Theodore Roosevelt Patrick, Jr. (born in 1930, also known as Ted Patrick and nicknamed Black Lightning) was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In 1955, he moved to San Diego, California where he united fellow workers at Convair against discrimination in employment. He became active in local Democratic politics and organized a large political club. During the Watts riots in 1965, he helped calm unrest in the Logan Heights section of San Diego by organizing a group called Volunteer Parents. His public service was recognized by then Governor Ronald Reagan who appointed him to the post of Special Assistant for Community Affairs for San Diego and Imperial counties. Patrick and his wife, Ruth, have five children.
In July 1971, his son and a nephew were approached by members of the Children of God in Mission Beach, California and almost joined the organization. As Patrick listened to their account and later began to receive complaints from parents about their children joining the group, he became increasingly concerned about the organization and decided to investigate its activities. As part of his investigation, he infiltrated the group and joined it as a new disciple. During his brief time as a member of the Children of God, he was given the Bible name Solomon.
Shortly thereafter, he, along with several concerned parents of Children of God members, founded an organization named The Parents' Committee to Free Our Children from the Children of God (later renamed to Free the Children of God or FREECOG).
Patrick is widely recognized as the first deprogrammer and the originator of the term deprogramming. Yet it was not until after his first deprogramming (of a former Children of God member) that he first used the term:
Patrick's deprogramming work created many legal and financial difficulties for him. In 1972, the Children of God filed a $1.1 million slander suit against Patrick and several founding members of FREECOG. In July 1973 they dropped the case shortly after the defendants were granted a discovery order requiring the organization to make its leaders, including David Berg available for depositions and to turn over its membership and financial records.
Although he was acquitted in several cases, in August 1980 he was convicted of kidnapping, false imprisonment and conspiracy and sentenced to 5 years probation and a $5,000 fine. In October 1981, he was sentenced to one year in jail for violating the terms of his probation in the Roberta McElfish case. In August 1980, he was also acquitted of kidnapping Scientologist Paula Dain during her 1979 attempted deprogramming. In March 1982, Paula Dain filed a $30 million lawsuit against Patrick and nine others. In June 1984, a jury awarded her $7,000 in compensatory damages. It is unknown whether she ever collected on the judgment as Patrick filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in October 1988. In February 1990, Paula Dain filed a adversary proceeding complaint with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California and litigation continued until December 31, 1996 when her complaint was dismissed.
- New York Times: Ill Winds Buffet Communal Sect — 1971-11-29
- New York Times: Parents Join to Combat Radical Youth Sect — 1972-02-22
- Washington Post: Children of God Suit Ended — 1973-08-03
- Lethbridge Herald: Children of God drop $1.1 million slander suit — 1973-08-04
Related Family Publications
- Kidnapped! This Could Happen to You! -A True Story By Cephas — GP, 1974-12-10
- Special - War on the Sects! The New Exorcists! — 1977-06-01
- Let Our Children Go! — Ted Patrick and Tom Dulack, Let Our Children Go! (New York: E. P, Dutton Company, 1976). ISBN 0525144501
- Chapter 6: Black Lightning — excerpt from SNAPPING: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change, 2nd Edition by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, 1995.
- 532 F.2d 142, U.S. v. Patrick, (C.A.9 (Wash.) 1976)
- Docket Reports for Bankruptcy Petition #88-07829-JH and Adversary Proceeding #90-90-90063-JH