Dozens of American children picked up during police raid on Argentinian branch of international cult
Download video (1:47, 5.7MB) – 1993-09-03
PAULA ZAHN, co-anchor:
Dozens of American children are said to be among hundreds picked up during a police raid on a group in Argentina. Group members call themselves the Family of Love. But police say the group is the offshoot of a cult in California and the issue is child abuse. Bill Lagattuta reports.
BILL LAGATTUTA reporting:
In Argentina overnight, authorities raided a cult known as The Family and took nearly 300 members into custody, most of them children, 80 of them Americans. French, Spanish and Australian authorities have all made similar raids recently, alleging the self-styled religious group is a global child sex network. Former members showed CBS News home videos, claiming to prove the cult's central theme, that sex is the only way to salvation, including sex among young children. Bithia Sherman, an ex-member.
Ms. BITHIA SHERMAN (Former Family of God [?] Member): Well, I believe the child abuse is going on because I experienced it firsthand.
LAGATTUTA: Cult experts say The Family has its young girls recruit new members by having sex with them.
Mr. SANDY ANDRON (Cult Researcher): If you can convince people that they can be involved in sex and that, in so doing, they're doing God's will, then you've got them hooked.
LAGATTUTA: The Family, with several homes here in California, admits it once encouraged sex as a recruitment technique, but says it's changed. And current members say they're now being persecuted.
Mr. TIMOTHY RICHARDS (Cult Spokesperson): There--our enemies make these big accusations of child abuse, our detractors go on and on about this, but there's really no basis to it. That's been found again and again and again.
LAGATTUTA: The cult's founder is David Berg, now 74, who preached free love in the '60s. His whereabouts are unknown and no charges have been brought against the California branch. But tonight, many authorities worldwide seem convinced The Family is a twisted movement in which young children are trapped. Bill Lagattuta, CBS News, Los Angeles.