Each preached that the apocalypse was at hand, thereby enabling serial slaughter, mass suicide, and deadly shootouts. Aside from cataclysmic fear, though, sex is a primary tool used by cult leaders to control their followers (consider the Manson women’s devotion and Koresh’s “wives”).
Criminal cult activity is hardly a thing of the past and, as accusations against the following presently active sects seem to prove, the route to “brainwashing” often begins with other body parts.
1. R. KELLY’S SO-CALLED “SEX CULT”
R&B superstar R. Kelly is no stranger to shocking and salacious scandals. At age 27 in 1994, Kelly married 15-year-old pop artist Aaliyah.
Eight years later, he stood trial over an infamous video purported to depict the singer urinating in an underage girl’s mouth and instructing her to call him “Daddy.” When the court failed to definitively identify the girl, Kelly beat the rap.
More recently, allegations have surfaced that Kelly runs a “sex cult” in his Atlanta recording studio compound.
Multiple women claim Kelly has held them captive and subjected them to beatings, starvation, sexual grooming, forced intercourse with other people, and controlling every detail of their lives down to when they can use the bathroom. They also say some of the females are minors and that Kelly insists they call him “Daddy.”
So far, no charges have been filed, and Kelly is refusing to answer questions. Still, major media outlets such as Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed appear determined to get to the bottom of these accusations, so it seems likely that more will be revealed. [CrimeFeed]
2. NXIVM: BUSINESS-COACHING GROUP ACCUSED OF BRANDING & BRAINWASHING
Founded in 1998 by multi-level marketer Keith Raniere, the Executive Success Programs peddled by organization NXIVM (pronounced “nex-ee-um”) have attracted high-profile participants on the order of Virgin CEO Richard Branson and Antonia Novello, the former Surgeon General of the United States.
In October 2017, The New York Times published an exposé that claimed Rainere and NXIVM senior executive Nancy Salzman are running a “secret sisterhood” within the program called DOS — alleged to mean “Dominant Over Slave.”
Reportedly, DOS requires female members to eat no more than 800 calories per day and get branded near their hips with a two-inch symbol. The Times further reported:
“Submission and obedience would be used as tools to achieve goals, several women said. The sisterhood would comprise circles, each led by a ‘master’ who would recruit six ‘slaves,’ according to two women. In time, they would recruit slaves of their own … Trainees who failed had to pay penalties, including fasting, or could face physical punishments, two women said.”
More recently, Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg said her daughter India Oxenberg, 26, has fallen prey to the group, stating: “Brainwashing is not consent.” India, for her part, denies she is brainwashed, and no criminal charges have yet been pressed against NXIVM. [New York Times]
3. FAMILY INTERNATIONAL aka CHILDREN OF GOD: ROSE McGOWAN’S ALLEGED ORIGINAL SEX ABUSERS
Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October 2017, Hollywood star Rose McGowan has prominently spearheaded the charge against entertainment industry sexism and sexual abuse.
According to the actress herself, this is not the first time she’s had to contend with institutional sex crimes. McGowan grew up in the Children of God cult, a notorious Christian sect that allegedly advocates sex between adults and children. At present, the group calls itself Family International.
McGowan credits her father from breaking away from the Children of God before anyone physically damaged her. Joaquin Phoenix, whose famous acting family also came of age under the cult’s auspices, backs up McGowan’s allegations of rampant child molestation — as do a multitude of other, less celebrated survivors. [Daily Mail]
4. AGGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY TRAINING CORPS: CHILD SEX BUSTS
On August 22, 2017, New Mexico police charged Peter Green, the “General” of the paramilitary church group Aggressive Christianity Training Corps, with 100 counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child.
Deborah Green, Peter’s wife and co-“General,” was also arrested with three other adult ACTC members on charges that include child abuse, bribery, and not reporting a birth.
Specifics of the case involve the Greens allowing their 12-year-old son to die from a flu because “the sick must repent” and then burying his body on their compound grounds.
In addition, the Greens and their deranged disciples allegedly practice horrific sexual and physical abuse of little girls who were kept as slaves. The ACTC also allegedly smuggled these children into the U.S. using forged documents.
One escaped ACTC member said Peter Green raped her until she was nine years old. Another adult woman said of the Greens, “They wanted me to whip my young child, who was under two years old, with a belt because he didn’t use the toilet.”
Police removed 11 children from the ACTP facility. The arrested suspects were held on $5 million bond. They’re staying put until the trial. [KOAT]
5. FLDS CHURCH: RAPE CHARGES FOR WARREN JEFFS’ POLYGAMOUS CULT
After years of run-ins with the law, in 2011, Warren Jeffs, the white supremacist, polygamy-preaching leader of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), was convicted on multiple counts of sexual abuse, specifically regarding girls between the ages of 12 and 15.
Splitting off from the mainstream Mormon church, Jeffs named himself “President of the Priesthood” in the FLDS and proceeded to “marry” dozens of underage females himself, as well as to preside over scores of “weddings” of other minor church members. Under Jeffs’ tutelage, the FLDS spread from Utah to Arizona and Texas.
Cracks first appeared in FLDS firmament in 2004, when a nephew alleged Jeffs and his brothers sodomized him when he was five. Child sexual abuse claims cascaded from there, landing Jeffs on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list in 2005.
Following a series of captures and arrests, a jury in 2011 took just a half-hour to convict Jeffs of every charge leveled against him. The judge sentenced him to life in prison plus 20 years.
Since being locked up, Jeffs authored the book Jesus Christ Message to All Nations, which he claims are revelations made to him directly by the title figure. Chief among them is that Warren Jeffs should be let out of jail. It’s not happening. [CrimeFeed]
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Main photos: Peter Green, Deborah Green [Cibola County Detention Facility]