Category Archives: Slavery

NXIVM and Other Cults

DOS brand as per Government Exhibit GX-352 in US v. Raniere, Source https://www.courthousenews.com/former-slave-master-describes-sex-cult-branding-ritual/, Author US Attorney’s Office, EDNY (PD as work product of federal govt.)

And Jesus answered and said to them:  ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many’ ” (Matt. 24: 4-5).

NXIVM is old news.  Keith Raniere has joined the ranks of such infamous cult leaders as Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs, and David Koresh [1].

But the NXIVM phenomenon has lessons for us.  Here are a few:

1.  A charismatic leader may not be what he claims. 

All that glitters is not gold.

Though venerated as a virtual god, Keith Raniere was originally an Amway distributor [2A].  The self-proclaimed guru and life coach called himself the “smartest man in the world” when, in fact, he had difficulty completing college.

2.  The endorsement of celebrities is no guarantee of an organization’s trustworthiness.

NXIVM was supported by Seagrams heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman, to the tune of some $85 million [2B].

Among the celebrities who once endorsed NXIVM were actresses Allison Mack, India Oxenberg, and Sarah Edmondson [3].  Keith Raniere even appeared with the Dalai Lama.

3.  Hierarchy and ritual are no guarantees of an organization’s spirituality.

NXIVM had both.

4.  Finances often reveal the true nature of an organization.

Actions speak louder than words.  Lofty sounding goals are not enough.

Keith Raniere promised his followers they would change the world [2C].  Instead, Raniere’s actions confirmed his desire for sex, money, and power.

Legally, NXIVM was comprised of dozens of shell corporations, their finances dubious [2D].  Functionally, NXIVM was little more than a pyramid scheme, designed to bilk Raniere’s followers of their savings [2E].

A seemingly endless series of classes were heavily promoted. All promised self-knowledge and self-improvement, albeit at a cost.  Meanwhile, members often went unpaid for their labor.

Raniere’s earlier venture, Consumer Buyline (a multi-level marketing company) was shut down in 1993 after being investigated for fraud by 20 states.

5.  Excessive control is a major red flag.

There is a fine line between indoctrination and brainwashing; that line must not be crossed.

New members were introduced to NXIVM’s philosophy of “rational inquiry” at intensive, 14 hour-per-day seminars lasting more than 2 weeks.

Loyalty to NXIVM was emphasized over loyalty to family.  The dress, diet, and life decisions of members were all closely regulated by NXIVM.  Even the weight of members was monitored.

Other tactics employed at NXIVM included sleeplessness, isolation, starvation, corporal punishment, and coercion via blackmail.  Cult leaders Jim Jones and Charles Manson, also, used “love bombing” – excessive displays of attention and affection intended to overwhelm [5]. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, Justice, Law, Religion, sex trafficking, Slavery

Time and the Value of Women

Models walk the runway during Miami Fashion Week 2019, Author Fashion photographer James Santiago (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ ” (Eccl. 1: 2).

Clearly, women in Western culture are valued for their youth.  We see this all around us.

Ads for every conceivable product from liquor to cable television feature young women (with two ton steel vehicles actually termed “sexy” to increase sales).

Then there are the countless products marketed to women for the ever present “problem” of aging (creams which claim rejuvenating power, hair dyes, Botox injections, and breast implants, to name just a few).  As if living were insufficient.

Starlets in flimsy clothing populate our magazines.  Girls as young as 14 model for us, in the place of adult women.  Meanwhile, women in their 60s seek plastic surgery – even in vitro fertilization – to prolong their saleability.

Each moment lived, a woman’s value decreases or so it can seem.

A Flight from Death

Perhaps the urge to remain young, or at least appear young, is a flight from death.  If anything, however, it highlights the inexorability of time.  The race is rigged.  Everyone loses in the end.

Christians know that this jaded view is incorrect, incomplete since it fails to take God into account.  Some 3000 years ago, when King Solomon composed the Book of Ecclesiastes (from which the quote above is taken), he deliberately wrote from that skewed perspective to drive home his point about the need for God in our lives.

Human nature has not improved much, in the intervening centuries.  We remain susceptible to the adversary’s lies.

True Value

But if youth is valuable, maturity is no less so.  Our value in God’s eyes does not diminish with age.  It was never linked to time, in the first place.  Our true value derives from the fact that we have all, male and female, been created by God and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our Salvation. Continue reading

29 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Justice, Politics, Prostitution, Rape, Religion, sex trafficking, Slavery, Violence Against Women

Fighting Back – Hunting Child Predators

Marisol Nichols at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, Author Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The TV series Law and Order:  Special Victims Unit and Riverdale could hardly be more different.  The first is a gritty crime drama.  The second is a teen melodrama based on the Archie Comics.

The two, however, have something in common:  a remarkable actress who takes part in real life FBI and other police “sting” operations targeting child predators [1].

Employing her acting skills, Marisol Nichols collaborates with law enforcement – sometimes in the role of a child, sometimes in the role of a distraught parent – to combat sex trafficking.  Texts and phone calls lure child molesters to motel rooms, where they can be arrested.

Nichols was, herself, sexually assaulted at 11 years of age.

The actress has since established a non-profit called Foundation for a Slavery Free World https://www.slaveryfreeworld.org.  Her non-profit produces Hollywood events to raise awareness of sex trafficking, and recognizes groups and individuals for their work in this field.

For her own work, Marisol Nichols received the President’s Distinguished Volunteer Service Award in 2017.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion” (Prov. 28: 1).

[1]  E!, “Riverdale Star Marisol Nichols’ Story of Hunting Child Predators Is Being Turned Into a TV Show” by Lauren Piester, 8/31/20, https://www.eonline.com/news/1183800/riverdale-star-marisol-nichols-story-of-hunting-child-predators-is-being-turned-into-a-tv-show.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

20 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Religion, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Slavery

Lost on the Wind

Native American Woman, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA, Accession No. 2003.003.040  (PD)

There is a haunting exhibit outside the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC [1].  Red dresses flutter in the wind.  They represent the thousands of indigenous women killed or missing in this country.

The topic of abuse among Native Americans does not generate much publicity.  The House of Representatives, Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, recently held a hearing on the subject.  Grandly titled “Unmasking the Hidden Crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women:  Exploring Solutions to End the Cycle of Violence”, the hearing received little press.

What we know is that the murder rate for American Indian and Native Alaskan women on tribal lands is 10 times the national average.  Over 5700 were reported murdered or missing in 2016 alone.

Of that number a mere fraction – 116 to be precise – made it to a Dept. of Justice database.  In point of fact, there is no national database that reliably tracks these women.

Poverty is deeply rooted on the reservation.  Existence there is spare in the best of times.  That may be a factor contributing to the violence.

Other problems include jurisdictional confusion as among federal, state, and tribal agencies; the all too frequent dismissal by law enforcement of reports of missing women struggling with addiction or other issues; and a focus by sex traffickers on Native American women as “exotic”.

These were all real women.  Each and every one of them had a name; had a mother.  Each had hopes and dreams.  But their voices are lost on the wind now.

[1]  Washington Post, “Red dresses flutter, empty, on the National Mall and this is why they should haunt us” by  Theresa Vargas, 3/16/19,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/red-dresses-flutter-empty-on-the-national-mall-and-this-is-why-they-should-haunt-us/2019/03/15/715d6f14-4753-11e9-aaf8-4512a6fe3439_story.html?utm_term=.bccceb52d7bd.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

22 Comments

Filed under domestic abuse, domestic violence, Poverty, racism, sex trafficking, Slavery, Violence Against Women

Sex Tourism

Detail from painting at Casa del Centenario, Pompeii (PD)*

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was known for its hedonism.  Archaeologic evidence has been found of numerous brothels.  Erotic art was common in homes.  Phallic symbols were used all over the city, as signs of fertility and good fortune [1].

This may sound titillating to us.  We have not though progressed far, in the centuries since.  Sex tourism is widely advertised today.  Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia are among the countries that derive income from it [2].

Those who plan their vacations around the sexual activities – legal and illegal – available in foreign countries are unlikely to consider their impact on the local men, women, and children selling their bodies (and souls) to survive. Continue reading

27 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Prostitution, Religion, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse, Slavery

Shelter

“Unaccompanied minors” at south Texas border, Author US Customs and Border Protection (PD as work product of US Dept. of Homeland Security)

Levian Pacheco of Casa Kokopelli – one of eight federally funded private shelters Southwest Key operates in Arizona – has been accused of sexually molesting at least 8 migrant boys between the ages of 15 and 17 at that facility [1].

Fernando Negrete, also employed by Southwest Key, has meanwhile been charged with groping a 14 year old migrant girl [2].

The Arizona Dept. of Health has cited Casa Kokopelli for failure to complete background checks on employees.  Yet, Southwest Key has received over $1 billion in funds for its shelters.

Police nationwide have responded to hundreds of calls reporting sex crimes against immigrant children held by the government at shelters.

Tragically, this is not the only situation in which illegal immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation.  Fleeing poverty and violence, an estimated 17,000 to 19,000 immigrants are trafficked into the United States each year [3]. Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Politics, Poverty, Prostitution, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Slavery

The Rights of a Child

Children being treated by Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets after chemical attack.  Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international agreement which lays out the social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights of children everywhere.  Since its adoption in 1989, the Convention has been signed by 194 countries.  But its interpretation and adherence vary widely across the globe.

Under the Convention, every child – boy or girl – has the right to life and survival; to protection against violence, abuse, and neglect; and to an education.

Right to Life

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb
” (Ps. 139: 13).

The American Convention on Human Rights declares human life as beginning at conception.  Abortion is, however, legal for some 60% of the world’s population.

The United States has performed over 45 million abortions since 1970 [1].

China performs approximately 23 million abortions annually [2].  Although pre-natal sex determination is now illegal there, it is thought that sex-selective abortions (heavily weighted against females) are a key factor in China’s widely disproportionate number of men.

Right to Survival

Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’  Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age” (Mark 5: 41-42).

Over one third of child deaths worldwide are related to malnutrition [3].  Another 2  million children or more die annually of readily preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia.

Protection against Violence

Thus says the LORD:  ‘Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor.  Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place’ “ (Jer. 22: 3).

During the 10 year period from 1986 – 1996, it is estimated that 2 million children were killed; 4-5 million disabled; and 12 million left homeless by war and conflict [4].  As recently as April of this year, Pres. Bashar al-Assad of Syria again killed dozens of his own men, women, and children in a chemical attack [5].

As many as 300,000 youngsters worldwide have been compelled by government or rebel forces to become child soldiers [6].

In the United States, 2710 children were killed by guns between 2014 – 2017 [7].  This ranged from gang violence to school shootings [8A].  Nearly 6000 children are treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds in this country, annually [8B].

Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Slavery

Trafficked, Part 2

Lithograph of Vincent van Gogh's

Lithograph of Vincent van Gogh’s “Sorrow”, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Photographer/Source pic (PD Art-old-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Four unnamed women who allege they were forced into prostitution at a Maryland hotel have brought separate suits against the hotel where events took place [1][2].  The plaintiffs maintain that the staff of America’s Best Value Inn either knew or should have known that human trafficking was occurring on the premises.

Money Damages

This is among the first suits where money damages for human trafficking are being sought by victims from a “deep pocket” third party not directly involved with the trafficking.

The suit alleges the hotel failed to keep its premises safe.

The owner disputes this, saying that staff noticed nothing suspicious.  After the prostitution ring was uncovered, hotel procedure was though changed.  Rooms are now cleaned after three days, whether there is a “Do Not Disturb” sign in place or not.

Kidnapped

The women’s story is chilling.  As they describe it, the four were kidnapped; injected with heroin; then forced to engage in sex for money with men brought to the hotel.  All proceeds went to Cornelius Briddell, the head of the trafficking operation.

The women were rescued after one of the victims managed to message her boyfriend on Facebook.  Briddell was convicted in 2015, and sentenced to 145 years in prison.   The judge characterized his actions as barbaric.

Claiming to be a man of God, Briddell actually made a show of “forgiving” his victims. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Justice, Law, Prostitution, Religion, Slavery, Violence Against Women

Trafficked, Part 1

“White Slave” by Abastenia St. Leger Eberle (c. 1913), Source Journal Publication (PD-ArtlOld-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The website Backpage.com made tens of millions of dollars running “adult” classified ads for escorts and erotic services (many offering children).  Faced with a Senate investigation, a grand jury inquiry in Arizona, and two federal suits in California, the site removed such ads earlier this year [1A].

That has not stopped the trafficking of children.

Amber Alert

Labels like “Amber Alert” and “Lolita” (intended to signal the involvement of children in sexual activity) may have been replaced with phrases like “100% young” and “oh daddy can I be your candy” [1B].  But ads like those under investigation continue to run in the dating section of the site, as well as elsewhere online.

Children in the Sex Trade

The majority of children involved in the sex trade come from poor and dysfunctional families.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 35% of the underage prostitutes charged nationally are African American.  In some geographic areas, that percentage is even higher.

While it is uncertain how many children are forced into prostitution annually, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates there was an 800% increase between 2010 -2015 due to the increased sale of children for sex online.

Missing

“Scared and cold,
first night on the streets
Your body hurts
from your head to your feet…

Gotta dollar-fifty,
every penny gotta spend
Make a wrong move…Boom –
your life comes to an end

-Daniel, 16 y.o., “Run Away” [4]

According to the National Crime Information Center, there are some 435,342 children currently missing in the United States.  While custody disputes account for a large percentage of the children reported missing,  the suspicion by law enforcement is that the remaining children – at least those still alive – are being trafficked. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Prostitution, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Slavery, Violence Against Women

Dirty Little Secret

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The Armed Forces have for years now instructed our soldiers to ignore the sexual abuse of boys by Afghan leaders viewed as allies of the United States [1].  Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley, Jr. told his father, “At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it.”

In an effort to keep this dirty little secret, the Navy (which oversees the Marine Corps.) has decided to discharge Major Jason Brezler for sharing his concerns with fellow Marines, using an unclassified server [2].

A similar case arose in 2011, when Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland struck an Afghan police official for the rape of a teenage boy.  In that instance, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)intervened, and the Army allowed the Green Beret to stay in the service.

According to former Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn, “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did – that was something village elders voiced to me.”

Quinn was relieved of his command, and pulled from Afghanistan after beating an Afghan commander who kept a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.  Quinn subsequently left the military.

There is yet another layer of complexity to the situation.  The Taliban is using child sex slaves to infiltrate Afghan forces, and carry out deadly assaults [3].  Lance Cpl. Buckley (above) and two other Marines were killed by a group of boys living on base with an Afghan police commander. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Physical Abuse, Politics, Sexual Abuse, Slavery, Terrorism