Thursday, February 15, 2007

At Least 20 Years of Alleged Child Molestation in TM

The recent reports here of Program Pedophilia in Fairfield and resurrection of Annie's Story of sexual abuse raise the question of whether these are isolated events.

I'd like to direct readers to allegations going back at least 20 years of charges of child molestation, death from abuse and neglect, corruption and more at Maharishi's compound in NOIDA, India, from the cover story in The Illustrated Weekly of India, January 17, 1988.

It's not my intention to indicate that Transcendental Meditation practice creates pedophiles, any more than Catholicism does. Rather, it's my feeling that the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the TM Org must take responsibility for the practices and policies within the organizations that put children at risk. Or at the very least, speak out against these and other horrible transgressions.

What I would like to see arise is an organization, similar to Voice of the Faithful in the Catholic world, that explored these allegations and pushed for changes within the TM Org that addressed them.

And protected the children.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, when John touted the Illustrated Weekly article on alt.meditation.transcendental some years back, a lot of questions were raised about its credibility on various grounds. John told us he would contact the author for additional information and get back to us, but he never did.

(Google, which holds the alt.m.t archive, has redone its software again, and I was unable to locate the discussions I mentioned using its Search feature. I could only get hits for "Illustrated Weekly" dating from 1997, but those discussions took place several years earlier.)

Judy Stein

Sudarsha said...

I wonder, John, if it might be that the TMO most certainly does not create paedophiles but, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, provides a safe haven for such individuals, assuming as it does that TM will cure everything.

Yes, it's not only a bit of a leap; it's a huge leap.

But Mahesh's narcissistic self-aggrandizing notion that HIS meditation is the be/end-all, good for everyone, makes all the people happy isn't quite the rumour we'd like it to be. And the cultic nature of Fairfield's elite butt-bouncing world-saviours certainly creates a trusting atmosphere.

I don't happen to trust them, but I suspect they unequivocally trust each other. I also suspect quite a few place more emphasis on “program” than on anything else. A second thought to who’s taking care of the kids is probably not problematic for them.

S

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Judy,

I don't remember the discussion you mention. My apologies. Perhaps you could remind me of the questions. I doubt I can reach the author at this late date, but I will try. I would point out that you, or any other reader, can just as easily attempt to contact the author as could I.

We can quibble about details, naturally. But the children continue to suffer.

J.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Sudarsha,

Thanks for expanding on the possible responsibilities of the TM Org and the Maharishi for the abuse of children.

J.

Gina said...

John,
You titled the post "at least twenty years of alleged..."

Mine was over 30 years ago.

I know others (coming after me) also over 20 years ago.

This history is long, and would be hidden in any group that emphasizes silence or rejection regarding controversial issues.

g

Anonymous said...

I took another look at the article at your link to see if it would jog my memory as to the specific questions that had been raised.

What I had forgotten is that it's the article itself that raised questions about the credibility of the child abuse/neglect/molestation charges. A significant amount of space--almost all of part 6 in the main article--is devoted to discussing them. The reporter (who visited the ashram personally as well as holding numerous interviews) could find no evidence for them. "The truth seems quite different," he says.

The rest of the article--the first five parts--has to do with alleged real estate and other illegalities.

Three of the article's sidebars report on the allegations of child abuse and molestation. These, of course, were what was featured prominently on Trancenet's front page when it first posted this material; there was no mention in Trancenet's teases that the last part of the main article contained extensive rebuttals of those charges. And few readers would have plowed through the lengthy, dry discussion of real estate and other transactions to discover the rebuttals at the end.

I cannot now recall what you were going to check up on with the author, John. But I'm astonished that you don't even remember that the discussion had taken place.

Obviously, whether the children at the ashram ever suffered is not an established fact, s it's a bit odd you claim they "continue to suffer." For that matter, it's odd that you would cite this article at all given the apparent unreliability of the allegations.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Judy,

A couple of points.

Our discussion regarding the Illustrated Weekly took place 10 years ago. It doesn't seem remarkable to me, nor do I think it will to our readers, that I don't remember the details of our correspondence.

I just went back and re-read part 6 of the article. I draw different conclusions than do you. The author reports on the allegations of child molestation. In fine journalistic fashion, he also dutifully reports on the denials of Ashram staff. This is good journalistic practice. I don't walk away from the article feeling either side is proven -- although I, personally, believe it is very likely the abuses took place. I've always reported these claims as allegations.

I do believe, also, the allegations made by Gina and Annie are true. Belief is not proof. I have no proof. But I have heard the allegations from so many -- many that I don't have permission to repeat -- that they seem very likely. They also seem likely to me because of the lack of controls in place in the TM Org. Also the levels of secrecy and denial within the Org make it seem likely that there would be a fertile breeding ground for these sorts of problems.

I stand by my main point, that it is the responsibility of the Maharishi and the TM Org to ferret out these reports and put controls in place that would put an end to these horrific practices -- which I believe, although do not have the means to prove, have and are occurring. In fact, what has occurred is that the Maharishi and his ashram representatives have blamed them on his enemies.

J.

Anonymous said...

I just went back and re-read part 6 of the article. I draw different conclusions than do you. The author reports on the allegations of child molestation. In fine journalistic fashion, he also dutifully reports on the denials of Ashram staff.

And says of the allegations, "The truth seems quite different." For a journalist, those are very strong words. They indicate he concluded the allegations were bogus.

This is good journalistic practice.

Actually, it's darn close to an editorial comment.

I don't walk away from the article feeling either side is proven

Nor did I suggest it was. But when a journalist comes down that strongly on one side of a controversy after having done his own firsthand investigation, a responsible person wouldn't use the article as support for such allegations--especially by making a huge deal of the allegations without even mentioning the reporter's own conclusions. That's a shoddy piece of deceptive propaganda, and readers should bear it in mind when they read other unsupported allegations here.

Judy Stein

Anonymous said...

Judy Stein said:
And says of the allegations, "The truth seems quite different." For a journalist, those are very strong words. They indicate he concluded the allegations were bogus.

A typical misleading statement from Ms. Stein.

Actually it is unclear what is meant by the sentence "The truth seems quite different." It could mean any number of things in the context in which it is given--esp. given that the article ends on a highly suspicious note. Given that Nandkishore lies flat out on the timing of export of drugs by years, the writers suspicions are probably quite well founded. Esp. given that lying and deceit are long observed assets of Maharishi and company.

Bear this typical desperate move by Ms. Stein in mind in all her future posts, as over-parsing and arguing to the point of obfuscation are typical tactics she employs in her apologist game.

She'll of course need to respond to this in yet another attempt to confuse and reach for something to cover her mistakes. That usually means changing the subject or some other type of misdirection, even if that merely means maintaining a protracted argument until others tire of the excessive wordiness of her argumentative style.

Anonymous said...

Actually it is unclear what is meant by the sentence "The truth seems quite different." It could mean any number of things in the context in which it is given--esp. given that the article ends on a highly suspicious note.

Oh, nonsense. In context, it's very clearly the writer's opinion that there is no evidence for those particular allegations about the children. The
"suspicious note" at the end is very general and appears to refer to the allegations in the rest of the article about real estate dealings and whatnot.

In any case, I never claimed anything was proved either way. My objection is to John's promoting the sensational charges--both here and on Trancenet--as support for his own allegations when there was, in fact, significant doubt as to whether the charges were true, without even mentioning that questions had been raised.

I stand by my opinion that this is a shoddy and deceptive tactic.

Sue said...

I can vouch for the reality of the mind set about courses, parents, and children. As a twenty something year old in the real world after my 2 years at Maharishi's University, 2 families invited me to watch their children while the parents went on a 2 month course. I was trustworthy and known by a good friend of one of the families, but one of the children was only 4 years old. The parents were conscientious in providing local people who knew the kids, but they never called even once to find out how things were going. No one told me, for example, to put the heat on before the kids got up in the morning. (It was at Lake Tahoe and the season was winter). One of the kids really didn't like me for that; it was a simple thing, but an example of how little things get overlooked with parents trying to further their own development through TM.

Alex said...

What I remember from back then was that The Illustrated Weekly of India was a sensationalist tabloid, the allegations were never corroborated, and charges were never filed. My recollection is that John said he would try to find some corroborating evidence and post his findings. I'm not aware of him ever providing that evidence.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Alex,

I don't remember the promise to find corroborating evidence. I seem to remember something about trying to reach the author of the article. In any case, I was never able to hook up with the author.

J.

Betty said...

The journalist in question probably decided he had received enough bribe money from Maharishi to give the impression these charges were inconclusive but not enough to say they were false. As we all know, Maharishi has always been cheap when it comes to paying off! When I lived in Fairfield in the 1980's, I knew a psychologist who told me that incest was also very a big problem in town. I was a parent then and look back with shame that I left my 3 and 10 year olds to go to "program" at least 5 nights per week. That was my responcibility and blame falls on me but I can also conclude that the welfare of American children has always been very low on Mharishi's list of important things, unless their parents are very wealthy. Hey that changes things up to a point. The man is a sociopath.

Anonymous said...

The journalist in question probably decided he had received enough bribe money from Maharishi to give the impression these charges were inconclusive but not enough to say they were false.

Uh, Betty, you might want to actually read the article. If you're correct, then MMY paid him off to cast serious doubt on only the allegations about the children.

(Also, the reporter didn't just give the impression those charges were inconclusive; he said, "The truth seems quite different"--this after a visit to the ashram and interviews with some of the children, as well as with staff members.)

Judy Stein

Sudarsha said...

Hey, Betty -- Don't dump too much guilt on yourself, the old bugger just ain’t worth it! You were cheated by one of the 20th Century’s most skillful religious swindlers. Mahesh's sociopathy and narcissistic predilections rule him in the same way he tries to dominate the lives of others.

Uppermost in his mind, from my own experience with him, is TM. TM is his ego! His ego is TM. Everything he does is always and only about himself/TM, his glorious self-aggrandizing TM/self.

He sells you belief in him and demands total gratitude and submission in return. Nothing is important to Mahesh aside from being worshipped by his followers. You were cheated; now you are free: love your kids, love yourself, love everyone. Be everything Mahesh is incapable of.

But, most of all, don't let the miserly old fart limit your ability to be fully yourself.

S

Gina said...

Thank you, Betty!

It takes great humility to acknowledge our own contributions by leaving our children for program. We may know one another. I was not 'regular' at program.. a great stigma in the eighties.

Yes, those of us who were close to the children were aware of incest and sexual abuse, drug abuse, etc. Children did not want to come forth against all that they loved.

They didn't discuss it until they were in their late teens or beyond, by that time they were too old for "Child Protective Services" or police involvement. Many later said to me, "Gina, why do you think I used to hide out at your house so much as a child?"

I will not name them, at their request.

Maltreatment of children was prevelant. My connections in the TMO tell me that it continues.

The grown children that I know, myself included, do not press charges because we want to leave the past and move on. I only recently, accidently, learned that my life story of was of interest to professionals. Go figger! After so many years of silence.

As "Annie" so vividly describes in her words on trancenet... as children, we didn't know it was wrong. The perpetrators were family loved ones. We trusted them and thought it was normal. The parents validated that we were in good care in their absence. Children didn't know enough to say that there was something wrong.

When my daughter told me about not wanting to go to "Laurie's house" (not her real name), she initially couldn't say why. Rather than insisiting that she go to Laurie's home, I asked her why she didn't like going. Finally she relented saying, "The man who lives here likes to pull down our pants and look at our bottoms."

I hold no grudge to my parents, as early TMers.. and still involved! They did the best they knew how. They were/are True Believers (TBs). They converse only in circuitous conversation, with all good coming back to MMY's teachings.

Yes, I agree with you, MMY is a true sociopath. The TB parents were deceived and victimized, as were the children. I suggest reading the link (on the right side of our blog page) "Psychopathology of a Cult Leader"

Again, Betty, than you for adding your voice.
Gina

Betty said...

Judy Stein said Uh, Betty, you might want to actually read the article. If you're correct, then MMY paid him off to cast serious doubt on only the allegations about the children.

Duh Judy, no doubt Maharishi was too cheap to pay the full bribe, so he only got a partial whitewash. I don't need to read what any journalist has to say to know that lots of child abuse has taken place in and around the movement. When I was there a local ru furniture and mattress seller was screwing loads of the local rich young girls from MIU. Yea, he was driven out of town but not prosecuted. That would have been a black eye for the wealthy donors and for the movement itself. There was a teen aged boy of a local ru family found dead in the cornfield behind campus. There was a gay MIU employee fired and thrown off campus for being gay. There was practically a conveyor belt from Fairfield to the nearest nuthouse. Every long course I went on had at least one person sent to a mental health facility. After my one month SCI course at Livington Manor in 1974, I used to see the most beautiful colored geometric shapes come flooding through my bedroom wall, with my eyes opened, while not in meditation. Certainly never told anyone about that! I thought I was becoming highly evolved. TM is not the cause of everyones' life problems and I even feel glad sometimes that I learned to meditate. But I owe Maharishi nothing, because like everybody else, I paid in advance!

Gina said...

Tks again Betty!

Yes, when he was in preschool in MIU Santa Barbara, I cared for and loved the young man whose skeleton was later found in the cornfield north of campus. A wonderful young man.
MIU refused to allow the family to have his memorial service on campus. There was a series of teenage suicide attempts after his death, also swept under the rug.

If his mother is reading this... we love you, D. We know your family was wronger.

Yes, r.e. the F**ker run out of town w/o pressing charges. After all, we could not blight MIU or the TMO's reputation! A local car salesman also accessed many young women.

g

Gina said...

typ-o... above should say "we know your family was wronged"
sorry.. am rushed here.
g

Anonymous said...

Duh Judy, no doubt Maharishi was too cheap to pay the full bribe, so he only got a partial whitewash.

I hope you know down deep that this is a ridiculous notion. Nobody pays a "partial bribe" to "whitewash" just one charge out of many, particularly when the rest of the charges (you really should read the article) could much more seriously impact his financial bottom line.

I don't need to read what any journalist has to say to know that lots of child abuse has taken place in and around the movement.

Fine. What *I'm* saying is...oh, never mind, just read my previous comments; I've been quite explicit. My objections are about how John has promoted this particular article.

Betty said...

Yes, Judy, I know it was ridiculous notion to suggest a partial bribe had taken place. Everyone knows that bribes have no place in the glorious history of India, Indian journalism, and the TM movement generally. I was just trying to make a lame joke. But no matter what this or any journalist says, it is certain that child abuse has taken place and continues to take place and be covered up by the TM movement. Guess that's a kind of proof that it isn't a "spiritual organization" afterall. Why not care more for the children and less about your misguided loyalty to a man and movement that would throw you on a garbage heap if you cross them. It's a wonder you're not blacklisted already just for posting here. For sure your name has been noted...

By the way are you the Judith Stein on my TTC in Vittel, France November of 1975? For that course I left my 2 year old with her father for 3 months because it was so impotant to get to CC and save the world.

Gina said...

Betty,
Could you please privately email me?

To obtain my email address (I prefer not to post it), please, on the right side of this website, click onto profile for John Knapp. His email address is listed. John can provide my email address to you.

Thanks!
Jai - telling the truth!
Gina

Betty said...

Gina, I think I will have to wait a while before I write to you. I'm not really a very good one to post here too often because I have a habbit of gross silliness. But I will keep checking out this site. Thanks you guys and gal for your efforts here.

Gina said...

Betty,
No prob. Not wanting to approach you about posting, just an idea. We have busy real lives too. Please feel free to contact me through John Knapp. Silliness is good! We lived some silliness.
tx anyway,
g :)

Anonymous said...

I posted for years on alt.meditation.transcendental, likewise host to a large number of TM critics--including John Knapp himself during one period--and was never blacklisted. I'm not a TMO person in any case, never have been, and I haven't been to a course in years, so even if they did blacklist me, it would be no big deal.

No, I'm not the person you knew on your TTC. I'm not a TM teacher, just a "citizen" sidha.

Judy Stein

Sue said...

Betty,
I just want to reiterate what Sudarsha said about feeling guilty. Of course you feel guilty as a mother (I am now also a mother so I know), but I think that it is important that you see where the blame really lies. Even though you made that choice to leave your child for 3 months and maybe made other decisions based on seeking enlightenment TM style, THE MINDSET IS RESPONSIBLE. The mindset is the "gift" of MMY. It was bestowed on you WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT. THIS is what really angers me about TM: the tricking people into a belief system.

Betty said...

Thank you Sue, but on this issue I cannot shift all blame on MMY. I was the parent. It falls to me to acknowledge wrong doing and endure the results, trying to do my best now. It's been a long time and 2 out of 3 of my kids feel kindly towards me. I'll have to live with that and be satisfied.

Mudman said...

Just read "Annie's Story". I am feeling nauseated and empathize with this brave woman for blowing the whistle. The Program of David Lynch targeting Middle School and High School kids for TM "Stress reduction" has a similarly diabolical creepiness to it; the common thread being putting vulnerable impressionable young people in the path of the TM Juggernaut without adequate warning of the potential negative effects of TM. I have been married to an ex TM devotee and teacher for 23+ years, Mudman

Gina said...

Thank you, mudman for validating our efforts here.

Gina

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