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SF Chronicle Hewlett grant went to cult-linked charity Foundation says it was unaware of ties to infamous sect

from sarafina - Saturday, February 12, 2005
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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 and

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Reader's comments on this article

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from Bandagold
Monday, February 14, 2005 - 21:59

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?)
In the proverbs its says that the riches of the wicked are laid up for the righteous, I belive in justice, and I will never stop believing and hoping that one day I will see the end of Kelly and Zerby's reign of terror over the innocent - one day their filthy money isn't going to be worth a damn when they are standing in front of God's throne having to give an account for what they've done. They have Ricky's blood on their hands (even if he pulled the trigger) and Angela's too for that matter. Ricky was merely a weapon of crafted by Berg, Zerby and their baba sheep from years of sexual and psychological abuse. Berg said it himself that members are dumb sheep and that they like to drink his piss and eat his dung, well he sure left a lot of shit behind, no wonder everyone's getting indigestion! I believe Ricky had a lot to offer this world and would have led a full and happy life had those terrible things happened to him. I watched his online video for the first time today (I finally plucked up the courage, this whole thing has been extremely upsetting) and I feel nothing but compassion for him. Rest in peace Ricky.
(reply to this comment)
from boondock saint
Monday, February 14, 2005 - 12:00

The Chronicle article said that FCF had received over 9 million dollars in one year. I don't think it takes a math major to figure out how much the Zerb is raking in while those of us with parents still in are eating provisioned food.
(reply to this comment)
From ManicMoe
Monday, February 14, 2005, 15:05

Actually it said FCF raised "close to $10 million in cash and gifts from 1997 to 2003." (reply to this comment
From ErikMagnusLehnsher
Monday, February 14, 2005, 16:34

I would be curious to know how much was cash and how much was provisioned stuff ("Gifts in kind" or something like that). Do their tax returns break that down?(reply to this comment
From ManicMoe
Monday, February 14, 2005, 19:02

Yes, they do - see the 990 form line 1d.
Apparently, almost half of it was in cash. From 1997-2003, they received $4,480,238 in cash contributions.
Here is a year by year breakdown from the 990 forms on their website.
2003 Cash 1208574 Non-cash 1859182
2002 Cash 1040436 Non-cash 1943779
2001 Cash 706702 Non-cash 1064085
2000 Cash 496176 Non-cash 329897
1999 Cash 466922 Non-cash 128825
1998 Cash 246953 Non-cash 90702
1997 Cash 314475 Non-cash 42538
(reply to this comment
from Nick
Monday, February 14, 2005 - 08:39


Does anyone know what exactly happened to that 10 mil that was raised since 1997?

I mean have they really been using it for legitimate aid endeavors or what?

Considering that most of our parents that are still in are living hand to mouth, I would be interested to see what they are really doing with that money.
(reply to this comment)

From xolox
Monday, February 14, 2005, 08:41

Money like blame only flows upwards. And TF has plenty of both.(reply to this comment

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