from Christina - Tuesday, January 25, 2005
accessed 1402 times
This article will appear in "Kristeligt Dagblad", a Danish newspaper, January 26th 2004. I have translated it from Danish into English to the best of my ability (but rather quickly, though) - and I haven't corrected any factual errors.
Revenge killing after childhood in cult
By Anne Korsholm
Earlier this month, 29-year-old Ricky Rodriguez from the internationally known cult The Family killed his former nanny, Angela Smith, and himself.
The nanny was apparently one of many adults who had sexually molested the crown prince of The Family, Ricky Rodriguez, while he grew up in the cult, where sex with children was widespread and legitimised through bible verses and the cult's own writings.
It appears from a video recorded in his home in Arizonathat his original goal was to torture and kill his mother.
- "My mother must pay for what I have suffered – and what thousands of other children have suffered. If I don't get her this time I will hunt her in the next life," Ricky Rodriguez said hours before the revenge act, whilst showing guns and torture devices such as a stun gun and a drill.
The Family was formerly known as The Children of God. The cult was founded by Ricky Rodriguez' stepfather, David Berg, in the late 1960s. It attracted among others hippies, left wing activists and the so-called Jesus People; it was a mixture between Christianity, free sex and doomsday cult, and it spread throughout the world.
The cult was especially known for using 'sacred prostitution' as a missionary practise, where women would offer sex in order to attract new male converts – the so-called "Flirty Fishing" – and later on the cult's widespread sexual abuse of children also became known, which in 1986 forced the cult's leaders to officially renounce that part of the group's practise.
As the child of the cult's leaders, David Berg and Karen "Mama" Zerby, Ricky Rodriguez was raised as a role model for all families. Furthermore, he was to be somewhat of a Messiah according to David Bergs prophesies. The cult leader called him Davidito and his mother Queen Maria or Mama.
- "They will become the Endtime witnesses, and they're going to have such power they can call down fire from heaven and devour their enemies. In the end they will be killed, but after 3½ days Jesus will raise them from the dead," David Berg thus prophesised about Ricky Rodriguez and his mother.
His recent murder and suicide is massively dealt with in the American media. The Family eagerly defends itself, while other children who grew up in the cult come forward and share their stories.
- "They would show you what to do and put you with adults and children. By the age of 11, I was sick of sex because I had seen it all and done it all," says, for instance, 29-year-old Celeste Jones about her upbringing to The Sunday Times.
The Family's spokesman and Queen Maria's new husband, Peter Amsterdam, has written a letter to all current members: "Some people are trying to take advantage of this tragedy and use it to harm Mama, me and The Family. They are destroying the work we are doing for the Lord."
The founder's prophesy about Ricky Rodriguez' role in the Endtime is now officially rejected.
- "The Family has known for several years that Davidito would not fulfil that prophesy. We believe that prophesy is also dependent on man's choices," Family spokeswoman Claire Borowik says to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Many former members of The Family now hope that the obviously wrong prophesy will cause doubts and distrust among the current members – and perhaps even destroy The Family completely.
Ricky Rodriguez officially left The Family in 2000. Since then he had been a part of a critical website about the cult, where he among other things wrote:
"It gives me hope that one day The Family leadership's evil legacy will die with the Family, and it will be only a distant or, better yet, forgotten bad memory."