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Getting Out : Media Reports

10News Looks At Religious Group4/28/07

from sarafina - Sunday, April 29, 2007
accessed 1267 times

Former Members Of Children Of God Speak Out
10News Looks At Religious Group

* Behind The Scenes Blog: Get a behind the scenes look at 10News Investigations with Managing Editor JW August's blog.
* VIDEO: Former Members Of 'Children Of God" Speak Out

Former Members Of Children Of God

* link to article.

Former Members Of Children Of God Speak Out
10News Looks At Religious Group
Michelle Krish -- Managing Editor

POSTED: 4:44 pm PDT April 27, 2007
UPDATED: 11:24 am PDT April 28, 2007
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SAN DIEGO -- It's not often that a child custody case is followed closely by the 10News Investigative Team, but a case scheduled for May 7 in San Diego County Superior Court is not your average fight for custody.

The child custody case involves one parent who belongs to a religious organization formally known as Children Of God, where sexual abuse allegations are central to the litigation.

In this 10News exclusive investigation, the I-team explores why former members of the Children Of God are so concerned about this case and custody cases like it.
Click here to find out more!

"Anger does not begin to describe how I feel about these people and what they've done," said Ricky Rodriguez in a video he made talking about his experience with the Children Of God, shortly before he committed suicide.

Rodriguez expressed rage in the video like others who formerly belonged to a religious group once known as the Children Of God.

"Being born into this cult was like being born into an intellectual wasteland. The only thing you had access to was the insane rambling of these criminals," said former member Don Irwin.

Rodriguez and Irwin were among the former members of the cult who expressed concern for children currently within the organization, known today as The Family.

"This is one of the biggest crimes in history. We're talking about thousands of children sexually abused," said former member Sam Ajemian.

Ajemian wrote more about his experiences with the so-called religious cult in a book.

Ajemian was also one of the first members of the Children Of God -- a religious group created by David Berg in Huntington Beach in 1968.

The group started with only a handful of teens, but by the early 1970s, the numbers quickly grew into the thousands at a time when young adults were in a spiritual and sexual revolution, and sex played a very big part in this organization.

In Rodriguez's video, he said he was caught in the middle.

Berg was Rodriguez's father. Like many of the children born into the cult, Rodriguez said he left the group as an adult and complained about sexual molestation by his mother, his father and other adult women.

He said in the video that photographs of his molestation were placed in the cult's religious publications.

Rodriguez took his own life a day after he shot the video.

"There are a lot of suicides among our friends. Every year, we have a few," said former member Sarah Martin.

Martin was born into the cult. She said she lost her own brother to suicide years after her family left the organization.

She shared with 10News a book written by the cult's leader, Berg. In it, Berg is depicted as a great knight. He also includes his dreams of sex with women. The book, Created For Children, contains explicit sexual cartoons and verses from the Bible, in which Berg preached the law of love to his followers.

"You're born into this cult. You run around naked, you watch your parents have sex, you start participating in sex when you are young and it's like everyone has access to you. And it's supposed to be 'love,'" said former member Amy Brill.

At 8 years old, Brill said her parents were asked by the organization to give her away. Brill eventually lived with Berg and his family. And at 13, she said she was married to Berg in a mock wedding.

"I had been molested before, but this was like a 60-year-old man doing whatever he wanted," said Brill.

Years later, Brill said her own father committed suicide as a result of his own guilt.

Read a statement from The Family.

For more information regarding this story, click on:


Investigation Blog
Curiosity and the Cult
Curiosity is a pillar of journalism. While much of the White House press corps thinks eating at the trough is a pillar of journalism, the rest of us know it's really curiosity. Curiosity has been my best friend for many years. It’s kept me enthused and employed for years.

Which brings me to my recent case of curiosity that lead to our current investigative story. It’s about a cult that sprung up in the days of the hippies—the age of aquarius and peace and love. But like a lot of things from that restless era, it grew uglier as we all grew older. The FAMILY began as the Children of God, thousands of believers signed on to the teachings of founder David Berg, the ultimate Southern California weirdo. They called it flirty fishing, using sex to show God’s love. It was a mix of biblical babblings and free sex. Except it wasn’t really free. Children of the cult paid the price. They were forced into sex acts, molested by FAMILY members in the name of God and Love. .

So that’s why I was curious when I came across a custody battle going on in San Diego Superior Court. Case number D489049. I rarely report on these family court matters because of the morass they often become. Everyone seems to lose. But this one involved the FAMILY. I will admit, my curiosity bells were ringing. The bells got louder when attorney Marilyn Bierer tried to seal the records in the “interest” of the child in that custody case, “unknowingly caught in the switches of a custody dispute involving members and former members of a sex cult.” Her contention was the media would not act in the best interests of the child. Whoa. No journalist with any intrerity or credibility would ever show the child’s picture nor would they have an interest in doing so. The poor kid is 4-½ years old. This request to seal off the court was about keeping the FAMILY’s dirty laundry far from public view. So case number D489049 had my attention.

Working with investigative reporter Steve Atkinson, producer Felicia Kit and another reporter with connections into the FAMILY, we decided to tell our viewers the story of this cult -- and the court case which is scheduled for early May. In the course of developing the story, we found there are two houses controlled by the FAMILY in San Diego region. I have no idea what goes on in those houses but a representative of the FAMILY sent us a rather lengthy response to our story, you can find it on the Investigative page of They basically say the bad old days are LONG gone. We shall see.

Give me a head's up if you know anything about the FAMILY's activity in San Diego

Reader's comments on this article

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from Samuel
Tuesday, May 01, 2007 - 11:18

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?)

Awesome! Kudos to everyone who had a part in this. Each article and each television report is another blow to The Family. Of course The Family is only so strong, they can only handle so many blows. And the way I see it, their agenda of misleading the public, getting their younger children to lie for them, and accusing you guys of being liars shows weakness.

And I love the way they put The Family's dotcrines on sex. "It was a mix of biblical babblings and free sex. Except it wasn’t really free. *Children of the cult paid the price*. They were forced into sex acts, molested by FAMILY members in the name of God and Love."

(reply to this comment)

From Phoenixkidd
Thursday, May 03, 2007, 12:38

Good Stuff I hope this really gets somewhere and to the people that make decisions regarding the cult and it's ex members(reply to this comment

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