out above demonstrate to me quite clearly a pervasive tendency on the part of The Family to be economical with the truth. I turn, at last, to deal with the disputed matters of fact.

[edit] SEXUALLY INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR

I shall judge the oral evidence I have received against the background of Family literature.


[edit] GENERAL ATTITUDES TO SEXUAL MATTERS:

Berg was born in 1919. He married mother Eve in 1943 when he was about 24 years old. He met Maria in January 1969 shortly before his 50th birthday. He has written that he had been faithful to his wife for 25 years "until that faithfulness began to stand in God's way and hinder the work. So then God had to raise up someone who could fit the bill in this great new ministry in our lives ... The answer was Maria." So began their menage a trois. This ran counter to the prevailing sexual mores of the group. It was primarily a group of hippies who by all accounts had had their fill of the promiscuous life which the permissive sexual age had opened up to them. The "Revolutionary Rules", which I have not seen, had been written in 1968 and outlined the basic requirements for membership. Those rules clearly stated, apparently, that no dating, kissing or sexual involvement whatever was allowed outside monogamous marriage. I am not sure how Berg managed to make himself the exception to the rule but he found some scriptural justification for it. The "All Things Revelation" that "All things are lawful unto me and that to the pure all things are pure", was set out in a letter "The All Things Tree" which has not been disclosed to me. Those texts were constructed literally in order to confer freedom to engage in sexual relationships outside marriage - even if at that time only the leadership enjoyed the privilege. By 1973 The Family was being exposed to more revolutionary sex teaching that

"the normal, healthful, natural God-created, God-given and God-permitted attitude to sex should be absolutely no different from our attitude toward any other normal physical activity such as eating, exercising or even sleeping. ... If it is in love it is lawful as far as God is concerned."

Berg informed his followers that he found little girls just as fascinated with his erections and quite as willing to feel them as he was to attempt to explore their bodies. He had his first intercourse at the early age of 7. An older boy taught him to masturbate at the age of 8. He wrote:-

"Children should be taught the same: that there is nothing wrong with their bodies, and nothing evil about sex and nothing catastrophic about masturbation, but that all are perfectly normal necessary natural and God given natural physical functions, but that Our bodies in no respect must ever be abused or misused or overused or used in such a way as to offend or hurt others or the uninitiated unenlightened unliberated or sexually uneducated or inexperienced. They should be encouraged in nude mix bathing and nude mix play where socially, legally and climatically permissible and acceptable and advisable. They should also not be prohibited from mutual sexual examination, experimentation or interplay when playing or sleeping together where legally possible and social and housing conditions permit. ... But it must be made very clear to your children that such sexual freedom must never be indulged in or practised openly in the presence of visitors, strangers or uninitiated relatives and friends who have not been properly re-educated in the revolutionary sexual freedoms of natural living. From personal experience I can tell you that I have accomplished much more and done greater things and achieved greater success in God's work since I have become more sexually liberated and enjoyed greater sexual activity than ever before."

The message of this letter is in its conclusion:-

"Hallelujah, I am free - Jesus gives us liberty - Amen? - Now try! - You'll like it! - and thank God for it! Amen? Its a revolution! - For Jesus! Power to the people! - Sex power! - God power! - Can be your power! Amen? - Be a sexual revolutionist for Jesus! Wow! There we go again! Hallelujah! Are you comin'?"

Later he wrote "Come on Ma Burn your Bra" in which he told the young:

"We have a sexy God and a sexy religion with a very sexy leader with an extremely sexy young following! So if you don't like sex, you better get out while you can."

He was paving the way for sharing and Flirty Fishing.


[edit] THE LAW OF LOVE

His philosophy was encapsulated in "The Law of Love" written in March 1974. The copy exhibited to the Plaintiff's affidavit contains a singularly disgusting picture. I find it blasphemous. In the background was Christ crucified, "God's lamb." Lying in similar cruciform position on her back was a naked lady with a large nail driven into her vagina ("Your lamb?"). The captions were, "Can a couch be your cross? Are you willing to be nailed? The law of love!" A similar picture appeared some 4 years later in the letter "You are the Love of God", written to encourage Flirty Fishing, with this passage:-

"Every one of you girls who spreads out your arms and your legs on the bed for those men are just like Jesus, exactly like Jesus."

"The Law of Love" is another letter on "All things" He wrote in March 1974:-

"We are the last church! We are God's last church, the last step in God's progress towards total freedom for his church and the last chance to prove that the ultimate church can be trusted with total freedom in this last generation".

To understand that one has to remember that Berg is the End Time prophet who will lead his people into the millennium where they will enjoy a thousand years of sexual freedom. Then followed an important passage:-

"This last generation of the church will probably have as much trouble in handling such freedom as did its first generation. It's like giving a growing child a little more liberty at each new stage of development, a little more complicated and possibly even more dangerous toy" (his emphasis but also mine!) "ushering in a new stage of growth and responsibility to see if he can be trusted with it. If he uses it wisely, he will be given more. If he plays with it foolishly and dangerously it may be taken away from him.... Can you handle this new toy safely so as to bring joy and pleasure to yourself and others around you without endangering anyone or harming anyone or infringing on anyone else's freedoms and others rights? Can you be trusted with it, or will you abuse it and use your liberty as licence to do wrongfully and lustfully instead of rightfully and lovingly? Will you use it to heal and help or harm and hinder? The answer is up to you. Are you so ruled by His love that he can liberate you from the rules or do you have to be kept under the law of works because you cannot be trusted with the liberty of his grace? The answer is up to you."

He went on to draw a crucial distinction between lust and love:-

"Lust is merely to gratify your own selfish appetite, like eating a meal. You may need it, but if you are stealing it from someone else and taking the food out of their mouth to stuff your own, this is selfish lust, not love! But if you are taking the food out of your own mouth and giving your own meal to satisfy and feed another who is hungry and starving for love and needs it desperately and might not survive without it, then this is real love.... Can you handle it? Are you revolutionary enough? We shall see!"

We shall indeed!

On July 29th 1977 The Children of God published the letter "God's Only Law is Love! - What the Bible says about true free love! " (his double emphasis.)

"All things are lawful for me including our sexual freedom, as long as it is done in the unselfish, sacrificial love of God. No, we do not have to keep the Ten Commandments! For us they are no more! for us they are gone forever! Thank God! We now only live to keep God's law of love, his only law - love! For the laws of Moses are no more to the believer in Jesus! We now only have the law of Jesus, God's only law, his love! - a stronger law than Moses' is! Therefore whatsoever you do in the unselfish sacrificial love of Jesus is right and lawful! Whatever you do in love is the law - and that's all, that's it! God's only law is love! We are totally utterly free of the old mosaic law, thank God! we are delivered from the old mosaic law and are no longer bound by it - we are free! Now all things are lawful to us in love, praise God! As long as it's done in love it keeps God's only law of love!"

It is difficult to reconcile this freedom with The Family's attempt to answer "Interviu's 202 Lies about the Children of God" written on 12th June 1977, i.e. six weeks before this letter explained to his disciples what the bible said about true free love. There the answer was given:-

"Lie number 19, they say "we enjoy free love": we have condemned "free love" in any of our homes or colonies and have forbidden any kind of what is normally known as free love among certain communities, meaning total promiscuity, in which we do not believe."

No doubt the pedant within World Services would contend that The Family do not believe in "total promiscuity" because it would no doubt be defined by The Family as sexual activity born of lust. But The Family do believe in sexual activity freely enjoyed by consenting parties who can convince themselves that they are each sacrificing the sanctity of their body in order "lovingly" to satisfy a need of the other. In its way this is an example of dissembling the truth - deceiving yet true.

On 20th May 1980 Father David wrote "The Devil Hates Sex! - but God Loves It!" The Family were coy about producing this letter. It came very late in the day and was produced from the archive of Dr Melton. One can understand the reticence. There are passages on incest and "child sex". Mo's theology is that God made Adam and Eve male and female, not the devil.

"God blessed them and said, be fruitful and multiply!" - in other words, "go to it, start fucking! right out here in the open, in public, in the garden, on the grass!" I suppose some narrow-minded blue-nosed church people would say, "Oh yes, but that's before sin entered in. That's before they discovered sex and how wicked it was! - and after all, that was also really in private because there wasn't anyone else around yet!" Boy oh boy oh boy! that makes me so mad. The thing that makes me mad is that man has allowed the devil to deceive him like that and has been such a stupid idiot as to believe the devil's lies that sex is evil and sex is the worst sin of all and must be the most prohibited. The devil would certainly like to prohibit it completely if he could, and he has restricted it so that things have not moved as fast as they should have..... The only way to get free of (the devil) and his lies and his prohibitions and guilt complexes about sex is to get rid of his lies and his lying propaganda, his anti-sex propaganda, and believe the Lord and his word and his creation and God's love and his freedom! - that there is nothing in the world at all wrong with sex as long as it's practised in love, whatever it is or whoever it's with, no matter who or whatage or what relative or what manner (my emphasis) - and you don't hardly dare even say these words in private. If the law ever got a hold of this, they would try to string me up! They would probably lynch me before I got to the jail! When Paul said "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient" (1 COR 6: 12), he was as good as saying, "I can indulge in any kind of sex I want to, but I've got to watch out for the system because its against the law!" (Maria: At least not let'm find out if you do it!)... We are free in privacy, and that's about all, and we mightn't be free if they discovered what we do in private!... There are no relationship restrictions or age limitations in his law of love.... If you hate sex you are one of the devil's crowd! If you think it's evil, then God and love are evil, for he created it! Come on, let's love and enjoy it like God does! he loves it.!"

I have added that the emphasis in these passages. They need to be emphasised. The meaning is perfectly plain. Berg advocates the enjoyment of this new freedom to engage in sexual activity with whomsoever one desires regardless of the age of that person or the closeness of the relationship to that person subject only to such restraint as is encapsulated in the admonition that the activity must be engaged in love and that is to say "without endangering anyone, or harming anyone, or infringing on anyone else's freedoms and other's rights", quoting from the original Law of Love.

[edit] THE EVIDENCE ON SEXUAL ATTITUDES GENERALLY

No witness called on behalf of the Defendant has repudiated the Law of Love. It is the cornerstone of The Family's creed. NT's closing words to me were to plead with me not to denigrate the Law of Love. It was an extraordinary observation from her. I would have expected her to plead with me not to remove her son. Many mothers, often totally hopeless mothers, have begged for that mercy. But NT did not. It was as if the integrity of the Law of Love was more important to her than S. Where is her sense of priorities?

The oral evidence was overwhelming that the members of The Family generally adopted a freer lifestyle than was the norm in any of the countries in which they live. I am satisfied and I find that the attitude of the members of The Family towards all forms of a sexual conduct was that it was a God-given gift to be engaged in without embarrassment. Nudity was not uncommon and sexual activity was not discreet. I find the Law of Love to be a pernicious doctrine because in liberating the ordinary sexual inhibitions, the Law of Love empowers those with strong sexual urges but poor judgment to act indiscriminately and it put pressure upon the weak to succumb to that which does in fact harm them and infringe their freedom. In short the Law of Love was liable to be abused and was calculated to be abusive.


[edit] FLIRTY FISHING (FFING)

Whilst living in London late in 1973, David and Maria went ballroom dancing. Many at their dancing club were lost and lonely. It was an opportunity to witness to them. Recollecting how in the Gospel of St. Matthew 4:19, Jesus said to his disciples, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men", Berg cast his bait, the lure of Maria's sexual appeal, to hook a fish on God's word. As the family literature explained,

"Sex and actual love making (became) a means of witnessing to and showing them (those with whom they wanted to share their faith) a tangible sample and proof of the sacrificial love of God."

Not surprisingly when the practice became widespread, the media coined the phrase "Hookers for Jesus". The Family seemed offended by the description. They should not have been. Berg himself in the letter "God's whores" disclosed that:-

"I threatened to call one of those first chapters we wrote "God's whore". I was going to really shock people! I love shocking titles that provoke people and wake them up".

One of the earliest letters was "Flirty Little Fish" in January 1974. It is important to note that the letter is an account of a prophecy Berg received from God, which gives the letter special authority. Not surprisingly, not many who read it and then understood its implications and how allegory was soon to be translated into action. The letter contained these passages recording his prayer:

"Help Maria to catch this fish. Give her, Lord, thy web. In Jesus' name! Make the lure so attractive he cannot resist it! He's hypnotised! He's fascinated in that which he dreams of, the materialisation of a dream of love, the spirit embodied in her flesh for which he hungers! He hungers for the flesh, Oh God, but he hungers more for the spirit. Help her to catch him with her fingers of flesh that she might impart unto him thy spirit, Oh Lord, for which he hungers. Oh God, in Jesus' name! Each one of them seek after her, suck of her, dream of her, drink of her! Help her, Oh God, to catch the fish faithful to be a fisherman of men. Help her Oh God to catch men! Help her to catch men, be bold unashamed and brazen, to use anything she has, Oh God to catch men for thee! Even if it be through the flesh, the attractive lure, the delicious flesh on a steel hook of thy reality, the steel of thy spirit! Hook them through her flesh! Crucify her flesh, Lord, on the barb of thy spirit! Oh God, even if it penetrate and crucify her flesh, impale her on the point of thy spirit that she may die, that those who feed on her flesh may be caught to live! Oh God, help her, Oh Jesus to be willing to be the bait!"

In this way Maria and Becky and others close to the leaders began their seduction of the men in the clubs in London. In a series of letters called "King Arthur's Knights" the disciples and friends were given some explicit instruction. I say explicit for chapter 7 could not be more plain. In it Maria asked Berg how she should proceed and she got the answer: "Fuck the daylights out of him!" and the drawings which accompany that message demonstrate, as if graphic demonstration was needed, how she should "grab his dick out of his pants." In January 1977 they published the "FFer's Handbook" which is 31 closely typed pages of the "complete instruction manual on FFing." I condescend to this nasty detail only for the purpose of making the point that literature of this kind, and it is one of an infinite number of filthy examples, lay about on the bookshelves of The Family for years and years until the literature purge began in April 1990 and so was freely available to the children in the homes. The children were well aware of this ministry and knew full well what their mothers and sometimes their fathers were up to. They knew all about "Jesus babies", the children born to the FFers who, as a group, did not believe in contraception. One sees this in the "Life with Grandpa" and "Beauty and the Beast" comic series written for children. In the comic "Real Fathers", the children are introduced to Davidito and Techi, Jesus babies born to Maria. Grandpa i.e. Berg, is seen explaining to Davidito and Techi sitting on his lap, that:

"God just used Timothy and Carlos only to fuck Mama so that I could have you both! They were just like an instrument or tool that Jesus used to help create you wonderful little children for his kingdom! Praise the Lord!"

He went on to explain how the farmer used a big plough to open a furrow for the seed to be planted and how the farmer thereafter tended the crop. He asked who was the real father of the crop? The farmer who loved it and took care of the crop until it was fully grown or the plough that just opened the furrow for the seed to be planted? The children answered the farmer, of course! Berg then explained that a penis was like a plough and a woman's womb was like a furrow in which the man planted his seed and the comic then had drawings of the plough in the soil and the penis in the vagina. I have had to look at text like that and pictures like that over these many months but still I recoil from them. I find that children exposed as they have been to widespread activity of this kind and to literature as crude as that are children who have been abused for they have been robbed of their childhood sensibilities and have been exposed to that from which they should be protected.

FFing was undoubtedly a widespread activity. I accept that it was voluntary and that Berg had "said time and time again, FFing is not for everybody. It's only for special people who really have the guts and the time and the talent and so on. It's not for everybody!" There was, however, very great pressure on the disciples to take part in this "ministry." The very failure of the "chain" leaders fully to implement it, led to the RNR. Berg wrote that it was not for "old bottles" and so, as Prof. Richardson wrote "The FFing involvement is thought of as a test of commitment for the members. Only the "absolutely 100%ers" would be involved, Berg said, and he did not seem to mind if some left over FFing." The women involved had to be willing to go to the length of having sexual intercourse in order to show the love of God to the men they witnessed to. That was their sacrifice. So in the letter "You are the Love of God" published in 1978 the sacrifice was described. This letter was another with the drawing of the naked woman spread-eagled on the bed which I find so utterly repugnant to decency.

I am quite satisfied that most of the women who engaged in this activity and the subsequent refinement of ESing, (which was finding men through escort agencies), did so in the belief that they were spreading God's word. But I am also totally satisfied that that was not Berg's only purpose. He and his organisation had another and more sordid reason. They were procuring women to become common prostitutes. They were knowingly living in part on the earnings of prostitution. That was criminal activity. Their attempts to deny this must be dismissed as cant and hypocrisy.

To deny that the girls were acting as prostitutes because "we are not charging but we expect people to show their thanks and their appreciation and they ought to give more for love than if we charged them" is an unacceptable form of special pleading. The "FFers handbook" told the girls that fishing could be fun but fun did not pay the bills. "You've got to catch a few to make the fun pay for itself. So don't do it for nothing." To add that, "We're not in it for the money, but we are in it for the men" was an addition to deceive the gullible girls. In volume 4 of "Heavenly Helpers", "Bought with a Price", Berg wrote that:

"Many homes need more financial support at this time to prepare for their survival as well as their day to day needs and this kind of ministry has really given the homes the boost they needed to tide us through some very tight financial spot."

That is more like the truth. But once again truth had to be dressed up in half truth. In asking "Does FFing Pay", in January 1978 Berg wrote:-

"Now we have claimed and we have said with conviction and it's the truth, that our girls never accept money. We have told the kids and we have told the magazines and we told the authorities, "Our girls are forbidden to accept a penny. They have never received anything for their sexual services". And that's the truth as far as I am concerned. Whatever the man donated was for the work. ... It's a nice way of doing it really. "Well, here's a donation for the work. Here's for the piece of furniture. Here's to help on the meal you gave me last night, your food," or whatever. Not a direct payment to the woman just for a fuck, which causes and makes it crude and about as low as you can get, just like the rest of the world, but if they can feel like they are not just paying a prostitute but that they are actually giving it to the Lord and the work, this I think we would all feel very acceptable, including the fish themselves, right? It has got to come to this sooner or later. ... We can't afford just continuing supporting some kind of religious brothel, ministering to men who don't pay their way."

Eventually in 1986, it was realised that:

"Sex only has to be a last resort, and if you can (witness to them) any other way, you should. Usually all the other ways are a lot easier and a lot less time consuming so why deliberately try to get involved in a sexual relationship with them?"

Although it is claimed that between 1977 and 1987 over a hundred thousand people, fifty per cent of all those who were FFed, had been personally led to Jesus Christ as a direct result of the FFing ministry, that represented only one per cent of the recorded total of over ten million souls won world wide over that ten year span.

In 1986 a new "Daily Food" ministry was developed through the publication and distribution of a series of booklets entitled "Daily Food" and "DFing" replaced FFing. As the spectre of Aids loomed over the world, Berg officially put an end to FFing in September 1987, by declaring:-

"All sex with outsiders is banned! - unless they are already close and well known friends! - we are now D -Fing instead!".

I am satisfied that the practice has indeed ceased.

[edit] THE EVIDENCE ON FFING

The evidence called revealed these facts:-

  1. Almost without exception (SF being the only exception I now recollect) the adult women who gave evidence practised FFing.
  2. Those who remain within The Family would do so again. Those within The Family, men and women, and this includes NT and CT, see nothing wrong with it. They do not see it to be immoral; they do not see it as destructive of personal relationships; they are offended when it is described as prostitution. For them it is a sacred, sacrificial ministry. They believe that no greater love hath anyone than this. And for the men that included "laying down their wives" for another. No challenge to their common sense shifts any one of them from those fiercely proclaimed convictions.
  3. I find that fervour disturbing. It demonstrates the power which Berg wields through his letters to suborn the will of his disciples so that they do not know right from wrong. The error of her chosen way hit MCH when it suddenly dawned on her how "atrocious" it would be if her father were to be the next fish. Then she felt ashamed not privileged that her prophet had chosen her to break up families. VJ now looks back with equal horror to her activities. I have no doubt that the ambience of the hotels and restaurants where she hooked her fish was a good deal better than the cramped quarters of the communes where she lived and that it was a respite from oppressive surroundings but I find that it was an unworthy attack on this lady by The Family to suggest that she engaged in Flirty Fishing because she enjoyed it. I accept that at the time she assumed Berg to be a man of God, as the current members still assume him to be a man of God, and so it seemed to her to be "incomprehensible he could be evil or the Bible used for evil." She spoke convincingly of her deep horror and regret at having taken part and it has made her very angry.
  4. I also find it disturbing that The Family cannot see that the practice of FFing was harmful to the children in The Family. Such harm arose from these matters:-
  1. The children were exposed to the explicit literature as I have set out above.
  2. I am perfectly satisfied that many, many children were full aware that their mothers were away FFing and were aware, therefore, that their mothers were engaged in sexual activity with strangers.
  3. I am satisfied that the "Jesus babies" suffer from the knowledge that their father is unknown to them and that they have had no contact with their father.
  4. I am satisfied that some Jesus babies will suffer future harm for some have not been told the truth about their paternity yet, and when the truth is revealed to them, they will suffer deep distress.
  5. I am satisfied, therefore, that this practice was inimical to the welfare of the children. In my judgment the end never could justify the means.

I am satisfied, however, that it has ceased and I judge there to be no substantial risk that it will be resumed. This finding must be given its proper weight. It is a sensational part of The Family's history which has helped to give them such notoriety. But it is now a matter of history and however reprehensible and misguided it was, it is not a matter which impinges directly on the well-being of my ward.

[edit] SHARING

The "Revolutionary Rules" written in 1968 laid down a strict code of no sexual activity outside of a monogamous marriage. That was relaxed by the "All Things" revelation in 1970 but the liberty to engage in sexual relationships outside marriage was one taken only by the leaders. Within a year Berg realised that some of his leaders were misusing those freedoms and he had to rebuke some who had been "more interested in pleasing the flesh .... and even causing some of the weaker brethren to stumble." "Sin in the Camp" MO143 dated 1971. I note this as an early lesson from which Berg ought to have learned that his flock would abuse the freedoms which his teachings offered them. There is no evidence that he did learn from it. The "One Wife" letter published in 1973 alluded to the possibility that sexual relations outside of monogamous marriage could be permissible. He planted the idea that the marriage of the individual to the group was the only true marriage. The message was not widely received. In 1974 the FFing experiment began. The result of freeing the women to go outside to have sexual relations imposed a strain on the men within and it became anomalous to expect the married men to remain faithful to their wives or the single men to remain celibate. The RNR threw off the shackles of past inhibitions. The leadership were no longer in control of the sexual activity of the members. The members were free. So Berg wrote in February 1978, the "Happy Re-birthday" letter in which he declared:-

"Family sex: no permission needed for sex! - if legal and with mutual consent. No servants (leaders) need to be consulted. Fire away! Praise God!"

In a document compiled by World Services on behalf of The Family being SPM's 56th exhibit, The Family acknowledged that:

"a period of great sexual liberation ensued. Single adults who had not had their sexual needs met for years had the opportunity to have sexual fellowship with consenting partners, who cheerfully and sometimes sacrificially chose to give of themselves to help these brethren. .... The ability to sexually share with other members within the community brought a degree of unity that was hitherto unknown. Family members discovered that having sexual fellowship with others of the opposite sex, regardless of whether they were single or someone else's mate led to much deeper emotional relationships and a greater understanding and love for one another. Singles were extremely grateful when married family members would allow their wive's husbands to share with them so that they could have their sexual needs met. Married couples who ventured to occasionally swap partners with other married couples broke out of their own private personal marriage relationships and suddenly found themselves much more in tune to an understanding of others' needs and relationship. All of this fostered a more caring understanding and loving atmosphere in our communities which is what Father David had envisioned all along. ... In the euphoria of long awaited change, everyone was eager to exercise their new freedoms. Revelry and renunciation of the former repressive system and its restrictions were the order of the day. In many cases, caution was thrown to the wind."

In 1981 the Fellowship Revolution called for Family homes to meet together regularly for spiritual fellowship. It was becoming clear to Berg by 1973 that in some areas The Family had apparently lost sight of the original purpose of those meetings and that "many adults had become preoccupied with personal intimate relationships." Sexually transmitted diseases were being passed between the homes at such meetings and Berg responded by placing a ban upon inter-home sex at any area fellowship. Within the home sharing continued. The scriptural exhortation to "Love one another without partiality" (1 Timothy 5:21) was taken literally in the belief that the sexual needs of all members should be met as equitably as possible. Implementing that was complex. If anyone was unable to manage to arrange a satisfactory sharing relationship with another, he or she was able to seek the help of the overseer of the home's sharing schedule. These sharing schedules were not universally found in every home and they were never part of Family policy. As the scheme reported in the "Jumbo Story" in 1988, it enabled members of the home to "get to spend love-up time with specific partners at least a couple of times a week". Sharing arrangements are said to be strictly voluntary and I do not doubt that, but I am equally satisfied that once again great pressure was put upon members to submit to requests because not to do so was selfish and selfishness was not to be tolerated. Sharing, like FFing, is another example of sacrificial love. Indeed The Family use the sacrificial nature of sexual sharing to defend themselves against the charge of promiscuity. World Services in their history of the sexual policies of The Family say this:-

"Learning that The Family engaged in FFing and continues to share sexually among members of the group, can cause a non-member to draw the conclusion that we inspire indiscriminate promiscuity or "Free Love". Such a conclusion indicates a lack of understanding of the true dynamics of sexual sharing within The Family. Sharing a mate or loved one with another requires a great deal of sacrificial love for the third party. ... A large degree of sacrificial love is also necessary when mates share with others within The Family today."

Sexual intercourse between adults whether a sacrificial or a promiscuous activity is not a matter of major concern to the court if it takes place in private but where the welfare of children is paramount, then any sexual activity in the presence of children must be a matter which arouses the Court's anxiety. I have already referred to the basic philosophy of The Family that when God commanded Adam and Eve to go forth and multiply, he meant that quite literally and that it was therefore wholly right that they might do it in public without embarrassment and without pretence. From the writings of The Family it does, however, seem that children were to be included among the members of the public in whose presence sexual intercourse might blatantly take place. I must refer later and in detail to "The Story of Davidito", a detailed account of the early life of Davidito, Maria's Jesus baby, written by Sara, his nanny, but here is a passage written when Davidito was aged seventeen months.

"Sex!: Little David stood watching through the pool fence as a couple made love in the water. He imitated every motion by wiggling his bottom and his right hand up and down then went into the house to show mommy the story of how to goose a girl! He is still jealous when Alfred and I love up - Daddy says he has been in love with me since the beginning! When he saw he wasn't getting our full time attention because we were "busy" in bed, he left the room and hid under the dining room table to pout. He knew that if he hid, we would have to stop and find him ..."

If that picture is accurate, then it gives some idea of the sexual ethos of the place - the couple engaging in sexual activity in the pool and the nanny and her boyfriend having sexual intercourse in the bed in the boy's presence. It gets worse. When Davidito was three years two months old this appeared to have happened:-

"One night after a real good dinner talk by Dad on the importance of sharing and how timidity is really just pride, Dad suggested we have a "come-union". (The nauseous play on words only struck me after several readings.) "He set up a place for Maria and Timothy on the floor, we had the couch, and a sister took care of sweet Alfred upstairs. Of course it was really good for everybody to just love one another, and was especially new and humbling for dear Timothy, God bless him!" (The text is then interrupted by a small photograph of a couple having sexual intercourse above the caption "A Love-demo". The text continues:) "So Davidito just wandered around from one group to another for a long while. While watching all four of us in the living room, he said aloud to try and get our attention, "Ah-hum! I would like to play with my cars now", as if someone should stop the fun and join him. Then he thought about getting my attention and said in a very self righteous, straight way, "Sarah, I want to go upstairs and read a book about Jesus!" - how "saintly" and sweet! - he figured that he'd really get me to pay attention to such a good little boy! Ha! He did a few favours for Daddy such as turn off the lights, bring us more wine, then he went upstairs to watch Alf in action. Whenever Dito had ever seen me with Daddy before he'd always act very jealous and sometimes naughty, so, hoping not to offend him, Daddy suggested a while later that I better go find Dito and pay him a little special attention now! And guess where I found him? Sitting on the stairs peeking down at us! So when I offered to read with him he told me, "I have already read this book because with this "Love-make" going on, Alf just threw me the book when I was in my bed and said here, read this! So I have already read it. It's about the first airplane that men flew." (It was about the Wright Brothers!). So next he wanted his turn, and as soon as I got into bed he jumped on me and said, "Sarah, love me!" He specifically asked for several swigs of wine, and got "happy" real quick, so we really had a good time! Alf, Tim and Mommy were outside the door listening to him. "Sarah, now kiss it!", and then he began to laugh and laugh. "Oh, it flopped in your nose! ...!

I have no doubt from the context of the book as a whole that what Sarah was required to kiss was his penis. Exposure of a young child to a sexual activity of that kind is in my judgment utterly deplorable. Those guilty of abusing Davidito by wholly inappropriate exposure to sex included the leader and his likely successor. Their attitude to these matters was fully set out in the letter "My Childhood Sex" in which it was written:-

"In nearly all families they watch couples making love and parents fucking etc - so what? it's perfectly natural! (Sara: Davidito's seen it too; he knows what it is. He knows the results too! He sees pregnant girls' big tummies. He's seen it in books, he knows all about it. He knows you get up and wash afterwards and everything, he knows all about it! So what's new, what's "wrong"? why is it bad?) I think it's so much better that they just learn that way naturally ... (Maria: But we never knew about our parents' relationships, because they did it behind closed doors!) Yes, they hide it! isn't that terrible! They leave you so ignorant of one of the most important things in life, and act just like it was something evil it's all they're teaching that it's bad, wicked, sinful, dirty, nasty!"

As if to emphasise that it is God's will for man, the comic "Heaven's Children" has a cartoon of Heaven or the Millennium with a little girl nestling against a Lion. They are watching a naked couple in intimate contact in a pool, the man saying, " Love you" and the woman saying, "That was terrific". The Lion says, "They are really having fun" and the girl replies, "Yes it's called sex"

[edit] THE ORAL EVIDENCE RELATING TO SHARING

I can make these findings:-

  1. Sharing between adults over 21 does take place within the United Kingdom. It can be voluntarily arranged between the couple and the home team-work become involved in the mediation of any disputes that may arise in the arrangements for sharing. A married partner may share but that is a decision requiring more prayer and discussion. Sharing schedules are not the norm.
  2. NT has shared. S's father is WA, a married man. An issue arose during the course of the trial when it appeared that SPM had also shared with NT at or about the time of the child's conception. Blood tests were needed to resolve the question of paternity. SPM was excluded.
  3. At the end of the hearing I was disconcerted to learn that NT was again pregnant. The stress of this litigation not surprisingly took its toll upon her and she needed to get away for some rest and relaxation. I can sympathise with that need! It was arranged that she should have a weekend away with RB, another married man. He is the putative father of the child born to her on 5th January, 1995, a boy named S2.
  4. I have no evidence to suggest and I do not find that sharing, as practised in this country at this time, is flagrantly conducted in public. I have no evidence and do not find instances of group sex occurring here and now in this country though I am utterly convinced it took place elsewhere, not least in Berg's own home, and frequently within sight and sound of the children.
  5. More specifically, I accept that NT has been discreet in her enjoyment of sexual relations and has not exposed S to them. Although she, like all members of the movement exults in the glory of their sexual freedom so that she, like all others, proclaims that there is nothing wrong with sex, I accept her protestation that she will not knowingly permit her son to be a witness to sexual activity.
  6. I also utterly and totally satisfied by the evidence called by the Plaintiff from the young teenagers who grew up in the family in the 1970's and 1980's that it was common place for children living within The Family during those times to have grown up seeing and hearing their parents engaged in sexual intercourse not only with each other but with various and numerous partners. Berg, Maria and Sara practised what they preached and what they preached was practised by their flock. Children should not have been exposed to blatant and indiscriminate sexual activity. It was an early experience for many, many children. It robbed them of them of the precious youth. It defiled them. It was abusive. It was deplorable.

[edit] INAPPROPRIATE VIDEOS AND DANCING

This topic assumed some importance in the trial insofar as (a) it throws light on the character and proclivities of Berg and (b) it assists me in making judgments as to the credibility of those who speak for The Family in this litigation. In a vain attempt to clarify the issues, I required the Plaintiff to plead her case and in paragraph 21 of the particulars of her allegations dated September 1992, she alleged:

"Some female members of the organisation are encouraged to appear in video tapes which show them naked or scantily dressed masturbating. These video tapes are alleged to be made for the consumption of David Berg."

The answer was a denial of that allegation. In his affidavit sworn in December 1992, SPM stated that the allegation that women in The Family had been forced to masturbate on video was completely untrue. He stated the dancing was by adults.

I gave leave to the Plaintiff to file further evidence and she produced a number of video tapes said to emanate from The Family. The Family were indignant at their production and that indignation arose in part from the obvious fact that the production of these tapes utterly destroyed the case that had earlier been presented by them. Their indignation arose also out of the circumstances in which these videos were obtained. Although the evidence before me is hearsay piled upon hearsay, and so too unreliable for me to come to firm conclusions about it, there is the strongest suspicion that these videos were obtained dishonestly from the Philippines by a member of the anti-cult movement and copies were eventually passed to the Plaintiff. I am not suggesting that she was involved in any way in the theft and it was right and proper in the interests of truth and justice and to enable me to decide what is best for this child that the videos were placed before me. Consequently I was not prepared to exclude their being put in evidence because they were clearly material to the issues I had to try. I am also perfectly satisfied that even if they are compilations of different tapes they originate from The Family. Oral evidence given from several sources including the Defendant's witnesses confirmed that. Those tapes exploded the Defendant's denial. The tape called "Glorify God in the Dance" has six clips of children aged between four and twelve dancing naked or semi-naked in imitation of the older women also shown on those tapes. The tape numbered 4 includes a party scene in South America. One of the Defendant's witnesses, JC, was refreshingly frank about his making it. It showed half naked couples dancing and embracing. Children who seem to be about three or four years old were shown to be present. JC explained that he made the film "for spice" because at that time (January 1983), "That is what we did." They sent the video to Berg because they thought it would please him. Video number 5 is the "Love Video." It shows young children dancing, two girls together, scenes of masturbation and sexual intercourse or simulated sexual intercourse, a testimony from a girl called Joan admitting that she masturbated. In another clip a man Appeles says they had the Love Video from World Services, that it was so inspiring that it was a chance to share his wife with another but, more disturbing, his son J1 who seems to be about ten years old had a chance to "share" with adult Sally.

Faced with that evidence The Family were more forthcoming and in SPM's affidavit sworn in January this year, he exhibited the World Services "History on Sexual Policies" to which I have already referred. In a passage "Experimenting with Dance and Love Videos in 1980", they revealed that Berg had encouraged The Family to make the love videos. The videos:

"Explored ways to inculcate a positive body image in all of our members. ... A few of the under aged girls, admittedly unwisely, performed dances bare breasted in playful imitation of their mothers or guardians".

World Services acknowledged that:

"Father David also suggested that they could possibly also film some portions of romantic and loving heterosexual interaction between adults".

By the mid 1980's, The Family instituted a number of policies to curb liberality of this nature. In "Latest Newsflash no. 47" in April 1984, The Family were asked to erase any tapes with explicit sex scenes because some such videos had fallen into the hands of the authorities. In "Latest Newsflash No. 57" of January 1985, under aged children were urged not to take their clothes off when dancing on video because:

"You could hardly touch a more sensitive nerve in most of the systemites to enrage them and have them want to lynch you on the spot than to bring up child abuse, and child sex, and child pornography, and all that kind of rot."

I highlight these words because so to dismiss sexual perversion of that kind as "rot" is, to my mind, to provide proof positive from his own words that Berg was a man without judgment or moral scruple, and a malign corrupting influence on his susceptible followers. I simply do not understand how else this choice of language can be explained."

That is how the matter stood when the hearing commenced. Well into the hearing further documents were produced including the letter "Glorify God in the Dance" dated July 1981. The letter praises those who have:

"Bared your all perhaps for the first time before others and members of The Family, in not only your own home but realising that your dance was going to be viewed by the whole Family."

This seems to me to confirm the Plaintiff's evidence which had been denied in the pleadings that these videos were regularly seen in all Family homes. He justified the dancing in these terms:-

"Yes, dancing does sometimes lead to sex, that's for sure. Why not? It's one of God's highest forms of the expression of love, and that is what it's all about, God's love, because God is love, love is God. He expects us to love and be loving and make love - both to him and to each other - and one way we can make love to the Lord is in the spirit in praising him and singing and dancing and fucking! Hallelujah! TYJ! (Thank You Jesus) ... So if a dance is sexy, it's no more evil than sex itself. Of course, you who seem to have the idea that sex is evil naturally would think that sexy dancing was evil too."

He uttered some caution on the future dance videos:-

"Lest you repeat some of the mistakes which a few have made in our first childish stumbling attempts to create beautiful sights and sounds on video. As we first encouraged you to make some of these video tapes, we told you that love can be beautiful, but perhaps we didn't put enough emphasis on the fact that sex can also be ugly if you don't approach it from the right angle and in the right way, in the right spirit and with the right know-how. ... Although some of your love scenes were very tastefully and beautifully done, such as one by some of the folks in our own home and one which was done by WWM and another done by MWM and a few others, there were one or two which frankly were just plain down right ugly. ... We have found in some of your videos that sex can not only be beautiful but it can also be ugly, just plain coarse and crude and almost sickening, especially when there's too much of it, and it's just too raw for good taste, and some of it has left a very bad taste in our mouth when it was overdone. ... So may we suggest we have just about had enough of these actual sex act videos."

He then gave encouragement to the girls in their exotic dancing. He gave detailed descriptions in this and a subsequent letter as to precisely how they were to dance and he condescended to such detail as to specify the length of their pubic hair and the manner in which they were to rub their nipples to make them erect. He concluded:-

"I know on some of these I have been making love to Maria and she to me, and the rhythm has been so slow that in our love making it was almost difficult to eventually arrive at an orgasm because the beat was too slow, and in making love to your beautiful love videos we always like to keep time to the music, believe it or not! It just is natural and automatic with me, I can hardly do anything rhythmic without keeping time to the music or rhythm to which I am listening. If you don't speed up a few of those numbers, it's going to take me forever to goose her or her forever to jack me to the point where we can reach the final glorious conclusion! So do step up the tempo a little bit as you go along, make it a little more rapid, and I think some of you in particular would find it easier to dance and more comfortable if the final tempos were a little bit more rapid as you're getting into the fiery fury of the glorious climax, both of your dance and our sexual fervour!"

These passages give some insight into Berg's personality. Crude sex found no favour with him but in every other respect he was obsessed with sex. To require the women in the group to dance for him whether the dance was erotic, or exotic, or artistic, in order to heighten his sexual pleasure, was depraved. He might have idealized sex but he also perverted it. In the chapter "Dancing before the King", from Techi's life story, we learnt that:

"When Techi was two years four months old, she started off with one of her favourites, "Sex in Heaven". Techi was dressed just with a scarf and played during her dance with a big plume feather. Dad after viewing the children's show warned us that it wasn't very wise to film Techi all naked. At that time we lived in South Africa, which has real strict laws regarding pornography!"

There was a photograph of the naked Techi and the comment, "A drape to cover her pubic area would have been much better!" Despite the "Latest Newsflash No 57," to which I have already referred, endeavouring to restrain under-aged children removing their clothes when dancing on video, "Latest Newsflash No 112" dated November 1988 said this:

"Developing nudie-cuties! As much as Dad loves to receive your nudie-cuties, girls, he wanted to mention a word of caution about getting these developed in commercial photo shops, especially if there are any shots of under age girls on the roll. ... Therefore for any developing of nudie-cuties we would definitely suggest that you go to an area of town where people would tend to be more liberal in this respect (i.e. nightclub district etc)... So keep those gorgeous nudie-cuties coming girls but please use discretion in getting them developed."

[edit] THE ORAL EVIDENCE OF THE DANCING

There is overwhelming evidence that videos were made and distributed showing couples having sexual intercourse or simulating doing so, of women masturbating or pretending to do so, of women dancing in various states of undress and, importantly, of young girls copying those dances. The evidence is so overwhelming that I need but highlight some of the pointers to that conclusion:-

  1. Firstly I have seen some of the videos. They show actual or, more likely simulated sexual intercourse, masturbation or masturbatory actions and of young girls dancing. I saw Fiona S. dancing and I saw her 12 year old daughter H2 copy her and I saw, shamefully, her four year old daughter MS following suit.
  2. MB gave evidence, which I accept of her being taken into the woods with another lady and copying her dance. She spoke of being encouraged by the adults to engage in mutual masturbation with her 9 year old friend A1, who is also shown on the video I have seen. This was filmed by Paul and he holds office as one of the European CROs (leaders) at the moment. She saw Jeremy Spencer having sexual intercourse with Rachael and being filmed doing it. The films were made for Berg.
  3. MS told me and I believed it, that she was taught to strip during her time with Music with Meaning . Zack, the camera man, filmed his own four year old daughter. MS can recall the men making lewd comments which she told me, "made me feel funny". She saw women masturbating and she saw sexual intercourse on films. These were made "as Family entertainment". When she was in India aged about 11, The Family were asked to make a video for Berg's birthday. I note that the instruction was that girls under 12 were not to be filmed and that is some evidence, one piece among many, that Family attitudes were changing over the course of time.
  4. VP told me she made that film as did SF.
  5. KJ spoke of having to dance at a National Area Fellowship Meeting. I believed her. She spoke of making her costume cutting out hearts to cover her nipples and a heart to cover her pubic area. She represented the elixir of love. Much later in the case, the True Komix "The Goddess of Love" was produced and that portrays, as I have already set out, the Holy Spirit as a naked lady covered where appropriate only by her three hearts.
  6. SF admitted that girls were filmed and that she herself was videoed for Berg's birthday.
  7. Dr Melton, the expert called by the family, spoke of the "love videos" being sent to World Services and circulated, although only for a short time. The dance videos continued until about 1987. He was satisfied that videos of this kind were regularly shown at Fellowship Meetings as some form of entertainment or uplifting of the spirit.
  8. In view of the December 1988 advice about developing nude cuties, I am less sure whether the distribution of these videos did cease in about 1987. I am, however, satisfied that it is no longer a practice to make, still less to distribute, any of these kinds of videos.

Mr Barton on behalf of the mother submits that since this can be confined to the perhaps rather nasty litter bin of history, it is irrelevant for the issues I have to try. That is true insofar as there is no risk of S's exposure to this material, but there are three matters of continuing concern to me, namely:

Firstly the corrupting influence of these videos. Dr Cameron gave evidence of this. He is an eminent, highly regarded child psychiatrist. He told me, and I accept, firstly that repeatedly to require young girls to dance in a way imitative of their elders and to expose a child's body in erotic dance, an activity which is ordinarily taboo, was part of the process of grooming children for sexual exploitation by adults. The effect of the open acceptance of this kind of video was gradually to erode the sense of taboo about the sexuality of children, thereby reducing the ability to regard sexual activity with children as abhorrent. He said that it was self deceit to think that it was not made for sexual gratification. Secondly, the insistence that the dances be done in so similar a way had the tendency to make them focused fetishist films. Thirdly, it is relevant to my enquiry to see whether or not those close to S are themselves capable of self-deception. Almost universally I find that they are. Again only by way of example, the evidence which leads to that conclusion came from:-

  1. NT herself: having heard Dr Cameron's evidence, she said that it was for expert opinion to know if it was damaging for children to dance like that but "I don't think a cute little dance is damaging. If the child was told that there was some dirty old man across the seas and to do a dance for him, that would be damaging and harmful but a free normal attitude to sex or sexuality or copying their mother in a cute way, I don't think is damaging". She could not have been listening to MB and MS who at their tender age were perfectly well aware of "the dirty old man across the seas" and were instinctively aware they were demeaned. To describe the dances as "cute" is utterly naive judged against the explicit letters which link the dancing with sex.
  2. EM, one of the family's experts in child care, sent to this country to carry out an investigation into teenage problems, was prepared to accept that there had been dancing but not masturbating. She said she had not seen any of the children dancing but she thought that when they had done it in the past, it was "very artistic. I don't see anything wrong with it. There is a beautiful (my emphasis) letter about it called "Glorifying God in dance". This demonstrates a complete lack of insight in one who played an important part in forming and implementing Family child-care policy.
  3. SF: in her Affidavit she said that the allegation about children taking part in pornographic stripteases was a fabrication. Giving her the benefit of the doubt that "pornographic" qualifies stripteases so that her statement might be true on such a construction, nevertheless not to admit that children were at least involved in some kind of stripteasing is another tiny example of "Deceivers Yet True". She knew that her husband filmed 12 year old VP having to do one of these striptease dances. She did one herself. In evidence in chief she described its purpose as "an artistic dance, no sex involved at all, for us nudity does not denote sex." Under cross-examination she maintained that they did not do these dances for sex but she did accept that it was done for Berg's sexual gratification and she described that as inappropriate and unnecessary. What struck me so forcibly was that her sons FC and SC were shocked by their mother's involvement in this activity. In chief FC told me, "I don't know anything about striptease dances, honestly." He was shuffling his feet and he was lying to me. He was a prissy, smugly self-righteous young man. He had known since September 1992 of the allegations made by MB that young children were having to strip. He said he had no need to ask whether it was true or not because he doubted it very much. He found it very hard then to believe that his mother would have danced topless because she was not that kind of person. When pressed to accept that his mother's obvious sensibilities had been corrupted by the Mo letters, he defiantly refused to contemplate the implications because he declared it was not relevant today because "all I know is I am serving Jesus right now and doing the best for Him.

This is typical of the evidence I heard from Family members who, schooled in the way to deal with these questions, attempted to argue that it was no different from taking a family photograph of a little girl running naked on the beach in Greece. MM, from her present more conservative perspective, acknowledged that, "we lived in a bubble in some ways looking back". There was little, if any, full acknowledgment of the corrupting effect of the dance nor of the directive force of Berg indulging his own salacious desires.

[edit] SEXUAL ACTIVITY BETWEEN CHILDREN

[edit] The issue joined between the parties

In answer to the allegation that The Family had encouraged sexual activities among children, The Family answered that they had never done so. When interrogated by the Official Solicitor as to whether or not there was any verbal or written suggestion, recommendation or encouragement to permit/assist minors to act in a sexual manner with other minors, SPM swore an Affidavit that "each home had to be judged according to its own circumstances at that time and hence any such activity which might have occurred in isolated circumstances were local incidents which reflected neither the official policy nor the general practice of The Family with regard to sexuality."


[edit] THE LITERATURE

[edit] "Revolutionary Sex," March 27th 1973

This letter contained the following extracts:

"So many children have grown up with the teaching that sex and masturbation and their sexual parts are sinful, when they are perfectly normal, healthful, physical activities.....It's the excess that is the same in anything."
"This mysterious secrecy about sex, of course, inspired our childish curiosity all the more.....I found little girls are fascinated by my own erections and quite as willing to feel them as I was to attempt to explore their more hidden inner recesses! So I had my first intercourse at the early age of 7 which I found very interesting at my little cousin's instigation, she being of the same age."
"Children should be taught, as we try to teach ours, that your body is a beautiful creation of God. Children should be taught that their sexual parts are just as good as the rest of their bodies and that sexual activities, feelings and pleasures are no more evil than eating or any other physical functions or exercise. They should be taught that the evil results are only from their wrong, unlawful or excessive use. They should be made to understand that normal sex is no more sinful or less healthful than normal eating or drinking....A child's interest in the equivalent parts of the opposite sex is also perfectly normal and natural along their innocent childish investigations of the same out of natural curiosity and should not be discouraged, condemned nor punished." (I have added the emphasis to demonstrate early on the falsehood or, taking a more charitable view of it, the naivety of the denials that the early awakening of childhood sexuality was not a matter encouraged by the literature).
"Children should be taught the same: that there is nothing wrong with their bodies, nothing evil about sex...they should also not be prohibited from mutual self examination, experimentation or interplay when playing or sleeping together where legally possible and social and housing conditions permit...but it must be made very clear to your children that such sexual freedom must never be indulged in or practised openly in the presence of visitors, strangers or uninitiated relatives and friends who have not been properly re-educated in the revolutionary sexual freedoms of natural living - in other words you will not be able to indulge in such God given freedoms in the presence of the average systemite or even new disciples or their children or those who have not yet been properly educated in the liberal loving ways of God's revolutionary naturist...Otherwise, have fun and enjoy the pleasures that God has created and the senses and feelings he has made for you to enjoy where, when and with whom possible and expedient remembering the scriptures' own admonition that all of these things may be lawful to you, but they are not always expedient or advisable under all circumstances anywhere with anybody at any time....Don't overdo it, or you may be sorry! On the other hand don't under do it either by denying yourself the joys and necessities of life that God has created for you to enjoy....Don't go to the opposite extreme or permit your children to do so by becoming so addicted to sex and masturbation that you sit around all day starry-eyed like a zombie....From personal experience I can tell you I have accomplished much ,more and done much greater things and achieved greater success in God's work since I have become more sexually liberated and enjoyed greater sexual activity than ever before.

[edit] Child Brides - 4th April 1977.

There he wrote:-

"I hope all our young kids have plenty of sex....Why did the Lord make you able to have children at the age of 11, 12 and 13 if you weren’t supposed to have sex then?...In India they had child brides at 7 years of age! They can get married at that age! Then they could do all the fucking they want without having to worry about any kids till they are 12 years old!"

[edit] "My Childhood Sex" - June 1977

This was the authoritative work which would have been read by everyone in The Family.

"God intended for us to get accustomed to sex long before there was any procreation or sexual intercourse. And therefore you wouldn't be so preoccupied with it when you finally hit puberty or somewhere near there and you wouldn't just go crazy about it. If you were already accustomed to it, there wouldn't be any big deal about it, nothing rude. It's only natural!...."
"At 12 I was already fucking."
"I can remember at the age of 4 I was very very interested in little girls and what they looked like down there. I wanted to examine them and most of them seemed to like having me examine them, if we could get away with it when no adults were around, and play doctor and nurse. (Sara: That proves how sexy the Holy Spirit really is! because you were filled with the Holy Spirit from your mother's womb, yet as far back as you can remember you were always interested in girls and sex and Davidito has your spirit and he's the same way!). Fascinated and why not? Sex is a creation of God, created for us all to enjoy! Even children!"

He set out in the letter (or the parts of it we have) how he endeavoured to have sexual intercourse with his seven year old cousin and how at the age of 12 he again tried to have sexual intercourse with a girl of the same age. The letter concluded:

"That's the secret: just let kids do what comes naturally! Don't make a big fuss about it! Just treat it as natural as it is, no big thing, no catastrophe! Just let it come naturally and pleasantly, and explain that that’s the way God made us and he wants us to enjoy it and it is perfectly normal and good for you! But you don't do it in public or too much! Its a private pleasure! Amen!"

[edit] The Davidito Book

This was printed chapter by chapter before re-published as a whole. Among the chapters are these:

1. In Chapter 31 when Davidito was 17 months old in July 1976:I have already recited that passage of Davidito watching the couple make love in the pool and of his being jealous when Alfred and Sara "love up". The Chapter continued:-

"He finally found something he thinks the baby is good for - he climbs up on the bed when she is propped there on a pillow and crawls right on top of her and began hunching away! They both love it, really!"

This baby was Davida, Sara's daughter, who would have been about 3 months old. The chapter continued:

"Mommy and Daddy just didn't believe us until they watched themselves one time: he climbed on top of Davida lying on the couch and began banging away again with a big smile! Daddy stood there, at first a bit awed, then felt Davidito's little penie and said, "I never would have believed it if I didn't really feel how hard he really is!".

2. In chapter 45 when Davidito was 2 years 4 months old, comment was added to Sara's entries by Berg himself. The fact that his views are recorded makes it difficult for The Family to distance him from responsibility for its publication. He said:

"God made children able to enjoy sex so he must have expected them to! I did! All my life! Thank God! I love it! and it didn't hurt me any! Nearly all kids do anyhow, despite prohibitions! And the only reason the system frowns on it is the churches have taught sex as evil! which is contrary to the Bible! how could God create a sexual enjoyment be a sin?! The system is really screwed up! God help us! They're the ones not normal! But "let not your good be evil-spoken of"! So take it easy."

3. In Chapter 61 when Davidito is 3 years 2 months old there was the description the "come-union" and it continued:-

"Soon afterwards in our next location he made up for loss time with his favourite playmate Davida. He told me, "Sarah gonna have to teach Davida to like to fuck and not push me away!" Well, I am glad she does not push him away all time, because the very next night I could not find them after dinner, but spotted right at the top of the stairs! Banging away on each other! Imagine! It's a good thing she liked it that time!"

4. The index is interesting. There is a cartoon of Berg saying:

"Davidito, do you know what you are doing? you are teaching the whole world how to take care of babies!"

There followed a very detailed index including a number of references to sex experiences and education, in addition to the entries on masturbation and penis. There is a cartoon. It shows Davidito on top of Davida as if having sexual intercourse with her.

5. These collected essays where published in 1982 as if then to give current force to the recommended practice in The Family's own Child Care Manual on how to bring up their children.

There are some letters from members of The Family which are revealing about the sexual goings-on within The Family. Thus for example:-

(a) "Sex should be Fun" written in about 1980 when Shuly wrote how "wonderful" it was "to have the liberty if you want it." She goes openly proclaimed that when she was thirteen in Venezuela she had a sexual affair with Berg's grandson. (b) In "The Blessings of Older Children" written in about 1981 Seek and Secundus observed that they had not heard many testimonies from other families about how fast their kids were maturing, but would be very interested to hear more. Their eldest were J. 9, S1 8 and S2 6. They wrote:-

"J., S1 and S2 have quite a little love triangle going and have been teaching us a lot about sharing and being unselfish. One night I knew S1 was looking forward to being with J., but he was with S2. I asked S1 about it and she said that S2 was a little discouraged and J. was trying to cheer her up before he came to bed with her....J. was so in love with one sister while we were in Finland and really went through trials when he knew a particular older brother was sleeping with her....We really don't encourage or discourage the children about sex but we like to talk to them about what they are experiencing. It really isn't a joke for them, but comes very naturally and matter of factly, and they don't hesitate to share with us without even a flush. We don't know how much flesh brothers and sisters can share when they are older? But we want to share our experiences and are interested in the experiences of others in the family."

[edit] Teen Sex

This was written in September 1985. It began with a comparison between system children and Family children and then Berg said:-

"But in The Family I think we are a very good example of what parents should be like, teaching kids what's right and about the Lord and to follow him and his principles and his Law of Love and his rules and getting them reared up in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart therefrom".

I again add the emphasis in order to refute The Family's case that the teachings of Mo were not encouraging of any sexuality. I find this was a clear instruction to the family to school their children in the Law of Love. He pointed out that:

"Our subteens are more like real adults. They are mature enough to get married and have children of their own at an early age which is the way God intended for things to be."

Then he continued:

"Of course it is shocking and horrifying to the system but you know how I feel about it! Frankly, I think as children, before the girls start menstruating and the boys start seminating, that's their opportunity to have all the sex they want with no problems - as long as the system doesn't know it" (I have added the emphasis). "And to get their experience and that's the way God intended for it to be! He didn't let them be able to have children until he thought they were old enough to take care of them. And apparently God thought they ought to be old enough and smart enough and responsible enough to take care of them at the ages of 13 and 14!... but up until that age there is no damage they could do having all the freedom they want in exploring each other and having whatever sex they can manage to have! Frankly, that's my opinion. I don't know if we're ever able to publish that," (again my emphasis) because that is what the system is horrified at already! They call it "child sex" and all that kind of stuff. But actually the Lord made children so they are interested in it and they enjoy it with each other and they like to explore and have adventures! He made them able to enjoy it at those younger ages and they can even have orgasms".

Maria realised the potential problems with the system and observed that "worldwide protection of children has swept the world" which, for Berg, was "the devil's kind of protection." They laid down rules that:-

"Boys with semen are going to have to avoid fucking girls who menstruate. There are plenty of other kinds of sex they can enjoy even with each other without actually fucking."

The language is so crudely explicit that it becomes thoroughly distasteful, a fact which World Services must have accepted because in their History of the Sexual Policies of The Family compiled in November 1993, they quote this passage using the more delicate euphemism "making love"!

[edit] "Questions You Always Wanted To Ask."

This was published at about the time of or shortly after the Teen Training Camp in 1986. The teens had submitted their questions in advance, the leaders had answered them and "Dad was able to look them over and add some comments."

Question 1 was "What are the rules regarding sex for a 15 year old, as well as for younger teens?"

"Answer: Here's what Dad and Maria say that can help clarify that from the letter Teen Sex, paragraph 36: "(Maria: for the sake of potential problems with the system, we have set a rule for our girls that they can't fuck a seminating male after starting their period till they are 15). Yes, now you are making the qualification as I said, I think there is no reason to discourage them from having sex with each other until the girls begin to menstruate and the boys begin to seminate...Man's laws are in violation of God's laws, and because of this, we just have to be careful with our revolutionary living and our radical ideas and our liberties and freedoms, which the system doesn't have and sometimes doesn't tolerate. So boys and girls, you can have all the sex you want within the guidelines of counselling with your shepherds and/or parents, but boys, once you start having semen, you should not fuck any girls who have started their periods and are under the age of 15 years old. Once a teen girl starts her periods she must refrain from actual fucking with any boys who have semen because then you could produce a baby....Its o.k. to fuck boys who do not yet have semen, and girls, once you've reached your 15th birthday, you can go ahead and fuck.

Question 2 the teens always apparently wanted to ask was:

"Once girls have stated their period, can they still have dates with teen boys with semen and masturbate each other, even though they can't fuck? Answer: As long as they are obedient to The Family rule that Grandpa and Maria set down and don't fuck, yes, it would be fine to love and satisfy each other with kissing, masturbating etc...Our dear king and queen are entrusting you teens with this blessing and great responsibility of having teen sex. They of course want you to be happy and enjoy and love each other but they also want you to obey.

"Make it Work" written in June 1988 laid down a new policy which became necessary after the introduction of the "school vision" in November 1987 and the creation of Family schools which called for a more clearly defined code of sexual conduct for the teenagers. It may be a fair inference that control had to be imposed over the excessive enjoyment of the freedoms granted to the teenagers. Perhaps The Family had in mind the excesses revealed in the "Heavenly City School Training Seminar Notes" which The Family subsequently sought to suppress. EM was a leading figure at this school and she and two others report on the teens relationships/sharing. They decided:

"To have a sharing plan which was an experiment. We patterned it after the adult sharing plan and were careful not to push anyone onto it - no pressure ....Almost all the boys wanted to be on it, but not many of the girls, so some of the older girls took two boys!...we were trying to teach the teen to have unselfish love, not pressure them."

Consider that for a moment! Here was the flagship of The Family School Vision teaching the children to have unselfish love, teaching them in other words to submit to sexual intercourse. To continue:-

"We had the schedule for about 1 to 1½ months. It was only about 10 couples and then it went down to two girls and some boys! Then we asked what their hang ups were about the sharing plan, what you like and do not like about it. We cancelled it for a while to have classes and pow wows about it...They had really honest and sincere questions that needed to be answered and it was a huge victory in that area. They had to overcome the things about being cruel....They had to learn it as "cool" in God's eyes to be on fire...The fruit was all of them wanted to be on the sharing plan! So then we had to have ...two classes and share with them what to do if you aren't going all the way. A girl asked if you could get pregnant from sucking and swallowing it or pregnant without the man coming in etc. They needed the practical classes too and it was amazing all the things they did not know that we took for granted a lot. They don't have the experience we do and haven't read the letters that we knew." ( I add the emphasis to show how the Letters had shaped this intelligent lady's behaviour and how she clearly wished to use them to instruct her young charges in sexual practices.)
"You really could see some of them really didn't know what we were talking about. It is important to take time to discuss the birds and bees and explain these things! We tend to take it for granted that they know about sex but they don't. They need the word on it read to them... Some guidelines were laid down to help them learn these values and responsibilities in their lives and to count the cost. They could go all the way but if the girl got pregnant, they would need to get married to the Daddy and they would also have to leave the school and go to another field with the mate where it is more acceptable for a teen girl to be pregnant. They were quite sobered. The boys especially really valued their place here and didn't want to lose it and almost all said, "I'm not going to fuck" because they really wanted to stay. The girls were happy to hear they wouldn't be pregnant and left on their own - then the girls went through the trials that the boys wouldn't fuck - the tables had turned! .... Hang Ups: we haven't had any major problems along the line of sharing, love and relationships since our classes except for some new teens who came in and missed it and were a bit fleshed out which we had to stop as they would sometimes dissemble. Some girls wouldn't undress anywhere except in a corner and were really bound and not free at all. Example of shower problem - in Japan you shower together...but in some cases some boys and girls didn't want the opposite sex in the shower. Some boys and some girls would shower with their undies on even with their own sex. We brought it out and discussed it and it improved. We found that many teens feel awkward or embarrassed about their body even though they have been raised in the family and with our liberties etc." (I am not surprised The Family attempted to suppress this document!)
"Talk with them. Try to show them from the word. We had a bra discussion as they were all wearing them and we had to show them from the word why not to wear it. But if they needed it or were big or their breasts hurt, it was fine and o.k. Some girls were really just wearing them out of rebellion, except that they were rebelling in the opposite way than we did as teens - by wearing bras! Now we are having to ask them to wear bras more sometimes for visitors etc. You have to explain everything so they know the whys and wherefores." (Deceivers yet true, I ask?)
"Marriage Prep Vision! Inspiring vision! The latest counsel we got was that our goal we could teach the teens was Marriage Prep. It was brought out that the system rarely fails to prepare teens for marriage. But we could teach them lots about this! The sharing plan seemed to feed shallowness in relationships and the teens were missing having to grow up mature. We were promoting "promiscuity"- a startling admission from a teacher, even if she immediately added - "which is completely off the channel to the letters. We were not promoting what Dad is saying in the letters. Marriage prep was Dad's answer to all the info we sent in about this subject! We now need to teach them about relationship and loving dedication and responsibility to mates, why we bring people together in the first place. This Counsel changed the spirit among the teens."

EM stands condemned by her own words that she was promoting promiscuity. It was a deplorable abuse of adolescent children. It may even be that Berg would have agreed with me. He wrote in the "Make it Work" letter;-

"Now beloved, I realise we are a very sexy Family and we believe in sex but you've got to watch out! It only takes one little discontented miscreant, one little offended backslider who wants to justify himself for backsliding and makes that his complaint: "They promoted teen sex"! Isn't that the kind of story that someone might say, considering the way some of our schools and homes have apparently allowed their teens to have too much freedom and too many liberties? Where did you ever find in any of the letters that I have advocated complete sexual freedom among teenagers? Don't start quoting me Child Brides. There's only one thing that letter advocates in the way of young teenagers having sex, and what is it? (Fam: Marriage.) "Where did The Family get the idea that I promoted and advocated teenage promiscuity? (Fam: They just know that we are very free sexually. Even as little kids they slept with their brothers and sisters, and not only just physical brothers and sisters, but other kids, and they've played around. They've just grown up with it for 15 years in The Family, it just sort of comes natural). I think in my letters you will find what I consider the solution to the teens need for sex - and you will find it particularly in the letter on Child Brides. In that letter I am not advocating teenagers playing around with sex, but I am trying to prove that God intended for young teenagers, not just older teenagers, but even young teenagers to have sex, yes, but as married couples!"

(He seemed to have forgotten about Teen Sex and the answers to the children's questions.)

"I very revolutionarily asked you why do you think God allows young teenagers to have semen and periods and to be able to have babies if he did not intend for them to do so? What I was trying to teach you was that it is the ideal time for them to have sex, to couple up, have babies and therefore become mothers and fathers under the direct supervision and tutelage and control of their elders."

(I interpolate that it is not what he was saying, he was giving them permission to have sexual intercourse until boys began to produce semen and girls began to menstruate. Thereafter they were to refrain from sexual intercourse until 15, although they were free to engage in masturbation, and if the Heavenly City School is any example, to engage also in oral masturbation.)

Berg then laid down the new law in these terms:-

"And I want to tell you right now, I want to set myself on record in black and white right now, that I am not in favour of teenage promiscuity, sexual freedom, but I am in favour of encouraging teenage marriages! Do you her that? Marriages! Fatherhood, Motherhood, babyhood, loyalty, faithfulness of mates, responsibility, duty, obligation! Just as much as the system is, if not more....so my answer to your teenage sex problem is not promiscuity, it is marriage! That’s what I've always said and always encouraged and I haven't changed a bit! I am just shocked that people have misinterpreted me other ways."

I find without hesitation that his self-righteous delusion that he has been misrepresented is pure humbug. I have no hesitation either in finding that The Family have endeavoured to stamp upon teenage sexual activity and have since 1988 firmly and categorically laid down rules for the young in The Family.

In September 1989 in the letter "Teen Marriage Rules! - More on how to make it work!" (a letter I do not recall having seen, save for an extract provided by World Services) rules were laid down for teenagers wishing to marry to make a commitment for the rest of their lives, that the match should have parental approval and the approval of the leadership, that the teens should go steady for 6 months and then become betrothed and that they should live together for at least 6 months before being allowed to marry. More detailed guidelines were established, qualified and presented to The Family in 1991 and published in the Latest News Flash in August of that year, again a document I have not seen. These rules were published in August 1991 and apply today. They are as follows:-

"Pre-teens, ages 11, 12 and 13 are not allowed to date. They can have sex classes as part of their scholastic training. Junior teens, aged 14 and 15, can begin a marriage prep course as part of their scholastic training. At aged 15 and 9 months they can begin a six month going steady or engagement period, but no sex is allowed. Senior teens aged 16 and 17 can have sexual contact 3 months after engagement, with the person they are engaged to. Marriage is possible at 16, after a 6 month engagement so long as it is legal in the country of current residency. Young adults, aged 18, 19 and 20 are allowed to make sexual contact with each other without being married. Such contact must be approved by the home team work. This is completely voluntary. Whether they choose to have sexual intercourse or not in their sexual relationship is up to them."

No adult members over the age of 21 can engage in any sexual activity with those under 21." (It may be that on reaching 21, they may be allowed to continue an on-going relationship with someone under that age).

[edit] THE ORAL EVIDENCE ABOUT THE SEXUAL ACTIVITY OF CHILD WITH CHILD, AND AMONG THE TEENAGERS.

I accept the generality of the evidence presented to me that there was widespread activity of that kind to an extent significantly greater than would take place between children and between teenagers outside The Family. I confine myself to some particular findings of fact which appear to be more material than others.

1. MB: I have already referred to her being required to stroke and fondle her friend A1 as they danced for the sexual pleasure of the men at MWM. For the purposes of the behaviour I am dealing with, I must refer to her evidence of the time when she was living in her grandfather's house. She was there with Maria's children Davidito some 3 years younger and Techi about 6 years younger. She joined them when she was aged about 11. Davidito was about 8. From an early stage she had "sexual foreplay with him and took it as perfectly natural." "Davidito was quite experienced in sexual matters". MB lived in the Berg compound for nearly 4 years. The end of her time there included some of the most painful periods in her life as I shall have to recount. Because she was being beaten, there were many things that she was "blocking out", but she told me, and I accept, that she specifically remembers that Sara "came and told me that grandfather wanted me to become pregnant by Davidito", "who was less than 12 by then". That was her first experience of full sexual intercourse. Sara wrote in the "Last State " (Mar 1987) that "MB was having regular dates with Dito and we suggested she put off these interests in other boys and sex except Dito, until she was much stronger in the Lord". I find that at least Berg, Maria and Sara connived at that activity and I have little doubt that it was common knowledge in the compound and therefore within the knowledge of the other leaders who acquiesced in its occurrence.

When MB went to Macau she spoke of there being considerable sexual activity between the teenagers before the Make It Work letter was published. The contradiction between this letter and the earlier letters was obvious to the teenagers, many of whom were confused and some of whom (though not many) continued clandestinely to behave as they had.

2. AB spoke of the teenagers being given "an hour in the basement for the enjoyment of their sexual pleasures".

3. JG is the son of Apollos, also known as Pathway, the editor of the many letters and co-author with Berg of "Heaven's Girl". He began a full sexual life at an early age and was having his first full sexual intercourse at the age of 10. He continued it with his contemporaries and in Macau was frustrated when this was discouraged. I accepted his evidence despite finding him to be somewhat coarse and disrespectful and seemingly contemptuous of authority. I was not surprised that such a personality caused him to be in trouble within The Family. I regret that I could not accept the evidence of his elder brother EG, who wished to play down the significance of sexual activity between the teenagers themselves.

4. KJ. She was a very important witness. Her father is CJ, known in the family as Simon Peter. He has a position of high leadership. Her mother is VJ who is now vociferous in her condemnation of The Family and is much involved in the media campaign whose purpose is to expose them and bring them down. KJ herself has not fought shy of publicity. It is, therefore important that I scrutinize her evidence closely before accepting it to be true. It was given over nearly 4 days. As I look back at my notes, especially of my contemporaneous comments, I see how time and time again I was impressed with the wealth of detail which came pouring out in a way which did not suggest either invention or the recounting of the experiences of others. There were too many occasions when she was given the opportunity to embellish facts to the disadvantage of The Family and refrained from doing so. She gave credit where credit was due, for example, to SF. At one point she broke down and denounced Berg in tones of such obvious deep personal anguish that I caused the tape recording of that part of her evidence to be made available and I played it back at one point during the hearing. It was not suggested that her distress was a theatrical display skilfully presented to deceive me. Her evidence stood in some contrast to that of another of the Plaintiff's witnesses, RD, who from time to time did descend into unconvincing histrionics. KJ spoke of the early sexual exploration in which she engaged as a very young child. She said that from the youngest age she knew that she and members of The Family were special but she went on to describe how, at the age of 4 or 5, she visited her grandparents who are not members of The Family. She recalled her grandmother crying because she had seen KJ and her brother under the table engaged in this kind of childish exploration and fumbling. It was then that KJ realised that they were different because they, members of The Family, had the gift of God to do all these things because they had broken the bondage of the world and were free. She had her first full sexual intercourse at the age of about 7 with a boy of about 12 in a house in India which had beds and she could remember to mosquito nets. She had experience of simulated sex before then. She had no sense of doing it furtively although she did not like to be teased as occasionally she was along the lines of, "Oh you're going to be a good FFer" or "Oh, wow, how cute, how unselfish". She subsequently had full sexual intercourse with a number of boys and engaged in "foreplay or masturbation" with many others. She said she moved around a lot and everywhere she went she experienced it and could not remember any particular home where more or less took place. She spoke of sharing with SC and FC. This was kissing, cuddling, masturbating and simulating sex in their bunk beds. She was about 7 or 8 at the time. Later, just before her departure from India in March 1988, a few months short of her 12th birthday, she said that she and SC, of whom she appeared to have been fond, renewed their sexual contact, engaged in masturbation, but on this occasion had full sexual intercourse. She spoke of his ejaculating almost immediately and of semen running down her legs. SC spoke of "climbing on top of her and jumping up and down and having an orgasm," which he said was his first but he denied that it was "penetrative sex". It seems to me more likely than not that he did penetrate, however briefly. KJ says that after her return to this country she discovered that she was pregnant and miscarried. I accept that she did but I am far from certain that SC was responsible for that pregnancy, having regard to her admitted sexual intercourse with another boy in the weeks before her leaving India.

5. SC did admit that there were times when he had cuddled her, he admitted that he used to jump into KJ's bed when they were in tents at a teen camp and he admitted cuddling but was unconvincing when he said that it was only the others who could have been "exploring each other sexually". He very modestly admitted that the girls were keen on him and he became interested in girls when he was about 12 which would have preceded KJ's departure from India. He admitted that he had sexual intercourse with SW when both were aged 13 and he described this as his first "full" sexual relationship. Given the fleeting nature of his encounter with KJ, that is probably so. Whilst he denied living in a highly sexualized atmosphere, he had heard of the rumours about MP having sex with other boys, in particular K1 and he was aware of older teenagers who had "got into trouble over sexual matters". By the time he was 13 the rules had changed and it could then be said that sex was discouraged, but not enough to prevent his experience with SW. I was impressed by much of what he told me until right at the end of his evidence he was cross examined about his failing to tell the truth to the Australian barrister making his film in Denmark. He did not tell the truth, he said, because of his embarrassment and his not wanting to explain why he had been put on silence and why he was a "rotten apple". To some extent he is embarrassed by his young sexual experiences and I believe he was seeking to diminish them.

6. His brother FC was of a very different personality. He has none of his young brother's charm. He was a most unconvincing witness and I did not feel that I could rely upon him. SF their mother was a nice woman as almost all who knew her agreed. I do not find it at all unlikely that, as MP told me, she, SF, allowed MP and K1 to have "cuddle time", made a room available and even placed the candle in the room for its romantic effect. I am equally satisfied that although SF condoned heavy petting, she discouraged sexual intercourse but MP and K1 disobeyed her. She liked KJ as KJ liked her. I am sure she was distressed for FC who was so much less popular than SC. She was a little insulated from the full effect of the sexual letters and just as her sons were surprised by her topless dancing, so she was surprised by the sexual activity of the young which occurred under her roof. Because she is such a nice lady, she wanted to believe the best in everyone and to some extent she had shut her eyes to what had been going on about her.

7. The P Family

Because they have been so heavily involved in the media campaign against The Family, I initially viewed their evidence with some scepticism. MP was particularly aggressive in the way she gave evidence. Her language was deliberately crude and she seemed as determined to paint as a perverted picture as SF was to view life through rose coloured spectacles. The truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes. In fairness to SF, I should not overlook VP's evidence that SF discouraged her from a close relationship with a boy aged 13 or 14. In order to put in perspective a false picture of rampant sexual activity enjoyed all the time by all the teenagers, I must bear in mind that VP herself remained aloof from this activity though she was, of course, a good bit younger than some of the others. She also made the point that practices varied from place to place. Mexico, where they went after India, was "quite loose and people did what they wanted." When she went to Wantage, about which more later, she was rebuked for holding hands which she found strange because there was so much sex around when she was young.

8. A striking confirmation of the fact that The Family's attitude to child sexuality was very different from "the system's" came from the evidence of MA who told me very frankly, and therefore to his credit, that he and his wife were approached by a couple who had been in Greece (where even The Family tacitly acknowledged excesses occurred) and who suggested that their son aged 10 should share with their daughter of the same age, an invitation which the MA's rejected, apparently to the other couple's surprise.

9. DR, as fervent a supporter of The Family as one could find, slipped into her evidence, self righteously, I thought, that there was an occasion aged 11 when a boy of the same age wanted to have sexual intercourse with her and was disconcerted by her refusal. What was unconsciously revealing of this incident was her adding that he rebuked her for being selfish, just as Berg denounced all refusals to give sexual pleasure, the message of "The Girl who Wouldn't".

[edit] CONCLUSION:

Not all children were engaged in sexual activity but far too many were. That was directly the result of growing up within the "sexy Family". For those used to that freedom, they had a considerable difficulty in adjusting to the restrictions that were imposed upon them in 1988. Some continued to enjoy the freedom notwithstanding the ban. I am satisfied that since then The Family have been so concerned to refute the allegations of child abuse that the children now grow up sexually more conservative than many of their contemporaries in the system. I cannot find that S is at any greater risk of experiencing untimely inappropriate sexual contact with other children.


[edit] CHILD/ADULT SEX

[edit] The issues joined between the parties

In her answer designed to clarify the issues in this case, the defendant pleaded that The Family had never encouraged sexual activity between adults and children; that the sentiments expressed in "My Little Fish", though unacceptable, were written by Sara before the establishment of The Family and that it did not represent Family policy, which is to excommunicate any member guilty of sexual abuse of a child. On attempt being made further to clarify this, the following admissions were formally made at a hearing for directions:-

"For the purposes of the Wardship proceedings regarding S, the senior leadership of The Family acknowledges and admits that:-
a) Father David taught, and it was and is generally accepted in The Family, that sex and sexual activity as God prescribed is a natural God-given aspect of creation and human make-up.
b) Notwithstanding the existence of a large number of Family members who would never have tolerated any inappropriate sexual contact between adults and minors, prior to 1986 - there was within The Family an over-simplistic and naive attitude concerning the sexuality of developmentally and emotionally immature children
c)that there were some instances of children having sexually inappropriate contact with adults and being exposed to inappropriate adult sexuality."
2. The Family denies that:
a) Such behaviour was ever institutionalised or
b) Was Family policy or
c) Was representative of the norm within The Family homes
3. It is denied that such inappropriate conduct was either widespread, encouraged or endemic.
4. In or about 1986 evidence came to the attention of the senior leadership that there had been instances of inappropriate sexual conduct between adults and teenagers, and the leadership took immediate action to prevent any further abuse by clearly stating that The Family did not agree with such behaviour and that it was not permitted."

[edit] THE LITERATURE

[edit] "Revolutionary Sex," March 1973.

This had the early assertion that, "All things are lawful unto us" and the message was that any act done in love was lawful as far as God was concerned. Berg asked whether masturbation was not one of the prohibited sexual offences and referred to his mother slapping their poor little Mexican maid out of the house when Berg was only 3 years old when his mother caught the maid putting him to sleep "in this pleasant fashion" (by oral masturbation) "a common practice among many other more primitive cultures." He recounted his earlier attempts at sexual intercourse at the age of 7 as I have already set out. He then learnt that the Bible apparently had absolutely nothing to say about masturbation and evidently nothing against it except the unusual admonition "to be temperate in all things." He went on to state that children should be taught that their body was a beautiful creation of God and that sex was not sinful. The revolutionary message of the letter was "go ahead and masturbate and/or fuck with all your might and thank God for it." It was a letter clearly designed to break down acknowledged taboos. It was the beginning of the process of sexualizing children.

[edit] Little Girl Dream, October 1976

This showed a drawing of Berg in a bed in church, Maria on one side and a little girl on the other, her hand on his penis. In the text of the letter he wrote:-

"This beautiful dark haired little girl of about 10 or 11 came and crawled in bed with me! She lay half on top of me although on her back and she laid her hand behind right down on top of my genitals and across my right leg.... I thought to myself, "Well, how tempting can you get!" She looked like she really wanted me to make love to her but I certainly didn't want to do it in front of all these people especially since she was so young.....I was very concerned about what they would think. It was bad enough for her to be in bed with me all naked, all of us naked under the cover without actually going at it!....Here's this young girl who wants my love, but I was afraid to give it to her because of what people, systemite church people obviously, might say. That is, of course, our greatest risk here, incurring the wrath of the church and the system in loving this new little church that is springing up with such fervour and zeal and witnessing ardour, that is so very much on fire for the Lord through our FF witnessing here (Tenerife). How are we winning this new little church? We are winning it with our love both spiritually and sexually so that is very significant...It was almost like she was deliberately trying to get me to make love to her so that she could bear fruit, which certainly this young church is doing here right now."

Even if this is an allegory for his new church, the illustration is horridly explicit. The message could, therefore, just as easily be understood to be that just as it was permissible for the young church of the Children of God to defy the conventions of the established churches, so that it was permissible for a young child to have some sexual contact in bed with an old man.

[edit] "My Childhood Sex" - June 1977

He reminded his readers about his Mexican baby sitter when he was 3 and he said:-

"I think I was in love with that little Mexican girl, she was wonderful, she really made me happy! She used to suck me to sleep for my nap every afternoon. I loved it! But my mother began to get curious....I wasn't any little angel, I was just waiting to get sucked! I had orgasms and really enjoyed it. I always got nice and relaxed and went to sleep right after. So I got started liking sex at an early age. But my mother was not very progressive....I don't know what was naughty about it. I enjoyed it! It worked! Look at me, I don't think it did me any harm! Of course if you'd ask any of my enemies, they'd say, "Ah Ha, see! that's what made him such a sex maniac!"...It just stands to reason that if it feels good at that age, then the Lord intended for kids to get used to feeling good with sex. If they can even have an orgasm at that age, he intended for them to be able to have an orgasm and enjoy it! Why not? What's evil about an orgasm?"

This revolutionary policy statement must have caused some stir when it was published and re-published 14 months later in August 1978. Berg's daughter, Faithy, wrote her reaction to it in these terms:-

"Childhood Sex: I like it! It reminded me of how you used to put me to sleep when I was a little girl, 3 or 4. Wow! Daddy did it best! Back rubbin' that is, and front rubbin' too!...Daddy just made me feel good all over and I didn't know why, but it would really put me to sleep with a sigh! Praise the Lord! I don't think it perverted me, none at all, but it sure converted me to his call! So I believe our parents should try it and help our kids to get the natural habit! We pray it'll work, then junior won't be a sexual jerk! It worked for me as you can see, I just do what comes naturally! Oh I could write a book, but this is just a look into my childhood sex!"

(My emphasis yet again to point out (1) that Family literature for which the leadership is entirely responsible here exhorts The Family to try "front rubbin', which can only mean masturbation, and (2) that the example they are urged to follow is that of their beloved leader touching his 3 or 4 year old daughter in a way ordinary good parents know they find utterly repellent. What should it tell them about David Berg? What responsibility does this now cast on Maria and Peter Amsterdam to "pow-wow" these questions?)

At the same date as Childhood Sex, The Family published "Uncircumcision". In what might have been a helpful discussion on the subject of whether or not to circumcise boys, Berg could resist adding sexual comment such as his advice to the men to wash their penis "if you want the girls to play with it, especially if you want them to suck it!"

He gave this advice for dealing with young children:

"Try putting a little baby oil or vaseline on it to lubricate it real good before pulling the foreskin down. The mucus of your mouth is a good lubricant too! And he'll love it!....It's so much better to gradually stretch it by slowly working it down by hand in love and patience - and lots of fun...knowing my mother's attitude towards sex, I don't presume that appealed to her much, but I began to enjoy the treatment as it loosened up! Hallelujah!"

[edit] The Davidito Book

This was first printed in a series of letters from about 1975 to 1981 and then reprinted in 1982. In the letter "The Advantages of Having Children" May 1978, Berg explained how when Maria became pregnant, they discovered there was no childcare ministry and so they obtained whatever literature they needed and decided they did not like it "because it was not the way we believed in rearing kids!" It seems that Davidito had started the childcare revolution. Berg wrote:-

"You can throw a lot of that old stuff out! We're writing a whole new childcare series called The Davidito Series. Maria was wondering why she had to get pregnant and have a baby. She couldn't see any good reason for it at all, but look what happened! God knew why! Amen? PLT! Davidito was to become an example to the world and inspire" lots of childcare material! Thank God!"

Berg was, in my judgment, quite clear giving his approval to whatever was being written and he was assuming responsibility for it. It is naive of The Family to seek to distance the leadership from this book and cast the sole blame upon Sara. In their original answer filed in this case, that is exactly what they sought to do.

The book contained these passages:-

a) Learning fun at 20 months, October '76.

"Sex! he gets quite excited when I wash his bottom and his penie gets real big and hard. I kiss it all over till he gets so excited he bursts into laughter and spreads his legs open for more. I wonder what it's going to be like when he begins to talk and asks me for more? When playing on the floor he's often times spread his legs open for me to kiss his penis (what we call his penie). He got to where he liked it so much he'd pull people by the hand down onto the floor and would spread his legs apart for "the treatment" so we had to explain to him that there are a lot more important things in life than just sex, and for a time and place for everything!" (I note that this chapter appeared at the same time as "Little Girl Dream.")

b) At the age of 2 years and 3 months Davidito is taken to a brothel and in the early hours one of the girls "gave a special little show for Davidito with her gyrations and heavy breathing, running her hands over her body, really turning everybody on".

c) In Bed Bugs, May 1977 with Davidito 2 years 4 months. Sara wrote:- "Sex! Now if I share with you some of Davidito's sexy experiences, will you try prayerfully and cautiously to benefit from the lessons learned and follow the Lord's leadings in possibly sharing the same kind of gentle love and fun, without stumbling our little sheep? Sex is a beautiful God-given wonderful part of life we enjoy together and we would love to share it with you as long as you don't use it as "an occasion to the flesh" and in some way that could actually harm or confuse the children. It is often times the little ones who suffer through our big people mistakes." (In other words, provided you do it in love, the child will not suffer harm or confusion - a thesis that Dr. Heller, NT's own expert, roundly deprecates.) "So we'll attempt to share a few of our experiences with you, not so that you will try to do exactly what we do," ( then why on earth tell them this sordid little encounter? ) "but because it's part of little David's life story, praise the Lord. On 28th April after nap time Alfred, Davidito and I were all three loving up, when Dito looked at me with those big dreamy canary black eyes and said, "Sarah I yub you". He pulled me down to kiss him, then pushed my head down to kiss some more! It all developed so gently and lovingly that he was really affectionate, eyes closed, so guess what happened? For a bouncing climax (ha), he spoke out in excited foreign tongues! He sounded so very happy....afterwards he lay still in my arms to rest....now often when we lay on the bed together....he'll put his arm around me and say, "Sarah, love me up big".

That letter cannot be interpreted otherwise than Sara kissing the boys penis and the boy later simulating sexual intercourse with her as is shown in one of the pictures. To that Berg added this comment, again an indication of his participation in the writing of this book and his approval of it:

"God made children able to enjoy sex so he must have expected them to. I did! All my life! Thank God! I love it! And it didn't hurt me any! Nearly all kids to anyhow despite prohibitions! And the only reason the system frowns on it is that the churches have taught sex as evil! Which is contrary to the Bible! How could God have created sexual enjoyment to be a sin? The system is really screwed up! God help us! They're the ones not normal! But let not your good be evil spoken of! So take it easy!"

(d) At 2 yrs 7 months Sara wrote:-

"Dito and I loved up together after our bath! Ha! What a revolutionary life we do lead!".

The photograph below that passage showed the two of them naked on the bed with Sara fondling the boys penis.

(e) There were some words of caution. In December 1977:-

"And please remember dear Family, that we do not share Davidito's own experiences or lessons with you expecting you to always do the very same thing with your own children. Dad and Maria are hoping to prepare themselves for a very special God appointed mission in life. He is a royal prince...he has matured and grown very fast, much like Dad himself, always ahead of us, who his followers learn from as an example. Of course all our Family children are very special and we have an extremely important mission to fulfil in these latter days we do hope you can apply what lessons you may have learnt from this story in their disciple training. What a wonderful opportunity and blessing that we can all take part in helping to teach God's little children who are so chosen in new fresh vessels the way the truth and the life of Jesus Christ and our shepherd and king David."

As I read that it is more encouraging than discouraging.

(f) In August 1979 the now notorious "My Little Fish" chapter was published. There were citations from Revolutionary Sex and accompanying photographs. They showed, for example, Davidito kissing Sara's breasts and squeezing her nipples, they showed them together naked in bed hugging each other under the caption "Enjoy yourself in what God has given you to enjoy" and in another photograph under a caption "When two shall lie together they shall have heat." The original also had the photograph of Sara sucking the boy's penis above a caption "It's a wonderful relaxation, a satisfaction created by the Lord". At the time it was published, My Childhood Sex, itself published four months earlier, might have been fresh in everyone's mind. That it was outrageously inappropriate seems to be conceded silently by that omission of that photograph when the book was published in 1982.

(g) In March 1978 at aged 3 years 2 months Davidito wandered around watching the copulating couples at the "come-union":

"So next he wanted his turn and as soon as I got into bed he jumped on me and said "Sarah love me". He specifically asked for several swigs of wine, got happy real quick so we really had a good time! Alf, Tim and Mommy were outside the door listening to him. "Sara now kiss it!" and then he began to laugh and laugh. "Oh it flopped in your nose!"...he kept asking for more and more love....We were all really surprised that he took everything so well, since he didn't have a playmate too and is usually very jealous about "sharing" but he waited his turn and was a real good boy."

(h) In April 1978 at 3 years 3 months Sara wrote:

"Sex - (do you find yourself looking for this part to read first? Ha!) Several times while I was gone to Egypt, David mentioned he'd wished I'd hurry home to bed. The day upon my return we had a nice picnic lunch with Alf right by the riverside near our house. David wanted to bring a blanket and a scented candle so that we could make love, but there were too many people around so we didn't quite get to the climax, Ha. But it was a real cute idea. He's so precious! One night when Alf and the cook were kissing and cuddling in the living room on the living room couch, David came into the bedroom and offered me a glass of wine then suggested that we go together into the living room to be with Alf. We sat down and he said, "Have some apply juice," because he's only a little boy and once served then we began to love up too. We got undressed and he got real affectionate, trying to do just what Alf did."

What can this be other than that this 3 year old boy was participating in sexual shenanigans with his nanny?

The book ended with a cartoon of Berg holding Davidito and saying, "Davidito do you know what you're doing? You're teaching the whole world how to take care of babies!"

The leadership must have known and intended that this book be acted upon by The Family. In July 1978 they published in Family News a letter from one of the members who wrote with reference to her new child that she wondered now how these letters were going to become a reality in his life. Had she not been perverted by them?

[edit] The Devil Hates Sex. May 1980.

This letter was not produced by he Family despite it being called for. Dr Melton had to make it available. It contained these passages:-

(a) "Of course the worst of all sexual sins is with children. "How could you besmirch and defile and violate your own child? An under-aged minor!". I don't know what the hell age has got to do with it when God made'm able to enjoy it practically from time they are born! But though God didn't want them as under-age to have sexual feelings and sexual responses and sexual nerves and sexual organs from the time they are born, the system prohibits them from having them until they are 18-21 years of age....I mean to teach sexual freedom and sexual liberty as downright dangerous! Look at how the newspapers of Britain have reacted to some of our simple little instructions about how to get the foreskin of your little boy down so that you can wash him! They call that child sex...and I'll tell you it's dangerous because the system sure hates it, and the system's laws and everything are geared against sexual activity of all kinds and types, particularly having anything to do with children! Who don't even have to be a child, just a minor...there's nothing in the world at all wrong with sex as long as its practised in love, whatever it is, or whoever its with, no matter who, or at what age or what relative or in what manner," (I have added the emphasis) "and you don't hardly dare even say these words in private. If the law ever got a hold of this, they'd try to string me up! They'd probably lynch me before I got to the jail."

It is impossible to read that without being certain that Berg had well in mind that his advocating sex with someone at no matter what age, was to advocate sex with children and he rightly appreciated the condemnation that would be heaped upon him when his views became known outside The Family.

He went on :-

"I'm talking about natural normal Godly love as manifested in sex, as far as I am concerned for whomever! There are no relationship restrictions or age limitations in his law of love. But the system and laws make it all against the law...The system really stinks. It is.... fiendish propaganda against the laws of God and the love of God and the sex of God." (Again my emphasis)

It must have been known to the leadership how the Law of Love was being applied within The Family for he wrote:-

"We are free in our hearts now, we are free in privacy, and that's about all and we mightn't be free if they discovered what we do in private."

Other pieces of evidence of the leadership's knowledge emerge from some of the papers before me.

(a) Some time in about 1980 Shuly wrote to World Services. In the letter "Growing Up in the Lord" she referred to her fears of growing up. She wrote:

"I had seen quite a few examples of 'lust', not 'love' like in your letters, so that just about rooted my fear. For 5 long years I had the trial that I'd have to start "sharing" as soon as I was old enough and the devil painted me pictures of horrible hairy guys making a line at the door."

She asked:

"Do you think other teenage girls are going through the trials I was about sharing? It would be interesting to know".

She was just 16.

In another letter, "Sex should be fun", she wrote about being

"sad and upset when I read what another teenage girl said about "going thru it" in the area of sexual sharing. It really struck me, because more kids in the family are becoming teenagers and it would be a shame if they had to "go thru it" too. Here's part of a letter I received from a 13 year old girl, a friend of mine, in The Family:
"Well I went thru it at first because it was kind of hard relating to older brothers at about 30 years old when I had just turned 13. And when I started maturing and started to look beautiful the guys they would go around pinching and slapping my butt, squeezing my tits etc., and for me this was a real turn off. It's sort of different when you "share" with someone your own age, you're just having fun and it's easier to relate to each other and open up but with someone twice your age you feel funny with them and you take it more seriously. And sometimes when my parents shared or fell in love with someone, I felt like I was deserted and left along with the kids and this really turned me off sharing and sex. So they thought I wasn't quite as "free" as they were, so they decided to break my hang ups".

Shuly then described her affair with Berg's grandson when she was 13. She wrote:-

"Although I am 16 I still don't feel mature enough to have anything to do with a grown man. Maybe it's hard for you to understand but sometimes a grown man can overpower a young girl and dominate her. Having a relationship with Junior cured me of the loathing of sex and a terror of older men due to the effect of an unwise older brother in our home....I think Child Brides is a wonderful letter because some (not all) teenagers really need to have fun with someone their own age group first....Many guys think that just because a young girl had an "experience" that she is "available". If a girl goes thru' it as far as sex it's probably because she's being pressured into it, not wanting to appear to be A Girl Who Wouldn't but she just isn't ready for any experience with older brethren or the particular ones in question. Although I've had an experience I would go through trials if I was pressured into sharing with an older guy...I think it's a shame to have to go through trials when sex should be something beautiful. I write because a sad experience could put some people off the wonderful love shared in the family. May God bless and keep you Dad. Your daughter in Jesus. Shuly."

To that Berg replied:

"Praise the Lord! God bless you! Amen! We heartily agree! And real love lasts!"

That was an opportunity for Berg to appreciate that young teenagers, as young as 13, were being forced to have sexual relations with older men. It was the opportunity for him to stamp out that practice had he deprecated it. He did not take that opportunity. By his silence he condoned it. His sanctimonious agreement was a reassertion of the principal that if it was done in love it was permissible. He totally failed to take on board that this young girl was pointing out the imbalance of power and the pressure older men by virtue of age alone exerted upon children. He was prescient enough to have recognised in the Law of Love that the freedom was capable of being abused. Here was the evidence that it was being abused. He did nothing to control it. This was a lamentable failure to stamp out the wrong doing which he had instigated. His failure to act was indefensible.

(b) On the same page as that letter was another dealing with the sexual activity of Reuben aged 6 and another child Jonas both having their little lovers among other little sisters who sometimes visited them. It referred to 3 year old Emanual who "loves Mommy up", an activity described as "so sweet".

(c) In the "Blessings of Older Children", a couple wrote that their 9 year old son "was so in love with one sister and really went through trials when he knew a particular older brother was sleeping with her."

(d) In about 1981 a video was made for Berg and it showed a man Appeles and his wife Sally and his young son J1. Sally referred to sharing with J1 and H1, Berg's grandson. Both boys were aged about 10.

(e) In April 1983 a television programme "TV Eye" was broadcast and Dennis Tuohy extracted allegations of a 3 year old girl having oral sex with her step father and a man having sexual relations with his 9 year old daughter. A Mr Geoff Whitcher, then a member of The Family, took part in that programme. I find it incredible to believe it was not reported back to World Service. Although this aspect was not investigated, there must be every likelihood that the matter of child sex was already a matter of public concern. The Family could not have been unaware of it. Whether they were or not, there is abundant evidence from The Family's own records to satisfy me that the leadership were aware of the problem well before the disclosure was made to the Teen Training Camp in Mexico in 1986. To assert that that was the first knowledge that came to the attention of the senior leadership and that the senior leadership "took immediate action to prevent any further abuse" is disingenuous.

(f) In 1985 Berg was still fuelling these flames. In a chapter of "Heaven's Children", Grandpa went down to Earth. The story involved Berg making love to teenaged Techi. The drawing shows him in bed with Maria on one side and Techi on the other. There can be no artistic, literary or theological justification for such dangerously irresponsible material which could only tend to inflame and could never defuse improper passions. He returned to that refrain later in Heaven's Girl published in April 1987 and possibly published in chapter form earlier than that. This allegorical tale concerned Marie, pictorially a mixture of Techi and MB and among her many exploits, one is a fairly crude and explicit multiple rape of the girl by brutal soldiers. Another is a description of Marie "beginning to undulate and pulsate in beautiful sexual rhythm as she loves and makes love to her loving prophet, Dad". This book is standard reading for the children in the family but one has to doubt whether the English Literature class could ever have learnt anything - except perhaps to hone their skills in literary criticism - from passages on Marie's "explosive and ecstatic moment of a powerful orgasm, her cries of ecstasy and moans of pleasure" or her "heavily panting gorgeous young body settling down in sheer ecstasy and utmost satisfaction having thoroughly enjoyed her thrilling love-making encounter with her beloved David" . By any standards it is nauseating material to place before young children.

[edit] THE ORAL EVIDENCE OF CHILD / ADULT ABUSE.

The Family stand condemned by their own experts. Dr Melton agreed that there had been sexual abuse of children and teenagers by adults within The Family to a greater extent than outside it. Dr Millikan agreed. So do I. It is not necessary to burden this judgment with all the oral evidence that was led in this regard. This summary will have to suffice:

1. MB. Her first encounter was with her step-father in Paris when she was 7. He made her masturbate him. She was sent to Greece to join "Music with Meaning" and from then on it was constant sexual activity. She said: "Paul (now the European CRO) immediately started sexual interaction with us doing everything except penetration. I began to realise I was expected to be "revolutionary", that is to say sexually to service the different men aged 25 to 30 plus." Among the men who abused her there was Jeremy Spencer. From the end of 1983 to August 1987 she was with Berg.

2. AB:

She was in South America. At 7 a man in his 30's asked her to touch him; she was revolted because "it was so horrible." By 12 she had grown so used to it that she thought nothing if someone touched her bottom or her breasts or masturbated her. At 13 the Shepherdess asked if she would share with her husband, a man in his 40's and that was her first full sexual intercourse. It continued thereafter. It was suggested to her that this evidence was untrue because she had been examined by a doctor during the investigation into The Family's activities in Argentina. She denied that she had in fact been examined and she insisted that The Family knew it. At that stage JN430 was not in evidence. It was produced later. That records "The testimony of an arrested teen" and AB says: "(The doctor) was supposed to check me for signs of sexual abuse, but since I looked so healthy and normal he decided just to take my word for it. He asked me if I had ever had sex and I answered no." She said she lied to save The Family. She deceived to be true.

3. The G Brothers. The younger brother JG who has left the group, gave evidence for the Plaintiff that at 6, the childcare worker in her 20's performed oral sex on him and that mutual masturbation then occurred on a number of occasions thereafter. His elder brother EG who remains in The Family and who gave evidence for the defendant confirmed that had happened. He explained that at the age of about 10 he would go to her room to look at her body and ask questions about it. "I would take my clothes off and show her my penis. I would say if I play with if it feels nice. She would play with it. We were kissing and fondling each other." In his affidavit he described instances of oral sex and eventually full sexual intercourse. In his evidence, giving a clue to the sexual mores of that time in The Family, he said: "She didn't think anything wrong with it, at the time there was nothing wrong or evil in it." 4. EG said in cross examination that his parents knew he was spending time in the child care worker's room and must have known sexual activities were taking place between them but they did nothing to stop it. It must not be forgotten that the boys' father was Apollos or Pathway, the editor of the Mo letters and the author of "Heaven's Girl." Their mother is a European CRO. For them the Davidito Book would have been common practice.

5. RF. He is a respected member of the video ministry not far removed from the top leadership. He gave another account of sexual education by an adult of the young. He spoke in his affidavit of a childcare worker approaching him and RD- "On the subject of sex education and told us the girls were curious to know about the male anatomy and if there was anything that we could do to help...I spent some time with and spoke to the two girls and talked to them about my body - no sexual activity occurred at all." He made this affidavit in response to evidence RD had given. I have already observed that although I accepted the general purport of RD's evidence, much of which was confirmed by later events, the manner of his giving it was so emotive that I tended to look for corroboration of what he was saying. He is very hostile to The Family and a great publicist for their downfall. I do not, however, doubt his account of the events of November 1983 when they were in Dominica and the son and daughter of Peter Amsterdam and the daughter of the financial minister of the group visited with the child care couple in charge of them. This couple approached RD and RF and asked them to share with the girls who were only 10 and 11 years old. The little girl presented herself in a sarong with no panties. She masturbated him. He says that RF later told him that he (RF) had done likewise. In his oral testimony, RF went further than he did in his affidavit, admitting that at one point they asked to see his penis and he showed it to them. He denied his penis was erect. I regret that I did not believe him. He is a man consumed by terrible guilt over this incident and as RD says, he may have been "freaked out over it". He said he felt "peculiar" about it. He made the extraordinary admission of his having had a vision of his father coming into the room. It may well be, as Dr Cameron thinks, that this was his conscience. I am satisfied that as part of this extraordinary sex education lesson RF allowed if not encouraged these girls to masturbate him. In many other respects RF was a most engaging man. His enthusiasm for his work was catching. He forced me to watch one of the videos he made of the children singing and dancing and praising the Lord. I did not doubt his sincerity nor his belief that the way forward for The Family was to be more open and for the Teens to "be given more time and chance to express their desires of what they want out of life".

6. The P's: I have read Shuly's letter and her pointing to examples of lust and not love. It seems to be accepted now by those who knew the P family that their childcare worker, a man in his 20's, was an abuser. VP told me that at the age of 7 she was sitting on her bed when the baby sitter started masturbating her. He also abused DP. When, much later, this abuse was disclosed, the man concerned was removed from their home but later was admitted back because DP felt she was then old enough to escape his attentions. MP did in fact avoid his advances. She became sexually active of her own choosing at a young age. She very readily had a long and clandestine full sexual relationship with a shepherd of about 38 when she was back in Mexico aged 15. That was at a time when such contact had been prohibited.

7. DK filed an affidavit on the defendant's behalf. He did not give evidence. VP said that he told her that a woman had "jumped into bed with him". In his affidavit he testified of the time when aged 13 he had a sexual experience with a 20 year old woman. "I was a young teenage boy, she was a pretty 20 year old, I was shy but I felt like, "Wow, I scored".

8. KJ spoke of remembering very clearly of the first occasion, aged 3, in London, when her step father "touched me up, playing with me, my vagina, I remember him licking me out, fingers inside me". She spoke of this through her tears. This sort abuse happened often. She felt "quite scared" by it. She knew it was sex but thought he was showing her love. He would grab her head and force fellatio on her. He tried to penetrate her when she was only 7 or 8 and it hurt. He was a crude man who would boast openly about his daughter being "a good fuck". That all of this abuse occurred seems to be accepted by The Family but they accepted no responsibility of it regarding step father as not one of their own. What is totally extraordinary about this sustained abuse is that KJ's mother was told about it. She said that at the time: "I went into a state of shock but because of the indoctrination in the Mo letters I came to accept it. If Mo said it was OK, it must be OK. In "My Childhood Sex" he says his nanny was giving him oral sex and that it was acceptable so I accepted it. It is something I very much regret, I am ashamed by it, I am horrified to think I had such a belief in David Berg that I bowed to his teaching against my own conscience. I assumed him to be a man of God, a good man, it was incomprehensible he would be evil or use the Bible for evil, he talked with such authority. I am now deeply horrified and regret these things. He had no right to do these things to people who were vulnerable. I am very angry." She is very angry. She now conducts a campaign against The Family to salve her conscience. I do not doubt that she paints the picture as black as she can but even stripping away layers of blackness, the picture still remains black.

KJ told me she "had sex" with 6 adults. It was clear from her descriptions, vibrant with detail that she used the words loosely to connote some form of sexual encounter usually of masturbation or simulated sexual intercourse. She complained that only Paul had full sexual intercourse with her, and that without her consent. She was on a road team from Pondacherry with two adults, Paul and Rose (not SF) and with 16 year old S3. She was 9 or 10. Paul knew she was sharing with S3. He wanted his share but KJ was unwilling. She was being selfish. So he raped her. Her screams woke Rose who did nothing to help. She was bleeding. She was very upset and withdrawn on return to the home. Eventually she explained what had happened to her in her Open Heart Report. That resulted in the shepherd giving her a reading assignment including "The Girl who Wouldn't" which conveyed the message that she, the victim, was in the wrong and that was out of spirit. In effect she, the child, was punished. He went scot free. There can be no greater indictment of Family practice than this. Here was an adult man whose sexual urges were not regarded depraved, but God given. Here was a child who did not have enough "love" to recognise his need or to sacrifice herself to meet it. Here was an evil corruption of the true notion of the noble ideal of love. KJ gave explicit detail of other encounters e.g. with Jeduthan, who was fat, old, bald and with glasses, with a fake laugh and "Jesus talk" such as "You're doing good work for the Lord, honey, Jesus loves you" but who would then "wank himself off through my legs and make me lick the sperm off his penis." And an the army officer-type Apollos (not Apollos of World Service) who her "shoved" against a banana tree until her back really hurt as he attempted to penetrate her. And Uria who was fat and bald like Jeduthan, who was sharing with her mother and who called her into his room. He made her sit naked on top of him, his penis between her legs. It was early morning and a man walked in to ask whether Uria wanted coffee of tea in bed. It was apparently unremarkable that KJ should be there. And Paulo who pulled the ribbon off her "sexy" nickers which came off during a gypsy evening so that she was naked. He put his hand "on my crutch and put my hand on his hard-on. There was no intercourse but he ejaculated on her. He was 30 and had a strange accent. Or the man in Bangalore who had a moustache which was prickly. KJ was showering in the garden when she was frightened by a snake and as she ran away, she fell over in the mud. He took her into the bathroom to clean her, but got undressed and made her rub him all over. She said "it was quite fun - he was kissing my vagina and his moustache tickled and I was laughing."

8. MS. Her father is Jeremy Spencer of Music with Meaning. Her mother is Dawn, a European Shepherd. She is a true child of The Family. She is quite a pert little madam who learnt to strip at the age of 4 and the irony is that her current occupation is that of an "exotic dancer." In fact she would prefer to read law. Her evidence was heavily attacked by Mr Barton. It was suggested that the Plaintiff had bribed her with promises of holidays in Kenya to come and tell lies to me. I am satisfied that her evidence was not improperly procured and that she was broadly telling me the truth. She said in her affidavit: "From my earliest memories until my time in India, sexual activity pervaded The Family. Instances that stand out in my mind are as follows:-

"My mother and my father frequently had sexual intercourse and performed oral sex with each other and with other people in the same room as us children, regardless of whether we were awake or asleep. I distinctly remember my father having sexual intercourse with Faithy Berg when we lived in a caravan in Greece. I was around four years old at the time." At the age of 6 she had to use both hands to masturbate Timothy in his 20's or 30's, ex-Vietnam veteran. At the same age she had to "help her father out" which meant caressing him and mutual masturbation. From the age of 7 her step father made her masturbate him. She later told Mary Malay about her step father but not about her father because she liked him: "at least," she said, "he did not beat me". She watched her brother aged about 12 having sexual intercourse with older women and her sister H2 having sexual intercourse with Solomon Touchstone whom she had seen on another occasion in the swimming pool having sexual intercourse with her mother. She saw her mother having sexual intercourse with a 16 year old called J1 whom she believed to be the same child J1 who was described as sharing with his English step-mother Sally in Australia as shown in Video number 5 produced by the Plaintiff. MS spoke of being in Italy when she was 11 when one of the men publicly put his hands in her shirt to feel her "barely budding breast." She always felt: "A bit funny when old men used to come and touch me and I feel he is an ugly old man I don't want him touching me. I didn't complain because I didn't feel I'd get a good response because my mother thought it was ok, and would think I should think it was ok and that there was something wrong with me that I didn't like it." She chose to have sexual intercourse with a 19 year old called C1 in the Finchley Road home 3 days before her 14th birthday. She was probably quite brazen about her having sexual intercourse at Rugby with DM, who was 16. She was by then well aware that it was against the rules.


[edit] THE FAMILY'S RESPONSE TO THIS ABUSE

I am far from certain I have been given full frank information by The Family. In his first affidavit SPM says that "In 1985 a directive was sent out to all the homes world-wide reminding everybody that sex between adults and children was strictly forbidden and that this included sex between teenagers and adults." He exhibited "Child Abuse?! An Official Statement from the Founders of the Children of God" which began with a quote from Moses David dated December 1988 : "We do not approve of sex with minors, and hereby renounce any writings of anyone in our family which may seem to do so! We absolutely forbid it!" The article stated:- "In order to try to substantiate these absolutely false charges against us (of sex between adults and minors and adults and young children) some of our opponents have begun reproducing and distributing an article which was published within our group over 10 years ago. Although the article in question does make reference to an unusually loving relationship between the young woman who wrote it and the child she was caring for, even a quick glance makes it clear that the article is only the writer's account of her own personal experience and opinions. And it is by no means any kind of policy setting or instructional text. Such intimate relationships between minors and adults have never been officially encouraged or condoned within our fellowship and it was a very unfortunate oversight and mistake on our part 10 years ago to have allowed such an article to be published. Since then we have expressly forbidden and condemned any such conduct among our members." That article was clearly "My Little Fish." I have already sufficiently demonstrated that this attempt to lay all the blame on Sara and none on the leadership is dishonest. The article continued:- "In early 1985 "(my emphasis)" when it was called to our attention that some questions had arisen concerning sex between adults and minors, we issued an urgent directive to all of our communities world wide. In this missive, all of our members were strongly reminded that any such activities are strictly forbidden within our group. The following excerpts are taken verbatim" (again my emphasis)" from this directive:-

"For the record we want to say that we do not agree with adults having sex with children! The Family should just not do it. And even though teen sex with adults may be tolerated in some countries, we are against it. Nudity and sex can be wonderful and beautiful and we have a good godly healthy attitude regarding it, but adults must refrain from practising it with minors! The best thing we can do is just not do it at all. Adults should refrain from any sexual involvement with under-aged minors!"

These are direct quotations from an internal memorandum which was issued to all of our communities over 3 years ago. "( I stress the fact that if issued 3 years earlier, then it was issued before 1985.) The Official Solicitor called for sight of that internal memorandum. It has not been forthcoming. I have to wonder why not. My concern is also roused because a slightly different version of the same document was quoted by The Family in April 1992, in their document issued by World Services entitled "Our Replies to Allegations of Child Abuse". That again gave the date of the internal memorandum as being 1985. An explanation is given that: "When rumours began to surface that some members were possibly having sexual contact with adolescents, action was taken to clearly explain to all members that not only was such conduct not condoned but strictly forbidden". No particulars were given of the date or substance of those rumours. In this version of the memorandum, the reference was to adults having "sexual contact" with children which may be different from and so less serious than adults having "sex" with children. It acknowledged teen sex with adults was not tolerated "as its fruit is more bad than good." It contained this revealing passage:- "Although Dad (Father David) has written about teens, and even younger children's sexual interests, these interests can be satisfied by a natural and open attitude with others of their own age. Also, it should be emphasised to our teens and children that they need do nothing against their will. They can always say, "No!" Young folks being affectionate with each other is natural and healthy, as long as they are not hurting each other; but let's keep it within the confines of their own age. Let's set the record straight here and now that youth with youth and teen with teen is the normal, natural type of loving affection that we and even society would expect." The statement then acknowledged that:- "Since 1985, even the above quoted degree of liberality described above regarding children and adolescents being sexually affectionate among themselves has been discouraged in our communities." It is pertinent to note from that statement how inappropriately The Family shift the responsibility from the abusing adult and place it not just on the teens but also on the children, i.e. those below 13. They are the ones expected to have to say "No" to prevent advantage being taken of them against their will.

Yet another version is given in "The History of the Sexual Policies of The Family" dated November 1993, upon which SPM relies to answer the Official Solicitor's interrogatories. This document refers not to rumours circulating in 1985 but to a questionnaire given to the teens who attended the Mexican Teen Training Camp in 1986. Some of the questions enquired about their boy/girl relationships, and asked if they had any questions or wanted to make any comments regarding sexual matters. Of the approximately 110 teens in attendance, 10 of them wrote they had experienced some form of sexual contact with adults. Of these 10 3 girls aged 15 and 16 had experienced sexual intercourse. In all three cases their mothers had separated from the girls fathers had remarried and the sexual relationship occurred with their step-fathers. Those reports were forwarded by Gary and Faithy to Father David's household and Maria instructed Sara (who was responsible for Family childcare publications at the time) immediately to write an internal memorandum to the entire Family categorically forbidding all sexual contact of any sort between adults and minors. This memorandum, entitled "Liberty or Stumbling Block", clearly defined the policy regarding sex between adults and minors. "Prior to this memorandum the need for a policy had not been appreciated as it was not realised that such a problem existed. However as soon as reports reached Father David and Maria that sexual relationship between adults and minors had occurred, a clear rule was imposed in which any such relationship were unequivocally forbidden. This rule has remained intact and has been enforced ever since". I have to ask whether the internal memorandum of 1985 compiled after rumours had began to surface is the same as Sara's memorandum, "Liberty or Stumbling Block" written in 1986 as a response to the TTC questionnaire. Neither have been produced. Their importance is self-evident. I do not believe that they do not exist. I am driven to find that The Family have not been frank with me and I am bound therefore to be suspicious that the internal records of this highly organised computerised group contain information they wish to withhold from the court. These records were, after all, available in November 1993 two months before the trial began. It would have been important to see whether it contained any acknowledgment of responsibility, though I doubt it, or any apology to those who had been victimised, which again I doubt, or any offer of help which is altogether too much to expect.

I have already referred to an undated document "Questions You Always Wanted to Ask" which referred to the fact that a question and answer session held "at recent TTC". I assume that to be the 1986 TTC. I see the document Teen Graduation which follows that article is dated September 1986. Apart from a question as to the ability of "older teens" getting "mated with an adult man", the answer to which is not very informative, there is nothing at all by way of general guidance to the other teens in The Family who did not have the benefit of going to Mexico. Why was this opportunity not taken to put them in the picture?

In May 1987 there was the publication "Good Thots". It contained someone's good thoughts on sex. Despite the apparent repudiation the year or two years previously, this reported: "An idea that is becoming more popular among doctors etc. is that young children should be allowed and perhaps encouraged to conduct a full sex life without interference from parents. According to the argument children are sexual beings who need to develop skills early in life. Mary Calderone, head of the Influential Sex Information and Education of Council of the US says that "the child has a fundamental right to know....sexuality and to be sexual. Sexologists consider Freud's latency - a time of low sexual interest from about age 4 to puberty - to be misimposed by British society. They pointed out that the boy's sexual system beginning early - infant boys have erections and the vaginas in infant girls lubricate....Many researchers maintain that adult child sex is basically harmless to the child. Psychologist Douglas Powell of Harvard Health Service says "I have not seen anyone harmed by adult child sex so long as it occurs in a relationship with someone who really cares about the them." This is an extraordinary bit of exculpation. Despite the literature purge, it remains current literature for The Family's consumption.

I have already referred to the "Child Abuse Official Statement" published in March 1989. That referred to: "A written statement by the founding father of our group when he was recently asked what our official stance was regarding any of our past publications that purportedly condoned adults having sex of any kind with minors. "We do not approve of sex with minors, and we hereby renounce any writings of any one in our Family which may seek to do so." I have not seen that written statement. It would appear from the quotation to have been issued in December 1988. Peter Amsterdam wrote to me to point out that the statement of renunciation was intended to include Berg's own writing among those which were capable of repudiation. It is a pity Berg himself did not make that clear. It is a greater pity he did not renounce the many statements, such as those identified in this judgment, of most of which he was the author, which, as I have demonstrated, cannot be construed otherwise than as conniving adults having sexual contact with minor's. The only document referred to in the "Child Abuse Official Statement" is Sara's "My Little Fish" published by "very unfortunate oversight". I reject that statement.

In June 1989 Maria wrote "Child Abuse: A Final Warning". In it she said:- "Parents - or any other adults for that matter - certainly do not have sex with children! Or under aged teens! For example, no matter how much a man may feel drawn to a sexy teen girl, and love her and want to get intimately involved with her, it's simply not wise. They don't have to, and they had better refrain from it. To have any kind of affair or sexual relationship with a minor is just about the most dangerous thing any of our adults could do. And it's not even necessary! There's no need or legitimate reason for it! In fact nothing is necessary if it's going to hurt the Lord's work! And anybody who does it is in serious trouble, not only with the world but with us!...So if we hear of any who violate these rules, we're going to immediately excommunicate them...It's been researched and proven by experts that in almost every case where an adult got involved with a teen, the relationship fails simply because there are too many differences of interests, teens who have had such involvement with adults have almost unanimously manifested a very negative, regretful or remorseful reaction to such experiences. So I definitely think it's far better that our adults completely avoid such involvements with minors!" That is a determined attempt to stamp out the practice which I highlight because it deserves as much even double the emphasis as I have given to the objectionable passages. It has to be applauded. It contains some acknowledgment of the harm these sexual contacts cause the teenagers. The letter might have taken the opportunity to stress just how much such actions hurt not only the Lord's work but the children. It might have made more plain that such actions were not only "simply not wise" but also categorically wrong. The letter is addressed to disciples and friends. It is a shame no letter was written to the teenagers offering them help, advice and apology.

In October 1989 Maria published "Flirty Little Teens Beware". This was to be read "unitedly" by adults and teens. It referred to: "Some teen girls play on sexual angles to try to get the men's attention. That's all a lot of them want, attention, but it can easily be misinterpreted by the men as meaning something else. So you may need to take a definite stand in your own hearts and minds that you're not going to be swayed by anything that some young teen girl may do to interest or even entice you. .... And likewise you adult women had better not get involved with under age boys! There is nothing wrong with fighting against giving in to sexual desires if in some particular situation they are wrong. Let's face it, sex is not something that's always good, clear across the board. Just because we promote sex and believe God made it and that it's his wonderful creation doesn't mean that it's always good under every circumstance." That is good sound advice. She continued:- "In most cases our teen girls have been fairly innocent. They have probably seen their mothers and aunts and uncles and everyone show lots of love and affection to others, so they've just figured, "Well this is what we're supposed to do!" This was a tacit admission that the heavily sexualized ethos of Family life as I have set out in this judgment, contributed to the corruption of innocent children. Maria gave the girls a warning:- "So when you're trying to get him involved and you're trying to make eyes at him and tease him and play up to him and rub up against him and kiss him and everything else whatever your motivation may be, he is the one who is going to really suffer for it. ... I think in some cases the teen girls provoke it even more than the men! (Fam: Our teen girls definitely need to hear this message because some of them really do initiate it. The little pre-teen girls usually don't know what they are provoking, they're more uninformed and inexperienced. But most of the teens are very much aware of what they are doing, although they don't really fully understand the consequences.) Yes, after hearing all about our former FFing and everything, they probably want to try the same thing. Well our people are already FFed and they are in The Family, so our young girls certainly don't need to try and FF them, it's very dangerous for them to do so". Again this appears to me to be a tacit acknowledgment that Family practices have contributed to the harm suffered.

There was a further grudging acknowledgment in this passage:- "This is the very thing the system would like to use against us - sex with minors which they always term child abuse although in our loving Family there would be very little possibility of genuine abuse, and if there has been any, hopefully we've now gotten rid of the problem completely. Most of our teens are no naive they don't even understand why someone would deserve to be excommunicated for a thing like this." (My emphasis.) I observe that in the "Loving Family" it would not be "genuine abuse." This a worrying disingenuous statement based upon the totally flawed belief that if done in love in accordance with the Law of Love, sex with minors (child abuse) is not capable of being abusive.

In June 1990 The Family published "Don't be Ignorant of the Devil's Devices". This letter was written to help The Family the better to "inform your children" about the false child abuse accusations that were currently being stirred up against The Family in many countries. It contained a "special notice to Family teens" written by W.S staff at Maria's request. This is an important document. I quote from it:- "Mama recently expressed concern for you teens that when you read how strongly we are condemning any sort of intimate relationships between adults and minors, some of you may have some questions. Some of you could even possibly wonder, "Oh my! I remember a few years ago when Uncle so-an-so and I cuddled and had fun together, was that sex abuse?" This again seems to me to be an acknowledgment that a few years previously Uncles did cuddle and have fun - which is an undisguised euphemism for sexual contact - with young girls. There is a further tacit acknowledgment in the following passage:- "But we are sure you are probably aware of the fact that there can be a very strong natural attraction between men and blossoming teen girls and in the past, before our hypocritical enemies started slinging all their child abuse accusations at us, we enjoyed certain God given liberties and that natural attraction occasionally did lead to some involvement and affection shown between some of our adult men and teen girls and the same thing occasionally took place between some teen boys and adult women." (My emphasis.) World Services are not referring here to the ten children who made confession at the 1986 Mexico TTC. World Services knew full well that the problem was much more widespread than that. The notice continued:- "So if you happen to be a teen who happened to have any kind of involvement or experience along these lines, we wanted to encourage you that you do not need to feel condemned, guilty, ashamed or confused. When you read in the letters how any and all such activities are now strictly forbidden and that anyone who engages in them will be excommunicated, you don't need to go to extremes and start getting worried about your health and your past. You'd be much better off if you just trust the Lord and believe that your past is all in His hands and leave it there!" The psychiatric evidence I have heard expresses the view, with which I agree, that rather than suppress these horrors, they should be brought out into the open, fully and frankly acknowledged, and then dealt with, with skilled therapeutic help if necessary. Prayer may well be a help but Maria's advice to bury the past and pretend it did not happen is wrong and unacceptable.

The virtue of the Law of Love is then extolled because whatever is done in love is acceptable in the eyes of God. Expediency and the System "making such a big stink and getting so freaked out and infuriated about anything they even suspect may be child sex abuse", forced the complete forbidding of any and all such relationships. Then followed another tacit admission and another exculpation:- "That's not to say that any intimacies or loving relationships that may have taken place in the past were necessarily all wrong, wicked, sinful or of the devil! That is simply not the case." There followed this important passage:- "But you don't know my story," some teens may say. "It wasn't very intimate or loving - I feel like I was "abused" or at least "used" by so-an-so!" Well, if you were actually mistreated or hurt in any way, we're certainly very sorry about that(my emphasis) - "and we're sure that whoever was involved with you is sorry as well. Let's not forget, we all make mistakes and we know that there have been adults and teens who simply didn't realise how much they were "playing with fire" when they may have gotten involved in a playful experimental or crush type of relationship in the past. And sometimes before they knew it, things got more serious or went further than either of them had originally anticipated. If this was the case with you, you need to realise that you don't have to look back on that experience as a horrible mistake of some kind or that the person you were with was some sort of dirty old man or monster! All of us have learnt a lot of lessons over the past few years, and we've realised that adult teen relationships should not only be avoided because they cause trouble with the system, but they are also very difficult for either party to handle emotionally, it's easy for people to have their feelings hurt, and the people involved often become distracted in their work for the Lord etc etc., which are all reasons why we have expressly forbidden any such relationships. We live and we learn!" That passage is important because it contains what seems to me to be the first apology to the hurt children. It is a step in the right direction. But acknowledgment of responsibility is still woefully lacking. The mistakes that seem to be acknowledged to have been made were the mistakes of those who played with fire. There was no acknowledgment of any mistake made by Berg or in any of the literature, still less was there any admission of responsibility. On the contrary, the notice informed the teens that:- "You can be very thankful for the honest, open and loving attitude towards sex that Grandpa had taught us in the letters." At least WS acknowledge learning a lesson in realising that adult/teen relationships have to be avoided not only because of trouble with the system but because of their own inherent, harmful consequences. It is an admission of some of the truth, but not the whole of the truth.

In November 1991 the Good News published "Questions and Answers on Sex, Freedoms and Relationships." When The Family asked why things were so much more restricted than they were when The Family used to be a lot freer sexually, the answer was because many within The Family missed the freedom - "A lot of us found ourselves caught in a maelstrom of romantic and sexual feelings, emotions and relationships that were very overpowering and could virtually control us because we let them occupy so much of our minds and hearts and time. This of course resulted in quite a few serious problems causing our work and fruitfulness for the Lord to suffer greatly." The Family then had the honesty to ask the next question. "If it resulted in all kinds of problems, then all of that sexual freedom must have been wrong." Answer:- "There was - and is - absolutely nothing wrong with the freedoms that the Lord gave us. The Lord showed Grandpa that the scripture, "All things are lawful unto us", literally means exactly what it says; that there are no exceptions, all things indeed are lawful for believers in Jesus who are motivated by love...the problems resulted because a lot of us abused these freedoms and began looking on them as a means to gratify our own fleshly lusts instead of using them to sacrificially and lovingly help others." The Family continued the cross examination, no doubt with the same sense of futility as may have been experienced by the grandmother and Official Solicitor. The next question, and it is a very good question, was:- "If Grandpa knew that The Family would probably have as much trouble handling such freedoms as the early church did, then why did he ever promote it?" Answer: "The Lord used it to test us and teach us many lessons that we would never have learned otherwise". I see no hint of any acknowledgment on the part of the leadership that they, or their leader Berg, were even partly responsible for some at least of the harm which they knew was bound to have arisen. Nor is there in that document a sniff of contrition or sympathy.

In 1992, partly as a result of proceedings in Australia and in this Court, The Family published their "Beliefs and Teaching regarding Sex" and their "Replies to Allegations of Child Abuse. This was a guarded document with guarded concessions, for example: "So although a number of articles that were written several years ago could be construed as seeming to condone some rather questionable practices concerning under age minors and sex, such things never in any way became an official policy....nor did the majority of our membership of that time ever have sexual involvement with a minor whatsoever." One notes the concession made in respect of "a number of articles", which is an advance on just "My Little Fish". The authors must have had in mind Berg's other writings than those referring to putting a young male child to sleep by fondling his penis, because they referred to his also having "broached the subject of whether each and every sexual contact between an adult and minor was in fact necessarily harmful". He did more than broach the subject. He promoted it. They "regret that some speculative views were published in which the massaging or fondling of a young child by the mother or nanny was discussed as a means of relaxing or putting the child to sleep." In their conclusion they acknowledged: "that some mistakes were made in the past but we also believe we have done our best to correct them and to put stringent measures in place to prevent them from happening again". Importantly, World Services were able to say: "To anyone who may have been abused in any way in the past by a member of one of our communities, we sincerely apologise. It was never our intent that anyone especially children should ever be hurt, and we hope that you are assured by the above mentioned safeguards now in place, that today no abuse of children is tolerated in our fellowship." Such glimmers of hope as I might derive from that public statement is badly dented by the three letters written in December 1992 in response to a message Berg received from a church leader who was advising The Family to modify their stance regarding sexual freedoms in order to become more acceptable to the system. The letters are "Why Do Ye Stone Us?", "We can't Recant the Truth", and "There's No Way Out but Up," collected in GN 554 and published in July 1993. The general tone of these letters is a strident re-affirmation of policy, a stark challenge to the system and a depressing call to the membership to: "help us fight. God will support you! You want to be a winner and die for Jesus? Join us. It's gonna be thrilling!" It makes the most depressing reading especially if I am to take the following as the true position of the leadership today:- "So what else can we expect from the law, man's laws, but to be contrary to the laws of God! What else can we expect but persecution, incarceration and some day even death. So there's no reconciliation, it's impossible! Some of our friends have even suggested that we modify our scriptural belief in the freedom granted to us under the Law of Love, to come out and deny it or change it or admit that it was wrong. But how are we going to do that?" The letter concluded with a chilling passage:- "What else can we do?....All we can do is stand up, and go up! There's no way out but up! Death is our only hope..." The words are chilling because the Jonestown suicides, the Waco Siege and the even more recent cult killings in Switzerland and Canada and the poison gas attacks in Japan are all vivid reminders of the terrifying power certain religious leaders have to lead their members to death. I wish, however, to record the clear finding, from which I will not shrink, that there was no evidence that this mother or anyone close to her at the Ward's home are likely to join in any mass suicide, even if, which I also find unlikely, World Services called on The Family to die. I dismiss those fears.

The Family held a summit meeting sometime towards the end of 1992 though I think in the literature it is called the "Summit 1993" meeting. It was led by Peter Amsterdam and Gary and attended by the CRO teamworks. I have been provided with Part I of the summary of Summit '93 (GN539) which refers to the intention to address the Law of Love in a summary of "Summit '93 Part II." I have not seen that document. This letter "Our Beliefs Concerning the Lord's Law of Love" GN558 (July 93) may be the document referred to. It was realised by The Family that the adults and young people needed clarification about the leadership's stance concerning the Law of Love and the leadership needed also to come to a decision concerning "how to explain to the public or a Court of law our beliefs in the Law of Love and the experience some have had in the past as a result." I assume that the presentation to the Court is contained in the History compiled in November 1993, some 110 pages of which are set out in answer to the Official Solicitor's Interrogatories. As mentioned, I also have GN555 "Our beliefs concerning the Lords law of Love", published in July 1993 for The Family's consumption. It is therefore, an important document. The letter sets out an analysis of the principles of the Law of Love and concludes "it was good and overall it bore good fruit." The letter does, however, make some acknowledgment that because some were not as mature and loving and yielding to the Lord as they should have been, there were some problems and some mistakes. They acknowledged:- "We realise that there were some instances in which some individuals did not always strictly follow the principles and guidelines of the Law of Love and in some cases some of these liberties unfortunately were used as an occasion of the flesh. If any of you were personally guilty of any unloving acts, we trust you have sincerely asked the Lord to forgive you....If you haven't already, we're sure you'd also want to ask anyone you have offended to forgive you, providing they are in your home or nearly in your area and you are able to verbally apologize to them. We do not recommend that you write to others about things of this nature. We are truly sorry if any of our members were hurt or offended in any way by someone who misapplied or in some way strayed from the strict guidelines of the Law of Love". This is again an acknowledgment of the existence of the child abuse problem and I am quite certain that The Family know more about it than they have been prepared to reveal. That was why nothing should be put in writing.

Maria commented: "I'd just hate to have our Family members acting as though Dad was wrong when we know that is not the case. If there was anything wrong it was that some Family members may have gotten into some excesses and taken things to the extreme in some cases, using such liberties as an occasion for the flesh". For Maria the problem was that:- "If we sit back and let Dad take all the "blame" for all our controversial Biblical doctrines that the system doesn't like and criticise like our sexual openness and our sexual freedom among ourselves...and many other radical doctrines that have made us what we are, then aren't we in a sense both denying Dad and the Word itself". The tenor of the letter is not to compromise, and not to blame Berg, not to blame the Law of Love for the acknowledged excesses of the flesh. I find that attitude extremely worrying. It is neither an acceptable nor a responsible position to take.


[edit] CONCLUSIONS

1. I am totally satisfied that there was widespread sexual abuse of young children and teenagers by adult members of The Family, and that this abuse occurred to a significantly greater extent within The Family than occurred in society outside it.

2. Berg was well aware when he propounded his Law of Love that there was a high risk that many who followed it were not mature enough wisely and responsibly to use the freedom (that "dangerous toy") conferred on them in a way which did not cause harm. Harm to children was readily foreseeable as soon as he had schooled The Family to accept that even young children were sexual beings. By endowing children with the same sexual responses as were enjoyed by adults, he made them objects of sex. He placed them within the scope of the Law of Love. That law depends upon full free and informed consent being given to the contemplated activity. Children's consent to sexual activity can never be the product of a free will both because they do not have the maturity to understand the emotional consequences of any sexual engagement, but also because, due to the imbalance of power between adult and child, any decision of the child is made under influence and pressure. Apparent consent is thereby vitiated. The overwhelming body of psychiatric opinion across the world is dismissive of the apologia propounded in Good Thots and is firmly of the view that exposure to early sexuality is harmful to children. There is even enough acknowledgment in the documents that The Family now recognise that the teenagers involved in sexual relationships with adults suffered emotional upheaval which interfered with the Lord's work. It is not a difficult step also to acknowledge that in fact these children have suffered emotional harm.

3. It is, therefore, quite unacceptable for The Family to cast the blame upon the immature or weak members and not to face up to what is a harsh truth unpalatable to them that Berg bears responsibility for propagating the doctrine which so grievously misled his flock and injured the children within it.

4. This is a condign judgment on Berg , on those in authority who failed to curb these wild excesses and on The Family as a whole. It was a deplorable period of their history. They have been rightly vilified by the media and pilloried by the press for it. It was, however, a period of their history. I am now totally satisfied that The Family, I would think largely at Maria's prompting, has since 1986 made determined and sustained efforts to stamp out child sexual abuse and to prevent any inappropriate contact between adults and children whether young children or teenage children. I have no evidence that child sex abuse is presently prevalent any more within The Family than outside it.


[edit] INCEST

[edit] The Literature

In "The Devil Hates Sex" May 1980 Maria asks, "Well, what about incest? That's a big big question in The Family right now." Little evidence has been disclosed to me of The Family's concerns about incest and I do not know why it had become such a big question. There was a letter from Seek and Secundus published in Family News in about 1981 where they asked how much flesh brothers and sisters can share when they are older. That could only be an example, one presumably of many, of the questions then being raised with W. S. by the ordinary members. I can also only assume that if there was a debate, it was a debate which had a foundation of fact to justify the differences of practice under discussion.

Berg's response was that the subject of incest was so dangerous that he hardly even dared talk about it in the privacy of their bedroom because "the system practically goes berserk when you talk about incest". Maria replied: "We'll just have to tell the kids that it's not prohibited by God but you'd better watch out because its dangerous". In Berg's view:- "There is nothing in the world at all wrong with sex as long as it's practised in love, whatever it is, or whoever it's with, no matter who or what age or what relative" "or what manner and you don't even dare say these words in private. If the law ever got a hold of this, they would try to string me up, they'd probably lynch me before I got to jail...There are NO RELATIONSHIP RESTRICTIONS or age limitations in his law of love. But system law has made it all against the law, and if I'd tell you what I think I'd probably break the law publishing it." (My emphasis.) As I read those passages there is nothing which makes incest inconsistent with the Law of Love. Maria irresponsibly proffered the advice:- "At least not let'em find out if you do it". In November 1982 Berg wrote "Sex with Grandma". He described how at the age of 19 or 20 he had perforce to share a bed with his middle-aged mother. It was cold and in the middle of the night she snuggled up to him "real tight". He wrote:- "And perhaps if I had not been so conservative and extremely narrow -minded in my theology and religion at that time and so absolutely frightened by my mother's seeming abandon at the moment, I might have reacted a little more responsively and perhaps have satisfied both of us and our mutual tremendous sexual needs, and it could have developed into a beautiful sexual relationship". He then recounted a dream he had of falling into the garden of love and there making love to his mother. He described waking up and making love to Maria who became his mother at the moment of orgasm. It was an extraordinary document to publish and it was mischievous to do so.

In "Heaven's Children" there was another extraordinary passage of Techi, Maria's daughter, dreaming of "her Grandpa lover". He wrote:- "Of course as there are no longer any such things as man's legalistic laws against incest in this loving kingdom of God, everyone loves everyone and is completely free in his/her encompassing love. So I make wonderful sweet precious love to my now beautiful teenage Techi...afterwards they (Techi and Maria) both awake excitedly...to discover that both of them...dreamt they had made love with me right here in the bed together." This passage is one which is used as an example of attacking The Family and in the document "Contending for the Faith" The Family's response is given to it. I regret that once again I see no justification for the publication of this story and again I am driven to conclude that it was irresponsible to permit it to appear at all and reprehensible to include it in material which it was known would be placed before children.

[edit] The oral evidence

MB gave evidence of her relationship with her grandfather. Her evidence is plainly of importance. She is a disaffected former member. Her aunt Deborah (Berg's daughter), has led a campaign whose object is that The Family be destroyed. MB has been subjected to the influence of Deborah. She is in close contact with all those intent on The Family's downfall. Her evidence, more than anyone's, had to be subjected to the most careful scrutiny. She is moreover a young woman with an uncertain psychiatric history. I shall set out in detail how her health broke when she was in The Family, when, beyond question, she suffered psychotic episodes. She had treatment in the United States after her repatriation there. I have no medical reports giving me any accurate picture of her mental condition. I had no help in judging whether or not her undoubted breakdown had impaired her ability to remember the events taking place before and even during these psychotic episodes. I asked Dr Cameron for his opinion. He told me that in the light of MB's pre-morbid personality which all described as conscientious, dutiful and good, she can be relied on to give an accurate account of what had happened. I shall treat that opinion cautiously. It does not justify my immediate acceptance of what she said but there is no evidence that her illness makes her unreliable. It remains for me to judge whether her hostility undermines her credibility. I became more and more convinced by her evidence the longer she gave it. She did not seem to me to paint the picture blacker than it was. She said at one point that she only wished to say what was necessary and there were several instances where it would have been perfectly possible for her to gild the lily had that been her purpose. By way of one example, she spoke of her time in the Philippines and of Simon Peter's involvement with the young. She said that she and her friend A1 had been taking a nap and when she awoke, A1 told her that Simon Peter had had sex with her. She said she did not see it and when offered the opportunity to say that he had misconducted himself with her, she unhesitatingly said that he had not. I had to consider the extent to which she was prone to exaggeration. I had listened aghast to her account of her exorcism and I began to think it could not possibly all be true. Much later in the case I read The Family's own account, which appeared to be a transcript of a tape recording of the events as they happened and that showed that MB had been moderate in her complaint of the indignities heaped upon her. It was suggested to her that because she had been billed for stardom within The Family as the leader's granddaughter and had so enjoyed the spotlight of adulation during her time with Music with Meaning, she now could not survive without being the centre of attention and so in order to appear on television "Chat Shows", she needed to say more and more outrageous and untrue things. I totally reject that criticism of her. That is not at all how she struck me. Because I believe her, I find that Berg and Maria came down to her bedroom and whilst Maria and Sarah were talking, Berg got into her bed in their presence and fondled her. This happened on a number of occasions. She was called to his quarters. He was invariably impotent and they did not have sexual intercourse though he once tried to penetrate her, so there is no evidence of incest strictly defined. He did rupture her hymen with his finger. They had oral sex. That was oral sex by him on her, not so far as she could recollect by her on him. At one point they went through a mock celebration of marriage. Maria was fully aware of what was happening.

There is some very slight corroboration for what she says. In the letter "The Last State" Berg berated her in these terms:- "What have you against me? What have I ever done to you but shower attention on you, even favour you, even tried to be good to you, help you, let you live in our home for 3 years, support you, lavish every kind of good and love on you that we possibly could, invited you into our own quarters right here to live right next door to us and to sleep with my children and into our own bedroom and into our own bed." There were other strange pieces of evidence, though I do not need them to complete the jigsaw. In "The Dangers of Demonism" the complaint is that MB: "considered herself to actually be Heaven's Girl, thinking herself to be so perfect, wonderful and spiritual, and would go out and criticise Dad and Mama thinking she, MB, would be the new teen Maria." It was also written: "She began to believe that Grandpa loved her more than anyone else, even more than Mama. She confessed to thinking she should take Mama's place because she considered herself to be Heaven's Girl." Although it is far fetched, I bear in mind the curious tale of the Heaven's Girl's sexual encounter with Grandpa.

One of the matters about which The Family are particularly sensitive, so sensitive in fact that in the document "Contending for the Faith" they school the members in how to deal with this matter, is the question of Berg's sexual relationship with his own daughter. It seems to me that Berg stands condemned of this by Faithy's published reaction to "Childhood Sex" and her reference to "front rubbin" which made her feel good all over and which she did not think perverted her at all. It is a clear admission of masturbation by father on daughter.

I am not alone in concluding that sexual abuse took place in David Berg's household. The Family's own expert Dr Millikan is of the same opinion.


[edit] THE LEADERS' INVOLVEMENT IN SEXUAL ABUSE

The evidence is sparse and the conclusions are incomplete and imperfect. The most - or I suspect more accurately, the least - I can confidently find is this:-

1. DAVID BERG

I am completely satisfied that he was obsessed with sex and that he became a perverted man who recklessly corrupted his flock and did many of them serious damage which he made no attempt to redress and for which he never admitted any personal responsibility. Hypocritically he did not practice what he preached, that confession and repentance are good for the soul. Now he is dead. May the Lord have mercy on his soul. There will be many who will not mourn his passing. KJ is no doubt among that large number. He did not live long enough to read her indictment of him as she gave evidence. Those of us who heard it, those of us whose hearts are not frozen by prejudice, whose ears are not deaf to things they do not wish to hear and whose eyes are not blind to genuine tears, we will remember that young woman breaking down in the witness box and through her sobs crying out:- "If it's changed so much, how can it have changed? This all started with David Berg. He's the one who decided it all. It's all his prophecy, so how can he suddenly change it all. Is he saying it's all wrong, saying that he made a mistake? Where’s all this counselling being given to the victims he's made? Has he done anything to help to stop the suffering that has happened and is just going to keep going on because you suffer it all your life. How can it have changed? It's changed on the outside so that we don't persecute them. It hasn't changed his heart. It hasn't changed his mind. It's just made things more covered up, more secretive, that's all. He hasn't said sorry for any of the things he started in the first place. He hasn't done anything to correct them to make them right. How can you say it's changed? People are still suffering for what he's done to us. It'll be with me for the rest of my life, I know that. Every decision I make, everything I do. I still have phobias, phobias about men. Where's all the help. If you do wrong to someone or thousands of people, you should help if you really believe in your heart that you've done wrong and I don't believe he does." I make no apology for repeating and adopting this passionate declamation.

2. MARIA

She has been at Berg's side throughout all of this. She did not initiate it but for a long time participated in the excesses and saw her own son abused and harmed. I believe that she in her heart of hearts knows just how wrong the propagation of these freedoms were. MB fairly observed that Maria was not likely to have been able to have stopped the sexual relationship Berg was promoting between MB and Davidito and MB also said she felt that Maria was not happy with what Grandpa was doing to her. I am also satisfied that Maria does lead the determined effort that has been made to stop these practices. I believe that her expressions of regret are genuine, though belated and insufficient.

3. SARA DAVIDITO

She stands condemned by her upbringing of Davidito and Techi and her own daughter Davida and she was a party to the abuses which took place within the Berg household. She remains notwithstanding all of that, a highly respected and influential childcare officer. I have no confidence in her.

4. PETER AMSTERDAM

I find he was corrupted by the sexual freedoms his revered leader offered him. MB spoke of Amsterdam being in bed with Maria while she was in bed with Grandpa. I had no reason to doubt it. Sated with sex, the ordinary inhibitions and the social taboos broke down, as Dr Cameron explained they would, and there is evidence that Amsterdam "shared" with MB and A1.

5. GARY

MB did not complain about him and I have therefore no evidence as to his involvement.

6. CJ - (SIMON PETER)

There is hearsay evidence from MB that A1 said she had had sex with him. It is insufficient for me to find that against him.

7. MICHAEL GILLIGAN - APOLLOS

I cannot recall evidence against him.

8. JEREMY SPENCER

His own daughter with understandable reluctance complained that he abused her as I find he did. He also abused MB. Music with Meaning was a particularly corrupt and corrupting organisation. He played a central part in it.

9. PAUL PELLOQUIN - JOSIAH

He Was another member of the Music with Meaning team. He corrupted and abused the young girls who were part of the singing and dancing troupe. What troubles me gravely is that he is now the European Shepherd and S is subject to his controlling influences - or the lack of them.

10. EM

She is another childcare expert who was prepared to encourage the teenagers in her charge in Japan to have sexual intercourse, some of them for the first time. It was she who belatedly woke up to the fact that she was promoting promiscuity. She did not appear to grasp the irony of contrast between that behaviour and her proudly proclaiming that she had brought up her own daughter to be a chaste young woman.

There is, therefore, overwhelming evidence that the high leadership within The Family has been guilty of child sexual abuse. That must concern this Court.

It would be wrong, however, not to record, with equal emphasis, that there is no evidence whatever that there is anyone in authority at the Ward's home or nationally has himself or herself been guilty of sexual abuse. I find that they were not party to any of those excesses. They had read My Little Fish but could not believe that such sexual contact was appropriate. In the MAs case, they robustly rejected the invitation for their child to share with another. There never has been even a suggestion that NT herself has committed any indecency. The acquittal of this young mother and those close to her occupies this lonely paragraph in a very long judgment, but the acquittal will remain prominent in my mind when I come to balance the risks of harm to S.

With a sigh of relief, I turn from sex abuse to the other no less important and perhaps more important issues in the case.

[edit] MEDICAL NEGLECT

The Plaintiff's case was that The Family so strongly believe in the healing power of prayer, that they are neglectful of the need for proper medical treatment; that because they too frequently believe that illness is a punishment for sinfulness, they are intolerant of those who suffer physical or mental disability.

The Family do not deny their belief in healing by faith. They assert it. They are fully justified in doing so. It is an established tenet of Christian belief. I am much less certain of the theological justification for the apparent correlation between illness and sin, nor do I intend to enter into that debate. For the purpose of this judgment it is sufficient for me to express my concern about the effect on children of such passages as I find in "True Comix" clearly designed to be read by young children which told them:- "But sometimes if we're really being bad or foolish and doing things we know are wrong, the Lord may take away His protection and let us get hurt or sick as punishment for being so naughty. Sometimes that's why we get sick, because the Lord is spanking us for being naughty. When we're sick we should pray and ask the Lord why. If we have been bad or naughty, if we are really sorry, he forgives us and heals us.... Sometimes maybe you'll be sick even when you weren't bad and did nothing wrong. Maybe God let you get sick to show you he can heal you like he did with the blind man in the Bible." The drawings showed a young girl in bed with measles or chicken pox apparently thinking she had been naughty because the picture showed that God had her over his knee, her trousers but not her panties down and He was spanking her on the bottom. The Family seemed oblivious of the dangers in such messages. The danger was that the messages were taken literally and to extremes. In an organisation where strong faith and unquestioning obedience were drummed into all, young and old, extreme reactions were inevitably likely to follow. This is seen in the sad story of Shuly.

This girl was a deeply committed member of the group. Some of her letters to the leadership have been published and are before me, others are not. She contracted Lupus, a debilitating disease. She wrote to Berg asking for permission to read "System" books against which Berg had so vehemently railed in such letters as "You are What you Read." I am told by the girl's mother SP, that the letter was published with the footnote from Berg hoping Shuly would be healed but suggesting that perhaps Lupus provided the answer for her. What did that mean? SPM provided this explanation in his Affidavit:- "Having diagnosed the problem, I have no doubt that the disciple would be encouraged to pray for healing and to try to discover through prayer the cause of what it is, what the meaning is. Sometimes illness can lead people to greater faith and to examine their heart to see what, if any, message there is in their situation. We believe that illness can have a spiritual dimension to it." In the result this seriously ill child was led to the belief that God was spanking her and inflicting a terminal disease upon her as a punishment for her reading the sort of books which, if her rights as an intelligent young person enjoyed any respect at all, would have been freely and unquestioningly available to her. As she faced death, she lived with the terror that her faith was so weak that she had lost God's protection, was unworthy of healing and rightly condemned to eternal damnation. This was emotional abuse to an intolerable degree. Her mother on one occasion found her in a state of shock because she had been reading a Mo letter not placed before me, "When the Incurable become Unbearable" which suggested that those with incurable disease should be placed in homes so that the missionaries could go on unimpeded by such a handicap. Of the same tenor was the "Rotten Apples":- "We must remember that if there is a retarded or deformed, chronically sick or handicapped child, a queer child or baby born in a family, there is usually something wrong with the mother or father that God is chastening them for and either trying to teach them a lesson or simply punish them for their past or present sins. It's certainly not the child's fault. ... We cannot allow one handicapped soldier to drag down the whole army, nor one rotten apple to spoil the whole barrel full. The problem has either to be cured or The Family delivered from it. ... (The mother) should confess and repent of her sins which caused it, acknowledge it and ask for deliverance, and then the whole Family should pray desperately for the deliverance of the child so that at least its spirit changes from a bad spirit to a good one; or I would suggest that perhaps both should be separated from The Family and certainly from a family with other children in which the retarded child could be a bad influence or even a danger. ... Let's lay aside every weight and these fruits of sin that do so easily beset us and let us run the race and not sit down spending our full time taking care of a bunch of handicapped who will never be able to truly serve the Lord as well as we! Don't let the devil deceive and side track you into something less than the best." I well understand that that is not the whole story. Not all cases received that extreme treatment. In 1991, which is 10 years after Rotten Apples, letters were published by a mother, Marianne, concerning her Downes Syndrome baby whose two years of life in her mother's care touched and inspired many.

Other contradictions abound. When Flirty Fishing was most enthusiastically pursued, it had as its consequence, inevitably, that many of the women contracted venereal disease. It was almost enough to persuade Berg to cry a halt to that profitable enterprise. He did not. Instead he wrote the scurrilous paper suggesting that Christ might have contracted a venereal disease from Mary Magdalene, who had been a known prostitute, and that just as He suffered for our sins, so the FFing girls were similarly afflicted because of the sins of the men they were trying to save. Venereal disease was, accordingly, a part of the continuing sacrifice they had to make. Maria "had something three times just in the space of about three months". Their solution was:- "We pray immediately of course, but we also go to the doctor to get him to do whatever he can to help clear it up." There was, therefore, no embargo on seeking medical help but there was often some reluctance to do seek it to the detriment of the patient. There were examples of that in the evidence before me. JG in Romania in about 1992, had a boil on his face which became so badly infected that he became seriously ill. His requests for a doctor to attend or for his being taken to hospital were refused. Prayer was the only cure offered. He was told that he must have some serious spiritual problem for God to be so harshly dealing with him. He was not healed. He was taken to hospital eventually, but not before time. For this young man, that did not sustain his faith: it destroyed it.

AB was in Argentina in 1990, and fell acutely ill. The letters she had been assigned to read did not gain for her the requisite "victory". For the shepherds who cared for her that was an indication that she needed a sharp warning and needed to confess whatever terrible sin she was hiding. She was regarded as "rebellious" because she did not wish to eat. She was told Oplexicon, one of Satan's archangels, was living in her. She was barely 17 years old at the time and she was terrified. After many days of high fever and delirium she was finally taken to hospital and received emergency surgery which saved her life, but did not save her fallopian tubes. She was the victim of cruel neglect and those who had charge of her in the absence of her parents treated her with callous disregard for her welfare.

How did that happen? The answer is one which sends a shiver of apprehension down my spine. The answer is that her shepherds were conforming with the standards set by the leadership and were following their example. For them, AB was another MB. AB was ill in January 1990. In December 1989, the first issue of the new "Teen Specials" featuring a "Traumatic Testimony" was published as a warning to teenagers who like AB were: "Wilfully yielding to the same spiritual sins that she (MB) yielded to such as extreme pride, self- righteousness, self-exultation and harsh criticism of others ... You can wind up in a living hell on earth like MB has experienced even within The Family if you yield to the Devil and his doubtful destructive and damning devices". That letter was accompanied by "The last State" describing, as I shall do in a moment, how The Family dealt with MB and how her grandfather told her: "You think .... you can invite these little devils to play around and cause trouble and all the rest but you can't stop, I want to tell you right now, not without suffering for it, not without paying for it! ... Those little dirty demons you've been inviting in to play around with and talk to you are not going to get away with it any more. Because they're going to lose their happy home in you, one way or the other." What so concerns me is that here is another example of the letters influencing the conduct of the members and causing irreparable damage.

The treatment meted out to MB is so appalling that no one except perhaps DR had the gall to tempt to defend it. Mr Barton, labouring under the tremendous difficulty of coming so late into the case, did his best to cross examine MB and challenge her account of what had happened to her. The documents produced very much later in the case confirmed her evidence - indeed satisfied me that her evidence was restrained and understated rather than exaggerated. The letters are "The Last State" and the "Dangers of Demonism" published in March and July 1987. MB, born in June 1972, was invited to her grandfather's compound in December 1983, aged 11, left there in August 1987, aged 15 and left The Family for the United States in November 1990 aged 18. Sara wrote in "The Last State" letters:- "How unbelievably good MB was in her overall behaviour, attitudes and even in spirit. There is no more extreme example we could use as an almost, nearly "perfect" child - the "best" we'd ever seen! We hardly could find any fault with her at all as MB was outwardly so very sweet, well behaved, submissive, yielded, very wise, very spiritual, mature and responsible and cooperative, just a real angel. Usually, when having to use such severe disciplinary measures as mentioned in the above letter, you're dealing with some incorrigible, defiant and rebellious teen terror or criminal, but this is not so in MB's case. She was always known and considered to be a very sweet and good girl." Apparently her problem was being "seemingly too good". Sara recounted that it was not until they began to require a written daily report from the teens that they noted in MB's "Lesson and Trials" section that she repeatedly wrote "I need more love so I won't criticise others," or "I'm praying for more respect for my leadership."

Who could blame the girl for lacking respect for a man so revered by others when she knew from her personal knowledge that he was foul mouthed, drank too much and sexually abused her. For this she was brutally punished. Her crime was to have yielded to Satan. That led to a time of two months when she had five major exorcisms performed over her. She was subjected to total immersion in the Word, full-time, with top leadership "reading aloud along with her to keep her mind and mouth and eyes and ears occupied and for a constant infilling of the Holy Spirit." They prayed over her, even fifty times a day. She was 14 years old! She told me in her evidence that nearly ever word uttered by Berg was tape recorded. I thought at the time that it seemed rather fanciful. "The Last State" letter GN278 written in August 1987, seems to be a transcript of recorded conversations and it constitutes a verbatim account of one of the exchanges between this vulnerable teenage girl and her grandfather. I am not surprised that the letter describes it as "the heaviest "strong meat" ever to be (published) and shared with our entire Family". The verbatim account was set out on 19 closely typed pages of which the following give the flavour:- "Dad had been counselling some of The Family for several hours about being merciful and not being too hard on MB, and he called her in to gently try to talk to her and try to help her. But the Lord himself was obviously very upset with her as we were all soon to see!" Then follows this account of the exorcism and I will quote the paragraph numbers to give some idea of its duration:- "(29) MB comes in and Dad greets her with a loving kiss and embrace. "Praise the Lord, Honey, How are you? Bless and help her, Lord, as we talk to her about her problems, in Jesus' name. TYL" (Then, in a very loud voice:) "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" (Dad breaks into strong tongues for one full minute as he grabs MB with both hands and violently shakes her with every phrase that he shouts it!).

(30) Get out of here, Devil! Get out of her in Jesus' name! Get out of here! In the name of Jesus, get out of her! Hallelujah! In Jesus' name! I rebuke you, Satan! Look at me! Get out of there! (Slaps her face) Get out of there!...

(31) Do you hear me? (slaps) (MB: Yes sir!) Do you hear me? (MB: Yes sir!) Do you hear me? (MB: Yes sir!) Do you hear me? (MB: Yes sir!) Do you understand what I am talking about? (MB: Yes sir) That's what you're going to get if this thing comes back again! (Dad pushes MB into her chair.)

(32) I have heard too much of this thing! (Dad is gasping for breath with each phrase.)

(33) Do you know what they do with people in insane asylums that have devils and demons? Of course they don't call it that...

(35) God is angry! He is angry with you! I mean he is really angry! The power of God's spirit curse that devil and curse you for allowing him in...

(36) I've never put up with anything like this ever from the very first beginning of this Family, from my own first children, I have beaten them with the rod, I have beaten them until they cry for mercy...

(37) From now on I'm going to knock the devil out of you if I have to...

(38) How can you my own granddaughter suppose to be one of my saved children, how could you invite Satan in and put curses on others, send little devils to other people? I don't ever want to hear about that again! (Slaps MB's face) Is that clear? (MB: Yes sir!)...

(39) Tonight you're going to go without your supper and you're going to fast and pray and pray with somebody every hour of the day and night until you get delivered and you don't let those god damn dirty slimy evil little things back into your mind! Is that clear? (Face to face with MB) (MB: Yes sir!) Or do I have to come over there and beat the devil out of you? huh! (MB: No)...

(42) From now on you're going to suffer corporal punishment! ...

(47) Your grandmother was insane, did you know that? I have just been giving them a long history of your background so they could have a little more sympathy and mercy on you and understand you came from a very seriously bad background. (Clears throat and spits.) Same to you, devil! Spit in his face! Do you want me to spit in your face? If you manifest any more of these signs of devilry, I'm not only going to spit in your face, I'm going to hit you in your face!

(48) Has anybody ever punished you like that before? (MB: Yes) Who? (MB: "Uncle Peter".) (Peter Amsterdam: I spanked her once real hard.) Well, she undoubtedly needed it! (Maria: It wasn't anything like what you just gave her though.) When was this? (Peter: When we had prayer for her a while back.)

(49) I have a rod here, will you please bring it to me.. You see this? Pass it to her, let her feel it. I want you to feel this, how heavy it is. (Face to face with MB again.) That is a rod!

(50) I am going to take this rod to you and I am going to beat you with it the next time any of this stuff comes up.

(52) Do you want me to help you know what you're going to get? Come here, I'll let you feel it just one time. Bend over. (Spanks her!) Did you feel that? Well next time your buttocks are going to be bare and you're going to really feel it!

(53) You're dangerous you're going to go stark raving mad and do something terrible if you keep playing around with those devils.

(55) Your mother Shula's insane... Your father Aaron was insane! If it hadn't been for the Lord, he would have jumped off the cliff a long time before that...

(58) Do you want to be sane? (MB: Yes!)

(64) If you can't resist (the devil) then get rid of him yourself, wake up somebody that's with you and tell them to pray with you. And if they have to use a rod to beat him out of you, fine, you've got my permission. (Sara: Yes sir I'll do it!) If you've got to slap her to wake her up and get her out of that kind of spirit, slap her! Slap her good! Knock her around! Let her have it! ...

(74) Now get out, you damn devil, and leave her alone, or I'm going to whack the daylights out of her! (She cries.) Thank God that's the first time I think I've seen tears! Are you sorry? (MB: Yes sir!) But if you're not sorry, I'm going to make you sorry!...

(81) You think you're going to make it up there (in the system) somehow? The only way you could make it is to be a whore, that's all! You wouldn't even be an FFer, you wouldn't even be doing it for God, you'd just be doing it for a living. You'd probably end up on drugs - a drug demon possessed, alcoholic, diseased whore and soon dead! Now is that what you want? (MB: No sir!)...

(88) I don't know whether these here have ever seen me this angry before, and I'm sure you've never seen me this angry before, but there are some others who have! There are some others I have knocked around and slapped down for being so full of the devil and playing around with Satan and toying with demons! I kicked some of them out of The Family...

(90) You're dirty, you're filthy, you stink! Your self righteousness pride stinks worst of all, like stinking dirty menstruous rags! ... And we're not going to stand the stench of it any more, is that clear?

(93) We have spent too many hours putting up with this problem, too many days, too many weeks, too many months.

(106) As far as I'm concerned your father Aaron died failing God. ... Do you want to die like that knowing you failed God and you disobeyed and hurt your family, your grandfather your father your foster father all of us? (MB: No sir!).

(113) I was practically screaming in tongues, I think I'm hoarse from it now.

(114) The Lord took hold of her head" (referring to the events set out in para. 29) "and yanked it around and back and forth and side ways to side ways by my hands until I was afraid I was going to yank her head off or break her neck! God was so angry... And then I hauled off and slapped her I don't know how many times tonight, hard, right? (MB: Yes sir!) And hit you....

(145) If you go back into that foolishness again, these folks have got my permission to slap you around and knock you around, if they have to knock you out to get rid of that! Because you have got to want to get rid of it, and if it takes a good beating up to make you want to get rid of it, then we're going to beat you up!...

(170) My God, MB, how could you think you could get way with it? How could you not fear God? How did you think you could get away from the wrath of God? I represent God to you... He nearly yanked your head off here! That was the Lord! I didn't plan that, I had no idea. I'm almost horrified to think back at what happened, but it was God! You heard the voice of the Lord bawling you and those dirty little demons out and threatening to take your head off if you didn't stop it!

(183) The last resort we now have is to beat you with the rod until it really hurts and you don't want it any more! Right? (MB: Yes sir!) But if that doesn't work then what can we do? We can't kill you, that's God's business. We'll have to get rid of you. Now that's the facts.

(185) Nobody want's to sleep with you, they're actually afraid of you because you've been under the control of the Devil...

(186) So we can't trust you any more not even after all this tonight...

(188) Now that's the picture I got while we were praying, that they're going to restrain you. We're going to punish you! You're not going to get away with this. God has put us here as parents to punish you when you do evil and you've been doing the vilest kind of evil, the worst kind of sin.

(189) I suggest you tie her to the bed.

(190) Make sure she goes to the toilet the very last thing. I don't care if you wet the bed, dear, your hands are going to be tied to the sides of that bed at night when the others are trying to sleep. Are you willing to submit to that? (MB: Yes!) If you have cotton or cloth ropes, that's the best thing.

(191) Think of it, you've gotten to the state where nobody can trust you and they're afraid you might do them or yourself harm! You the great MB who was a great singer and so vaunted in her pride, in her talent, her singing and world famous has gotten so full of the Devil we have to tie her down at night and threaten to beat her up in the daytime if she doesn't behave.

(194) If beating doesn't get the hell out of you, you're going to get the hell out of here: I want you to memorise that. (MB: If beating you doesn't get the hell out of you, you're going to get the hell out of here!)

(196) So for a peaceful night's rest I suggest you tie her hands to the bed... Don't tie it so tight she can't move, just tight enough that she can't reach herself and she can't squirm out of it.

(197) This is the first time we've ever done that that I know of, but that's the picture God gave me, and if I follow God's pictures, ..., it never fails.

(198) So your first punishment was what God gave you tonight, and what I gave you, a good slapping around to knock that hell out of you, and just gave you one lick and felt like giving you more with this stick! And if we have any more trouble, you're going to get more of it, from anyone of these here that are authorised to do it.

(197) She's not to be alone at any time from now on. Someone is to be with her at all times who is big and strong and spiritual enough that you just absolutely knock it out of her.

(206) My God help her to realise how awful and how horrible this is, that she can never ever again claim any kind of righteousness of herself. She has been one of the most wicked persons we have ever had in this Family, one of the most evil one of the most dangerous so that we have to tie her up at night to make sure she doesn't do anybody any damage. We have to divorce her from our quarters, from our arms, from our children, and put her in virtual incarceration at least at night. She has to have a guard with her all day long to make sure that she behaves until we are sure she is cured.

(215) If you don't get rid of those demons ...... you may have to get whipped in bed caned in bed.

(243) I love you sweetheart. Goodnight." I regard this as vicious treatment of a vulnerable child. Saying, "I love you sweetheart", does not redress the wrong done to her. She was physically ill-treated; and she was emotionally ill-treated; she was put in fear; she was humiliated; her self-esteem was denigrated. Maria and Peter stood by and watched it happen and approved of what was happening. They showed little more sensitivity and insight than their at times demented leader. I cannot accept that this was, in any sense at all, a cure for the emotional problems from which the child was undoubtedly suffering. The Traumatic Testimony letter gave The Family's diagnosis of her problem:- "You're going to go completely nuts. In fact they say you've already gone completely nuts, you're already insane, totally non compos mentis! Totally incapacitated and mentally not sane at all." About a year later MB was sent to the detention camp in Macau. It is not now disputed that she did there suffer a complete mental breakdown and that she required but did not at first receive appropriate psychiatric help. Eventually after tribulations which I shall later set out, she was finally sent for proper treatment. From there she was sent back to the United States in America. She again broke down and underwent more psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately I do not have full medical reports on her condition.

Doctor Cameron, a Consultant Child Psychiatrist, gave evidence to me. He told me, and I accept, that the treatment meted out to MB was totally unacceptable. This was a child caught in the conflict between what she saw and what had happened to her, which she knew to be wrong but which she had been taught to accept as right. Disillusioned and depressed, she doubted. If, as happened to MB, a significant cause of a mental or nervous breakdown is the feeling that one is lacking in trust or faith, and the treatment prescribed is to hammer home what a worthless sinner one is, then the treatment enhances the self- doubt, and the very treatment itself becomes damaging and psychologically disabling. This is an extract from MB's own evidence as I noted it:- "I upset them when 13/14 because I began to realise grandfather was a hypocrite who made rules for people which were not necessary for him. He would write one thing one day the opposite the next because God was changing. He was very contradictory. He was a chronic alcoholic. It was very confusing. When he was sick he would drink and call different women in for sexual relations or sexual comfort. It was very difficult to respect this man when he was so drunk. I now look back at his writings as the ravings of a drunk madman. Another thing that upset me at 14 was that I was losing my faith in the group and in the prophet - all the things I believed in. I had violent pictures and images and they said that showed I was listening to Satan. They would say that Satan and demons were attacking me. I do not know if it was my imagination but I was seeing demons. In bed I would get out terrified because I thought the spirits would attack me sexually. I would try to cover myself up. I would confess to Sara, my stepfather, Faithy and others because I was afraid of Satan and wanted to be right with God and wanted the group's approval. They would slap me. Later they gathered the leadership together, pulled my pants down and spanked me publicly which was humiliating because these people were important to me. Six months later when my grandfather was told, he commanded them to beat me with his rod whenever I had violent thoughts or saw monsters.... Many times they would beat me, they took my head and beat it against the wall and bruised me. I was helpless and knew nothing else. My stepfather spanked me with his hands. It all felt like torture and once I fainted, throwing up. They said I was throwing up demons. The exorcising terrified me". Later I was able to compare that description with The Family's description of MB in Macau taken from her Traumatic Testimony:- "This is the story of MB, who made a conscious effort to entertain the Devil and his lies and whose former fascination for evil has now left her spiritually and mentally handicapped. Of course, Dad and others warned her time and time again that the Devil was going to drive her insane if she didn't make a positive stand against the lies of the enemy and stop yielding to the devilry she was so fascinated with as you can read in the letters the "Last State" and "Its up to You". The prophetic warnings of those letters have been fulfilled as is proven in the following pitiful and revealing report written by MB's present shepherds" (in December 1989). "What started out as a little mind-game developed into absolute obsession and eventually resulted in a very unstable, feeble and virtually insane mind. ... She cannot take any kind of stressful situation and is very easily scared and affected by any attacks of the Enemy. ... She is definitely feeble-minded as Grandpa said. It's hard for her to concentrate, and she has a hard time making sense when she talks and often is unable to finish a sentence that she has started. She cannot take care of herself like a normal person, spiritually or even in many ways physically. ... She still gets seriously attacked with bad violent pictures sometimes... May this be a warning to others who feel they can dabble with the Enemy! MB thought it was just a little disobedience and that she was only being a little bit rebellious and only wanted to do that for a little while. But the effects in her life are long lasting and so extensive that it will probably take a lifetime to undo the damage and for her to gain lasting victories over the things that hinder and negatively affect her. MB can still work, she does her daily jobs but she is not normal. It takes MB a lot longer to do things than normal people. She is making progress but we have to work with her daily on this because she isn't "all there" sometimes, when we give her instructions, we have to repeat them over and over again. How different from the very clever, sharp and quick witted girl she once was. She now does not really understand the first time or the second time or in many cases the third time. It is very sad! She isn't sharp, she is very dull and doesn't have all her wits about her. She spaces out often in classes, it's very difficult for her to tune in. MB is still sick, she is still recovering from the extensive damage that the Enemy has done to her. She has developed some strange mannerisms. For example when she is nervous or begins to get negative thoughts from the Enemy, she starts picking her hair out, to the point that she even has a bald spot! She scrapes her lip with her fingernail in a weird nervous fashion and other times begins to uncontrollably scratch herself almost like a monkey. She often has black bags under her eyes from worry. So much worrying causes her to have stomach problems which in turn cause her to have very bad breath. She doesn't sleep well, her sleep is often interrupted because she is unable to relax ... So as you can see from this report, MB still has very serious problems, and in the system's eyes she would be considered insane and without a doubt she would be locked up in a mental institution. Thank the Lord for the love and mercy of God and Grandpa who have allowed her to be in one of our Family homes where she can partake of God's spirit which has been slowly cleansing her from these inroads of the enemy which she brought upon herself." There is an affidavit from KG, who did not attend for cross examination, who takes up the sad story. "After our daily taking care of the said MB for 3½ years, rather than improving and normalising as we had so hoped, regrettably she regressed into a sad state of hysteria, and frenzy, to the point that she had to be daily spoon-fed her meals - only to have her wilfully regurgitate her food after hours of struggling to help her eat. She began to have no control over her bladder and bowel movements and became incontinent. She was pulling her hair out by the handful, laying all over the house, on tables etc. and would frequently disrobe in public. She began running around the house threatening to harm myself or my husband if we failed to control her in any way, throwing articles of clothing out of the window and screaming profanities at the top of her lungs. This extreme display of insanity was causing hours and hours of our time and care to the point that we finally had make a decision to have her committed into the care of the Macau Government Centro Mental Hospital. This was on or about September or October 1990." I have perhaps dealt with MB at inordinate length. I do so because of the central role she plays not only in The Family's past but in its present. For The Family to gain the respectability which they now appear to seek, they must acknowledge that what David Berg did to his granddaughter was wrong, not just a mistake, but inexcusably wrong. They must atone for their treatment of her which I find to have been barbaric and cruel.

My duty now is to set aside that sense of revulsion and concentrate on S and his medical care. I am totally satisfied that in the care of his mother he has received all appropriate medical attention. He was born in hospital and his mother duly registered him with general practitioners both in London and in the country. The health visitors visit. He has been immunised. When he needs medical care, he gets it. Mother herself took ill during the course of the trial and immediately sought medical help for herself. None of the members of The Family who are close to S gave any hint of their unwillingness to seek proper medical attention. There was no evidence of any extreme belief in illness being God's punishment. There was no evidence of any extreme belief that prayer was the only relief against being ill. S has been properly cared for, and I have total confidence in this mother to continue properly to care for him and I fear no medical neglect at her hands.

Mother and the community at the Ward's home may receive a clean bill of health but The Family's history leaves me with festering doubts about the organisation and its order of medical priorities and accordingly I must take into account some risk to S if he were to be separated from his mother and fall into the wrong hands.


[edit] IMPAIRMENT OF EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Berg's early aspirations for the movement were set out in his letter "New Bottles" in June 1973. He remarked:- "Do you realise we are now producing another generation. A new more revolutionary generation? They are going to be I hope the purest generation of all, totally revolutionary from the very beginning. The little ones being born will never have known anything but our kind of life! I'm hoping that these little children are going to be really pure revolutionaries from birth, and so far it looks like they are! Your children will be totally revolutionary, never knowing what churchianity and system jobs and education are like!" To achieve that ideal it was, of course, necessary carefully to control what was poured into these new bottles. That degree of control was imposed, for example, by the letter "You are what you read" in August 1978. The text books Berg "had to wade through" in college were denounced as "ridiculous", "full of the lies and distortions of men":- "Those books are written with the demonic satanic wisdom of the Devil himself! Cunningly devised to deceive you and lead you astray and twist you spiritually to where you don't know what is true. ... Nearly everything you have to know is in the Bible, except perhaps current events, recent revelations and a few other things." In August 1978 he returned to the theme in "Book Burning - You are What You Read" and informed the members that:- "I don't want to hear that anybody in this outfit is reading anything but your Bible or the Letters or some books that you have been assigned to read for a good purpose." By 1985, The Family were having to get to know the fruits of their education policies. In the "History of The Family" produced by SPM, WS wrote: "Many of the couples who had married during the early years of the Children of God era had adolescent children and, as is natural at that age, those young teenagers were encountering serious questions about life and the world around them as they searched for their identities and that, of course, held new challenges for Family parents." The Searcher's mission discovered a large number of disillusioned teenagers for whom the Teen Training Camp was held in Mexico in 1986 when: "These young people were challenged to renew their relationship with the Lord, and to give their lives to him again. ... Many of them chose to become teen missionaries and obtain permission from their parents to move on to the mission fields of Latin America after the TTC". Following the Mexico TTC, similar teen training camps were held in other major mission fields, primarily in South America and the Far East. At the Japan TTC they had "desperate prayer and laying on of hands for deliverance and prayed individually" for each of a number specific requests including:- "Against system influence through books,

Against the influence of system schools" In August 1988 Berg had "the School Vision" which was "God's answer to our child crisis." By then the Heavenly City School had begun to operate from Tateyama in Japan. This example of a large school for the education of the children was attractive. As Berg acknowledged:- "The education of our children is already getting to be a monumental thing, a desperate need, really, because most of our parents don't feel very qualified to teach their children. They never had much education or any degrees or any of that sort of thing, and they don't really feel qualified. I guess that most of them feel like they really haven't done too good a job on their kids when they've had to be so busy doing other things, the Lord's work, therefore their kids haven't really gotten a very good education... So I think a lot of parents, although they'd miss them, would really feel relieved that their kids were at least going to get a thorough education in the subjects that we consider important - not a broad public school type of education, but a really serious Family education in the 3 R's, plus Bible. ... Just educating our children for the Lord's work has become one of our major ministries. We're not just educating them for the sake of education. We simply want to give them enough education so they'll be able to face without fear any worldling, and have sufficient knowledge not to be ashamed of their ignorance, and to at least a better comprehension of the world than most of the systemites have now. As I've often said, they certainly need to know how to read and write and figure, and then have a general grasp of world history. I think we've given them a pretty good grasp of world history just from Bible history and prophecy. Education of our children for the Lord's service is becoming a serious emergency. ... Remember, we are not training just for now till the Lord comes, what little time we have left here, we're training for the future. ... We have had so many children now, they've almost become our biggest job! And properly to take care of them and train them - the best and most potential disciples we could possibly have - is a very important job and ministry... They could, in time, win a lot more souls and train a lot more workers than if we just kept on winning disciples." Berg was recognising that the large proportion of children in The Family was presenting them with a crisis. Were they to use the children to be out on the streets with the parents selling tapes and posters - which neglected their training (he did not like to use the word "education") - or were they to recognise that caring for this large mass of children was more important than having everyone on the streets witnessing? It was a challenging question to which The Family responded by tending either to open schools or to gather the children from several homes together to form a school home. The Family's educational curriculum was strengthened by the introduction of a new uniform Home Schooling Programme. The children were marked and assessed and records kept of their progress and this had the great advantage of enabling children to move from home to home, indeed from country to country whilst still maintaining uniformity of approach.

Bringing teenage children together inevitably led to some of the disaffected sowing the seeds of dissension. To contain it, The Family established a series of "Victor Programmes", about which I must later deal specifically.

The problems being experienced by the young continued to demand much of The Family's attention. In 1990, Maria had to acknowledge "the trials and difficulties" that her 11 year old daughter Techi had been going through and these together with "the keys to helping her overcome them" were published in the "Techi Series." As things got worse and worse with Techi, Maria began to feel:- "The whole Family is now in a very similar stage with their Jetts and teens. You may have been able to commit the care of your children to other teachers, helpers and overseers, and in many cases, you've virtually had to do that in order to fulfil the different ministries to which the Lord has called you. And in some cases you're still not going to be able to spend very much time with your children because for the Lord's work's sake you have to either be apart from them or devote most of your time and energies to other responsibilities and ministries." Her response to the dilemma was:- "If we want to avoid having all our Jetts and teens becoming dissatisfied, confused and rebellious "problem cases", I think we're going to have to re-evaluate our entire structure, and consider re-vamping and overhauling our entire present method of handling them! In fact it might be time to have a big revolution in all of our homes and schools." In April 1991, Peter Amsterdam wrote the new "Back to the Basic Home Requirements". So far as education was concerned, "Scholastics" in The Family terminology, the compulsory requirement for Jetts and teens was a minimum of 12 hours of scholastics each week though only 6 hours would be required for teens who were up to par scholastically for their age. He added "teens 16 years of age or older, who are doing fairly well scholastically, are no longer required to have scholastics, but could possibly use the 6 hours weekly for ministry training."

1992 saw the beginning of what The Family regarded as "unprecedented persecution". It caused them publicly to state their position and policy on education. Their belief was that:- "Education is primarily the process of learning to apply God's work to help us more fully understand the purposes of God in life and appreciate Him and the wonders of His creation." The Bible is central to the children's education and it forms the cornerstone of their curriculum. Their educational objective is:- "To foster total dedication to God and Christian discipleship in all of our children while helping them to acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to lead happy and productive fulfilling lives in His service. ... We would view any attempt to impose totally secular values and secular perspectives on our children as a serious disregard for our spiritual belief and an infringement of our religious rights, aimed at destroying our religion, as well as placing our children in serious moral danger." They believe that true education should not be confused with simply acquiring knowledge: "The Bible warns us that worldly wisdom and knowledge are not only considered foolishness to God, but are not able to deliver or transform the human spirit; in fact, they do not even bring happiness to a man at all.... The most essential, meaningful and rewarding education one can receive in life is obtained through a prayerful study of God's word and by letting Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwell in him and instruct him and lead him into all truth, knowledge and understanding. ... We translate this (a Godly education) into practical terms by providing our children with a multi-faceted education: Christian and ministerial training, practical vocational training, scholastics, physical and social developments. Our Christian ministry and cooperative life style help provide an ideal home-based learning environment in which to accomplish these educational objective." The changes suggested by the DTR did not wholly achieve that. By January 1993, it had come to Maria's attention that a number of the teens and young adults still had legitimate concerns about The Family, especially regarding the role they had to play in it. The "Personal Encouragement Revolution" (the PER) was published in June. The Summit 93 proposed changes to the DTR scholastical requirements. It defined scholastics as mainly referring to formal assigned study time in three R's and the three G's. This was reduced from 12 to 8 hours a week. The junior teens were to have a minimum of 4 hours of scholastic study plus 4 hours of vocational/ministry study, down from 12 hours a week, but junior teens (ages 14 and 15) who were up to par scholastically and senior teens (ages 16 and 17) were required to have a minimum of 4 hours study time a week (vocational/ministry study and/or scholastic, as chosen by the teen).

In his letter to me, Peter Amsterdam expanded upon The Family's educational philosophy. He told me that in January 1994, Maria convened a meeting of a number of WS and CRO educational representatives who made a number of recommendations to enhance the educational content in the children's lives and to "facilitate participation in local national secondary education examinations", to "research the possibility of taking outside training in subjects they need help in" and generally, to "make greater use of local educational opportunities," and to "be as supportive and accommodating as possible of our children's individual desires for special training." He said:- "This is a massive undertaking and it will take time and a great deal of financing to fulfil these goals, but senior leadership is committed to implementing the above measures."

[edit] THE ORAL TESTIMONY ON MATTERS OF EDUCATION:

All are agreed and there is no issue about the fact that the very young children receive a wholly satisfactory education. In my judgment, The Family are entitled to greater credit than just that. I find that the young develop their reading, writing and arithmetic skills at an earlier age than their contemporaries outside the communities. Moreover, I am satisfied by the evidence of MM, that there is a very wide variety of games, activities, arts and crafts gathered together in the "activity books", which would stimulate as well as entertain the young.

It follows that I have no qualms about the education S has probably already begun to receive and the education he is likely to receive over the next several years of his life.

The education of the children at a secondary school level is quite different. The case against The Family is summarised by one of its recent defectors, JG who expressed his concern in these terms:- "Children suffer - you grow up in a one way street with no other thought of anything else to do except to be a missionary." I must bear that evidence in mind when looking at the isolation of the children within The Family. I must also bear in mind the evidence of another defector, SC, that though life is geared to being a missionary, The Family "seem to be working on it (education) a lot more."

The crucial question for my decision is whether they are working on it hard enough. Their own expert witness Doctor Millikan is "not without some reservations concerning the education of the children above the primary school level." He accepted findings of Doctor Watson-Munro in Victoria, Australia who formed the opinion that the children were well adjusted and well educated but: "His only reservation (which was not a serious one) was similar to my own, that the educational environment was less than full. For the teens, the educational materials available are limited to a narrow band of publications emerging from fundamentalist, creationist framework although it must be said that there is a concerted attempt within The Family to address this situation. They are at an early stage in developing educational materials for this age range. They are in a sense growing up as a movement with their children and what I observe is a change to greater diversity in the education." I am satisfied that the strident strictures in the early "You are what you read" and "Book Burning" letters are not rigorously enforced and nor rigorously observed by the young. Perhaps they never have been. Berg may have sounded off in "The Advantages of Having Children" (May 1978) that: "Much of that expensive Montessori junk is not even worth putting in your house". ... Stick to the New Testament and the Mo Letters and teach the children at home. Take the children litnessing take the children provisioning in every single home. Then the kids will be getting the best school possible every day". MM endeavoured to teach by Montessori methods. SC used to go to the library when he was at the teen school at Wantage. The bookshelves at the Ward's home have books from the local library upon them. I am, however, equally satisfied that the children are not wholly free to pursue their intellectual interests as they wish. The education now seems based around "Program Studies" being prepared by the Christian Vocational College. The most cursory glance at it will reveal the heavy reliance placed on The Family literature for teaching over the whole range of the syllabus, from history and geography to current affairs and physical education. This is less than satisfactory. There is a dearth of good literature available. EM a childcare expert in the family, told me that there was a wide range of books that were available in the homes but when pressed, and pressed again, she could not recall a single title. Some material is absolutely prohibited. I can understand that Darwin's "Origin of the Species" might be proscribed material but I confess to being less able to understand what untold harm Greek mythology might do. In such a narrow environment an enquiring mind suffers:- (a)because the material to broaden it is not readily available and in some aspects is not available at all.

(b)because generally speaking, enquiries are frowned upon on the basis that curiosity is the product of a doubting mind and doubt allows the Devil to take it over. I am satisfied, however, that there is an awareness, which I find to be a growing awareness, that studying for public examination is permissible, indeed advantageous, but at the moment any such public participation takes place within a very narrow compass, if it takes place at all. The movement towards it may be strongest in America but there is evidence of it beginning to happen in this country. LA and VB and JL, spoke of this development with varying degree of enthusiasm, which I have to treat with caution in the light of the heavy emphasis The Family place upon the deficiencies they perceive elsewhere in state education. For example, MM was insistent on exhibiting to her affidavit an inordinate number of press cuttings reporting one school disaster after another or one educational failing after another in "system" schools. JL's antipathy seemed to stem from a murder at the school attended by her sister's children. They use these examples is to condemn secular education. It is not the most rational approach. I am far from accepting that "system" education is perfect - it never can be - but the leadership should not allow their judgment of what is best for their children's rounded education to be clouded by the exaggerations of the Traumatic Testimonies.

I have to accept that parents within The Family are entitled to educate their children at home. It is necessary, therefore, to see how well they are doing it. I have the benefit of a report of the Local Authority who conducted an investigation at my direction pursuant to Section 37 of the Children Act 1989. As part of that investigation officers of the Local Education Authority visited The Family for one school day. They reported as follows:- "The educational activities are planned with reference to a defined, carefully structured and sequential programme of work that is used in all Family homes. Content is detailed for each identified level of ability and strongly reflects the religious and moral beliefs of The Family. Extensive guidance is provided for the adults who use the programme. Assessment and recording are built into the programme based on the six week marking period. Accomplishment sheets are maintained for each child for each period with accumulative record sheets also being maintained. Regular reports are made to parents of the children. The records were conscientiously maintained although the YC (young child) group had less in the way of documented records due to the recent changes in adults assigned to them. The teaching staff employed laid emphasis on children working under the close directional instruction of the adult. However, the small teaching groups enabled a great deal of discussion, questioning and flexibility so children had the opportunity to follow particular interests within the parameters set by the adults. Work with the teens laid more emphasis on independent enquiry although the sources and reference material provided are carefully defined in order to reflect the values and beliefs of The Family. Opportunities were being taken to make use of learning opportunities provided in the community and one of the teens had recently attended at a local education authority maintained community college on food hygiene. In discussion the adults responsible for the teaching all expressed interest in the children taking up the new opportunities that are being developed for external certification/qualification. The Family are interested in extending their knowledge of general national, vocational qualifications as a means of adding 'substance' to their own internal qualifications....There is an extensive collection of books and videos to support teaching and learning that are located in the various parts of the house used as teaching bases. There are many sets of encyclopedias and BEKA books available. These tend to promote views and values that are consistent with those of The Family. The variety of other books is similarly controlled and early reading materials were concentrated on one rather dated scheme. The children are given the opportunity to use several public libraries and are guided in their choice of reading material. The rooms and furniture used for teaching purposes were all suitable for the range of activities that were being undertaken. Information technology resources are extensive and suitable software is available for all the children with data bases for the retrieval of factual information, word processing facilities and drill work/games for basic numeracy and literacy all being used during the time of the review. Resources for imaginative play were less in evidence in the teaching areas and there were few facilities for practical science enquiry or to support investigative work in mathematics and technology for the younger pupils. The extensive opportunities afforded by the large grounds for physical and recreational activities have been recognised.....The standards of work and achievement that the review observed were in line with norms expected for the age and ability of the children. In particular the children demonstrated good standards in oracy, numeracy and literacy, and their attitudes, behaviour and relationships both with the adults that taught them and with each other were excellent. The older children were able to work without close supervision, whilst the OC/JETT group gave an excellent example of co-operative and collaborative work which also demonstrated the ability to evaluate, modify and polish their own work and progress. The children were encouraged to question, to think and to find out for themselves, although this operated clearly within the values, beliefs and principles aspired by The Family. Adults took their tasks seriously and were concerned to discharge their responsibilities effectively. The use of praise was particularly evident in all the groups observed." Their conclusion was that: "From the review undertaken, the review team are of the opinion that the education provided:-

  • is undertaken within the strong and explicit framework of values and principles aspired by The Family;
  • is based on a strong relationship between adults and learners in a controlled safe and secure environment;
  • next, whilst there may be concerns about the effect on the children in the long term of being isolated to some degree from a wider community, nevertheless on a day to day basis the education provided offers activities that are broadly suited to the age, ability and aptitude of the children and which enabled the children to achieve standards that are satisfactory or better."

That report was prepared in November 1993. It seems that a year later further visits were made. This further report stated the following:- "The curriculum followed is one that is prescribed for all Family homes, is American in origin and extensively documented. It lays heavy emphasis on the basic skills of numeracy and literacy through set and structured programmes of work in reading, language, arts and mathematics. There are other programmes in modern foreign languages, science, art, music, Bible reading, social studies, geography, history, health and physical education. The curriculum is also influenced by the national curriculum. The adults have consulted the recent draft proposals made following the Dearing Review into the National Curriculum and expressed interest in any support and advice the local education authority might be able to offer.....The range of the curriculum is broad and balanced in most respects. The teaching of art is confined mostly to colouring and drawing. To a certain extent science lacks coherence and the adults recognise the need to include more practical and investigative work....All the adults take their responsibility seriously and appear to be keen to do their best for the children". The Inspector observed the secondary age pupils and reported this:- "During the morning of the visit, the four children worked under the supervision of LA who had planned a number of different activities. The pupils participated well in a discussion on violence on television (stimulated by newspaper articles) and produced a short written summary of their opinions. The children went on to discuss the dramatisation of a story and, despite the age differences, all children participated and were involved in the task. The children talked about other activities and projects and performed an impromptu song followed by a dance. From the evidence in portfolios of work, science is more investigative than practical, but information technology skills were well developed. The children were following a course book for GCSE mathematics and extend their work by using a bank of activity stored on computer software." Of the primary age pupils, the report observed that:- "All the pupils were achieving at least standards that would be expected nationally of pupils their age and beyond. The pupils were keen and eager to participate and clearly enjoyed the activities. They were attentive throughout the session, responded well to challenge of the tasks and related well to each other and to the teacher. The session had good pace, AG clearly enjoying her role and had planned and prepared the material well and took into account the differing ability of the children. She was clear and precise in her instructions, developed the learning points well, praised and encouraged the children as they responded and was firm when necessary." There was a second group of younger children working under LA:- "The session began with handwriting practice. Standard of control and letter formation was at the level expected nationally and all the children could write in a fluent classic style....The two boys in particular were very contributive; they showed a wide range of general knowledge and drew on other learning to add to the discussion." Of the resources the report said:- "The range of resources to support teaching and learning is adequate. There is an extensive range of video material that links to the curriculum programme together with recorded wild life programmes. There is an adequate range of books and reference material, most of which reflect closely the religious views and values of The Family. A range of musical instruments is available, although equipment for science was less in evidence. A wide range of appropriate books relating to the national curriculum had been purchased from booksellers for use with younger children. A more than adequate number of computers and software is available.

Contacts and links with the local and wider community: Although children from the village visit the home, most friendships are within The Family. However contact outside the home is achieved through a variety of activity. Some of the older children give musical entertainment in other towns and some have performed in the recent Diwali celebrations in Leicester. The older girls have been to the local primary school to watch the teachers as a 'pre-vocational' part of their education. Some work has begun on looking at formal creditation for the education provided and one of the adult helpers has recently completed a 'clait' course in IT. The police have also been approached to run a cycling proficiency course and the local vicar is a regular visitor to the home." Conclusion "The standard of work and achievement seen during the course of the visits is in line with the national expectations for the ages and abilities of the children. Standards in the key skills of literacy and numeracy meet those expected nationally with some children achieving beyond. The curriculum is close structured, clearly organised and the adults work in close co-operation with each other. In many ways the arrangement is that of a small private school with a particular religious emphasis. Most of the children seen were open, they relate well to each other and to the adults who teach them and are only too happy to talk about themselves and their work. The adults welcome the visits. They were at ease and open in all the discussions; they were happy to articulate their philosophy and appeared eager to seek ways to extend the quality of what they were doing. From the range of evidence available the educational needs of the children are being met." I accept those findings.

So far as tertiary education is concerned, I do not recall evidence of any child who has gone on to further education. Peter Amsterdam wrote to me:- "It is likely that the pursuit of extended post-secondary educational qualifications will entail temporarily stepping out of D.O. status. It would be very difficult for a home to provide the necessary resources to facilitate such courses of education. The development of the TS programme should make this option far more readily available and acceptable to those who wish to pursue it". Those who did would labour under a disadvantage because they do not have the necessary grades at GCSE or at A level. From the observation of those who have left The Family but wished to pursue further education, I was left in little doubt that they have the ability but struggle to catch up with the formal requirements for entry to University. Many of the adults have had the benefits of that further education themselves but the very fact they are not able nor willing to permit this privilege to their children is an indication still of their conviction that the essential training is for the End-time and that the end is nigh. It is a limitation on the full development of the child. I shall turn to the implications of this for S when I reach the concluding part of my judgment.

[edit] IMPAIRMENT OF EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL OR BEHAVIOURAL DEVELOPMENT

This is an important topic. I must deal with a number of areas of concern, covering such matters as the emotional pressure to conform and to remain faithful; the loss of identity, self esteem and self respect and loss of freedom; isolation from the community and from the natural family and so forth. These are all matters particularly affecting the JETTS and teens. The JETTS are the 11-13 year old group, the junior teens are 14 and 15, the senior teen 16 and 17 and the Experimental Adults are the 18-20 year olds.

Although some of the early members of the group would have brought their children with them, it was not until about 1985 that World Services appeared to have become concerned about the problem confronting the teenage children who had been born into the movement and grown up within the movement. I must therefore consider the last decade or so of The Family's life. I shall endeavour to set out the developments chronologically and to correlate what was happening generally with what was happening to the children in this country over the past 5 years. To set that scene, I remind myself of the background against which these events were taking place. In particular:-

1. Early members were drawn from the hippy community. They were the drop-outs from a society whose religious, moral, social and political values they scorned and rejected. The message David Berg preached gave their life meaning and gave them hope. It was a 'revolutionary' message with the plain intent of overthrowing a secular order imposed by a system in the hands of Satan. Contact with the system was, therefore, contact with the Enemy. Fraternising with the enemy was punishable by God. As an example of what befell those who ceased to be members, the letter 'IRFers Beware: If you fail to tithe, God will take a collection!" written in February 1988 told the story of a former member who was raped and murdered because she had lapsed. The message of the letter was:-

"So it looks to me more like she may have reaped what she sowed and got what she deserved rather than died as a martyr.. I just don't believe God would let something like that happen to one of his absolutely dedicated wholehearted 100% full time servants or handmaidens if they were serving the Lord full time sincerely or doing the best they can to support God's works". 2. The metaphor of an army was frequently and powerfully deployed. It served to reinforce the messages of the paramount need for obedience and loyalty and also the draconian penalties, always imposed for mutiny and desertion.

3. Since the early days in the 1970's when influential parents of a young convert brought the Children of God to the attention of Governor Ronald Reagan and to the media, the movement has lived under the sword of persecution. Persecution drove David Berg into hiding; persecution drove them from Tenerife; persecution led to their retreat to the Philippines. To counter persecution, the movement resorted to secrecy. They used the word "Selah" for all things that were secret. In 1976, 'Gotcher Flee Bag' gave advice on how important it was to carry the few vital possessions one needed to make a quick escape. The Family literature was kept in a trunk and systems were imposed to ensure that its precious secret (which is a euphemism for incriminating) contents could be removed before the authorities could lay hands on them. I heard evidence of raids by the police in India and I am not in doubt about the intense security precautions that perforce were considered to be essential.

4. What bound the movement together was a religious fervour. They believed - so far as I know they still believe - that the End-time is at hand (even if some deadlines have passed!) The message that was preached and received was that one chose the prospect of eternal salvation or faced the certainty of eternal damnation. It is a message of all or nothing. An inevitable consequence in logic and on Biblical authority was to 'forsake all'. This call has been made from the earliest days of the movement. In 1972 in the 'One Wife' letter, Berg wrote about God being:-

"In the business of breaking up little selfish private worldly families to make of their yielded broken pieces a larger unit of one Family....don't forget this means your children also. If you love your flesh and blood children more than you love God's children of God's Family, then you really haven't come to the realisation of what God's Family is all about." As recently as March 1993 Maria wrote to a leader who was having 'some trials over the fact that she and her children often had to be apart because of her work'. Maria said:- "It makes your heart ache because it is so difficult for them to understand why they can't be with you or you with them. We feel terrible when our children have difficulties and we can't do anything to prevent it, we can only pray for them. But often it seems to me that this is part of our (and their) forsaking all for Him and His Work - forsaking mothers and fathers and children so we can put His Work first - and our children having forsaken their mothers and fathers for the very high privilege of being a member of his family." So much for the ethos of The Family. In dealing with its more recent history as World Services presented it to me, I note how after RNR in 1978 The Family was driven underground by the 'anti-cult hysteria' following the Jonestown tragedy "with the media fuelling the public's outrage and fears, extreme prejudice and animosity towards new religious movements were the order of the day." Berg's response was to scatter The Family into smaller communities because:- "Sometimes one of the smartest things you can do is to make your enemy think he has won! Make him think he has accomplished his purpose. When their target disappears they've got nothing to shoot at! The game is over and the enemy feels like, 'well, we accomplished our purpose!' (from Furlougher Backslider- or Supporter? July 1979)." The Family were urged to begin their mobile ministry and became fragmented. They did not die. Indeed they spectacularly exploited the media through their broadcasting of their message through tapes and videos created by Music with Meaning. The circulation of the videos brought The Family together again. By 1983 many had returned to co-operative living especially as The Family continued its migration south and east. World services and Berg himself established a headquarters in the Philippines. It was there that MB joined them at the end of 1983. In 1984 The Family had to endure the unfavourable publicity of Deborah Davis, Berg's daughter, publishing her revelations about the inside story of life within The Family. In 1985 MB would have been 13 years old and Davidito 10. As I have already set out, The Family were already beginning to cope with the difficulties of adolescence about which Berg had written his 'Early Teens' letter. 1986 saw the gathering of the teens mostly aged 12 to 14 at the Mexican TTC. The Family says it then learnt of some of the sexual exploitation of these children. This had been revealed by the confessions made by the children through some early form of Open Heart Report (OHR). As larger teen homes operating virtually as 'high schools' began to develop through 1987, The Family became aware of the diverse activities, practices and disciplinary standards that were applied throughout the movement. Berg and his household were becoming aware of the difficulties which MB was undergoing. This section on emotional and psychological abuse must, once again, start with MB.

Her father had died when she was a toddler. Whether his death was suicide or an accident, is by no means clear: there are some strong indications that he took his own life. Her mother, Shula, was 'mated' with Andy Irwin. They had a child Adonis. MB had no contact with other half brothers and sisters. At an early age she was removed from her mother and was in the care of her grandmother, Mother Eve, Berg's wife. Her first knowledge of sex and her first sexual encounter came during that time with her grandmother. After some years it was a shock to her to see her mother and Adonis again and there was an unfortunate encounter as mother and grandmother struggled almost literally for her possession. The mother won. A few years later aged 9 she joined Music with Meaning in Greece. As I have already set out, it was there that she was filmed and abused. Berg must have known it for he would have seen the videos. In the history before 1980 it is acknowledged that 'these unique circumstances (in MWM) fostered a unique liberal sexual climate as well.' Berg must have known about that as well. In the last state Sara records:- "At only 9 and 10 years old she freely watched adult videos, plus she was showered with attention by many of the men there which caused her to have an extremely high opinion of herself and this became of major importance to her." Then, at the age of about 11½ she was sent to her Grandfather's compound in the Philippines. She met him in December 1983. She was completely overwhelmed by him. He looked like the prophet of God for the End-Time which she truly believed him to be. She told me in evidence that she had 'utter respect, fear and terror, love and adoration for him and because he was my grandfather, I also had more sentimental feelings for him.' That state of veneration did not last. As the months and years went by, his feet of clay were revealed. He drank too much, as is acknowledged in 'The Last State'. His language was coarse. He publicly fondled women in his household. He called upon them for sexual comforts. He made prophecies which did not come true. He was contradictory. He began to request MB to 'share' with men, for example her step-father Angel a Leader in the public relations section. Eventually he abused her and he manually ruptured her hymen. She became filled with doubt. That was hardly surprising. The confession of these doubts to Sara was at first sympathetically dealt with although Sara was driven to warn MB that doubting let the Devil in. She believed it. She believed in Satan. She feared him. But they were always encouraged to confess whatever was bothering them and MB was under a compulsion to make admissions even if, in the beginning at least, only partial admissions. When she was about 14, she again started recording her thoughts. She was again at first treated sympathetically by Sara, Maria and Peter Amstersdam. I accept that evidence. Milk of human kindness does flow through their veins and I must not forget it. By now MB was beginning to doubt. It seems common ground that she believed she was seeing devils and she complained that they were attacking her sexually. She expressed violent anger towards her grandfather. JC spoke of reports that she was trying to stick scissors up her vagina. On many an occasion I have had psychiatrists tell me that sexualised behaviour is often displayed by those who have been sexually abused. That thought did not cross The Family's mind or if it did they ignored it. They made the diagnosis of spiritual problems and treated her accordingly. I have dealt with the errors in diagnosis and treatment already. I will not have conveyed fully the tremendous pressure they put this young child under. There was not then and nor is there now any appreciation at all by The Family of the torment inflicted on this child. They urged confession upon her. She was obedient by nature. She confessed. She wanted to confess her doubts because doubts let the Devil in and she was afraid of Satan. She wanted to be right with God. The Family was all she knew. The Family was all she had. She wanted their approval. Sara recounts:- "A year and a half after the teen training programme and when the searchers and other ambassador leadership were here, MB finally, after much probing, further shared some of the devil and witchcraft she had been deeply involved in and by that time she had almost stopped believing in the word and was doubting her salvation. The leadership here talked and prayed and exorcised her several times.. After 2 months and five major exorcisms over her, MB began to improve on a slow day to day basis. She was totally immersed in the word full time with top leadership reading aloud along with her to keep her mind and mouth and eyes and ears occupied and for a constant infilling of the Holy Spirit. Eventually she was nearly completely healed even of this constant mental and spiritual warfare of the Enemy and even these horrible pictures, which were now gradually fading away. Jesus never failed, as every time we prayed over her, even 50 times day, the Lord's mighty power would overcome and put a stop to this evil." I have also set out how MB was beaten by her grandfather, slapped or 'swatted' by Peter Amsterdam and by others. MB told me. "It was humiliating because these people were important to me."

In my judgment what MB went through was a form of torture. To describe her ordeal, as it is portrayed to The Family in the 'False Accusers in the Last Days' letter published in January 1993, as being no more than a 'stiff stern talk with a little spank and a shaking' is, I find a travesty of the truth which is elsewhere recorded in their own documents. My findings will no doubt be rejected by The Family because, as they write in the same document, 'Spiritual truths (are) incomprehensible to flatlanders'. As a System judge, I am an archetypal flatlander.

MB's punishment was to be sent to Macau in mid 1987. Macau was a Teens Detention Camp. The Family prefer to call it a camp for Determined Teens, determined, that is to make change. I have no doubt it was more a case of The Family determined to change the Teens. It is difficult to be certain of the chronology of developing ideas for controlling the young, sometimes bored, disaffected, disobedient adolescents. It seems likely that ideas grew from Sara's experience with her group including MB, Davidito and Techi to a bigger grouping in the Philippines called the Jumbo.


[edit] THE PHILIPPINES JUMBO

It seems likely that a teen school was established here in about 1986 or 1987 but the precise time may not much matter. Another large "combo" had been established by Faithy in Japan some time in about 1984. I suspect there was a considerable cross fertilisation of ideas between the two. The 'Jumbo Story' has been written but only parts 4 and 5 have been produced and they do not deal with the way the children were treated. Although I raise an eyebrow at this omission, it does not appear to me to be sinister in the context of the whole case. Some features of life as practised in the Jumbo, even if not started in the Jumbo have been widely followed. One of them is the Demerit system of which both JG and SD spoke. I have some literature about it. There is a Family Special News by Sara Davidito on 'The Demerit System - finding the balance' written in July 1987. She had been reading the childcare reports from a new combo and the reference to Marianne suggests it must be the Philippines combo. Sara wrote that the demerit system was actually instituted in her home for teen training programmes for ages 10-14 and the matter was apparently discussed in a series on teen training which draw on material which had been used in the various teen training camps around the world. The children were grouped by age, the 4-6 year olds and 7-12 year olds. A list of offences earning a demerit were specified ranging from no talking during quiet times to a double demerit for murmuring, complaining or criticising. 7 demerits resulted in disciplinary action (a spanking or being deprived of parent time). Sara referred to sharing the children's daily reports and the teens' open heart reactions. She started scheme to encourage teens to dictate a personal reaction tape every 2 weeks, or when needed, confessing any trials or questions about their working relationships with overseers and peers. This was what had been required of MB. Sara made the concession that:- "Many of the teens and older kids had not been dealt with properly through the years due to many mistakes and the fact that they were our 'experimental generation". Sara also acknowledged that there was an element of 'public humiliation for getting so many demerits'. There was indeed! It placed a heavy burden upon the children.

Maria wrote in commendably sensitive terms:- "The danger is, we can turn out perfectly behaved children who are really quite screwed up because of the way they have been treated and raised. Our ultimate goal is not to have perfect children, but well adjusted children and by well adjusted we mean loving, caring, feeling confident of the Lord's love and of our love, mature in the spirit and loving the Lord and his Word and having faith in the Lord. But so much depends on how they are treated and raised, especially from a young age. Having too strict and too many rules may result in submission, but not out of the right motivation." That valuable advice may not have been fully practiced. JG who felt that he was sent to the Jumbo as a punishment for wishing to play his guitar, considered that his time at the Jumbo was a time "trying to put me in a mould - they looked at it as training to be leaders for the End Time."

It would seem that Open Heart Reports were being used daily. In the "Jumbo Story No. 5," it was written - not specifically with children in mind - that OHR's were "a very good way for the leadership to stay intimately involved with the different situations and personnel in the camp". Some of the teens soon learned how to play the system. JG realised that to reveal doubts in the OHR's to the shepherds was permissible activity which was treated with prayers whereas revealing the same doubts to his peers was murmuring and was punished with long talks, written reactions, silence restriction or corporal punishment.

Another feature of the Jumbo was the use of silence restrictions. SPM said that this was begun in the teen home in the Philippines in about 1987/1988 and some of the people who had run that home were involved in the teen home in Wantage and used the procedure there. He said: "It was not used throughout the whole of the family. It appears to have been a local initiative. When I raised it with World Services as a result of this case, I was advised they didn't really know anything about it. It was not Family policy." That evidence was neither full nor frank. As I shall explain, there was a great deal more to it than that and either SPM was telling me half the truth or World Services were telling him only a part of the story.

The corporal punishment meted out for obtaining too many demerits was by means of a "paddling", being beaten with a flat "paddle" which, as variously described to me was about 2 to 3 feet long with the paddle being about 6 to 8 inches long, 4 inches wide and an inch thick. Sometimes it had holes drilled through it.

The majority of the children at the combo were there without their parents. Among the adults at the combo were JD and ED and Mary Malaysia. They feature in the case later.


[edit] THE TTC IN JAPAN

I have little direct knowledge of this school. SD believed, rightly or wrongly, that the silence restrictions imposed upon him at the Jumbo were modelled on the Japanese experience. Given the high degree of reporting to World Services and the distribution of the information throughout the group, I am in little doubt that there was a cross-fertilisation of many ideas. A number of them would have been initiated by Sara Davidito and Maria in their teen training programmes conducted in their own compound as they grappled with the difficulties presented by MB, and Techi and others. Maria has described the teen schools as undertaking a "revolutionary boot camp training programme", the task of which was:- "To teach and train and closely shepherd these poor, needy teens and prepare them for the field. This is probably these teens last chance to really make it for the Lord. ... We're supposed to be single mindedly, whole heartedly and with great concentration fighting the devil as a huge warfare for the lives and training of leadership, children and teens." (The emphasis is Maria's) The close shepherding clearly involved concentrated attention upon the need to reveal doubts and difficulties in the Open Heart Reports, and then to deal with them, I have no doubt, lovingly and sympathetically, but with a heavy emphasis on reading the Word, which would include the Mo Letters, where necessary writing reactions and, if the difficulties persisted, having desperate prayer sessions to overcome the perceived problem.

I also have no doubt that the teen schools in operation in Japan and elsewhere operated in accordance with the "Basic Training Handbook" published in February 1987. Its introduction offered the children the opportunity: "To personally experience teen training so that you can take up the challenge to become a teen soldier and disciple of Jesus Christ! This power packed handbook is specially written and designed for the feeding, teaching, inspiration and guidance of you family teens, our hope for the future! In order to fully benefit from the wonderful counsel in this your own basic training handbook, before you even read your first article, you'll need to promise to be open and receptive to life changing lessons to come, and be ready, yielded and willing to forsake any of your old ideas which are not truly revolutionary so that you can become a new creature and a true soldier of Christ. Teen training involves a serious personal commitment to dedicated discipleship. Please desperately pray before reading each article in this book that you will be able to personally apply each lesson to your own needs and spiritual life. Please try to read these articles out loud and unitedly along with another teen or an adult or teacher so that you can fully concentrate and capture the spirit and message herein." I have not had sight of the whole of the manual. The goals at the TTC included:- "1. To give our all to Jesus, no matter what tries to stop us.

2. To become revolutionaries for God's entire army.

21. To get training which is chastisement for the End time.

22. To learn yieldedness which is the opposite of rebelliousness and stubbornness.

25. To change and be willing to change

39. To learn how to take correction

54. To learn to be security minded

55. To learn how not to space out or day dream" I have sight of the "prayer requests of the teens, first Sunday fellowship Japan TTC:" "We had desperate prayer and laying on of hands for deliverance and prayed individually for each of these specific requests:

For immediate obedience

Against system influence through books

To receive correction

To be able to forsake those in our family who aren't following Jesus

Against compromise with the system" (and even)

"Against fear of gaining weight." Having looked at the pictures of the children in Japan, having seen the video of the Mexican TTC and having read some of the comment, I am in no doubt that these training camps were highly emotionally charged and pressurized environments for children. They existed for the purpose of changing the children and shaping their lives in order to mould them to The Family's image. The cost to the children was to rob them of their personal identity. It was an invasion of personal freedom. I can well understand that this process sends shivers of apprehension down the spine of this grandmother and of many, many who think like her, all of whom have good cause for alarm. The regime does not win the support of Doctor Cameron who considers it an undue pressure on an impressionable young mind. Nevertheless, sympathetic as I am to those opinions, I cannot find that the essentially religious experience of renewal which was undergone, and in many cases even enjoyed, by these teenagers was so extreme that I can properly find on a balanced view that it was significantly harmful to the emotional and psychological well being of those children.


[edit] MACAU

I am far from tolerant about what took place here. This disgraceful experiment in childcare lasted from at least 1987 to 1990.

In a Teen Special published in November 1992, The Family describe the Special Teen programme in Macau in these terms:- "This voluntary programme was established to help a small handful of teens who needed more individualised guidance and encouragement to overcome long standing serious personal problems. While in this programme, the teens received exceptionally close shepherding in a small personal family atmosphere, with lots of love and prayer, individualised personal training, hours and hours of personal counselling, specialised Word classes that were often spoon-fed to the teens, and a consistent daily schedule of typical boarding school-style discipline, administered with patience, prayer, reasoning and understanding. They worked on a farm in rural surroundings, learning to channel their energies into a product of pursuits. The teens of this programme dubbed themselves "the determined teens" - determined to make the changes that they realised they needed in their habits or attitudes. They aspired to successfully graduate so they could join other family teens, and be trusted to be given valuable training, or to carry positions of responsibility." That was the propaganda which was fed to the teenagers in 1992, and having heard from and seen a number of the teenagers who were at Macau, I am in no doubt at all that it was a travesty of the truth thus to describe that programme. The truth is that the children were subjected to a regime of physical and psychological brutality. Paddlings were a regular feature of life in the camp. The children were systematically beaten in it. I had that evidence not only from MB and JG but from one of The Family's own witnesses DR. She recalls being beaten five times. On one occasion she recalls being given ten "swats". She was bruised. She gave evidence that she was beaten because she was "super proud, cocky. There was nothing in the paddling that was wrong. I agreed to it. It made me realise there was something wrong with me."

DR sought to challenge evidence MB had given me about a girl T1 whom MB described as running around the room to avoid being beaten by Michael Gambrill, who was in charge of that camp. MB had described that Michael was "trying to exorcize rebellion out of her." This is DR's description of what happened: "She was rebellious. She was going to get four swats. Got one, and freaked out. Michael tried to calm her down. She didn't. She put her hands on her bottom. Finally he got her to move her hands. She got two more swats. She was pretty shook up. Freaking out. Putting her hands there and saying "please no more," and crying. So he stopped." I believe JG was describing the same event when he spoke of: "One girl collapsed half way through her paddling. They held her up to hit her a few more times and finally dragged her half conscious to her room." MB spoke of another girl who was slapped and became so upset that she could not talk properly but was stuttering incoherently. The reaction of the shepherds was to say that she was possessed of deaf and dumb spirits and so they held an exorcism, talking in tongues over her.

DR's description of MB's being paddled was that MB had been talking uncontrollably all night keeping everyone awake and it was thought that a few swats would wake her up. She was given a few swats and she just kept "right on talking". She got about five. They took her out but brought her back and tried to stop her talking. When she started to smash things up and throwing things, they tied her to her bed with cloth-like ties. She was by then incoherent. A couple of days later they took her to the mental institution. This was barbarous treatment of a girl who was in fact in need of psychiatric help.

DR herself felt that she was going insane. She said she was an avid day-dreamer who did not know how to control her mind and was on a path leading to the spirit world where the spirits would devour her if she continued. She was tortured by these thoughts pretty much all of her waking hours, she said. Her thoughts became violent when she thought of killing people and hurting people "which are attacks of the Devil."

It was JG's impression that: "Most of the children there were shipped in from other countries because they had deep psychological problems as a result of being in The Family, in my opinion. I would call them "mental." Three of them were completely irrational and were hallucinating. Some of them thought that they were seeing demons, some others fancied their idea of eating "horse shit" and most of the time walked around dazed. I and a few others were the only ones who were not "mental". One of them, Ben, later committed suicide. Throughout the time I knew him, he desperately wanted to leave the group but was always prevented and failed in his attempts to run away. Other teenagers at the camp mentioned that they wanted to kill themselves but they were usually severely beaten for saying so. The youngest child I met at the camp was 11. He had tried to jump off the roof of his commune in India, and so had been sent to the detention centre in the hope of solving his problems." Ben did eventually leave the family. His Traumatic Testimony was described the Teen Special to which I have referred. It was made required reading for teens aged 14 and over as "a sobering warning about the sins of bitterness, unyieldedness and rebellion." Michael wrote in that letter: "We really loved Ben and tried everything we know to help him as did many others. He had many very loving and dedicated shepherds who spent hours, days, and weeks counselling him. It's so sad he chose to throw it all away." To take that view of what was happening in Macau deeply disturbs me. The truth is that these children were there to have their spirits broken by whatever means it took, and loving kindness was not the primary means deployed. These children were the "bad apples" who were removed from the bosom of the family for fear of contaminating those who were more amenable to the regime. They were dispatched to a punishment camp for punishment. I have no doubt that within their own definition, the shepherds there did act "in love" when handing out their punishments. Their failure to appreciate that their actions were nonetheless abusive to the children in their care is frightening. DR herself told me that it was "her considered view" that there was "nothing oppressive about anyone's treatment in Macau." She said that with conviction but she equally told me that "I guess they should have learnt by the Summer of 1990 that (silence restriction) doesn't work and there was no reason for it". She told me that "In Macau there were no guidelines and they did not really know what they were doing." She told me, "Things were taken to the extreme before they were stopped." She knew perfectly well from bitter personal experience that the regime in Macau was brutally oppressive but she could make no unequivocal condemnation because to do so would be to fall into the trap of murmuring, rebelling, being proud, manifesting, in other words, all the deadly sins intolerable to The Family's way of life. Freedom of thought was the crime for which she was banished to Macau. Freedom of thought was beaten out of her in Macau. Though DR lives on, the spirit of a young girl died in Macau. It is time The Family faced that truth.


[edit] SILENCE RESTRICTION

DR told me that the policy "to stop us chatting" was in force most of the time she was in Macau. She wished to make the point, which was a good point, that this should not be blown out of proportion. I agree and I do not find these children were on permanent silence every minute of the day or every day of the week or anything like that. DR describes it herself in this way: "Chatter was normal, but we weren't normal because I had problems, serious problems especially when I had thoughts of going insane. Michael and Crystal wouldn't let us carrying on talking about bombs, stealing, naughty things we had done in the past." She also said, "After one and a half years of my time in Macau, they realised silence didn't work so they lifted it."

I am totally satisfied that putting the children on silence was used as a means of punishment, and even after making all due allowances, I am still satisfied that they were kept on periods of silence which were both prolonged and abusive.


[edit] ISOLATION

This was another technique used to dominate the children and to punish them. MB was put in isolation and was locked in her room. At the beginning of his stay in Macau, JG was locked up alone in the attic, given a bucket to use as a toilet and left without food for 3 or 4 days in order to fast. They needed to fast in order that their mind and spirit might be made receptive to the heavy dose of the Word which was to be their spiritual food. It was administered excessively.


[edit] HARD LABOUR

I am totally satisfied that children in the camp at Macau were put to hard labour. Sometimes this took the totally punitive form of digging trenches, filling them in again and digging them out once more. At other times the labour would have been more purposeful and would have improved the amenities of the camp. The children knew that they were being punished by being put to work and the punishment was excessive.


[edit] CONCLUSIONS

The Macau experience is a shameful example of putting into practice the belief that the end justifies the means. The end was, as the Teen Special letter describes it, to bring about changes in the habits and attitudes of the teens who had reacted against The Family way of life. The means was a form of physical and mental atrocity mercilessly dished out to young, often already emotionally damaged children. There seems little acknowledgment from the leadership of the abusive nature of that regime. In my judgment, the leadership must stand condemned. That this went on and they did not know it is a conclusion which I cannot accept. Jose and Faithy were in charge. Faithy was Berg's daughter. MB was his granddaughter. I simply cannot accept that he and World Service did not know what was being done. The fact is that knowing that the treatment meted out to those difficult, damaged teenagers would never stand the test of any reasonable scrutiny, The Family now try to rewrite the truth not just to the outside world but more importantly to their own members to whom in the Teen Special letter Macau is now presented as a rural idyll. What nonsense!


[edit] THE VICTOR PROGRAMMES

This was how World Services described the Victor programme in answer to the Official Solicitor's interrogatories: "As is the case in nearly any large group of teenagers, some of ours are naturally more positively motivated than others. School and teen homes, in particular, found negative peer pressure to be very disruptive and detrimental to the other teens' training. In efforts to nip any "teen terror" situations in the bud, some schools deemed this problem serious enough to warrant a separate programme for particularly problematic students." EM was an architect of the Victor programme and she explained its inception in this way: "By 1988 there was so much concern about the difficulties in various field homes being experienced with the Jett age (11 to 13 years), that a council of people was called. It had become apparent that some of the teenagers did not have the same commitment to the way of life of The Family as their parents (it wasn't so much that they didn't have the same beliefs as their parents, they probably did, but they didn't share the same enthusiasm and commitment and many of them bored and felt there was no challenge in their life and nothing to do.) We felt that the solution lay in providing for the teenagers the sense of enthusiasm that we had had when we first joined the Children of God in the early 70's to bring them a sense of excitement and adventure and to enlarge their vision and the goals of what it means to be in the family, and that is basically what we try to do with the Victor programme." After an initial programme for the Jetts, it was increased to include the teens in the 14 to 17 year age group. The Teen Victor programme ran for about a year and a half during about 1989 through to 1990. Her experiences were written up in January 1991 in the "Case Histories of Jett Victors." Maria said of them:- "I think these, along with the Techi GNs are going to be an absolute goldmine of material! They really go together! So many of the ways the Lord has shown me to handle Techi, he shown them also. Together they are going to be wonderful!" In her affidavit EM acknowledged that her methods were copied throughout the family. She sought to exculpate The Family by the assertion that her suggestions were: "Copied or applied too literally and the spirit or what we were recommending or suggesting appears to have been lost. This is particularly the case with silence restrictions. We had pioneered having periods of silence as a method of enabling each of us to commune with the Lord. It was intended that we would have half an hour of silence in the morning right after getting up, the one hour rest period during the day and then 30 minutes in the evening. It was never intended as a method of punishment." She acknowledged that the children were subject to corporal punishment but asserted it was never harsh nor cruel. She said that she was: "Familiar with some of the accusations that have been made concerning Victor programmes, that they are chilling examples of doctrination and brainwashing. ... What we have tried to do was give them inspiration and direction, not take over their minds." To assess that, it is necessary to look at the case histories. That defined the Victor programme in these terms:- "The Victor programme is an intense shepherding and training programme that is The Family's physical and spiritual counterpart to the system's many rehabilitation programmes. You will note that the Victor shepherds use some of the disciplinary measures such as silence restriction, isolation and occasional swats. It's good to keep in mind that our Victor programmes are extremely mild compared with system delinquent teen rehabilitation programmes. The system programmes are much stricter and more severe, even cruel but they are much less effective". These are some of the examples of the successes claimed by The Family and the methods of obtaining them.

T an 11 year old boy had been on intensive care status which means that he was with an adult 24 hours a day separated from the other Victors to receive "lots of personal counselling and spoon-fed Word." He was taken off i.c. status but returned to it after 3 days. "This meant he was on silence restriction - he wore headphones with word tapes while he was working and he was not allowed to talk to the other Jetts at all. ... He seemed to have a very hard time making it through the day without getting a spanking. The policy in the beginning was that as soon as they got 16 merits, they would get 6 swats. Some kids might stack up 16 merits in a week, where as T found it quite easy to stack up 6 in a day, so he would get swats almost every day. ... When he'd have to get a spanking, afterwards Ricky would hug him and say, "Look in my eyes. Let me see you smile. Do you still love me?" Ricky would make sure he was really receiving it before he would let him go on his way again. ... After being in the Victor programme for 4 or 5 months T graduated. During this time he lost about 30 kilos (66 pounds). He was down to about 45 kilos which was is a good weight for his height. He is probably the most changed person I have ever seen since working with Jett teens and Jetts." R was also 11 years old. He had: "Got into stealing and covering up. He lacked a real connection with the Lord. He seemed to have a fascination for encyclopaedias and any time he could get away with it he would read an encyclopedia. The real problem is that he would then basically use his newly found knowledge and wilfully put others down for their lack of knowledge. He went on i.c. status with T. These two boys spent the first 6 weeks together doing extra labour. R has been on the Jett Victor programme now for over a year. Although he is subdued in a way he has by no means graduated or been able to go on to something else." Dealing with the case of F, EM acknowledged that: "When we initially began the programme it was tough! It was boot camp, military style. ... What happened in F's story was that the regimentation and strictness carried through into the second session of the programme and because F was at a real discouraged point in his life when he came back into the Victor programme, feeling that he had completely failed, this approach didn't bear good fruit. He sunk lower and lower and lower until when Ricky and I visited the Jett Victor programme 6 months later, he was on i.c. status and in pretty bad shape..... So we took F off i.c. status and he pretty much sky rocketed back to a positive level again. So now we are a little cautious and much more aware that as you have the kids with you a longer time you have to adapt the situation. There is no set pattern or set rules for the programme. ... The correction and discipline have to be tailored personally for each child. The kids are not in the Victor programme to be punished for their sins. They're in the programme to get training." D1 is Ricky's son who was brought into the programme to: "Humble him a little but and help him overcome his problem of having such a high opinion of himself. He is not really committed to the Lord. He was infesting and infecting others with serious bad attitudes - especially along the lines of spiritual lethargy.

H was 11 and had an "emotionless" attitude: "where it is very difficult for them to give or receive love or show any sign of expression, of joy or sadness or gladness or whatever. We have a lot of emotion in the Victor programme and each class will either make them mad, sad or glad. Also the teachers are usually on fire and stirred up so we zero in on anybody who has this emotionless attitude right away to find out why and usually there are all kinds of reasons. The solutions usually take desperate prayer and digging in the word to find similar situations so we can try to apply the word to their lives and get them to respond. I think that's a key in the Victor programme: we expect response! We expect change and we're not satisfied if we don't get it!" K was aged 11. "Her NWO' (needs work on) were being unable to communicate with others (other than her mom), not respecting the Lord in others, not knowing why she was in The Family and not believing in The Family. She basically seemed to lack a connection with the Lord. Those who had shepherded her in her previous home had resorted to giving her quite a lot of discipline for her rebellious stubborn behaviour but were frustrated with the lack of fruit from the correction given. K really fell apart when she realised she wasn't going to be seeing or spending any time with her mom during her stay at the Victors. (She is very close to her mother.) She was a bucket of tears and very emotional for the first few days. In these difficult initial days when she was having such a hard time forsaking her mom, the Lord gave her, for the very first time in her life, some direct word from the Good Thots on forsaking your parents. She was in tears, she was overjoyed. It was very beautiful to see her so overjoyed in knowing she had made a connection with the Lord." EM's general advice with dealing with typical Jett girl problems of "self righteousness, criticalness, great difficulty getting along with peers and lack of respect for teens and adults", was to make the girls "learn to confess and be open and honest about their mistakes and to learn to connect with Jesus." "We found that the Jetts eventually saw the benefits of being honest and learnt to openly share their hearts. We feel sure that the Jetts are well aware of the seriousness of what they are saying by the time they pour out their heaviest confession. Honesty and honest confession is a real key to the Jetts gaining victories in the Victor programme and they all know this so they don't take it lightly." It is likely that Victor programmes were run throughout the world. I know of them in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Thailand and Mexico.

It is quite apparent that there was considerable cross-fertilisation about childcare. Ideas were communicated to and from World Services. Common patterns had already emerged and become quite well established. They included features such as:- 1. Paddlings

2. Isolation - the physical separation of troublesome children from their friends leaving them either alone or cloistered with an adult whose function it was to feed them the Word.

3. Silence restriction - this was widely practised as a form of punishment, not as an opportunity for contemplation as EM sought unsuccessfully to persuade me.

4. OHRs - open heart reports - were widely used as a means of forcing confession with the result that the children were made to feel guilty if they did not confess. If they had no NWO (Needs Work On) they were said to be self righteous and proud: if they expressed their doubts and their antipathies, then they were murmuring. Either way they could not win. In February 1991, Maria wrote "Jett/Teen Discipleship Revolution Needed Now" (the DTR): "We've got to institute a new kind of intensified Jett training programme not in every major area, but in each individual home throughout The Family. ... They have highlighted the fact that we have a big worldwide emergency with all our Jetts and there is no way one little Victor home in each area is going to be able to cope with that need! We've got to somehow institute a Victor programme in all of our homes if we're going to truly reach and win our Jetts and Teens and turn them into the dedicated disciples the Lord wants them to be. ... We may not necessarily have the constant high excitement level of a TTC where everybody's weeping and crying and praying and rah - rahing and shouting and everything. I'm not saying that they have to maintain that kind of emotional high. ... If our kids are capable of that level of commitment at 11, 12 and 13 years of age at a TTC, why can't they be capable of that kind of commitment when they get home too? What I'm beginning to realise is that too when our own Jetts and Teens to the Lord's cause, to get them really sold on the family and on fire for the Lord, we've got to go overboard. ... We need to somehow reach our kids and really get through to their heart. ... That's why they've had such success in the Victor's programme: they bring those Jetts and Teens in and they show them what the revolution for Jesus really is. They have on-fire word classes and bible studies, they have moving inspirations where they sing and cry out to the Lord with all their hearts praying in tongues and weeping and prophesying and really being moved and ignited by the spirit of God! The kids really see and experience the moving of the spirit and they go through the same sort of things that our new babes used to go through. ... So this is the challenge before us. Unless we touch them and reach them emotionally and really win their hearts to the Lord and to the family and get them turned on and on fire about it, we're not going to save them." It is apparent from this excerpt that the children, and especially the doubting Thomases, were placed under intense emotional pressure to conform.

Maria was no stranger to the problems of dealing with unhappy children. Davidito had at the age of about 12 or 13 on several occasions contemplated suicide. He was a disturbed child. Then Techi her daughter began to manifest difficulties symptomatic of some emotional breakdown - she was having nightmares and crying every half an hour. That led to the Techi series on her battles and victories. The letter set out the confessions that were taped. "She discovered the truth of the scripture, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whosoever confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" - Pro. 28, 13." I emphasise these words in hope that Maria and the leadership will remember those words when they come to read this judgment and will then practice what they preached. The series recorded Techi's problems of lying, unyieldedness, being fascinated with evil, having bad thoughts, being resentful and daydreaming. Coping with these problems seemed to have caused such difficulty that Amy who was in charge seemed as close to a nervous breakdown as Sara had been dealing with MB. Maria commented on the comparison between her sweet and loving talks she held with Techi and the stern dealings that Dad had with her. She said:- "When a child is having serious problems and is fighting heavy spiritual battles, the key question is not so much which method to use but when to use which method." It is quite clear that enormous pressure was put on Techi, however lovingly it was imposed.

Fear, not love, was another powerful weapon in the armoury of control. The first issue of the new "Teen Special" for teens aged 12 and over was the story of MB as a warning to those who might feel they could dabble with the Enemy. Then Singing Sam made his confessions and so did Crystal of lives filled with sex, alcohol, drugs and trouble. Later in November 1992, the "sad story of a delinquent teen," namely Ben, the boy from Macau who committed suicide, was told to the teens. All of these "traumatic testimonies" were accompanied by questions for the teens to "pow-wow". It was all pressure to conform, to obey, to remain faithful to The Family, indeed, and in truth, to remain in The Family.

It was not uncommon for individuals to be singled out and publicly humiliated in the Letters. Such a one was Tony Zack Attack. This series began in August 1991. He was apparently quite "famous" when he was a teen, having appeared in many Family circuit videos as a gifted musician and song-writer. He was then aged 24, married to Claire with a 2 year child. They were shepherds but had problems with criticism, doubt, murmuring and unyieldedness and they were eventually placed on a Victor programme. Tony felt dissatisfied and upset with the way things were going for him in The Family and had been tempted with thoughts of going to the system. EM was his Victor shepherdess. Tony and Claire were separated "in order to concentrate on the lessons they were learning." For this same reason their 2 year old son went to live at the school nearby, rather than living in the Victor house. Tony was put in intensive care. His OHR was published. He had there confessed: "Being under constant supervision and authority is one of my main battles. I feel I have very little freedom and I can't do anything without permission - unless it's on the schedule. I can't even ride a skateboard or a horse or go ice-skating or roller-skating or even climb a tree." Maria wrote to him and giving him his "last chance:" "You also have to be able to take the humiliation of public exposure or public correction for your mistakes because if you're not corrected, just as with any leader, their mistakes and wrong attitudes and NWOs easily filter down to and affect others." Eventually Berg delivered his letter "Grumblers Get Out" in August 1991. The message was "Repent or perish in the system": "He needs to get up and confess with strong crying and tears and real show of repentance and confession and humbling. He oughta grovel on the floor with strong crying and tears and ask everybody to forgive him and saying he's never going to do it again, and show it, or out he goes right now." The Teens had to pow-wow Grandpa's instruction to Tony's shepherds to take away his responsibility and make him "a flunky - mopping the floors and cleaning toilets." "When people see Tony mopping floors or cleaning toilets instead of being a Jett shepherd or playing the guitar in inspiration or leading teen witnessing excursions etc., it will serve as a reminder to all that he is being punished and humiliated because of his wrong-doing." The letter ended "Murmurers beware! Are you?"

Faced with this flurry of letters it is hardly a surprise that Tony made his confession. He wrote:- "I realised that I was more broken about my son than about offending the Lord. I've been making a god out of my son. The sin of putting my son before the Lord in my heart has been a weak chink in my armour that the enemy has been able to use. So now I feel I have to forsake him and really prove to the Lord that I am willing to put God first and bring forth fruits needed for repentance." The recording of his confession to his home is punctuated by his tears. His letter to Grandpa and Maria begs them to let him stay as "a hired servant because if I go to the system I fear it will be "going after her straight away as an ox goeth to the slaughter."

Three matters in particular trouble me about this series:-

1. The public humiliation to which this young man was exposed and with which he was threatened.

2. The starkness of the choice offered which virtually amounted to a denial of choice - grovel on the floor in confession and slop out the lavatories or get out back to the system where, according to Faithy, "the other kids who backslid, are either in prison or in serious trouble with drugs or homosexuality or prostitution or like Dicken, in trouble with Maria and things like that." (I am, incidentally, totally satisfied that Dicken is in no such trouble. He is a happily married undergraduate at University.)

3. EM remains a powerful voice in child care matters. It was she who removed this 2 year old boy from his murmuring parents. She said that if need be she would separate S from his mother in order to bring her to heel. It was an answer now imprinted on my memory. An attitude of that kind held by a responsible member in some position of authority within the movement constitutes a risk to the well-being of my ward.


[edit] SEPARATION OF CHILDREN FROM THEIR PARENTS AND THEIR WIDER FAMILY

Forsaking all has been a recurrent theme. One of the earliest letters is the "One Wife" letter telling The Family: "God's in the business of breaking up little selfish private worldly families to make of their yielded broken pieces a larger unit - one Family. He's in the business of destroying the relationships of many wives in order to make them one wife - God's wife - the bride of Christ." The letter is making another point that: "Partiality towards your own wife or husband or children strikes at the very foundation of communal living - against the unity and supremacy of God's Family and its oneness and wholeness ... Are you really sure that the other children in the nursery have just as comfortable a bed and just as good food and just as good training as your own? - I don't like that expression! - they're all our children! ... If your spirit was perfect before God, everybody in the Revolution would be your brother and your sister just as much as your flesh and blood, and every child you would feel just as responsible for and loved just as much as God loves." He returned to that theme in 1978 in the letter, "The Advantages of Having Children", where he said:- "We ought to treat every child as our child ... They are the children of The Family and therefore the entire Family is responsible for them, not just those that happen to be their physical parents." This philosophy has come under some attack during the course of this hearing for the understandable reason, which I endorse, that it is clearly better that children grow up in and with the stability and security of their own home, cared for by both parents wherever possible. I must, however, take a broader view and acknowledge that The Family live a communal life, for the order and good government of which it is necessary that there be equality of treatment. Insofar as these letters seek to achieve that, they cannot be fairly critisised. There is no public outcry against the practice among some of the kibbutzim where children are separated from parents and where their upbringing is largely delegated to others.

What causes me more anxiety is the huge pressure which has been placed upon parents and which can, therefore, as EM made clear, be placed upon NT to forsake all. An extreme example was contained in the letter "God's vomit" in September 1983. In this letter Berg raged against "backsliders, God's vomit." It was a letter referred to by SPM in his affidavit but the Official Solicitor's request for the production of it was rebuffed. It came to light very late in the day when MS produced it from her personal case of Family literature. For this purpose it is sufficient to describe her as a teenager who had grown unhappy with The Family but, knowing no other life, was apprehensive about leaving. Her distress in that dilemma was reinforced by the threatening tone of this Letter. It is directed at a young man who rejected Berg's offer of a World Service job in favour of going back to his wife and children. It was: "A ridiculous decision ... to choose his family over the Lord and God's work when he knows all about forsaking all and forsaking wife and children and home and all these things for the Lord." Of such a person, Berg wrote: "God can't stomach you, he can't swallow you, he can't use you so he spits you out! So you've become nothing but God's vomit." I find that to be very heavy pressure indeed.

There are other letters where Berg dealt with murmurers. For example, "God Hates Murmuring" written in November 1984, another letter produced by MS. Murmurers were some of the worst bad apples and bad apples had to be removed. Consequently, Berg made his antagonism towards them plain and said explicitly, "If you don't like it here, for God's sake, get out and go some place else where you like it better." It is obviously right for the maintenance of good communal spirit that any who foment insurrection should be expelled. My concern is for the children, especially those who have been born into The Family and who have no contact with their natural family outside it. I am troubled that there seems a woeful lack of appreciation just how terrifying it must be for the young teenager, perhaps in a foreign field, to "go some place else where you like it better" when he has nowhere else to go. This is the grandmother's concern for S. It is my concern accordingly. Without his maintaining good contact with his grandmother, his natural escape route is blocked.

It is not a surprise to me nor is it a surprise to the leadership that joining The Family is invariably greeted by the forsaken parents with nothing short of horror. Many an appalled parent would find it impossible to come to terms with such a decision; but others might subjugate their distaste in the interest of preserving family contact. Many of the witnesses told me convincingly of their having close loving contact with their family outside. Whilst it might be invidious to pick but one name from the many who gave evidence to me, I could point to CO, father of JL as example of the latter. To give another example closer to home, SB at one point entertained some hope of marrying NT. He was educated at Winchester and has a similarly conventional English background to NT. Unlike the Plaintiff, his mother seemed able, perhaps uneasily, to extend hospitality to SB and NT and S without tension rendering the visits uncomfortable. In fact, witness after witness produced bundles of photographs to convince me of the good relationship maintained with their system families. It all depends on the level of acceptance, resignation or hostility between the members and the outside families. The position was stated in this way in The Jumbo Story part 5 written in June 1988: "Mama sent us some very good counsel on the danger of keeping up close communication with relatives that are not favourable:

"If our parents and relatives are favourable it's a different story, as it's a opportunity for us to not only lead them to the Lord, but feed them, etc. Other than that, we have so little in common with our flesh family, that it's really a waste of time to keep in close contact with them if they're totally unreceptive." Another form of tension, perhaps more acute, arises when a person defects from The Family leaving close relatives in the group. Berg's relationship with his daughter Deborah and hers with him could scarcely be described as anything other than poisonous. The J family are deeply split between the anti-cult faction of mother and one daughter on one hand and father Simon Peter, a powerful figure still in World Services and daughter C2 on the other hand. When he separated from his wife VJ, C2 went with him and KJ stayed with mother. The girls had renewed some contact recently but KJ's participation in these proceedings brought that to an abrupt end. Father telephoned to berate her angrily about the evidence she had filed. "What I really wanted to hear from him," she told me sadly, "Was, "Hi daughter, how are you?"" Although I quote him slightly out of context, I cannot help but note the terrible irony between his rebuff of his daughter in that conversation and words he wrote in the Beauty and the Beast series where a child in the cartoon says:- "Thank you Jesus for real fathers! .. Have you got a real father?" KJ's answer to his question would be, "No!"

A surprising feature of the many months of evidence was the lack of deep emotion shown by almost everybody. One exception was AB. She broke down in cross-examination and became very distressed because her mother had failed to make contact with her. This was a family who had lived their life on the run because stepfather was wanted by the American authorities for breach of custody orders relating to his children.

Another feature of the evidence was the uncontradicted fact that many, many young children were separated from their parents, and were moved from one foreign field to another. That this was Family policy is made manifest by the letter, "A Teen Challenge" written by Apollos from his eyrie within World Services to his sons EG and JG both of whom gave evidence to me, for defendant and plaintiff respectively. He wrote:- "As I am sure you know, we both love you very much and would love to be with you, to fight by your side on the fields of the world, winning souls, witnessing His word and preaching the Gospel to all whom we could, and also to be there with you to help bear your burdens, share lessons with you and do all that we could to help you do your best for Jesus! But as you also well know the Lord had a special job that he wanted us to do, something that required me to make a choice: to stick with and tend to you, my precious personal family, and therefore be able to minister to you, enjoy your fellowship, feed you what I could from the Word etc. etc. or be willing to commit you all to Him in order to spend most of my time down in the mines of the Word, digging up the gold and the precious metals and jewels which can be a blessing and a help and a strength not just to you all, but to the entire Family. ... Of course it has cost us something to give up you, our own dear children, and it has no doubt cost you something to give us up, but like David said, "I will not give unto the Lord that which hath cost me nothing!" and he also has promised you "a hundred-fold in this life, and in the world to come, life eternal"!! EG's response was:- "I don't feel in any way that you've forsaken me. But I have to admit that sometimes, although my mind can figure out completely why you're not here and I'm not there, I've course miss you and there are times when I feel how much better off I'd be living with you. Of course I miss you both very much and the devil even uses this sometimes to try to come in and get me discouraged. But I know the Lord has and is getting greater victories out of it all. ... As the evacuation of The Family in this country is well under way, it seems a lot of other teens will be forsaking their parents and not living in the same country as them any more, just how I have had to do with you. So that's nice to know that I'm not alone." EG had just turned 14 at that time, JG was a year younger. They were shipped off to Macau where the conditions were as I have described and there they were left. I have seen both boys now going their separate ways. By your fruits shall ye know them. The fruit I saw was emotionally bruised. It would be utterly idle to pretend otherwise.

This was a time where the "forsake all" message was being heavily promulgated. "The Heavenly City School Training Seminar Notes TSN No. 2" had Sara saying:- "We are all parents these days and most of us have had to forsake our own kids to be in a school or position. It really costs us everything ... there is no more holding back. If the Lord is expecting you to care for someone else's kids and if you can love them as your own, you will really appreciate that when the same is required of you! Forsaking all is not exactly easy for our kids but the Lord is even requiring it now of many of our children, even toddlers and babies." I must not forget that that was written at the time of the "School Vision" and that things have moved away from that since then.

These conclusions can be safely drawn:- 1. In the nature of their missionary endeavours, separations are more likely within The Family than outside it.

2. The heavy compulsion of the forsake all doctrine makes separations in fact even more likely to occur.

3. Long separations and/or frequent separations are a threat to childrens' security and stability and therefore harmful.

4. The Family's position at or near (some would say beyond) the extremity of conventional religious practice renders it more likely that family relationships between those within and without the movement will be fractured, often seriously so.

5. Children who do not have a satisfactory relationship with their wider "system" family may suffer.

6. These factors pose risks of harm to S.


[edit] SUMMARY OF MY FINDINGS ON EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL AND BEHAVIOURAL IMPAIRMENT:

1. The use of isolation and silence restriction was frequently carried to excess and children were damaged by their experience of it.

2. The use of O.H.R's was capable of unfair exploitation to the disadvantage of those who felt compelled to give some disclosure lest they be punished for pride and self-righteousness.

3. Undue pressure was placed on children by the traumatic testimonies and the fear that any raising of doubt would lead to expulsion from The Family and banishment to the system caused apprehension.

4. The children were socially isolated.

5. Forsaking all was harmful.

6. Self was subjugated to service to The Family.


[edit] PHYSICAL ILL-TREATMENT

This topic assumed more and more importance as the case progressed. Again I begin with some analysis of the literature.

[edit] THE RELEVANT LITERATURE

"Home Discipline" was written in March 1972. The sub-title is, I note with approval was: "Law without enforcement is no law at all!" He explained why. "If you don't enforce it, your word means nothing." I shall remember that! In paragraph 12 I found an early example of Berg's attitude to corporal punishment:- "Why do you think God says, "Spare not the rod for his crying"? (Pr. 19: 18.) They start yelling long before you sock them with rod, because they're afraid of the rod and don't want to be spanked! A lot of these people will scream louder before they are sentenced than afterwards, trying to forestall punishment." In August 1975 he wrote "Lashes of Love". There was a revealing cartoon showing a man embracing a very young boy. The man was holding a branch ("twig" as it has sometimes euphemistically been called). The "switch" is gnarled where the smaller side stems have been removed. I draw attention to that picture because, as I later set out, it is quite apparent to me that such implements have been frequently used and it is an illustration of the power of the literature to influence behaviour. I must recite several passages. Though its authenticity was questioned, I am satisfied it is part of Family literature:- "We feel sorry for a child or babe or whoever it may be because they seem to hurt so bad and they yell so loud and you're tempted to stop the spanking a little prematurely before they've really learnt their lesson. But don't rescue them prematurely until you're sure the job is done. Now this may sound cruel to you but it's the truth. ... But with the small children who don't understand an awful lot of reasoning sometimes, you just have to apply the rod. ... They try to scream real loud at first to make you think you're practically murdering them, and the whole neighbourhood too sometimes. They'll get sympathy from the neighbours if they can, so that you won't spank them as hard as they probably know they need it! I use to tell Mom that the time to stop spanking is not when they're screaming, it's when they stop screaming and beg for mercy! I usually used a fly swatter. It's a very nice handy weapon. ... I usually use the handle end, and it does sting, I'll tell you! Sometimes it leaves little red lines too, stripes, but by their stripes they are healed! ... I would start applying the fly swatter, and oh my, how they would scream at first, but then as I really laid it on when they really deserved it, then they stop that loud yelling and then they began to really beg for mercy, I mean sincerely." "Baby and Toddler Discipline! - begins at 6 months!" was written in October 1983. In it he referred to smacking Techi's hand but he also described how he used corporal punishment when teaching at a high school. There followed this interesting passage:- "I even had to use a paddle on him a few times. I had a nice great big paddle. I don't know whether you ever saw one of those old fashioned bread boards with a handle, but let me tell you, one whack with that thing and they felt it. ... We believed in applying the rod, and in my case it was a big bread board! Well, I figured it was a little bit heavy, but it was so broad it couldn't possibly hurt'm, but they could feel it and it sort of knocked'm off balance once in a while." "Child Discipline" was written in March 1976. It was a talk given to Sara when David was 1½ years old. This was his advice:- "You need to use something to punish kids that doesn't injure them any, but really hurts. My children really feared that fly swatter, I'll tell you! Like the old family belt! ... my Mother always had a little switch handy, like off the tree, a little tree branch. And brother, did that sting ... If he keeps persisting then just swat him good and hard ... You've got to have a rod or a fly swatter or a little stick or belt, something they know really hurts. ... My Mother would sit down and cry with the whip in her hands, "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you." ... I do think we ought to get up a list of standard rules of chastisement or punishments for children ... but if they persist, sock it to'm! But never with such harsh or severe force as to actually injure, only hurt. Do it in love as the Lord does and if you really love them and they know it and love you, they'll eventually keep your commandments! And everybody will be happier in the end!" This was republished in 1984.

"Child care Discipline Jewels" seems to have been taken from a collection of previous writings. It addressed the problem that there were different standards of discipline adopted by different families within the home." "The answer has to be real strict discipline from the very beginning for everyone - adults and children alike! It's important that all the parents and children know and agree upon all the rules the children are expected to obey so that anyone can discipline any of the children and not just the particular mother or father of the offending child! ... Things have to be run like an army because you just can always treat each child individually in a large home with a lot of children, and the more people you have, the more regimented and organised things have to be. ... So our parents who won't discipline their children are just going to have to learn to, and start now! And when they're not with their own child, they shouldn't be hurt or sensitive about his getting a spanking or correction from others! They're just going to have to let the people who help take care of him go ahead and do it because we can't put up with foolishness and rowdiness and defiance in our children! Thank God for the parents and helpers who we have who do discipline and know how to apply the rod and the word. I don't know why anybody would mind their child being disciplined. You know that every smack they get is helping them to be a better child in the future and it's really worth it all. Some people go to the extremes of course and it's all unjustified or harsh, that's something different, but that shouldn't have to happen in our Family! Children really need to get disciplined when they are young, and especially toddlers! ... You have to use discipline no matter what age they are. ... And that is also one of the worst things you can do - to give punishment that is too severe, too harsh, more than the crime or disobedience really justifies. ... The best way is the love way! The best way is the gentle way and not the breaking way and the force way or the legal way of the old law! The best law is love ... if the gentling and persuading, the love and the reasoning and the leading, the teaching doesn't work and they're still stubbornly wilfully disobedient, then you've got to apply the rod (Maria: Lord help us all to find the right balance in these important matters of disciplining our children)." Finally "Dad on Kidz Correction" dated October 1985. Where he wrote:- "Whoever's going to be teaching teenagers is going to have to learn that corporal punishment, except as a last resort, is not the answer to our kind of teenagers ... There are other ways you can correct them, I don't even like to use the word "punish" them. That's what chastening means, it does not only mean punishment, it means child training. The thing that really hurts them the worst is first of all just to displease, they don't really like to displease, and the next worst, to be shamed before others! To have their misdeeds brought out in the open before you is bad enough, but if they go further, to deal with them in front of others is even worse ... The rod of chastisement is not wrong but it is the spirit in which it is wielded that counts ... Children need discipline, but it must always be tempered with love and mercy. ... Those who can't be controlled through love have to be controlled through fear. Love never fails! If it's real love, it won't fail even if it's applying the rod in love. I think you should try everything else you possibly can before applying corporal punishment. But if all else fails, you just have to whack away! What else can you do? You have to use force. God does! ... He'll whack away until you repent!" The message to be gained from the literature is that corporal punishment is encouraged but only as a last resort, it is to hurt but not to injure and it must always be administered "in love".


[edit] EVIDENCE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

I am in no doubt at all that its use was widespread. This ranged from quite savage beatings with paddles especially in the Victor camps and in Macau where I am satisfied that children were bruised and injured. The penalty for too many demerits in the Jumbo camps was to be "swatted" with a switch, which, certainly in the Philippines, was a bamboo cane. Berg's favourite implement, the fly swatter, was in regular use and children were regularly beaten with it. Again I am satisfied that there were many occasions when the beatings were more severe than was necessary. Given the emphasis on beating until it hurt and beating until they repent, it is not a surprise to me that many who administered these punishments lost sight of the admonitions not to injure. I am also satisfied that there were many occasions when the object of public beatings was as much to put fear into the onlookers as it was to humiliate and break the will of the recipient. It was not infrequently a brutal form of control.


[edit] THE RECENT APPLICATION OF THESE PRACTICES WITHIN THE UNITED KINGDOM

[edit] THE OXFORD/DIDCOT HOME

I know little about this home. The information came mainly from CA. She is quite a surly girl. For a long time she seemed to wish to remain aloof from these proceedings and was unwilling to offer any help. Finally she did give evidence. I am totally satisfied that there was no undue prompting by the Plaintiff to cause this. There was a ring of truth about her evidence which has made it impossible for me to discard it or to ignore it. She was at this home when a young teenager aged 13 or thereabouts. She was put in charge of the toddlers whose mothers were away on family business. About half of the mothers seemed to have been absent. CA reported seeing very young children suffer corporal punishment. She spoke of a child of only 18 months who had been bruised by her mother "Oxford" S. She is married to WA, the father of S, and, I note a little apprehensively, she appears prone to apply the rod quite unstintingly.


[edit] THE TEWKESBURY HOME

CA gave evidence that during her time at this home there was a mother who beat her children with a spoon on one side of which was a happy face and a sad face on the other. This evidence troubles me. The pictorial message which it conveys is that after the unhappy beating the victim must accept a happy face because he must accept that it was done in love. It illustrates the power of the Law of Love to induce a self delusion that otherwise unacceptable conduct can be cloaked with acceptability by asserting - even believing - that it is done in love. I have little doubt that that is how NT herself felt when she was party to the beating of a 7 year old girl with a switch some time in about 1991 whilst at the home in Coggershall.

There is, therefore, evidence of young children being unduly punished in recent times in England. It was worse for the teenagers.


[edit] THE WANTAGE SCHOOL

The Family decided to run a school at Wantage. Those in charge were JD and ED who came from the Philippines and undoubtedly imported ideas from the Jumbo. PF and SF and RM and MM had come from the Oxford Home. Mary Malaysia, also from the Philippines, joined later. The school ran from about March 1989 until the lease expired at the end of the year. I remind myself that the School Vision was published in August 1988 and the Victor Programmes had started early in 1989. I find that the following were features of the school at Wantage:- 1. Secrecy: The address of the school was Selah so that many parents were not aware where their children were and could not visit them. A degree of censorship was imposed through correspondence being read.

2. Silence Restriction: This device was extensively used. A number of the children suffered this indignity. It was an indignity because the children had a sign or badge which they had to display upon which was written words to the effect, "Don't talk to me, I am on silence restriction." The restriction was not absolute. The children were able to answer the adults but their talking to their peers was discouraged. I do not find that it was rigorously enforced and I have no doubt that it did not prevent all conversation. It was still an excessive punishment. GK and SW were on silence on and off for three months or so. AM, NS, SC and EV also suffered.

3. Isolation: The last named quartet were also put on a special programme which involved their being separated from others in order that they might in isolation read the Mo Letters and write their Open Heart Reports. SD acknowledged that it was a form of Victor Programme the like of which he had experienced in the Jumbo.

4. Open Heart Reports: These were extensively used in an

oppressive way not merely genuinely to ascertain what, if anything, troubled the children from time to time but as a means of control. VP was eloquent in her condemnation. She explained that she was made to feel guilty if she did not confess; she complained that her right to privacy of her own thoughts was invaded and she said that it was only when she was in bed that she could think what she wished.

5. Bubble-Bursting Sessions: Because pride and worldliness were such serious thoughts, the steps taken to eradicate them were extreme. There was an occasion when EP and SC were publicly mocked, disparaged and humiliated, the former because of his interest in map-making and the latter for his interests in wildlife and his desire to go down the Amazon. There was a worse event. The children had been required to report on each other in their Open Heart Reports. They had to identify those of their peers who had the greatest spiritual problems. Since the list of demerits clearly identified those who were constantly in trouble, those were the ones identified by the others as the foolish ones. On a certain day the school was told there was to be no breakfast, but they were to fast, to read the Mo letters and write their reactions. The leaders looked solemn and an air of tension grew. The school then assembled. AM, NS, SC and EV were seated apart. The leaders denounced them as being full of the devil. The leaders read the Open Heart Reports of the other children (which were meant to be confidential) revealing, therefore, how the other children had identified these four. There was much shouting at them to break their spirit and much praying and much attempting to exorcise the devil out of them. The shepherds called on the other children and asked why the four should not be punished. Emotions ran so high that most were in tears. The quartet were eventually led away. Their hair was cut. Much time was spent at the hearing to try to establish whether their hair was shaved or merely shortened. I find the latter. It did not much matter, because the purpose of the haircut was not to improve their looks but to humiliate them, to mark them out as examples and to punish them. The boys were taken off and beaten. All children present were demeaned by this wholly unnecessary excessive bullying tirade. Its emotional intensity was unacceptable. 6. Corporal Punishment. I am in no doubt at all that this was excessively applied. AM was bruised from above the knees to his lower spine following the haircutting incident. His mother MM denied that her son was bruised. I am in no doubt that he was. NS and SC were also beaten. They were beaten with a paddle. SD was asked by his father to make it. It is the same sort of implement that is used throughout The Family. The paddle had become a feature of English Family life as well. Another boy regularly beaten was GK. He was 14. His crime was bed-wetting. There was a total failure within The Family to appreciate that this boy was a seriously emotionally disturbed child who had undergone some appalling experiences in his childhood. He had witnessed and was clearly still suffering from his brother's drowning. SF did not appear to know this. No attempt was made to treat him for emotional damage evidenced by his enuresis. Instead he was punished for it. Without doubt he was ill treated by The Family.

7. Callisthenics: This involved running and some form of "squat walking" in laps around two trees about a football pitch apart. For some this was a difficult, painful task. It was the punishment imposed for achieving a lower level of demerit marks. The demerit system and the increasing levels of punishment was again an importation from the Jumbo.

8. Emotional Pressure: The pressure to conform was great. There was, for example, an occasion when they had to read of the difficulties that Davidito was having. They all had to pray for Father David in his struggles to cope with Davidito's failure. It became so intense that most of them were in tears.

[edit] BURNT FARM

When Wantage closed down, the school moved to Burnt Farm in Hertfordshire. The same team were in charge. The P children did not rejoin the school and I do not have as much evidence about its activities. I have no reason to believe that life did not continue much as it had done at Wantage. The most important incident relates to a boy SM. He was a most unhappy teenager 14 years old. He was thought by many to have the failing of being "self righteous" and to have "spiritual problems." He was made particularly unhappy in March 1990 by his mother being sent away to Eastern Europe on missionary work. His father was in Russia. He was not the only child who was separated from his parents. Many of the parents were working in Eastern Europe. In September 1990 SM was in trouble of some kind. His privileges were withdrawn and he was not allowed to watch television. He ran away and was apprehended by the police at Ramsgate trying to catch the ferry to see his mother in Switzerland or wheresoever she was. He could give no address for her. He was reluctant to reveal much about his personal circumstances. The following day his mother arrived. SM did not seem surprised or express any emotion upon seeing her despite her absence for more than 7 months. She would not reveal her address. She was equivocal about her involvement in "missionary work". The minutes of the Social Services Department have been produced to me and they recorded that: "SM ... presents physically as being tired, pale, drawn, slightly anaemic in appearance and psychologically as emotionally flat, .... acting inappropriately when reuniting with mother or examining reasons for leaving Burnt Farm, presents as bland, blank, programmed, (guarded, inhibited responses to questions, reluctant to communicate, reluctant to disagree with mother.)" Enquiries were made at Burnt Farm. RM allowed the Social Services Department into a room which was described in the minutes as:- "Cold and comfortless. The furniture was very shabby and the room was dominated by a huge high-tech TV and video. RM denied any knowledge of an organisation called Heavens Magic or the Children of God but they did say they were missionaries. No evidence of crucifixes or other religious artifacts and no evidence of the presence of children other than some child size wellington boots in the hallway. No toys, comics, bicycles etc." The local authority made enquiries which led them to the anti-cult organisations and VJ was introduced to SM. SM denied recognizing any Mo letters etc. but he made obviously knowledgeable references to the material to prove the point he sought to make that the cult was being persecuted by the Social Services Department. SM was allowed to leave on 29th September 1990.

Several features of this episode cause me real concern:- 1. This boy was made unhappy for reasons among others that he missed his parents. No sufficient awareness of this fact, still less contrition was shown by those in charge.

2. He lied about his knowledge and involvement with The Children of God/The Family. He was clearly troubled about "persecution."

3. More importantly RM lied to the authorities.

4. This boy ran away at about 5.30 am. He was known to be missing. The Family's own efforts to find him were unsuccessful. Alarmingly, they did not report him missing to the police. I am driven to conclude that this incident shows the practice of "Deceivers yet True" in action. The Family clearly had their "flee-bags" packed and they disappeared. It does not instil confidence and it requires me to scrutinise carefully the evidence of real, genuine and lasting change.


[edit] TEWKESBURY

The period I am now concerned with is the end of 1991. The adults in charge seem to have been MM, Caleb, to some extent RM, Paul and Mary Malaysia. KA and AM were the teen shepherds.

I am quite satisfied that a Victor Programme was run from this home. Mary Malaysia was in charge but she was acting under the control of the National Child Care Shepherdess Heidi, SPM's wife. MM knew what was happening although she was more concerned with the ordinary running of the household. MM was an unreliable witness. In her Affidavit she dealt with discipline in the teen schools, as being:- "Administered by the teachers and where parents were present (as they occasionally were) by the parents. Corporal punishment occasionally was used but very rarely and always with the basic premise of The Family that punishment must never be administered in anger: its purpose is for the person punished to understand what they had done wrong and why it was wrong." That was a far cry from what was happening at Tewkesbury. There the children were regularly beaten and at times beaten by AM, himself a teenager. KA, a Family witness, told me that branches were cut from trees and used until they broke. That caused them to look for another implement. They found a riding crop. AM sought Mary Malaysia's permission to use it. Mary Malaysia sought Heidi's permission according to KA and it was granted. AM then beat S4, the son of a home shepherd, for too many demerits. He broke the skin on his backside. The boy bled from it and was bruised by it. It was a vicious attack. It was authorised from the very top of The Family in this country. It was known that it took place. The stoutest efforts have been made by The Family to cover it up. This particular incident cried out for full explanation. The obvious person to explain what had happened and what had gone wrong was Heidi. No reason was given to me why she should not have been called. I draw adverse conclusions from the failure to call her.


[edit] RUGBY

There was also a home for a number of children at Rugby where RB and VB and MA and LA were in charge. They gave evidence to me and I can accept that in many respects this was a happy home. It was a pity, perhaps, that they did not allow the visiting Australians to film their home but rather chose to maximise the physical attractiveness of Tewkesbury by engaging in the pretence to which I referred much earlier. I can, however, readily understand that teenagers would have responded warmly to this adult team. Although strident in their defence of The Family they nonetheless made a good impression on me in many respects. VB's mediterranean temperament led her to some emotional exchanges with me but that same energy was well harnessed in her interactions with the young people with whom she had to deal. I cannot recall a bad word said against her and she seems to have been a most respected figure. Dare I say it in this case, but it would seem that she "loved" the children and they may well have loved her. Her husband RB, though possessed of British phlegm which made him more reserved than his wife, was nonetheless an enthusiastic member of the team. He got on well with the teenagers, and I have little doubt that they had exciting times with him. There was a lot to do in their ministry and the children had a lot of fun doing it. MA and LA were also impressive witnesses. MA had all the savoir faire that one would expect of The Family's public relations officer. He deployed his charm quite effortlessly and although there is a tough side to his character, I would imagine he earned not only the respect but also the affection of the children he was looking after. His wife LA seemed prepared to go much further than any other witness in her willingness to see The Family move much further towards acceptance. Enlightened though this couple appeared to be, their son KA had a vicious streak in him and in the exercise of his duties as teen shepherd, he wielded the stick with more enthusiasm than judgment, and his storm trooper-mentality alarmed me.

I am satisfied that generally and comparatively speaking life at Rugby was happy for the children living there. It was not all entirely acceptable. KA admits that he was on silence restriction in about February 1991 for some six weeks. He must have found the punishment effective because he made large silence restriction signs to hang about the neck of M1 and MS. He put M1 on silence after he had, as teen shepherd, tried to deal with M1's "spiritual problems" which he sought to cure by intensive shepherding, the Word, and counselling. It was a contemporary and rival, N1 who complained via LA to VB about MS whose punishment was then to be placed on silence restriction. I have no doubt that in the early stages MS would have tried to ignore the restriction as much as she thought she could get away with it. Not to report in the Open Heart Reports anything which "needed work on" showed self righteousness which became punishable. There were also some paddlings which cause concern. J4 paddled JA without even consulting the boy's father before doing it. It was a bad beating which caused some bleeding and bruising. Life at Rugby was, therefore, not all sweetness and light.

Then Mary Malaysia descended on the instruction of Heidi to run another Victor Programme. This was brutally conducted. The demerit system led to regular and frequent paddlings. The paddle was made by J4 and kept in his room. KA, S5, S6 and J2 were beaten and according to CA, J2 and S6 were bruised. KA in turn beat M1 and KA gave evidence that he reported the matter to VB and RB and that M1's parents agreed that the boy needed the hiding. He got it. LA seemed unwilling to admit this. I am in no doubt that CA was paddled three times and in her case the implement was a cane and what she described as "an elastic switch". EM conceded that she had been beaten.

I have been sorely troubled by the punishments meted out to MS. She is a pert young lady with a certain steely determination. I have no doubt that she caused The Family great concern. She had her sexual relationship with the 19 year old C1 and was defiant in her allegation that C1 was having an affair with her mother. Then she had a sexual relationship with a fellow teen DM. In The Family's eyes, she was a troublemaker with enormous spiritual problems of lying, self-righteousness, worldliness and every other sin in the calendar. In other circles this might have amounted to no more than a high degree of adolescent rebellion. Mary Malaysia punished her among for other things her sexual promiscuity knowing full well from information confided by the girl herself how cruelly abused she had been throughout her childhood. It was appallingly insensitive retribution. On one occasion Mary Malaysia paddled her as VB corroborated. On another occasion VB, who has I suspect even now, real affection for this characterful girl, beat her with a "bendy twig" and administered the stipulated punishment of "ten swats". MS would not yield and VB felt compelled to beat her again though I am sure a part of her was revolted by the ferocity of the attack which frustration at MS's stubbornness provoked. They both ended up in tears. VB asserts that it was done with a loving heart and that the punishment was accepted to have been administered in love. I dare say it was viewed in that way by both VB and MS. In my judgment, however, love cannot excuse twenty strokes which cause bruising. On another occasion VB could not bring herself to administer the punishment and delegated that task to N1 who was a rival of MS's for DM's affections. Because MS wished to continue her sexual relationship with DM, he was chosen to cut the branch from the tree which was used to beat her. She gave a graphic account of one of these occasions. She refused to agree to be beaten by Mary. Mary sent VB to call for RB, her husband. Mary threatened that RB would have to hold her down. To his credit he refused to have any part in anything of that kind. Instead he began to counsel her to accept the punishment which was due to her for her rebellious attitude. The threat was uttered that if she did not accept that punishment it would be a mark of such serious rebellion against the group that they would be compelled to expel her and send her to her grandparents with whom she had lost all contact. MS had grown up on the Traumatic Testimonies and had a fear of the system whose frightening ways had been emphasised in the literature. "God's Vomit" was a letter found in her little suitcase of Family literature and I was in no doubt at all that she entertained some deeply ingrained fear that God killed backsliders. One can but imagine how this young lady must have been struck with terrifying foreboding some months ago when she learnt that her friend and fellow backslider, who left The Family as she did, had recently been murdered. At Rugby the fear of the unknown system was greater than the pain of a beating, so MS submitted to Mary. She beat her so hard with the stick cut by DM that MS's buttocks were cut and her knickers covered with blood.

This was an utterly disgraceful incident. The injustice to a victim of sex abuse being harshly punished for lesser sexual misconduct, the humiliation of having her partner in that escapade having to cut the stick that was used to wound her, the duress used to extract consent to the beating and the self- deluding justification that all was done in love, all that excites my total condemnation.

That was not the end of it. MS was put into isolation. Every morning she was sent to a caravan in the grounds of the home where she was left alone apart from visits by some of the adults, especially VB. She was expected to read the Word. In fact she spent a good deal of the time filing her fingernails and brushing her hair which must have served only to confirm the impression of her inordinate vanity and sinfulness. She took exercise by walking the fields by herself or by digging in the garden. This was originally set as a form of physical punishment but MS preferred it to the caravan and so she did it. Her meals were brought to her, but not always. She was allowed to return to the house in time only to bathe or wash before lights out. She was by now in such disgrace and was so conscious of the fact that N1 would get her into serious trouble that now she did not dare to break the silence restriction which had been imposed upon her. This regime lasted for about 7 weeks. It was intolerable.

Others were put in isolation. CA was sent to her room for 3 months "intensive care" and M2 was likewise punished for 3 weeks. Silence restriction imposed on those in intensive care was much more rigorously enforced than the silence restriction under which MS had been placed for months on end or the silence restrictions imposed on CA, J2, J3 and M1.


[edit] OTHER VICTOR PROGRAMMES

I have little evidence from The Family upon which I can rely and their failure to deal with these matters leads me to conclude that Mary Malaysia was running Victor Programmes probably in Newcastle, and in Scotland. JL told me that the National Shepherds were receiving calls from different homes about children whom Mary had put on silence restriction and she said, contrary to his assertion that he was without knowledge, that SPM dealt with at least one of these calls. EM's report did not allay my concern that Victor Programmes had been run in other locations. The information is sketchy. CA spoke of corporal punishment being administered in the Oxford home and she spoke of Oxford S paddling A2 with a broom handle which broke so that she then continued with an elastic switch. Oxford S paddled M3 for listening to inappropriate music. In London CA had been beaten for pulling a face on her passport photograph and when sent to Rugby beaten again. In the NAS home at Essex, which I assume is Coggeshall at the end of 1990/91 NT herself was present when a 7 year old child was beaten with a switch cut from a tree. I am driven to conclude that corporal punishment was endemic within the homes in the United Kingdom and that it was excessively and at times brutally applied. Silence restriction was also widely adopted for excessive length of time. Recourse to isolation was exceptional but its implementation was severe and damaging.


[edit] RESPONSIBILITY FOR THESE EXCESSES.

Mary Malaysia has been held out to be the scapegoat. She certainly deserves to be roundly condemned and the practices she brought from the Philippines are indeed indefensible. An apology from her has been produced. It was a curious document in that it was not an original and seemed almost to be part of a series. Though dated September 1992 it is apparently a document written in September 1993. It was addressed to the JETTS and Teens and Mary apologised "as one who laid heavy burdens on you and made life unpleasant for (you) during the times you were with me." She acknowledged "a big problem with partiality shown to some of the teenagers". She apologised: "For implementing the five demerits policy for little mistakes you would make and enforcing such a strict silence restriction rule on you all which was not the standard for Victor Programmes. ... I am very sorry for laying on you burdens that were not the Lord's and I would like to ask you to please forgive me for hurting you in this way. ... I pray that you will continue to go on for the Lord in spite of things that you have found confusing and hurt by." Mary was not called to give evidence before me. I know not why not. Her conduct was totally inexcusable.

The attempt to shift the whole blame onto Mary is disingenuous. JD and ED introduced practices from the Philippines into Wantage which I have already deprecated. Corporal punishment was administered at times other than during the course of Victor Programmes. The Victor Programmes were excessively abusive but the responsibility for that lies with the National Shepherds. Heidi is responsible. The Family is responsible. The Family knew perfectly well that things had gone wrong and they sent EM on a fact finding mission. I found her to be a totally unsatisfactory witness. She was not frank with me. She attempted to deceive me. She gave evidence to me on three occasions and I still did not get near the truth from her. If, which I do not accept, she believes even a part of what she presented to me in her report, which is a report which I understood to be remitted to World Services, then I am even more concerned for the children who remain in The Family. She must know that what she there reports is a travesty of the truth. How can she believe the following? "From the accounts of the teens that we talked to, there was little over discipline. From all accounts one boy seemed to have been very difficult and the fact that he was in the programme at a young age was because of the insistence of his exasperated mother who just didn't know what to do with him. In one sense it was commendable for them to consider taking him on given his history, but on the other hand they clearly did not have sufficient experience to cope with him." I ask rhetorically whether the beatings indiscriminately handed out to innumerable children, many of whom were bruised, can possibly be described as constituting "little over discipline". The sympathy she seems to require to be extended to an exasperated mother and the commendable carers at Tewkesbury seems to pay scant regard to a 10 year old boy who was horse cropped by another teenager till he his buttocks were cut and bruised. This wholly lamentable failure to face the truth and to acknowledge the full extent of their deficiencies gives rise to unallayed concern. If, which I doubt, the report presented to me was in fact the report being made to World Services, then how can one expect World Services to correct excesses when fed such anodyne information as EM presented to them? If, as I suspect, there are other internal documents which come closer to setting out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the unpalatable truth, then why have I not been made privy to those disclosures? This case, being no different from all the others in this Division, is ultimately about trust. This young mother expects me to continue to trust her as she knows - and as The Family know - I have trusted her hitherto despite The Family's infamous history. Trust does not travel down a one way street. Trust must be earned. Trust must be mutual. I shall express my conclusions about this later.

It is, therefore, important to make certain preliminary findings in this regard. I deal with EM's evidence in more detail. She swore an Affidavit in these proceedings in February 1994. She referred to the Victor Programmes which she and her husband had been running. She made reference to corporal punishment with a paddle "that is a ladle used for cooking rice", "between 4-6 stokes over a covered bottom". She asserted, "I do not believe it was administered harshly or cruelly." She referred to the Discipleship Training Revolution as having introduced "uniform minimum standards for all children." She acknowledged that Victor Programmes had been copied throughout the World, but, and significantly, she did not refer to the programmes conducted in this country even though she must have known that it was an issue in the case. She explained that silence restriction was intended to be that half hour period of silence in the morning after getting up, the one hour rest period during the day, and half an hour in the evening, it never being intended as a method of punishment. She acknowledged, "I have heard instances where some teenagers were placed on silence restriction for up to 4 weeks." She did not go further and admit that they were instances which had occurred in this country when again she must have known that was an issue in the case. Her Affidavit was wholly silent about the difficulties that the teenagers had been encountering in this country and which she had been sent to investigate. Is this not a perfect example of "Deceivers Yet True"? Indeed, when cross examined, EM asserted that it was permissible to lie to the system where the life and well being of the children was at stake, for example as it was in Argentina. She might have added "and in the United Kingdom!" In my note of her evidence in chief she explained that she had come to Europe because of the concern of World Services about the number of teenagers that were leaving the movement. She said that she had never seen so many teens leaving and so she thought The Family must be doing something wrong and she therefore visited all the homes in Europe. She also admitted that she had visited four homes in this country and that she had held a meeting for the teens to attend; that seventy did so in Nottingham; that it was acknowledged that there were problems and that they had an open forum session but that there were still problems in this country. She explained that the reason for the difficulties were that the children were subject to "diverse worldliness" in that they dabbled with heavy rock music, drink and violence and so the solution perceived to be necessary was "to bring back the standards we would expect in Family homes." She acknowledged the Victor Programme in Wales (Tewkesbury) and that Heidi, David, JL and SPM thought it better to set up training in individual homes. She was firmly cross examined on behalf of the Official Solicitor. It was interesting to read again comments I wrote in the margin of my notebook about the manner in which she gave evidence. Among the several things I noted were, for example, "nice lady but blind to the consequence of her acts"; "nervous, clenching and unclenching her fists and very tense"; "she is being defensive and is lying", "evading the truth" (when she sought to deny the authenticity of the picture in the Child Discipline letter where the adult holds a stick as I have already described). Thereafter my notes become variations on the theme of "evasive", "very evasive", "lies!", "not frank", "clear evidence of cover up". She was, therefore, an exasperating witness because she is an essentially sincere lady who simply cannot believe that her genuine actions taken with the best will in the world for the benefit of the teens with whom she has been so involved have nonetheless had wholly harmful consequences. Of the UK Victor Programme she said this:- "The person asked to carry out the programme here didn't know enough to practice it effectively, so the leadership terminated it. People made mistakes and so it was thought better not to have another." On the issue of separating parents from children she said this:- "NT must therefore understand that if ever she were persistently to murmur against the leadership, then I, after anxious prayer and as a last resort, would feel constrained temporarily to remove S from her to gain the victory." Further cross examined about the Victor Programmes here she admitted that possibly she was wrong because she knew of a "new model programme" being run by Mary Malaysia at Rugby. She spoke of Tony, Zack Attack, and said of him:- "He did get a beautiful victory. If you could see him you would see the miracle of the way the Lord worked in his life. It took extreme measures but if you read the tale of murmurers in the Sinai Desert who were destroyed, the Lord had mercy on Tony. You could see the victory in his expression." On hearing that I made the comment, "Frightening evidence," because her complacency had robbed her of insight into why his spirit had been broken.

She gave evidence for 3 to 4 days and at the end of which she identified mistakes she found had been made as follows: That Mary Malaysia had little experience with teenagers and had not any realisation of the sobering responsibilities she carried. Her feeling was that she was "partial" in her association with the teens. The treatment might have been harsh in some case, in that possibly MS had been beaten, that F1 (16) no longer had animosity from a few unfair paddlings and that CA who had left The Family, was partial but had not herself been paddled. Some of the teens F1, CA and M2 had said that silence restriction had been unfair and extreme. She knew much more than she was willing to disclose. Even now I doubt whether I heard the whole truth from her.

I now turn to SPM.

He has a long history with the family. He was a bishop in Australia before the RNR. He is the National Area Shepherd for the United Kingdom. He has filed voluminous evidence in the case I am in no doubt at all that he has had authority from World Services to devote himself to the defence of this action, that he has had free access to World Services and has taken instructions from them. He has been The Family's spokesman. In that capacity he has responded to the grandmother's case and the Official Solicitor's interrogatories. It is necessary to remind myself of some of the matters arising therefrom.

In September 1992 the Plaintiff pleaded her case in this way:- "Children and adults are expected to be unquestioningly obedient. Children are particularly harshly disciplined by means including:-

(a)withholding of food.

(b)corporal punishment which includes beating and enforced exercises.

(c)enforced silence

(d)humiliation in front of their peers

(e)bullying by adults and by peers incited by adults

(f)children are punished inter alia for expressing an interest in anything which is outside the very narrow scope of their educational curriculum." She had also asserted that: "It is common for children at the age of puberty to be sent to teen schools or teen camps or Victor camps the address of which is rarely known to their parents." The answer was that: "There are such schools and camps but none in Great Britain, and where there are, attendance is voluntary and usually short term!" There is no acknowledgment of the schools at Wantage and Burnt Farm or of the programmes being run at Tewkesbury and Rugby, the last of which ended about three of four months before that answer was given.

The answer continued in this way:- "It is denied that children and adults are expected to be unquestioningly obedient. Leaders within The Family expect those under them to carry out their reasonable instructions, but such instructions are the product of a process of counselling and discussion between those involved. It is denied the children are harshly disciplined. Further and in particular it is denied that the allegations at paragraph 14(a)-(f) represent Family policy or general practice. It is admitted in relation to paragraph 14(b) that reasonable corporal punishment may be administered. It is admitted in relation to paragraph 4(c) that on a few occasions it some homes silence cards had been used to discipline children. It is adverred that violence or physical abuse towards children is incompatible with continued membership of the family." In his Affidavit sworn in September 1993 to answer the interrogatories he stated inter alia that: "The Family no longer operates teen camps, teen schools or Victor camps." In answer to a question about corporal punishment he stated:- "The Family policy is that corporal punishment is permissible as the last form of discipline to be used with children and would normally involve a smack with the hand for younger children and possibly smack with a fly swatter for older children, but usually with the hand. Very young children would not be smacked. It is not something that is particularly encouraged. We feel that if children are treated appropriately then corporal punishment should not be necessary. Most children of toddler age would be spoken to and may be as a last resort be given a slap on the leg or hand. We would tend to smack the offending member, for example like their hand if they touch or take something they have been asked not to do after several warnings. With children of 10, 11, 12 we would tend not to encourage corporal punishment, but would consider the removal of privileges as a more appropriate way of dealing with discipline problems. Punishments are usually carried out by parents, but, if in a classroom situation, by whoever is taking the class, usually one of the parents." In answer to a further set of interrogatories he responded by Affidavit sworn in January 1994 that he had no knowledge of food ever being withheld from a minor:- "While corporal punishment is an infrequently used instrument for child training within The Family, where legal, it is absolutely against Family policy and practice to use it excessively or inappropriately. It is considered a last resort in child training, and all other avenues are tried first before employing corporal punishment. Even when corporal punishment is deemed necessary by a parent or care giver, it is never excessive, and it is always tempered with love and understanding and is given with the goal of being to teach and instruct, rather than to punish." Of silence restriction he said: "To my knowledge this was never a widespread practice and does not now occur in any family community of which I am aware. In any case, even those isolated instances where silence cards were used, were never contrary to the welfare of a minor." In his evidence in chief he admitted knowledge of a Victor Programme at Tewkesbury and of a "New Model programme", not a Victor Programme, run by Mary Malaysia at Rugby. He had very little knowledge of these matters because he was concentrating on preparing this case. He expressed concern and upset on learning, as he had as the case unfolded, that some things had gone wrong. He said he was doing research on it, that he was reporting to World Services and that he hoped that it would never happen again.

Cross-examined by the grandmother he explained that Heidi and JL had been in charge of child care and "because it was war time for us there had been shortcomings in our shepherding." I have no doubt that is how The Family have regarded these proceedings, as a war-like battle against The Family. He labours under a deep and bitter sense of persecution. The evidence given by CA seemed to take him by surprise and he did not appear to know of any abusive physical ill-treatment of MS by Mary. Cross examined by the Official Solicitor he stated that he first heard of these matters when researching CA's Affidavit served after the evidence had started. He knew of Mary's apology but understood it to be for her partiality. He said also that he had received a report that whilst at Tewkesbury, Mary had spanked a boy and bruised him. He said he had heard that from the child's mother who must have known about it from the time it had happened. He had not asked JL for any reports. He had not sought help from JL or anyone else before answering the interrogatories. He said he had spoken to the children from Wantage but not to those from Tewkesbury and to only some from Rugby. He said he had received a written report from the children after MS had filed her Affidavit but he said he had received no report from EM. He had only been aware of Mary's partiality as the only problem for the teens. He could give me no satisfactory explanation at all for his failure to have dealt with these matters in his answers to the interrogatories.

I am driven to conclude that he was not fully frank with me. I cannot accept that he was so immersed in the preparation of this case that he was blind and deaf to what was going on about him. (I have to confess that my sympathies for him have increased as the burden of my completing this judgment has weighed like a larger and larger millstone around my neck!) It defies belief that he could live in the NAS home where his wife resided when she was in charge of childcare and, even if separated from her, not be aware of the teenagers' discontent so rife that World Services had sent EM to investigate in the Autumn of 1993, before his final Affidavits were sworn. My confidence in The Family is not enhanced even if I approach the case on the basis that SPM was largely left in a state of blissful ignorance. That would serve only to demonstrate the abject breakdown in the chain of communication which is supposed to be there to provide the checks and balances against abuse. Whichever way I look at it, children in The Family had been left unprotected.

EM was recalled on day 60. She then admitted more of the meeting held in Nottingham over the weekend of 20th October 1993. About 70 teens attended. Complaints began to emerge about Tewkesbury. No complaints were made about Rugby. This worries me. If the children were truly free to speak openly and confidently at a special forum called to investigate their worries and complaints, why was information about Rugby withheld? The answer must be that the children were under some inhibition. What did emerge was that four or five boys aged between 11 and 13 spoke of being beaten with a "switch" at Tewkesbury. AM and KA made public apologies. EM did not feel that AM was being frank but she did believe KA who said he had not himself administered any swatting. He had, in fact, wielded the stick at Rugby. AM had beaten Oxford S's son with the horse crop and KA confirmed that he had told Heidi of that matter. EM said Heidi no longer held a position of power. She referred to reports which had been sent to Europe of the events in Tewkesbury and seemed to suggest that these had been sent towards the end of 1990 to the beginning of April 1991. I certainly have not seen them. In her written report EM informed me "both Ricky and I wrote a report about our Nottingham meeting which was submitted to the European Shepherds." I have not seen that document either. When cross- examined, EM was prepared to admit that there was inappropriate corporal punishment administered to MS and to 10 year old S4 with the horse crop, but she was not prepared to concede that MS had been bruised or that S4 had been cut. That evidence was not complete when the Court rose on Friday afternoon. On Monday EM did not attend and I had to wait 10 days for her to reappear. She then produced her report. It was not what I wanted. I did not need her to prepare a written report for me. I wanted to read what she had reported to World Services. Her conclusions were myopic. Her analysis of the mistakes that appeared to have been made were identified as follows:- "1. The UK NAS had insufficient information available to them about Mary's experience in working with teenagers, in particular that her experience appears to have been limited to working at the Jumbo in the Philippines.

2. That Mary had little or no experience in running Victor Programmes as they had been developed in Japan, and relied upon limited literature available and her outdated experience in the Philippines.

3. She had personal difficulties in that she showed partiality to her favourites, was overly strict and not sufficiently Spirit-led. Her manner of involvement in the programmes was inadequately thought through. There was a failure to work properly with the local teamwork and there were failures in her being adequately shepherded by the NAS teamwork.

4. The subsequent conflict between her and the local shepherds was probably inevitable.

5. That conflict was adequately resolved by the local teamwork referring the issue to the NAS teamwork and her being instructed to work within the local teamwork. When she did work more satisfactorily within the local teamwork her influence was modified.

6. She was withdrawn from further work with JETTS and Teens.

7. When she redirected her ministry to outreach and then subsequently worked with YAs, the YAs had no difficulty in voting her off the teamwork in light of their dissatisfaction at her shepherding.

8. The team working procedure appears to have functioned well to limit her influence. Although her involvement in the Victor Programme was unfortunate, the shepherding system managed to correct the problem. She should not be a scapegoat however for a more general problem about how to engage and involve family adolescents with ordinary Family life and that issue presents a positive challenge to The Family which is what we are engaged in and which we feel we are making progress with." It did not present a difficult task for Counsel to cross examine EM into acknowledging that many others apart from Mary practised and/or permitted undue and excessive corporal punishment, silence restriction and isolation. I have no doubt that they did.

It is clear from a letter which appears to have been sent to all DO homes in the British Isles from the European Shepherds that either they have an imperfect knowledge of what went on or that they are trying to pretend to themselves and to the teenagers they are addressing that things were not as bad as everybody knows they were. It is a letter of apology but the first page seems to lay all the blame on Mary Malaysia. They write: "Mary was working closely with the NASs and we were receiving reports from them as to how you teens were doing, however these reports were not very detailed and we weren't aware of how different disciplinary measures were handled, nor that the spirit in which Mary and some of the older teens were shepherding you wasn't right. In the spring of 1992, one of the members of our teamwork (Dawn Gilligan who was not called to give evidence) "made a quick visitation around some of the homes in England with SPM." This suggests that SPM must have had more knowledge than he declared. The concerns revealed, which were almost inevitably concerns linked to Mary Malaysia, were "later shared with the NASs especially Heidi." "Some of you did speak up about something that had taken place with your teens that you weren't in agreement with, and we believe that NASs did take action in these cases - at least we hope they did, and if not, again we offer our apologies." The letter then revealed how knowledge of the dissatisfaction had grown to the point that at the end of 1993 Mary wrote her apology. "Ricky and EM arrived in England towards the end of last year, and one of the things they were initially hit with was the discontent and bitterness towards the past Victor Programme which Mary helped to shepherd. ... So the combination of these two - reports from Ricky and EM and info from the Court case - has helped us to see that Mary did use and advocate an excessive use of disciplinary measures such as silence restriction, the demerit chart system and excessive corporal punishment in some cases and for this we're truly sorry. We're sorry for the unnecessary hurt that was caused physically - although that heals fairly quickly - but more so for any emotional and spiritual battles that resulted as those are the scars which take the longest to heal. Again, we ask your forgiveness of our teamwork for not being closer in our communication and involvement ... Actually because of the active "grapevine" among our teens in The Family, and because we have good reason to believe that some of the teens who left have at best exaggerated parts of their testimonies, it has been difficult to discern what actually happened and what is hearsay and exaggeration. We know that excesses did occur, but rather than go into further detail on that side of it, some of which would probably wind up being quite a bit of speculation, what we would like to talk about is what has probably been the greater cause of bitterness and anger which some of you still feel and that is the spirit behind Mary's shepherding and training." Once again blame was being heaped upon Mary. She seemed to have been punished by banishment from The Family home for 7 days. She was then placed on "Babes Status" for 6 months to: "Provide an environment for her to hopefully learn more about truly being a servant to the flock, to help her grasp the lessons that she needs regarding her weaknesses of self righteousness, pride and man-pleasing which have sometimes motivated her actions ..." The letter then continued - and this is important -: "The last point we would like to address is how we can safeguard our Family from these things ever happening again. One thing which we believe will help are some specific guidelines for discipline which will be coming out soon from WS. These make it clear where the boundaries lie in the use of different disciplinary measures and what is excessive. This in itself should make it impossible - or highly difficult - for anyone to take matters into their own hands or to have their own particular brand or style of discipline." The letter concluded:- "Our prayer is that we can all go on to the dawn of a brighter day, free from the clouds which have overhung those of you who were affected by all the above, and clearer in understanding of how to avoid it in the future. As Dad prayed, "Sometimes, Lord, we even learn by our defeats, very needed lesson. We learn also by our mistakes, very needed lessons, in order to teach others not to make the same mistakes, not enter into the same frays, to incur the same defeat, but to stay in the narrow path of Thy Will, very close, in tune with Thy spirit." I must wait to see how much The Family are willing to learn from their mistakes.


[edit] S's DAY TO DAY CARE:

I turn to the arrangements made for S. He lives with his mother. The Ward's home is a property, with 3½ acres of garden, leased to the MMs and MA in June 1993 for a term of 3 years. It has become home for NT and S. The conditions prevailing there are fully described in the social services reports which I will now refer.

[edit] The Local Authority's Investigations

At the hearing for directions in October 1993, it then appeared that the grandmother might not be able to continue to offer care to S. I directed Leicestershire County Council, as the appropriate Local Authority, to undertake an investigation of S's circumstances. I specifically requested that they investigate the following matters including education, medical care, investigations into child sex abuse in Leicestershire or elsewhere presently and in the past, police enquiries and most importantly I asked them to investigate:- "How did the children present to the Social Workers? Are they happy children albeit in an unusual but still tolerable environment, or are they isolated and emotionally damaged victims of an oppressive religious fervour?" I was fully aware when making that order that I was imposing a great burden upon the Local Authority's Social Services Department. It was wholly impracticable to furnish them with copies of the thousands of pages of evidence which had even then been presented to me. Time was comparatively short. Despite all those difficulties the Legal and Social Services departments responded magnificently to my request. I pay tribute to the care they took and I am most grateful to them for their report. I have already recited from the associated enquiries undertaken by the Education Authority who, of course, share these plaudits of praise. The Social Services Department reported to me as follows:-

Two experienced Social Workers made four visits to the Ward's home. The first two were unannounced and the team were there from 9 am to 4.30 pm and from 4.30 pm to 9.00 pm respectively. Two other pre-arranged visits one for a day and the other for two hours were made on other occasions. They set themselves these tasks:- (i) the general demeanour of the children including their behaviour and spontaneity across the whole age range. There were then twenty children at the home ranging in age from S then one of three children under a year old to KAS aged 16.

(ii) to focus on any children who appeared withdrawn or whose behaviour caused them to stand out from the others.

(iii) to look for any signs of sexualized behaviour and language in the children.

(iv) interactions and relationships between children of different ages and between adults and children, including expectations of the children by the adults.

(v) attitudes of the adults to the outside world and how that was reflected in the children.

(vi) issues of discipline and how difficult behaviour was handled.

(vii) sleeping arrangements for the children. They found that the house was well suited for the purpose of communal living by the five family units who were living there. Considerable time and effort had been spent refurbishing the property and bringing the kitchen, bathroom and heating facilities up to required standard. It was comfortably furnished throughout, clean and well maintained. Every detail of daily living, e.g. cleaning, preparation of meals, laundry and so forth was planned and schedules allocated the tasks between adults and responsible children. The Social Workers were told that advice from Berg and Maria based on The Family's experiences world wide of communal living and raising children guided their modus vivendi.

The Social Workers observed the daily routines and activities of the children who were divided into groups being the toddler group, young children, middle children, the JETTS and the teenagers. These were the reported conclusions:- "1. We considered all the children we had met were happy, generally relaxed and confident.

2. Each family unit is clearly close and distinct within the overall community of The Family. The children, including the babies, all know their own parents and siblings.

3. The children are responsive and spontaneous. No child appeared withdrawn or difficult and there was no sign whatsoever of inappropriate sexual behaviour. The adults displayed positive and caring attitudes towards the children who obviously trusted them all.

4. Between all the age groups the children interacted well.

5. We were told both by adults and the children of contact with people outside the community e.g. an open day in the summer, assisting elderly people in the village and helping with someone's garden, and going to the village bonfire. There are outings to such places as swimming baths, parks and museums both in age groups and as family units. While this is sufficient for the younger children it seems the young people's lives are restricted to their own and other Family communities." From their interviews it appeared that none of the adults believed there had been sexual abuse of children within The Family. They believed that there was no pressure put on individuals who had choice on issues of moving home, seeking medical attention and leaving The Family. Prayers for guidance would be said but it was generally thought to be pointless trying to make the disaffected stay against their will: communal living was not easy and all those involved had to be committed to make it work. The issue of discipline was not seen as a major one as the children grew up with love and positive attention and all responded to that. If any older children misbehaved sanctions such as withdrawing privileges were used but time spent listening and counselling was thought to be well spent. Teenagers were encouraged to make their own decisions but if they were angry or unhappy they too would receive counselling.

The children confirmed that they enjoyed living in The Family and although they could mix with people outside they tended to find enough within their own home or other Family homes to occupy their need. If they were experiencing problems, there was always an adult to whom to talk. There appeared to be no perception of people outside as evil. The Social Workers expressed the view that the children appeared not to be repeating what adults had told them and seemed to have thought things through for themselves. They accordingly concluded:- "1. During our visit we have observed and heard nothing of concern with regard to any of the children living here.

2. We have seen all twenty children living here, spoken individually with several across the age range and talked more informally with most of the others.

3. The teenagers particularly impressed us with their practical skills e.g. H3 cooking for thirty people and KAS teaching a group of three younger children. The boys also learn practical skills e.g. J is able to help with plumbing and car mechanics.

4. The teenagers do not attain formal educational qualifications which could be seen as a disadvantage should they choose to leave The Family. According to MM, however, this is being considered and recently, e.g. H3 undertook a short course at a local college.

5. The teenagers and older children genuinely do not see any need to mix with similar aged children who live locally and are not connected with The Family. Because of this their experiences of other ways of living are necessarily restricted and choices about their futures are therefore not fully formed.

6. The Family according to MM is now making a conscious effort to become involved in the local community. On our last visit plans were well advanced to hold another open day for the villagers with a Christmas Concert. This may assist in the children meeting up with village children more.

7. S along with the other younger children are happy and secure in this environment. Their emotional development needs are met in close, loving relationships with parents and siblings and also through security and trust in their other carers. Child care routines and practices ensure that all their physical development needs are met. There is plenty of age appropriate activity for their mental development and socially they have many opportunities for inter action with the other adults and children living in the home. From our observations all these interactions are positive with genuine regard and care evident.

8. NT plans to remain in The Family with S and SB. Our observations and discussions with the older children at the Ward's home who have grown up in The Family suggest they are confident and happy.

Our only reservations are as outlined above about the restricted contact and understanding of the outside world which will limit his ability to make choices in later life about remaining in the family." With particular regard to NT they reported that:- "There is no doubt that NT is totally committed to S and also to The Family. S is currently thriving in this environment and all his needs fully met." The purpose of my ordering that report was to give the Local Authority the opportunity to consider whether or not they wished to intervene in these proceedings in order to apply for a Care Order or a Supervision Order with respect to S or to provide services or assistance to S or his family or to take any other action with respect to the child. In other words this was an opportunity for the State, acting through the Local Authority, to intervene in a private family dispute and to seek public law remedies. The local authorities have public law duties to act to protect children in need. After a serious investigation by experienced social workers whose professionalism and objectivity commands respect, the recommendations of the Local Authority were:- "Given all of the above the Local Authority does not intend at this stage to bring any proceedings under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989 for a Care Order or a Supervision Order in respect of S or any of the other children. The overall demeanour, health and welfare of the children seen are such that the Social Services Department does not consider it necessary at this stage to provide any voluntary services to The Family." These conclusions have important consequences for me. The first is a legal consequence: the Children Act effected changes to the law which repealed the power of the Judge in Wardship to make a Supervision Order directed at the Local Authority if in the Court's discretion the exceptional circumstances of the case justified it. Now it is necessary for the Local Authority to apply and a Supervision Order cannot be foisted upon them. That being the letter and the spirit of the law, it would be quite inappropriate for me to impose conditions in any order I make with a view to monitoring S's progress hereafter. This is a truly exceptional case where the wider discretion repealed by Parliament might well have proved beneficial. But it is not to be.

The second important consequence is that I cannot overlook the favourable aspects of this report. I have evidence to similar effect from Dr Cameron and Dr Heller. Moreover I have evidence of similar observations of children in Family homes in America and in Australia. Though I am not bound by decisions taken by other Courts in other jurisdictions, there is more evidence of exoneration of The Family than of condemnation. I have received evidence from witnesses both within and outside The Family which leads me to suspect that The Family do have "sample homes". It may be all homes are equal if only in an Orwellian sense. Suspicion does not, however, justify a conclusion that conditions and practices in the other homes are necessarily bad though they may not be as good as the Ward's home. My views of the expert evidence I have heard are set out elsewhere and I was not always wholly convinced by all that was written or said. I am, however, reminded of words attributed to Abraham Lincoln that "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time." The broad and generalised observations and finding across the world therefore tend to confirm the specific conclusions of the Leicestershire County Council that by and large those living in Family homes, adults and children, seem content enough with their lot. I must still resolve whether that is good enough for S.


[edit] Other Investigations

As I had requested of them, Leicestershire County Council made enquiries of other local authorities where the activities of The Family had come to the Social Services Departments' attention. Newcastle had an occasion to investigate one particular family but within the context of disputed divorce proceedings where nothing could be firmly established one way or the other as to the effect of The Family on the children concerned. I have already referred to the investigations conducted by Hertfordshire County Council with reference to SM's running away from Burnt Farm. The London Borough of Barnet carried out investigations in Hendon following reports in the press, the Daily Mail and the Hendon Times in November 1990. Those investigations were fruitless because The Family apparently vacated the premises virtually overnight. They visited another house in Cricklewood in London but that was inconclusive. The police received reports relating to Arkley and Pinner and eventually all three houses were raided by the police in January 1991. The adults refused to permit interviews with the children. Such enquiries as could be conducted gave rise to no cause for concern.


[edit] Police Enquiries

After the conclusion of the hearing, there was some publicity in the National Press relating to investigations conducted by the Metropolitan Police into the affairs of the Children of God and The Family. My attention was drawn to the report in the Daily Mail. I have not read the police report and although I am aware of their reported conclusions, I take no account of them. I have sufficient evidence placed before me to come to my own independent conclusions and the police report, like the reports of proceedings in foreign jurisdictions, fades into the background.


[edit] THE EXPERT EVIDENCE

I am mightily relieved to have been spared the reams of paper and days of evidence that it seemed at one time might be inflicted upon me to resolve questions of brainwashing and mind control. These terms seemed more likely to carry emotive weight than scientific backing. The anti-cult movement may believe it. I am most unlikely to have been helped by it at all. The fact is that most of those within The Family remain there because of their faith in what it offers. For most it is blind faith. Some remain within The Family because, having almost become institutionalised, they cannot find either the strength and courage or the will to break away. For the young there are, as I have already found, pressures brought to bear upon them through the traumatic testimonies and more subtly, to fear the unknown and to prefer the devil they know. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that NT - or CT for that matter - were put under any improper pressure to join the family. Far from it. They went into it voluntarily and happily. The letters written by NT are eloquent of that new found happiness through "finding" Jesus. She had undergone a remarkable change but it is no more than one would expect from the cataclysmic religious conversion which she and many others have experienced. Being "reborn" is a phenomenon which happens to some members of established churches. It does not only affect those at the loony extremes of Christianity.


[edit] Professor James Richardson

He is a Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies at the University of Nevada. He seems to have become interested in the Children of God in the mid 1970's. He worked with Rex Davis, the Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, who had himself become interested in this group through their affiliation with the World Council of Churches. They wrote a paper together in 1976. They predicted that the Children of God would change just as all social movement groups changed and for broadly two reasons. Firstly a negative reaction to a new religious group was predictable leading the group to adopt a defensive attitude to the perceived attacks from the state, traditional religions and especially the anti-cult movement. Secondly internally, as the group developed and children were born into it, the group necessarily became more "domesticated". This led to the group being "deformed" from what they had set out to be and do. No longer could they expect all members to spend their time and energy evangelising in far-away lands. Some members had to take care of their families and ways to support this diverse membership had to be found. These authors did not, however, predict that the major change would be the development of the Flirty Fishing Ministry! Prof. Richardson finds this group interesting because of the blending of their acceptance of fundamentalist religious beliefs with "a strong experiential orientation" manifested by their "openness towards sexuality". He is of the opinion that The Family has evolved into a relatively stable pattern of managing sexuality in a manner much more in keeping with the values of ordinary society. He does not flinch from expressing the opinion that children were exposed to sexual experiences to a greater extent within The Family than outside it. He does not shrink from asserting his opinion that some child sexual abuse occurred within Berg's own household. He has spoken to Peter Amsterdam who accepted that open sexual activity in the presence of the children and adult teenage sex did take place and was "a mistake". He recognised that necessarily there is some "submerging of personality" in groups which are communal or collective simply because they do not foster the individualistic and competitive lifestyle to which society is accustomed. Nevertheless he believed that most of the participants were in their movements simply because they wanted to be there and further that they would leave when the experience was no longer rewarding for them. He struck me as a reputable scholar who had, not surprisingly, a scholar's enthusiasm for his subject and for his views, but not to the extent that he had lost his objectivity.


[edit] Dr Susan Palmer

She is a part-time lecturer in the Department of Religion, Concordia University, Montreal. There were times during her evidence when she was less than impressive almost as if she had fallen into the very trap she had acknowledged to exist, namely the danger posed for the academic that they might become irritated by the "wilful inaccuracies" of the anti-cult movement and so succumb to "the temptation to compensate by writing an overly positive report on The Family". Subject to that caveat, I found her evidence interesting and helpful. For example:- "While the terms "system" and "systemites" suggest what the anti-cult movement call an "us - and - them mentality," I have observed Family members use them in a self-consciously satirical fashion, as a quaint relic from their past. While recent literature still conveys gothic portraits of "system" life as a warning to youth in The Family, one must remember that much of it is written by Mama Maria and her team, who have lived in hiding since the mid 70's, and are presumably out of touch with mainstream culture." She formed her views from her spending a week in the San Diego School in September 1993, spending a week in the English homes in Newcastle, London and the Ward's home and a week with her own children in the Washington Y.A. home. She has visited other homes for a day. She has interviewed 45 members and three ex-members and her informants include Peter Amsterdam and Davidito. She has submitted various questionnaires.

The returns from 52 people in the United Kingdom on the reasons for their having become Turf Supporters showed that the causes for leaving The Family included a feeling that the leaders were applying too much pressure on them or the children. There seemed to her to be a discernible rise in the number of defections in the past few years. Nevertheless many seem to miss the practical assistance, the emotional support and the religious intensity of the commune. She quoted, by way of almost typical example, one 30 year old lady with children who expressed among the advantages of living outside a D.O. home, the ability to live according to her own faith but with the freedom to make more of her own decisions. Her complaint was that even leisure times had to be scheduled, organised and co-ordinated in a way which in essence amounted to an unacceptable invasion of her freedom and her privacy. Despite that there was a perceived disadvantage for her children (who seem to be young teenagers) for there was less going on about them, less fun and excitement and so more boredom. These observations confirm views I have formed as I have listened to the evidence that there is both good and bad in The Family way of life.

She concluded from four case histories she took that: "It does not seem very difficult for youth to leave The Family if they are so inclined. ...Defectors are neither shunned, threatened with Hell-fire nor debarred from returning". I do not entirely agree with that observation. It was certainly true in the case of SC and SD but it was hardly true of the defectors called by the Plaintiff. Perhaps that is no surprise. One of the rare moments of passion in the case as I have already set out was the distress evinced by AB caused by the loss of contact to her mother and similar distress was evident from MS and others. The fact that some may come and go without fear or favour does suggest, and so I find, that it is not all as black as the Plaintiff's witnesses have painted.

I felt Dr. Palmer's evidence was weak when she came to deal with the Victor programme. She acknowledged that Tony - Zack Attack was made to conform by means of subjecting him to public humiliation. She compared the Victor programme with other groups and described it as an example of "mortification mechanism". Nevertheless, she became impatient when cross-examined about the excesses of the Victor programmes run in this country which she sought to shrug off as not being of any great interest to her. That may in part be due to her opinion that some individuals always suffer in a charismatic communal movement. She found it to be a "striking characteristic of The Family" that they were willing to experiment, admit they were wrong and try again. There would always be casualties in such a process of experimentation. I did not find this very reassuring for the children who are to be the subjects and perhaps victims of the next experiment!

When she came to discuss the group's sexual mores, she observed that: "These early "sexual experiments" - luridly and outrageously preserved in pubs currently accessible only to anti-cultists and the Courts - are mere historical curiosities which have been whole heartedly expunged from contemporary homes and will never be reinstated." She argued: "That The Family has evolved far beyond David Berg's sexual fantasies and questionable pre-occupations and have successfully established a healthy society with a highly elaborated code of ethics which, if properly understood, would not stretch the tolerance of the public." I venture to think that the public might reasonably expect to be furnished with a frank acknowledgment of the past deviant practices before being invited to show tolerance towards current behaviour patterns and beliefs.

She said that of the young adults she interviewed: "They appear to regard their parents' time of sexual excess with a kind of amused indulgence. The second generation appear far more cautious in embarking on a sexual relationship." She concluded her written report as follows:- "In my view The Family provides a healthy, safe, fun and exciting environment in which to bring up children. I am convinced that there is far less child abuse (if any at all) occurring in the D.O. homes than in the suburbs of our large city. Although it is true that Family JETTS and teens are directed into a vocational training programme that will render them better prepared to become leaders in the End Time than to sit for Harvard or Oxford entrance examinations, it appears unfair to expect a communal, millenarian society struggling to instil spiritual ideals in its youth, to also train its children to excel in a pluralistic competitive society. There is a trend among the YA's and teens in California - apparently at the bidding of TSer parents - to undertake exams and receive their High School Certificate. I found The Family's second generation to be socially adept and emotionally open and they manifested highly successful efforts to cultivate old-fashioned Christian virtues like kindness, thrift, cleanliness, diligence and humility." In her visits to The Family homes she sensed the air of excitement, satisfaction and fun as the children fulfilled their role of conducting their missionary work, as they perceived it to be, by going out onto the streets singing and dancing etc. Although, therefore, their educational system was narrow they were active and creative in song and dance which was their own tradition rooted in the conviction that the world was about to end.

It is difficult for me to ignore the observations she has made of the homes which she has visited though she readily acknowledged that she entered into her research "tending to find new religious movements delightful and amusing. They knew I would not be hostile or critical. As a Sociologist, I am value free." I am less than fully convinced of her objectivity and her ability to see the whole picture. I was not impressed with her response when cross-examined about the inappropriate use of corporal punishment and the other excesses of the Victor programmes, that, "This is all very dreary, there are more important things of interest about The Family." There may be well be interesting things about The Family's way of life but their methods of disciplining the youth cannot be shrugged off as something very dreary.


[edit] Dr Gordon Melton

He is the Director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion which has a specialty in the study of new religious movements. He has written extensively on the subject and his expertise is unquestioned. He first became aware of the Children of God some time around 1970 and had his first direct contact with them in 1971. He monitored them through the 1970's until they closed their colonies and their headquarters and the majority of members left the country. After some years of being out of touch he was unexpectedly approached in the Autumn of 1992. He was provided with copies of the literature as he requested. He visited homes of The Family in 1993. One was in rural England which I assumed to be the Ward's present home. He also stayed at homes in Eastern Europe and Paris as well as in California. Frankly professing no special training in psychology or child care, Dr Melton nonetheless reported that he consistently found happy children who were comfortable in the presence of a stranger and who were openly affectionate with the grown-ups in their midst, especially their own parents. He observed nothing to indicate that any child abuse was occurring in any of the homes which he visited. He found the youth quite knowledgeable of the world around them and remarkably free of criminal and drug related behaviour. Many were bilingual and multi-lingual and all were comfortable speaking to strangers and speaking before an audience. Many had developed specialised skills with modern technological equipment (especially the computer) and had an excellent musical background. Females lacked any marked interest in fashion and most males had little interest in professional sport though some followed soccer.

His report dealt at length with the sexual freedoms granted by and practised in accordance with the Law of Love. When cross-examined he felt able to go further than he had in his written report and his evidence was clear and unequivocal namely that he was in no doubt at all that oral or manual masturbation and full sexual intercourse had occurred between child and adult within The Family and that the incidence of this having occurred was higher in The Family than outside it. He said that Peter Amsterdam had in a roundabout way acknowledged that fact. He described Amsterdam as an astute politician and apologist and a staunch defender of the family. He revealed that there had been much conversation among the leadership about the extent to which Berg himself had participated in child sexual abuse and there was some disquiet as to how he could hold himself out to be the Prophet when he was morally flawed.

Dr Melton stated that he had a reputation for being a defender of small religious groups and a defender of the freedom of religion. Nevertheless he was not afraid to voice his criticisms of The Family and he did not shrink from expressing his horror at the excessive punishments meted out to the children. He assisted the Official Solicitor by providing literature from his archives which had not been forthcoming from The Family. I found him to be independent and objective and his views on the future of this group, to which I will turn in due time, command respect.


[edit] The Reverend Dr. David Millikan

He is a Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia who for 20 years has been involved in working with new religious movements and monitoring their activities and evolution in Australia. When the "raids" took place in Australia and children were removed into care, he felt that the authorities had overreacted and, without any sympathy for The Family apart from that, and possibly even a degree of antipathy felt towards them, he became involved and began his investigations. He began his report in this way:- "It is a complex undertaking to understanding a group such as the Children of God - Family of Love - The Family. There are a large number of sources one must contact before judgments can be made. There is the testimony of past members, the research of others, the literature and other materials produced by the group, and contact with the group itself and the experience of people within it." At this stage of a judgment, which is already too long, I could say, "You're telling me!"

He had approached his task seeking openness with The Family. He made considerable progress but was denied direct access to Berg or Maria. He knew of the "Deceivers yet True" philosophy and he guarded against being deceived. The use of Victor camps had made him wary but he felt satisfied by their explanations until the events in this country gradually emerged. He was not told the full facts. That caused him concern but not enough completely to modify his views about The Family. He felt manipulated by them and angry. He told me, "I am still making my judgments about this group".

He has endeavoured to speak to a broad range of Family members from those newly-joined to many long-term members including several who were present at the beginning of the movement in the late 60's. He has many hours of recorded conversation and hand-written notes. He has been able to talk with several who are known as the key thinkers of the movement. He has visited homes in Australia, Japan, Thailand, India, Russia and the United Kingdom. He has had extensive conversation with people who are ex-members of the family some of whom look back on their time in The Family with generally happy memories but others of whom are hostile.

I formed the view that he was by no means an apologist for them - on the contrary he struck me - if he will forgive me for describing him and if the World Services will understand my so describing him! - as a typical hard-headed Aussie who would have been treated as one of the lads on the hill at Sydney cricket ground. In other words, he was an impressive witness!

His conversation with Family members convinced him: "That they believe they have freedom to make their own assessments of David Berg's writing. But they also live with the belief that gives them no expectation that David Berg could ever lead them astray." He also expressed the opinion:- "That there are some groups whose life is so aberrant and destructive that they move beyond the realms of what is acceptable in human society. Such a group I would call a cult. I do not believe The Family fits this description." Because the group so strongly believe that they will witness the great events which will see the end of the world, their educational efforts are directed to equipping the children with the skills of management and decision making which will be appropriate to the task of ruling the world with Christ in the millennium. Dr Millikan expressed this opinion about their education:- "I am not without some reservations concerning the education of the children above the primary school level. Up to that point what I have seen of the education of the children around the world is excellent. They are taught in a loving and open atmosphere and they appear to enjoy the experience. ...For the teens, the educational materials available are limited to a narrow band of publications emerging from the fundamentalist creationist frameworks, although it must be said that there is a concerted attempt within The Family to address this situation. ....What is primary in my mind is the emotional and spiritual health of the children. That I believe is not at risk." He expressed this strong opinion:- "I believe we must retain within society the right of groups such as this, when driven by powerful religious or philosophical beliefs to put themselves at a distance from the dominant values of our culture. The rights of children in this situation are complex and under certain conditions should be allowed to compromise the right of a group to stand against our culture. But it is not a sufficient argument to say that a group is aberrant and dangerous to its children when the only reasons advanced are that the group is isolated, or holds eccentric beliefs, or restricts access to the state educational system for its children, or advocates an openness in sexual expression. ...There were certain forms of behaviour prior to 1986 in relation to child sexuality which I believe are alarming...I am of the opinion that all sexual encounters between adults and children have ceased. The present literature is unequivocal in its rejection of this behaviour and the people within the group are clear about their own changes and that earlier lit. has been removed or destroyed. ...The Family as they present themselves now have a right to be respected within the diversity which makes up the contemporary pluralist nature of our society."


[edit] THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PSYCHIATRIC EVIDENCE

[edit] Dr Lawrence Lilliston

He is a clinical child psychologist with some 30 years experience as a clinician. He has, however, had a long standing interest in the psychology of religion and has made a speciality of his study of the development of children in religious families. He has seen about 200 to 225 children from five homes in the United States and three in England. He has however, only tested 34 out of about 8000! When questioned about his own gullibility in accepting at face value what he saw, he commented:- "If The Family has a system for taking three to six year children and training them in such a way that they are able to maintain the deception over the time we were with them, then that is beyond belief". He held the view that silence restriction did not seem excessively harmful nor was corporal punishment particularly damaging. The use of open heart report was fairly benign but in the wrong hands it could be abusive if activated by personal malevolence.

He met Tony - Zack Attack and described him as a "nice pleasant healthy guy with three kids who has his life together." He admitted, however, that he would have liked to have explored how his transformation happened and what effect the threat to remove his child had upon him. Without investigating those matters his observations of Tony seem to me to be superficial and to lack academic credibility. Likewise his conclusion about Davidito. This was an opportunity to explore exactly what had taken place in Berg's household. He merely touched upon these matters and Davidito made it obvious he was not prepared to talk about it. Nor did they talk about the reasons which impelled that young man to make attempts on his life said by The Family to have been caused by Satanic influences. Because I conclude that Dr Lilliston was not too concerned critically to examine The Family's past, I cannot be sure I get an accurate picture from him.

The testing he carried out on his very small sample produced these general results:-

Throughout the age range from pre-school through to late adolescence cognitive development was age appropriate or better, a level of development which would not typically be found in environments that were unduly restrictive, coercive, or punitive but were rather to be found in supportive and facilitative environment. The children were shown to be emotionally healthy and stable, characterised by high self-esteem, optimism, and feelings of self-efficacy. They felt empowered to control their behaviour and to influence the world around them. It was highly unlikely that those attributes could develop in an environment characterised by hostility, manipulation and excessive control. Rather the children had obviously received a great deal of affection and positive reinforcement. He found no evidence in any of the homes of sexual abuse or exploitation and the children's sexual adjustment was age appropriate and attitudes towards sex were healthy. The children showed impressive social development in that they got along quite well with each other and with people outside the homes. They liked people and were very much oriented towards establishing good and helpful social relations. He found no evidence of psychological abuse and it was clear that the children had not developed within an atmosphere that was repressive or destructive.

The fact that Dr Lilliston seems to have viewed The Family through his rose coloured spectacles, reduces the weight I can place upon his opinions, but I do not discount them entirely.


[edit] Dr Michael Heller

He is a Consultant Child Psychiatrist, an acknowledged expert in his field and a frequent witness in The Family Division. He was called by NT. His written report recorded:- "Materially the standards (at the Ward's home) were good and the rooms were well equipped. The "feel" of the place was warm and the various adults to whom I spoke were friendly and gave no sign of disturbance of any kind. My questions were answered in a straight forward fashion. The numerous children struck me as normal in all respects, polite to me and their seniors but lively and not the least subdued. ...I thought (S) to be a normal, bright toddler (then not yet 2 years old) who, it was clear, was closely attached to his mother; she handled him well. Opinion and Comment (1) I neither saw nor heard anything concerning S which raises doubts as to his normality and I am sure that the Learned Judge can safely base his decision on an assumption that he is normal in all respects.

(2) NT, too, gave me every reason to suppose she is psychologically normal. Perhaps, she is not an especially strong personality but I did not have the impression that she was unduly influenced either by anyone at the house or, "faith" excepted, by external forces of some kind.

(3) You will have appreciated that I came away from (the Ward's home) without cause for significant concern. I would feel able to dismiss any suggestion that I was gulled by those I encountered there. If the issue before the Court was simply whether or not this particular "community" was an appropriate place in which a little boy should grow up, I would hesitate only a little before endorsing placement. Such doubts as I had would derive from a personal preference for a "broader" environment for a child - any child.

(4) I see The Family as inbred. I think that those being trained for missionary work would be better equipped for that purpose by much more contact with the world outside the houses. ...So far as I can tell at present those (basic practices and standards) that characterise The Family are acceptable.

(5) The point has, I understand, been made that Family members who were abused within it during their former years, ipso facto, present a threat to children in their general care. I see this as a very dubious generalisation; one needs to particularise." When he gave evidence he expanded upon those views. He repeated that he would have no fear for S provided that the present and future arrangements for him would not bring him into close contact with damaged personalities who would have a significant influence on him. He was firmly of the view that no child should partake of any sexual activity with grown-ups nor should any child be exposed to adult sexual behaviour. He said that if corporal punishment of a more or less formalised kind was practised then he would be very concerned for there are always better ways of discipline. He said:- "I hope those with executive power will take to heart that this ought not to have happened and must not happen again." It became plain as he was cross-examined just how deeply he deplored the excesses of discipline used by The Family. He would have no truck with the suggestion that it being done in love was a sufficient excuse. He called that a medieval approach like middle-age inquisitors inflicting torture to force the victim to recant for the good of his soul. He considered it degrading that VB should use the Law of Love to justify her having done something which she knew in her heart was wrong. It raised for Dr Heller the extent to which people go to extremes in the name of faith.

Whilst acknowledging that a vast amount of material had become relevant, he felt angry that more information had not been vouchsafed to him when he was conducting his enquiries because he considered important matters had been put in issue in the case which he would have wished to have explored.

He was cross-examined about the effects of child sexual abuse. He made it plain that a general principle of psychiatry is that past abusers should where possible have treatment. If an abuser is without knowledge that his acts were abusive, then he is all the more dangerous. If an abuser thinks he can get away with it, he will do it. He was not convinced that the distinction drawn between love and lust was anything more than an exculpatory justification for something that was known to be wrong. A therapist treating a sexual abuser would look for a frank acknowledgment of the abuse that had been committed, an acknowledgment of the fact that it harmed the victim and a total renunciation of any suggestion that the child asked for it. Accordingly he denounced RF for exposing his penis - on his own admission - in order to give some verisimilitude to a lesson on the facts of life. Without those acknowledgments, risks would be too unacceptably high for contact between a child and the perpetrator of child sex abuse to take place unsupervised. He said this:- "I would expect that adult members and leaders would come to a genuine and sincere acknowledgment that the earlier teachings were:-

(1) In need of revision

(2) Were in fact wrong. Were I a member, I would want regular group meetings where these things were brought into the open. If people won't look facts in the face, if people are able to persuade themselves black was white, they must be seen as imperfect protectors of children. The leadership would need to undertake a lot of new writing to explain how the situation has changed."

He was cross-examined about GN 555, "Our beliefs concerning the Lord's Law of Love" written by Peter Amsterdam and Apollos. He condemned that letter for failing emphatically to assert that any sexualised contact with a child was not just inexpedient but plainly and unutterably wrong because it caused psychological and emotional harm to the child. He said, "If these adults from mother upwards fail to recognise that this is a doctrine which cannot be accepted, then this would cause me great concern. It they accept this teaching, they will have no reason to suppose that they will have misconducted themselves. They should recognise this is a doctrine which is pernicious." He felt that paragraphs 51 to 53 were a backhanded apology and he found it dismaying that charismatic figures were so arrogant as to be able to persuade others that they knew what was God's will. He said, "Whatever motivated David Berg, those who are adherents need to look at the world in which they are now living and have regard to the views of the system. I would want them to be able to recognise within themselves that it was wrong and had bad affects and that he had responsibility for it. I would like them to acknowledge he was wrong. It is important from a child protective point of view to say he led us astray." He was scathing in his criticism of paragraphs 60 and 61 of that letter which refused to lay the blame at the door of David Berg. That he said is the opposite of what had to happen. "I would want who ever is responsible for S to reject the false doctrines. I would certainly want the leaders to come to a quite different view of these matters and say this is no longer a tenable reaction." He was dismissive of the "Good Thots" selection of psychiatric advice which he condemned as wrong and very misleading and not based on principles which have any validity at all. He said it ought to be withdrawn with an explanation that research showed that any sexual contact between adult and child was harmful. His conclusion was:- "If the leadership continued to broadcast mixed messages and those receiving them fail to recognise the risks, then it is difficult to be protective."


[edit] Dr. Hamish Cameron

He is another well known and respected Consultant Child Psychiatrist. He was called by the Official Solicitor.

He expressed these conclusions in his first report dated

17th October 1993: "1. S is a delightful normal 20 month old little boy, a credit to his upbringing thus far.

2. (Mother), a devout believer in The Family, has given S an excellent start in life. She recognises her tendency to ignore disagreeable matters, and says she will be vigilant in looking after S. However, at least partially, she accepts S as being a child of The Family.

3. (Grandmother) is genuinely concerned about (a) child sexual abuse risks and (b) educational and social isolation and (c) likely to be untrained for independent living, all affecting S. She feels her daughter's blind faith will prevent her giving adequate protective care to her son. At present it seems unlikely that S will be exposed to a degree of future significant harm, sufficient to justify removing him from The Family."

He made his second report on 13th May 1994. He said:- "Recent direct observation of S with his mother...revealed an intelligent lively and happy little boy, who is developing satisfactorily. He shows no evidence of being harmed, nor does he appear to be at risk of significant harm currently. The present child care he receives from (mother), from SB, and from the other adult members of The Family at the Ward's home is of a high quality. As often happens when a child is brought up within a large extended Family, or in a community setting, S's emotional attachment is less intense to his mother then would be the case in a typical family and is spread apparently among the group who care for him. It does seem likely that S still regards (mother) as his primary psychological parent, but SB is probably a close second, with other members of the Ward's household also enjoying S's secure trust. ...S's upbringing thus far cannot be faulted and his present and immediate future best interests are likely to be protected by his continuing to be brought up in The Family in the short term future. ...Any serious circumstances putting S's wellbeing at risk could justify separation now.

NT's failure to protect S could take one of two forms:-

- either she would be physically separated from him, living in another house, perhaps in another country,

- or, although physically present, her trusting mind would not be acutely alert to threats to his welfare." Dr Cameron then identified the groups of future risks. The first were acts of commission being sexual abuse and emotional and physical abuse. The second were acts of omission, i.e. neglect. These included the dereliction of duty to higher education, the neglect of social education, the neglect of medical provision and neglect of the child's attachment to mother. Dr Cameron concluded:- "With such a recent history of misdeeds there must be a risk on commonsense grounds of S suffering, either from one or more of these recognised abuses, or from some new yet to be introduced experiment, at some time in the future as he grows up." Nevertheless Dr Cameron seemed willing to adopt a "wait and see" approach. He said:- "While (that) appears a reasonable way to proceed, over-optimism would be out of place. The Family senior members need to correct two major areas of child-rearing practice by written and verbal orders from the leadership

(1)First of all all physical and emotional abuse and neglectful practices must cease with the leadership formerly banning and outlawing paddling, compulsory silence, isolation, dire emotional threats, abuse of the open heart report system and premature separation of children from their parents.

(2)Education at GCSE level and A level as a preparation for University must be drastically improved. It is unlikely that this can be achieved in-house, and therefore The Family must reconsider its position about encouraging children and adolescents of a certain age to go to outside schools. Perhaps The Family may draw comfort from the Jesuits who are said to feel confident in children brought up in the faith until they are seven, and the experience of The Brethren who allow their children to attend ordinary schools." Dr Cameron also emphasised S's right to have full and generous contact with all the extended natural family of the Ward.

Of NT he said, "She needs to show genuine appreciation that the worrying evidence before the Court demands that an outside authority should keep a watchful eye on S's wellbeing over the coming years." Of the possibility of removing S to his maternal grandmother's home, Dr Cameron said:- "The major disadvantage is that S is still a very little boy to take away from his primary parent and caring home. S is just at that delicate stage of development where he is growing an inner sense of security, and this would be jeopardised if he were to be removed now from his present home." Of the "wait and see policy with oversight", Dr Cameron said:- "Planned and purposeful delay has the merit of allowing S to continue to grow up in the environment where he has developed very well thus far. The Family may be improving its child-care practices and there is a possibility that further child centred goals will be achieved in the coming years." So he concluded:- "While not seeking to diminish the risks, this child psychiatric report favours the wait and see option. None of the adults in S's immediate environment wishes to see any harm come to him. All are conscious and acutely aware of the need to bring him up well. The past malpractices of The Family are closely associated with some of those who may currently look after S. It is concluded that although there is a risk of something adverse occurring to S it may be balanced by the benefit to him of continuing his early childhood experience uninterruptedly in the care of his own mother." He wrote a very important letter dated 14th May 1994 in order that it be drawn to the mother's attention before she gave evidence. He said this:- "There are three hurdles to be surmounted by this little boy's mother:-

(1) Although her spiritual/emotional attachment is both to The Family and to S, does she place her son's interest first, and will she continue to do? If not, she is (like a private fostering arrangement) transferring her day to day parental responsibility for S to The Family, and it is The Family's parenting that will then have to be judged.

(2) Does S's mother accept that some of The Family's practices have corrupted and psychologically damaged a number of the children/ adolescents in its care? And because of this history the authorities are obliged to monitor S's welfare and are justified in doing so? If she cannot recognise and accept this, how can she protect S?

(3) Does she accept that constricting the breadth and limiting the duration of education will seriously disadvantage any young person who chooses to leave The Family and go and live in the outside world? If she cannot see this, how can she be trusted to nurture S's educational potential? Failure at any of these hurdles would raise reasonable doubts about S's continuing welfare in her care."

When he gave evidence Dr Cameron addressed those three questions. As to mother putting S first, he said that what concerned him was that whereas the intuitive feeling of most mothers would be to be with her child, NT had put her intuitive feelings aside and relied on the pressure from The Family to leave S at the Ward's home while she came to London for the purpose of this long hearing. She had a trust in The Family which most mothers would not have. This seemed to indicate to Dr Cameron that instinct had been overridden by some other belief system.

As to her acceptance of corruption, Dr Cameron found it significant that NT could say that the treatment of Davidito was wrong but she could not say that it was wrong to have happened in Berg's household. If her loyalty to Berg was blind, then she was not able to use her own judgment as to whether something was reasonable or not. If only a general "mistake" was acknowledged, but no blame attached to the leaders, then Dr Cameron remained worried. He was very firmly of the view that it made no difference to the child if done in love because the child instinctively knows that an action is wrong and that brings the child into conflict between what the adult was encouraging him to do and what he subconsciously felt to be wrong. It produced a psychological strain and groomed the child for promiscuous sexual activity which would not be in his best interest when he grew older. The use of young children in the strip dancing videos crossed a taboo and was part of a process of adults' grooming children for sexual exploitation. As for the videos, it was self-deceit to think that they were not made for sexual gratification. The fact that "babes" were not exposed to "strong meat" was an implicit acknowledgment that the meat was too strong. When finally exposed to it, there was almost a right of initiation that the newcomer must comply with the group's conduct in order truly to belong to the group. His view of the RF exposing himself in the course of the sex education lesson, so called, was that it was an outrageous thing to do which was clearly wrong and damaging to the children concerned. In Dr Cameron's opinion RF's sense that his father was present was his conscience working upon him knowing intuitively that what he was doing was wrong.

His evidence about MB was significant. She was a conscientious child who became disillusioned and depressed because of her doubts. She was in conflict between what she saw and disapproved of and what she was being taught to accept. Her treatment was a form of physcological punishment. If the cause of the breakdown was the feeling that MB did not have enough trust and faith and the treatment was to emphasise that she was a back-sliding sinner, then the treatment re-inforced the doubts and made the condition worse.

Dr Cameron condemned the use of Open Heart Reports. Adolescents must be allowed their own privacy and allowed their own doubts about the adult world they were entering. It was an intrusion into the mind of a teenager and totally wrong. The wilful might play the game and lie but the conscientious suffered.

What he knew of DR suggested that she was in need of professional help to come to terms with what had happened to her. Techi's crying every half hour was evidence of her being extremely emotionally overwrought and instead of proper support, she was punished.

He cited the failure of The Family to alert the police when SM ran away as an example of wrong priorities - the safety of the group had been judged to be more important than the safety of the child.

As for MS, Dr Cameron said that it was baffling how The Family could teach sexual freedom and then punish her for it, even if she was then acting in breach of the rules. Her rebellion manifested an underlying problem which her shepherds failed to examine and, when a substantial cause of her waywardness was declared to Mary Malaysia she ignored it probably because, like so many, she refused to believe there was a problem with child sex abuse in The Family. He disapproved strongly of her isolation. He condemned the use of silence restriction as outlandish and damaging through its humiliation and its destruction of self-esteem. It mattered not that it was carried out with love.

Of EG, Dr Cameron expressed concern were he to be in charge because if he could not see anything wrong in his own early sexual initiation, he could hardly give moral guidance to the children who might be in his care.

The Tony Series were alarming for the form of public group pressure that was being applied with the message that that was what happened if one did not conform. The example of having to choose between The Family and his child was condemned as a misuse of faith and loyalty.

When cross-examined, Dr Cameron has spoke in terms similar to Dr Heller about the mixed messages given in GN555. He put it this way: the difficulty is that one gets a double message from the letter which says in effect, "You can't go around abusing children because it gets us into trouble but we still believe in the Law of Love" The message is, "Don't do it because it will get us into trouble but we know what we said previously was perfectly OK." In other words it was a pragmatic amendment not a fundamental one. He repeated that it was not enough to say it was a mistake; it was necessary to say it was fundamentally wrong.

He explained that the use of Open Heart Reports was not that they were wrong in themselves but that it was an abuse of the power and an abuse of the confessional.

It is important that I stress that the evidence of Dr Heller and Dr Cameron was given before NT had completed her evidence. She must have been aware of what was expected of her.


[edit] THE PLAINTIFF'S EVIDENCE

I was left in no doubt at all that the Plaintiff deeply loves her daughter and is saddened by the thought - which she does not accept - that NT may not love her. They view their relationship differently. I suppose most mothers and daughters do. There were undoubtedly times when things were fraught between them and she told me, and I accept, that at times both mother and father found NT hard to handle. Mother is more forgiving of daughter than vice versa.

NT cannot fully appreciate the reasons for and the consequences of her parents divorce but I was satisfied by the Plaintiff that it was a very difficult time indeed for her.

Knowledge of NT's joining The Family was a surprise but NT's letters were loving and she seemed genuinely happier than she had been. As knowledge of The Family grew, so did the Plaintiff's concern. I am quite satisfied the Plaintiff was genuine in arranging the luncheon party at which NT was introduced to VJ and KJ. The purpose was to open NT's eyes to past abuse. It was left to KJ to explain this. KJ was a teenage girl and could not possibly have posed a threat. NT's uncle was present. He was independent and there to see fair play. In no sense at all could this have been interpreted as an improper meeting. It inevitably had that effect. Because that effect was inevitable, it is pointless to lay blame for the deterioration of the relationship between mother and daughter. The fact is that The Family saw this as another attack upon themselves and they closed ranks. Against that background it is significant to note that when NT had her baby, she did telephone her mother. She did not telephone her father. Although father is now seen in a much more favourable light than mother, because he does not condemn The Family, the relationship is not as close as both would believe.

I also wholly acquit the Plaintiff of any attempt to "kidnap" CT. She was certainly anxious to make contact with him. She was certainly in touch by now with the anti-cult movement. She dearly wished both her children to leave The Family. But she was not a party to any improper means of achieving that object.

The Plaintiff has conducted herself throughout this long, draining hearing with a dignity that commands my admiration. I allowed her the opportunity to speak from the witness box to NT. It was an emotional yet tightly controlled appeal. It was a protestation of her love for NT and her confidence in NT's ability to care for her son. Her appeal was in effect only for NT to open her eyes. I fear a cold heart had chilled NT's sensibilities. NT sat stony-faced. It was a sad moment.

The case as it was originally pleaded included allegations that:- -members were encouraged to lie, maintain secrecy and regard the system with hatred and fear.

-separation of spouse from spouse and parents from children was widely practised.

-the result of FFing was a number of children who did not know their fathers;

-neither did many children born of sharing.

-children were more children of The Family than of the parent

-children were harshly disciplined by withholding food, excessive corporal punishment, silence, humiliation, bullying by adults

-children were deprived of a full and proper education or access to information from newspapers, radio and television

-promiscuity was encouraged

-child sexual abuse had occurred

-Flirty Fishing and dancing have been encouraged

-The Family were intolerant of those who suffered disability

-The Family discouraged proper medical treatment

-NT's capacity for making independent choices and judgments was nullified. The grandmother's earnest wish is that NT leave The Family. She was at one time minded to suggest that it would be satisfactory if she lived outside a communal home and remained within the group as a TSer but she no longer advances that case. She is driven reluctantly to ask that she be given care and control of S. Her proposal is that he should make his home with her in Kenya. She has all the material comforts and the finance to make that possible. He will be cared for by a nanny. In time he will return to England to be educated. She would hope and expect that NT will maintain contact.

I am quite satisfied that in many respects the plan advanced by Grandmother is satisfactory. He will be physically well looked after. He will be loved by his Grandmother. He knows her sufficiently and he will settle in time in her home. I am now satisfied that the Plaintiff will not abandon her responsibilities but will honour them with the same steely determination that has characterised her pursuit of her claim. She will do so despite the fact that at the age of 58 it will not be easy to do so.


[edit] NT's EVIDENCE

It is important to gauge to what extent, if at all, NT's case and perceptions have shifted. This is how she stated her position in her first affidavit sworn in June 1992:- "I believe that my mother's application is ill-founded and based on fears and concerns that are not well based in reality and have been exaggerated, possibly by people with the deliberate and financial interest in causing people like myself in the Christian fellowship of which I am member problems. ....I ask to be free to make the decisions that every adult parent is free to make about how they choose to live their life and bring up their children, and I ask this Court to reject my mother's application which effectively would, for years to come, impose restrictions upon me that are neither just nor necessary and would severely restrict my basic human rights to freedom of religion, association and the right to bring up my own children." In her answers to the Official Solicitor's Interrogatories, she denied substantially the allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour and could not countenance the possibility that any over severe discipline had been exacted against the children.

On day 63 of the hearing she began her evidence. 54 witnesses had preceded her. She heard most of them. She started by telling me that she wished to remain in the Family and that nothing she had heard or read had caused her to change her views about Father David. The videos of the young children dancing were: "A sad mistake but my mind is so full I cannot accept that it was done for sexual gratification. If they were sick and perverted and disgusting I would be extremely concerned. ...But I think they were naive and innocent sad mistakes." As for MB's allegation that Berg had masturbated her and attempted to have sexual intercourse with her, she said that if that were the case she would be concerned. She could not say that the allegations were not true, she hoped they were not true. She would certainly be upset if Berg had been going around having sexual contact but she did not believe he was a pervert and that he would have harmed anybody. "Everything I've read has taught me that he loves people. I do not believe he is a pervert." She did not believe that sexual activity with children had in any way been encouraged by the leadership though she acknowledged that the publication of the Davidito story was a "serious misjudgment." As for the Victor Programmes and so forth, these were done at a "experimental stage" but, "we've learnt - it's now history."

She did not see that the children within the Family were in any way socially deprived: in fact, the Family was the best place in the world to bring children up because there S would know God. He would learn that "David Berg was a good man with good fruit."

Dr Heller's evidence was interposed. NT listened to it. She returned to give evidence. She immediately reasserted her belief in the Law of Love and her belief that if any child had been abused it was not in accordance with the Law of Love. Berg was certainly not to blame for anything except perhaps the Davidito book. She could not accept that any abuse had occurred because of his teaching. She did not believe that Berg had seen the video on which the young boy and young woman speak of their sharing. If he had seen it she believed he would have stopped it. If that had been Sally's interpretation of the Law of Love, she had got it wrong. NT was wholly unable to explain why the 24 year old woman concerned, Sally, said in the video, "Hi Dad and Maria" before going on to chorus "Amen" to the boy J1 and Berg's grandson H1 having the chance to share with her.

Various passages from Davidito were put to her and she observed that if Berg had thought it was wrong and harmful he would have stopped it. "I love him and trust him".

Then Dr Cameron gave evidence and NT listened but probably did not hear. She still could not bring herself to condemn Berg. "Very possibly his judgment has been wrong."

"I don't think his judgment was impaired, I say he has made a mistake. I don't think this led The Family astray and it is another matter whether some did go astray. If the people had correctly followed the Law of Love letter, this wouldn't have happened." She asserted:- "Mistakes in the past are past because we have learnt from them. They are not in my group today. It is not necessary to know the past because I know the people today, I know the motivation today, I know the rules agreed today." NT was subjected to a persistent cross-examination and most of the offending literature was put to her. She continued to assert as I noted it:- "Not Father David's fault if people acted wrongly under the Law of Love. He is responsible for the Law of Love not for the wrongful application of it. I do not accept that his writings have caused anyone damage - on the contrary he has effected miraculous changes to thousands of lives because he has given us through his writings a personal relationship with Jesus we would never otherwise have had." She became exasperated at having to answer: "Silly questions which have nothing to do with the Family today. What bearing has it to do with my case, the way I bring S up. Such a waste of time and pain in the neck however much we say it was a mistake and it won't happen again." She had no worries about those who were in power.

NT was more forthcoming in acknowledging that serious harm had been caused to the teenagers subjected to excessive discipline. She saw no reason not to trust S to MM's care even though she had been in charge at the time of the horsewhipping incident. Despite those concerns she had not discussed these matters with RM and MM and had only talked generally to RB and VB and MA and LA. For NT no alarm bells rang suggesting there were risks for the future because she believed the lessons had been learnt from the mistakes that had been made. "People know when they have made a mistake and they want to learn and to change, therefore S is not at risk." NT freely admitted that when she was in charge of a seven year old girl who had "quite a lot of problems," she was present when Heidi administered two swats with a switch cut from the garden. She also admitted that she had seen a fly swatter being used in the past. Either her recollection had not been as good or she was not as frank when she came to complete her answers to the interrogatories which denied any such activity! The truth is, I find, that she has changed her position a little and acknowledges that she is older and wiser today.

As for her attitude to her mother, she was ambivalent. She is certainly very angry and bitter. One should not be surprised at that reaction. She protested at times that she did not love her mother but I felt it was a hollow angry protest. The truth is both these parties know of their affection for each other and each would dearly like to be on good terms. The litigation is an inevitable but awful stumbling block. I am inclined to believe NT when she says:- "I want to be able to have a relationship with my mother. The shepherds are not counselling me not to - they counsel me to set aside the bitterness." I find that there was at least one occasion when prayers were said against the grandmother but more usually the prayer is that the Plaintiff's case be lost and that NT triumphs. She felt unwilling to stay in the guest house back home in Kenya but hoped with time that the relationship would improve and hostility subside so that she could visit her mother in Kenya. I very much hope that that will come to pass, whether S lives with his grandmother or remains with his mother. Both mother and daughter know perfectly well that, hugely difficult though it would prove to be, nonetheless somehow anger and suspicion must, perhaps gradually, be cast aside after this judgment so that S may know and love each of them without anxiety.

A most important fact emerged after NT had concluded her evidence. She had become pregnant. For all of us involved in this case, be it the parties in particular, or the Court Usher, my clerk and the ladies who type this judgment, the hearing has been a strain. It has been shown on the faces of mother and daughter and they have drawn deeply on the reservoirs of their inner strength. Of course they could not cope alone. Each would have needed some support from friends and loved ones. NT has had other pressures to cope with. When it emerged that SPM had been "sharing" with her at the same time as WA, I ordered that blood tests be taken to determine the paternity of S. That took long weeks. It could not have been easy for NT. She was living in London, under attack from the Official Solicitor for failing to heed Dr Cameron's advice to ensure that S lived with her. He was back at the Ward's home being cared for by The Family and particularly by SB whom NT then seemed to have every intention of marrying. That was not to be. The relationship broke down for reasons which have not been explored and as a result S lost the person he had grown to know as "daddy". He has no knowledge of and little contact with WA who is his real father. WA has now set up with "Oxford S" against whom CA made her accusations. In the circumstances I should be relieved that there is not much, if any, paternal contact.

Under that sort of strain I can whole heartedly sympathize with NT's desire for support, and for a friendly shoulder upon which to cry. She turned to RB. With his wife's, VB's consent, a "sharing" weekend was arranged and NT and RB went to a hotel "to get away from it all." They had sexual intercourse. NT became pregnant. Her son, S2, was born on 5th January 1995.

I take no high moral objection to this conduct. This is not a Court of Morals. It is a Family Court sadly well used, day in and day out, to dealing with children of mothers who move from one relationship to another often with much less excuse than NT can offer. The sad experience of the work in The Family Division is that the children born in this way suffer because they often do not know their father, have little real meaningful contact with him, live with the confusion of different father figures moving in and out of their lives and the lives of their siblings. Nevertheless by her choosing to behave in this way, NT does reduce her capability of meeting her children's needs and increases the harm which her children will suffer and are at risk of suffering, important criteria for me to bear in mind when considering the check list factors set out in Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989.


[edit] EVIDENCE OF CHANGE

The judicial function is to find the facts of past events and assess the risks of what lies ahead in the uncertain future. That task has obviously been made immeasurably more complicated in a case like this where one is endeavouring to place one little boy frozen at a moment of time in an organisation which has developed and shifted as much as this one.

Before embarking upon the task of gazing into the crystal ball of the future, I must, but briefly, remind myself of recent trends, developments and changes. I take it as The Family see it and present it to me in their "History of The Family" from 1978 to 1993 which World Services prepared for the purpose of being exhibited to SPM's affidavit in answer to the Official Solicitor's Interrogatories. The key features are these. In 1979 "anti-cult hysteria" drove The Family underground. The "mobile ministry" began. In 1981 there was a concerted missionary migration to Central and South America but especially to the Far East. In the December 1982 letter, "Anywhere with Jesus" Berg had to justify those frequent moves and he did so in these terms:- "So these psychologists who say, "Oh no, no, no, you mustn't change houses, you mustn't move your children too often from one city or state to another, it's hard on them psychologically to uproot them and tear them away from their accustomed surroundings, it gives them a feeling of instability and insecurity!" - that's the lies of the Devil, absolutely of the Devil, because it's the best thing in the world for 'em! ...It's far more important for us to be attached to each other and to the Lord, then it doesn't matter where we are". The children were necessarily becoming the focus of attention, because at the end of 1983 children within the group for the first time outnumbered the adults.

In 1984 The Family began to send mission teams into China, the Soviet Union and other countries in the Eastern block. This was the year Debra Davies published her revelations about The Family and there was intense focus on them accordingly. 1985 saw the realisation that the children born into the movement were becoming their first home-spawned teenagers bringing with them all the difficulties that adolescence inevitably involves. 1986 was the year of the Mexican Teen Training Camp and allegedly the beginning of the awakening of the realisation that sexual abuse was prevalent. Thus began the earnest addressing of teenage problems. In 1988 the solution was seen to be in "the School Vision" to be: "The education of our children is getting to be a monumental thing, a desperate need, really ... One of our biggest jobs, if not the biggest job we have now, is to take care of our children."

It was also the beginning of a campaign to fight for the children. This arose from an ABC television programme and a member's success in the courts of the United States in securing an order for the custody of his three children who had been "cruelly abducted" from him by their ex-member mother. Berg wrote:- "We're going to put them (our detractors) on notice that they're going to have a fight!... We are going to put them on notice with a declaration of war that if they come to try to steal away our kids, we are going to fight and be violent if necessary, and lay down our lives for our sheep!" It was good fighting talk - and none the worse for that - but I very much doubt whether the threat of violence was ever intended and there is no scintilla of evidence to suggest that it was, still less is, Family tactics. The leadership have shown greater responsibility than is literally conveyed by that message. I believe them to be even more responsible today than they were then.

In 1989 the problems experienced with their children led to the establishment of the Victor programme for teens. It was the beginning of one of several experiments with their youth. By the end of 1990 the experiment of the School Vision was recognised (but not acknowledged to be) a failure. It was a significant year in other respects. The "summit-90" attended by the leaders set as its main goal the need to become "better shepherds". To achieve that they probably effected a subtle coup d'etat, which, whether intended or not, removed dictatorial power from Berg and established the notion of teamwork from top to bottom. It put power in the hands of the team and removed power from individuals. It was the beginning of the end of Berg's supremacy. Equally importantly, "teamwork" decisions were taken by the team after long deliberation and prayer and after a process of consultation with the lower echelons by a process in which all were encouraged openly to discuss "the shepherding weaknesses of all the leaders present." As so often happens with Family schemes, this acknowledgment of NWO's (those areas of personal weakness which "needed work on") led to misinterpretation, misapplication and potential of abuse as the NWO's joined the OHR's as another means of enforcing control.

1990 saw what The Family regarded as the beginning of "state-sponsored persecution" when 22 children were removed by the authorities in Spain. A second summit was held that year concentrating on the problems The Family were so obviously having with their children and this paved the way for Maria to institute the Discipleship Training Revolution in 1991. What is significant about the DTR is that Maria was very much in charge of it, acting not autocratically but after a real attempt at wide consultation. She wrote:- "It's obvious that "something's gotta give", and something has got to change! If we want to avoid having all our JETTs and teens becoming dissatisfied, confused and rebellious "problem cases," I think we're going to have to re-evaluate our entire structure and consider revamping and overhauling our entire present method of handling them!" So began another experiment. I have dwelt at length on unsatisfactory consequences of the programme she instituted which included having a Victor programme in every home. To concentrate on that aspect would, however, be an unfair and wholly biased reflection of all the changes she was seeking to effect. She wished to set up a child-care teamworker in every community to represent the needs of the children of that home in order to help raise the level of child-care awareness in the home. She decreed that child-care or parenting meetings should be held weekly. Whilst I applaud the intention to have a forum in which matters affecting the children could be discussed, my heart sinks at the stifling pressure this puts upon everybody. My heart sinks at all of this public baring of the soul this public beating of the breast, but I do not doubt Maria's good intention.

She achieved much good by the DTR because she insisted that there must be a "Family time" when parents spend at least an hour of each day with their children and a family day "to enjoy a day of fellowship and play, witnessing or outings - whatever they can do to spend quality time together." This is important. It is a recognition of the importance of Family life within communal life. It is a far cry from "One Wife" and earlier attempts to undermine the cohesion of the nuclear Family in order to strengthen the communal tie.

The communal need was not overlooked in the DTR. For the sake of uniformity leading to good order, there had to be "united home discipline standards" for children and adult alike I have already dwelt at length on the abuses which have occurred when discipline which ought to be in the hands of the parents was surrendered unquestioningly to others.

Finally the DTR began to lay down mandatory guidelines for home schooling.

Another significant development in 1991 following the second summit was the decision that the teens and young people "should be given more opportunity to witness and share their faith with others and have more contact with their peers outside of the community." That was translated into action with the establishment by the teens of their own communities, coffee shops and outreach centres. It was also decided that The Family communities world wide should begin "opening up more to outside parties who were interested in The Family and our way of life."

By 1992 the striking feature of Family life was that two thirds of the members were now children. It was the year of "unprecedented persecution". This case had begun and in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, 142 children were removed from their homes by the authorities. There was "media persecution" in Japan. It is important to note the reaction to that perceived persecution. One is that The Family are now facing their detractors submitting themselves to and acting within the law. NT came back to the jurisdiction no doubt because this Court's remedies are extensive and because I threatened to involve them, but no doubt also because she was encouraged by the leadership to do so. The other reaction has been confirmed by the conclusions of the "Summit `93" that:- "It's easier to have faith and endure persecution when you realise the Lord has a plan in it for us, and is allowing it for our own good. He said a number of times not to fear, that it's all part of His plan and there is a purpose in it - to strengthen us, purge us, draw us close to Him, and force us out into the open so that (we) can be seen by the whole World!

This is a new day and the Lord has shown us that he now wants us to go on the offensive. This has resulted in a change in the type of media coverage we now receive. Since we are standing up and proclaiming the Truth in the face of persecution, we are getting a much fairer and better representation of our Message in the press. As the media people begin to meet and interview our Family members, visit the homes, and read our statements, many of them are seeing that we truly are innocent of the lies and accusations against us, and their articles and stories portray this. ... Now that our homes in many countries are presenting themselves openly as The Family, it has caused us to improve our sample and presentation to the public, and do more to really minister to people. The Family is being credited with and becoming known for our sincere and successful ministries of singing in orphanages, ministering to juvenile delinquents, assisting in relief efforts in disasters, feeding the homeless, and reaching and caring for the needy in countless ways." As a result of decisions there taken, The Family launched a world wide campaign to establish contact with religious scholars and sociologists and, at a local level, with Christians of other denominations. In the History from which I am taking this information, World Services wrote, "though still in its infancy, initial reports on this new ministry are overwhelmingly positive". The History for 1993 makes interesting but slightly disconcerting reading. It says this:- "In January it came to Maria's attention that a number of our teens and young adults had some legitimate concerns about The Family, especially regarding the role they play. Maria wanted to hear more, and so instructed the regional leadership world wide to gather groups of teenagers from each area to hold open-forum discussions regarding their desires, their needs, their complaints, etc. She also requested that these teens write personally about the changes that they would like to see made throughout The Family (the problem situations most frequently cited by our teens where the adults' tendency to talk down to them, the adults' failure to give teens due recognition and authority for responsibilities they were already carrying. In short, they wanted to be treated like the responsible young adult Family Members they now are.) All of their suggestions were considered and taken into account. The result was a letter from Maria, "The Personal Encouragement Revolution" (the PER) which was published in June." What disconcerts me is the suggestion that each area held this forum. I assume such a meeting was held in the British Isles. Minutes of that meeting must have been kept and relayed to Maria. Why have I not seen them? Once again The Family have not given me the full picture, warts and all. I have already referred to the inadequacies of the EM investigations. Here is another example where frankness was probably lacking. If it was, how can I have full confidence in the leadership? My attention was drawn to Peter Amsterdam's summary of Summit-93 where, in listing the benefits from persecution he wrote:- "But now that we're involved in so many Court cases, we've been forced to make an exception to our important lit classification rules that forbid our giving DO lit to outsiders. We have given some of our legal counsel nearly full sets of MO letters, so they can properly prepare our defence." (My emphasis) The implications of that statement are that some of the legal representatives do not get even nearly full sets of MO letters and all the representatives are denied some of the letters. Why, oh why? Because there is something to hide? Or because they lack the maturity to trust outsiders?

PER itself was seen as the next step for the young after School Vision and the DTR. Maria thanked those who responded "for opening up your hearts and honestly expressing your deepest feelings and desires and needs." I need refer to only one of the responses that she received: "In the past, I know it wasn't true, but I sort of felt that "The Family can't ever be wrong." ( I don't remember ever being told that, but that's how I felt) so therefore I took all the blame for problems that I came across, thinking I just had too much pride...." The emotional development of that child was surely impaired by having unfairly carried the burden of guilt and she wrote, "It was just so liberating to talk openly about things that normally our group of teens and EAs just don't discuss." She complaining that in times past she was not free. Maria does seem to recognise that for she writes:- "Now is the time we've got to loose them and let them go free ... as Dad said in his recent letter ... we need to think of what we were doing when we were their age and loosen up a little and let them burn free." She reported of the teenagers:- "You've expressed repeatedly that you want supervision, you want training, you want the adults help, but you just wish they wouldn't smother you, wouldn't be so protective, so possessive, so authoritative." There are most important lessons for The Family to learn from that. I am not convinced they have learnt them. There, in a sentence, is what is wrong with Family life. The children were protesting that too much "love you, honey" is in fact smothering, so is "drowning them in the Word" in the way referred to in the Heavenly City Seminar Notes; that too little acknowledgment of personal initiatives is too protective; that too many OHRs demanding the revealing of every feeling and emotion is too possessive; and that discipline unrelentingly and harshly imposed is too authoritative. Maria lists the following major areas where change was needed:- (a) The older teens and EAs request that they should not be treated like children but as responsible young adults.

(b) The teens would like to "eliminate meaningless rules, and to apply the legitimate ones less legalistically."

(c) They would like "more prayerful spirit led application of the Word without such legalistic interpretations that don't allow for much freedom of the spirit. For example, when a teen has a problem, we should not immediately assume that their situation is exactly like Tony's was or exactly like Techi's was or exactly like MB's was etc."

(d) The teens wished more freedom in how they witnessed others .

(e) They would like more choice and authority in their ministries.

(f) They would like more choice in home matters.

(g) They would like more freedom in their relationships and more affection.

(h) They would like more music.

(i) They would like more fun and inspiration.

(j) They would like to see fewer double standards in the home. Maria pointed out that changes often took time and she asked for patience but she did promise that The Family were trying to make their life better. "Grandpa says if you stop changing, you die, so change is good." "Important changes in a world-wide work which affect every member of our homes and ministries and schedules and our witnessing and everything, are going to take some time. Besides all that's involved in prayerfully putting these new changes into effect, remember it also takes time for people's old habits to change into new ones, and for their past attitudes to reflect new ways of thinking." The decision I have to take depends upon how far and how fast Maria is prepared to force change and whether past attitudes can in fact adapt to her new ways of thinking.

Some progress has been made by "The Family Discipline Guidelines" published in June 1994. The reasons given for this include the need to address the concerns of Courts of Law. This is clearly aimed at me, among others!

The word discipline varies in its meaning according to its context. It varies from merely giving instructions and showing verbal displeasure or censure to the loss of privileges, the imposition of additional duties and it includes practices which have been the subject of examination earlier in this judgment. The advice given in this letter is as follows:-

Conversation Restriction This should be used:

"Occasionally as a method of discipline to help check children who have a problem with unruly speech.

"Conversation restriction should ideally only be for a few minutes to half an hour or so (and certainly no more than 3 hours at any one time in any one day). Should repeated conversation restriction be necessary the situation should be taken to the child-care teamworker and counselled about together with the childrens' parents or guardian acting on behalf of the parents. ... Children should not have their mouth taped shut, or suffer any other forms of physical restraint or facial covering (such as a gauze mask) for the purpose of discipline which prevents them from speaking, or from breathing freely or naturally, or causes them undue public embarrassment." To cover a child's face like that is an appalling practice which I deprecate and I am only relieved that no evidence was given suggesting it had ever occurred in this country.

Time Out

This means: "placing a disruptive child in an alternative setting away from other children where they can pray, read the word and receive special attention and counselling." For two year olds it should not exceed 5 minutes or so and a child or teen should not be separated from any other members of the home for more that 3 hours a day and preferably less unless they pose a threat to other home members or significantly disrupt the home's functioning. If the situation warrants it, a pre-teen or teen (aged 12 and up) may be separated from their peers for longer periods (no more than 3 days at a time, as long as it is with the full consent of the pre teen or teen, his or her parents or guardian acting on behalf of the parents and the home teamwork.) In order to make longer periods of time out most effective there should be: "positive input through word studies, personal counselling and positive fellowship from an adult, such as one on one reading at talk time". Corporal Punishment

This should be the exception and should only be resorted to if other approaches have not succeeded in bringing about the needed improvement. The following guidance is given:- "Babies and young toddlers - ages 0-18 months. Babies under 6 months should not be given any form of physical correction. For children 6 months to 18 months, circumstances might arise where it could be age appropriate, proportionate and reasonable to smack a child under the age of 18 months but it is hoped it would perhaps be limited to a single light slap or tap to reinforce a needed admonition. Children of 19 months up to 4 years should not be given more than 2 swats on the bottom at any one time. Children aged 4 or 5 years should generally not be given more than 3 swots on the bottom at any one time (with the hand or a non-damaging, reasonable object, such as a light flexible slipper). Children ages 6 and over should not be given more than 6 swats at any one time (except in extremely serious situations, and with the agreement of parents or guardians acting on behalf of parents and shepherds). When going over these guidelines, Mama said, "Some people think 6 swats is too much, and some people think 6 swats is too little. You can't please everybody ... You must pray with them, hear them out, explain the problem and the reason for the correction, then show them forgiveness, followed up with love and encouragement. We strongly suggest that after aged 13 corporal punishment no longer be given as other forms of correction are usually more effective for this age group. ... At least one other adult, Y.A. or senior teen should be nearby to witness the administering of any significant corporal punishment which is beyond simple correctional swots. ... Any corporal punishment given a child should be administered with love and understanding. Be sure the child knows that you love them. Be affectionate, give hugs and help them know that their mistakes have been forgiven and that you have faith in them that they will try to do better in future." Non-acceptable forms of punishment included:-

Public Ridicule: "No child (or adult Family member) should be punished or disciplined or stigmatised by being made the object of public humiliation or ridicule." The Family clearly had not thought of that when they published the Techi series and Tony series. It was not applied at Wantage. Most of the complainants I have heard felt their humiliation more painful than their physical punishment.

Forced restraint: "No child should be forcibly restrained or detained in any way, except in extreme cases in which they show obvious intent to harm or by their actions pose real and immediate danger to themselves and others." These rules are good so far as they go and I must consider whether they go far enough. In what purports to be an attempt to set out some guidelines, other passages refer to the earlier letters on "Child care Discipline Jewels", "Kidz Correction" and "Dad's Guidelines for Discipline". I have already commented adversely on Berg's enthusiastic endorsement of corporal punishment expressed in those letters and there is little hint of recantation in 1994. It is a pity.

I have some evidence of some other changes that are taking place but - at least so far as I know - not yet the subject of specific letters from World Services. They were referred to by Peter Amsterdam in his letter to me.

The first related to The Family's educational philosophy. Apparently Maria convened a meeting of a number of WS and CRO educational representatives in January 1994 with a view to improving The Family's home schooling. They made a number of detailed recommendations which were said to be due for publication. Among them will be encouraging the taking of local national secondary education examinations, researching the possibility of taking outside training in subjects where help is needed, using people from outside the communities to help teach specialised skills and generally the making of greater use of local educational opportunities, excursions, outings and facilities. There seems to be no assistance offered to those who would wish to go on to further education because: "It would be very difficult for a home to provide the necessary resources to facilitate such courses of education." The only solution seems to be that the child concerned, and probably his family, should leave the community and become TSers.

The second aspect to which he refers is the "Ministry of Reconciliation". I have already referred to the decision to open the doors to non-members. Amsterdam told me: "As leader of The Family, I would like to affirm that we are committed to a long term policy of fostering as much openness as possible, both within our communities and in our relations outside." In addition The Family saw as significant the TRF supporter programme. Initially there was some tension between those who remained full time members and the TSers but, as The Family began to acknowledge the support the TSers gave them, especially in times of persecution, WS was now encouraging The Family at all levels to have more contact with TSers. Amsterdam wrote: "We are presently in the process of drawing up new policy guidelines for contact with TSers." Another aspect of their "evolving policies" concerns the teenagers who were leaving The Family. He wrote:- "Some local leadership, most specifically in England, seem to handle the departing of some of their teens quite wisely, setting them up in apartments, giving them funds, helping them find jobs, etc. We very much agree with this approach and have encouraged other areas to adopt the same policy. We love these young people. If they decide that the missionary life in The Family is not their calling nor vocation, then we intend to help them make the transition into mainstream society with as few difficulties as possible. ... If any of our young people choose to leave The Family, we intend to respect their wishes." For those families where a teenager moves out of a Family home, "we are presently working on policy to make it easier for these parents and teens to have regular contact." He also wrote that: "This ministry of reconciliation, along with the general overall openness that has developed within The Family over the last 2½ years is also touching the relationship between Family members and their relatives. With our new openness, Family members are more inclined to contact and visit relatives invite them to visit the homes". That resumé of the literature satisfies me that The Family has undergone a series of quite fundamental changes in recent times, these changes affecting key areas of leadership and the style of leadership, a firm reining in of sexual freedom, greater freedom and responsibility for the teens, some kerbs on excessive discipline, some possibility of outside education, and a general opening of the doors to the outside world. I turn to consider to what extent the theory has been put into practice.


[edit] EVIDENCE OF CHANGE EXPERIENCED BY MEMBERS AND FORMER MEMBERS

The most noticeable example of change is BS. She has moved from arch enemy to passionate apologist. There is such inconsistency in her account of things that have happened in the past - and in her case many years in the past - that I would not rely on much she told me. She is, however, an example of change working to bring sworn enemies together. Even if ulterior motives are at work, she is a symbol of reconciliation and such symbols are often important.

On a more mundane level, I heard from many who seek no publicity or personal limelight and whose evidence is all the more convincing for that. Here are some examples:

JG: He was the Plaintiff's witness, one of the teenagers who left in March 1993. He told me that in the last few years, and since there had been so much publicity about The Family, things had changed. "Yes, definitely," was the emphasis he put upon it. He said, by way of example, that they were taught not to call outsiders "systemites" but "strangers". They took field trips to give them more contact with these strangers. When he dealt with sexual matters, he said that: "To continue to exist the group had to cut these things out. I'd say these things had gone for good but with the same person in charge I wouldn't think it possible for me to return to them. Because of external pressures on them they will probably remain as straight as they are. I think they've changed because people are older and Berg knows you can't get away with it. People do believe in good and right and things like that and they would probably be shocked if they ever came out again. An important change was that they gave us (the teens) some breathing space." SD: He is another who left in 1993 aged about 19 or thereabouts. He was called by the Defendants. He struck me as a thoroughly likeable young man with his feet fairly firmly planted on the ground. He told me he left because, "I was just fed up with people telling me what to do. There is nothing wrong with them but they used to tell us what music was good or bad and I was not allowed to do things I wanted to do like have a tattoo to smoke and drink and even take drugs if I wanted to. The Family's idea of the End Time was not mine. Nothing surprises me about The Family because it is an extreme place to live, and extreme things happened there. But I don't think there is anything wrong with being in The Family." Questioned about GN481 and how to make complaints, he said that: "If the shepherds said you were murmuring, you could ask the next shepherd according to a Mo letter I recall. My gripe is that it is hard for the shepherds to think they're wrong. Now the teens tell me they are more prepared to reconsider." In answer to questions I asked him, he told me about a seminar in Hungary in 1992. I now realise but did not then appreciate that this must have been one of the meetings organised by Maria which led to PER. He told me that a lot of the teenagers were leaving because they were so dissatisfied by the restrictions placed upon them and the lack of freedom. He said that since then he understood it had gradually got better and that if he had had a different shepherd, he would probably still be there. He told me that the biggest changes were that the teenagers were allowed to listen to music of their choice and that they could question adults and if there was no satisfactory response they could write direct to the European Shepherd whose address is on the board of every home. He said you could write the letter and post it without it being read. He added, however, that if the shepherds knew you were having a hard time, you were told you had to make your letter inspiring. Other changes he mentioned were that the demerit system was abolished, so was silence and callisthenics. He said if a boy liked a girl he could speak to her though there was to be no sexual activity under 16. If both were over 16 they had to ask the shepherd but they could talk without permission. He said that they could now go to the cinema and he sometimes took FC and his girlfriend out with him and his wife. They would take them to the pub and play pool. "The rules have been relaxed and are not now so tight. The rules began to be relaxed after the seminar. It used to be that teenagers could only go out with an adult. The reason for the relaxation is because life had become too uninspiring for the teen and it was realised that if they were prevented from having a beer or going to the movies they would leave anyway." Though he spoke of these changes, he disclaimed knowing anything at all about PER.

MB: She could hardly be supportive of The Family but she did tell me that Maria and the leadership were trying "very hard to be back in society and respected. They are trying everything they can to look better." It is true that she had some doubt about their sincerity and certainly some doubt whether they would ever be able to admit that Berg had ever done wrong.

MS: She was of the view that the changes brought about in relation to The Family's attitude to child sex were profound but were only brought about because of pressure on The Family from outside. She felt that Berg himself remained of the same mind and that he would change his mind about the teachings for the sake of the outward appearance of the group. This young lady suffered as much as anyone and more than most and it is, therefore, interesting to note that when she finally decided to leave The Family from the home in Scotland, she did so only or mainly because she was bored.

CA: She explained that in England about a quarter of the teenagers were happy, but many had left and that there was no real debate among them because they were scared they would get into trouble. She was another who spoke of having mixed feelings about The Family. She said, "I know there were things which were totally wrong but there were also happy times."

SPM: As the most senior person to give evidence on behalf of The Family he was, not surprisingly, often very much on the defensive. At times he knew he was defending the indefensible. I did not, therefore, gain any impression that he personally would be in the vanguard of those rooting for change and the likes of RB and VB, MA and LA and MM, but not necessarily RM, were much more ready to accept and indeed instigate change. MM told me: "We are now looking at ourselves through the eyes of the others outside. The unknown can make us very fearful to opening the door and saying come on in." The most SPM would concede was that the group had developed and matured over the years from a younger wilder group with less wisdom to a maturing organisation with a stable and good leadership structure. He told me, "Society changes, and so do we; the laws in society change, and so do ours. We are not perfect we are always trying to correct things that have gone wrong and are sorry when they have." Peter Amsterdam: In the letter he wrote to me, he acknowledged:- "We appreciate that a great deal of good has come from (all the investigations and litigation The Family has been involved in over the last 4 years.) They have resulted in many positive changes within The Family and have set us on an unchangeable course of more openness with non-members and society at large. ... We have embarked on a course of reconciliation with those we have offended and hurt, as well with those who are seeking to do us harm. Although this is a new initiative, it is taking hold throughout The Family and is bringing positive results. Parents have been put in contact with their children and grandchildren; ex-members with Family friends, ex-spouses and children; TRF supporter parents with their older Family teens and TRF supporters with D.O. members. ... Realising that not all of our young people will choose to be missionaries nor remain in The Family, we are attempting to make it easier for those who wish to leave to do so. ... Our history has been fraught with controversy; we have many times not foreseen some of the repercussions of our actions, and we realise that we have made mistakes. Yet, as an ever growing, maturing movement, when we recognise changes are needed, we make them. As times have changed, so have we ... We do not and will not revert to the practices that have been found unsatisfactory and abandoned. ... We realise that there are some children who were not as well cared for or as well educated as others, some who have had adverse experiences and are now complaining bitterly about it. Although we believe that much of what they say is untrue or highly exaggerated, we do acknowledge that there is an element of truth to many of their accusations. We are genuinely sorry for any negative experience that current or former Family members may have undergone, and we are determined to make sure that everything possible is done to prevent any such things occurring in the future."

[edit] THE OPINION OF THE EXPERTS ON THE LIKELIHOOD OF CHANGE

1. Doctor Palmer

She argued:- "That The Family has evolved far beyond David Berg's sexual fantasies and questionable preoccupations and have successfully established a healthy society with a highly elaborated code of ethics which, if properly understood, would not stretch the tolerance of the public." In her evidence she told me:- "This is an experimental society. I don't think it is just pretended reform, but a predictable pattern seen in other new religious movements where sexual deviancy changes as they have children and seek to find a place in society. There is a definite pattern to be more conventional." Cross-examined she said that it had put aside its deviant sexual practices and:- "It is at a critical point in its history, changing shape and becoming more accommodating to society." 2. Doctor Melton

He reported as follows:- "As has been noted by both social and religious scholars for the past 2 generations, religious and communal groups past through a period of rapid change during their first generation. In the early phases, the group is distinguished by (1) its existence as a convert's-only organisation, (2) a new religious vision which called the group into existence, and (3) an emphasis upon the unique and different aspects of the group (as opposed to those many elements it shares with predecessor organisations). Groups then passed through a period of rapid change as the new religious vision is explored, its implications understood, and its adequacy tested, i.e. as theological reflection occurs. Most new religions die during this phase as their initial vision proves too limited or shallow. If a group is successful and survives, it generally faces a series of organisational problems created by an immature leadership which must be trained on the job. It is not unusual for people in their early 20's to assume national and international leadership responsibilities. If the group survives, however, the group reaches a point of maturity as the initial teachings of the founder are more completely stated, the implications perceived, and the problems inherent within it (or the way in which it was first stated) are handled. As the whole of the teachings are, so to speak, put on paper (i.e. a theology is developed), the larger portion of the teachings, usually identical with that of the predecessor group(s), begins to claim equal attention in the mind of followers along with the unique different and aspects. Second, as the group matures, so does its leadership. Youthful enthusiasms that dictated policies are replaced by mature thoughtful deliberations on organizational matters. The third major force in stabilising the group arises as children are born and claim significant attention of the group. Children have to be trained in the group's teaching and along with a theology, a programme of religious education must be developed. Also, as a group, children are never as zealous for the faith as the first convert. The second generation is always more conservative than the first. ... As the second generation arrives and is assimilated into the group's life, the process of rapid change will slow to a crawl and a more or less stable theology will be articulated, a mature leadership will evolve and a stable behaviour pattern will be adopted by the group. Like all groups it will continue to change, but at a rate similar to that of the environment." He concluded that:- "The Family seems to have worked through its first generation of problems and arrived at a mature organisational state. ... The tendency of children has generally been to move organisations in a more conservative direction and into a lessening of tension with the surrounding environment. We shall watch with interest to see if they follow past trends." In his evidence he expressed the view that on Berg's death the leadership would pass to a bureaucracy but that it would be a smooth transition because the structures are already in place. He said, and I confess I find this worrying, that there are some assumption that Berg will continue to guide them from the spirit world. He has in the past sought to give authority to his statements by asserting they come to him from his spirit mentors. It is too depressing to contemplate that Berg will rule from the grave. There are, however, sufficient signs in the recent changes to suggest to me that Maria and Amsterdam possess enough personal integrity and intelligence and wield enough power for their both to be able and to want to stamp their own mark of authority on the movement. Doctor Melton felt that the leadership had reached stability and maturity and so he, a heavy critic of The Family in the 1980's, was generally pleased to see their participation in inter-faith meetings and in their engaging with others. He said, and, having formed a favourable impression of him and a regard for his expertise, I must accept his evidence that:- "I have come to trust some of them from empirical observation. I think the changes are very real. They show an intense desire to come back into society judged at least by their standing and fighting in Court and by their producing whatever documents I have asked for to complete my library of their literature." 3. Doctor Millikan

I remind myself that he has "taken on various cults unequivocally pernicious" in the past. He told me that: "A cult will break down when it modifies its view that there are only two people in the world, the insiders and the outsiders. The Family have moved away from this position. The controversy in Australia and elsewhere has led them to adopt different views about "flatlanders" and "systemites"." He found it significant that whereas changes in the past were initiated through Berg's fiat, now major changes, for example, PER, have taken time to formulate as views are invited and respected before policy is changed. Although he was cautious enough to state that he was still making his judgments about this group, his opinion was that the changes were irreversible because The Family were opening up to the world through their contact with the established churches, through opening their homes to the public, and to making themselves available to experts like himself. Whereas other groups have tried to keep hold of their principles, they have allowed change and his opinion is that if secrecy and isolation break down, then that also breaks down any errant behaviour.

4. Professor Richardson

He concluded as follows:- "All groups, including the COG/FOL, go through a "natural history" or organisational evolution. They start out more radical, in part because the originators are typically younger, healthier and unfettered with families and responsibilities. Then the groups evolve, sometimes in fits and starts towards a more normal existence. They are forced to do this because of external pressures and because of internal demands put on the group by increasingly diverse types of members, including particularly the presence of large numbers of small children in groups which do not practice systematic birth control. The COG/FOL now seem more "normal" than they once did, and if that word ever gets out through the media, they may well fade into obscurity, simply because they are not doing as many strange things any more, and few people will be very interested". I have added the emphasis so that the media may reflect upon this opinion! "Such relative obscurity will be a mixed blessing, of course, and at present some may think it could never happen. However, the history of many social movement organisations, some of which were quite radical indeed, suggest that the COG/FOL will follow a similar path. ... It is my considered view .. that The Family is not a group "gone bad" - indeed, by nearly all standards that could be imagined, The Family has "gone good," what with the changes it has undergone concerning sexuality and the rearing of children. The Family certainly has a colourful past, but it seems to this scholar that its future looks more normal." When he gave evidence he said that if he were betting he would wager that The Family would look more like the Seventh Day Adventist than the Amish, a particularly isolated group.


[edit] MY FINDINGS

The review of the literature, the evidence of those who remain in and those who have left the group and the unchallenged common opinion of a group of experts who differed in their expertise and in the manner in which they gave evidence, all lead me to conclude that fundamental changes have taken place which: (a) have eradicated the sexual excesses of the past.

(b) have begun, but not completed, a ban on inappropriate forms of discipline.

(c) offer wider avenues of education.

(d) have moved The Family significantly from a closed, secret society to one which is more ready to engage with the outside world.

(e) may make them more trusting of the system and perhaps even more amenable to changes required by the system. I am satisfied that the changes made are likely, on the balance of probabilities, to be irreversible so that The Family having moved forward, will not now move backwards. How much further forward they may be required to move and whether or not they will do so are matters which I shall deal with soon.


[edit] THE OFFICIAL SOLICITOR'S CASE

The recommendation made to me by the Official Solicitor in his written report dated 11th January 1994 was that he concurred with and adopted Doctor Cameron's assessment and recommendations and therefore:- "Subject to the hearing of oral evidence, the Official Solicitor submits that S should remain living with the mother, the wardship continue, and the matter be reviewed after one year. With regard to contact with the grandmother, both Doctor Cameron and the Official Solicitor support this continuing and the Official Solicitor will make his submissions on the extent and nature of the contact through Counsel at the conclusion of the hearing." (I have added the emphasis) Doctor Cameron's report was dated 17th October 1993 and I have already cited from it.

It is a pity that The Family appear to have misunderstood the Official Solicitor's role. He, through his representatives in his office, through Counsel whom he instructs, have a duty to act in the best interests of the child they represent. They must approach that task at all times with an open mind but also with an inquisitive one. His duty is to probe and to explore the evidence. The Family know perfectly well, if they are true to themselves, that there are vast areas of their past which scream out for thorough but dispassionate investigation and they could hardly expect otherwise. It is, therefore, a pity that Mr Barton was instructed to make his closing submissions on the basis that: "It became apparent from the outset of the oral evidence that the Official Solicitor took a more hostile attitude than that reflected in the report." He would have failed in his duty had he not, through Counsel, thoroughly investigated the areas of concern raised in this case.

Doctor Cameron reported again on 13th May. He had, by then, been informed of the nature of the evidence which had been led and he expressed the opinion that it was best for S to adopt a "wait and see policy" provided certain safeguards could be written into the Order for S's protection. He envisaged, for example, supervisory visits by the Official Solicitor's appointee with periodic progress reports, the appointment of a peripatetic christian nursery school teacher and substantial contact including staying contact. That wait and see policy was however dependent on certain preconditions being satisfied partly by The Family and partly by the mother. The following day he wrote the very important letter setting out the three hurdles for NT to surmount as I have already described.

When he gave evidence he explained that her failure at any hurdle would cause him concern as to putting S first. He felt that the changes effected were small steps in the right direction and he had weak confidence in The Family's ability to go as far he required of them. At the conclusion of his evidence, his message seemed clear enough to me: he wished for some movement on NT's part to be able to give effect to what he felt was best for S, namely that the Court adopt the wait and see policy. As I have already indicated, NT's evidence fell far short of satisfying his conditions.

There was then an unfortunate development. Doctor Cameron attended a consultation with Counsel in preparation of the Official Solicitor's final submissions. Having reviewed the case, Doctor Cameron reported that in his opinion the least detrimental alternative appeared to be "strongly to leave well enough alone." The Official Solicitor took another view. He was minded to submit that S should be removed from his mother's care and placed with grandmother. He recognised, however, that it was his duty to give full and frank disclosure of all material facts and matters and that would include the opinion of his expert which did not support his conclusion. When all of these matters were drawn to Doctor Cameron's attention he gave further thought to the best course to be adopted for S and having thought again, he changed his mind. He concluded that S would almost inevitably suffer educational neglect, that there was a real danger that S would be emotionally pressurised; there was a real danger that S could become the victim of sexual abuse and there was a probability of his being physically punished. He concluded: "Regrettably the attitude of (mother) and The Family is typified by secrecy and aloofness rather than by willingness to cooperate voluntarily." Now rather than wait and see: "a strong recommendation is made that S's welfare would be best promoted by his being transferred to live in the care and control of his maternal grandmother." He was recalled. He was embarrassed by his volte face. I cannot be harshly critical of his changing his mind. This is a difficult case and I make no secret of the fact that I have had some difficulty in finally deciding what is best for this young boy. Although Doctor Cameron's opinions are always most useful, the important point of his evidence is that this child would ordinarily be better off with his mother to whom he has made his attachments and that I should not remove him unless there are good and compelling reasons to do so. It is at the end of the day for me to assess whether or not those compelling reasons exist. Before deciding whether they do or not, I must remind myself of the law.


[edit] THE LAW

At the beginning of this judgment I reminded myself that S's welfare was my paramount consideration. So it is, and so it will remain. My decision is dictated by what I consider to be in his best interests having regard to the facts I have found to have been established, having regard to the risks to which I judge he may be exposed in the future and having regard to all the circumstances of the case including the counter-balancing of fundamental human rights claimed by the mother and claimed on behalf of the child. I shall need, therefore, to address some of these matters in more detail.


[edit] 1. The mother's "right" to bring up her son.

She claims, as do those who support her, to have "the right" to bring up S free from interference from her mother, S's grandmother, and free, moreover, from interference imposed by the Court. It is an understandable enough reaction. Any interference with the power which a parent possesses to bring up his or her child strikes at the atavistic instinct to nurture and protect one's young. Whether the parent has such a "right", strictly speaking, is open to some jurisprudential debate into which it would not be profitable for me to enter. A fundamental purpose of the Children Act was to deflect concentration from parental rights to parental responsibilities and to emphasise that we do not own or possess our children: parenthood's only purpose is to bring them up to the best of our ability. I need no persuading that the mother's primary submission that she, as mother, is better able by nurture and by nature to care for S than his grandmother, is a powerful one. It is a submission which carries with it the backing of a number of significant recent cases which began in the House of Lords in Re: K.D. [1988] 1 A.C. 806 and has culminated in Re: "W" (a Minor) (Residence Order) [1993] 2 FLR 625. There Balcombe L.J. said:- "There have been a number of cases recently on (the proper approach of the Court) to which I think I ought to refer. The first is Re: "KD" (cited above.) That was a case where a young married mother of a Ward of Court had been stopped access on the basis that the child was to be adopted by the foster-parents and she appealed against this. One of the matters which the Court had to consider was the fundamental human rights of the mother as laid down by the European Convention of Human Rights. There are two passages from the speeches to which I refer. First, from the speech of Lord Templeman where he says, in the context of whether there was any inconsistency between the English rule about the welfare of the child being the first and paramount consideration and the European Convention:

"The best person to bring up a child is the natural parent. It matters not whether the parent is wise or foolish, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, provided the child's moral and physical health are not endangered. Public authorities cannot improve on nature. Public authorities exercise a supervisory role and interfere to rescue a child when the parental tie is broken by abuse or separation. In terms of the English Rule the Court decides whether and to what extent the welfare of the child requires that the child shall be protected against harm caused by the parent, including harm which would be caused by the resumption of parental care after separation has broken the parental tie. In terms of the Convention Rule the Court decides whether and to what extent the child's health or morals require protection from the parent and whether and to what extent The Family life of the parent and child has been supplanted by some other relationship which has become the essential life for the child."

I have to say that when that passage is quoted, it is usually the first few lines that are quoted and not the second part of the passage, and I think it is important to bear in mind the second part as well.

From the same case, the speech of Lord Oliver of Aylmerton where he says: "If the child's welfare dictates that there should be no access, then it is equally fruitless to ask whether that is because there is no right to access or because the right is overborne by considerations of the child's welfare. For my part, I think the President's analysis in Hereford and Worcester County Council -v- JAH [1985] F.L.R. 530, places the emphasis perhaps too much upon the necessity of finding a positive benefit to the child from parental access. As a general proposition, a natural parent has a claim to access to his or her child to which the Court will pay regard and it would not I think be inappropriate to describe such a claim as a "right". Equally, a normal assumption is, as Latey J. observed in M v M (Child Access) [1973] 2 ALL E.R. 81, that a child would benefit from continued contact with his natural parents. Both the "right" and the assumption will always be displaced if the interests of the child indicate otherwise." Next in this line of cases is Re: "K" (a Minor) (Custody): [1990] 2 FLR 64, where the contest was between the uncle and aunt on the one hand, with whom the child had lived immediately after his mother had committed suicide, and the father on the other. Fox L.J. referred to the speeches of Lord Templeman and Lord Oliver in Re: K.D. and he, himself, set out the test in the following passage: "The question was not where the child would get the better home. The question was: Was it demonstrated that the welfare of the child positively demanded the displacement of the parental right. The word "right" is not really accurate insofar as it might connote something in the nature of a property right which it is not but it will serve for present purposes. The "right" if there is one, is more that of the child." I am not certain that Fox L.J. in his paraphrase of the speeches in Re: K.D. went rather further than he was entitled to do, and for my part I would prefer the approach in the same case OF Waite J. where he says this, after referring to Re: K.D.: "The principle is that the Court in Wardship will not act in opposition to a natural parent unless judicially satisfied that the child's welfare requires that the parental rights should be suspended or superseded. The speeches in the House of Lords make it plain that the term "parental right" is not there used in any proprietary sense, but rather as describing the right of every child, as part of its general welfare, to have the ties of nature maintained wherever possible with the parents who gave it life." A little later in referring to the question that the Judge in that case ought to have asked:- "The question he ought of course to have been asking was: are there any compelling factors which require me to override the prima facie right of this child to upbringing by its surviving natural parents." Finally in the sequence one comes to the case of Re: H (a Minor) (Custody: Interim Care and Control) (1991) 2 FLR 109 again in this Court. It is sufficient if I only refer to the Judgment of Lord Donaldson MR at p.112 where he says: "... I am slightly apprehensive that Re: K (a Minor) (Custody) [1990] FLR 64 may be misconstrued as an authority. It was being used by (Counsel) as if it were authority for the proposition that fathers (or, as the case may be, mothers) have parental rights in the sense of proprietary rights. I think it is more important, if one is citing or relying on Re: K to look at the Judgment of Waite J. of which Fox L.J. would, no doubt, have been aware and with which he would undoubtedly have agreed, not only in the passage which Butler-Sloss L.J. has quoted, but also in the succeeding sentence which reads as follows ..." and he then quotes the passage which I have just mentioned. Lord Donaldson goes on: "So it is not a case of parental right opposed to the interests of the child, with an assumption that parental right prevails unless there are strong reasons in terms of the interests of the child. It is the same test which is being applied, the welfare of the child, and all that Re: K is saying, as I understand it, is that of course there is a strong supposition that, other things being equal, it is in the interests of the child that it shall remain with its natural parents." For my part I agree whole heartedly with what Lord Donaldson says there, and I hope that it may be possible that this divergence of views, if such it really is, can finally be stilled. I would repeat what Lord Donaldson says. It is the welfare of the child which is the test, but of course there is a strong supposition that, other things being equal, it is in the interests of the child that it shall remain with its natural parents, but that has to give way to the particular needs in particular situations."

Waite L.J. delivered a concurring Judgment in which he said:- "I agree. The authorities which had been cited by Balcombe L.J. illustrate the difficulty of finding, within the infinite variety of circumstances in which the welfare of a child may fall to be applied as the paramount consideration, some principle which does procure justice to the element in the child's welfare represented by the advantage of maintaining the ties of nature with its own parents. I agree that the principle is best and more succinctly expressed by Lord Donaldson in Re: H (a Minor) (Interim Custody) to the general effect that the welfare of the child is indeed the test, but there is a strong supposition, other things being equal, that it is in the best interests of the child to be brought up by his natural parents." I direct myself accordingly.


[edit] 2. The Court's Approach to Religious Controversies and Moral Dilemmas:

Cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses, the Plymouth Brethren and the Scientologists have been before the Court and the factual circumstances in each case have inevitably varied significantly. I can, however, obtain some help from that line of authority.

In Re: "T" (Minors) December 19th 1975, Scarman L.J., as he then was, said this: "We live in a tolerant society. There is no reason at all why the mother should not espouse the beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses. There is nothing immoral or socially obnoxious in the belief and practices of the sect. There is a great risk because we are dealing with an unpopular sect, in overplaying the dangers to the welfare of these children inherent in the possibility that they may follow the mother and become Jehovah's Witnesses." More recently the Court of Appeal had occasion to consider the Plymouth Brethren in Re: "R" (a Minor) (Residence: Religion) [1993] 2 FLR 163. Purchas L.J. said this:- "The Judge's approach to the fellowship, their beliefs and rules is set out at the beginning of his judgment in these terms: "The beliefs of this group of Christians are in some respects relevant to this case, but I stress that I have judged this case under the normal principles which apply in these Courts to every case." I have no hesitation in saying that that is an impeccable approach to this problem. It is no part of the Court's function to comment on the tenets doctrines or rules of any particular section of society provided that these rules are legally and social acceptable. ... However, ... the impact of the tenets, doctrines and rules of a society upon a child's future welfare must be one of the relevant circumstances to be taken into account by the Court when applying the provisions of Section 1 of the Childrens Act 1989. The provisions of that section do not alter in their impact from one case to another and they are to be applied to the tests set out in accordance with the generally accepted standards of society, bearing in mind that the paramount objective is promoting the child's welfare, not only in the immediate, but also in the medium and long-term future during his or her minority. This is well established. We will refer to the case of Re: T (Minors) (Custody: Religious Upbringing) [1981] FLR 239 which among other matters held that:- "It was not for the Court to pass any judgment on the beliefs of the parents where they are socially acceptable and consistent with a decent and respectable life; there was no reason why the mother should not espouse the beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses for there was nothing immoral or socially obnoxious about them." Then another finding:- "It was not necessarily wrong" (and I emphasis the word "necessarily") "or contrary to the welfare of children, that they should be brought up in a narrower sphere of life and subject to a stricter religious discipline than that enjoyed by most other people, nor that they be without parties at Christmas and on birthdays: in this case it was essential to appreciate that once the mother's teaching was accepted as reasonable, it had to be considered against the whole background of the case and not in itself so full of danger that it alone could justify making an Order which otherwise the Court would not make." That authority merely supports the fact that it is against the normal standards of society that the provisions of the Act must be applied. A further reference to this approach is to be found in the judgments of this Court, in a different context admittedly to the present consideration, in the case of C v C (a Minor) (Custody: Appeal) [1991] 1 FLR 223 in the judgment of Balcombe L.J. where emphasis is made in the context of a lesbian relationship that it is the generally accepted standards that are to be applied when judging the welfare of the child".

That decision of Balcombe L.J. in "C v C" is instructive. He said this at page 230:- "It is apparent that views will frequently differ as to what the welfare of the child requires in a particular case. The Judge is thus faced with having to make a decision without the benefit of any guidelines, save such as may be prescribed by decided cases. One thing is however clear: in making a decision on welfare the Judge should not be influenced by subjective considerations. To take an example: the issue may be whether the child is to be brought up in the faith of Religion A or in that of Religion B. The Judge may be a member of Religion A, and a firm believer in it tenets: nevertheless, he must try to ensure that his personal beliefs do not affect his judicial function in deciding where the child's welfare lies. Nevertheless although the Judge may not allow his subjective views to affect his decision on what the child's welfare requires, he cannot abdicate responsibility merely because the issue is a sensitive one on which different views are held. What standards then should he apply if he is not to apply his own objective views?

In my judgment, he should start on the basis that the moral standards which are generally accepted in the society in which the Judge lives are more likely than not to promote his or her welfare. As society is now less homogeneous than it was a hundred or even fifty years ago, those standards may differ between different communities, and the Judge may in appropriate cases be invited to receive evidence as to the standards accepted in a particular community, but in default of such evidence and where, as here, the child does not come from a particular ethnic minority, the Judge is entitled, and indeed bound, to apply his or her own experience in determining what are the accepted standards." There are, of course, objections to the test propounded in that way. If the Judge has to rely on "his or her own experience" to divine "the accepted standards" of society, he or she is, in the final analysis, deciding the matter without the benefit of any evidence to assist in the task. One might well ask what possible evidence could be led to assist? Are the standards to be set by the readers of Daily Telegraph, or the Sun or, having regard to their special interests in the Children of God, the Daily Mail? Is an opinion poll to be conducted? How would one frame a question or even a series of questions which would encapsulate even the main arguments, never mind the nuances of this case? At the end of the day it is a decision for the Court to make. In making it, I will not be governed by subjective considerations of personal preference but I am bound by my judicial oath to "do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm without fear or favour affection or ill will". There is nothing new about this. Lord Mansfield in R v Wilkes 4 Burr. 2839 defined discretion as follows:- "Discretion, when applied to a Court of Justice, means sound discretion guided by law. It must be governed by rule, not by humour; it must not be arbitrary, vague and fanciful, but legal and regular." For that great English jurist, Sir Edward Coke, to exercise discretion was:- "To discerne by the right line of law, and not by the crooked cord of private opinion." I shall endeavour to follow them.

[edit] 3. Religious Tolerance and the Law

We live in a tolerant society. For centuries it was the Church and not the State which controlled the exercise of religious worship and expression of opinion on religious matters. The State recognised and obeyed the law of the Church as it was enforced in the Ecclesiastical Courts. The link between Church and State remained a close one after the reformation. Although at the time of the Reformation Settlement, the establishment of the Church of England led to the proscription of other denominations, Parliament has in successive centuries passed Acts which have, from time to time removed the disabilities against observance of other religions. For example the Toleration Act of 1689 removed many of the disabilities against Protestant non- conformists. Discriminatory laws against Roman Catholics were swept away in the Roman Catholic Relief Acts of 1791 and the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 allowing Roman Catholics to sit in Parliament and to be eligible for public office. Perhaps the last vestige of disability was swept aside with the Lord Chancellor (Tenure Office in the Discharge of Ecclesiastical Functions) Act 1974 which for the avoidance of doubt declared that the office of Lord Chancellor is tenable by an adherent of the Roman Catholic faith. In 1846 the Religious Disabilities Act relieved Jews of their constitutional disabilities.

Blasphemy is some barometer of the changing attitudes to religious observance. No longer is it a blasphemous libel simply to asperse the truth of Christianity. In Regina -v- Ramsey and Foote (1883) 15 Cox CC 231, Lord Coleridge, LCJ directed the jury in his summing up that:- "To asperse the truth of Christianity cannot per se be sufficient to sustain a criminal prosecution for blasphemy. And on the ground that in the sense understood by the judges in former times that Christianity is part of the "law of the land" to suppose so is in my judgment to forget that law grows. The principles of law remain, and it is the great advantage of the common law that its principles do remain; but then they have to be applied to the changing circumstances of the time. This may be called by some retrogression, but I should rather say it is progression - the progress of human opinion ... I now lay it down as law, that, if the decencies of controversy are observed, even the fundamentals of religion may be attacked without the right of being guilty of blasphemy." In Regina -v- Lemon (1979) AC 617 Lord Scarman observed:- "In an increasingly plural society such as that of modern Britain it is necessary not only to respect the differing religious beliefs, feelings and practices of all but also to protect them from scurrility, vilification, ridicule and contempt." We claim to be a civilised society whose distinguishing hallmark is our long-sufferance of our neighbour's practices, however obnoxious they may strike us to be.

[edit] 4. Religious Freedom

The European Convention on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms;

The United Kingdom is a contracting party to the European Convention of Human Rights, Article 9 of which provides that:- "1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or beliefs and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship teaching practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others." Among those other rights of freedoms are those in Article 8 which provides as follows:- "1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well being of the country, or for the prevention of disorder or crime, or for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others." Article 14 of the Convention provides:- "The enjoyment of the rights and freedom set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any grounds such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status." (I have added the emphasis) These articles were considered by the European Court of Human Rights in Hoffmann -v- Austria [1994] 17 E.H.R.R. 293, a case concerning the Jehovah's Witnesses. The European Court, by a narrow majority of 5 to 4 held this:- "In awarding parental rights - claimed by both parties - to the mother in preference to the father, the Innsbruck District Court and Regional Court had to deal with the question whether the applicant was fit to bear responsibility for the children's care and upbringing. In so doing they took account of the practical consequences of the religious convictions of the Jehovah's Witnesses, including their rejection of holidays such as Christmas and Easter which are customarily celebrated by the majority of the Austrian population, their opposition to the administration of blood transfusions, and in general their position as a social minority living by its own distinctive rules. The District Regional Courts took note of the applicant's statement to the effect that she was prepared to allow the children to celebrate holidays with their father, who had remained Roman Catholic, and to allow the administration of blood transfusions to the children if and when required by law; they also considered the psychological relationship existing between the children (who were very young at the time) and the applicant and her general suitability as a carer.

In assessing the interests of the children, the Supreme Court considered the possible effects on their social life of being associated with a particular religious minority and the hazards attaching to the applicant's total rejection of blood transfusions not only for herself but - in the absence of a Court Order- for her children as well; that is, possible negative effects of her membership of the religious community of Jehovah's Witnesses. It weighed them against the possibility that transferring the children to the care of their father might cause them psychological stress, which in its opinion had to be accepted in their own interests.

This Court does not deny that, depending on the circumstances of the case, the factors relied on by the Austrian Supreme Court in support of its decision may in themselves be capable of tipping the scales in favour of one parent rather than the other. However, the Supreme Court also introduced a new element, namely the Federal Act on the Religious Education of Children. This factor was clearly decisive of the Supreme Court.

The European Court therefore accepts that there has been a difference in treatment and that the difference was on the ground of religion; this conclusion is supported by the tone and phrasing of the Supreme Court's consideration regarding the practical consequences of the applicant's religion.

Such a difference in treatment is discriminatory in the absence of an "objective and reasonable justification" that is, if it is not justified by a "legitimate aim" and if there is no "reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be realised."

The aim pursued by the judgment of the Supreme Court was a legitimate one, namely the protection of the health and rights of the children; it must now be examined whether the second requirement was also satisfied.

In the present context reference may be made to Article 5 of Protocol number 7 ... although it was not prayed in aid in the present proceedings, it provides for the fundamental equality of spouses inter alia as regards parental rights and makes it clear that in cases of this nature the interests of the children are paramount.

Where the Austrian Supreme Court did not rely solely on the Federal Act on the Religious Education of Children it weighed the facts differently from the "Courts" below, whose reasoning was moreover supported by psychological expert opinion. Notwithstanding any possible arguments to the contrary, a distinction based centrally on a difference in religion alone is not acceptable.

The Court therefore cannot find that a reasonable relationship proportionality existed between the means employed and the aim pursued; there has accordingly been a violation of Article 8 taken in conjunction with Article 14."

I am an advocate for the principles expressed in the Convention and I see the force of the judgment of the European Court. The purpose of the Convention is to protect the rights of an individual against intrusion by the State: it is not a convention for the protection of children's rights. There is, of course, a balance to be struck between the parental rights of freedom of religion which is qualified by other rights one of which is the child's right to respect for his family life.


[edit] The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

The rights of the child are agreed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the general assembly of the United Nations on 20th November 1989 and ratified by the United Kingdom on 16th December 1991. It is, however not adopted into the law of the United Kingdom. It may well be that like the European Fundamental Human Rights Convention, it can be prayed in aid to resolve any ambiguity in the construction of our law but no ambiguity arises in the construction of the Children Act 1989 which this later Convention could resolve. Its recent ratification must, however, make it a valuable mine from which I may draw nuggets of public policy. Its preamble calls for consideration of the truism that: "The child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity." Among its provisions are the following to which I have added the emphasis to order to stress to the Plaintiff and to NT, and through her ,The Family, the importance the General Assembly of the United Nations attaches to these fundamental rights which ought to be the birthright of every child in a civilized society. The Family should not be able to fault them and can have no justification for not assuring this Court that they will be applied by The Family without qualification. "Article 3:

1. In all actions concerning children ... the best interest of the child should be of primary consideration.

Article 5: States Parties shall respect the responsibilities rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family ... to provide ... appropriate direction and guidance.

Article 12: States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

Article 13: The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include the freedom to seek receive and impart information and ideas of all kind, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print ...

Article 14:

1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought conscience and religion.

2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents ... to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs maybe subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Article 15: States Parties recognise the right of the child to freedom of association.

Article 16:

1. No Child will be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

Article 18:

1. Parents ... have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child.


Article 19: States Parties shall take all appropriate ... measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s) ... or any other person who has the care of the child.

Article 28:

1. States Parties recognise the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall in particular:

(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means.


Article 29:

1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential ...

(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.

2. No part of the present article or Article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.


Article 30: In those states in which ... religious .. minorities .. exist, a child belonging to such a minority ... shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.

Article 34: States Parties undertake to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse ... in particular ... (a) the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity ... the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and material.

Article 37:

1. States Parties shall ensure that (a) no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment ... (b) no child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily ... " On the evidence presented to me, and as set out above, there has been a significant number of breaches of the provisions of this Convention applied to children in The Family. I am not satisfied that children are fully prepared by The Family to live an individual life in society nor are they brought up in the spirit of tolerance as set out in the preamble, I am not satisfied children enjoy the right to express their views freely in all matters affecting them. They do not enjoy the freedom to seek and receive ideas of all kinds. They do not have the right to freedom of thought or the freedom of association. Forsaking all is an interference with their Family. In many respects, therefore, The Family fall short of the standards set by this Convention.

5. Corporal Punishment and other forms of Discipline

Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 provides:- "(1) If any person who has obtained the age of 16 years and has responsibility for any child or young person under that age, wilfully assaults, ill-treats, ... or causes or procures him to be assaulted, ill-treated ... in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health ... that person should be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable - (a) on conviction on indictment ... to imprisonment for any term not exceeding 10 years.

(7) Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the right of any parent, teacher or other person having the lawful control or charge of a child or young person to administer punishment to him." It is, therefore, a good defence that the alleged battery was merely the correcting of the child by its parents, provided that the correction be moderate in the manner, the instrument and the quantity of it.

It is not unlawful for a childminder who is registered with the local authority pursuant to Part X of the Children Act 1989, to smack a minded child with the consent of the natural parent: Sutton L.B.C v Davis [1994] Fam. 241. Following that decision, the Department of Health reviewed the guidance it issued to the local authorities to include the following: "5. The Department recognises that there are differing views on use of smacking. Many parents when teaching their child right from wrong consider it an effective sanction. Punishment for the latter and praise for the former are part of a good family setting. It is for parents to decide whether to give a gentle smack as a quick and effective way of dealing with behaviour that has not responded to other powers of persuasion.

6. Childminders, whose relationship with the child is more detached than that of a parent, should not normally smack a child as a means of dealing with its behaviour. The use of smacking should be rare and then only as a last resort with the consent of the parents. Childminders will have special skills for looking after young children and can be encouraged to develop other strategies for helping children to understand the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

7. When a childminder is prepared to use smacking as a sanction of last resort, this should be made clear to the parents at the outset. For the avoidance of doubt it is desirable for the parent's consent to be part of the written contract between the two parties about the childminding arrangements." The position is quite different with private fostering arrangements. Under Section 66(1) of the Children Act 1989: "A privately fostered child means a child who is under the age of 16 and who is cared for, and provided with accommodation by, someone other than a parent of his." Section 66(2) provides that a child is not privately fostered if the person caring for and accommodating him does not intend to do so for any longer period than 28 days. It may well be that there are children within Family homes whose parents are away and who are, therefore, being privately fostered. Section 67 of the Act then imposes a duty on the local authority to satisfy themselves that the welfare of such children are being satisfactorily safeguarded. The Foster Placement (Children) Regulations 1991 require that the local authority do not place a child with a foster parent unless the foster parent enters into a written agreement with them covering the matters specified in Schedule II to the Regulations, paragraph 6 of which requires the foster parent to undertake "not to administer corporal punishment to any child placed with him."

It may be that some of The Family homes are "voluntary homes" within the meaning of Section 60 of the Children Act. Section 63 provides that no child shall be cared for and provided with accommodation in a Childrens home unless it is registered under Part VIII of the Act. A children's home means a home which provides or usually provides or is intended to provide care and accommodation wholly or mainly for more than 3 children at any one time but a child is not cared for and accommodated in a children's home when he is cared for and accommodated by a parent of his. It may be, therefore, that Family homes are caught by the provisions of the Children's Homes Regulations 1991, Regulation 8 of those regulations provides that the following measures shall not be used in a children's home: (a) any form of corporal punishment;

(b) any deprivation of food or drink

(c) any restrictions on visits to or by any child or any restriction on or delay in communication by telephone or post with his parent, his relatives or friends (which would include grandmother)." The relationship of teacher and pupil formerly carried with it the right of reasonable chastisement. This right has, however, been severely curtailed by Section 47 of the Education (No.2) Act 1986 which provides that the giving of corporal punishment cannot be justified on the ground that it was done in pursuance of a right exercisable by the member of staff by virtue of his position as such. Corporal punishment has therefore been abolished in all except private fee-paying schools. Even there the enlightened policy of the Act is invariably adopted.

It will be seen from this review of these various provisions that there has been a steady and insistent curbing of the right of the parent and of those in loco parentis to reasonable chastisement of a child.

The European Convention protecting Fundamental Human Rights provides by Article 3 that: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." In the case of Tyrer v United Kingdom [1979] 2 E.H.R.R.1, the European Court considered a sentence by a Juvenile Court on the Isle of Man to three strokes of the birch imposed for an assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The punishment was still available under Manx law but it had ceased to be a permissible sentence in England, Wales and Scotland in 1968. The Court held: "The very nature of judicial corporal punishment is that it involves one human being inflicting physical violence on another human being. Furthermore, it is institutionalised violence, that is in the present case violence permitted by the law, ordered by the judicial authorities of the State and carried out by the police authority of the State. Thus, although the applicant did not suffer any severe or long lasting physical effects, his punishment - whereby he was treated as an object in the power of the authorities - constituted an assault on precisely that which is one of the main purposes of Article 3 to protect, namely a person's dignity and physical integrity. Neither can it be excluded that the punishment may have had adverse psychological effects." The punishments meted out in Macau and the horsewhipping at Tewkesbury fall within that description if for the organs of State one understands the analogous teamworks within The Family.

In Costello - Roberts v United Kingdom [1994] 2 FCR 65, a boy at a private school accumulated 5 demerit marks and, having already received 3 warnings from the Headmaster, he was given 3 spanks on his bottom through his shorts with a rubber soled gym shoe. The European Court considered that the punishment was not degrading in breach of Article 3 because the humiliation or debasement involved did not attain the particular level of severity and exceed the usual element of humiliation inherent in any such punishment. It would follow from that case that the fundamental human rights of the children in this Country had probably not been invaded except in the case of S4 and MS. This observation does not in any sense detract from the criticism I have already levelled at The Family for the excessive beatings they have administered to many other children in this Country. I am in no doubt at all that most of those beatings were unlawful.


[edit] 6. On the Law Generally

I have attempted by this excursus of the law to plant the signposts of public policy and to follow them, to identify the rights of the mother in order to balance them against the rights of the child and to look at this case through both ends of the telescope - at one end a private dispute between a grandmother and her daughter, but through the other end, a dispute which raises important matters affecting fundamental freedoms. I bear all of those matters in mind. The fact that there may be nearly 200 other children in the British Isles is not a material factor in this private dispute between a grandmother and her daughter over the grandchild but it is idle to pretend that others will not be affected by this jugdment. That serves only to confirm that this is a serious matter which demands my earnest deliberation, and, I hope, justifies the length and detail of the enquiry. My duty is to give paramount consideration to S's welfare having regard to all the circumstances of this case and in particular to the check-list factors set out in Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989. First, a summary:


[edit] SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

[edit] 1. An Assessment of The Family

To the members of The Family, David Berg was an End-Time Prophet who was revered by his flock as a man of God. He was treated as an icon. Consequently, in the eyes of the members he could do no wrong. Since obedience was a clarion call and since murmuring was a cardinal crime, members faithful to him were unable to articulate criticism of him. There is little emanating from Maria or World Services strongly to suggest that they were prepared openly to disagree with him. Now he is dead. I have no evidence giving me any clear indication as to how his death will affect The Family's future. Whilst his Letters were never sacrosanct, they did constitute The Family's theology and they were influential in shaping attitudes and behaviour. Unless they are repudiated, they are likely to continue to hold sway.

The Family have considered themselves to be the objects of world-wide persecution. This case is an instance of persecution. It threatens the very life of The Family. Consequently they regard themselves free to deceive the authorities and I have not always had the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from The Family in the evidence they have presented to me. It is, however, significant that their response to persecution has changed in important respects. Most importantly for my purpose, NT has submitted to the jurisdiction of this Court and has defended herself, rather than run away. A second important change is that The Family have undoubtedly begun to seek open contact with church, local authorities, academics and society generally. The more the threat of persecution is dispelled, the less the need to deceive and the greater the reliance that can be placed upon their word.

[edit] 2. Sexually Inappropriate Conduct

By the Law of Love and the belief that to the pure, all things are pure, Berg freed his flock from the restraints which in society control licentious behaviour. He knew that he was giving his people "a dangerous toy", the danger being that lust would be mistaken for love. Having encouraged the sexuality of children, they became, as he must have been aware, objects of the Law of Love when he must have appreciated that by reason of their want of age and understanding they were unable to give full and free consent especially under the pressure of advances made upon them by adults. He also must have realised that harm would be caused to them. I am totally satisfied that a high proportion of children were exposed to the sight or sound of adult sexual activity. I am satisfied that many children and teenagers engaged in sexual activity with other children or teenagers. I am furthermore satisfied that a significant number of children, more within The Family than outside it, had masturbation and even sexual intercourse forced upon them by adults. I am, however, equally satisfied that The Family have made determined efforts to stamp out this unacceptable behaviour and that they have been largely successful in that endeavour. Whereas the blame for the abuse which has occurred is to be laid at Berg's door, the credit for effecting change most probably can be given to Maria. She and World Services have, however, failed fully to acknowledge The Family's responsibility for this past misconduct.

[edit] 3. Educational Neglect

The teaching of toddlers and young children has significantly improved. In times past the burden for caring for young children had fallen unsatisfactorily on teenagers, even young teenagers but now The Family seem more cognisant of the adults' responsibility. Now young children receive, broadly speaking, as good an education as their counterparts in state schools and in some respects perhaps even better. The older the children become, the more unsatisfactory the education provision for them. Since education is primarily designed to equip Family children for their missionary role and for the End-Time, their scholastic attainments gradually fall away. There are the first signs of this changing but the progress has been slight. There are no opportunities for further education. Consequently, and taken over the whole span of childhood merging into young adulthood, the full flowering of intellectual potential is stunted.

[edit] 4. Medical Neglect

Although there are examples in The Family's literature and in the evidence I have heard of undue reliance upon prayer and exorcism to cure conditions which should have been referred to medical or psychiatric practitioners, there is equally abundant evidence that no restraint is presently placed upon a member of The Family seeking medical attention. Nothing suggests that S is at risk from this neglect.

[edit] 5. Emotional, Social or Behavioural Harm

Life within The Family frequently is highly emotional. To be "on fire" is an emotional experience and at times firing up these enthusiasms has been emotionally draining for the children experiencing it. It is, however, part of the religious life which this community chooses to lead and by itself and unless taken to extremes as it was in the Victor programmes, it is not necessarily harmful. The Family's use of Open Heart Reports can be abusive and the use of excessive periods of isolation and silence restrictions undoubtedly was abusive. Although some contact is made with the outside world both through the newly established policy of openness and also because witnessing brings The Family into contact with the world, the children still tend to lead cloistered lives with little opportunity to mix. Unless there is goodwill contact with the natural Family is more likely than not to wither away. Certainly it does not provide the window of opportunity for a child within The Family naturally and lovingly to absorb influences from outside. This isolation is concerning. So, speaking generally, is the intensity of pressure on adult and child alike to conform. To live a communal life one must, to some extent, sacrifice self, and my concern for children within The Family is that legitimate assertions of precious individuality are suppressed as sins of worldliness and pride. I find it ironic - and the irony has struck EM who commented on the teenage girls insisting on wearing a bra when she and her generation were burning theirs - that the leaders who grew up in the permissive age of the 60's and 70's yet who revolted against shackles of society, now at times ruthlessly run their society with such a heavy hand. Even in these darker corners of communal life winds of change are beginning to blow and PER and the TSers reconciliation programme are welcome signs of a much needed breath of fresh air.

[edit] 6. Physical Ill-treatment

On re-reading the "Last State" and my notes of Macau, I still recoil with horror at the indignities there heaped upon the children. I am in no doubt whatever that whilst the doctrine of sparing the rod and spoiling the child is one for which The Family would claim biblical authority and one for which many ordinary members in society express concurrence, nevertheless Berg's enthusiastic endorsement of it has, as in so many things, been carried to excess by those who follow him. The Victor Programme is an example of that excess. In this country and in recent years, children in the absence of their parents have been harshly beaten and at times left bleeding and bruised by indiscriminate, over-zealous applications of Family discipline. It is no excuse that it was done after seeking consent (which, of course, is no true consent at all) or that it was administered "in love" with a heavy but loving heart or that it was completed with a compulsory hug and the assurance, "I love you, honey." That this was abusive has been recognised but the new discipline guidelines, well-intentioned though they are, still harp back to old Letters and are still not tight enough in their control to protect children who remain at the mercy of those in charge of them.

[edit] 7. Change

Both the expert evidence and the oral evidence satisfy me that The Family are always willing to change and do change. They do not always perceive how harmfully they embrace one experiment in child care after another. Some of their changes have been totally unforseen, the most bizarre example being the Flirty Fishing Ministry. Significantly, as Maria has gradually eased control from Berg, the original "one man band dictatorship" has become more democratic, arriving at decisions after consultation and by consensus. This is a healthy development and leads me to conclude, not without anxiety, that there is some hope for future progress in directions which will be generally acceptable enough within the wide bounds of freedom and tolerance we extend to many to choose to live a religious life, even an extreme form of religious life like The Family's. The difficulty in making any decision about The Family is the difficulty of taking a snapshot view of them which freezes them at this moment of time. In this judgment I have to do that but I am very conscious that the cameras continue to turn to the order of the great Director in the Sky. He knows the script - I do not. Berg's death is the most dramatic event in this real-life soap opera. At times I thought The Family would collapse without him. I now conclude that it will survive. Its survival will depend upon the selection by Maria, Peter Amsterdam and World Services of those parts of the theology which strengthen the essential beliefs which inform the actions of all those Family members to whom I listened. All of them profess sincerely to dedicate their lives to serving Jesus in a ministry which is uniquely theirs. If that energy can be harnessed the charisma will remain. There was much denial of and little support for the conduct I have been describing because Family members individually and collectively know in their heart of hearts that is was inappropriate and indefensible. World Services have a unique opportunity to re-assess The Family, to re-set its goals and aspirations and quietly, but authoritatively to denounce that which was wrong, honestly yet boldly declaring that it was wrong, not just mistaken. They need faith and courage in themselves to do so even if it means, as it has to mean, that they must speak ill of the dead.

[edit] 8. NT

She is a good enough mother. She is not perfect. Perfection is unattainable in these Courts for none of us is saintly. My concern for NT is that she fails to put S first. The Family comes first. Her devotion to Berg is so total that it has drained her intellectual reserves and she, like most of those about her, and like Portia, is blinded by love for him and "cannot see the pretty follies that themselves commit". Doctor Cameron set three hurdles for her to surmount. She failed. That troubles me. In other respects S is well cared for. Time after time, witnesses glared accusingly at me, almost defiant in their protest that I would not hear of the joy and of the fun they and their children had within The Family. I did not need their evidence to be satisfied of that. Although their chosen way of life may be attractive only to some and is probably deeply unattractive to most, I readily understand that a life which is full of song and praise and "skits" and communal activity, all in the service of the Lord, is fun and does bring most members of The Family much happiness. The evidence from Leicestershire County Council confirms it. I accept it.

[edit] 9. The Plaintiff

She will do her best for S. She can provide for him in a perfectly satisfactory way giving him a home of comfort in Kenya and an education which will equip him to make his future as he chooses it. Grandmothers are special but grandmothers are best when they remain grandmothers: when they seek to become mothers they are invariably second best.


[edit] CONCLUSIONS

This judgment has preyed on my mind for months. I have pondered long hours over the balance to strike. In stating my conclusions I cannot possibly state every fact and circumstance which has impressed me. The following is but a resumè of the main factors which inform my decision. In judging what S's welfare demands I should decide for him, I have regard particularly to the factors set out in Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989. (A) S's ascertainable wishes and feelings considered in the light of his age and understanding:

At 3 years old this is not a factor of weight. Insofar as his wishes and feelings can be determined, they show that he is strongly attached to his mother but, in view of the communal upbringing he has had, he shows a readiness to move freely to other adults and to be comfortable with them. He knows his grandmother and he is comfortable with her.

(B) His physical, emotional and educational needs:

Physically, he needs to be protected from ill-treatment and from excessive corporal punishment. Emotionally he needs to live a life which is not repressive but which will permit the full and free development of his personality as an individual, with individual feelings which he must be entitled to express in order to have maturity of judgment. He needs exposure to a wide not a confined range of experiences in life. His educational needs are that those who teach him provide him with the information and the encouragement to attain the full flowering of his intellectual potential. A full education is the birthright of every child. I gratefully adopt the submission of the amicus curiae that:

"As an essential part of the upbringing of any child, in attempting to educate it, and impart to it a balanced moral and ethical code, the fostering of a capacity in the child to make a discriminating choice in the conduct of his or her own affairs is, at its lowest, desirable."

I go further. It is not only desirable - it is necessary.

Generally, this boy needs to be brought up by his mother. If she is capable of doing so, he will need much positive contact with his grandmother. In the circumstances of this case, that contact is to be frequent enough and long enough to sustain and build their relationship both in order that she, the grandmother, may monitor his progress, but also that he, the child, may know he has a haven of safety to which he may retreat if ever he finds life in The Family uncomfortable. Likewise, and as essentially, if he is to make his home with his grandmother, he will need to continue to see his mother to preserve and maintain that relationship for its own sake and for her again assuming the reins of control should she ever withdraw from The Family.

(C) The likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances:

If he is to move to his grandmother he will suffer the loss of his mother to whom he is strongly attached and will mourn as he comes to terms with that loss. Although used to being cared for by others, a life different from that which he has enjoyed will be unsettling both in the short term and in the long term. This will harm him. It is this harm which drove Doctor Cameron and Doctor Heller to their preference to leave him where he is, especially if, in other respects, his position can be safeguarded. This is a factor of weight.

(D) His age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the Court considers relevant:

At the age of 3 he is still young enough to move and recover from most but not all of the ill-effects of the move. His sex does not seem material. Both boys and girls have in the past suffered sexual abuse within The Family. Both boys and girls have been excessively chastised. His background is, or was, to be a member of a prosperous (but now less prosperous!) family in which he would find his natural place if he were to live with his grandmother. He would be brought up in the conventions of his class and would be likely to receive an education at a boarding preparatory school and go on to public school as his brother and his grandfather did before him. A characteristic of this boy which is relevant is that he is to all intents and purposes fatherless. WA plays no part in his life and is never likely to do so. He has a half-brother who has a father whose position is also likely to be blurred. This will pose problems for S when he reaches adolescence and searches for his identity and asks those searching questions of himself in the dark hours of the night, "Who am I and who is that part of me who is my father?" In choosing to share and have children by different fathers, NT has made a rod for her back and for her children's and her children will need help in coming to terms with never knowing their fathers.

(E) Any harm which he has suffered or is at the risk of suffering

I am satisfied he has not suffered harm. He is not likely to be at risk of suffering sexual harm from any resurrection of the freedoms given by the Law of Love to abuse children in the way they have been abused in the past. The practice of sharing seems more discreetly conducted and there is no present evidence that he will be exposed to rampant sexual high-jinks which will rob him of the precious innocence of his youth. There are, however, deviant and damaged members of The Family who have perpetrated abuse, or have suffered abuse, and their personalities are warped accordingly. They are hard to identify. Even those who have suffered, tend to suffer in silence. They will continue to do so unless and until this dreadful secret is brought out into the open. Given their peripatetic and communal lifestyle, there are real possibilities that S may come into contact with some whose responses cannot be guaranteed. It poses a risk of harm to S which is higher though not substantially higher, than it must be recognised he would face in life outside The Family. He suffers real risk of harm from excessive punishment. The tendency is for parents to surrender their responsibility to the Child Care Team and there are too many recent examples of excess for me not to regard this risk as a real one not withstanding the new guidance from World Services. As matters currently stand S's full intellectual emotional social and behavioural development is at risk of being impaired. The Family's isolation and tight control stultifies full development. I must, however, balance against this the freedom to live life in a religious community and a degree of tolerance must be allowed. The current educational policies of The Family will harm S because he will not receive an education which equips him to make informed choices.

(F) How capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs:

Subject to the acknowledged shortcoming that grandmother can never replace a mother and that age is against her, this grandmother has shown herself capable of doing all that is required to give this boy as good an upbringing as can be managed in the circumstances. On the level of daily care NT is quite capable whilst she is present to administer that care. There is no certainty in her life that she will always be present. Her ministry may cause her to be separated from S. Care may be transferred to others and I have seen enough of those others to realise that whereas some may be perfectly good, others pose risks to children which cannot be tolerated. This mother cannot enjoy my fullest confidence in her capabilities until she shows a commitment to placing S first and foremost. She does not have a capability fully to protect him because she has not accepted that some of The Family's practices have corrupted and psychologically damaged a number of the children and adolescents in its care and that accordingly extra vigilance is necessary. She does not have the capacity even to acknowledge the constrictions to a full development which Family life impose nor to accept that the secondary and tertiary education of the children falls below an acceptable standard.

(G) The range of powers available to the Court under this Act in the proceedings in question:

I can continue the wardship during S's minority in order to ensure that S remains within the jurisdiction of this Court and is not taken abroad where no control can be exercised over his upbringing. This is a paternalistic jurisdiction. He is my Ward of Court. The Court has assumed responsibility for him and can continue to do so so long as the Wardship endures. I can commit his care and control either to the mother or to the grandmother. This is one of those exceptional cases where the abolition of the Court's ability to make a Supervision Order does fetter my power to do what I consider to be necessary in the interest of this boy. Leicestershire County Council decline to bring proceedings themselves and I do not criticise that decision. It would, however, have been an invaluable source of comfort to know that a responsible body was making periodic visits to The Family, not to be meddlesome but only to be alive to the possibilities of unacceptable behaviour creeping into Family life again. Dr Cameron was anxious to recommend a visiting teacher with a duality of role, partly educational and partly supervisory. I have no power to direct such supervision. What order must I make in S's best interests?

Like Dr Cameron and Dr Heller my first wish is to leave S with his mother. I have pointed to the risks in my doing so. Since mother does not accept that these risks exist, she cannot protect S from them. She has a right to bring up her child as she determines but he has the right to be prepared to be able to chose an individual life within or outside The Family. This is not an easy balance to strike. My judgment is that the risks of harm as matters presently stand are significant enough to dictate in his interests that he be removed from his mother.

I emphasise that that decision is reached on the matters as they presently stand. I am impressed by the winds of change that have blown and continue to blow through The Family. Although sullied by their participation in the sexual excesses, Maria and Peter Amsterdam have demonstrated convincingly a willingness to change. With Berg's death they have an opportunity subtly yet dramatically to change further. In my judgment, they may be ready to do so. In my judgment, they should be given an opportunity to do so. I intend, therefore, and subject to argument from Counsel, to impose a Stay upon this Order so that NT and those who are close to her in The Family may have some short period of reflection. I would extend that Stay if I were given certain assurances. Again these may be the subject of argument. What I have in mind is the following:

NT must do the following:- 1. Reconsider Dr Cameron's three hurdles and answer again the questions which he poses.

2. She must undertake never to live separate and apart from S for any period exceeding 2 weeks in duration or, if she is absent for three or more days in a week, then this commuting should last for no more than 4 successive weeks and on no more 3 occasions a year.

3. She must categorically forbid anyone

(i) to inflict corporal punishment on S

(ii) to place him on silence restriction for more than one hour in any one day and on no more than 5 days in any month

(iii) to place him in isolation or on time out for longer than 15 minutes a day


4. She must undertake to avail of all reasonable opportunities to educate S so that he may acquire sufficient grades at GSCE and at A level or such other qualifications as will equip him, if he so desires, to undertake University education.

5. She must undertake unstintingly to allow S contact, including staying contact with his grandmother and with other relatives.

6. She must not reside outside England and Wales and must inform the Official Solicitor in writing of any new home for herself and S at least two weeks in advance of her removing from the Ward's present home.

7. She must permit the Official Solicitor or his appointed agent access to her home at any reasonable time.

8. She must elicit the help of Maria and Peter Amsterdam as set out below. As Peter Amsterdam has recognised, individual members of The Family will not find it possible to be critical of Berg. I must therefore look to the leadership for help. If S is to have the benefit I wish him to have of remaining with his mother, then for his protection and full development, she must invite World Services to satisfy me of their willingness to take the following steps:- 1. World Services must categorically ban the infliction of any corporal punishment on any child within the United Kingdom by anyone other than a parent and parents themselves should be strongly discouraged from resorting to this type of discipline. Rules restricting the use of silence and time out to the degree I set out above should also be clearly applied to this country. The potentially abusive consequences of the over-zealous use of Open Heart Reports should be emphasized.

2. The recommendations of the Educational Steering Committee set out in Peter Amsterdam's letter to me must be promulgated so that The Family in this country may feel free to seek some help from Local Education Authorities and advance their children's education so that they have some recognized qualifications.

3. The Family must assure me of their intention to maintain their programmes of reconciliation and openness and must confirm that it is their policy to encourage the maintenance of contact with relatives outside The Family.

4. The last step will be the hardest. They must denounce David Berg. They must acknowledge that through his writings he was personally responsible for children in The Family having been subjected to sexually inappropriate behaviour; that it is now recognized that it was not just a mistake to have written as he did but wrong to have done so; and that as a result children have been harmed by their experiences. World Services must follow the advice of NT's expert, Dr Heller and must do what the psychiatrists say must be done for the protection of children in The Family. The Family must be encouraged honestly to face up to this shameful period in their history so that those harmed by it, victims and perpetrators alike, can seek to come to terms with it. For an honest memorial to be given to David Berg, this dark side to his character must be revealed. By all means, let thanks be given also for the good he did - as I accept he did for many -and for the inspiration he has been to those who through him have devoted their lives to the service of the Lord. I readily appreciate how angry NT is likely to be and how much she will resent this imposition. I expect she will be asking how she, a lowly member, can possibly demand changes of The Family. She could, of course, leave them but I cannot require her to do that - that is a matter for her choice according to her conscience and her love for her son. I do not ask for her decision today - that is why I impose a short stay. During that interval NT and those close to her will have the chance to ponder on my judgment. So will the Plaintiff. Each will come to realise perhaps with anger and also with sadness that part of each case has succeeded but part of each case has failed. I want only one outright winner - S - but my achieving that now depends on them.

With time to reflect, all concerned will come to understand that 10 years ago, possibly even 5 years ago I would not have permitted any child whose welfare was in my hands, to remain with any parent who was a member of The Family. This grandmother has done a public service by exposing their pernicious practices at that time. But times have changed and so have The Family. They have come in from the cold. They carry some mud from the past on their coat but if they choose, they can wash it off. Then they can sit at society's supper table, eccentric guests perhaps, but welcome for all that. We must all be ready to welcome the return of the prodigal son. I hardly need to remind The Family how the son returned: Luke 15:21:- "And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." If NT and the Family takes this to heart and do successfully meet the demands I have placed upon them, then it should not require a direction from the court for NT humbly to acknowledge, "Mother, you were right!" If she can do that then truly S's best interests will have been served.

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