Cult Deprogrammer Patrick Sentenced to Year in Kidnapping
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File); Sep 27, 1980; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986)  pg. SD_A1

Cult Deprogrammer Patrick Sentenced to Year in Kidnapping

Times Staff Writer

Cult deprogrammer Ted Patrick, 49, was ordered Friday to spend one year in jail without parole and was placed on five years' probation for his part in the kidnaping of a 25-year-old Tucson waitress whose family feared she was controlled by a religious zealot.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Norbert Ehrenfreund also fined the controversial Patrick $5,000 and attached stringent conditions to his future activities.

"We must observe the law that makes it a crime to abduct another human being," Ehrenfreund declared at the end of a long court day in which San Diego Police Chief William Kolender, Federal Judge Earl Gilliam, City Councilman Leon Williams and a parade of others appeared to speak for Patrick.

Ehrenfreund said Patrick obviously has done good work in ma, cases, but "there must be no further deprogramming as in the past. That part of his life must exist no longer."

Community's Right

The community, Ehrenfreund added, "has a right to be protected against kidnaping … against such acts."

Patrick was convicted Aug. 29 by a jury on four counts - two of conspiracy and one each of kidnaping and false imprisonment in the case of Roberta McElfish, who claimed she was not a member of a cult at all.

It was the first felony conviction for the famed deprogrammer, although he previously served jail sentences in Orange County and in Colorado on misdemeanor false imprisonment convictions.

He sti11 faces retrial here on several counts on which a jury deadlocked in the case of Paula Dain, a 25-year-old Scientologist who was seized by members of her family and who said she was held for 38 days of deprogramming by Patrick.

The date for that retrial is tentatively set for Dec. 1.

Free on Bail

Ehrenfreund allowed Patrick to remain free on $20,000 bail pending appeal, but insisted that in the meantime there will be no deprogramming. Also, Patrick cannot leave San Diego County without permission of his probation officer and he must check in with the court every 90 days or so.

Patrick also waived his protection against search and seizure so that the court may look at his business records.

Ehrenfreund said he would be willing to consider some sort of plan for the future - after Patrick is out of jail - under which the defendant could counsel persons first screened by a panel of psychiatrists and referred to him.

Prior to the sentencing, Patrick's New York attorney, Patrick Wall, produced several former cultists grateful for having been forcibly held by their parents and deprogrammed by Patrick.

And there were parents of one-time cultists who came from distant states to tell the judge that Patrick had saved their children from psychosis brought on by religious

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Patrick Gets Jail in Cult Kidnaping

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mind control and even from possible death by malnutrition.

Susan Freedman, an attractive, 25-year-old licensed vocational nurse, gave Ehrenfreund an intensely emotional recital of her 4½ years in the Divine Light Mission of the guru Maharaj Ji and said it had been necessary for her parents to hold her forcibly because "My guru was the Lord. I was just a walking robot for the guru."

She could hardly restrain her feelings as she called Patrick "a man who saved my life."

She insisted, "I was held for 4½ years against my will by the cult. Ted Patrick gave me back my will."

Then she added, "I'm so happy to have my life back." Dr. Richard Silver. 58, of Indianapolis, said he came to San Diego to appear in court "because I owe Ted Patrick a debt I can never repay."

He told of his twin 19-year-old children - a boy and a girl - who became involved in the Divine Light Mission and dropped out of school, took menial jobs, gave all their meager earnings to the guru and were alienated from the family.

Children Detained

"We detained our children in our house," he related. "We realized that this was against the law." He said Patrick came to the home and deprogrammed the young people in three days.

"I'm here really to plead for Ted," Silver said. "There are many, many kids still out there. And if he's prevented from doing his work, they're going to languish and die."

He said, "There comes a time that a family man – in order to preserve his family – has to do things that he knows is wrong. If I had my way, we'd be presenting Ted Patrick the Medal of Freedom."

Silver was followed to the stand by his son, Peter, now 25 and in his second year of law school at the University of Indiana.

Patrick. he said, "rescued" him when he was physically weakened, exhausted emotionally and mentally. Until Patrick deprogrammed him, young Silver said, "If the guru had told me to kill myself, I would have done it. If he had told me to kill others, I would have done it."

Author on Stand

Another witness presented by defense attorney Wall was James Howard Siegelman, co-author the book "Snapping," a study of cults.

He contended the courts have not really addressed themselves to dealing with the phenomenon of mind control and he called Patrick the most significant figure in bringing this whole aspect of mental health to public attention."

"Does deprogramming always have to be forcible?" the judge asked.

Siegelman said it is "essential" to remove young persons from the influence of a cult leader. "These kids are not going to come out of their own free will," he said. "They don't have a free will."'

Huffman, clearly viewing most of Friday's presentations as unrelated to he specific issue – kidnaping – rarely asked a question of any of Wall's character witnesses.

Quizzed on Churches

But in the case of Siegelman, he asked whether the Catholic Church or the Mormon Church should be considered cults.

The difference, Siegelman said, is that cults insist the members cannot have doubts about their faith. Then Huffman asked, "Do you agree that the cults in this country are a conspiracy between the Russians, the Chinese and the CIA?"

"Is that your opinion?" Siegelman asked.

"No," Huffman responded, "that's Mr. Patrick's opinion. Do you agree with it?"

Another former member of the Divine Light Mission, Dr. James A. Young, a physician, told of being deprogrammed by Patrick after three years of cultist membership during which he lost interest in his medical studies and took part in meetings where "we drank water the guru had put his feet in."

One after the other, the former cultists said they would not or could not - have left the cults without forcible action by their parents.

At the end, Wall asked that Patrick be placed on probation and said, "It's really ironic. I'm asking for the same sentence given to a man who put a rattlesnake in the mailbox of someone who had the temerity to bring a lawsuit against the cult."

He was referring to the Synanon case in Los Angeles. But Huffman said the thrust of Wall's presentation was that "there is nothing wrong with violently and forcibly restraining a person – once we declare they're in a cult."

Huffman said with sarcasm, "Mr. Patrick here is the arbiter of cultism and evil in the United States. He never makes a mistake … the foremost expert on mind control in the United States sits right here in this courtroom."

He pointed out that Patrick could be sentenced to seven years in prison and said to the judge, "You are being asked to ignore the case … ignore the conviction.

'Handsome Living'

"You have before you a self-appointed vigilante who earns his living – a very handsome living at that … $200,000 in 1979 … "

He asked, "Is there any remorse offered by this defendant? No. The defendant is proud of his conduct." In asking that Patrick serve time in jail, Huffman pointed out that in a previous case, Patrick broke probation by engaging in deprogramming and the probation was canceled.

Ehrenfreund said he was ordering Patrick to serve the year in a local jail rather than in state prison because he is a good family man and his children should be able to visit him.

New Legal Questions

He said it may be that the rise of religious groups has raised new legal questions not yet faced by the courts, but "we must observe the law as it is … the forcible abduction of an adult human being by another human being cannot be tolerated."

Ehrenfreund said he had received hundreds of letters from all over the country, some urging prison for Patrick and others urging probation or even an overturning of the conviction.

Attorney Wall suggested that the letters calling for punishment were part of an organized campaign by cultists. Virtually all of them, he said, came addressed in precisely the same way and contained similar wordings.