January 19, 2005
Dear members of The Family International,
These past few days have been a very difficult and painful time for all of us. We wish to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Angela Smith, as well as to friends and family of Ricky Rodriguez who are members of The Family.
There has been a great deal of media attention regarding the circumstances of Ricky and Angela's death, and we have been concerned that issues may have been clouded by anger and pain. Ricky's actions and their deaths have come as a great shock to us as we know they must have been to you also. Yet in the midst of this tragedy we have hope that constructive solutions will come to bear over anger and grief.
It is extremely painful for those of us who knew and loved Ricky to think of how deep his pain and despair must have been to be driven to such extreme measures. None of us condone the violent actions Ricky took. It’s so difficult to understand why this occurred and many of us wonder if we could have done more to provide support and help for our friend. It is our sincerest wish that we can promote healing and hope to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again.
Many of us have parents and siblings who remain members of The Family. We spent years of our lives growing up with you. We are not nameless strangers. We are not the "enemy", or the "Devil". We are your children and siblings. Many of us still believe in God, but many of us were terribly hurt and abused while in The Family. We are suffering and hurting as a result of this. We want to heal and break any potential cycles of abuse. Will you help us?
While some of us have asked for this before, we want to clearly and directly ask you now: Will the administrative arm of The Family International, World Services, work with us and law enforcement agencies to investigate the full extent of the abuse of children born and raised in The Family? Will World Services cooperate with law enforcement officials to identify abusers so that they can be held accountable for their actions?
Our goal in asking this is not to cause unnecessary pain to Family members. Nor do we want to hinder the good and charitable work for which many are engaged. Many want to make the world a better place. We have no desire to impede such efforts, nor to infringe on the fundamental right to believe and practice ones religion, which does not harm others or impede their fundamental freedoms.
We have read statements made by The Family's spokesperson, Claire Borowik, stating that The Family administrators are willing to cooperate with authorities in investigating cases of abuse among its membership and encourage their members to do so also. We are encouraged by that position of The Family. We simply ask for that stated cooperation on behalf of The Family in assisting us in bringing those responsible for abuses to us as children forward and to justice. Thanks to the cooperation of The Family administrative branch, we believe that innocent parties will certainly be spared further unnecessary pain.
What we do hope to accomplish is to determine which individuals were criminally involved in the abuse of second generation members and ex-members and ensure that they are held accountable.
We do not wish to create a climate of hysteria that might distract from this main purpose. There are many people in The Family, including some of our own families and friends, who are innocent of any crime and were never truly aware or involved in abusive activity. Those individuals have no cause for concern.
Much of the worst abuse that we suffered occurred many years ago prior to our departures from The Family. Nevertheless, the abusers are still obligated to account for their actions. We encourage them to come forward and take responsibility. This may be difficult and painful, but we encourage them with the biblical promise that "He who conceals his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Now is their opportunity to come clean and take personal responsibility for their actions and the harm that they have caused.
We believe that, broadly speaking, we have the same goals as many in The Family. We want a better world with healing and justice. We have struggled with deep wounds and pain for far too long. We believe that "the truth will make us free" (John 8:32). Please, let's work together to tell the truth in this matter. Please help us to make things right.
Thank you for your time and attention.
With best wishes, we remain,
Your Children Signed:
(Note: As of March 9, 2005 this document has been signed by 170 former member who were raised in the Family. The complete list of signatures can be found at the link below.)