Kathy Farrell

From XFamily - Children of God
Kathy Farrell
Kathy Farrel (right), holding donated toys for Hurricane Katrina victims at the Houston Astrodome, 2005-09

Kathy Farrell (American; formerly Katherine Gambrill, known pseudonyms include Auntie Crystal; joined the cult in 1976) is a former member of The Family International. She was last known to be living in Africa. In September 2005, she was prominently featured assisting hurricane victims at the Houston Astrodome and other locations on a Family web site, KatrinaReliefHome.com, established to promote the cult's charitable disaster relief efforts.

She was formerly married to Michael Gambrill and they were both involved with the Teen Detention Home and Victor Programs in Macau. She left the group in 2006 and has since repudiated her former beliefs and positions.


On December 19, 2017 xfamily received a request from Kathy to publish her apology and repudiation of her former positions. It is published verbatim below:

Aka: Crystal Clear/Crystal Clean/Cryssy Where to start? First of all I wanted to make a public apology on this page, for anything from the past that has effected teens (now adults) that were in the Family under my care! I am heartbroken, and grieve every time I read another testimony from those who grew up in TFI. Yes, I was deluded, brainwashed, and insensitive to what was really going down. My job as a “Shepherd” was to protect. I basically followed the party line, and got sucked in to wanting to please the Gods! I am sure you witnessed through your parent’s eyes what they have to say about their loyalties. Often sadly they don’t want to acknowledge that they were a part of a horrible experiment that went wrong. It takes guts to face your-self and realize that we were all in this together, and we made some terrible choices that wrecked 1000’s of lives. I have not been under their delusion for a long time, and my thoughts are clear. I am sorry, I am sick in my heart, especially since the passing of dear Mene. I have memories of her, in her sad state. She was given to us from WS, the folk’s home, to distance themselves from the problem they created. I basically got stuck with their mess. All I could do was keep her. We were dictated as to the terms of the D.T. program that was invented from the higher powers. I followed blindly, that led into an ugly ditch. I was with Mene for 3 ½ years, it was not an easy gig for us either. We had no clue what to do, her mind had been fractured from the over-spiritualizing, and exacting on this girl, so much weirdness. Of course she wasn’t going to land on her feet, her mental and emotional faculties were gutted! The terms of my taking Mene was because I was on silence restriction. Ho told me if I took her in with my mate Michael that I could live with him, and get off the silence gig. This to me seemed very fair, and I bought into it, hook, line and sinker. I never put a hand on her, I listened to what she had to say, although at this stage it was a babbling of so much strangeness, it was very hard to understand. And of course in my self-righteous mind, a “virtue” from the gods, I did look down on her to a degree, as she “consorted with the devil”, as we were told. At the same time I did have a lot of compassion on her. You try figuring it out, we were babes in the woods when it came to physiological abuse, and we too were just trying to get by. After Mene, the folks sent us to different locations where teens lived, and we were supposed to help! It was a big flipping mess. They were not happy; the adults felt the teens betrayed them. One woman in particular was screaming down the hallway about those despicable teens, and how they ruined the Family. We are talking droves, and droves of unhappy campers. They wanted us to neatly put it under the carpet. They thought we had a magic bullet to get the teens in line. They gave us about 17 teens into our care in Italy, none of the homes wanted them. A few weeks after the roof fell in, and they had to go back to their former homes. I am not sure what they went back to; oh I know, a bunch of old bottles dictating every shot. It was a mad house of activity going on. At the time we had many meetings with the adults to counsel them on their reactions to the teens, it didn’t really help that much. The adults repulsed me, really, I remember clearly thinking what a bunch of weirdoes. We had to write reports nightly, and send copies all over to the higher Shepherds. Our hands were tied, sucked into this strange, strange cult. In all the years of being a teen Shepherd, I can say, that I did try! I was deluded, I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry. I wish I knew what I know now. This doesn’t take away from the hurts inflicted, but hopefully you can see past my faults and forgive me. I am truly broken up about this! If you’d like to communicate with me via email I am open to talk, to apologize, and answer any questions. Please do! Cryssy777@gmail.com

Alleged Child Abuse

A number of young people have alleged that Farrell and her former husband Michael physically, sexually and emotionally abused children that were entrusted to their care. Two children she allegedly abused later committed suicide. Another child entrusted to her care, Merry Berg, suffered a complete mental breakdown after allegedly being locked in a room for two months, beaten, subjected to silence restriction and other abuse that Lord Justice Ward described as "a form of torture" and "barbaric and cruel."

In an expert report prepared for Argentine judge Roberto José Marquevich, Argentine lawyer Hector Walter Navarro described Merry Berg's treatment at the Teen Detention Home under the supervision of Kathy Farrell and Michael Gambrill:

This part of the expert report explores the existence of clandestine jails in the sect. One of them operated in Macao. a Portuguese colony on the Chinese coast. The selection of this particular location reveals their intent to act with impunity. It should be noted that the previous expert report prepared by Dr. Navarro for the magistrate in Rosario revealed to the whole world for the first time the existence of this virtual Gulag Archipelago [1] in which political terror was replaced by religious terror.

One of the most dangerous characteristics of the sect is that it subjects minors to clandestine incarceration. The first correctional facility of the sect opened in Macao, the Portuguese colony on the Chinese coast. In the literature seized in the city of Rosario [2] (Revista Juvenil nº 1),[3] it is called a juvenile correctional facility (see page 17) that was directed by Michael and Crystal, whose complete names are Michael and Crystal Gambrill [4] which I was informed of by Merry Berg ("Mene") while interviewing her in Simi Valley, California (USA). She also told me that the name in English of the clandestine jail was "Teen Detention Home."


In Revista Juvenil no. 5 (page 19) there is a letter from "Mene" to her grandfather, Maria and her stepfather, referred to in the letter as "adoptive father" and in which she says: "The Letter, 'It's Up To You" (CM 2524) and the articles about me recently arrived and uncle Michael and aunt Crystal read them to all of us at our juvenile correctional facility," which reaffirms the existence of these detention centres at the margin of the law.

"Mene" personally described to me the atrocious circumstances of her incarceration in Macao: She was held there for three and a half years, from the ages of 13 to 17, in a cell with a double door and bars. In the first two months, they only opened the door to give her food. In the first six months, they wouldn't let her out, not even for a minute, onto the courtyard of the jail. She was subject to the law of silence and she was punished if she spoke with any person including other incarcerated youths or her jailers. One must keep in mind that this very cruel treatment was given to a child. In the sect they always say the accusations of child abuse which are made against them are lies. Nevertheless, in the sect's own literature, albeit in a very self-justifying version, the cruelty with which she was treated is revealed. This is how Crystal, the director of the jail, told the story:

"Her liberty is very restricted... She is forbidden to be with children... If she ever talks with someone, whether an adult or a child, it is only for brief moments... She is not completely lucid and is often disoriented... How different from the bright and intelligent girl she once was! She is not very alert, she is very slow and her head is not working right... In a way it seems she is suffering the neurosis of war...she pulls out her hair to the point that she already has a small bald spot on her head! She scratches her lip in a strange way, like a nervous tic, and sometimes she scratches herself uncontrollably like monkeys do... Mene has suffered irreparable harm and it's possible she will never be a normal person again... in the System they would consider her demented and soon they would lock her up in a mental hospital!" (pages 20 and 21). [5]

To the previous transcript should be added the exorcismal beatings her grandfather gave her which is referred to in detail in the expert report prepared for the judge in Rosario as well as the punishment of being tied to the bed with wire.

Former second generation member John LaMattery, Jr. wrote the following about Farrell (Crystal) and her former husband Michael:

Crystal, who appears as a sweet "youth counselor" on The Family's PR site www.katrinarelief.com for Katrina, was my shepherdess when I was 15-17 yrs old in Osaka and Fukuoka, Japan, as well as briefly in Rome. I was amazed that the lady who assisted her ex-husband Michael in the beating and molestation of Merry Berg was now in the Houston Astro Dome posing as a "youth counselor". I spoke a bit about this in my interview with local CBS this month...

While Crystal was my youth counselor she confided in me how her now ex-husband Michael had full sex with Merry Berg in Macao while she was in their care. Merry was a young teenager at the time and put in Michael and Crystal's care by Kelly and Zerby shortly after Berg delivered his "Last State" rebuke to Merry. I remember how honored Michael and Crystal were to be chosen as Merry Berg's shepherds and they used their full demented control to assist in her mental breaking that eventually lead to Merry's hospitalization in a local Chinese mental hospital. Michael mentioned to me that it took the doctors two weeks using sedatives to "break" Merry after she snapped, the same procedure, according to Michael, typically takes the normal patient about two days.

While under their care both Michael and Crystal routinely threatened to beat us and throw us in solitary confinement. They had demonstrated to our group of approximately thirty young teenagers that they were capable and had the power to make us disappear by throwing two of my buddies into a closet for weeks on end, letting them out only once a day for an hour walk listening to The Family's word tapes on their tape players. I remember once after having a grueling two-three week daily confession session in front of thirty of my peers, Michael and Crystal placed Mike, a 16 year old, in a basement closet at the bottom of the Osaka school in Icoma, Japan for about a month. Shortly afterwards fifteen of us relocated with Michael and Crystal to the Fukuoka school in southern Japan where they transferred Mike and another 15 teen year old boy Jesse, and placed them on silence restriction in another closet for about a month. These were instances I personally witnessed. Crystal also bragged to me once about her having oral sex with Berg's grandsons, the Ho boys while they were in their pre-teens and early teens.

Michael is no longer with The Family and works as a chef in England last I heard, Crystal is a current Family member who's in a polygamist relationship and is volunteering now as a counselor in the Houston Astro Dome. Both Michael and Crystal will go down in The Family's history as some of the most powerful, sadistic teen shepherds ever that deprived the children in their care of our basic human rights. Teenagers under their care were molested, exploited financially, physically beaten, put in solitary confinement, threatened and shamed by their control tactics. Two of the teenagers that experience their expertise have since committed suicide. Although I won't say that Michael and Crystal's influence was the sole reason for these young men's deaths, I'm certain it was a helping hand that pushed them over the edge. One victim was Ben Farnsworth, the other was my brother in law Abe Braaten. Both jumped off buildings in Asia, both spent considerable time under Michael and Crystal's regime.

  • Source: Personal Correspondence from John LaMattery, Jr. to Sam Ajemian, 2005-10-18 (excerpt sent to xFamily.org editors on 2006-05-22). Excerpts of this statement were also quoted in Ajemian, Sam. The Children of God Cult, aka The Family, San Diego: self-published, 2006, pgs. 113-114, 267.

MyConclusion.com posting

Editor's note: The following was posted on MyConclusion.com, a website run by a member of The Family International which provides a place for Family youth to post positive viewpoints about the group. This following posting, along with all other articles by first-generation members, was later permanently removed from the site. It is archived here solely to document its existence.

Kathy Farrell — an older person speaking out in Africa!

— By Kathy Farrell

Abuse, I’ll tell you what abuse is, it’s being in an environment that’s filled with fear and insecurity, and screaming fighting parents, abuse is psychologically messing up your kids head, abuse is vulgar profanities being directed at you on a daily basis, abuse is being spit on, abuse is being shaken and slapped half-silly, abuse is multiple rapes, abuse is being continually beaten down and humiliated. Yup that’s abuse and I was abused let me tell you, but fortunately that’s past tense!

So you can imagine what a welcome relief it was for me to meet and come to live in one of our loving Family homes, where peace, love and security surrounds me like a big bubble of God’s love. And this is what I’ve longed for my whole life, after being abused for years by many in the world who didn’t really give a damn about me, so believe me I know what I’m talking about!

In the Family International I’ve been showered with unconditional love none stop, 24/7. I’ve been listened to for hours on end by loving people who cared for my soul. I’ve been tenderly handled which resulted in a healing from my nervous disorders from abuse. I was prayed for and delivered from alcoholism and drugs. I’ve gained my life back which I was trying to get rid of by attempting suicide because my heart hurt so greatly from the abusive situations that surrounded me! And up until I met the Family I was a lost, lonely, hurting, messed up chick, so don’t tell me there are abusers in this group, forgive me but you’re definitely not talking about the same people I live with.

Yup, granted we’ve made our share of mistakes, and we’re not trying to appear to be “lily white” or perfect by no means. Yet an organization like ours who caters to the lowly, heartbroken and confused world would by default pick up some who would make mistakes, don’t you think? And who doesn’t make mistakes. Our Family’s roots started with a bunch of “kids” who were fresh off the streets, many forsaking drugs, and hippies searching for real meaning in life, and we found peace and happiness in Jesus and our loving homes in the Family. It would make sense that we’d come up with some lacks, and big blunders at times, but I don’t believe anyone who really loves Jesus like we do would intentionally hurt another, especially our precious children. So why are you trying to make our loving Family look so sick and repulsive? We’re living a taste of the Garden of Eden in our hearts in our Family homes, and that’s what we want to give to others who are half out of their minds with sadness, hurt, and confusion, so if that’s abusive behavior I’ll eat my hat!

Frankly speaking it just breaks my heart and dumbfounds me that people would take so much of their precious life to get into slinging slop; it’s just not a fun or healthy exercise and a waste of time. If they’d taken more time to love their brothers the tragedy that happened with Ricky and dear Angela might not have happened. I believe it is the same people talking against my Family that are in fact the abusers, they certainly are abusing me with their tongue, and doesn’t it say in the Bible to “love your neighbor as yourself.” They might want to dust off their Bibles and see what exactly that means. Those negative voices don’t sound so loving to me. So to end this little discourse I’d like to say for the record, I’m very happy, I’ve been serving Jesus for 29 years and I wouldn’t be able to find another place on this planet that has so much love, care and kindness, without abuse as the Family homes do. So put that in your pipe and smoke it! And leave my ever-loving Family alone! Or I might think of some abusive words to share with you, yet the Lord of Christ constrains me, and I forgive you for your hopefully temporal state of delusion. 2nd Thessalonians 2:11, 12

Kathy Farrell is a first-generation member of The Family International

See also


  1. According to the "Britannica Guide to the Nobel Prizes," "the Gulag Archipelago is a history and memoir of life in the Soviet Union's prison camp system by Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, first published in Paris as Arkhipelag GULag in three volumes (1973-75). Gulag is a Russian acronym for the Soviet government agency that supervised the vast network of forced-labour camps. Solzhenitsyn used the word archipelago as a metaphor for the camps, which were scattered through the sea of civil society like a chain of islands extending 'from the Bering Strait almost to the Bosporus.'"
  2. In the early 1990s, Family homes in Rosario, Argentina were investigated by local authorities. A number of Family members were eventually sentenced to 30 days in jail and a fine. The sentence was upheld by appeals courts. While xFamily.org does not yet have an article detailing the facts of this case, Puccio's February 23, 1993 sentencing order and opinion (in Spanish) is available. (PDF Icon 30 pages, 4MB)
  3. The original name in English of "Revista Juvenil" (literally translated as "Juvenile Magazine") is not known to the translator although it may refer to the Family publication series "Teen Special Magazine." It should be noted that the Judgment of Lord Justice Ward had the following information: "in a Teen Special published in November 1992, The Family describes the Special Teen programme in Macau."
  4. Crystal's current legal name is Kathy Farrell and she was formerly married to Michael Gambrill. Although there is evidence indicating that Crystal did use the surname Gambrill, xFamily.org has not yet been able to determine if Crystal was ever her legal first name.
  5. Whenever possible, xFamily.org translators avoid translating a translation and when a document is quoted, use text from the original version in the source language. However, in this case. the translator has not yet examined or identified the English original of the quoted Family publication and thus the translation of the quoted text is based partially on an actual translation of the text from Spanish to English and excerpts from the October 1995 Judgment of Lord Justice Ward. When and if the original English version of the quoted publication becomes available to us, it will be used to improve the translation. In the meantime, readers should be aware that this translation likely differs from the original.