Deprogrammer Testifies Cults Destroy Minds
CINCINNATI (AP) - Cult deprogrammer Ted Patrick has told a federal court hearing a multimillion dollar suit against him that some religious cults destroy young people's minds and that he got into deprogramming after his son became involved with a cult.
Patrick testified Tuesday in U.S. District Court that Richard Cooper, who is suing him and others for holding him against his will, was not in control of himself. Cooper, who is seeking $8 million in the case, denied that.
"No I don't believe he has a free mind today," Patrick said under cross-examination by John Lloyd, Cooper's attorney. "You criticized my beliefs, you pressed yourself upon me in the Catskills," Cooper told Patrick, who acted as his own attorney.
"Do you remember me telling you that meditation is hypnosis," Patrick asked.
"You told me that a moment ago and you told me that in the Catskills," Cooper replied.
"I haven't done anything to hurt anybody," Patrick said. "I'm doing it because I know what's involved, They (cults) are destroying some of the most important natural resources in this country … young people's minds."
Patrick said he became involved in deprogramming in 1971 when his 14-year-old son became involved with a cult. He said cults destroy a person's ability to think and make decisions. He has been involved in 2,600 cases, he said.
Patrick said he felt Cooper, 33, Brookline, Mass., was deprogrammed in 1979 away from the Divine Light Mission. Cooper's mother, Gertrude, hired Patrick.
Cooper said he was still a member of the mission. He claims Patrick and others held him against his will, hurt him and violated his constitutional rights.
Cooper charged that Patrick masterminded the deprogramming effort that resulted in Cooper jumping from a third-story window of the Harry Fabe home in Cincinnati and breaking his hip in an attempt to escape.
Cooper, who was 29 at the time, claimed he was taken from his mother's Connecticut home to a cabin in the Catskill Mountains and eventuality to Cincinnati. He said he was subjected to criticism of his religious beliefs as well as physical abuse.
Patrick said members of the mission were forced to live a celibate life and live on a poor diet. He said they must give their belongings to the Guru Maharaj Ji.
"Do you believe every person in a non-traditional religion is a mindless robot?" Lloyd asked.
"If they are under mind control," Patrick said.
Lloyd asked whether priests and nuns who live a celibate life to pursue their religious convictions are mindless robots.
Patrick, 52, San Diego, said that unlike priests and nuns, those in some cults are deceived. He said Jesus told his followers to sell everything they, owned and give it to the poor, while some cult leaders take the belongings.
Patrick said he has not been involved in deprogramming the past two years because he is on probation in California for a conviction on unlawful imprisonment.
Cooper said he still practices the beliefs of the Divine Light Mission, but is no longer a monastic member who must live a celibate life. He said he has married a woman member of the church.
Cooper said he now has as good relationship with his mother. Cooper is not seeking damages from his mother and brother, although they are defendants. They promised not to try to deprogram him again, he said.
The Fabe family reached a $40,000 out-of-court settlement with him, Cooper said.