Montel Williams: Sex Abuse and Mind Control: Raised in a Cult

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[edit] Sex Abuse and Mind Control: Raised in a Cult

Montel Williams/2005-10-24


Following is a transcript of the video shown on the right.
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HOST: Montel Williams

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Montel Williams, Diane Rappoport


MONTEL WILLIAMS: To look at Caryn and Don, you would never know that they grew up virtual prisoners in a twisted cult.

There was sexual abuse of other children.

CARYN (Says She Was Abused By a Cult Known as The Family): It was rampant.

WILLIAMS: They tied your sister to the bed, they raped her repeatedly.

On the next MONTEL, for the first time anywhere, two people brave enough to talk about the cult they escaped.

DON (Says He Was Abused By a Cult Known as The Family): It would have been kinder for them to put a gun to her head and pull the trigger.

WILLIAMS: What they have to say is beyond belief. SEX ABUSE AND MIND CONTROL: RAISED IN A CULT, that's what's coming up right now on MONTEL.

Welcome, and thank you so much for joining us today. You know, the video that you are about to see made national headlines. A young man describes in detail a murder he's about to commit, and why. I want you to take a look at this.

(Excerpt from videotape)

WILLIAMS: Ricky Rodriguez wanted revenge. He was determined to kill his own mother.

Mr. RICKY RODRIGUEZ: My goal is to bring down my sick...(censored by network)...mom and Peter. My own mother. How can you do that to kids? How can you do that to kids and sleep at night? Hopefully, in the end, whether they rot in jail, or whether somebody blows their...(censored by network)...head off, slits their...(censored by network)...throat. Hopefully, somebody will do something.

WILLIAMS: Ricky was born and raised in a cult called The Family. He and other children suffered years of physical and sexual abuse.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: My mom's going to pay for that. She's going to pay dearly, one way or another. A lot of these girls--I can't even compare my stories with yours, because it's not about that. There's so many other kinds of abuse that went on that, to some of us, were just as bad. It doesn't really matter. It should never have happened at all to anybody. You know, anger does not begin--does not begin to describe how I feel about these people and what they've done.

WILLIAMS: Ricky's plan was to get his former nanny, Angela, to tell him the whereabouts of his mother, and he was prepared to torture her.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: I only have a small window of opportunity to get the information that I need out of this person. I'm not trained in torture methods, which is why I'm going to have to make do. I got my drill here. I got gags. I got a crude implement. I think it'll work wonders. This is my weapon of choice. The KA-BAR knife. I only want it for one purpose, and that is taking out the scum, taking out the...(censored by network)...trash.

WILLIAMS: The years of pain Ricky suffered from his mother in the cult finally became too much.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: I tried so many things, trying to--trying to somehow fit in. Somehow to find, you know, a normal life. So I just figured that I just figured that--I'd always still think about suicide, and I'd to push it away. Be successful for a while. It would always come back, started coming back more frequently, those thoughts. And--and I just--I just wanted it to end.

(End of excerpt)

WILLIAMS: He just wanted it to end. Well, I'll tell you something. After that tape was made, Ricky Rodriguez murdered his childhood nanny in an attempt to get information on his mother, and then went on to kill himself. What you're hearing today will be a first, because a lot of the people who have gotten out of this cult that's called The Family had never had an opportunity to speak out. And the reason why they haven't is because they've been afraid of the retribution from the cult. And today, we have a very brave couple of people who've come by to talk to us. Please welcome Caryn to the show.

Caryn, thank you for being here.

I--I--I want to go back to what your earliest memories were of childhood. But before we do, you looked at a piece of this tape. That was Ricky Rodriguez.

CARYN: Yes.

WILLIAMS: He's explaining to everybody for a second who he was. Ricky Rodriguez was the son of the two leaders of the church, correct?

CARYN: Yes, he was the son of the founder.

WILLIAMS: The founder and the current leader of the church.

CARYN: Correct.

WILLIAMS: He was picked as being some special, almost God-like, child, correct?

CARYN: He was--he was the prince.

WILLIAMS: The prince, the chosen one.

CARYN: Correct.

WILLIAMS: To take over the church when...

CARYN: When they died.

WILLIAMS: When they died. You were born in the cult, correct? Your mother was probably carrying you when she entered the cult.

CARYN: Yes. Yes.

WILLIAMS: Now, what's your earliest childhood memory?

CARYN: My first memories was living in a big commune.

WILLIAMS: And what country were you in? Because I should say this so that everybody understands. This organization is called The Family now, correct?

CARYN: Yes.

WILLIAMS: It was originally called?

CARYN: The Children of God.

WILLIAMS: The Children of God. And they exist around--listen to me--it exists around the world, in places from South Africa to Canada. Every country on the planet, just about.

CARYN: It was born out of the era of, like, the Jesus people and the hippie movement. And--and they kind of incorporated into their Christian doctrine, doctrines of free love and--and sex. And they even included children in--in those practices. And their publications, basically, developed the doctrines and how they would pick and choose certain verses from the Bible, you know...

WILLIAMS: To justify that.

CARYN: Exactly. There was a book written about Ricky's life by his--his parents and their--and his nanny, and it documented, and even with photographic evidence, his early sexual abuse.

WILLIAMS: And wait. Talk about this so people understand. This is a nanny and oth--multiple women who were performing sex acts on 15-month-old little boys. Correct?

CARYN: It started as young as 15 months.

WILLIAMS: Fifteen months old. It--that young man that you saw on the tape, from the age of 15 months old, was having sex with adult women. Grown-up--and this was something for girls, I guess, for young ladies in this cult. Little girls in this cult. You know, it's from early--you said once that one of your earliest memories was being passed around naked at about two and a half to three years old, right?

CARYN: That's correct.

WILLIAMS: Passed--being--physically passed from male to male to male.

CARYN: Well, there was--there was two--there was multiple aspects of the exploitation that--of children that occurred in the organization. There was the sexual exploitation and then there was a lot of the physical abuse.

WILLIAMS: Let me take a little break. When we come back, we'll find out what some of that was. We'll be back right after this.

(Excerpt from upcoming segment)

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: I've seen how ugly humans can get. You don't want to...(censored by network)...people over...(censored by network)...little kids over. But, you know, none of us--none of us rejoiced when that happened to her. Nobody--nobody deserved that, especially not a kid that age.

WILLIAMS: They tied your sister to the bed.

DAN: That's correct.

WILLIAMS: They raped her repeatedly.

DAN: That's correct.

WILLIAMS: Multiple, different people, but primarily the leader of the sect.

DAN: That's correct.

(End of excerpt)

(Announcements)

(Excerpt from videotape)

WILLIAMS: Ricky Rodriguez wanted the whole world to know why he wanted to kill his mother. He wanted revenge for a lifetime of physical and sexual abuse.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: My own mother. How can you do that to kids? How can you do that to kids and sleep at night?

WILLIAMS: Although he never achieved his goal, the day after making this videotape, Ricky murdered his childhood nanny and then killed himself.

Ricky was only one of thousands of children who were raised in a cult known all around the world as The Family.

(End of excerpt)

WILLIAMS: First off, can you think back on and remember how many countries you lived in?

CARYN: Four.

WILLIAMS: Four. Name them. What--where you grew up.

CARYN: I've lived in Mexico, I've lived in Brazil, in the United States, all over the United States, and my passport shows that I was in Uruguay and Paraguay as well, when I was very young.

WILLIAMS: You got out--I want to backtrack for a second. You got out of the cult when you were about 19, correct?

CARYN: Seventeen.

WILLIAMS: Seventeen. With--what level of education did you have?

CARYN: I just had a seventh grade education.

WILLIAMS: Seventh grade.

CARYN: That was the doctrine of the cult: a girl doesn't need more than a seventh grade education to do God's work. That's what they told us.

WILLIAMS: And God's work, for you, would have been pleasing men.

CARYN: And continuing to support the organization through the exploitation of child labor. I mean, we--we were--we lived on five-minute schedules. We would get up very early in the morning and either we were working in...

WILLIAMS: What time, typical day?

CARYN: Seven AM.

WILLIAMS: OK.

CARYN: And we were never allowed to have any time for ourselves. There was never any privacy. It was always communal living.

WILLIAMS: These are children.

CARYN: Yes.

WILLIAMS: OK.

CARYN: It was much like a regimen of, like, sp--military special forces, but they would use it on children, because they were fi...

WILLIAMS: Children of--how--how young?

CARYN: As--as young as, I think--when I was in one school in Mexico, there were classes, like, the three and four year olds. Then there was the five and six year olds. Then there was the older children, who were the pre-teens, and then there was the teen-agers. And we were all kept in separate classes, so to speak. We weren't actually taught anything academic, though.

WILLIAMS: And what were most of the teachings? Were they just meanderings?

CARYN: They were--they were all publications of the founder. We weren't allowed to have any other contact with--we could not read books, we could not watch movies that had not been pre-screened, and that would be shown to us with running commentary. We were not allowed to--we didn't even go to the doctor; they had a doctrine that is "God made you, he can fix you." So I never had--I have no memories of ever seeing a dentist or a doctor for any purpose whatsoever. Except for if it facilitated moving us to another foreign country, we would need the vaccinations to be able to enter the country.

WILLIAMS: And this is just free-flow movement. You take off from Paris and go to South America, somebody down there will take you in.

CARYN: Well--well, the organization purports to do mission work, but what, in fact, they're doing is they're living off some of these, you know, Third World countries. Because, rather than actually helping people, like the organization purports to be doing to the outside public, they're actually using their children to bring in large amounts of money, and they get funnelled up through--all the way to the top leadership.

WILLIAMS: Let me take a little break. When we come back, we'll meet a young man who also survived this abuse from their group and also knew the gentleman that we saw in the tape. We'll talk a little bit about that when we come back. We'll be back right after this.

(Excerpt from upcoming segment)

CARYN: The last time I saw my brother that is in Costa Rica, he was nine months old. He was covered with bruises all over his back and legs, and he wasn't ab--old enough to talk.

(End of excerpt)

(Announcements)

(Excerpt from videotape)

WILLIAMS: What could have driven this man to kill his childhood nanny, himself, and leave this videotaped confession behind?

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: You know, anger does not begin--does not begin to describe how I feel about these people and what they've done.

WILLIAMS: His reason: a childhood filled with physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his mother and members of a cult known as The Family.

(End of excerpt)

WILLIAMS: You know, during the break, Caryn, we were just talking about some of the worst of this for yourself. But--but you got out at 17...

CARYN: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ...and--and what is amazing--she got out with a seventh--seventh grade education. You were able to p--no knowledge, at this point in time, about how to get a driver's license, to do anything. You couldn't do anything for yourself.

CARYN: I couldn't drive a car. I--I didn't know how to o--open a banking account. I didn't have any social skills whatsoever. I had not lived in the real world except intermittently in--in childhood, when my parents would return from a foreign country and put us in school just for a little while so that social services wouldn't be alerted.

WILLIAMS: And during that period of time, when they would put you in schools for a little period of time, you excelled in school.

CARYN: I always did.

WILLIAMS: Every place you went.

CARYN: I did. I was always very proud of it. I had a little file folder that I kept my report cards, ribbons that I had won. But that was never encouraged. I can remember getting in trouble so many times with my stepfather, because he would say, you know, based on the doctrines that the cult had taught him, that `This is--we--this is worldly education and you need to reject it, and that it's proud to want to educate yourself and do well in school and it's self-righteous and it's not--it's not what God wants for you.'

WILLIAMS: So it's all about ego to do well in school rather than what God wanted.

CARYN: Correct. They never promoted individuality.

WILLIAMS: You said yourself that you really don't know how much of your past you're blocked out, do you?

CARYN: No. From the time I was born to the time I was three years old, a lot of those memories I don't have.

TEXT:

The Family claims to have apologized to former members for abuse

WILLIAMS: And during that time, from being born to three years old, there was sexual abuse of other children.

CARYN: Oh, it was--it was rampant. I'm at the same age that Ricky was. We were born around the same time and we are the, pretty much, the oldest of the second generation, their children. And they found, as we became teen-agers, that they were bleeding their second generation because we all wanted to leave. We didn't want this for ourselves. And so they developed these schools where they would put--they would send all the teen-agers to, basically--and it was like--it was like a detention camp. And if you--and they would pick out certain individuals. That's where a lot of the abuse that I suffered occurred, because they would pick out--they had a very good way of--they decided that if they could control the strong members--the strong and the ones with willpower, of the teen-agers, that--they called them bellwethers. If they could control them, they could control the rest of them. So if you showed inde--any kind of individuality or strength of character, they would pick you out and you would--they would break you down until they could mold you.

WILLIAMS: And that breaking down was in any form or fashion--way they could.

CARYN: They had developed certain methods to--to--to break us down. It included isolation. I can remember being locked in a closet for about a week, and I was made to listen continually to cassette tapes of the reading of their publications over and over again. It also included food deprivation. They wouldn't let you have a certain amount of food. They had a method called silence restriction that was very popular at the time. And I remember that they targeted me in one school in Mexico, and I was on silence restriction for about two months. And you're just not allowed to speak.

And then they had hard labor. And they would come up with things that were just impossible to do. One of their--the hard labor task at that school in--in Mexico was you were sent--were sent out to this field, and it was about--it was about, I would say, 50 percent sand and 50 percent rock, and you were meant to remove all the rock from it, which could take a lifetime and you could never do it. And they wouldn't allow you to have gloves. And they would put you out there early in the morning till late at night.

And they were also depriving you of food. And the skin on your hands would just start to, like, peel off. And slowly, over the months and months of doing this and isolating you and the public humiliation and then there would be beatings as well, that they would break you down. And then, at that point, you're--it's like a police interrogation, you'll do or say whatever they want you to say, because you want it to stop.

WILLIAMS: Your mother's seeing what happened. She even complained--well, not complained, but discussed the abuse you'd been through. Are you assuming your--your--your siblings are being abused now the same way?

CARYN: The last time I saw my brother that is in Costa Rica, he was nine months old. He was covered with bruises all over his back and legs, and he wasn't ab--old enough to talk. And they've--the abuse is all part of the doctrine of the cult that, "Spare the rod, spoil the child." And that if you misbehave, that you're yielding to the devil and it needs to be beaten out of you.

WILLIAMS: I'm going to take a little break. We'll be back after this.

(Excerpt from upcoming segment)

DAN: I lived with the knowledge that this phone might ring and it might be the call that I have to bury my sister because of what they did to her.

(End of excerpt)

(Announcements)

(Excerpt from videotape)

WILLIAMS: For Ricky Rodriguez, the horrific physical and sexual abuse he suffered as a child were too much. He felt the only way to be at peace was to murder his mother and then commit suicide.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: I just want it--it to end.

WILLIAMS: A day after making this videotape, Ricky killed his former nanny and then himself. He was only 29 years old. While Ricky's only escape was suicide, other children of the cult called The Family are determined to put the years of torture and abuse behind them once and for all.

(End of excerpt)

WILLIAMS: This organization that I've been talking about for the last hour still exists. How many numbers of children like yourself do you think are out there right now?

CARYN: That...

WILLIAMS: Who got out, this first generation that got out, that's now feeling the same way you do?

CARYN: There's--there's thousands of us.

WILLIAMS: Please welcome Don to the show. Welcome him. One of the thousands, but I will say that the two of you are a special two of the thousands. And I say that only because of this, because there's not a lot of you talking out and speaking out. I mean, who do we contact to say, `Stop this mess'?

DON: We have contacted the FBI. We have tried to get authorities around the world to take notice and to take action. The problem in this particular case, Montel, is that a lot of these crimes, these horrific crimes against children, were committed outside of the United States, so the federal government, or even the state governments, don't have jurisdiction. And we also have another terrible situation, and that's the statute of limitations. It's very difficult to find justice for myself or Caryn for things that happened to us when we were young children, because the statute of limitations have passed.

WILLIAMS: You were born into the cult also.

DON: That's correct.

WILLIAMS: Born in, so you're on of the first generation of children.

DON: That's correct.

WILLIAMS: Talk for a minute about your life. Just--just tell me about growing up.

DON: Well, in my case it wasn't, I don't think at--at the earliest stages, as egregious or as--as horrific as--as Caryn's situation. And...

WILLIAMS: The boys were treated differently, right?

DON: In--in a sense, yes. And it also depended on the fabric of your family. For example, up until I was about eight years old, I have very positive memories of being real cherished by--by my father and my mother. And then, when I was about eight years old, that's when they took my sister from me.

WILLIAMS: Your sister, Merry, right?

DON: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Ends up--and I should say, ended up becoming a very prominent member of the church doctrine also, correct?

DON: Yes. My sister, Merry Berg, was actually the biological granddaughter of the founder, and she and Ricky lived together. And they were examples of the most horrific and egregious abuse, and terrible crimes were committed against her. Part of the rage that Ricky felt and part of the hopelessness that he felt was a direct result of seeing--of having to witness and having to stand by while these horrific crimes were being committed against my sister, and being powerless to do anything.

WILLIAMS: Let's take a look at what Ricky had to say. Because this is Ricky talking about Merry.

(Excerpt from videotape)

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: As kids, we didn't always get along that well with me, because she was older, she was better at playing the game than we were. I watched every day new bruises on her, big...(censored by network)...fat...(censored by network)...bruises. And I've seen how ugly humans can get. You don't want to...(censored by network)...people over...(censored by network)...little kids over. But, you know, none of us--none of us rejoiced when that happened to her. Nobody--nobody deserved that, especially not a kid that age.

(End of excerpt)

WILLIAMS: From what age? What age was your sister when they--they basically kidnapped her from your family? I'm going to use that as a term. I'll say "allegedly kidnapped," so we'll be all safe. But how old was she?

DON: Right. She was 10 years old. That was the age.

WILLIAMS: They tied your sister to the bed.

DON: That's correct.

WILLIAMS: They raped her repeatedly.

DON: That's correct.

WILLIAMS: Multiple, different people, but primarily the leader of the sect.

DON: That's correct.

WILLIAMS: She became their abuse/sex/example/toy. I can't explain it. They beat this child for--to be an example to other people. They had sex with her to be an example to other people.

DON: Well, what happened was, and Caryn was correct, when the children became about 13, 14 years of age, they began to rebel. And that's exactly what my sister did. At that point, they began to administer this horrific corporal punishment, this--these--these crimes of assault, these crimes of false imprisonment. And then they...

CARYN: They claimed she was a witch...

DON: Yeah.

CARYN: ...and that she was possessed with demons. And they tied her to the bed at night, and they would wake her in the middle of the night, and they would have exorcisms that lasted for hours. And then they would publish what they did to her in documents, and they would send it out to all their members all over the world.

WILLIAMS: There's got to me copies of these documents somewhere.

DON: We have a few.

CARYN: They did it to scare us to not go that route. Otherwise, that's what would happen to us.

WILLIAMS: All right, I got to take a little break. Let me just tell you this. This is a statement from The Family. Spokesperson Claire Borowik said, "Family leadership officially addressed questionable past acts of individuals. It has also banned sexual contact with children." Just the fact that this organization had to ban sexual contact with children tells you that it was rampant, OK? All right. And they've apologized to the victims. And while she's "deeply saddened by the murder-suicide," she does not believe that Ricky was a victim of sexual abuse. "There was a liberality--a liberality that existed in some homes. Journalists should take care not to casually write off Angela's death and justify the actions of an obviously disturbed young man." Let me take a break. We'll be back right after this. I want to know what you think about this statement when we come back. We'll be back right after this.

(Announcements)

WILLIAMS: Well, it says here that they've, you know, they've--they've banned now sexual conduct with children. And they apologized--they apologized to the two of you, said, `Hey, we're sorry.'

DON: Nobody apologized to me.

CARYN: If I could respond to what their spokesperson said.

WILLIAMS: Please do.

CARYN: On--on previous occasions, she has stated that they banned sexual contact with minors in 1986 or 1985. The number--the year keeps getting pushed back and pushed back. Everything that happened to me was post-1986, because we went to Mexico in 1986. When I was sexually molested by the director of--of the school that I was living in, that was in 1991. And I reported it to the continental officers that oversaw the whole country of Mexico and Central America. And they took me for a walk and they told me that there was nothing wrong with what happened to me and that--nothing happened to him, of course--but that I needed not to talk about it. I especially did not need to tell my parents, as it would stum--stumble their fate--faith, rather. And I was then sent to live with my mother, because they wanted to get rid of me.

WILLIAMS: And that's when you were 17. You got out.

CARYN: I was 17.

WILLIAMS: Now, you know, here--here, watch this. Tale of two different stories, in a sense. Why don't you tell them, Caryn, what you've done with your life since you got out.

CARYN: When I first came back, I--I figured that I needed to get the high school diploma first, but that was kind of difficult to go sit and--I had to start over eighth grade, where they had taken me out of school. So I went back and I--I found a nice high school completion program, and I, like, arranged with them, I negotiated; if I took all the classes, then they would give me the h--I was, like, `I don't have anything. So well, if I take all the classes, will you give me a high school diploma?' And they said yes. And so I took all the classes. And then...

WILLIAMS: And how long?

CARYN: A year and a half.

WILLIAMS: From the seventh grade to senior.

CARYN: Right.

WILLIAMS: Go ahead.

CARYN: Well, I was just hungry for knowledge. I had been deprived of it. When I--when they took me out of school in the seventh grade, I begged my mother to order the eighth grade books for me, the correspondence courses. And I had--and she said they would only order for me the English and math, because they didn't believe in science and history. And I hid them at night and I read them until my stepfather found them. And I was--that was one of the most severe beatings that I took. But--so when I got out, I was--I was--it was--I was like a kid in the candy store; for the first time in my life, doing--I could go to school and I could take classes and when I didn't--when I went home at night, I wasn't made to feel bad for enjoying them. So I--I started college the next year, and after college I went on to law school. And I've been practicing for about five years now.

WILLIAMS: But now, what's happened to your sister?

DON: Well, it's a sad situation. I oftentimes tell people that it would have been kinder for them to walk into a room and--and put a gun to her head and pull the trigger. They--they horrifically abused her over a long period of time, systematically. We're not talking about random people, we're talking about the top leadership. The reason why they did this to her was because she could point the finger directly at them and name them and call them out for the terrible criminals that they are. And they sent her to Macao for a period of three or four years, where she was kept in solitary confinement. She was beaten, she was made to do very hard labor, the type of labor that Caryn was describing, but not just for a year, for five years. And every day, you know, I live with the knowledge that--that this phone might ring and it might be the call that I have to bury my sister because of what they did to her.

CARYN: We've already...

WILLIAMS: She's been incarcerated, let's just say.

DON: She--she has acted out in a textbook fashion that you would expect for a girl that's been abused like that. She's latched onto the wrong type of men f--and she has abused drugs, and she's been incarcerated. And I have had to visit her, I've had to--I had to take her to a mental hospital one time, you know, a terrible, terrible burden for any brother, any sibling to have to bear. And I'm hoping that there'll be a turnaround, but I'm also realistic in terms of knowing how horrific the abuse was at the very top. And there was two people that were good models of that, and I think we see from Ricky's situation how terrible and how disturbed the outcome can be.

WILLIAMS: Let me take a break. We'll be back right after this.

(Announcements)

WILLIAMS: Please welcome the author of the book "Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves," Mr. Steve Hassan. Welcome him to the show. Thanks for being here. You know, in general, you know what this cult is right here, correct? You've heard of them.

Mr. STEVE HASSAN, LMHC, NCC (Author of "Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves"): Oh, I--I absolutely have. I've been talking and helping people for about 30 years in this particular group.

WILLIAMS: Well, how many people in this group who have gotten out have committed suicide in the last couple of years that you know of?

CARYN: I've been personally to two funerals. Don's been to two funerals in the--in this year alone. We have a list of 33 names who are--they were all under 30, and they have died in the last 10 years--10 to 13 years. All survivors. Some of them died from drug overdoses that were caused from substance abuse problems they developed as a result of--of what they suffered.

WILLIAMS: How do you help people stay out? Get out?

Mr. HASSAN: Well, first of all, Montel, I was in a cult, too, so I'm--I'm--I'm the fifth that you mentioned today. I was in the Moonies for two and a half years in the mid-'70s; dropped out of college, quit my job, donated my bank account. And over the years, I've watched the bodies at Jonestown, I've watched the bodies at Heaven's Gate. I've watched the planes go into the World Trade Center, and I know the mindset. I understand it very well. And basically, in my past, I--I was rescued by my family. And I've gone on to be trained as a licensed mental health counselor. And I've been helping people to heal from the trauma, from the torture, from the brainwashing, from the mind control. And the good news is, there is hope. The bad news is, I've been doing this for 30 years, the mental health system is still not trained. People come in freaking out, and they're not asked simple questions like, `Were you ever involved with a high-demand, controversial group that alienated you from the outside world?' A simple question like that gives a whole 'nother treatment, schema that people need. And the mental health profession is not trained on how to help victims of mind control cults.

WILLIAMS: So there are almost 15,000--or--or approximately 15,000 of these cults operating right now in this country alone.

Mr. HASSAN: Deception is used to recruit intelligent, educated people into cults. No one knowingly knows--no one in my experience--no one says, `Yes, I want to give up my free will, my bank account, my friends, my family, my education.' It doesn't work that way. It starts with the--the friendly smile, `How are you? Who are you? Where you from? Tell me about yourself.'

WILLIAMS: Or in this case, the invitation for sex in the hotel room.

Mr. HASSAN: Well, in their case, their parents got sucked in.

WILLIAMS: Right.

Mr. HASSAN: But in my experience, no one knowingly joins a group like this. Because this is basically a terrorist organization.

DON: Absolutely.

Mr. HASSAN: A totalitarian, pyramid-structured group that uses deception and mind control, and basically enslaves really wonderful people. The good side, the flip side, is the human spirit wants to be free. The human spirit wants love, truth, compassion. And it's the people who have these moments where they're hooking up with an aunt or a grandmother that says, `Come to me,' then they have a door to get out.

WILLIAMS: Is that what you got, a family member that came to get you?

Mr. HASSAN: No. I--I can't tell you how many people have suffered. And we live in 2005, and this still is an issue of epidemic proportions.

WILLIAMS: Take a break. We'll be back after this.

(Announcements)

WILLIAMS: So, Caryn, how did you get out?

CARYN: Well, right after that incident where I had been molested by the director of the school that I was living in, the continental officers sent me to my parent--to my mother, who was living on the border of Mexico. She was right there on the border of Mexico, and so I used that as an opportunity to get out. But before I left, I sat down and--and--and confronted her, and I was, like, `Why did you let this happen to us? Why did you let them hurt us? Why did you let them hurt my brothers and sisters like this?' Because there were times that I stood between some man and my little brother. And--and she said to me, she said, `Well, when you were children, you were just devils.' And--and after that, I knew there just wasn't any hope.

And we were out distributing literature that day, and I saw the border to the United States, and I just started walking across it. I didn't have anything. I was just, like, `I'm going to get across this bridge,' and my heart was thumping. And, `I'm going to get across this bridge and I'm going to call my aunt.' And I called my aunt, and she's, like, `Do you see a grocery store with, like, a Western Union?' And she wired me money.

I got on a bus. I arrived in San Antonio at, like, 3 in the morning. I traveled all night. I didn't have--I didn't have any clothes, I had no possessions. My aunt had called a Young Life minister, and he and his wife came out of a basketball game really late at night, and picked me up at the bus station, took me to their house, let me shower. His wife gave me some clothes, and they put me on a plane. And I went to live with my aunt, and I was still 17, so I had to kind of hide out until I turned 18, and I never looked back. And my parents were calling all the time, and I was afraid that they would come and get me. And so I said `I was just visiting' until I turned 18. And the next call from my mother, `When are you coming back?' was `Never.'

WILLIAMS: I got to take a break. But I--I got to ask a question. You've been out now for how long?

DON: About seven, eight years.

WILLIAMS: You've been out now for how long?

CARYN: Twelve years.

WILLIAMS: Tonight, you cut the lights off, what's it like? Does it come back? Every night, still, man?

DON: Depends. Depends where you're at, you know? When you're vulnerable, it will come back to you. And when you experience some type of an emotional loss, whether it's a break-up, whether it's stress, whether it's something like that, those triggers will be there. Or if somebody mistreats you or somebody exploits you, it'll bring you back to that place where you were abused as a child, where you were helpless, where you didn't have any recourse. But the good news is that there is happiness to be found. There is healing to be found. There's wonderful...

WILLIAMS: It's OK.

DON: There are--there are very wonderful people in the world, and--and I'm a lucky man. I have a very--I've lost a lot, some stuff that I'll never get back, but I have--I have incredible friends, and--and I respect myself very much. And...

WILLIAMS: That's what it's all about. Let me take a break. We'll be back right after this.

(Announcements)

WILLIAMS: Well, for more information about today's show, I want you to logon to our Web site, www.montelshow.com.

You know, Steve, maybe--I sit here, and--and I've just now talked to two survivors of what I consider as--as heinous as--as any cult that I've interviewed and talked about on the show.

Mr. HASSAN: Mm-hmm.

WILLIAMS: But if there are thousands of them out there; where can I tell them to go? Should they come to your Web site? What can they do? Because they're probably tuning in and there's--there's probably 400- or 500 people watching right now who went, `That was me, that was me, that was me.'

Mr. HASSAN: Well, first of all, there's a very good Web site put up by ex-members, it's xfamily.org, I believe.

CARYN: And m--and movingon.org. That's where I found many of my peers.

Mr. HASSAN: Moving--movingon.org. Mine is freedomofmind.com. And--but there's not enough resources to take care of all the people who need help. And part of my mission has been trying to train mental health professionals, trying to--I went out to Utah to train officials in Arizona and Utah regarding the--the polygamy cult that's out there with 40,000 people in it. And--but--but authorities, they don't know what to do yet, and there just needs to be a lot more done.

WILLIAMS: Well, let me just say this. They may not know what to do yet, but I'm going to guarantee you, we better demand that they start to do something.

Mr. HASSAN: Absolutely.

WILLIAMS: Because those are the people that are out there preying upon your children, your loved ones, your family members. And woe be it to you that you said nothing about it, and now everybody gets together at the next family reunion wondering where is Uncle Billy or Cousin Bob, they haven't seen him in three years, and everybody knows that this is where he's at, but don't know what to do.

I wish the two of you well. Anything we can do to help you? I should say that during the break we talked about some other individuals that are involved that you guys know.

DON: Absolutely.

WILLIAMS: Bring them to us. I'll find a rehab center for them. I'll find a place for them. We need to make this public so more people will understand what's going on.

DON: We'll do whatever we can.

CARYN: Thank you, Montel.

DON: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Well, thank you. Join us on the next MONTEL.

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