Associated Press: Mexican groups accuse U.S.-based cult of sexual abuse

From XFamily - Children of God

Mexican groups accuse U.S.-based cult of sexual abuse

Associated Press/1997-03-26

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Several civic groups in the resort city of Cancun accused a U.S.-based religious sect known as "The Family" of sexually abusive practices, according to reports published Tuesday.

The Mexico City daily El Universal quoted an unnamed official of the Interior Ministry as saying the group's conduct in Mexico has been "irreproachable" and suggesting that sensationalist press reports may have motivated the accusations.

The accusations, presented before a Cancun public magistrate by a child protection association and a parents' group, charge The Family used sex to recruit members and encouraged bigamy and incest among members. The Family is an offshoot of the Children of God sect founded by Christian missionary David Berg in California in the late 1960s. It claims 6,000 adult and 3,000 children members in 50 countries.

The group has been investigated by authorities in France, Spain, Australia, Venezuela and Peru, but has not been convicted of any crimes. It denies all accusations and blames cult awareness groups for campaigning against it worldwide.

A representative of the group interviewed by El Universal denied the charges, and said that the sect's commune-based members had already left the Cancun area to avoid problems.

Family representative Carlos Cedillo said The Family has been in Mexico since 1976, and that about 200 families belong to the group nationwide.

In a statement published in 1994, the group's leaders acknowledged that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Berg encouraged his followers to engage in a form of sexual evangelism, which he referred to as "Flirty Fishing."

The organization says it stopped the practice in 1987.