Man Cured of Cult Suing Deprogrammer
CINCINNATI (AP) - A Connecticut woman has told a federal court she paid cult abuse deprogrammer Ted Patrick $6,000 to rid her son of a cult's influence, but that she worried that her son, who is suing Patrick, would be strongarmed.
Gertrude Cooper of Hamden, Conn., testified by deposition in the case of her son, Richard Cooper, of Brookline, Mass., who is suing Patrick of San Diego, and others for $8 million. Cooper's lawyers told the jury in the opening of the civil trial in U.S. District Court on Monday that Cooper feared for his life when Patrick and some others tried to turn him away from his belief in the Divine Light Mission.
Patrick, who acted as his own lawyer, said the man's mother wanted her son "out of his psychological prison."
Patrick said guru Maharaj Ji required the cult's members to give him all their possessions and that he controlled their minds.
"After this mother observed her son drink the water this man washed his feet in, she became convinced that this man had the power of God (over) her son," Patrick said. "The evidence is going to prove that Mr. Cooper agreed to talk to me, and deprogramming is nothing more than talking."
Mrs. Cooper told the court that Patrick told her there was a possibility that the deprogramming would fail, but that she paid him to try.
She said she suspected things were moving along very well after a few days. She said she expressed concern about pushing and shoving she saw between defendant Clifford Daniels and her son.
"Yes, I was upset to see him pushed around," she said in her deposition.
Cooper said he was tricked into going to his mother's Hamden home Feb. 2, 1979. He said he was imprisoned 19 days before he escaped from the Harry G. Fabe home in Cincinnati by climbing out a third story window. He suffered a fractured hip in a fall, he said. Patrick told the jury that Cooper was eventually deprogrammed and that Cooper went to Cincinnati willingly, after he was deprogrammed.
Cooper said his medical bills have totaled $8,066 and that he remains lame.
Daniels also testified by deposition. Daniels said he was paid $400 and that "After two days, I realized Richard couldn't be helped." He said he told Patrick to let Cooper go, but that Patrick insisted he could help Cooper.
Cooper said the defendants abused him, held him against his will and violated his constitutional rights to by trying to get him out the religious group. Cooper, 29 at the time, said he was a member of a Boston affiliate church.
Cooper asked for damages from all of the defendants except his mother and his brother, Peter A. Cooper of New York City.
The other defendants are Fabe and wife, Helen, of Cincinnati; their daughters Linda and Barbara; and two Patrick employees, identified only as Michael "Moe" of California and Vick "Voe" of Virginia. Cooper's lawyers said they were unable get their last names.