Some of OKC/Spatz victim replies to this article with more context :
Wangdrag, thank you for posting this information. I was one of the children raised in this community and involved in the lawsuit. Speaking out against the community was a harrowing experience. People were in deep denial and continued to turn their heads as the cult leader engaged in relationships with teenage girls even after public complaints had been made, under the delusion that a Tibetan Buddhist lama is incapable of doing wrong. The most frustrating part was that Tibetan Buddhist leaders made no investigation and continued to frequent and endorse Spatz, which revived people’s confidence in him. This was a big factor in maintaining denial among the members of the community and allowing Spatz to continue to abuse and defraud his followers. I hope others will pay attention to this cautionary tale (and the many others that sadly exist) and will think twice before following anyone so blindly or relying on the actions of Tibetan Buddhist leaders as a measure of a person’s integrity.
Soteria is vastly misinformed, to put it kindly. Spatz kept his followers in a state of financial, spiritual and emotional dependence. Many of them cut ties with their families at a young age and worked unpaid in the community for decades, which means that they had no property of their own, no savings, no accumulated social security benefits, no cognizable work experience to put down on a resume, plus they had no family support outside the community. The 1997 investigation caused a big panic. Where would everyone go if Spatz was convicted and his properties were seized? On top of these financial concerns, the members were heavily indoctrinated and we’re afraid of losing Spatz and the spiritual salvation that he promised them. And no one wanted to accumulate bad karma by speaking badly of their spiritual savior, or even thinking of him critically. So of course they mobilized and responded to the investigation with flowery stories praising the community and its leader, and cleaned up the community and the school, at least on the surface, to please the authorities. The witnesses who were who were children in the community in 1997 testified at trial that the community was given a three – day warning before each government visit, and the children spent the three days cleaning up the place and memorizing the scripts they were supposed to tell the investigators about their supposedly happy lives. Kids who had any issues or who were in France illegally were hidden during these visits to ensure that the investigators saw nothing but a row of shining faces when they came to visit. In fact, these kids were suffering from abuse and neglect and physical hardships. But many of these children were born into the community and didn’t know any other way of life. They believed they would lose everything if they didn’t lie convincingly, and they were afraid, so naturally they did as they were told. As far as education, regardless of the quality, it ended in middle school. Kids were expected to quit school and take on adult jobs when they turned 14. To say there was a “choice” is nothing more than fiction. In my case, for example, I was summoned by Spatz when I was 14 and told I would be quitting school. I actually tried to protest and received a firm “no” which was followed by a proud announcement to my mother that I had chosen to quit school and start working. Basically, I was ordered to choose to end my education. This is how most people’s “choices” were made in the community, like the young mothers who “chose” to send their toddlers to be raised on a kid farm in a different country, leaving them free to work 7 long days a week for the community. This unreasonable work schedule was forced upon them, making them unable to properly care for their children. They they were told that they were mentally and spiritually deficient, and were poisoning their kids with their bad personalities. They were promised that their kids would reach enlightenment by the time they were 20 if they sent them off to live a “pure” life on the kid farm. In some cases, they were given the “choice” to pack their bags and leave the community on the next bus if they didn’t wish to send their kids away. One way or another, they were forced to give in, and this surrender was depicted as a choice. It is also a lie to say that the members of the community were willingly donating their money to support the community. The truth is that they were cornered or pressured or tricked into doing so, and Spatz was making a huge profit off of their work and donations and living in luxury while they lived in poverty,. These are just a few examples that barely scratch the surface of the story about this community, but I hope they help to answer some of your questions about this community and any contradictions with Soteria’s post. I assume that Soteria’s goal is a good one, but in truth they do the world a lot of harm by posting such stories without a thorough investigation. They met with the leaders of the cult and heard the party line and..what else? As far as I can tell, they didn’t dig any deeper. The result is that they’re obscuring the reality of the dangers of this group and the harm it does to its members. I was one of the first people to press charges against the community, in 1997, and I did this hoping to open people’s eyes so that they would save themselves and their children. But I didn’t manage to open enough eyes and as a result, another whole generation of children had to suffer through abuse such as I did, and worse, before the case finally came to a tipping point and the truth exploded.