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Getting Out : Media Reports

Kadena spouse asks AAFES to pull ‘Family’ videos

from sarafina - Monday, July 10, 2006
accessed 3930 times

Just got this article from Google alerts and wanted to say” Thanks, and good job” to Lou and those who had a hand in making the public aware of this. It’s not always easy but if everyone just did their part in their area we’d cover a lot more ground. It would be good to post the address you sent your letters to that way if others wanted to write as well they could.

Kadena spouse asks AAFES to pull ‘Family’ videos. Children’s videos from controversial group sold at base exchange

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, July 10, 2006

David Allen / S&S
Lou Eytalis says she grew up in a controversial Christian group called The Family, also known as the Children of God. Eytalis is trying to get the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to discontinue sales of children’s videos produced by the group, which she says feauture children who were abused by church members.

Religious group: Problems in past

A spokeswoman for The Family International’s Japan headquarters near Tokyo said Aurora Production is an independent company with close ties to the religious group. However, Hiromi Narita of the Family Japan Information Center wrote in response to a query: “The videos were indeed produced by Family members and members may distribute them.”

“The videos are one of many Gospel productions that members of the Family have produced over the years to reach the world with the message of God’s love,” she said.

Narita acknowledged The Family had a problem past but asserted that protections have been put in place. “The Family’s policy for the protection of minors was adopted in 1986,” she said. “We regret that prior to the adoption of this policy, cases occurred where minors were exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior between 1978 and 1986.”

Offenders were excommunicated from the church, Narita added. The “Family is sorry if any person feels they were mistreated in any way by someone during their time in The Family — the Family’s goal is to provide a happy and safe environment for every child raised in the Family. To any Family member or ex-Family member who feels he or she has suffered any mistreatment of any kind, by anyone, we say we are truly sorry.”

Narita further noted that “the Family’s success in protecting our children and ensuring their well-being has been documented by independent and court-appointed investigations in five different countries in the early 1990s of almost 700 children living in Family communities (approximately 17% of our children). After extensive physical, psychological, and educational testing, all of the children were found to be healthy with no sign of abuse. This speaks clearly to the enforcement of policies in place to safeguard children in Family communities.” — David Allen

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — The sight of a children’s video on a base exchange shelf sent a flood of bad memories washing over Lou Eytalis.

Even though she was years and continents removed from her childhood as a member of the controversial Christian group variously called The Children of God and The Family, seeing the videos produced by an arm of the group sent shivers down her spine and caused her to break into a sweat.

“They were right in the video section, all of these videos that I was forced to hawk when I was young,” said Eytalis, 29. “I was disgusted. My heart sank.”

The videos, in English and Japanese, are the “Treasure Attic” series produced by Aurora Production. Some of the titles being sold are “Forever Friends,” “We Can Get Along” and “A Smiling Face.” The Family’s Web site describes them as educational entertainment.

“These videos have been around since I was a kid,” she said. “Some of the children that appear in them were abused. One of the dancers had a brother who later committed suicide because he couldn’t deal with what was done to him as a child.”

The Family found itself in the spotlight last year when Ricky Rodriguez, the 29-year-old son of the movement’s founder and heir apparent, killed himself after murdering a former nanny. Rodriguez, also known as Davidito, had been the “star” of a 762-page picture book written by his caregivers that chronicled his childhood, including sexual play with his nannies.

In a video Rodriguez made of his suicide, he denounced his mother for forcing him to have sex with her when he was 12, according to press accounts.

When Eytalis spotted the videos in the Kadena exchange, she flagged somebody down in the store and complained.

“She pulled them from the shelf,” said Eytalis, who is married to an airman and lives on Kadena. “But they later put them back. I’ll continue to try to get them pulled.

“I was raised in the group, born in it and seeing these items that I was forced to sell … is a little disturbing,” Eytalis wrote in a complaint to AAFES. “This group is known for prostitution and have committed many instances of sexual abuse and physical abuse as well.”

Hiromi Narita, a spokeswoman for The Family in Japan, would not respond directly to Eytalis’ charges of abuse, but said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes that there were problems in the past and offenders have been “excommunicated.”

A check of overseas exchanges showed the videos are being sold only in stores on Okinawa. An Army and Air Force Exchange Service spokesman on Okinawa said AAFES will continue to sell the videos.

“While there are a variety of issues weighed when determining the product mix at the BX/PX, authorized customers, for the most part, ultimately determine what is sold in AAFES stores,” Master Sgt. Donovan K. Potter of the AAFES Pacific public affairs office wrote in response to a Stars and Stripes query. “When considering vendors, AAFES reviews the debarred list (‘Excluded Parties List System’) to identify parties excluded throughout the U.S. Government from receiving Federal contracts or certain subcontracts and from receiving certain types of Federal financial and non-financial assistance and benefits.”

Aurora Production was not on the list and will continue to be sold on Okinawa “as long as authorized customers continue to purchase the materials,” Potter said.

To support her request for having the videos removed, Eytalis had another ex-member of The Family write AAFES to tell his story.

“My wife and I were born into The Family in the late 70s,” wrote John LaMattery of San Diego, who added that “as young children many of us were forced to have sex with adult members.”

He said his wife was one of the children in the videos. “Although the videos in themselves appear to the viewer to be harmless and even deliver a somewhat peaceful Christian message, the proceeds of these videos go directly to a group that has destroyed hundreds of lives.”

Eytalis is one of nine children. She was raised in Family homes in Colombia and Puerto Rico and left the group when she was 16.

“I just didn’t like it anymore,” she said. “I knew there was something wrong, but it was the only life I knew. I remember having sex when I was 9 years old — fondling by grown-ups,” she said.

The Family’s foundation was Christian with a skewed sexual twist, she said.

“They played up the sexual freedom based on a couple of verses, you know — ‘Love your neighbor as thyself.’ ”

Reader's comments on this article

Add a new comment on this article

from Lovelight23
Saturday, January 03, 2009 - 00:16

Hello, I had no idea that this had been posted on Moving on. I'm glad it was. Thanks to you all for the comments. It was a hard fight but they eventually stopped selling items from Aurora, they put them on clearance and didn't do business with them again. I still haven't been able to get them on the Do not Buy listed or Banned listed but that would only be because they can't be caught and officially banned until proven guilty. Makes me a lot sick but what can you do. I'm still here on Okinawa and will be till 2013 or so and I constantly check to see if I find any other Aurora things on there. I've not found anything but you never know what will pop up as management changes and stuff. I will talk to them again as I myself would like to know some details as to what is not being done or whatever but from what I understand they are no longer buying from them or the vendor that was selling to them has since gone under as it was getting too hot...I made quite a stink. Went to IG and everything. It was righteous! :) Anyway, Just want to leave an update and give my thanks for all the support.

PS: In the future, if anyone finds anything like this in your local area BX/PX or Military facility. The best way to deal with it is as I did, Management, IG and then Press. Or whichever combination of the bunch. Plus getting a few people to give you letters would help too. I even took them a few copies of Davidito's Book in with me and it was pretty sickening for them. They really did all they could but TF did put up their own fight and started screeming freedom of religion and speech and crap like that so it got a little scarry for the military and they had to go the legal route instead of going with their heart and mind. So just do what you can and know that things will work out in the end. :)

Thanks again.
(reply to this comment)
from smashingrrl
Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 22:46

I would also suggest to anyone onsite that they talk to the base Chaplain's office. You wouldn't believe how much pull they have.
(reply to this comment)
from smashingrrl
Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 22:44

Can someone get me some contact info on who I need to email. I'm former AF and would love to make a stink. Believe me, they don't need any more scandals. Post email or phone or any other way we can annoy the crap out of them.
(reply to this comment)
From AndyH
Wednesday, July 19, 2006, 23:17


Lovelight23 first identified and complained about this, I'm sure she can direct you toward the right tree to bark up. (or pee on) to this comment

from Captain America
Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 10:26

Still can't believe the prude ass military is peddling the wares of a bunch of sex freaks, Ironcially, to avoid a scandal.
(reply to this comment)
From Captain America
Tuesday, July 11, 2006, 10:27


*prude-ass militrary

Don't wan't another "church of ass" incident do we?

(reply to this comment

From LOL,
Wednesday, July 19, 2006, 22:51

That's why it's very important to be sure you're talking to the right recruiters. You want to be sure and end up in the non-prude ass military. ;-)(reply to this comment
from Fan freakin tastic
Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 09:47


Way to go Lou, nice to see you out doing something about this. I especially loved your last quote, no need to say more.
(reply to this comment)

From Phoenixkidd
Tuesday, July 18, 2006, 12:37

Those videos and cassette tapes cd's and any other cult "Lit" will make my heart burn. Instantly I am reminded of utter boredom and agitation of being forced to sell these materials to pay rent or some cult leader get his or her perks. It completely irks me to see this stuff being sold in a State run facility for the benefit of this cult. (reply to this comment

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