Tag Archives: Steve Hassan

Fenner Case Update: Brooke Covington in Court

Monday morning, Brooke Covington made an appearance in Rutherford County court alongside her attorney David Teddy. Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers scheduled the meeting for a judge to rule on five pending motions in the Matthew Fenner assault case. This case stems from charges involving an incident on January 27, 2013 in the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF).

Brooke Covington is one of five individuals indicted with charges against them ranging from second degree kidnapping, assault and attempting to inflict injury by strangulation. Adam Bartley, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr., Justin Covington and Sarah Anderson are the others who were indicted. The case has been delayed beyond reasoning with pre-trial motions, rulings, and disqualification of the original WOFF attorneys attempting to represent all five defendants. The disqualification was appealed to the NC Court of Appeals and later withdrawn after one of the petitioners in the appeal, Sarah Anderson, left WOFF and requested new representation.

During Monday’s session, five motions were slated for review.
1. The Defendant’s Motion for Change of Venue;
2. The Defendant]s Motion for a Bill of Particulars;
3. The State’s Motion for Jury View & Testimony During Jury View;
4. The State’s Motion for Joinder of Offenses for Trial; and
5. The State’s Motion for the Alternative for a Special Venire.

The State’s Motion for Jury View required a notice sent to Joshua Farmer as he is known as the “general counsel’ for WOFF. However, attorney John W. Gresham was hired to represent WOFF in opposition to the motion. He has represented Jane Whaley in years past and it came as no surprise he was brought in for this hearing.

As ADA Byers gave the judge a recap of the case, he explained that Judge Thomas Davis has recused himself from the proceedings. Byers has originally scheduled the hearing for May 22nd, but rescheduled for April 24th upon learning that Judge Gary Gavenus was not available in May. Attorney Teddy used the rescheduling as a reason to request for further delay stating he was not prepared to argue the Change of Venue with all the recent publicity about WOFF.

At several points, Gresham attempted to interject his views that the Motion for Jury View was unconstitutional and that he was prepared to provide large photographs of the scene. Finally, Judge Gavenus rebuffed Gresham and told him not to worry about the Motion to View at this time.
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How far will you go to protect “the will of God?”

In the previous post, I put forth the idea that faithful WOFF members keep the true inside dynamics secret from the outside family members. Secrets are also kept from co-workers and any acquaintances. This should be no surprise even for a group of that size. Today, I want to add two more concepts that will help explain why and how this could happen and how a WOFF member sees this as perfectly normal and “the will of God.”

Several months ago, I wrote on the difference between “brainwashing” and “mind control.” The post was titled- WOFF Members are NOT Brainwashed- Really? – found here . The supporting text for this was found in Steven Hassan’s book, “Combatting Cult Mind Control” (Copyright©1988, 1990- by Steven Hassan, Park Street Press, ISBN-0-89281-311-3). In short, the idea was that in a case of brainwashing, the controllers are thought of as adversarial or “… typically coercive. The person knows at the outset that he is in the hands of the enemy. … Abusive mistreatment, even torture, is usually involved.” (page 55)

“Mind control, also called “thought reform”, is more subtle and sophisticated. Its perpetrators are regarded as friends or peers, so the person is much less defensive. He unwittingly participates by cooperating with his controllers and giving them private information that he does not know will be used against him…. Mind control involves little to no overt physical abuse. Instead, hypnotic processes are combined with group dynamics to create a potent indoctrination effect. The individual is deceived and manipulated – not directly threatened – into making the prescribed choices. On the whole, he responds positively to what is done to him.” (emphasis added- page 56)
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More Bathroom Controls at Word of Faith Fellowship

February of 2010 on this blog, I wrote about Jane Whaley’s Toilet Paper Revelation. I was in that service when the “revelation” was introduced to the members of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). Yes, some went overboard and it got out of hand. Jane actually tried to moderate the exuberance with which some began to monitor the bathroom habits of their fellow members. It was in reality a fiasco. But, at the time, I did not understand the lasting detrimental effects. During my stay at WOFF, I witnessed CH get publically rebuked by Mark Doyle for using a urinal in an airport bathroom. It was not God’s will for WOFF members to use urinals. This was just a hint of the controls yet to come. During my years there, the urinals were partitioned off so you could not view the person beside of you. Apparently, this is not the end of the controls of personal bathroom habits. Allow me continue. 

Fast forward to this year and yet more bathroom controls have been explained to me. Recently, I have been told that the urinals were totally removed from the bathroom s at WOFF. For recent visitors- is this true? I have no reason to doubt it. If that were the end of the controls, I would not be writing this post. Reports coming out of this group have gone into more detail. I will try to be as tasteful as possible in explaining the restraints that I understand to be in place at WOFF.

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“It is never too late to wake-up and leave…” Steve Hassan (video)

Over the last few weeks, there has been a major increase in the supply of material that is fitting for this blog. It has been hard to focus on what to post next. Today, I received notice of this video and stopped everything to watch it. The speaker is Steve Hassan, a leading author and expert in mind control techniques and an ever-giving resource of help for those wanting to understand cults and their nuances. We have featured his work on this blog before; however, this video has some timely comments on current events surrounding the subject of cults and mind control. We will review a few excerpts and tie them back to subjects discussed previously on this blog.

The video is less than twenty-five minutes long. He recently spoke at the Society for  Ethical Culture in NY and apparently he has many friends there.

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Why Do Members Stay? (video)

Over the last few years since leaving Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), several folks at different times have asked this question or one similar. Why do people stay inside WOFF? For many, the idea behind the question is: John, if things are as bad as you say, why don’t folks just leave? For those being more inquisitive, they are asking me: John, if it was that bad, why did you stay for so long? These are very fair questions. In this post, I will share an answer from a cult expert and add my reflections to help complete the answer for my situation.

During my research, I came across a video put out by Steven Hassan. This video is an informal conversation filmed in a hotel room about 2 years ago. The participants were Steven Hassan a leading cult expert, Attorney Paul Grosswald, ex-Scientologist, and Karen Pressley also a former high ranking ex-Scientologist. Much of the content does center on Karen’s experiences and her successes since leaving the group. During the discourse, there are several notable quotes which include answers to why folks stay in controlling groups, as well as other points of interests for those trying to understand the cult experience.

Before we begin, let me explain that I have no experience with Scientology or the Moonies. The purpose of this video is only as an aide to help answer the question: Why do members stay? The video is over fifty (50) minutes long and there is no way I can review the full content here. For this post, we will just hit on some major keys for understanding given by the participants. Some of the terms describing the rules or actions within Scientology were foreign to me and can only be explained by context.

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Former WOFF Member Files Report of Assault

Before I begin with the content of this post, let me acknowledge there will be some who disagree with my position to present this information in this forum. Some survivors of WOFF choose to “forgive and forget” and attempt to put everything that happened to them as far away from them as possible. That is a choice each is free to make, but, I don’t recommend it. Privacy prevents me from sharing the emails I receive on a regular basis from survivors of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) and other groups. Many of these emails contain regrets for waiting so long to process the events that happened to them in years of being involved in a controlling group. Trying to ignore the injuries, the injustices, the hurts, the confusion and the emotional trauma will not prove helpful in the long run. The emails I receive with these aches and hurts are from survivors who were in WOFF and relatives of those who are now or have been in WOFF. It is with that understanding that I proceed to share the ongoing story of a survivor of 21 years of involvement in WOFF.

In a previous post titled, “Another Exit Drama Unfolds …” found here: http://religiouscultsinfo.com/?p=4782 . In that post, we did not name the survivor for various reasons. As of a few days ago, by his choice, his name was put into public record and therefore we will mention it here. Michael Lowry was born in 1990 in Rutherford County while his family was a part of WOFF. The family was from Michigan and have lived in the area every since his birth. He grew up in WOFF as his only social environment. In the previous post, we recounted his experiences in the “fourth building”. Those experiences had been traumatic to say the least and were a major part of his decision to leave his family and the only group of “friends” he had ever known. Today, we will give you excerpts from an incident report he filed with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s department outlining some of the events in the fourth building.

  Remember, this report is listed as “Further Investigation” needed. The people listed in this report are innocent until proven guilty.  No event or claim in this report has been proven in a court of law and no person in this report has been convicted of any crime(s). This is an incident report that is in public records that anyone can obtain a copy of from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s department.

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You Can’t Have My Ball of String…

Many years ago, newspapers were delivered door to door often times by a young boy or girl. I don’t know maybe somewhere in this nation this still happens. In the early ’70’s, it was very common. I was ten years old when I took my first paper route. There were no more than about 30 to 35 customers. But, it was a big deal to me. I still remember my first few weeks as my Dad would get me up and walk with me to the place where the truck had dropped the papers earlier in the morning. I can still remember the exact location and have thought of it in years past as I passed through Radford, Va. We picked up the papers about 6:15AM and off we went to deliver them – door to door. This was quite a big deal for a ten year old boy. The papers first came wrapped with a cotton string. Every morning, I would cut the string and save it. Why? I am not sure. But, I kept the string and began a ball. Later, the papers would come wrapped in wire and then in plastic ties. It was impractical to save wire or plastic, but the string made a great souvenir.

Over the years, the ball of string went with me as I moved from place to place. Actually, for many years it ended up in a box of other “trophies” from my childhood. Years passed and every so often there would come a purge to the box as I would release certain items as “no longer needed”. But, for years the ball of string made it through purge after purge. After I married and we had children, I would come across the ball of string and tell the story of its origin to my children. They would laugh and at least for the first few times, so would my wife. It seemed like a harmless memento from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, well you know what I mean.

Ball of String
My Ball of String

Continue reading You Can’t Have My Ball of String…

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