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Getting Out : Media Reports

Front Page Sunday San Francisco Chronicle

from Big Sister - Sunday, February 06, 2005
accessed 1929 times

IRS documents show ties between charity, sex cult
Tax-exempt foundation that raises money for projects around world denies links to sect.

Dulzura, San Diego County -- Internal Revenue Service documents filed by the Family Care Foundation, a not-for-profit charity in Southern California, show deep, ongoing ties between the organization and the Family, the evangelical sex cult rocked by a recent murder-suicide.

But officials with the Family Care Foundation deny any connection to the controversial cult.

The religious sect, formerly known as the Children of God, was started in the late 1960s by Oakland native David "Moses" Berg, who attracted tens of thousands of devotees in the 1970s with his strange brew of evangelical Christianity and sexual license.

But J. Gordon Melton, an authority on new religions who has studied the Family for years, said the sect established the charitable foundation to help raise money for church projects.

"The Family Care Foundation is the Family," said Melton, who directs the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara.

According to federal tax documents and annual reports, from 1997 to 2003, the foundation raised more than $9.9 million in donations including cash and other types of gifts for projects around the world -- ranging from assisting orphans and street children to medical and education programs to disaster relief.

James Penn, who spent more than a decade in the inner circle of the globe- trotting cult, said the Family Care Foundation is a "public front" that enables the Family to attract tax-deductible donations and fund missionaries around the world who endorse the cult's "bizarre beliefs and practices."

"People wouldn't give to a charitable foundation if they knew that its leaders endorsed the sexual abuse of minors and religious prostitution," said Penn, who helped start the foundation before leaving the Family in 1998.

Larry Corley, executive director of the foundation, said his organization funds many "independent projects around the world."

"There is no relationship, period," he said. "It is not a front for the Family. It is not tied to the Family."

Former members say the vast majority of projects funded by the foundation are run by the Family. Two children's programs, including one which was based in San Francisco, were run by one-time cult members who had faced separate allegations of child sexual abuse.

All six officers listed on Internal Revenue Service documents filed by the foundation last year have ties to the cult, according to those who have left the sect.

One of them, Angela Smith, who is listed as a member of the foundation's board of directors, was killed on Jan. 8 in Tucson, apparently by Ricky "Davidito" Rodriguez. Rodriguez was the son of Karen "Maria" Zerby, who was married to Berg until he died in 1994 and is now the Family's chief prophetess and spiritual leader.

Rodriguez, who defected from the cult in 2000, was born into the sect in 1975 and raised to join his mother as one of the "two witnesses" to usher in the apocalyptic "end time" battles foretold in the Bible's Book of Revelation.

In a chilling videotape shot the night before Smith's murder, Rodriguez said he planned to torture Smith, his former nanny, to get information about the whereabouts of his mother and her current husband, Peter "King Peter" Amsterdam.

The whereabouts of Zerby, Amsterdam and other top cult leaders have been unknown for years. Rodriguez blamed them and other sect leaders for years of sexual and spiritual abuse he and other children suffered while they were growing up in the sect.

But after driving all night through the Arizona desert toward Southern California, Rodriguez stopped in the Riverside County town of Blythe, just across the California border, and shot himself in the head.

Just before leaving the cult, Rodriguez lived at the Family Care Foundation headquarters at Brookside Farm, a four-acre spread along Marron Valley Road in Dulzura, a small town east of San Diego.

"Ricky was never part of Family Care Foundation," Corley said. "He passed through briefly."

In addition to Smith and Corley, who is identified by Penn and other defectors as a longtime member of the Family, the four other officers listed on the foundation's IRS forms are:

-- Grant Montgomery, the program director and highest paid official with the Family Care Foundation. He is the former "prime minister" and third- ranking leader of the Family International, according to Penn and other former members.

-- Dr. Chris Mlot, the foundation treasurer and board member. She is a longtime member of the sect, and shown on property records as the owner of one of the Family's properties in Escondido.

-- Cheryl Brown, a member of the foundation board. Penn said Brown, whose birth name is Kathleen Fowler, is another longtime member of the cult and is a registered domain owner of the sect's Web site,

-- Kenneth L. Kelly, the brother of Amsterdam, whose birth name is Steven Douglas Kelly. Kelly co-owns Family property with Mlot, and according to Penn, is closely tied to the sect and has several children with Mlot.

Despite those deep connections, Family spokesman Claire Borowik said the sect "has no say or vote on the activities of the Family Care Foundation board. "

"There is no legal relationship between the Family and the Family Care Foundation," Borowik said.

Borowik conceded, however, that the foundation "has under its umbrella many projects run by Family members."

Jonathan Thompson, a former Family member who said he worked as an accountant for the Family Care Foundation, said the San Diego-based charity "refuses to say they have any link to the Family."

At the same time, Thompson said the foundation does get legitimate donations from outside sources for rank-and-file members doing good work.

"They are people who are just part of a messed-up system," Thompson said. "They've helped a lot of people."

Leaders of the Family International acknowledge that sexual activity between adults and children was condoned in the group during the 1970s and 1980s, and that it was encouraged by the writings and prophecies of the sect's founder, including one famous tract titled "The Devil Hates Sex."

Berg said the "law of love" encouraged sexual "sharing" among group members and sanctioned "flirty fishing" by female devotees who would attract male recruits with sexual favors.

Family International spokeswoman Borowik said the Family "enacted stringent policies to ensure the safety and protection of our children" in 1986. Other members insist the cult has long abandoned past practices and has since enacted new policies.

Yet at least two members of the Family accused of sexual molestation in child custody cases in England and California in the 1990s went on to start charities funded by the Family Care Foundation.

One of those cases is described in sealed court documents filed in San Diego in connection with a 1998 custody case and obtained last week by The Chronicle.

They tell the story of a girl born into the Family International in 1981 and sexually abused from ages 5 to 16.

Her alleged abusers included a stepfather, Phillip Slown, who she says repeatedly molested her in Thailand, where her mother was serving as a missionary for the Family International.

According to an investigative report by the San Diego County Department of Social Services, the girl "experienced multiple incidents of sexual abuse with numerous men."

"This group has advocated sexual activity with minors as a pathway to God, " the report found. "Her mother continues to interact with this religious group and she encouraged sexual behavior between her daughter and three men as recently as March 1997."

After investigating the case, county welfare workers removed the teenager from her parents' custody and made her a ward of the court.

Slown went on to start a charity called From the Heart to help "at-risk youth." It was based in San Francisco's Mission District between 1997 and 1999 -- during which time the organization received more than $70,000 in donations collected by the Family Care Foundation.

"They did a really good job with drug addicts and street kids, but I haven't heard from them in a long time," Corley said.

Slown could not be reached for comment, and his San Francisco phone number had been recently disconnected.

The two others cases are mentioned in a lengthy child custody decision rendered in England in 1995 by Lord Justice Alan Ward.

The decision names "Paul P. -- Josiah" as a member of the sect's Music with Meaning team in Europe.

"He corrupted and abused the young girls who were part of the singing and dancing troupe," Ward writes.

Penn and other former members say that is a reference to Family member Paul Pelequin, known in the cult as "Josiah."

Pelequin was later funded by the Family Care Foundation for a project in Africa called "Focus on Kidz." He could not be reached for comment.

Corley said he was not aware of the abuse allegations against Slown and Pelequin.

As for the Family ties of the other Family Care Foundation leaders, Corley said, "I know nothing about their personal lives."

Penn and other former members say Corley himself has been a leading member of the Family International for about two decades.

Asked about that, he replied, "It's irrelevant."

Reader's comments on this article

Add a new comment on this article

from ManicMoe
Sunday, February 06, 2005 - 21:53

Someone needs to inform the Flora Family Foundation of the connection between the FCF and the Family. While it may be too late for them to cancel the grant(s) they already made, I doubt they will make future grants to FCF once they know that it is initimately connected to the Family,that there are at least two child molesters (Lawrence Corley and Robert Fernandez) on its board of directors and that some of its projects are run by child molesters such as Paul Peloquin and Philip Slown.

If you go to and scroll down or search, you will see a $20,000 grant they made last year to FCF.

Recent Grants - 2004 Board Grants - Small Grants
Family Care Foundation
Spring Valley, CA
General support, $20,000 over one year

Statement of Purpose
The purpose of the Flora Family Foundation is to promote selected activities of charitable organizations and institutions as determined by members of the Board and Family Council. It is predicated on the belief that each individual has an obligation to go beyond the narrow confines of his or her personal interests and be mindful of the broader concerns of humanity. The Foundation pursues these goals in order to provide the descendants of William and Flora Hewlett with a vehicle for philanthropic activity. The Flora Family Foundation, incorporated as a private foundation in the State of California late in 1998, was established by the family of William and Flora Lamson Hewlett, for whom the Foundation is named.

Contact Information
Flora Family Foundation
2121 Sand Hill Road, Suite 123
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 233-1335 (phone)
(650) 233-1340 (fax)


From San Francisco, on Highway 280
South on 280
Sand Hill Road exit, East
Right on Sharon Park Drive into the Hewlett Foundation driveway at 2121 Sand Hill Road

From San Francisco, on Highway 101
South on 101 to 380
South on 280
Sand Hill Road exit, East
Right on Sharon Park Drive into the Hewlett Foundation driveway at 2121 Sand Hill Road

From Palo Alto
North on El Camino Real
Left (West) on Sand Hill Road (just past the Stanford Shopping Center)
Cross Santa Cruz Avenue
Left on Sharon Park Drive into the Hewlett Foundation driveway at 2121 Sand Hill Road

From San Jose
North on 280
Sand Hill Road exit, East
Right on Sharon Park Drive into the Hewlett Foundation driveway at 2121 Sand Hill Road

(reply to this comment)
From ManicMoe
Saturday, February 12, 2005, 23:57

Hewlett grant went to cult-linked charity
Foundation says it was unaware of ties to infamous sect
- Todd Wallack, Don Lattin, Chronicle Staff Writers
Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Flora Family Foundation, an heir to the HP fortune, gave a Southern California charity with ties to an infamous evangelical sex cult $61, 500 during the past three years, but a top foundation official said it never would have made the grants had it known about the connection.

The donations were made to the Family Care Foundation, which has extensive links to the Family International, formerly known as the Children of God.

Those ties were revealed in an article published in The Chronicle on Sunday.

"We were certainly troubled by the article,'' said Flora Family Foundation President Stephen Toben. "We have never been aware of any connection between the Family Care Foundation and the Family."

Toben said the Flora Family Foundation, based in Menlo Park and established by the family of HP co-founder William Hewlett and his wife, Flora, learned about the charity while searching for groups working on international development projects.

The group has an impressive Web site and didn't disclose any cult ties on its tax forms, Toben said.

Family Care Foundation Executive Director Larry Corley flatly denies any ties to the Family sect.

Yet, The Chronicle investigation showed that all six of the foundation's officers have links to the Family International. And according to former members, most of the "independent" projects getting foundation funds are run by members of the Family.

The religious sect was started in the late 1960s by Oakland native David "Moses" Berg, whose blend of Christian witness and sexual freedom attracted tens of thousands of devotees in the 1970s. The cult made headlines with controversial practices, such as using sex to recruit new members and allowing sexual activity between children, teenagers and adults.

The Chronicle story has also sparked concern at Milpitas High School, where two missionaries with ties to the Family visited a Spanish class last December.

Student Eric Day, a senior, said the two visitors sang Christmas carols and passed out "pamphlets about accepting Jesus in your heart'' that included the Web address of the Family International.

"My classmates were put off by it,'' Day said. "What's up with all this church stuff? We're a public school.''

Day then learned that the missionaries were affiliated with the Children of God. "I was completely shocked,'' he said.

One of the missionaries, Ted Rudow III of Menlo Park, said his Dec. 17 visit to Spanish teacher Kim Marion's class was "completely innocent."

"It was to celebrate Christmas and witness to the birth of Jesus,'' said Rudow, who said he had met Marion when they both worked as missionaries for the Family.

Rudow said the stories of child abuse in the Family in the 1970s and 1980s were being spread by "apostates" who were "slinging the mud of false accusations and evil lies" to "destroy this wonderful Family that I have known and worked with for 33 years.''

Marion did not return phone calls and e-mails requesting an interview.

But Milpitas High School Principal Chuck Gary said the school would take disciplinary action against the Spanish teacher.

"This was definitely inappropriate,'' he said. "The materials handed out were explicitly religious. It was proselytizing.''

New attention has been focused on the Family International and the Family Care Foundation since a Jan. 8 murder-suicide in Tucson involving 29-year-old Ricky "Davidito" Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is the estranged son of Karen "Maria" Zerby, the chief prophet and spiritual leader of the sect, which says it has 8,000 full-time missionaries globally.

Police say Rodriguez murdered Angela Smith, a member of the Family Care Foundation board of directors and Zerby's onetime personal secretary, drove across the California border and then shot himself in the head.

In a video made the night before, Rodriguez had said he had planned to use Smith to get information as to the whereabouts of his mother and other sect leaders, whom Rodriguez blamed for years of sexual abuse that he and other second-generation members suffered while growing up in the cult.

Internal Revenue Service documents show that the Family Care Foundation raised close to $10 million in cash and gifts from 1997 to 2003 for projects around the globe.

The Family Care Foundation has also received donations through the U.S. government's Combined Federal Campaign, which allows federal employees to deduct money from their paychecks and donate it to approved charities.

An official with the program, which is run by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, said her office was now reviewing complaints made about the Family Care Foundation.

The official, who asked that her name not be used, said the campaign did not keep statistics on how much money it funneled to individual charities.

In 2003, she said, the campaign raised $250 million for 15,000 participating charities.

Corley, of the Family Care Foundation, declined to say how much money his charity received through the federal program.

"We have participated in that for a number of years,'' he said. "It is a source of income.''

E-mail the writers at twallack at and dlattin at

Page B - 1
URL: to this comment
from John LaMattery (Sr) [aka LTN]
Sunday, February 06, 2005 - 15:40

This article is like a 'smart bomb'. It has hit its mark and I believe we're going to start seeing a tremendous FALLOUT. Let's hope that their destruction will be swift.
(reply to this comment)
From seeker
Sunday, February 06, 2005, 16:11


More on FCF.

This document is pretty good, if anyone is interested in knowing more about FCf and The Family to this comment

Sunday, February 06, 2005 - 11:49


Larry Corley is lucky that he isn't Pinnochio, cause if he was, his nose would be a lot longer by now.

Look at all the lies he has told.

He lies that there is no connection between FCf and the Family -- straight-up, bold-faced lie.

(Claire at least got it right -- said there is no legal connection between the two -- only illegal connections!)

He lied when he said he didn't know about allegations against Peloquin. Corley was involved in the BI court case -- he knew all about it. I'm also told he lived in that Loveville place in Greece with Music with Meaning. If that's true, then Paul would have been his boss.

And Paul worked at FCF, literally in the same Family home as Paul, in 1997 and 1998.

And I'm sure he knew about the Slown case. Lots of people did.

He says he knows nothing about the personal lives of other directors. BS. He has lived at the same address as Grant Montgomery for about six years.

He says that it is irrelevant if he has been a member of TF for 20 years .

So here is the Executive Director of a charity saying:

  • We have no connection to TF, even though I am a member, all the directors are members, many of the projects are members, and one of our accountants was a member.

  • He acknowledges that there are no procedures to screen FCF projects for sex offenders. Just about anyone can sign up. We don't know, we don't care.

  • Even though, by divine coincidence, all the directors are FCF members, it makes no difference to their suitability. Corley doesn't care enough to know anything about their personal lives. Big deal if they are full-time members of a sex cult that abused children. FCF is obviously not too picky about who gets to decide where that $9 million goes. Just about anyone that the cat drags in.

  • Similarly, he feels that his membership in the cult has no bearing on anything. Irrelevant.

Really just makes you want to get your check book out and get a donation off to them.

Larry is a liar, and now that he has lied repeatedly, publicly, he is going to get caught, confronted, and exposed.
(reply to this comment)

From Mir
Sunday, February 06, 2005, 14:09

Isn't Larry Corley Shaul of Abiah?(reply to this comment
From tinaz
Sunday, February 06, 2005, 14:27

No this is not him, if you are who I think you are, I need to talk to you. You can get ahold of me through my sister I think I might have seen you in mexico at a hotel in Cuernavaca I belive. You where doing a show with BBC . I need to verify something with you. (reply to this comment
Sunday, February 06, 2005, 14:26


No. Shaul lives in Texas with Katrina.

Larry used to be called John I think. He is married to Claire, a Belgian.

If you look on the front page edition of the SFC, there is a photo of him.(reply to this comment

From BTW
Sunday, February 06, 2005, 13:41


Dr. Mlot is moving to Mexico with Ken Kelly. Right now she works as a Dr. in Fountain Valley, California.

(reply to this comment

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