Thursday, 19 December 2013

Timothy Conway and Gurus

Timothy Conway

In 2008, Equalizer (Gerald Joe Moreno) described me as “a staunch Anti-New Age advocate and Anti-Guru advocate.” He made no mention of the fact that I had composed such books as Gurus Rediscovered (1986), which provided sympathetic biographies of two Indian saints, including Shirdi Sai Baba (d. 1918). The polemic of Moreno was geared to conveniences of attack format, as distinct from reliable detail. 
 
The above description comes from a Moreno blog ridiculing Dr. Timothy Conway, a prominent American ex-devotee of Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011) who was deeply concerned about the alleged sexual abuses of his former guru. The Moreno criterion for censure was here: “Kevin Shepherd blindly referenced him [Conway] although Timothy Conway is a true believer and promoter of Gurus.” Numerous other beliefs were added. This very strained argument was part of the apologist campaign of Moreno. 

One feels obliged to add here that Dr. Conway lodged a strong criticism against the American guru known as Adi Da Samraj (d. 2008), whose validity he repudiated. Moreover, his account of this disconcerting  entity included a detail that is neglected in some other accounts, namely that Adi Da was "an avid drug-user over many years." The website of Conway is also critical at some length of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (d. 1990), alias Osho.
 
Conway became an ex-devotee of Sathya Sai Baba in 2001. He is strongly associated with a BBC confrontation in 2004 with Dr. Michael Goldstein, the Sathya Sai Organisation official who allegedly patronised (and paid) Moreno. Both of these doctoral entities subscribed to beliefs about gurus. In contrast to Conway, Goldstein became notorious for evasion on the subject of sexual abuse, which the BBC documentary Secret Swami did much to highlight. 
 
Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer) again resorted to misrepresentation. He wrongly stated that “Shepherd often attacks New Age believers and Guru promoters as being brainwashed and mentally sick.” Basing himself on this misrepresentation, the Pro-Sai campaigner accused me of discrepantly citing “New Age believers and Guru promoters” against Sathya Sai Baba. Therefore I was wrong. 
 
The argument is inane that guru supporters cannot be cited by critics who disbelieve in Sathya Sai Baba. Moreno had accused me of being incapable of formulating a sober argument. The sobriety of Moreno argument was in strong contention throughout his web tenure of 2004-2010. His Pro-Sai tactic of justifying a controversial guru, via the use of bludgeoning and defamatory verbiage, is not convincing in the slightest to most non-devotees. 
 
Dr. Conway is an advocate of non-dualism (an outlook associated with Hinduism). His approach to Moreno was relatively amiable by comparison with some other ex-devotees, but this made no difference to the hostility of the attacker. 

Sathya Sai Baba and Dr. John Hislop

Conway refuted the charge of Moreno that the John Hislop letters of 1981 were forgeries. According to Dr. Conway, those letters are important documentary evidence of sexual abuse in the case of Sathya Sai Baba. Dr. John Hislop (d. 1995) was an American devotee of the guru who could not believe that allegations of abuse were valid. Twenty years later, many ex-devotees accepted the truth of such allegations, which had increased substantially by that time. 
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd 
 
ENTRY no. 16 
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Ullrich Zimmermann and Sathya Sai Baba

Ullrich  Zimmermann

In October 2008, the Equalizer (Moreno) blog Kevin Shepherd Exposed reproduced the gist of earlier Moreno assertions about Ullrich Zimmermann. This ex-devotee had provided three lengthy online video interviews describing his relationship with Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011). 
 
Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer) opted to caricature my comment that Zimmermann had contributed “one of the most arresting testimonies of sexual abuse” in relation to Sathya Sai Baba. Critics say that Moreno was desperate to distract attention from the basic issue of abuse. 
 
Zimmermann was confused on many points by his indoctrination at an early age; he was only fourteen years old when he first contacted Sathya Sai in the ashram at Puttaparthi. An activity of sexual abuse is discernible in his reminiscences of the guru, accompanied by exaggerated references reflecting some devotee beliefs. Clinically, this sort of material is very evocative, and deemed important by psychiatrists and other specialists. 
 
The commentator Robert Priddy entitled his report Ex-Sai Devotee Speaks Out Convincingly, and in relation to sexual abuse. Moreno countered by saying that the testimony of Zimmermann was unbelievable. The Pro-Sai campaigner invented a series of verbal diversions. 
 
Avoiding the crux,  Moreno resorted to a puerile argument that Kevin Shepherd, a “strong Anti-New Age advocate” was citing the testimony of “a New Age follower against [Sathya] Sai Baba.” I was supposed to be “giving credence to New Age beliefs.” Moreno diverted attention from the basic issue by stating that Zimmermann was “a New Age follower of Ramtha.” This theme was further twisted into the erroneous statement that I was “willing to give credence to New Age beliefs by claiming that New Age followers are intelligent, honest, credible and reliable.” 
 
What I actually wrote on this subject earlier that same year contradicts the Moreno tangent: 
“It is obvious that Zimmermann and other Western devotees were afflicted by concepts and syndromes deriving from the ‘miracle’ projection which Sathya Sai encouraged at their expense. Some of them could not think clearly in emerging from their predicament. Zimmermann expressed misapprehensions about such matters as ‘genital switch miracles,’ and became further distracted by Ramtha channelling.... The due evaluation (by Priddy) is completely ignored by Moreno, who indulges in the injurious subversion of context for which he is notorious amongst ex-devotees.... Diverse analysts have concluded that it is useless to compose responses to such a sectarian agent of misrepresentation. 
“Despite confusions in the reports of Zimmermann, that source does testify to sexual abuse and the common acceptance of this disparity at the Puttaparthi ashram of the guru. Zimmermann narrates a personal experience of oral sex with the guru, and says that the homosexual activities of Sathya Sai were well known to many ashram residents. Such details serve to confirm other accounts such as those of ex-devotee Conny Larsson.” 
In contrast, Moreno (alias Equalizer)  chose the superficial and duplicit strategy of emphasising his “New Age” lore. He presented this distraction in a manner which supposedly passed the final judgment, and much to my detriment. “This information is going to be very disillusioning to Kevin Shepherd’s readers and admirers (as few as they are).” 
 
Again the note of contemptuous dismissal. Of course, in such a Pro-Sai argument I only had a few readers, whereas Moreno was obviously claiming a much larger number, meaning devotees of Sathya Sai Baba who believed his distortions and libels. Zimmermann was only one of the many testifiers to abuse, and Moreno could not stop the passage of information. 
 
Another defector from Sathya Sai Baba was the American  therapist Elena A. Hartgering,  whose account includes the following
“Dr. [Michael] Goldstein and other officials in the [Sathya Sai] organisation are suppressing information, and attacking former devotees who have testified against Sai Baba. There is, for example, a letter from a woman in California which was sent to all [regional] Center presidents. In our center it was suppressed by the president and devotions coordinator because they were told to do so by the regional president.... Sai devotees resent the organisation being labelled a cult, yet these are clearly cult practices [of suppression] and mind control techniques.” 
A favoured argument of Moreno was that Sathya Sai Baba had never been convicted of any crime, and therefore allegations of abuse were irrelevant. This theme is evasive and misleading, in view of contextual data concerning the compromised Indian police, and the influence of prestigious devotees in Indian law courts. For instance, a report from the Indian rationalist Basava Premanand informs that a youth was murdered in 1987 after fleeing from being sexually abused by the guru of Puttaparthi. This victim was "murdered by burning in the [Sathya Sai Baba] College campus in daylight." The contested police verdict was suicide. Other students at the College protested to the police, with the consequence that their parents were given a warning of  police action.
 
One of the many sexual abuse instances is graphically described in the statement of a fifteen year old victim (an American). Sordid details in such accounts have been known to shock sensitive readers.

Kevin R. D. Shepherd 
 
ENTRY no. 15 
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Gerald Joe Moreno and Sai Critics

Moreno (Equalizer) blog depiction of Robert Priddy, 2008

Equalizer (Gerald Joe Moreno) furthered a web campaign of purported exposure. A number of his blogs bore the proclaimer of “Sai Critics Exposed.” The Sai reference denotes Sathya Sai Baba, not Shirdi Sai Baba (I have written two books featuring favourable accounts of the latter entity, but Moreno lore and libel completely ignored these). 
 
The contested Equalizer blogs also bore an explicit campaigning motto, worded as: “Campaign to Stop Anti-Sai Activist’s Abuse.” This motto was deceptive. Anti-Sai was a favourite slogan of Moreno, who declared his own orientation in terms of Pro-Sai. The "abuse" here referred to allegations of sexual abuse, and other problems, in relation to Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011). Moreno did not recognise the validity of testimonies from ex-devotee victims.
 
There were nine blogspot features pillorying “Sai Critics.” Seven of these were ex-devotees, including retired academic Robert Priddy and Dr. Timothy Conway. Reinier van der Sandt (the Dutch musician) was not an ex-devotee, but the webmaster of exbaba.com, a major website for critique of Sathya Sai Baba. I was the only non-activist represented. The attack and defamation was thus being extended into the public sector. I was not an ex-devotee, and nor a web activist against the guru, although I was an objector to Moreno tactics in my direction. 
 
Three images of myself were used by Equalizer (Moreno) in a much duplicated composite. That triple image is symptomatic of cultist excess. Ex-devotee Robert Priddy received a despising pictorial representation as a primitive ape-like creature. Of course, nobody was supposed to show an image of Moreno, as he prohibited this practice, and in relation to his sole known photograph. 
 
Another ex-devotee on the hit list was Barry Pittard of Australia. He was treated to a very misleading “exposure” as a sexual aberrant. Moreno misrepresented data on a website to mean that Pittard was guilty of “paedophilia,” a verdict posted on yahoo.com. The rebuttal was so decisive that the accuser was obliged to retract his allegation, an action that “was most grudging and manipulative in its wording – a single line buried among a mass of self-justification.” Moreno continued to post his defamation on his website and also bulletin boards. See Defamation of Barry Pittard
  
In 2008, I had cause to comment: “It is very obvious that Moreno’s belief in the priority of Sathya Sai Baba entails a categorical dismissal of any criticism as being a manifestation of perversity or conspiracy.”

The numerous allegations and testimonies of abuse have withstood denials, and provide an indicator to events that cannot be dismissed because of devotee preferences to the contrary.
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd 
 
ENTRY no. 14 
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Kevin RD Shepherd Not An Academic

Craig Gibsone

Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer) was incensed when some ex-devotees (of Sathya Sai Baba) described me as a scholar. He went to elaborate lengths to snub this classification. His blog Kevin RD Shepherd is NOT an Academic appeared in 2009, and notably capitalised the negative word.
 
Since 1983, when I first emerged in print, I have made clear that I am not an academic, both to avoid confusion and to allay any grievances of specialist academics. The Equalizer treatment of this issue in 2009 was memorable even by the vehemently distorting standards of Pro-Sai web campaign:
“Kevin R. D. Shepherd is a sectarian bigot who obsessively, unremittingly and fanatically attacks and stalks everything and everyone affiliated with the Findhorn Foundation.” 
Equalizer (Moreno) here relinquished completely any credence to accurate reporting. It is well known that I am not a member of any sect. My criticisms of the Findhorn Foundation do not come under the sectarian category, as is obvious to diligent readers. Nor do I criticise “everything and everyone” affiliated with that organisation.
 
Informed readers concluded that the extremist Moreno assertion closely reflected his own ill-repute as an obsessive  stalker of “Anti-Sai” critics and ex-devotees of Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011). Moreno was much more than a troll, gaining the repute of a cyberstalker who went to almost unbelievable lengths to blacken the reputation of his adversaries. For instance, he was reported to distort images of ex-devotees, and to harass victims by emailing their contacts with adverse portrayals. It became obvious that he targeted Google name lists with multiple entries visibly agitating against the victims. At one time there were seven hostile Moreno web entries listed in a row on my own Google listing, and with many others following in a more scattered density.
 
The peculiar spite of Equalizer (Moreno) was evidenced in his concluding remark at the NOT blog. “The only thing that trumps Kevin R. D. Shepherd’s non-academic role is his big ego.” Equalizer also had a non-academic role, referring to Moreno in the third person, and making many mistakes in his vituperation. The lack of context in his stigmas became a source of amazement, and not merely notoriety.
 
Equalizer urged that my “big ego” was proved by my pointing out the lack of academic credentials in others. The only instance he supplied was that of Craig Gibsone, an influential member of the Findhorn Foundation. No further information was given. The missing context is relevant here.
 
I had indeed criticised Craig Gibsone, and more than once, but not for a mere lack of academic credentials. The reason was because Gibsone had been disastrously influential in pioneering commercial Grof therapy (holotropic breathwork) in Britain. He could only be offset by the combined warning of Edinburgh University and the Scottish Charities Office in 1993. Even this setback did not prevent Gibsone’s further resort to dubious “workshop” practices of hyperventilation, connoting a medical risk. I had pointed out that Gibsone and his team did not possess medical credentials in their “new age therapy” pastime, a lack which meant a potentially substantial risk. See further my Letter to BBC Radio, dating to 2006.
 
Medical doctors considered my objection to be perfectly valid. But in cult lore, such reservations are caricatured in terms of “big ego.” To extend that argument in due proportion, the Equalizer category of “big ego” discrepantly covers many medical doctors, psychiatrists, and other professional parties of scruple. Ethical complaint at discrepancy is set at naught by cult lore, an endangering activity involving a blanket dismissal of criticism and a hate campaign against any objector.

Observers of this situation pointed out that the Moreno (Equalizer) slurs, aimed at diverse victims, comprised an attempt to distract attention from the allegations of abuse made against Sathya Sai Baba. 
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
 
ENTRY no. 13
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.