Dr. Phil: The Family Cult Escapees

From XFamily - Children of God

The Family Cult Escapees

Dr. Phil/2005-10-03

Following is a transcript of the video shown on the right.
Download: Video icon Dr. Phil: The Family Cult Escapees — (36:59, 93.8MB)

HOST: Dr. Phil McGraw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Carla Pennington Stewart

Announcer: All new today, millions watched as Dr. Phil exposed this dangerous cult.

PHIL McGRAW: Law enforcement moved in.

Announcer: Now he's uncovered a cult even more shocking.

McGRAW: Hookers for Jesus.

(video excerpt)

Crowd: (In unison) Hail Jesus.

Announcer: Where adults raise children as sex slaves.

CHINA: (From upcoming segment) When I was five years old, a guy would throw me on the floor. My mother knew about the abuse, and she has not done a single thing about it.

Announcer: Now this survivor confronts her cult father.

(Excerpts from upcoming segment)

McGRAW: Ask yourself, what does my daughter need right now?

KRISTI: I finally want to say something about these people and you want me to say...

JIM (Former Cult Member): Sweetheart.

KRISTI: ...what's so great.

McGRAW: She does not trust you. You're not in a cult anymore so you can say anything you want to. (End of excerpts)

McGRAW: Coming up. (Opening sequence)

McGRAW: All right. Looking good. Good morning. Thank you. Thank you very much. All right. All right.

If—if you can, I want you to imagine growing up in a cult where you are forced to sleep with strangers and lose your virginity when you're as young as five years old. Today, we're talking to people who escaped the group known as the Children of God and need help in moving on. But first, I want to update in another abusive religious sect that we exposed just last season. You'll remember this. Take a look. (Excerpts from videotape)

McGRAW: It's a secret world of polygamy and alleged abuse going on right here in the US in a town called Colorado City.

Unidentified Woman #1: It absolutely is a cult. They use brain washing. They—they use terror.

Offscreen Voice #1: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Woman #1: Fifty-six.

Unidentified Woman #2: I was born in Colorado City. I was taught that people from outside were not to be trusted and not to talk to them.

Unidentified Woman #3: They teach you that men are higher than women. Women should bow to them.

Unidentified Woman #4: Warren Jeffs is the one that controls everybody.

McGRAW: Part of you misses your family, but part of you says, 'I don't ever want to go back there.'

Unidentified Woman #5: And to know I'm really going to go to hell.

McGRAW: I'm no preacher, but I do know that God is a loving God. And this idea that, if you assert this free will, that you will forever burn in hell, is just simply not right. It's just simply not right. This is statutory rape, it's endangerment of a child. Why is the board of education and child protective services not jumping up and down and not doing something about this? We actually asked Jay to go to Colorado City, and this was quite a trip.

Mr. JAY McGRAW: It was literally like going back in time. Is it hard to investigate crimes in this community?

Mr. GARY ENGELS (Mohave County Investigator): Very hard.

Mr. McGRAW: Why?

Mr. ENGELS: The types of retributions that they receive if they do talk are horrendous.

Mr. McGRAW: What happens to them?

Mr. ENGELS: Number one, their family's taken away from them. Two, their houses are taken away from them. Three, their jobs are taken away from them. And four, and to a lot of these people most important, their salvations are taken away from them.

Mr. McGRAW: But who takes it away?

Mr. ENGELS: Warren Jeffs does.

Mr. McGRAW: So this a polygamous community?

Mr. DAVID ZITTING (Hildale Mayor): Well, that's pretty well factual. It's been that way for a lot of years.

Mr. McGRAW: Do you think there's anything wrong with it?

Mr. ZITTING: I haven't seen anything wrong with it.

Mr. McGRAW: How about arranged marriages?

Mr. ZITTING: Again, we're into personal things that I'm not knowledgeable about.

Mr. McGRAW: You're going to take the Fifth on that one? How about child brides?

Mr. ZITTING: I'm not out watching people's personal lives.

(End of excerpts)

McGRAW: Well, the Arizona attorney general was watching people's lives. Just weeks after seeing our show, law enforcement moved in. Eight men from thegroup turned themselves in on charges of sexual misconduct stemming from theirrelations with underaged brides. The controversial leader, Warren Jeffs, was also indicted. We are told he is on the run. For the first time ever in Arizona, a $10,000 reward is being offered to track down a fugitive.

The Colorado City story is not an isolated case. Today, we're going inside another shocking cult where nine-year-olds were known to have sex with 25-year-olds on dates set up by their parents. What began as a typical '60s commune became a den of outrageous sexual molestation, prostitution and extreme physical abuse, all in the name of God.

(Excerpts from videotape)

KRISTI: I was born and raised in a cult called the Children of God.

NINA: I was molested and physically abused by several different members of this cult.

CHINA: A guy would grab me, and he yanked me into a room, close the door, lock the door, close all the curtains and throw me on the floor.

McGRAW: The Children of God was formed in the late '60s. They preached peace and brotherly love. But now many former members insist that they were misled and part of a dangerous cult.

JOHN: They took away all of our contact with the outside world.

KRISTI: I felt like I was constantly controlled and constantly beaten into submission.

NINA: I witnessed sexual, verbal and physical abuse of at least six of my siblings.

McGRAW: Its founder, David Berg, preached his own interpretation of the Bible. What began as communal living transformed into a bizarre world of child abuse, prostitution and incest. The female members were encouraged to use sex to recruit new converts. Their leader encouraged women to be hookers for Jesus. Berg even coined the term called "flirty fishing," commanding women to lure men with their bodies into the cult.

Unidentified Woman #6: It was all just a very physical act, like cooking an egg and making toast, sleep with somebody. They'd go into clubs en masse and pick up men and have sex with them. And it was all geared to have them give a donations or get them to join the group.

JIM: The instruction was to build a colony and have them sleep with the powerful people in the neighborhood for protection and for money.

McGRAW: Propaganda in the form of video and flyers were distributed from within the cult promoting sex with multiple partners.

NINA: If you give your wife, if you give her joyfully, not in your heart regretting it.

McGRAW: Sexually suggestive videos were made and circulated within the cult to show how other members were recruiting around the world. Berg began tocall himself Moses David and constructed the Mo Letters, which were publications of his writings and speeches to serve as guidelines to his followers. In the letters, it is suggested that women send him videotapes for his personal viewing pleasure. Shockingly many times, these videos actually include children.

NINA: The idea of sharing came from the Mo Letters. In the Mo Letters, he instructed that there should be schedules to make sure that nobody got left out. You know, nobody that was saying, 'No, you can't be with my wife or my husband.'

McGRAW: Paving the way for the next generation, children were often sent to victor camps, where they were rehabilitated according to Berg's standards.

JIM: Monsters who run the camps have their way with these kids, the beatings, the silence restrictions, the rapes, all that stuff happened from these real sadistic animals.

NINA: I mean, the parents, Berg instructed just to spank the children until they quit crying. The form of discipline called silent treatment was for talking back to the adults. You had to wear a sign around your neck that said, 'Do not talk to me. I'm on silent treatment.'

CHINA: Because we're so isolated, nothing was normal. I didn't go to school. I didn't meet friends.

JOHN: It wasn't until the Internet that we really understood much about the outside world.

JIM: I got free in 1975. Free from that false dream, but the effects of it have been horrendous.

NINA: I am a victim of the Children of God in the fact that I lost my child to it. I don't think you can ever get over a nightmare like that.

(End of excerpts)

McGRAW: The Children of God changed their name to The Family in 1978. Now people who leave The Family call themselves the Second Generation. Several have been so haunted by the abuse they've committed suicide. One survivor made headlines earlier this year. He was the prophet's son. His name was Ricky Rodriguez. You may remember he was raised to be the second coming. His story is beyond chilling.

(Excerpts from videotape)

McGRAW: He was called Davidito. He was the son of cult founder David Berg. From his birth in 1975, Berg deemed him the future prophet and the standard by which other members should aspire.

JOHN: He was the prince. He was the child of the founding leader of the family.

McGRAW: Berg wrote the book of Davidito, a disturbing depiction of Ricky's childhood including graphic photos of young Ricky's sexual encounters. Many of the photos are too graphic to show on television.

JOHN: The book of Davidito was a child care manual of how to raise their kids.

McGRAW: This so-called rearing guide advocates child sex. The sexual abuse with Ricky started at 14 months. Thinking he could forget the memories of the abuse, Ricky left the group in 2001. But the damage had been done.

JOHN: Ricky, unfortunately, felt a burden that he didn't—it wasn't his to bear. And that eventually led to his suicide.

McGRAW: Before killing himself, Ricky made a chilling video outlining his plans to seek revenge against his former abusers.

Mr. RICKY RODRIGUEZ: This is my weapon of choice. I only want it for one purpose: taking out the scum. Taking out the...(censored by network)...trash.

Horrible thing when adults contemplate suicide. But so much worse when you got...(censored by network)...little kid who is, you know, not born to be amessed-up little...(censored by network). And you just...(censored bystation)...him over because you're a...(censored by station)...pervert. It happened to all of you. Thousands of us. There are so many other kinds of abuse that went on. How can you do that to kids and sleep at night? I got stuck on this one thing. It's a need for revenge. It's a need for justice because I can't go on like this. So, with that happy thought, I shall leave you.

(End of excerpts)

McGRAW: After Ricky made that tape, he tracked down a former female abuser, killed her and then killed himself. It's been reported that anywhere from 10 to 31 ex-members of The Family have taken their own lives in the last short amount of time. Coming up, we're going to talk to a daughter who says she cannot forgive her father for the years of painful abuse she suffered at the hands of this very cult. We'll talk to them when we come back.

KRISTI: (From videotape) I was born and raised in a cult. I remember a lot of abuse. I was 10, 11, maybe. The guy was sleeping on the bunk, and they put me in the bed with him and he had sex with me. My father, he's always said that this was the greatest experience in his life, having this experience with this group, You know how small that makes me feel?


McGRAW: Today we're talking to people who escaped the Children of God cult and are having trouble adjusting to the outside world. Now Jim joined when he was a teen-ager. At first it was the answer he had been looking for, but it became a nightmare, just a life of harsh discipline and brutal sexual abuse for his daughters. Take a look.

(Excerpts from videotape)

JIM: The journey began in the summer of 1970. I chose to join this group of people who lived communally. The Children of God, they called themselves a revolution for love, and these people were beautiful and we lived together, shared, loved, we lived differently than the rest of the world, and it turned bad. It turned real bad.

Offscreen Voice #2: David Berg inventing something called flirty fishing. He used sex to recruit converts and...

JIM: In the beginning, there was no wife swapping or sharing. When I finally landed a wife, I was in love with her. The thought of sharing her with anyone or sending her out to bring converts through flirty fishing, just they knew, they knew I was not going to go for that. So they effectively got rid of me. She stayed and still there. My kids were held hostage in this group.

KRISTI: I was born and raised in a cult called the Children of God, and I lived there for 16 years.

NINA: I'm Kristi's older sister. I was a victim of sexual, verbal and physical abuse while I was in the group. That started when I was about six. It went on until I was about 10 or 11.

KRISTI: I remember a lot of abuse, just stuff that was dark rooms, and I remember being really, really little. And they encouraged mothers and fathers of their children to stimulate their children sexually and to actively encourage their children to stimulate themselves, as well as stimulate the other children and stimulate the adults.

NINA: I did get used to the abuse because if I just be quiet and be still and get it over with, then I could grow up.

JIM: When Donna split with the kids, I first went into horrible depression because she took these kids out of the country, that she could hide forever.

KRISTI: When we first got to Thailand, I was eight years old, when I started to be offered to other people, outside of the group.

JIM: Thirteen years, and her being in Thailand. Horrible stuff.

KRISTI: I think what happens when you're abused over a long period of time, it all meshes together for you. There's no beginning and there's no end.

(End of excerpts)

McGRAW: Jim says he spent 15 years looking for his daughters. The girls escaped the cult when they were teen-agers and tracked him down. Now the happy reunion didn't last long.

(Excerpt from videotape)

KRISTI: I didn't realize I had a father on the outside. We came back in the States when I was 12 years old. At age 16, I stopped communicating so much with my mother. After hearing from the outside point of view what this cult was like, it freaked me out. And that's when I began to search for my father. I got his ex-wife's number. And I called her. And she was like, 'Kristi, he's been looking for you for 15 years. You know, yes, he wants you.'

Hi, Daddy. This is Kristi. Listen, I haven't heard from you in a long time. I'd really like to hear from you. Bye.

JIM: It was the happiest day of my life. You know, she called me. Out of the blue.

KRISTI: I walked off the airplane and saw my dad. And it was the first time I actually felt something inside of me that felt happy.

JIM: She wanted a life. She wanted to get the hell out of there.

KRISTI: I felt safe. I felt really safe for the first time.

JIM: She had found her father, and she wasn't going to let him go.

KRISTI: I don't think he ever wanted to be my dad dad. I think he wanted to be my friend. If I called him Dad, he would be furious. It was like, 'Don't call me dad in front of anybody, Kristi. I've told you this.'

JIM: There is a break that happened between Kristi and I.

KRISTI: The first thing that happened was he sat down with Nina and I and he said, 'You know, I'm going to write a book. I have a couple question for you guys.' And his first question was, 'What was some of the good stuff that you remember?'

Stopped talking at that point because he had never made that big of a deal about the abuse, but he wanted to know the good stuff. It makes me feel very strange.

After the Ricky Rodriguez murder/suicide, Ricky's widow came to my father's house. They talked about what had happened and her story and Ricky's story. And my father composed a contract. It was a contract that would allow him to control the right of the story and benefit monetarily from those rights as well.

JIM: I really felt that story better be written properly.

KRISTI: I see my father now as a person who's very self-serving, who does stuff if it means he will benefit from it.

Now my dad and I rarely talk, but when we do it feels like we have the same conversation over and over again.

The reason I fell in love with you as my dad is because you believed me. You were on my side. You listened to me. You were there for me. I don't feel like you're on my side anymore. You're so caught up in this stuff. The important stuff just slipped away, Dad.

JIM: I'm doing it for every fricking kid that's been ruined by these people.

KRISTI: It's tough for me, Dad, because you never stood up to them before.

I don't think my father understands unconditional love.

JIM: You know you love me, and I know I love you. And that doesn't change because of all this...(censored by station)...that's gone down in our lives.

KRISTI: He's always said that this was the greatest experience of his life, having this experience with this group. You know how small that makes me feel? The greatest experience of my life was meeting my father.

JIM: All I know is I don't know how to solve this. This is where I really need Dr. Phil's help.

(End of excerpts)

McGRAW: Jim, let me ask you, how do you feel about what Kristi's saying here?

JIM: I want my daughter back.

McGRAW: Well, but that isn't what you said to her on the phone. What you said to her on the phone was, 'I am doing this for you, and I'm doing it for every kid that's been in this situation and abused.' And isn't there a poin tat which you say, 'OK. Maybe we'll get to that point, but how about me now?' Is that what you're saying here?

KRISTI: I want to know how invested he is in this relationship with me because I feel that when he makes decisions, he has no idea how that's going to affect me. But when I try to bring that to his attention, that this affects me in a certain way, he tries to explain to me that this is for the greater good, or this is for—that I shouldn't feel certain ways necessarily because he's got it all under control.

McGRAW: OK. All right. Up next, can Kristi stop feeling used by her father and trust him again? We're going to talk about all of that as the show unfolds. We'll be right back.

(Excerpts from videotape)

KRISTI: On the emotional side of it, my father has been very abusive.

JIM: At times, she's a Doberman Pinscher.

KRISTI: It doesn't mean...(censored by station)...to me if ultimately you still stand where you stand and I still stand where I stand.

Talking to him is like banging my head against the wall. That's why I said, you know, 'Enough, enough. I'm done. Stop.'

(End of excerpts)


(Graphic on Screen)

DR. PHIL Tip of the Day

McGRAW: As a parent, do you ever look at your children and wonder who they're going to become? Do you ever look at them and wonder how they have become who they are? With the exception of some DNA, some genetic coding, our children are largely a process of their learning history. They're largely a product of the social experiences that they have in interaction and exposure to others. When you're turning your child over to someone outside the family, do you really know who it is? We take our children to day care, we turn them over to coaches in Little League, we take them to school and Sunday school, and we let other adults who seem credible, seem balanced, start influencing our children. What do you really know about those people, those powerful adults that can write on the slate of who your child will become? Be very careful to screen their values and don't just assume it's been done by someone else.


JIM: My youngest daughter is different. She wants me to feel guilty. She wants me to—to feel the pain that she's suffered. That daughter and I have to get back on the same page. How we will do it, who knows?

McGRAW: Well, today I'm talking to a father and daughter who were in a religious cult where severe sexual abuse against children were not only the accepted way of doing things but was scheduled. Now Jim left the group when Kristi was a little girl. It took 15 years for a reunion. But now Kristi has trouble trusting her dad.

Tell me, as straight forwardly as you can, what is it you want from him tha tyou're not getting?

KRISTI: I want to feel heard in a relationship with him. I want to feel valid, that when he makes decisions, he realizes how that affects me. Even if that doesn't change his decision. I just want him to at least think about how that would affect me. As a parent, when you do something, how that affects your child.

McGRAW: When we think about where you've been and what's happened, and—and I know this is not fun to think about, as far as you know, your sexual abuse started at age 2.

KRISTI: Correct.

McGRAW: And—and went until you were 16 when you got out of there. When you were eight, you were raped by a 40-year-old man.

KRISTI: Repeatedly.

McGRAW: You lived in a van from five until eight years old.

KRISTI: That's correct.

McGRAW: When you were in Thailand, they made you sleep with a guy that owned the house so you all could stay there.

KRISTI: Right. Again, these are just incidents, but they're...

McGRAW: These are just—these are spikes...


McGRAW: ...that you remember along the way. You know that history. Right?

JIM: Yes, I do.

McGRAW: What have you done to help her and—and try to heal those wounds andexperiences?

JIM: We went to counseling in the beginning. I got discouraged with it.

McGRAW: What do you mean, you got tired of doing the therapy. I don't—w—w—what I'm trying to get to is it seems to me that what you're doing is interviewing her and trying to write a book to bring this to light for the Second Generation and talking to her about these things. And she's telling you that doesn't feel right to me. I question whether you're really in this to help me or help anybody else or whether you're trying to take this and turn it into some exploitation for profit. That's how you feel, correct?

KRISTI: Absolutely.

McGRAW: And she's told you that, but yet you're persisting in that. But you don't persist in therapy, whether you don't like that therapist, you get another one, you do something else. Are you—you're not trained to handle this, are you?

JIM: No, not at all.

McGRAW: I mean, you—you're in way over your head, right?

JIM: Yeah.

McGRAW: So you obviously need help.

JIM: Yeah.

McGRAW: Are you getting it? Are you reaching out for that help? Are you going to this doctor, that clinic, this person, that person? Are you doing anything t—to help in this process that—consistently? Is that a no, I haven't—I haven't reached out to different doctors. I haven't looked for different sources and alternatives.

JIM: I did in the beginning, and—and—and I got discouraged.

McGRAW: Well, I want to undiscourage you. And we'll talk about that when we come back. How can this reconnection take place? It is not too late. It's never too late. We'll be right back.

That's the good news.


KRISTI: (From videotape) It was a very, very controlled environment. At the end of the night, you write down any of the doubts you've had, any of the lessons you learned that day, how many bowel movements you had, what kind of food you ate, who you made love with.

McGRAW: I'm talking to a family who is dealing with the aftermath of an outrageous religious group where sexual abuse, spouse swapping, cruel, physical punishment, was just a nam—normal part of their day, a normal part of their life.

Tell me why you think he is trying to exploit this situation rather than really reconnect with you as a daughter.

KRISTI: Is an example OK?

McGRAW: Sure. See, you're not in a cult anymore, so you can say any damn thing you want to.

JIM: Exactly.

McGRAW: OK. Nobody can tell you what to think. Nobody can tell you what todo.

KRISTI: When I was in the Children of God, I was molested by an older boy, and when I got out, fast forward for a li—for a little bit to my life now, I run into him again, and I think to myself, well, this is a person who grew up in the same environment I did and who had the same conditioning and the same training. So I didn't feel it was proper to not give him another chance just to say he was sorry. And my father wanted to know what was going on. When I explained to him what was going on and that I was asking for the people who were working with this guy to talk to him about counseling or something else because I felt if they isolated him because of what he had done, he would turn into a monster like some of the other people had or kill himself, turn on himself. And I didn't want to see that happen. My father at that point in time saw that I was very upset and asked me what was going on. And I explained to him. A couple day--well, a day later, I got an e-mail from the people that I was talking to about this incident. My father had gotten involved and told them that I couldn't handle the situation and that I was calling this guy names, and that I really was emotionally fragile right now, I didn't need to be involved with this guy. He would handle this. I was very, very upset because I felt like I was finally starting to get some power for myself.

McGRAW: So you were making some choices. You were choosing to try to forgive this person.

KRISTI: Correct.

McGRAW: But you owned it.


McGRAW: And he took it that away from you.


JIM: Well...

McGRAW: I know there's two sides to every story, but...

JIM: Yeah.

McGRAW: ...whatever happened, what's your--what was your motive at that point?

JIM: It's a real issue amongst these kids, as to how...

McGRAW: But are you interested in the kids or are you interested in your daughter? This--see, here's what I'm not getting, Jim. Have you asked yourself, what does my daughter need right now? You did write the book. You did interview her about it. When--when--did you not?

JIM: No, I didn't interview her for the book.

McGRAW: Did--did he not ask you--did you--did you not say the very first question he asked was, 'OK, tell me the good parts?'

KRISTI: You flew to Louisiana, you were at a hotel room here before you left to Finland to go write the book, and you sat Nina and I down and you said, 'I'm going to write a book and I have some questions for you guys.' The firstquestion you asked was, 'What was the good stuff? What was the greatest experience being in there for you?' Do you not remember that? Do you know howthat made me feel? You finally want to say something about these people, and you want me to say what...

JIM: Sweetheart.

KRISTI: ...was so great about them?

McGRAW: Where do you go after this? What do these two do? We'll be rightback.

(Excerpts from videotape)

McGRAW: Next, another Second Generation member talks about the abuse.

CHINA: I was born into the group. When I was five years old, that's when the sexual abuse started, and it went on until I was 14 years old. It was anywhere between nine to 12 men. My mother is still in the group. She knew about the abuse that happened to me. Why, Mom? Why?

(End of excerpts)


McGRAW: Today I'm talking to some people who have left a cult called the Children of God, later renamed itself The Family. It's known for its bizarre sexual practices involving children and adults. Now China and her husband John left the group together. Now, China's brother committed suicide last year, tragically. She's worried that other Second Generation members will also suffer the same fate. I want to add them to our discussion.

(Excerpts from videotape)

CHINA: I'm China, and I'm a Second Generation survivor. I was born into the group. I have anger, frustration, sadness, bitterness, towards the group.

JOHN: Me and my four siblings were brought to The Family by my father. It's hard for me to call it a cult because those are people that we grew up with.

CHINA: Nothing was normal. I didn't go to school. I didn't meet friends. Everybody that I knew was in this big home. I didn't know of any other life. When I was five years old, that's when the sexual abuse started, and it went on until I was 14 years old. It was anywhere between nine to 12 men that I was abused by.

JOHN: As a child, I was abused, and I had a date set up with me and another adult lady. She was 25. I was nine. I look at my son right now and he's also nine years old. I can't even think about putting him into that position.

CHINA: I had no idea that--that it was wrong. I thought it was a way of life. I thought, oh, oh, so this is--this is sex. This is how you're supposed to be introduced to it is adult men trying to touch you and you basically had to keep your mouth shut. And if you said anything, you'd be punished.

JOHN: The experiences that I had in The Family affect me through the rest of my life. When you have sex at nine years old with a 25-year-old, it's essentially graduating from high school.

CHINA: We got married. I had the baby. John and I left the cult because there was no way that I wanted my son to have to live through what we did. I didn't want him to have that lifestyle. I was so scared to leave. I had no idea how we were going to support ourselves. I didn't know how to open a bank account, how to write a check, nothing.

JOHN: You have to start from zero. We started without an education. We started no money, only a dream to become something other than what was forced down our throats.

CHINA: My mother is still in the group. In fact, she's not only in the group, but she's quite a big leader. She knew about the abuse that happened to me. And she has not done a single thing about it. My oldest brother is still in the group. He's 29. My second eldest brother passed away. It was a suicide. My brother's death is a result to him being in the group. Why, Mom? Why? Why did you have to drag us into all of this? How can you keep on living like you are? Why do you need to keep being in that group? Your son died. Doesn't that mean anything to you? I believe if something doesn't happen, that there will be more suicides. Why should people like us, the Second Generation, suffer for the lifestyle that the First Generation lived while in The Family? Dr. Phil, do we forgive and forget, or do we prosecute our parents?

(End of excerpts)

McGRAW: And--and, John, you--you're saying you guys got out, and it's like, nobody's ever taught us just the normal things you have to do to function when you're not being shepherded around and herded around. That's got to be scary.

JOHN: Yeah, it's very scary because the life they build around you is very restrictive. We--we weren't allowed to have friends on the outside world, so the--the bubble that we lived in was, you know, strictly what they created.

McGRAW: I want to introduce Dr. Frank Lawlis. Dr. Lawlis is a career psychologist. He is the--actually the chairman of our advisory board here at the DR. PHIL show.

You and I have worked together for 30 years. And during that time, you've worked extensively with people that have been in this kind of situation. What's the biggest challenge? What--what does Jim need to do and--and what do you call the process that needs to go on with Kristi at this point, and with John and China?

Dr. FRANK LAWLIS: Well, what these people are offer--often suffering from is what we call posttraumatic stress syndrome, which has to do with the fact that they have been in a horrific situation, they've been terrorized. They have alot of anxiety, and that's--that's the beginning. I mean, that's at the beginning. So what they have to do is basically look for the--to the future. And this is called resocialization. What's happened here, obviously, is basically turning backward.

McGRAW: In those years that you were there, all of your contemporaries, all of your peers, are learning life skills, and you're not. So then when you're thrust into the world, then you see a lot of the frustration that goes on in people's lives. It's like, 'I don't know how to make this work.' And so you're left there. At that point, you need what we're referring to asresocialization.

An, Jay, in Colorado City, there are, what, 20, 30,000 children that now, with the cult being busted, what happens to all of those children? What happens to all of those women?

Mr. McGRAW: The kids that I saw, they have no exposure to the outside world. And now they're being thrown back in to regular society. And it's like, you know, 'Somebody--somebody tell me what to do.' And I couldn't imagine if they said, 'OK. I'm totally lost in this world. I'm going to look for somebody for help. All of a sudden, I find my father, the--the person who everybody says, this is the person that you look to for help. And then he doesn't help me.' That's got to be the most traumatic experience of your life except for the things that happened in the cult.

McGRAW: And when you were working with the attorney general in Utah, I think one of the things he said was, what are we go--the system doesn't have the resources to handle all of these people. I mean, all of these women that went to like the first or second grade and were forced to stop their education, all of these children. He's saying the state doesn't have the resources to deal with these folks.

Mr. McGRAW: Yeah, they--they created a society where the women were told to be and taught to be and required to be entirely dependent on the men. They were the sole wage earner, they were the sole supporter of the family, and the women were told to have as many children as possible. So now you have these women with very limited earning capacity, and they're going, 'How do--how do I now support these children?' And that--that's what the--that's what Utah and Arizona are dealing with and--and having to find the solutions to at this point.

McGRAW: All right. We're going to take a break. When we come back, I'm going to be very specific with you guys about exactly what you need to do to get past this. And we're going to talk about this resocialization. So we're going to talk about that when we come back.


McGRAW: We're talking to people who are trying to build a new life after leaving an abusive cult. Now there's something that is referred to in this Family cult as the Second Generation. And it's you--you two, it's the people that have been in there and then found their way out.

KRISTI: It's the people who were born in and didn't have a choice to join or not.

McGRAW: Right. And the question is, what happens with those people? Because you're seeing your friends get so frustrated that they're killing themselves.

KRISTI: My brothers.

McGRAW: You've had suicide with people that you consider your brothers. You've had the same experiences in--in your life. Now, do you--do you get the point about the resocialization that needs to take place?

JIM: Yeah.

McGRAW: And do you get the point that you are not qualified to provide that?

JIM: Yeah.

McGRAW: You don't have that training, and it is very specialized training, Dr. Lawlis. True?

Dr. LAWLIS: Very much so. You have to learn how to basically desensitize yourself to the past so that you can go forward.

McGRAW: And you--you need that. Do you agree?


McGRAW: You agree with that?


McGRAW: And do you agree with that?

JIM: Absolutely.

McGRAW: Because I--and, you know, one of the things Dr. Lawlis is saying is you cannot ignore the past.

JIM: Right.

McGRAW: But you've got to walk out of that history. You have to learn again what to trust and what not to trust. And she does not trust you at this point. And you don't trust her because you say, you know, 'I see him trying to write this book. That bothers me.' Then y--you get with Ricky's, was with his widow, that y--that you talked to because you wanted to shield her from the media, but then you tried to get her to sign a book deal as well. Correct?

JIM: No.

KRISTI: It was a contract to the rights to the story.

McGRAW: Yeah. A contract to the rights of the story.

JIM: No, it was a contract to protect them, that eventually happened.

McGRAW: That gave you 30 percent.

JIM: It was a contract that I wrote.

McGRAW: And--and so you wonder is--what's his motive here? When do I get to be the top of the priority list, right?

KRISTI: When does the idea of what these victims went through become the first priority instead of the agenda to make money or sell books or sell stories or anything else?

McGRAW: One of your positions is that by telling that story and drawing attention to it, you do help people that have been through it so they know they're not alone, so maybe attention will be brought to it like Jay did with the Colorado City cult that wound up with it being smooth out busted, as a product of Jay's efforts and a whole lot of other people that worked on thatfor a long, long time.

JIM: Right.

McGRAW: Wasn't just Jay, but we certainly think we contributed to it here. You're saying it can only help to turn the floodlights on over there.

JIM: Exactly.

McGRAW: Right? And your problem is that that seems to be the top priority instead of this relationship, and you question the profit motive in it as well.

KRISTI: I see my father act in this way. I wonder how much of his motivation comes from really benevolent type of a feeling instead of what he can gain from it.

McGRAW: Will you stay in this long enough for me, with the help of--of Dr. Lawlis and Anthony Haskins, who is our resource coordinator here, allow me to get you some professional help, that you won't get discouraged about, to see if we can learn to put some boundaries around this relationship and begin to build it back in a healthy way, so you don't lose a parent again.

JIM: Yes.

McGRAW: Will--will you participate in that?

KRISTI: Absolutely. I want a parent who wants to be a parent. That's all I'm asking for.

McGRAW: And I want to offer the same help to the two of you in finding your way through here to be sure that you're doing the right thing for that precious child that you have.

Now, we invited members of The Family to come to the show, and, surprise, they declined. The Family says that some young people were hurt by inappropriate sexual behaviors by adults, but in 1986, they banned all that kind of conduct.

Unfortunately, after you had been there, and you all had been there, spokesperson Clara Borowick, I don't know if I'm pronouncing your name right, Clara, so if I'm not, I apologize, issued a statement saying, "Our goal is that these incidents of harm should never occur, and we're very sorry and have apologized for any cases that may have occurred in the distant past." Don't believe that catches it. Don't believe that quite fixes the problem, to just say, 'Whoops, we're sorry.'

We're going to take a break. When we come back, I'm going to answer your question, do you prosecute those parents. We'll be right back.


McGRAW: I want to say thanks again to a gentleman by the name of Mike Watkissat KTVK News Channel 3 which is our affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona, for some of the amazing news coverage that you saw of the Colorado City story.

Mike, you did a great job in helping to bring this Colorado City cult to accountability.

I want to tell you guys that you need to be selfish for a period of time because when you ask a question, do I prosecute these abusers, and--and my rule is always this, your goal any time you have trauma in your past is to try to get emotional closure. And what you need to do to get that closure is what I call the minimal effective response, an MER, what is the least thing you cando that allows you to get that closure. But you need to do whatever it takes for you to say, 'I am walking out of my history. I will not live in this another minute.' We're going to get you some professional help and counseling, and you can discuss that and go through the options at that point and make a studied decision about what's the best thing for you and your family at this time.

Now Ricky did some things. He--he went and shot somebody and killed them. That's not a minimal effective response. That's a counterproductive response, and it--it--it wound up ending his life. Not a good choice. And we're going to get you the professional help to try to salvage that relationship and give you some direction.

Thank you so much for being with us. So long.

Local News Coverage of the Dr. Phil Show

Family Spokesperson Response to the Dr. Phil Show

In Response to the program "The Family Cult" aired on October 3, 2005

As a spokesperson for the Family (formerly known as the Children of God), I wish to state for the record that I find your coverage of my church to be extremely biased, malicious and clearly aimed at inciting intolerance and discrimination. It is quite apparent that your agenda was to demonize my church and your program was rife with falsities and inaccuracies. One would think that I had not presented you with facts, all of which you ignored and made absolutely no note of on your program.

I find your usage of the label "cult" particularly pejorative. Such labeling is an age-old tactic—Jesus and his followers were also maligned as the "cult of the Nazarenes" in their day. What you neglect to mention is that the Family is a fellowship of independent, self-governing Christian missionaries dedicated to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. The Family, founded in the late '60s, has expanded into an international missionary fellowship located in over 100 countries around the world, and has led millions to faith in Christ, as well as assisting the needy in a multitude of volunteer efforts (see www.thefamily.org).

The allegations of widespread, institutionalized child abuse made on this program by former members and Dr. Phil have absolutely no basis in fact. Similar allegations by a few detractors in the early '90s resulted in pre-dawn paramilitary raids that traumatized nearly 200 children in Argentina alone, and hundreds more in Spain, France and Australia. Justice prevailed and all children were returned to their parents and released from a nightmare after undergoing invasive state examinations for months. Courts on three continents were unanimous in finding Family communities to be safe environments for children, while finding no evidence of neglect or harm of any kind—hardly corroborative of allegations made on this program of widespread abuse. The detractors that incited these authorities, however, were proved by the courts to have perjured themselves and to have presented false evidence. (see San Martin Court of Appeals, Case 81/89 "Cavazza, Juan C. and others, Federal Court of San Isidro, 1 Sec.2 Of.ce II, Reg. 443. Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 13, 1993.)

Any form of abuse, whether sexual, physical or otherwise is absolutely forbidden in our fellowship. Any infraction of this rule will result in immediate expulsion from our fellowship. While The Family holds to liberal views on heterosexual sexual relations between consenting adult persons, we do not tolerate, condone or permit any inappropriate behavior with our children, whom we consider a precious gift from God to be protected and nurtured.

The Family's success in protecting our children and ensuring their well being has been documented by court-appointed and independent investigations of almost 700 children living in Family communities. After extensive physical, psychological and educational testing, all of the children were found to be healthy with no sign of abuse in a single case. This total absence of abuse speaks for the efforts made to safeguard children in Family communities. I question whether random investigations would produce similar results in society at large. Not according to the Department of Health and Human Services, that reports a rate of at least 13 cases of abuse per 1,000 in the United States, with British authorities reporting close to 200 cases per 1,000.

Judges compared the draconian measures taken by authorities in the early nineties to the "Spanish Inquisition" and the "concentration camps of those former empires that ceased to be so when human dignity brought down the Berlin Wall." (Case numbers: 157 to 163/1992 Provincial Court of Barcelona, Spain, Verdict dated May 21, 1992)

Your program apparently seeks to perpetuate such injustice and heinous violation of the rights of thousands of children. Children brought up in the Family over the past three decades are now parents with children of their own and the right to practice their religious beliefs. The Family has clearly codified statutes in place since the mid '80s to protect minors from any kind of abuse and to ensure that they are brought up in a loving, nurturing environment—it is quite clear by the findings of courts in the early '90s that these have been enforced and adhered to. The courts have spoken and their conclusions are based in fact and investigative research, not hearsay perpetrated by those with a clear agenda of causing harm to a minority church.

Your portrayal of "flirty fishing" has little basis in reality. Flirty Fishing was a personal and intimate form of evangelization. As an outreach ministry, FFing was an extremely sacrificial method to employ in order to try to show a lonely and needy soul that God loved them. However, through this ministry, the Family was able to lead over 200,000 souls to Christ, reaching many hearts with the Gospel who might never have had the opportunity to receive God's love otherwise. It was practiced by adult Family members for ten years, from 1977 to 1987, at which time it was officially banned as an outreach method for a variety of reasons.

Your repeated claim that people "escaped from the cult" makes for good fiction but has no basis in fact. 32,000 people have exited our movement of their own accord after serving as missionaries. As full-time volunteers, our members have no interest in sharing a household with individuals who do not hold the same goal of preaching the Gospel and assisting the needy, and anyone who wishes to leave one of our communities is free to do so at any time.

Regarding your inaccurate coverage of Ricky Rodriguez, I would like to point out that Angela Smith, who Ricky Rodriguez brutally and premeditatedly murdered, was a human being not a former "cult member". Ricky Rodriguez never accused her of abusing him in any way. In searching for a motive for this tragic crime, Dr. Phil should take care to not casually write off Angela's murder and justify the actions of an obviously disturbed young man acting out his misplaced anger. Our society is rife with violence—regularly the public is exposed to violent crimes of individuals that act out the violence they witness via the media, and discuss anonymously via the internet. Such crimes are not particular to religious groups—in fact suicide and acts of violence are virtually unheard of in Family communities.

Your stories of young adults who have no capabilities to function in society are absurd. Second generation members organize large communities, NGOs, charitable work in different countries, create and operate web sites, raise and home school their children, create evangelistic products such as music, artwork, children’s books, and much more. It would have behooved you in the interest of fairness and accuracy to make note of the important fact that approximately half the young people born into the Family continue to be members and tell a very different story than that being aired by a handful of former members. 400+ current second generation members have posted their side of the story on their blog at www.myconclusion.org. A truly investigative report would not ignore their testimonies and the fact that they do not corroborate the extreme accounts of those appearing on your show.

In the interest of fairness, I ask that you post this.

Claire Borowik for the Family

(source: MyConclusion.com)

MyConclusion.com Response to the Dr. Phil Show

Editor's Note: MyConclusion.com is a website which provides a place for Family youth to post positive viewpoints about the group.

No Justice on the Dr. Phil Show

The US based TV psychologist Dr. Phil Show claimed to produce a program on "The Family" (aired October 3rd). It actually ended up being nothing more than a platform for apostates and their agenda. Two lines were quoted from a Family spokesperson, while absolutely no reference was made to the testimonies of all of us second generationers on this site and the fact that they don't back up the extreme tales of our apostates. Since we were clearly not given a fair voice on this show via this web site or our spokesperson's letter to the producer and press statement, we've decided to post "letters to the editors/producers" that were sent in protest.

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