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News Archive for June, 1998

Get-rich-quick ideas may get Fairfield men 30 years in jail, The Des Moines Register, Sunday, June 28, 1998
Ed Beckley, the Fairfield entrepreneur who touted get-rich ideas, will be in federal court Tuesday to battle charges that his latest do-it-yourself home business was a scam. Beckley and Steven Winn, partners in Home Business Technologies Inc., which collapsed after a raid by state and federal agents in 1996, are charged with mail and bank fraud. The allegations say the company bilked customers with dishonest claims that included television "infomercials" broadcast on national television that featured individuals paid to give glowing accounts. Beckley wasn't available for comment. His friends contend, though, that he's been targeted, in part, because he is a practicing meditator at Maharishi International University in Fairfield. If convicted on the bank fraud charge alone, the two could go to prison for up to 30 years.
For yuppie guru, Rama Lenz Death by drowning, The Three Village Herald, June 24, 1998
Two months and six days after his death, the Suffolk County Police Department has released a cause of death for Frederick Lenz, aka Rama Lenz, the yuppie guru. According to the Suffolk County Medical Examiners' office, the 48-year-old rama's death was a suicide by drowning with drugs a contributing factor. The Herald had learned, but could not confirm with detective lieutenant John Gierasch of the homicide squad, that a former security man for the rama has told law enforcement officials the rama was depressed because of lawsuits, brought by the families of cult followers -- lawsuits which he felt would drag on for years. Some followers believed the rama was suffering from liver disease but the autopsy found no evidence of that, or of any other disease.
Scientologists lose battle to keep holy book secret, Tuesday, June 23, 1998, 8:44 a.m. PDT
STOCKHOLM, June 23 (Reuters) - U.S. officials said on Tuesday they disapproved of a Swedish court ruling which would allow the Church of Scientology's holiest book into the hands of the public. The U.S.-based church argues that the book, reserved for key members of the religion, should be kept secret and that international copyright laws guard the unpublished material from falling into the public domain. After the court ruling last week, Swedes are now free to go to places where the document is kept, such as the parliament, and read it. The Church of Scientology has launched a protest which has its members borrowing the book constantly, making it virtually impossible for anyone else to see it. The Scientology document was turned over to various Swedish archives by a Swede on a personal campaign against the church.
Examination of evidence for ex-AUM member ends, 7:53 p.m. PDT Friday, June 26, 1998
TOKYO, June 25 (Kyodo) -- Examination of evidence in the hearing of a former AUM Shinrikyo cult member charged with slaying of a Yokohama lawyer and his family in 1989 ended Thursday, the Tokyo District Court said. Kazuaki Okazaki, 37, is one of six persons, including AUM founder Shoko Asahara, charged with murdering Tsutsumi Sakamoto, his wife and 1-year-old son in November 1989. Prosecutors will announce what punishment they are seeking against Okazaki at the next hearing June 6, and he will be the first of the six accused to have a sentence sought against him. The trials for other five persons -- Kiyohide Hayakawa, Tomomasa Nakagawa, Tomomitsu Niimi, and Satoru Hashimoto -- are in progress at the Tokyo District Court. They were indicted in October 1995. When he was murdered, Sakamoto was helping parents who wanted their children to leave AUM and was preparing to file a lawsuit against the sect. Okazaki, who is also charged with another murder of former AUM member Shuji Taguchi in February 1989, said he feels more guilty about killing Taguchi than killing the Sakamoto family.
"The Magnificat," A Catholic Christian-based group
New publication about "The Order Of The Magnificat Of The Mother Of God" may now be seen at BROKEN CROSS.
Eckankar soul-travelers to convene in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 21, 1998
On Friday, about 3,000 Eckankar followers, known as Eckists, will be in Philadelphia for the religion's international summer festival. The three-day event at the Philadelphia Marriott, 12th and Market Streets, will include seminars, lectures, and a speech, via satellite or perhaps in person, by the spiritual leader of Eckankar, Harold Klemp. Eckankar leaders say the 33-year-old group is open and makes no attempt to stop members from practicing other religions. The group claims more than 60,000 Eckists worldwide and about 100 in the Philadelphia area.
Sects pose no immediate threat, German leaders told, June 20, 1998
BONN (Reuters) -- Germany faces no immediate danger from sects or cults but people should be better informed about such groups, according to a report presented to Parliament yesterday. The report said the US-based Church of Scientology should not be classified as a religion or sect. Germany has faced international criticism for putting Scientology under nationwide surveillance last year on suspicion of "anticonstitutional intent." Germany does not recognize Scientology as a religion, seeing it primarily as a commercial enterprise that exploits members for financial gain.
N.Y. Guru Death Ruled a Suicide, June 19, 1998, 12:47:36 EDT
OLD FIELD, N.Y. (AP) -- The death of a self-styled spiritual and computer guru whose body was found two months ago in a bay next to his home has been ruled a suicide. Frederick P. Lenz III, an author who was criticized as an exploitative cult leader, was found dead April 13 in Conscience Bay on Long Island. Divers discovered his body in 20 feet of water, about 60 feet from land. Detective Lt. John Gierasch said in a statement Thursday that the Suffolk County Medical Examiner's office had ruled Lenz's death a suicide. Lenz, 48, and a female companion, who was not identified, tried to kill themselves April 11 by taking a large amount of Valium, Gierasch said. They then went out on a dock at the rear of his $2 million home, where Lenz fell into the water. His body was found two days later. Submitted by David D. Rogers
New Age Guru Castaneda Is Dead, June 19, 1998, 06:35:16 EDT
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Best-selling author Carlos Castaneda, whose books about Don Juan and drug-induced mysticism attracted millions of New Age followers, has died of liver cancer. He was believed to be at least 66. Castaneda died April 27 at his Westwood home, attorney Deborah Drooz said today. No funeral was held and his cremated remains were taken to Mexico. For more than three decades, Castaneda claimed to have been the apprentice of a Yaqui Indian sorcerer named Don Juan Matus. His first book, "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge," described peyote-fueled journeys with a sorcerer who could bend time and space. Castaneda argued that reality is a shared way of looking at the universe that can be transcended through discipline, ritual and concentration. The sorcerer, he said, can see and use the energy that comprises everything - but the path to that knowledge is hard and dangerous. In recent years, Castaneda's disciples offered seminars and books on "Tensegrity," a discipline composed of martial arts-like movements that Castaneda once said allowed ancient Mexican shamans to "perform indescribable feats of perception." Submitted by David D. Rogers
Ex-cult member gets probation, Columbus Dispatch, June 18, 1998
A woman who was part of a cult that terrorized a Gahanna couple was given shock probation Wednesday by a Franklin County Common Pleas judge. Brenda Eberly, 31, was sentenced July 5, 1995, to serve seven to 25 years for crimes dating to 1991. Yesterday, she told Judge Michael H. Watson that she has changed. She was serving time for aggravated burglary, felonious assault, passing bad checks, failure to appear in court, child endangering and having a weapon as a felon. The burglary and assault charges involved the 1991 attack planned by Rob Joy, leader of a group known as the Fold. The couple were attacked in their home by Eberly and two others, who used a stun gun and knife to keep the couple from reporting a theft Joy had committed. Joy called himself "the general" and told followers he was an alien with two hearts and a bionic arm, court testimony shows. After her arrest, Eberly went through deprogramming by a clinical psychologist and was prepared to testify against Joy, who pleaded guilty in 1995 to six charges and was sentenced to 10 to 27 years in prison.
Japan Cult Member Gets 17 Years, June 12, 1998, 11:11:50 EDT
TOKYO (AP) -- A former member of a Japanese doomsday cult was sentenced to 17 years in prison today for the deaths of seven people in a 1994 nerve gas attack in central Japan. Takashi Tomita, 40, admitted driving a vehicle equipped with a nerve-gas spraying device to a dormitory for court officials in Matsumoto. But he insisted he did not know the gas was lethal. The court, however, convicted him of conspiracy to commit murder. More than 100 cult members already have been convicted on various charges. The cult was forced to disband, but local news media have reported some members still meet. Submitted by David D. Rogers
Dr. Harold Bloomfield to appear on ABC's 20/20 June 22, Natural Law Party Newsletter, June 16, 1998
Dr. Harold Bloomfield, a psychiatrist favoring natural medicine and the Natural Law Party's 1998 candidate for Governor of California, will be featured on ABC's news show "20/20" on Monday, June 22, 1998, at 9:00 p.m. During his "20/20" taping on April 27, Dr. Bloomfield discussed the use of herbal medicines as a first line of treatment for anxiety and insomnia, as described in his new book "Healing Anxiety with Herbs." He also described the Natural Law Party's prevention-oriented approach to government and his experiences on the California campaign trail. [Editor's Note: Dr. Bloomfield is best known for his 70s bestsellers on Transcendental Meditation. The Natural Law Party was founded in 1992 by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Critics allege that it is nothing more than a front organization for the TM movement, using government funds to advance their essentially religious agenda.]
Rotorua branch for accused Australian cult, The Press, June 17, 1998
ROTORUA -- An Australian religious cult led by a man at the center of teenage sex allegations has a branch in Rotorua. The Order of St Charbel, led by former Sydney bank clerk William Kamm, has a following of Tuwharetoa (Taupo tribe) people who live in Rotorua. An unconfirmed number of the order live in the suburb of Western Heights. Group spokesman Manaiaiti said he could not comment on the order in Rotorua or whether the sex allegations were founded because of possible legal action in Australia. Kamm, who calls himself "the Little Pebble," claims to receive messages from the Virgin Mary and believes he will be the next Pope.
Fifteen hundred couples marry at Madison Square Garden, Saturday, June 13, 1998, 4:02 p.m. PDT
NEW YORK (AP) -- 1,500 couples -- many who met just recently -- married in Madison Square Garden on Saturday by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church. The mass wedding was part of a larger ceremony to bless married couples of all faiths around the world. Couples were paired together by Moon after he examined their photographs. "It's a very spiritual process," said a church spokesman. "The Rev. Moon is good at reading a person's character from the shape of their face." Many couples had no idea what Moon said, but dutifully replied "I do," in unison when prompted by the English-speaking master of ceremonies. A translation later said Moon asked if they would create an ideal family. About 20 people protested outside the Garden. Some carried signs that said, "Get the facts before you give your money," and "Moon Destroys Families."
Protest of Moon wedding organized
Critics and former members protest Moon's bid for legitimacy during the Moonies mass wedding at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, June 13, 1998, at approximately 9:30 am between 33rd and 7th Ave. There will be former members, parents of former members, and at least one cult expert present to answer media questions. Contact Steven Hassan M.Ed, LMHC, shassan@shassan.com for details.
AUM killer thanks victims for restoring his humanity, Wednesday, June 10, 1998, 2:31 a.m. PDT
TOKYO, June 10 (Kyodo) -- Ikuo Hayashi, the former top doctor of the AUM Shinrikyo religious cult sentenced to life in prison for releasing sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system in March 1995, said in an article published Wednesday that he appreciates his victims for helping him to recover his humanity. In a lengthy piece that Hayashi wrote for the July issue of the monthly magazine Bungeishunju, Hayashi said he thinks the only thing he can do is "not to forget" about the March 20, 1995, subway gassing which left 12 people dead and injured thousands. Hayashi's life imprisonment became final Tuesday as neither Hayashi nor prosecutors appealed to a higher court.
Scientology seducing prisoners?, Irish Times, June 6, 1998
In an annual report prepared by by 10 full-time chaplains working in eight of the State's 15 prisons says rape and sexual harassment are going unreported in prisons. Among its 79 recommendations the report calls on the Department of Justice to limit the population of Mountjoy Prison to 547. The prison is 41 per cent above that capacity, holding an average of more than 700. It also calls on the Department to review the targeting of prisoners by a branch of the Church of Scientology, calling itself Criminon Ireland, this year. The letters, personally addressed to prisoners starting long sentences for sex offences and murder offer free "correspondence courses" according to the head of the prison chaplains, Father Fergal MacDonagh. Prisoners starting long sentences were easy targets as they were vulnerable and isolated, Father MacDonagh said.
Ex-AUM lawyer says question on religion improper, Saturday, June 6, 1998, 12:49 a.m. PDT
TOKYO, June 5 (Kyodo) -- A former senior member and lawyer for the religious cult AUM Shinrikyo said Friday questioning by prosecutors on religious belief in court is not constitutionally appropriate. Aoyama, who stood in court as a prosecution witness, explained to the court that his reason for leaving the cult in October 1995 was out of a sense of social responsibility. He said he wanted to look for a better way to reach enlightenment. When asked by prosecutors whether he left the cult because he had doubts about the dogma, Aoyama said it is not proper from constitutional grounds to discuss religious dogma in court.
Teen cites demons, other's influence in slaying of mother, Thursday, June 4, 1998, 6:27 p.m. PDT
PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) -- A teenager accused of fatally stabbing his mother and gunning down two classmates testified Thursday that he was driven by demons who told him he would be "nothing" if he didn't kill. Luke Woodham, 17, said he remembered getting a butcher knife and seeing his mother's bloody body -- all the while, his head ringing with instructions from his satanic mentor, fellow teenager Grant Boyette. Woodham is on trial in the slaying of his mother, Mary Woodham, who was found dead in her bedroom Oct. 1, the same day he is accused of killing two classmates and wounding seven others at his school. He said Boyette assigned him demons to make sure he followed orders, but he didn't testify that Boyette specifically ordered his mother's death.
Miss. school shooting case in pretrial, Monday, June 1, 3:43 PM EDT
PHILADELPHIA, Miss., June 1 (UPI) - A pretrial hearing is getting under way for a Pearl, Miss. teenager accused of stabbing his mother to death and then killing two students at his high school in October. Only the charges against 17-year-old Luke Woodham in the death of his mother are being heard in the hearing which begins today in Philadelphia, Miss. The case was moved because of intense publicity . Investigators say he killed his mother and then went to the school where he opened fire on students with a rifle, killing two students and wounding six others before he was apprehended by a school administrator. Police also arrested six other youths and charged them with conspiracy to commit murder. They say the boys, ranging in age from 15 to 19, were members of a Satanic cult known as Krol and planned the shootings at Pearl High.

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