Jules - Lying Lips - The Lies Family Leaders Have Told About Ricky

From XFamily - Children of God

DISCLAIMER: The following article is preserved here for educational purposes. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of xFamily.org's editors.

Editor's note: Some names have been partially redacted to protect individual privacy or for other reasons at the discretion of the editors of xFamily.org.

Editor's note: Originally posted on MovingOn.org, 2005-02-10.

Lying Lips - The Lies Family Leaders Have Told About

By Jules

The good thing about telling the truth is that one does not have to just dismiss accusations with a blanket “take my word for it, it’s all just lies”. When you are speaking truth you can actually clearly state what specifically is untrue, and even better, there is usually evidence to back up what you are saying.

Family spokespersons and leaders have told a lot of outright, barefaced lies regarding Ricky (known as Davidito in the Family). Here are some of the lies that have been told:

Ricky was not abused in the Family and had no reason to be angry towards his mother

In what has been reported as the longest custody case in the UK, a high court British judge evaluated thousands of pages of evidence and listened to months of testimony on the treatment of children in the Family. Steven "Peter" Kelly, has just quoted from this judgement, so I assume that he considers the judge’s findings valid. In his 295 page final judgement, signed on October 19, 1995, Lord Justice Ward stated that:

"I have no doubt from the context of the [Davidito] book as a whole that what Sarah [one of his nannies] was required to kiss was his penis [among many other previously listed incidents]. Exposure of a young child to a sexual activity of that kind is in my judgment utterly deplorable. Those guilty of abusing Davidito by wholly inappropriate exposure to sex included the leader [David Berg] and his likely successor [Karen "Maria" Zerby]."

"...[Maria] did not initiate it but for a long time participated in the excesses and saw her own son abused and harmed."

Ricky was happy and well adjusted during his childhood

In the same 1995 ruling, Justice Ward stated:

"Maria was no stranger to the problems of dealing with unhappy children. Davidito had at the age of about 12 or 13 on several occasions contemplated suicide. He was a disturbed child. Then Techi her daughter began to manifest difficulties symptomatic of some emotional breakdown - she was having nightmares and crying every half an hour. That led to the Techi series on her battles and victories. The letter set out the confessions that were taped."

In 1994, a psychological evaluation of Ricky was completed by clinical child psychologist Lawrence Lilliston. In speaking of his evaluation, Lilliston writes that he: “recently administered a psychological evaluation to David, who is now nineteen, and found him to be a bright, well-adjusted, and emotionally strong young man.[1]

However, when Lilliston attempted to submit his conclusions as testimony in the previously mentioned custody case, the judge didn’t buy it. Justice Ward wrote:

"[Lawrence Lilliston’s observations of another young man born in the Family] seem to me to be superficial and to lack academic credibility. Likewise his conclusion about Davidito. This was an opportunity to explore exactly what had taken place in Berg's household. He merely touched upon these matters and Davidito made it obvious he was not prepared to talk about it. Nor did they talk about the reasons which impelled that young man [Davidito] to make attempts on his life said by The Family to have been caused by Satanic influences. Because I conclude that Dr Lilliston was not too concerned critically to examine The Family's past, I cannot be sure I get an accurate picture from him."

A further critical commentary of Lilliston’s methodology can be found here: [1]

Angela "Sue" Smith was never Ricky's nanny

91. DAVIDITO HAS THE BEST TEACHERS IN THE WORLD, the Lord’s given him the best—Alfred, Sara, Monty, Sue & everybody that really loves him.[2]

14. NEW STAFF HELPERS CAME TO JOIN OUR LITTLE FAMILY THIS MONTH.--Sue & Monty came from the field in South America to help do secretarial & handyman work, as well as a bit of childcare.[3]

Ricky was not “negative” towards Maria or Peter when he was in The Family

On May 29, 2000, while Ricky was still IN the Family, he wrote a personal letter to his mother and Peter which stated:

“there are attitudes you promote and actions you endorse that I believe are very wrong, I didn’t see the need to bang you over the head with them—after all, what good would it do anway? … right now you’re going to have a little “reality check”, which is a good thing to do from time to time for people who insist on living in their own world. I regret having to have to say these things to you, but you guys just can’t seem to leave well enough alone, and it seems are in need of the “2X4 donkey” treatment whenever anyone wants to tell you something that’s contrary to the way you think.”

“You both [Peter and Maria] seem to prattle incessantly about love and how much love you have, how loving you are, how you have been endowed with gifts of love, how you love everybody so much, how you love the Lord so much, how much you love me, but the funny thing is that’s the thing you know the least about. You see, to us living in the “real” world, actions speak so much louder than words, whereas for some of you dear folks words are everything. If you say you are a certain way, then you are! If somebody else says you’re that way—providing it’s something you consider a positive attribute—then you are! Well, it’s a nice thought, but unfortunately things don’t really work that way, and what happens instead is you just surround yourself with people who tell you how wonderful you are, relatively speaking, and then you have this really nice and cozy mutual admiration society where everybody is feeling warm and fuzzy inside and just believing their own hype.”

“You have fallen into that same trap with many of the prophecies you are disseminating. You are unable to see how you have hurt so many people’s faith by putting your “winetaster’s stamp” on many prophecies that are not only ludicrous, but obviously the figment of some misguided person’s imagination. …You’re poking your finger in God’s eye time and time again whenever you badger and condemn His little ones. One of these days God will judge you for it and when that time comes I certainly wouldn’t want to be in your shoes..."

"...There’s a lot of lost and broken young people still out here in the Family who haven’t left yet. They need love; they need acceptance. What they don’t need is for someone like you to take them on some kind of guilt trip, making them feel worthless just because they’re not “on board” with your pride trip..."

“I’m not looking for a fight with you, but if you push me, believe me, you’ll have a nice one, and using the techniques learned by your sample over the years, I guarantee it won’t be “fair”. Just forget all that crap about me writing some kind of sniveling back-pedaling “explanation” to the Family about how committed I am now/again to your BS, because it’s not going to happen.”

"...please, Peter, no more BS, and please Mom, no more “prophecy letters”. It just doesn’t cut it with me.”

Ricky left the Family “on good terms” and was not “negative” towards her or Peter when he first left

Ricky’s exit letter from the Family was sent to his mother on January 16, 2001. The following are excerpts from that letter:

"Nicole and I have decided that we can no longer be part of the CM [fulltime Charter Member] Family. We cannot continue to condone or be party to what we feel is an abusive, manipulative organization that teaches false doctrine. You have deceived people and led them away from the truth in almost every way imaginable, and worst of all, when they are no longer useful to you, they are discarded. You have devoured God's sheep, ruining people's lives by propagating false doctrines and advocating harmful practices in the name of God, and as far as I can see, show no regret or remorse. I could talk for hours about it all, but what's the use? You'll never change."

"...I have deep bitterness and anger about how I was cared for and treated, and firm convictions about why the Family is not something I want to be a part of..."

Ricky took on the “bitterness” and “negativity” of exmembers. They twisted his mind and controlled him

This accusation makes absolutely no sense.

As seen from his letter to his mother in May of 2000 (referenced above), Ricky had some strong criticisms of her and her practices, which he told her clearly and directly about. If Ricky could stand up to and criticise his mother, the absolute spiritual leader of a very intense religious group, while he was still a member, he obviously had a great deal of self-determination. Most of us would have never dared to directly criticise any leader in the Family in such severe tones, let alone “Queen Maria”.

When Ricky left the Family, supposedly on “good terms”, he negotiated a $36,000 “severance package” from his mother. In his letter to his mother, dated January 16, 2001, he stated:

“Any amount of money I could ask you for would never begin to rectify the harm you have caused me directly, and indirectly caused Nicole; but I am asking for what we feel is the reasonable amount that we need to work our way out of the situation you have put us in.”

“In all the Homes we have visited, we have also not shared the knowledge I have of the many wrongs and abuses I witnessed and suffered while growing up. I have not "bad-mouthed" you to people, and rarely shared personal beliefs contrary to what you put out in the [internal publications]. I have not told people where you recently lived. I have not told of the illegalities I witnessed. I have not given out people's legal names. …”

“The point is that even though I have deep bitterness and anger about how I was cared for and treated, and firm convictions about why the Family is not something I want to be a part of, I haven't tried to turn the Family or anybody else against you and that does not have to change. I see no reason why we can't work this out in a civil manner, but don't jerk me around, because this is for real.”

“I know that you have money available, so don't tell me that you don't. Just look at it as a good investment. I have thought about it, and I would like to have U.S. $36,000 to enable Nicole and I to make the transition out of the cult. You can be assured that this money will not be used for "riotous" living. We're not talking about needing money for drugs, alcohol or sports cars. I will continue to look for employment, but we need this money to support ourselves until we're able to get what you should have given us the opportunity to get years ago: A decent education and practical job skills.”

“I have no agenda for writing you with this request other than the need to survive and provide an acceptable life for Nicole and our future kids. I hate even asking you for this, but what else can I do? I've lived all my life in isolation with no chance to get to know people or my relatives or gain supporters or friends. I have no choice. There is no body to help us get set up. This agreement will be just between you and me and Nicole and we will never ask you for financial help again.”

The claim that contact with other former members could completely transform Ricky’s values, personality and thought processes in a matter of months sounds suspiciously like a charge of brainwashing. The Family’s own policy statement on brainwashing cites Alan Scheflin and Edward Opton’s book The Mind Manipulators: “Scheflin and Opton point out that esoteric notions such as "brainwashing" allow people to forget that they are responsible for their own actions in a manner that compares with the insanity plea in legal cases. Personal values and independence of thought and judgment "are not snatched away from people".

Ricky addressed his suicide video to us, other second generation ex-members. He stated that he knew that what he was about to do (murder Angela) was something that we would think was wrong and that we would not agree with. Ricky murdered someone. It was horrific and wrong, yet he himself took responsibility for his own actions through the tape he left behind. To deny Ricky’s own ability to think for himself and to make his own choices is to deny and demean the very essence of what he stood for: that people must be held accountable for their actions.

Many of the over two thousand second generation former members who have participated on this web site have said that they can relate to the feelings of anger and despair that Ricky spoke of and wrote about. None of us have committed murder. When struggling with the scars of abuse and neglect, or even just the isolation and culture shock that many people have faced when leaving the Family, it can be extremely difficult to sort through the many conflicting feelings and emotional turmoil alone. Having a forum and a place of support in which to do so though is one of the reasons this web site exists.

Several years ago, I explained this concept in a private email to Claire Borowik, the Family’s spokesperson: “Some youth are incredibly angry with the Family, and some see their time in as mostly positive. The point is really to provide at least some kind of support, and a place to just talk honestly about what we are going through and have experienced, and for people to be able to express things from the point they are in their lives right now. You may (probably will) get some harsh words from people [if she were to post on this site], and I just wanted to make that clear up front. (I guess though, if you have read the stuff there now, you have a pretty good idea of where people are at.) As you are aware, some of the youth experienced some very hurtful things in the Family, and although I believe honest communication is the best way to heal, sometimes it can trigger intense emotional reactions too.” (Email from Julia M., 2002-05-03)

As I have posted elsewhere, Claire responded with the following: "As you’re very aware from our former correspondence, we respect the right of former members to express their feelings and opinions and debate and discuss issues on forums such as your web site..." (Email from Claire Borowik, July 12, 2002). Claire’s acknowledgement was republished in a policy statement issued by the Family.[4]

Ricky threatened on this web site to kill his mother

This is simply not true. Ricky talked on this web site about his anger and rage and how he was struggling to manage it. He had been wrestling with these issues for a very long time.

On December 22, 2000, as he was deciding to leave the Family, Ricky wrote a private letter to a friend stating:

“I’m one of those people who have suppressed my feelings and emotions all my life. I didn’t appreciate being treated like a commodity by my mother or having to swallow Peter’s [aka Chris Smith, husband of Maria and co-leader of The Family] bullshit. But I tried to stay on the fence all these years because I just wasn’t sure what the truth was, and I wanted to be sure before I went one way or the other.”

“Those feelings of anger have not gone away, in fact they grew stronger even though I tried hard to push them away and sit on them. Now I’m beginning to get in touch with my emotions and feelings that I have hidden away for so long, and to tell you the truth, I’m finding little love there, only hate for my mother and Queen Peter. … Some days I have come so close to snapping and going back to their [Maria and Peter’s secretive leadership] compound—but not for a social visit and not as a repentant prodigal, but as an avenger. I don’t see why I should have to pay for their sins. I feel like we’d be even and I could get on with my life. They fucked with me, I made them pay dearly for it, and then I could move on.”

"...But that hate is still there and if they ever push me too much, I might still do it. Please understand that I would not purposely try to seriously injure or kill anyone, but rather just make them suffer a bit for what they have put me through. Still, I would much rather that God would take this hate and anger away from me and that I could truly forgive them from my heart. But that certainly has not happened yet. I just don’t have it within me. Maybe in time.”

“Well, please excuse the tangent that I just got off on. It feels good to share my heart with someone, though. I hope you understand.”

Regarding the comment in question, Ricky was discussing his anger and ways he was trying to deal with it. He was not issuing a threat.

Ricky wrote:

"[a participant on this site] writes, "By the way Ricky, you have serious anger management problems." Jesus, where did this idiot come from!? I think I’m managing my anger very well! A little over a year ago [early 2001, when he first left the Family], I thought about going back to the south of Portugal, finding my mother and queen Peter—and a few other people there—and cutting their throats. Instead, I made the decision against revenge, and rather, to begin the huge task of building a my life for myself and my wife. I think I’ve done very well in managing and controlling my anger. I’m able to manage it in part by talking about it, and also putting it to constructive use. There are aspects of anger that can actually be helpful if it is channeled in the right direction and if its power can be harnessed to help you succeed."[5]

In "Mama's Explanation & Prayer Request Regarding Techi's Battles!" (Maria #123, DO 2630, 6/90) Zerby related that:

40. When Peter [Steve Kelly] was at the Heavenly City School & asked for a show of hands of how many there had had suicide thoughts at one time or other, two-thirds of the people raised their hands! ...

41. Even at one of our Units recently, some of the people confessed that even though they were as yielded as they knew how to be, & even though they felt they were definitely within the Lord's Will, they'd had some terrible bad pictures & thoughts come to them. One of the girls said that every time she was caring for the baby, whenever she walked along the upstairs hallway, she had pictures of throwing the baby over the bannister."

No one has accused the Family of being pro-suicide or infanticide because of this.

As Ricky explained, one of the ways he was finding to cope with his rage was by talking openly about his experiences, which is something that many people here have also found therapeutic and helpful. Because Ricky's painful experiences involved his mother and Berg and their home, Zerby and Kelly took this very personally and put a great deal of pressure on Ricky to silence him and stop him from being, as they refer to it, "vocal".

Ricky’s friend, Sarafina explained: "I put him in touch with a few others who knew he could be a better help to the cause by voicing what he had seen and knew as an eyewitness. He declined, telling me that one of the main reasons he stopped posting the truth on M.O was the threats he was getting in regards to his sister Techi. He did not want to make things worse for her, he said she was weak and needed his help to leave but that she was being advised by Zerby to not communicate or contact him."[6]

In 2002 a video made by Maria was shown to Family members by high ranking leaders. This was a result of "damage control" on the part of Zerby and Kelly to counteract what Ricky had said on this web site. Instead of showing any concern for the pain and anger of her own child, Zerby produced hours of footage denouncing her son and his attempts to discuss the many issues he was wrestling with. Parts of the transcript of this video were published in the Vandari publication.[7]

It is heartbreaking to know that Ricky lost the fight against his inner demons. I will write more about this another time, but I have spent many sleepless nights this past month asking myself what I could have done to help or to provide support. There is so much pain and anger and it’s been so difficult to see Family leaders add to our burden at every turn by lying, inciting our own families against us and by refusing to even listen to us.