Statement by Claire Borowik
In a January 2005 article by Tuscon Citizen reporters Blake Morlock and David L. Teibel, Family International spokesperson Claire Borowik was quoted as stating that "Ricky [Rodriguez] was not the subject of corporal punishment:"
A spokeswoman for The Family International denies the group, which she calls a communal organization, did anything to hurt Rodriguez.
"Ricky was not the subject of corporal punishment," said Claire Borowik, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. "He lived in a liberal environment and it was not something he dealt with."
Source: Tucson Citizen: Murder suspect, a suicide, raised by cult to lead — 2005-01-12
A number of Mo Letters, which include transcripts of tape-recorded statements by his adoptive father David Brandt Berg and nanny Sara Kelley admitting to physically striking Rodriguez as a method of child discipline, indicate that Borowik's statement was false in that Mr. Rodriguez was in fact subjected to corporal punishment on numerous occasions during his early childhood. Furthermore, in 2002, Rodriguez publicly detailed alleged incidents of later severe physical abuse of him and other children by Sara Kelley.
Excerpts from Family Publications contradicting Borowik's statement
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17. ... And then afterwards when his mother slapped his hand, he was just giving a real mad cry because he was really angry and continued to cry and wouldn't stop.
18. I FELT THAT I JUST HAD TO SLAP HIS MOUTH because of the way he was acting so rebellious. ...
25. (S: NORMALLY HE DOESN'T ACT THAT WAY, AND THE FAMILY HAS NEVER SEEN ME ACTUALLY HIT HIM. I mean he's had spanks, a little swat or something. ... )
28. (S: DID YOU KNOW THAT THE LAST TWO TIMES WE'VE ACTUALLY SPANKED HIM, like swatted his bottom for not obeying or absolutely defying us on something, it's only been twice, I think, since we've been in this house. The last two times, though, believe it or not, he's gotten so mad at me for swatting him!
29. (ONCE IT WAS IN THE SCHOOL ROOM in front of another adult. He stood up, and for a moment he didn't cry at all, but he just stood up and glared at me like he just hated me! Then all of a sudden, his eyes got a little weak and he acted like he was almost going to faint, like he used to when he bumped his head.
30. (HE SCREAMED SO BIG AND HE GOT SO MAD THAT HE ALMOST FAINTED ... although it was anger, maybe it was also fear.)
52. ( ... But he is usually real, real good, so whenever he does cry or get spanked or something, he really cries!) Get's really upset. (S: Uh-huh, and holds grudges.)
59. BUT DAVIDITO'S SO DIFFERENT AND SO SENSITIVE AND SO THOUGHTFUL, AND USUALLY SO GOOD. He is entirely a whole different case. He never did need a lot of corporal punishment. Some kids just don't respond to anything but a little physical violence.
226. I ASKED GOD DESPERATELY. WHAT IS WRONG WITH LITTLE DAVID & why is he defiantly wetting the bed in spite of everything we have done—threatened him, punished him, spanked him. First of all we told him he was going to have to make his own bed & change his own clothes if he wet the bed, & then when that didn't do it I said, well, then you're going to have to spank him on top of it, & that didn't do it, he was stubborn & defiant! And I told you now you're going to have to threaten him that if he doesn't stop it he's going to have to wear diapers.
68. IF I SPANKED YOU OR DID SOMETHING TO HURT YOUR FEELINGS YOU REALLY REMEMBERED IT & you didn't like it--especially if you thought I was wrong & you were right. Sometimes we think we're right & maybe God is wrong, & we would have done it better or we can do it better. But who really is right? (David: God.) God! Sometimes when He spanks us we don't like it.
Other evidence contradicting Borowik's statement
In a June 2002 posting on MovingOn, Rodriguez himself detailed later incidents of severe physical abuse by Sara Kelley:
Sweet and loving Mama Maria wanted Sara to slap us silly and grind us into the ground if we did anything wrong. Berg was absolutely horrified if he ever heard of Techi getting spanked more than just a few little "love-pats". Berg was undisputedly the boss, but Maria really held the power, so Sara was stuck in the middle.
She became increasingly violent to where she would just loose it, and start hitting and kicking us for minor infractions. One of the rules was that during meals us kids always had to pick up the water pitchers with two hands (as well as only eat with spoons and only use half a napkin). At the end of one meal, I reached over and picked up the mostly empty pitcher with one hand. She slapped me full swing with the back of her hand which knocked the pitcher out of mine, and almost knocked me off my chair. Her hand hit my eye, which I couldn’t fully open it till the next morning.
Another time I "justified myself" for something. She threw me against the wall and kicked me repeatedly.
I was helping the handymen once, by painting a new gate that had just been erected. I lost track of the time and was about 20 minutes late for lunch. I came timidly into the lunch room, hoping to avoid her. I sat down as far away from her as possible, but I noticed her glaring at me. After lunch, when most people were in the kitchen going through the dish line, she grabbed me and started slapping me with both hands back and forth. She threw me to the ground, and then half dragged me back to our room.
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