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Thierry Tilly, now known as the guru of Monflaquin, was recently tried in Bordeaux for taking over the lives of the French aristocratic Védrines family for a decade and brainwashing them to cede their estimated $6.2 million fortune to him. The prosecutor said, “The affair is extraordinary for its time span and for the atypical form of the manipulation that was practiced.” A family lawyer called Tilly “a rare mixture of Rasputin and Machiavelli,” a remark that apparently flattered Tilly, who stated on the stand, “I gave a copy of Machiavelli to the Libyan ambassador, who gave me a version of the Koran that he dedicated to me.” As he said to an investigator, “Everything I have told you is eighty percent true; please forgive me for the twenty percent that is fantasy.” In the courtroom, “This noble French family [living together in a chateau], with its evident sophistication, cultivation and education, seemed so very at odds with the collective lapse of judgment that had brought them here today.” One of France’s leading psychiatrists explained that Tilly had followed the master manipulator’s guidebook: Identify and prey on each family member’s weakness; cultivate a paranoiac siege mentality; have an answer for everything; dismantle strong bonds to better enslave victims; and induce family members to doubt aspects of their personal lives, for example, their spouse’s fidelity. Describing the process by which Tilly insinuated himself into the Védrines’ lives, the prosecution noted Tilly’s claim that his job as a computer expert was only a cover, and that he was really “a special agent in the service of France,” with NATO connections. When family member Jean Marchand called Tilly a pervert and a charlatan, his wife divorced him—on email orders from Tilly—told him he was an agent of evil, and took the money out of their joint accounts. (They remarried, in 2010, after Tilly’s arrest.) “Some couples,” said Marchand, “have car accidents, others have health problems. For us, it was a guru accident.” Said Diane de Védrines, “Psychosis is a glass that fills every day, drop by drop. In the beginning it was the Freemasons; at the end it was everybody who walked their dog. Tilly put a psychological pistol to our heads.” Pointing out that the door was never locked, she added, “To leave meant to betray the family.” Tilly’s greatest achievement, however, was that he organized and ran everything from his home in the UK; nobody in the village near the chateau remembers ever seeing him. Moreover, he moved the entire family to Oxford, where they were even more isolated. The gynecologist in the family worked as a gardener, the children as waitresses or shop assistants. Even after Tilly was arrested, he had a psychological hold on most of the family, and they underwent “exit counseling,” a method pioneered in America by a former member of the Unification Church. Yet 3 years after they were freed, five family members are still receiving psychiatric treatment. In the end, Tilly and his accomplice, Jacques Gonzalez, were found guilty of “brainwashing” the Védrines, kidnapping, and torture with acts of barbarism. Tilly was sentenced to 8 years in prison, Gonzalez to 4 years, and together they were ordered to reimburse the family more than $6.2 million. (Age, 12/15/12) [IT 4.1 2013]

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