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Member Update, 2015, Vol. 6, No. 3

On October 25, 2015, Robin Boyle-Laisure addressedthe Sunday Forum Series at the Garden City Community Church. Her talk, Employing Trafficking Laws to Capture ElusiveLeaders of Destructive Cults, was based on a talk she gave at the BeijingInternational Academic Symposium on Cultic Groups and Religious Culture. Anarticle based on these talks will appear in the Oregon Review of International Law.

Steve Eichel recentlypublished a chapter, “Cults, Extremist Movements, and the Child Custody Evaluation:Pitfalls and Strategies,” in M. L. Goldstein (Ed.), Handbook of ChildCustody, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-13942-5_20, Springer InternationalPublishing, Switzerland, 2016.

Elliot Benjamin haspublished “Divine Light Mission: Cultic Commitment Over A Lifetime Story,” in Pinnacle Sociology & Anthropology (ISSN: 2360-959X), August 30, 2015. Elliot includes a link to thearticle, as well as links to articles he has published with ICSA, on his website (www.benjamin-philosopher.com/).

Amanda Campos ofEncino, California has completed her doctorate in clinical psychology and hopesto see former cult members as clients. Her dissertation for the CaliforniaSchool of Professional Psychology was entitled Supporting the Recovery of Former High Intensity Faith Group MembersWho Experienced Interpersonal Trauma.

Christine Marie Katas is quotedextensively in an article in St. George News, “EXCLUSIVE: On the Edge: Former Jeffs wife talks aboutescaping polygamy.” Christine, under the nom de plume of Mrs. Gingerbread, writes about bringing Christmasto an FLDS town once known as Short Creek (Hildale, Utah and Colorado City,Arizona), “a town where Christmas has been forbidden, a town filled withchildren who have never even heard of Santa.”

Vega González, Managerand psychologist with the Barcelona group, AIS, gave a presentation in Undine,Italy on October 10, 2015, for a conference entitled Minori e Contesti / Gruppi Manipolative: L’esperienza in Italia e Spagna. Her paper was entitled L’orientamento e l’attività de aiuto e consulenza a familiglie/minorinei contesti di gruppi manipolativi: L’esperienza di AIS, Spagna. Vega wasalso interviewed on the radio program Anemde tarda Radio 4 RNE. Journalism students from the University Rey JuanCarlos (Madrid) interviewed her about psychological manipulation in culticgroups.

Elizabeth Blackwell was accepted into the Columbia PsychologyDepartment’s Honors Program. She earned a scholarship to Columbia based on herhaving been raised in and been able to break away from a cultic Pentecostalgroup that did not permit her to go to college. Her presentation at the annualconference in Sweden packed the room: TheNeurobiological Effects of Childhood Trauma in High-Demand Groups.

Masoud Banisadr contributedan article, “How Do Terrorist Groups and Cults AttractFollowers?” for Fair Observer (Nov. 29, 2015).

Dolores Gregory tells usthat her play, Salvation Road, whichlongtime ICSA member and supporter Charlie Breinig produced, will be producedMarch 4–6 at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas. She says, “Something Ihad nothing to do with—so that’s exciting news!” Dolores designed the play sothat young people could perform it themselves at schools and colleges, so thisis indeed good news.

Daniel Shaw’s book,Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation (Routledge, 2014)was nominated for the 2015 Gradiva Award (naap.org/website/gradiva-nominees), apsychoanalytic publishing award.

INFORM’s fall conference was heldon Saturday, October 17, 2015, at Clement House, London School of Economics. Focusedon the theme of children, minority religions, and the law, the conferenceincluded talks by Eileen Barker, Amanda van Eck, and LorraineDerocher, among others.

The November 2015 issue of The Walrus included an article by SimonLewsen, “Life After Doomsday: Tracking Cult ActivityFrom a Montreal Storage Locker” (thewalrus.ca/life-after-doomsday/). Thearticle traces the cultic studies career of Mike Kropveld from 1977 tothe present day.

Ron Burkspublished Understanding Cults (August 4, 2015) on theTallahassee.com community blog.

In December 2015 Marlowe Sand publishedParadiseand Promises: Chronicles of My Life with a Self-Declared, Modern-Day Buddha (KindleEdition). In the book she “recollects 15 years of relentless pursuit ofliberation as a student of guru, Andrew Cohen. For a woman from the remoteEnglish countryside destined to be a wife, mother and ordinary professional,the meeting with a modern-day, radical Buddha bore extreme consequences for herand her children. She develops her story in intriguingly deft strokes,capturing the interior experiences of a person being drawn ever deeper into thecult setting of a charismatic and despotic guru.”

Michael Langone and AnuttamaDasa participated in a program at the World Parliament of Religions onOctober 17, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The title of their session was Understanding and Mitigating the Dangers ofManipulation, Undue Influence and Abuse Within Religious and SpiritualCommunities. The abstract stated: “It is an unpleasant fact, but religiousand spiritual communities, despite all good intentions, are highly vulnerableto developing, or tolerating, cultures of manipulation, undue influence, andabuse by spiritual leaders. In this panel, a world expert on cultic behaviorswill join with a leader of a world-wide Hindu bhakti movement that sufferedleaders who became isolated and then abusive to discuss what years of researchand practical experience have revealed. All communities are vulnerable toabusive and manipulative practices. More importantly, they will discuss whatpractical steps organizations, communities, members, practitioners, and leaderscan—and should take to ensure healthy social dynamics and interpersonal care.”

Published on April 6, 2015. “On February 27, 2015, The NobleAwards honored the work of Celebrity Humanitarians and recognized theorganizations that they support. The purpose of this unprecedented event is toinspire individuals to become champions of social progress. Dr. HallehSeddighzadeh is a Forensic Traumatologist and international trauma expertspecializing in the psychological treatment of torture, specifically insurvivors of human trafficking, war refugees, genocide, gender based violenceand most recently survivors of cults and ecclesiastic abuse. She is the Founderof ARMAN (Asylee, Refugee Migrant Assistance Network) a multidisciplinary,multicultural, forensic mental health organization supported by a team ofinternational trauma experts, subject matter experts, medical and academicresearchers and practitioners who have extensive experience treating andworking with individuals who have suffered the most extreme forms of tortureand trauma around the world.”

First Things haspublished Gordon Neufeld’s article, “Waning Moon,”on its website

Myriam Declair publishedan article, “From the Inside Out: A Decade Inside a Religious Cult,” in theOctober 2015 issue of The Courier,the American Women International Club’s magazine in Geneva, Switzerland. Shewill speak at the club in March. She recently returned from Paris, where shedid some training on Islamic radicalization with the French Ministry ofInterior.

Cristina Caparesi has beeninvolved in the following activities:

  • Udine, October 30, 2015. Published a brochure on what families can do about manipulation in groups.
  • Udine, November 19, 2015. Provided information on the Radicalisation Awareness Network to Provincial Councilor Elisa Battaglia.
  • Rome, November 23, 2015. Provided information on the Radicalisation Awareness Network to the Ministry of Interior.
  • Organized a conference in Udine: Minors in Manipulative Groups/Families. At this conference Cristina presented on parental alienation in cultic groups. Also participating were ICSA members Miguel Perlado and Vega Gonzalez.
  • Coordinated the preparation of a booklet entitled Psychological Manipulation in Groups: Help Coming from Associations—The Experience of Italy and Spain.
  • Contributed to two recent conferences organized by the DG Home and the RAN (Radicalisation Awareness Network): Brussels, October 27, 2015, Countering Violent Extremism: Online Communications; Brussels, November 10, 2015, RAN PLENARY High Level Conference; RAN, Vienna, December 8, 2015, The Aspects of Mental Works in Exit Work.
  • Presented to local authorities, representatives of the local police, and the director of the regional scholastic system information on the Radicalisation Awareness Network for future preventive activities in northeast Italy.

Among the activities of Rick Ross were thefollowing:

  • In August he appeared on Nancy Grace, HLN Network for an interview about a triple homicide in Florida, which police said

    might be related to the “blue moon,” and some sort of religious ritual or witchcraft.

  • Interviewed in season 3, episode 3 of the Investigation Discovery series Deadly Devotion, which ran a new episode August 17th, “Deadly Deliverance.” This episode is about the murder of Carolyn Clark, a woman who was killed after she left a destructive cult in Ohio.
  • Interviewed about his book, Cults Inside Out, and cults generally on the Internet LipTV program, MediaMayem, with host Allison Mayer Weiner.
  • Quoted in article about self-help guru James Arthur Ray, who is trying to make a comeback after his convictions for negligent homicide.
  • Interviewed by Mia Donovan for her documentary, Deprogrammed. See trailer.
  • Interview by Inverse about the cult beating death in Hartford, New York.
  • Radio interview about the beating death in the Word of Life Christian Church in Hartford, New York, The Talk of the Town morning show on 100.7 WUTQ FM Utica, New York, Monday, October 19th.
  • Interview that was published in the magazine Ethics and the Modern Guru (October 2015).
  • Interview for Media Mayhem on LipTV concerning death cults, contextualizing ISIS within the modern history of destructive cults.
  • Blogger Tony Ortega, author of the new book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely (about Scientology and Paulette Cooper), did a story about Rick and the first story he wrote about Scientology.
  • Cited, along with Michele Colon, in a People story on the World Mission Society Church of God.

In January of 2015 Nori Musterwas interviewed by two high-school students. The transcript of this interview, “TheABCs of Dangerous Cults,” was added to ICSA’sstudent collection.

Raffaella Di Marzio participatedin a conference in Rome (December 21, 2015), Laicity and Freedom of Belief inItaly: Reports, Suggestions, Evidence Presentation of FOB (European Federationfor Freedom of Belief).

In AugustRita Swan participated in NPR’s Interfaith Voices radio program on the subject of denying yourchildren medical care, the ultimate test of faith.

Luis Santamaria del Rio coordinated a book containing chapters by him and nine othermembers of Red Iberoamericana de Estudio de las Sectas (RIES). The book isentitled Nuevo libro: Esoterismo, sectas, Nueva Era. 50 preguntas y respuestas.

José Miguel Cuevas Barranquero, dirige enMarbella el servicio municipal de atención a víctimas de dependencia grupal,único en Andalucía. Vicepresidente de la asociación AIIAP. Profesor Universidadde Málaga, took part in the following:

  • TV Interview: Presentación del Taller práctico sobre sectas: aspectos psicológicos y criminológicos de las sectas destructivas (presentation on practical workshop on psychological and criminological aspects of destructive cults), 03/06/2015, RTV Marbella.
  • Radio Interview: Presentación del Taller práctico sobre sectas: aspectos psicológicos y criminológicos de las sectas destructivas (presentation on practical workshop on, psychological and criminological aspects of destructive cults), 03/06/2015, Onda Cero Marbella.
  • Press conference, Presentación del Taller práctico sobre sectas: aspectos psicológicos y criminológicos de las sectas destructivas (practical workshop on presentation, psychological and criminological aspects of destructive cults), with differents media, 03/06/2015, Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Marbellla (Marbella’s Town Hall). 
  • Featured in an article, “Crisis y salud, blancos perfectos para las sectas,” from 
  • ESPAÑA, Andalucía, 9/11/15.

RIP Sondra Chesky

Long-time ICSA member SondraChesky passed away at home in the presence of her family on Sept. 9, 2015. Sheand her husband, Frank, had been in retirement in rural Kansas. She succumbedto a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Sondra was born in Newton, Kansas,April 6, 1934. Educated in the Newton school system, she graduated from NewtonHigh School in 1952. She

was in many school activities and was a giftedclarinetist in both band and orchestra. In 1956 Sondra graduated from theUniversity of Kansas with a degree in bacteriology. There she met and marriedher husband. While her husband attended medical school, she worked as atechnician in the microbiology research laboratories of The University ofKansas Medical Center. She raised four children, was a laboratory technician,medical office manager, medical insurance consultant, and wife for 61 years.

Her interest in cults came from atragic induction into a major international cult of the highly gifted son of afriend of her and her husband. Before his retirement, Sondra’s husband Frankwas a psychiatrist who specialized in brainwashing, PTSD, and dissociativedisorders, so the mechanisms of cults were not foreign to her. Over many years,she supported educational activities concerning cults, provided temporaryshelter and helped with permanent placement for those leaving cults, andprovided support for families who lost members to cults. On several occasionsshe was verbally assaulted by cult members and barely escaped physical harmtwice. Long illness interrupted her cult-awareness work, which she and Frankcherished. She will be sorely missed by her husband, family, friends, and cult-awarenesscolleagues.

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