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Getting Out : Generations

Another FG statement of apology and support

from whiskers - Saturday, January 29, 2005
accessed 1698 times

I’m MG, in the group I was Timothy Helmet, I’m American, I joined in ‘71. My first name in the Family was Resheph. I finally made the decision to write the following. As other FGs have done I also want to give a clear call to support the second-generation’s fight to expose the abuses The Family International.

First of all I ask all second generation members of The Family, whether former members or current ones, for your forgiveness. I blindly followed the teachings of David Berg and Karen Zerby, and I did not take a stand against the sexual, physical, and mental abuse that my own children and so many others suffered in the Family. I also am responsible for putting my children in harm's way, and I take full responsibility for the results their lives today.

I have a lot to give an account for because one of my main jobs in the Family was teaching, which also meant being an OC/Jett shepherd. On far too many occasions I participated in the implementation of severe, harsh, and harmful disciplinary practices on many children and young people. Although I never lived in Macau, Japan or in any of the other major Victor program centers, the Victor program publications were released to the whole Family and I willingly carried out Victor program principles in our home in southern Brazil where I worked as a teacher. We put you on silence restrictions, and sometime I was called on to spank some of you. I spanked my own children. A spanking in the Family meant, according to Berg’s teachings, that it did not stop until you stopped crying. I remember using the back of hairbrush. I used other things too. I’d like to hope that I never used a coat hanger to give a spanking, but if I remember correctly, Berg had suggested this and thence I surely must have used one on some occasions. I remember the times I left bruises on some of you. I remember a lot of things for which I am ashamed and deeply sorry for. I treated you harshly just for doing what kids do and you deserved so much better. I have had the chance to personally apologize to my own children, but some others of you may remember me. My name was Timothy Helmet, I was a teacher in Brazil, Poland, Switzerland, and Belgium. For all of you, who were personally hurt by me, please forgive me. I also ask forgiveness from all second generation Family children because I did not take a stand against the wrongs perpetrated on you by the Family’s brand of child-rearing.

I was aware of homes where sexual practices involving children were encouraged and abetted by the leadership, but I simply turned a blind eye. I did the same when the Davidito book was published. I can assume nothing but full responsibility for my failures, and for the choice I made to be a blind, devoted believer in Berg and Zerby’s teachings.

Once we visited a Family home where a couple of non-members were staying. The shepherds of the home were “ministering” to this couple and had given them “The Devil Hate Sex” to read. When our backs were turned the non-member man and his girlfriend started to sexually molest my two young daughters. I returned from a shopping trip and walked in on them, and got my kids out of it. But it was too late, the abuse had already happened. Then and there I could have and should have reported the incident to the police. I did not. For this too I have asked my daughters to forgive me.

I cannot but echo those who expose so well the mindset that keeps Zerby and the rest of the Family from being truly forthcoming and honest. For example John LaMattery, Sr writes, “It is the mindset that is causing Ricky’s own mother and leaders of The Family to place the blame for the tragic fruit of her own body on so-called apostates instead of squarely on her own shoulders and the shoulders of her idol namely David Berg, founder of The Children of God.”

I also stand with James Penn, Ed Priebe, and the others who have taken a stand in support of the second generation and offered sincere apologies.

Reader's comments on this article

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from LTN
Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 20:18

MG your letter rings loud and clear because you have spoken the truth without reservation or placing any of the blame but squarely upon your own shoulders first--the primary place that blame belongs when it comes to us and our children.

I know there are many more like us who will make the choice to suck it up and tell it like it is: it WAS OUR fault and ours alone for not guarding and watching over our children.

(reply to this comment)
from miriam
Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 18:50

I just read your letter. I can only imagine the pain that you must carry. I was in the Children of God from '72 to '79. Even then the seeds were being sown for child abuse. I worked on and off in childcare b/c my husband helped Deborah Davis organize the ministry in Italy. It was then that I witnessed the beginning of the severe spankings. I can never erase the memory of slapping a twelve year old in the face for a MINOR misbehavior. I was shocked by what I had done, but encouraged to do it by other adults. I, for one, can understand now how people are persuaded to commit genocide. We turn a deaf ear to our conscience; we yield to peer pressure; we stop questioning and thinking for ourselves. This is not of God!! God created our minds to be used not hypnotized. I hope and pray that you and your daughters find healing from this tragedy.

I'd like to add that I was nearly responsible for the death of my own son b/c I listened to leadership for much too long. Their ignorance was astounding. My son had a brain tumor. They tried to tell me that he was misbehaving and that I was coddling him. They wanted me to take him off of his seizure meds, which I did from time to time. But, thank God, before it was too late, we were able to get medical attention.
(reply to this comment)
from Regi
Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 18:20



This makes me cry. It means so much to me that you take responsibility for your decisions without making the excuse that you were a brainwashed victim yourself. I know how much you suffered at the hands of the cult, and I know that you genuinely and idealistically wanted to serve god, only to be duped into believing the twisted lies of “god’s prophet.” It touches me deeply that you accept responsibly for the disciplinary tactics you carried out as the OC/JETT shepherd.

Your apology means so much to me, especially because I know you so well. I know that you were not an especially mean or harsh “uncle,” most were much worse. I just spoke to another SG who remembers you as a gentle person. You were the only adult in TF who was concerned that I have even a little education. I also know that you never ever would have dreamed of sexually abusing a child, or anyone for that matter. I remember when you tried to protect Christy and me by keeping us away from that home in Europe where children our age were on the “sharing” schedule. I know you wanted to protect us, but at the same time you believed in and followed a leader whose teachings caused such harm to myself and countless others while depriving us of many basic needs.

Thank you, thank you for your courage to stand up and take responsibility for the decisions you made which ultimately hurt and scarred us. Your support means the world to me.
(reply to this comment)
From whiskers
Friday, February 04, 2005, 23:56

Thanks Regi,

As I was saying to you the other day on the phone, I remember different times when we would talk about how you were hurt (and still do hurt) because of the lifestyle you were raised in and the experiences you were subjected to, through no choice of your own. At first those "talks" ended up in very stormy and acrimonious exchanges. Until I learned to listen and accept that like it or not I was responsible for being one of the major players in the abuse you and your peers suffered from.

My “explanations” about brainwashing, how I was a vulnerable acid head hippy whose idealism got hijacked and manipulated by a charismatic false prophet, how I was subjected to Berg and Co.’s fear & control tactics, all that meant nothing at all to you in those discussions and only upset you further. I had to realize that taking responsibility means you don’t explain it away. You helped me learn to stop trying to explain. Reading movingon also helped me learn that you can’t explain it away. From time to time Jules posted on the board addressing the subject of FG responsibility, which helped me a lot too.I understand why it's insulting to many of you to hear an FG say, "We were victims too, we were brainwashed." Your generation already knows everything and more about the brainwashing angle.

Brainwashing, fear, manipulation: I didn’t address this specifically in my article of apology, except in referring to my participation in the implementing of the Victor program directives. I was more specific in describing the physical bruising spankings and beatings I gave some of you. I didn’t get specific detailing some of the mental and psychological abuse. You were subjected to this in a manner much worse than I ever was. I let myself get into it, I had a choice, but you didn’t.

I remember spending hours day after day after day teaching the latest pubs, GNs, or FSMs like the Techi series, etc. to OC, Jett, or Teen groups. Reading, sermonizing, lecturing you in the latest Bergism. How many times did I say, “…if you don’t wake up to what I’m reading to you now today, if you don’t change and be what God wants you to be today, it will be too late. You won’t be ready. You’ll miss the boat and be stuck with the wolves in the AC system suffering the horrors of the Great Tribulation.” Or to top it off, I’d warn you, “…watch out or you’ll end up like Mene.” How many times did I pow wow her traumatic testimony? Or I’d spend hours taking personal time reading and lecturing some of you. Especially when you were put on restriction, I spend days re-reading the Techi series to you. I was as devoted as Pol Pot’s most fanatical Khmer rouge followers ever were. The forced indoctrination program I willingly and freely chose to take part in is one of the other things I’ll be ashamed of for the rest of my life. I am so sorry to all of you for that.

Regi, for me it’s really great how we get along now. I’m grateful for the genuine communication we have together.

PS to everyone who commented in reply to my article and apology: My sincere thanks.(reply to this comment
From Regi
Wednesday, February 09, 2005, 13:52

Thank you, Dad (reply to this comment
From John LaMattery (Sr) [aka LTN]
Saturday, February 05, 2005, 03:41

Mike, it's good to see that you're digging deeper into the past and exposing more of the lies and deceits, the areas that you failed. It's a painful process but nothing compared to what we (the FGA's) placed on our poor innocent children's shoulders and nothing compared to what will be gained in their lives as a result of your (and other's) open and honest confession, admission of the wrong, and the total acceptance of the guilt. --John(reply to this comment
from Bella
Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 18:00

Good for you, Mike, and thank you.
(reply to this comment)
from sarafina
Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 17:55


Thank you so much Mike. I think you've touched some very important topics. Abuse was not always sexual, the harsh spanking, corporal punishment and silence restrictions were far beyond "reasonable and controlled" forms of discipline.

Most of all the reasons we received these beatings were mostly from just wanting to be kids, wanting to play with our toys, or for complaining about the hrs of forced memorizing of verses or hrs of cleaning and scrubbing or hrs of postering and begging. We never got a chance to just be kids. IN fact we were punished for acting as children. We can never have our childhoods back.

I thank you for realizing this, it means so much for this to be acknowledged. I know it must be hard, very hard to put yourself forward but I thank you for standing next to your children and for trying to make right the wrongs that were done. I hope this encourages more parents to do the same.
(reply to this comment)

from katrim4
Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 13:11

Thank you for posting this. It must be difficult to come out and apologize without placing the blame on anything or anyone else and taking true personal responsibility. I admire those of you that have had the guts to come out and post public apologies. I hope that someday I will see or hear something similar to this from my own parents.
(reply to this comment)
from joeyramone
Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 12:52


I joined the COG in Copenhagen in 1971, but was out in less than six months because my parents pulled me out. I was sixteen years old, and my folks flew from Arizona to Germany to get me. They weren't rich. It was the only trip they ever made to Europe. But they were smart people, and always suspicious of Evangelists.

I am very grateful that they were so kind to save me from a horror that was just waiting to swallow me up. I was quite a sheep, so I would have had a difficult time not following the sexually perverse doctrines Mo was just beginning to spread in those days. Being young and eager for life and love, I would have been an easy victim. I might have even become a "leader," to my everlasting shame.

Good job, Timothy, admitting your crimes. Now get more detailed, name names, and get ready to testify against your former confederates. With a little luck, the Family is about to catch a tsunami full in the face.
(reply to this comment)

From whiskers
Sunday, January 30, 2005, 13:05

Thanks. One thing though. I'm not Timothy anymore. Call me Whiskers, or Mike, or MG. Anything but the name I had when I was in TF.(reply to this comment
From conan
Sunday, January 30, 2005, 18:23

Whiskers, I don't know you and never did. But I am thankful for your example and hope that those responsible for similar abuses in the part of the world I endured my childhood will of their own accord issue similar statements and apologies. I doubt if you know how much your apology means to many of us, myself in particular. It is just words, but they carry a lot of weight and hopefully will help set a precedent.(reply to this comment

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