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Getting Out : Seeking Justice

CNN revisits the Ricky Tragedy

from Albatross - Tuesday, December 04, 2007
accessed 1111 times

Nice to see that they haven't forgotten

Young man's suicide blamed on mother's cult

By Randi Kaye

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The suicide of a young man and the murder he committed before he killed himself are being blamed on a cult led by his mother.

Also disturbing, former members who spoke to CNN say they witnessed Ricky Rodriguez having sex with his mother, Karen Zerby, the leader of the sect now known as "The Family International."

The sect's activities and history are detailed in a newly released book, "Jesus Freaks." The sect was founded in California in the 1960s by David Berg, who referred to himself as "Mo," short for Moses. Berg was a self-proclaimed prophet.

Former sect members tell CNN Berg encouraged adult-child sex. More often than not, they say, the chosen child was Rodriguez, the son of Karen Zerby, who Berg called his queen. Zerby became the leader of the sect when Berg died in 1994.

"Jesus Freaks" author Don Lattin says Berg "wanted his child to embrace sexuality, to be a sexual being as an infant and growing up."

Former members say Berg and Zerby wrote about their beliefs in papers distributed to members. It was Berg's how-to guide for raising sexual children. The Family International now says all "questionable publications were officially renounced and expunged between the late 1980s and early 1990s."

In Berg and Zerby's manifesto, Rodriguez was the main character.

Former member Davida Kelley told CNN, "I actually witnessed Karen Zerby having intercourse with her own son, Rick Rodriguez, at age 11." Kelley says she, too, had been abused by Berg, starting at age 5. "You were only required to have actual intimate intercourse with David Berg once you were, like, the mature age of, like, 12," she says sarcastically.

Berg was apparently so obsessed with sex he used it to expand his group around the world. Lattin says Berg sent women out to seduce men and lure them in to accept his gospel of Jesus. Lattin says Berg called the practice "Flirty Fishing."

CNN made several attempts to interview The Family International, but it refused. In a statement, the group acknowledged Berg taught sexual liberty without "instituting safeguards for the protection of minors." But it says that was corrected in 1986 and any infractions are an "excommunicable offense." The group also told CNN all of Davida Kelley's allegations are false and Zerby never abused her son.

Rodriguez, who escaped from "The Family International" in 2001, apparently was so deeply scarred that he was making plans to kill his mother. CNN has obtained a copy of a videotape he made two years ago, in which he warned, "She's gonna pay dearly, one way or the other," while brandishing a knife and loading guns at his kitchen table.

Within hours of finishing the tape, in January 2005, Rodriguez tracked down his childhood nanny, Angela Smith. Former member Kelley says "she was one of the many female adults that had intercourse with Rick Rodriguez."

In his first bloody act of revenge, Rodriguez murdered his nanny. He cut her throat and left her body in his Arizona apartment. But he was still on the hunt for his mother. Lattin says Rodriguez felt the need to take justice into his own hands because "most of the abuse was, like, 20 years ago, so the statute of limitations had expired. Most of it happened outside the U.S., so it's very difficult to prosecute."

A spokesman for the group told CNN its "policy for the protection of minors was adopted in 1986. We regret that prior to the adoption of this policy, cases occurred where minors were exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior between 1978 and 1986."

Some of those exposed to the alleged abuse may have chosen suicide to escape the pain. A Web site set up by people who grew up as children in the cult says at least 30 of them have committed suicide, though CNN has no way of verifying that.

Rodriguez became a part of that group. He failed to find his mother, something his wife says he couldn't live with. Elixcia Munumel remembers their last phone call: "He's like 'Baby, I love you.' He said, 'Come die with me.' "

Rodriguez died alone at age 29 in January 2005 on a deserted road, four years after he fled the sect. A single shot to the head ended the misery he fought so hard to escape. His mother is still the leader of the family. She has not been charged with a crime and lives in seclusion.

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from .......
Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 04:26

Child Abuse—The Essential Reason for Murder
Wednesday February 01, 2006
Dorothy O. Lewis has dedicated her life’s work to study why human beings murder. Her impressive, excellent book “Guilty by Reason of Insanity: A Psychiatrist Explores the Minds of Killers” is a harrowing read. It is shocking to learn about the actual acts of murder. They are usually seen as nothing but completely senseless evil acts—until the appalling, perverted physical and sexual violence and abuses, which these murderers had endured as children, come to light. Exposed to brutal, merciless whippings, beatings, and abused in abhorrent ways as sexual slaves—some of them through being sodomized—they had to manage to survive their childhoods from hell in a constant state of terror. Many people still want to believe that people are born evil; or that evilness afflicts a person out of nowhere; or that some innate evilness makes a human being kill. But that is not true.

The murderers whom we get to know in this gripping book have been through unspeakable horrors. They have damaged brains and mental illnesses. But the decisive and common factor for murderous acts is the experience of extremely traumatic childhood abuse. In many cases the barbaric, perverted torture caused the mind of the tortured child to split into multiple personalities. Dorothy Lewis, trained at Yale in a traditional, psychoanalytic way, could at first not recognize this devastating reality that helped these children survive and dissociate from their unbearable ordeals. Her interviews, wherein she gains a murderer’s trust so that the split personalities dare to come out and communicate with her—with their own names and characteristics, like a different way to talk, to look, to move—are stunning, shocking, and painfully fascinating.

Why do we look at murderers only as evil, perverted people who just must be put away or even silenced forever through the death penalty? Why don’t we try to gain all possible information about what produced their crimes? To understand what makes a murderer kill does not mean to excuse the crime or to let him or her out of jail. Society has the right to be protected. But we could learn so much from every murderer about the origins of terrible killings and how to prevent them—if we felt the responsibility to find out the reality and truth, and the reasons behind them. Thus, we could create a new, vitally important awareness about the devastating dangers and consequences of permitting violence against children.

It is a great loss for humanity’s growth that society is so blind, deaf and without any compassion for the ordeals of the victims of unfathomably monstrous childhood torture, which these murderers had to endure over and over again. In their interviews with Dorothy Lewis, they shared what happened to them often for the first time in their lives. Many of them could not remember any of it and could not explain why they had scars on their backs, their behinds and other parts of their bodies. Only dissociated parts, formed by their minds to help them survive, remembered the horrific abuses. It was frustrating to read how long it took and how skilled the interviewer had to ask her questions until these harrowingly mistreated human beings would share anything about their past—which they did only when they had come to trust this bright and sensitive psychiatrist.

It was mind-boggling to read that they did not want to reveal what they had suffered as children because they were afraid to paint their parents in a ‘bad light’ and to loose their families if they did so—which they feared especially when they were close to their executions and any information about their own plights might have saved their lives. Their parents were nothing but relieved if the truth remained a secret, hidden away—even if it meant that their child would be executed and had no chance of having his or her life spared through information that would throw light on their violent insanity.

It was moving and interesting to read how Dorothy Lewis describes her path from her confining training at Yale in the ‘Freudian tradition’ to arrive at her realizations, brought about by her experiences through these interviews—that human beings, who suffer traumatic, barbaric abuse in childhood can become violent murderers and people with multiple minds.

Murders are nothing else but the visible final acts of too many acts of agonizing violence inflicted on powerless, helpless, defenseless, innocent children—a reality which society does not wish to recognize. Society only takes note, often in sensational ways, of this final act and how to punish the criminal who committed it—but does not wish to be informed about all the crimes of their parents and other caretakers that led to this crime.

Dorothy Lewis has worked together with Jonathan Pinkus, who has written the book “Base Instincts.” They found three factors that need to come together to entice a murderous act: child abuse, mental illness, and brain damage. As I read about the cruelty and violence committed against these children, on a regular, often-daily basis, I wondered who would think that any adult could survive such ongoing torture, continuing for years, without severely damaging and traumatic consequences for his brain, mind, soul, body and sanity. Adults, tortured like that, would find sympathy and understanding, maybe even help. A child, in the possession and at the complete mercy of merciless, insane parents or other cruel, perverted abusers with power over the child, cannot find help or sympathy in his/her childhood—and rarely in court. Justice is a concept that never even touches these lives.

© Barbara Rogers
author of Screams from Childhood
(reply to this comment)
Saturday, December 08, 2007 - 15:29


I just watched this CNN show. So The Family says "its policy for the protection of minors was adopted in 1986"?????

What policy would that be? And why did they publish this in 1987:

And why did that book have such twisted answers to "Questions you Always Wanted to Ask":

Any so-called "child protection policy" instituted that would still permit that garbage is, I would say, not what any non-pervert would consider a policy for child "protection".

All I remember happening in 1986 was the rule that for the sake of security, once we had started menstruating/seminating, sexual activities had to be conducted so that minor females were not impregnated before the age when the baby would be born at mom's age 16 or after (but anything that did not lead to that was OK, including adult women being impregnated by boys). Liberty and stumblingblock did not come out until 1987, and can hardly be called a child protection policy.

If there was a child protection policy in 1987, it was as covert as Berg and Zerby and nobody heard about it. Slave labor and lack of education continued, and in a few years the DTR and Victor camps were instituted. Child protection they say????

Oh, and why were they still purging "questionable" publications in the early 90's???? They themselves say this, which indicates that when the 90s' raids took place, they still maintained child-endangering circumstances.

By the way too, if they isntituted a child protection policy in 1986, why did they start purging publications in the "late 1980's"? I don't actually recall purges then, either -- they just published "Burn After Reading" stuff that was destroyed, meaning the incriminating stuff that was burned was JUST published.

Sadly and utterly ironic, the average viewer will probably not realize that the very purges the cult refers to were part of what made it impossible to find legal justice, and part of the revisionist history would further torment the victims of their child abuse.
(reply to this comment)

from soon
Thursday, December 06, 2007 - 14:53

encouraging that Warren Jeff's has been caught. one down, a few to go!

"LAS VEGAS — The charismatic leader of a polygamous sect was captured during a traffic stop three months after being put on the FBI's Most Wanted List and faces charges he arranged marriages between underage girls and older men.

Warren Steed Jeffs, 50, was arrested without incident just outside Las Vegas late Monday after more than a year on the run, the FBI said. No weapons were found, but the 2007 red Cadillac Escalade he was riding in was filled with items including three wigs, 15 cell phones and tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards, authorities said.

Jeffs has led the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2002 and is said to have at least 40 wives and nearly 60 children. Church dissidents say that underage marriages — some involving girls as young as 13 — escalated into the hundreds under his leadership, and that he broke apart families by casting out married men and reassigning their women and children to others."

Karen Zerby's crimes are more severe, (and documented) so maybe now she will make the FBI's top 10 most wanted list. God only knows why she isn't on it already.
(reply to this comment)
From i meant..
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 15:39

Zerby's crimes are more *heinous
(reply to this comment
From another one bites the bars
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 15:35


By DAN JOLING, Associated Press Writer Wed Nov 28, 7:10 AM ET
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A man who called himself "Papa Pilgrim" and took his family far from civilization to raise them according to his interpretation of the Bible was sentenced to 14 years in prison for sexually assaulting a daughter.

A judge imposed the sentence Tuesday after Robert Hale's wife and many of their 15 children delivered statements that included intense stories of physical and mental abuse. Judge Donald Hopwood called it "one of the worst cases of domestic violence I've seen."
Hale and his family came to prominence during a feud with the National Park Service after family members used a bulldozer without permission to clear a road in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Land rights advocates rallied to their cause, and stories featured their plight as a case of big government versus simple folks loving music, fearing God and living off the land.
But that rustic image was a facade, Hale's wife, Kurina Rose Hale, testified during his sentencing hearing. She and many of the couple's children asked Hopwood to send Hale to prison to a long time because they feared what would happen if he were released.
Hopwood sentenced Hale to 10 years in prison for sexual assault and two years each for incest and coercion.
Hale, 66, spent much of Tuesday on the stand, denying charges of sexual and physical abuse leveled against him by family members. Hopwood said he simply didn't believe Hale's denials because so many witnesses testified consistently.
Hale had been indicted on 30 counts of rape, incest, coercion, kidnapping and assault for crimes against one of his daughters, committed between 1998 and 2005.
On the eve of his trial last December, Hale pleaded no contest to the three counts in exchange for a sentence of 14 years. But he later tried to withdraw the plea. He said he had made a mistake because he had been sick in jail, on medications and was not well-represented by his public defender.
Last month, in a hearing to decide on his change of plea, Hale changed his mind again and returned to a no-contest plea.
Hale insisted that he had a perfect spiritual understanding, his wife, Kurina Rose Hale, testified Monday.
"This is how he justified all his immoral activity," she said.
Hale was accused of persuading one child that she was a "special kind of daughter" and that she must have sex with him.
The sexual abuse culminated with an incident in the tiny community of McCarthy, about 275 miles east of Anchorage in Wrangell-St. Elias.
That's where Hale locked his daughter in a shed for three days, sexually assaulted her and beat her so badly her face looked like a black and blue basketball, according to another daughter's testimony.
Another daughter and the abuse victim left the family grounds to notify authorities.
Hale ran from law enforcers for two weeks before he was taken into custody.

Other children testified of prolonged beatings at the hands of the family patriarch, including boys being stretched out over a "beating barrel" and lashed with a three-cord riding crop to this comment

from afflick
Thursday, December 06, 2007 - 11:56


A Family perspective on this, given by Peter A.'s neice:
(reply to this comment)

From DeeJay
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 21:11


Trying to justify her own existence lifestyle by belittling or denying the pain of others. Who the hell is this b**** to tell others that what happened to them didn't really happen. This brainwashed, mouth and brainf***** cultie needs to just stuff Jesus' cock back her mouth to keep it from spewing all that bulls***.(reply to this comment

From afflick
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 22:18

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

That's disgusting. So, instead of attacking her comment, you attack her as a woman? Makes me ill. Try again. Be civil. Every woman alive is not a f**ktoy for you. Learn respect. Learn to make your point without reaching for the lowest of the low. Be smart. Be a human being. (reply to this comment

From Kelly
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 21:45

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
she is just a kid Dee Jay, and the cult is using her to do their diry work. Some things never change.(reply to this comment
From DeeJay
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 21:56

I know. But it's still infuriating. Blame the 'bigger body', or blame her own stupidity. Stupidity is no defense for further scarring others after all they have been through by claiming that they are a bunch of liars. The only crime they ever commited was not forgetting.(reply to this comment
From Falcon
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 14:00

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Who is far too young to know what in the hell she's talking about.(reply to this comment
From kelly
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 14:23


Yes she is very young. A fflick , thanks for posting: I had no idea..... and Thank you Falcon and Albatross for your comments---I concur! (reply to this comment

From figaro
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 13:51

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
My reply to her blog.

Please explain to me how thousands of second generation ex members who do not all know each other could all have very similar stories as to how they were abused while in the cult? Personally, during the many years that I was a member, I had never met any one of the other ex members who are making the same accusations against the cult as I am, so how do you explain all of our stories matching up? Coincidence? As you said "Puh leeze" (BTW if you want to be taken seriously maybe you should try speaking as if you had an education, even though you didn't)

Just as you find it insulting and hurtful to hear that we are accusing you of being brainwashed, we find it insulting and hurtful that you are accusing us of lying about the pain and abuse we suffered. Why exactly would we want to make up such stories if they weren't true? If we all had such happy childhoods like you say we did, then why would we have wanted to leave and make up this horrible nightmare that we must suffer the pain of every day? Why would we want to trade such a (supposedly) happy and loving home for the outside world if it is as bad as your cult makes it out to be? I personally do not know anyone who would rather live in a miserable, dangerous, cruel world then in a wonderful loving home with a real family, like you try to make it sound like. I also don't know anyone who would rather have had a cruel and abusive childhood then a happy one with a loving family.

Why would Ricky give up a happy home and the throne to the group, where he would have lived in the lap of luxury with anything he could ever want handed to him on a silver platter, in exchange for what ended up being his fate if he didn't suffer any real abuse? Why would those who were the closest to your former leader be the ones who came to despise him so much if he was such a loving and good person? It just doesn't make sense. Can you explain any of this to me? You don't seem to be able to reason very well, because I can see none in any of your statements.(reply to this comment
From Albatross
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 12:44

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I posted this response on her blog:

Dear Julia,
I think you will have to live with this for a long time. Until justice is served on our parent’s generation for the horrible crimes they committed, I can assure you that I, and the many of use who suffered abuse at their hands will NEVER stop. We will use any and every legal means at our disposal to get it. Every year we become stronger, more educated, with more resources, and more connections. Thanks to search engines, our side of the story is now available to anyone with just a couple of mouse clicks. The media consuming public is astute, very few will be swayed by the internet ads you buy. I believe the availability of this material and the baseline understanding of The Family as a cult that is unable or unwilling to face and accept responsibility for its abusive history, has and will continue to play a significant role in future court cases involving Family members. I understand your desire to live in peace in the cult. I have never, in all the media interviews I have done, stated that the abuses of the past are in fact the norm for TFI today. But I have argued that crimes were committed and those who committed them remain in the group and worse yet, in positions of power in the group. Until they are purged, or until they accept responsibility for their actions, you and your (my) generation, will NEVER…I repeat NEVER….have peace. The sins of our fathers will indeed be visited on the second and third generations.
I can’t imagine you enjoy all this negative attention. In 2003 I gave my father (Ado..Hi Dad!) an opinion on what I thought was the way out of this mess. This was before Ricky and the media storm of 2005. I told him that we just wanted genuine acknowledgment for what we went through and a real attempt to help us find justice…working WITH TFI. I told him that approaching us not as enemies, but as their own wounded children would go a long way towards calming the anger we felt at our abuse. I also told him we needed help with paying for therapy for those who were the most wounded. TFI’s response was more of the same aggressive name-calling and rebuffs. We had no choice but to fight with the only means then at our disposal. We have yet to see anything from your leaders that we feel is genuine. And as the injured party, it is for US to determine what is genuine. Terms such as “we regret if any abuses…..etc,” do not cut it. I am sorry for you. You seem like a nice person who truly believes in the truth of the life she is living. But I, (and many like me,) am equality as dedicated…if not more, to the truth of our own experience and the need for justice. Whatever you think of Ricky’s action, you can not deny that there was enough anger and passion there to push him to what he did. While that level of violence may not be in me or in my peers, we do have strong a very determination to see justice done. …and WE WILL HAVE OUR JUSTICE!(reply to this comment
From Falcon
Friday, December 07, 2007, 03:24

I think this song is a fitting reply to TFI.

(reply to this comment
From lyrics
Friday, December 07, 2007, 03:28


"Won't Back Down"

I know what darkness means
(and the void you left for me)
The isolation stings
(So think it wants to bleed)
The echoes in my brain
(Of the things you said to me)
You took my everything
Now I'm coming for you!

I won't back down
I will not bow
I've come to bring you hell
I can’t forget
Things you did
I've come to bring you hell

The shadows that you see
(In the places that you sleep)
Are memories of me
(Better pray your soul to keep)
The truth behind your eyes
(You know that place you never see)
Your darkest little lies
Are coming for you!

All the scars that never heal
All the wounds that will not seal
I will not forget the day
These memories never fall

I've come to bring you hell
(I've come to bring you hell) (reply to this comment
From Kelly
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 12:43


This is a perfect example of the way the cult operates! Anyone know if they are still sending out BAR (*Burn After Reading) publications?

(reply to this comment

From TFI response
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 12:50

where does one begin!?

Annoyed that they STILL try and bulk up their numbers, by referencing their children-i.e minors- in their stats as members.

Contact: Claire Borowik, Public Affairs Desk for The Family International,
It is disappointing that a reputable network such as CNN would publish such sensationalistic, poorly researched material. The bias and lack of balance displayed in this program transcript are highly unprofessional and discriminatory. Although I was unable to participate in their program due to the fact that I was overseas at the time, contrary to what was published, I provided statements and other materials for their program.
It is clear that the intent of this program was to discredit Karen Zerby, current co-administrative and spiritual overseer of The Family International. Ricky Rodriguez never accused his mother of abusive actions whether in his video, or in his multitudinous internet rants, and the tale told by alleged “witnesses,” specifically Davida Kelley, is absolutely false. Ricky did not “escape” from the group as this program alleges, but rather joined the 32,000 people that have voluntarily exited our movement over the past 30 years. His mother was supportive of his decision and assisted him financially for several years after his departure to establish himself.
Court findings paint a very different picture of Karen Zerby and the efforts she has made to ensure the safety and well-being of Family members, both young and old. Justice Ward made note of this role in his custody ruling: “I am now totally satisfied that The Family, I would think largely at Maria’s prompting, has since 1986 made determined and sustained efforts to stamp out child sexual abuse and to prevent any inappropriate contact between adults and children whether young children or teenage children. I have no evidence that child sex abuse is presently prevalent any more within The Family than outside it.” (Family Division, Case W 42 1992, London, England, October 19, 1995).
The Family International’s success in protecting our children and enforcing our zero tolerance policy for the protection of minors has been documented by court-appointed and independent investigations in the early ‘90s of almost 700 children living in Family communities. After extensive physical, psychological and educational testing, all of the children were found to be healthy with no sign of abuse in a single case. This total absence of abuse speaks for the efforts made to safeguard children in Family communities. I question whether random investigations would produce similar results in society at large. Not according to the Department of Health and Human Services, that reports a rate of at least 13 cases of abuse per 1,000 in the United States, with British authorities reporting close to 200 cases per 1,000.
“Jesus Freaks”
This program seems to have found its impetus in Don Lattin’s recently published book, “Jesus Freaks.” Although Lattin’s book does contain some sound research and factual information, it is laced with inaccuracies, misconceptions and erroneous conclusions lacking a factual base—not to mention, sketchy research. The stereotyping that Lattin resorts to manifests bias and religious intolerance, and an attempt to cast the Family’s deeply held Christian beliefs in a negative light. His writings echo the position of anti-religious proponents, who demonize the beliefs of others and set themselves as judges as to the legitimacy of a belief system and ultimately the right to one’s religious faith. His writings throughout 2005 on the Rodriguez incident reflected a similar ideology, and the preponderance of his writings have focused on ex-member allegations, while giving very little space to current member responses. “Jesus Freaks” is no different.
Incidence of Suicide amongst former members
The claim that nearly 30 suicides occurred in the past 15 years has no basis in fact or official causes of death. We acknowledge that those who were once a part of our movement are as likely to succumb to social illnesses as the population at large. According to our records, however, the rate of incidence of suicide amongst the approximately 32,000 former members of the Family is far below the average in general, and in conformance to the expected rate in some age ranges.
The World Health Organization estimates that suicide is responsible for a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000 people per year. In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide, rendering it among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44. In a period of history where the rates of suicide are rising at an alarming rate, suicide and acts of violence are virtually unknown in our fellowship.
Suicide and acts of violence are virtually unheard of in our communities. As Christians, we deplore and are diametrically opposed to acts of violence and the suffering these inflict on the innocent. We believe that human life is sacred, and each person should be respected as an individual created in the image of God. As Christians, our lives are devoted to sharing the news of God’s love and salvation for humanity and caring for the needy. (For more information on our charitable activities in over a hundred countries, please see
Ricky Rodriguez and Angela Smith
The Family International was deeply saddened by the deaths of Ricky Rodriguez, son of Karen Zerby, and Angela Smith , a member of the Family for over 30 years. Ricky (1975-2005) committed suicide January 8th, 2005, after taking Angela’s life. (please see Ricky’s memorial site at and Angela Smith’s memorial site at
In response to the controversy this tragedy generated in the media, second generation members of the Family published a blog, in order to ensure that their voices may be heard. Over 400 young people raised in the Family have posted statements and testimonials with photos. (please see )
Ricky Rodriguez withdrew from the Family fellowship in 2000 in order to pursue his education and other interests. Although he departed on good terms, he later became estranged from his mother and sister. After contacting some of our more vitriolic apostates, he began to manifest violent tendencies. Those who were aware of his violent intents failed to report it to authorities or seek assistance.
In searching for a motive for this tragic crime, the media should take care to not casually write off Angela’s death and justify the actions of an obviously disturbed young man acting out his misplaced anger. Our society is rife with violence—regularly the public is exposed to violent crimes of individuals that act out the violence they witness via the media, and discuss anonymously via the internet. Such crimes are not particular to religious groups—in fact such violence is shocking and entirely unheard of in Family communities.
The Family International, formerly known as the Children of God, is a fellowship of Christian missionaries dedicated to preaching the Gospel around the world. Members have received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and live and work together in small communities. Founded by David Brandt Berg (1919–1994) in Southern California during the late ’60s, the Family has expanded into an international missionary fellowship located in over 100 countries around the world. Approximately two-thirds of The Family’s full-time membership is comprised of second and third generation members(reply to this comment
From 3jinosos
Saturday, December 08, 2007, 12:07


Karen Zerby should have met her son and took what she has coming to her.

Even the brain-dead spokesperson acknowleges that Ricky was, "an obviously disturbed young man." The Zerby follower implies Ricky became disturbed over a the last 4 years of his life. It is moronic statements like this that invoke feelings of violence. She should watch his suicide video. It's clear why Ricky was disturbed, and it had nothing to do with the last four years of his life.

Justice being served would vindicate those who were hurt and prevent more from being hurt. I am glad there is one less clueless cultie following Berg and Zerby's perverted doctorines. If Smith was not a part of Zerby's inner-circle, she would not be dead. Smith CHOOSE to follow a perverted child-molester.

My husband has been out of TFI since '86 and the f*cked-up crap they did to him still haunts him. I included a link to the ML published in response to his acting out. It was incredibly evil. All the things spelled out in this ML were actually done to him over a period of 3 years until he escaped in the PI with nothing but the clothes on his back.

It would have been nice if the ex-members SGA's could walk away and not look back. However, TFI made that impossible by their punishments and encouraging members to become child-molesting prostitutes and pimps.

Using my rage as a point of reference, I cannot imagine the level of violence that boils beneath the surface in the hearts of every SGA, whether they acknowledge it or not. In my mind it is surprising there have not been more murders. Lucky for TFI the ex-member SGA's do not do something about their rage in the same manner that Ricky did.(reply to this comment

From None so blind...
Saturday, December 08, 2007, 13:15

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(

From that ML.....

Berg: "Aaron feared me & he feared God & he knew he didn't dare try any of that shennanigan stuff!"

Where's Aaron now?

Berg: "14. BROTHER, MY CHILDREN TREATED ME WITH RESPECT & OBEYED ME…!—And look how they turned out, thank God!"

Tell Ricky that.(reply to this comment

From Rebecca C. also known as cheeks
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 15:03

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(

Dear Claire,

For a little while I intertained the idea of writing to you personally but figured why bother when I can come here. Zerby knows or knew my parents fairly well at one time as my mom was Berg personal secratary for many years. Her name at the time was Karen, I was also one of those children you mention that went through the raids and had " no signs of abuse".

I don't know where to start as I am so irritated by your above comments. I was sexually molested several times before I was eleven. When I was eleven my parents sent me to the Jumbo, I am sure you heard about it. Lonnie Davis and his wife co-sheperded/ran what ever you want to call it with several other shepherds at the time. Most of the things that went on there were well documented and written far more eloquently than I could ever write them by Jules the founder of this site. We went through hell there. We were paddled, restricted from food, made to wear signs that said we are on silence restriction for months on end. We worked doing menial labor from sun-up to sun-down forced to do callestenics until we threw up or passed out. The clothes we brought with us we were forced to forsake and we ended up with a sarong that if we were lucky just covered our chest and reached our buttocks.

The point of my ramble, Zerby personaly oversaw the Jumbo. She recieved communications from Lonnie and the other Tn. Sheps about what was going on there. I saw some of the letters she wrote back. She knew and she allowed it, and she encoraged it. She cannot sit there and claim ignorance. I know that she knew, she knew with Mene too. I did not leave the Jumbo unscathed, for years I suffered through severe panic attacks and sleeping disorders.

Now I want to talk about the suicides, this is what really pisses me off. I want you to count how many SGA's that were born into the Family, not our parents who joined, only the SGA's now lets do some math. Lets take all the Sga's that were born since 69 to the ones that are 18 now. How many suicides do we end up with now? Lets make it a little more clear lets take the SGA' that were born from 69 to oh lets say 77 how many SGA's were there, Four hundred tops? How many commited suicide, because these are the real numbers you need to look at these are the ones that were the most damaged by the Family.

I am sorry if it happed to you does not cut it. It is not enough for me. You, TFI and Zerby need to stand up and admit it happened. Not it may have happened or some people took it out of context. You, TFI and Zerby are responsible because if you were not the ones doing it to us, you were the ones that turned a blind eye while it was being done. You TFI and Zerby bear the weight of these sins, you bear the weight of these crimes. You cannot be forgiven for somthing you do not accept responsibility for and you TFI and Zerby have yet to admit you are at fault.

Oh I want to add seeing I really had no education in TFI I am not responsible for my typos and mis-spellings. If you want to contact me privately you can reach me through my profile.

Rebecca C.

known here as cheeks

(reply to this comment

From rightio
Thursday, December 06, 2007, 12:09

"I’m not going to believe that one either until I see it."
she'll have to invent a time machine then!(reply to this comment
from Peter
Wednesday, December 05, 2007 - 19:27

The video and transcripts have been archived on (which is back up now). The story was also shown on CNN International and CNN Newsroom.
(reply to this comment)

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