This document shows clearly how a legal trial became the field of a hard battle. M.Flynn and F.Green were the plaintiff's attorney.In this article they tell the truth on Ananda and Kriyananda's behavior against A.M.Bertolucci.
Is The Union the swami's new ally?
Does Swami Kriyananda and his church, Ananda Church of Self-Realization have a new ally The Union?
In a recent editorial, The Union portrayed the second phase of Anne-Marie Bertolucci's lawsuit.Here are some facts established in the first trial which may cause The Union readers to arrive at a different opinion.
Bertolucci first sued the swami and Ananda for fraud and sexual abuse. After a 31/2-month trial in Redwood City, the evidence conclusively proved that since founding Ananda in 1968, the swami has used his self-elevated spiritual status as a "swami" - a celibate monk of the Hindu Giri Monastic Orders, to get sex, money and labor from countless young, devoted female disciples. Swami claimed this status and wore monastic robes even though he had been thrown out of the Order in 1962 for various improprieties. The jury found that during the 26-year period between 1968 and November 1994, the swami engaged in a continuous pattern of fraud, sexual abuse and cover-up.
The jury also found that the current church leadership, the Novaks, the Smallens, the Pravers and others, lied and covered up the swami's sexual "problem"; a word used in the trial by the swami after admitting to sex with at least a dozen female disciples who worshiped and pledged obedience to him. The swami had previously denied under oath any sexual involvement with these women in an effort to keep his defamation case alive and he swore under oath that Bertolucci was a liar, a dupe and a slut.
During the trial, the judge ruled that Ananda had concealed evidence, taken confidential documents from Bertolucci's lawyers, including a list of about 20 women who had been abused by the swami, some of whom had expressed fear for their lives. The judge ordered that Bertolucci's case against Ananda for malicious abuse of the legal process and for invasion of privacy be tried in a subsequent case - the current case in Nevada City. The judge's ruling and the jury's findings in the first case were based on the following evidence.
Like hundreds of other young female devotees, Bertolucci joined Ananda believing the Kriyananda, as a real "swami" would lead her to truth, happiness and salvation. That he could be entrusted with her body, mind and soul. She swore and signed a pledge of loyalty to the swami and Ananda. The swami and his leading minister then proceeded to take all of her money (about $22,000), use her body for sex, and to program her mind and soul, in order to fuel swami's growing spiritual empire. She ended up destitute, homeless and suicidal. An Episcopal minister called a as witness described Bertolucci's ordeal as "soul stealing."
The details of the swami's 26-year history of abusing female devotees in bizarre spiritual/sexual rituals are not fit for a family newspaper. They give a new perverted twist to the classic menage-a-trois, particularly one between a cult leader and several of his female "slaves." The swami's usual sermon to several of his female devotees who were sexually servicing him at the same time was that swallowing his ejaculate conferred a spiritual blessing on them that resonated through the universe. Kind of like getting to Ananda heaven by receiving the swami's communion.
Because Ananda's cash flow depended upon keeping the swami's "problem" hidden from the paying public and other less-fortunate devotees not worthy of his sexual presence, the swami and the leadership covered it up. Therein lies the basis of the Nevada City case.
The best defense is a good offense, even if it is fabricated. Use the cost of litigation to bury your opponent. After Bertolucci brought suit, Ananda and the swami sued Bertolucci for defamation claiming that she and at least 10 other women who had come forward were all lying about the swami. See the articles in The Union dated Nov. 30, 1994, and Jan. 21,1995. Bertolucci and her lawyers spent the next three years and about $350,000 in legal fees and over $300,000 in costs defending against the swami's and Ananda's false claim that Bertolucci and the women were lying and that the swami was really a swami. Ananda spent over one million dollars of tax-exempt money on legal fees and costs prosecuting Bertolucci and the women as liars. The "swami" fraud had to continue in order to keep the tax-exempt donations flowing.
On the first day of the Redwood City trial, before the jury was empaneled, swami and Ananda dropped their defamation charges. They did this to prevent the jury from hearing testimony from the 10 women about the swami's 26-year "problem." The strategy partially worked. By dropping the defamation claim, swami and Ananda prevented Bertolucci from proving that the swami brought the defamation to beat Bertolucci and her lawyers into submission. Additionally the judge ruled that all damages to Bertolucci and her lawyers from the swami's "maliciously prosecuting" the defamation claims had to be decided in a second case. Thus, the jury never heard evidence about the financial and emotional damages suffered by Bertolucci and her lawyers during the three years of defending false claims brought solely to conceal swami's fraud.
At the same time in October 1997, as the trial was about to begin, Bertolucci's lawyers discovered that two years earlier, Ananda had stolen confidential documents from Bertolucci's lawyers by trespassing onto their property, penetrating a 6-foot fence and stealing attorney/ client privileged documents from their trash. Ananda and the swami then spent over two years lying and concealing their conduct, including the secret payment of over $250,000 of tax-exempt money to at least three California law firms to cover-up the theft. Ananda money was laundered through the client account of the lawyer who professed to represent the trash stealers and not Ananda. Bertolucci's lawyers spent over two years and $250,000 trying to uncover the cover-up.
The judge ruled that Ananda's and the swami's invasion of privacy, malicious prosecution of the defamation case, and all of the costs to Bertolucci and her lawyers had to be tried in a second case. The jury in the first case was not allowed to hear this evidence. In the first case, the jury determined damages for fraud and sexual abuse alone of $325,000 against Ananda and one of its ministers; and $1,295,000 against the swami. To date, Bertolucci and her lawyers who have actually spent over $300,000 in out-of-pocket costs, and over $600,000 in attorney fees have not received a cent. The swami and Ananda have spent over $1,250,000 of tax-exempt money to conceal swami's "problem." Ananda has filed bankruptcy to avoid paying the judgment. The paying public still goes to Ananda uninformed of what has transpired, and continues to give tax-exempt donations to the swami and Ananda. Based upon these facts and the illegal conduct of Ananda, it is clear that this second case is not "mean spirited" and is fully justified and necessary. A tax-exempt church and its charlatan leader should not be allowed to prey upon innocent spiritual seekers, then use tax-exempt money to destroy them when they try to warn others about the swami's "problem." Religious ministers who counsel thirsty souls should be held just as accountable as a psychiatrist counseling troubled minds. Innocent people making tax-exempt donations to a sexual predator who clothes himself in the monastic robe of a spiritual sheep have the right to be warned. We have the duty to warn them.
So does The Union. Bertolucci and her lawyers don't own a newspaper in Nevada City where the jury pool will be chosen from. Our voices are filtered through the swami PR department. We don't receive tax-exempt donations or any other donations to fight this case. But I doubt any well-informed juror in Nevada City would ever perpetuate swami's fraud. Thank God for a jury of your peers.
Michael J. Flynn and Ford Greene are attorneys who represent Anne-Marie Bertolucci.
My association with Ananda began in the Spring of 1983, when a couple from Ananda came down to San Diego to teach Hatha Yoga and the philosophy of Yoga.
That summer I made my first visit to Ananda, staying at what was then called the Old Retreat, a simple sylvan camp.
At the time I was financially well off and I had always been attracted to the idea of community and felt myself to be in sync with the teachings of Yogananda, whose spiritual values I was being told were also those followed and promoted by Ananda. I soon made my first gift in support of the outreach of this (I thought then) wonderful work, and our common ideals.
When I asked what I could substantially do to promote Ananda's outreach, I was told that A&D (Ananda "ministers") needed a motorhome, which was going to cost $40,000, so they could travel more conveniently without the expense of transportation and motels. My first gift was for $10,000, as I recall. It went toward purchase of that motor home, which went around trying to sell Swami's books and tapes to bookstores.
Between that summer and early 1993, I gave something in the neighborhood of $220,000 to Ananda. Except for that first motor home, and my final gift of $31,000 in December of 1992, I have no idea how the money was spent. I don't know why I didn't ask questions, except that I felt my gifts were to God, and I also felt intimidated by these people whom I felt to be God's servants, who had sacrificed everything for God's work.
On one occasion, I gave $1500 for the specific purpose to create a safe play place for the children after school. It was another 6 years before the space was created and there was never any explanation of where the money I contributed had been used.
From time to time, there would be special promotions for which Walters acted as sponsor, and, that being the case, of course the entire community wanted to have "some of that." One that I was present at (and seemed particularly outlandish) was a seminar given in Italian by a man from Turin, named Manfredi. He had perfected principles discovered in the 19th century. He was offering cylinders filed with a specially zapped powder that protected the energy field against atmospheric pollutants and in particular from electrical emissions such as those from power lines. The price tags were from $120 to $1200. Walters kicked off the weekends with his own exhortations to buy.
In 1988, I offered my home in La Jolla as an ashram for Ananda to use for the purpose of trying to start a church in San Diego. Eight people moved into my home with me. I thought the ministers deserved my bedroom. I moved into the garage apartment.
Unfortunately, they could not or would not keep their junk cars out of the driveway, in this neighborhood of million dollar homes. My neighbors turned me in to the zoning department and that was the end of the ashram. The inhabitants moved to another rental in Del Mar, and I was left with a bill for $13,000 to demolish my garage apartment, which had not been legal under the building codes.
Those who caused this situation never so much as apologized for the results. D & V (two community leaders) came to visit to ask me if I was "all right with the situation." Good little devotee that I was (coward would be a better word), I said I was. Similarly, Walters himself called. Although the situation wasn't mentioned on the phone, I assumed that was why he called and his call alone would be enough to make the situation "all right."
In 1990, I briefly moved to Colorado. In Autumn of 1992, I sold my land and home in Colorado. I gave $31,000 of the profit to provide salary for a new outreach ministry program. It was to be carried on by a minister named R and his wife D. R thanked me personally for this which led me to assume that the money really went to him. I was pleased by this as I had heard that he and D were so strapped for money that the community had taken up a collection to buy R running shoes.
By winter of 1993, I again went through the Prospective Member's Program. When it was published in the community newsletter that * (a former CEO), now the Ananda development director would be willing to help anyone who needed financial advice, I took him up on the offer. It was then he became aware that I no longer had the large assets I once had. No longer "community milkable" assets. I did not even have sufficient equity in my home at ---- to leave in a will to Ananda. At that point, I became a non-person at Ananda. The inner circle had no further use for me.
This was my great fortune as it turned out as the inner workings of Ananda had now become more clear to me. It provided me the opportunity to feel how the moneyless at Ananda are treated in contrast to the way the moneyed are treated. The former are mercilessly used and exploited while the later are treated like totally privileged beings, free to do exactly as they please. It must be difficult for the wealthy members to even imagine how the rest of the community is treated. It was difficult for me, making visits over the years to Idyllic Ananda, to now see how the other half lived.
For awhile, I went to group meetings with about 18 people who had the courage to attend some communications workshops outside of Ananda. The aim was to get in touch with feelings. People were getting together to speak honestly and openly. At a couple of these meetings one of the young husbands flew into a rage. He could not bring himself to talk about what it what was bothering him. All he would say was that it was something about Swami. I heard from other channels that this man's marriage was in trouble. Naturally, this degree of emerging honesty was highly explosive and the Ananda members were called on the carpet and chastised by the inner circle. That was the end to open honest discussion at Ananda.
By then I had moved into Nevada City where I attended the "in town" Ananda group until the false notes became too uncomfortable for me. Several years ago, I asked C in writing for an accounting of my donations to Ananda which I wanted to compare to my records. Combining the two, I have come up with the figure of about $220,000 that I have given over approximately 10 years. Money I would never had donated if I had known the secret side of Kriyananda's life.