Legislation and Law Changes

Legislation and law
Paul Morantz
© Oct 2010

1. During summer of l978 California congressman, Herschel Rosenthal, a long-time Synanon supporter, attached a rider to a bill that if passed would exempt Synanon from all health licensing laws regardless of medical condition a person taken in by Synanon. It was an argument of an old position, Synanon knows better than the state so leave them alone. . At the time, after a year of my pushing, the State Department had an action pending against Synanon for taking in persons for which it was needed a medical license and Synanon denied state investigators on the property, threatening them physically if they tried to enter. Synanon had taken in people who went psychotic and had an unlicensed clinic.

The Marin County Supervisors, led by Barbara Boxer . did not want to take a public position against Synanon as it was a constituent. Instead, through a telehone call to me, Paul Morantz, by the Marin County council, the Supervisors requested I lobby to defeat the bill which was in its last committee for vote.

We had an office meeting to discuss it. The feeling is if I went to Sacramento it might seal my fate with Synanon. On the other hand, I said, if I did not Rosenthal could reverse all I had accomplished in getting Dept. of Health involved. So I contacted all the state senators on the committee, delivered packets of key documents and the bill was defeated by one vote.

Then I got the snake.

Years later Rosenthal was driven through Pacific Palisades as a participant in the annual July 4 parade. My water balloon missed.

2. For years, the lobbyist for cults were pushing for a bill exempting religious organizations from punitive damages. I was brought in one year by the Trial Lawyers Association to argue against it and the bill failed. I pointed out the freedom of religion is freedom to think and not to do. Punitive damages, which can only be awarded when there is a finding of an intent to do harmful acts is a necessary deterrence, and there was no need to exempt a religious organization from such deterrence given the history of what zealots might do.

The counter argument was the individuals should be punished but not the church purse string which holds wealth in trust from its innocent donors.

Our side won. But every year the bill would resurface. So I helped write a compromise bill which was accepted by the churches with a promise no further attempts to eliminate punitive damages. In essence, it stated a church could not be sued for punitive damages until the court found on motion that clear and convincing proof existed to make that charge. It was based on a similar bill passed for doctors. I tried in fact to have the medical statue amended to include churches and sneak in a change that the emotional distress limitation of $250,000 in medical be subject to inflation increases but could not do it.

CCP 425.14 stated:

No claim for punitive or exemplary damages against a religious corporation or religious corporation sole shall be included in a complaint or other pleading unless the court enters an order allowing an amended pleading that includes a claim for punitive or exemplary damages to be filed. The court may allow the filing of an amended pleading claiming punitive or exemplary damages on a motion by the party seeking the amended pleading and upon a finding, on the basis of the supporting and opposing affidavits presented, that the plaintiff has established evidence which substantiates that plaintiff will meet the clear and convincing standard of proof under Section 3294 of the Civil Code.
Nothing in this section is intended to affect the plaintiff’s right to discover evidence on the issue of punitive or exemplary damages.
3. In l979 the State of California put the Worldwide Church of God in receivership over allegations the leaders were taking the money and also against Synanon on similar charges. Nick Petris, who according to Synanon documents, was their “friend” and authored a prior bill exempting Synanon from certain licensing, was now advocating bill 1423 to take away the State rights to interfere with charity spending, saying any challenges of wrongdoing could be left to individual members filing civil suits..

Ironically, Petris was co-author of the Petris-Lautermann-Short act, a brilliant landmark law defining when, how, and with what patient rights, a person could be held without consent for medical treatment when and if accused due to mental state to be a danger to himself/herself or others. I had used the statues many times (See Escape From Golden St. Manor) including Synanon.

Petris position was civil lawsuits could take on abuses, and so there was no need for the state to interfere with religious operations. If it passed both the current actions vs WWCG and Synanon would end.

I knew Synanon people were using Petris’s office and were acting as helpers. But I was warned Petris was well liked and not to attack him personally on his relationship with Synanon.

I countered the law under attack was rarely used, safeguarded the money for its religious intent, prevented its use for crimes, prevented wrongful self enrichment and asked that reality be accepted in the light of recent actions by religions leading to violence and death, i.e Synanon and Jonestown. Expecting members to control and prevent abuses by litigation overestimated their assets and underestimated the difficulties of such attempts. Pass this law and there are no safeguards.

I saw bored faces when I spoke. But when Petris came in he got sort of a heroes welcome and spoke elegantly about God and this country’s separation of Church and State. He was even congratulated “once again” on his “eloquence.” The bill passed. Recently I found a blog from a man who was there. He wrote:

“I was reminded today by an article posted on ARS . Report of a Lulu Corter – victim of KIDS won a $6.5 million suit for the abuses she experienced for l3 years . AS I read that this group “Kids” is a spin off of “Straights” whose roots are in http://thestraights.com/images/seed-Ervin-brainwash.gif “The SEED” which was itself based on “Synanon”,a rehab program founded by the late Charles Dederich Sr.
“This information reminds me of a little history of ” “Synanon”” a rehab program turned sour when Mr. Dederich found he had power and control of his followers. (it was 1958) I do not know the actual date that Dederich founded Synanon -he had a large home in Santa Monica area and at first befriended some young people who he realized were on drugs. He was an alcoholic who I believe at that time had resolved that problem. He was successful in helping the young addicts to go straight. To support the group he had them go out and solicit money from various businesses. At that time I was office manager in a small company in Southern Calif. in the late 60’s and early 70’s.. This company manufactured mops of various kinds. The owner always donated several to the young “Synanon” members as they asked for donations. Both the owner and I were impressed with these young people. Seemed to be energetic and on the way to becoming productive citizens.
“A few years later we moved to N. Calif.. Because of my son’s involvement in $cientology I had become far more aware of the number of destructive cults operating in Calif. and through out the country. I had read of the court case involving Dederich’s “Synanon” and the placing of a rattle snake in the mailbox of Attorney Morantz. He had won a huge settlement for one of the ex- followers of Dederich who had been abused while in the cult. Stan Kenton’s son and another young man were charged with the crime. I believe they were sentenced to two years in jail but I am not positive. Dedrich plead no contest.
“Later in l980 I went to a hearing in Sacramento concerning Bill 1423. This bill was passed and remains today. This bill was introduced by Senator Petris of the Marin county area. The passing of the bill took away the A/G of Calif right to prosecute any crime in an organization with “religious” license. Prior to attending the hearing I had written to each member on the committee. Henrietta Crampton came from S. Calif. to also attend. We went with a Moonie parent who was also interested in this bill.
“The setting of the hearing was a rather small room and the ones supporting the bill sat on the left and those against it on the right. The left side was filled with members of the “Synanon” cult which had a branch in Marin County. There were also members of clergy there who spoke in be-half of the bill. While the speakers who were against the passage of this bill talked I was amazed to see the lack of respect shown by the members of the committee. Willie Brown (now mayor of San Francisco) and Maxine Waters (now a representative in Congress) sat and talked and giggled all through the testimony . Others chatted away too while people who had been abused one way or another were trying to be heard. There was a young man with a camera with a number 7 on the side (probably wanting us to think he was from TV 7) taking pictures of Henri and I at every opportunity . (We heard later where he did come from) Atty Morantz was still so terrified of the “Synanon” group he could barely contain himself.
“When Sen. Petris walked in the room to speak you could hear a pin drop and he was extremely eloquent with his argument against the bill. I could see the “shaved heads” sitting their gleeful to hear this Senator from their district speak. David and Cathy Mitchel were there. They were the authors of a great book written with Richard Ofshe titled the Light on “Synanon”. The Mitchels had suffered harassment too like anyone who dares print the truth about a powerful destructive cult. At the close of the hearing I went into the hall and talked with various people who had attended . I noticed two tall handsome men in the crowd and asked their opinion of the hearing. They responded that they were there from the arch diocese in Los Angeles. There was also a representative from the National Council of Churches. This proved another writing of LRonHubbard- Rile up others on a subject you want addressed and let them do the dirty work for you. Not an exact quote but that is the gist of his advice. Not one $cientologist testified ..
“This hearing was an education in itself. I lost a lot of faith in elected officials. The issue of the passing of 1423 was cut and dried. No need for a hearing at all -it was over before it began. I now wonder just who did all the powerful lobbying to those assembly people who couldn’t give an hour of their attention to a serious matter. Were they “wined and dined” were they promised money for the next election? Who knows. I do know that I got letters from Maxine Waters thanking me for “supporting” her on this issue. Which proved she didn’t even talk to the aide who read my letter telling her that I was totally against passage of this bill. Then I got a letter from Gov. Brown-also thanking me. He signed the bill because he believed in “religous” freedom. Apparently this allows the groups with religious license to act above the law.
“In the meantime, though I was not aware of it, Dederich had moved to Lake Havasu City . When he was to appear at the trial in L.A., I was told he had to be taken in a station wagon as when they went to pick him up he was too intoxicated to sit up so they made a bed for him in the back. True? I don’t know. Years later I moved to Lake Havasu City. When my husband died I talked with the minister who gave his funeral service. He told me of his experience with the “Synanon” group when they moved in on Havasu City. Dederich bought seven businesses. A restaurant, a hotel and a mattress factory. I do not know about the others that he purchased. The minister was hearing the talk of concern as to Dedrich’s purchases and seeing many of his followers around town. He was asked to call a meeting, which he did. He expected thirty people and he said close to three hundred showed up. The entire town just decided I guess, to boycott the businesses. No one ate at the restaurant, no one ate at the hotel and no one bought the mattresses. Was not long and Mr. Dedrich moved on. He went to New York state where I heard he bought a place in Barrytown which was the home of the Moonies.
“I knew of a woman in New Mexico who sent her son to the “Straights” there. When he told of the atrocities she was happy he was able to escape and come home. The fact that I have read where the Bush family would support the “Straights” is very disturbing. Will they like the $cientologists send out the “poster boys ” and “poster girls” to seek Faith based money to keep these destructive groups in action? I suggest each and everyone who is aware of abuses to go pubic immediately. I also realize if Lulu Corter who just won this court settlement in New Jersey had lived in Calif. she very likely could have never got this case before the courts let alone found a lawyer who would risk his career to file . All This in AMERICA “

I had been a speaker at the Lake Havasu meeting described above.
4. In handling the Center for Feeling Therapy litigation I was first exposed to the damages patients had from sex with their therapists. It also seemed to be a universal theme often glamorized by Hollywood. A study showed in the 80’s 60% of all therapists admitted to at least one affair. And those who were most famous in their field were more likely to have one, believing confidentially they knew what was best.

But after the Center, I took on psychologists and cult leader John Gottuso who taught his patient/followers sex was proper if not worshipped as an idol before Christ and volunteered to teach them. I sued him for it and won and the Board after hearing from 13 victims took away his license.

The Board began referring me sex with psychologist cases. My self, and two other attorneys, one being John Moore, and Dr. Maria Lymberis took a hard line advocation claiming sex between therapist and patient was always harmful. It diverted from issues, gave patient false sense of security, ultimately a realization of exploitation, a failure to trust, in inability to get help and in some cases a desire for sexual approval in future therapeutic relationships.

Ultimately the legislature passed CC 43.93:

(a) For the purposes of this section the followingdefinitions are applicable:
(1) “Psychotherapy” means the professional treatment, assessment,
or counseling of a mental or emotional illness, symptom, or
(2) “Psychotherapist” means a physician and surgeon specializing
in the practice of psychiatry, a psychologist, a psychological
assistant, a marriage and family therapist, a registered marriage and
family therapist intern or trainee, an educational psychologist, an
associate clinical social worker, or a licensed clinical social
(3) “Sexual contact” means the touching of an intimate part of
another person. “Intimate part” and “touching” have the same meanings
as defined in subdivisions (f) and (d), respectively, of Section
243.4 of the Penal Code. For the purposes of this section, sexual
contact includes sexual intercourse, sodomy, and oral copulation.
(4) “Therapeutic relationship” exists during the time the patient
or client is rendered professional service by the therapist.
(5) “Therapeutic deception” means a representation by a
psychotherapist that sexual contact with the psychotherapist is
consistent with or part of the patient’s or former patient’s
(b) A cause of action against a psychotherapist for sexual contact
exists for a patient or former patient for injury caused by sexual
contact with the psychotherapist, if the sexual contact occurred
under any of the following conditions:
(1) During the period the patient was receiving psychotherapy from
the psychotherapist.
(2) Within two years following termination of therapy.
(3) By means of therapeutic deception.
(c) The patient or former patient may recover damages from a
psychotherapist who is found liable for sexual contact. It is not a
defense to the action that sexual contact with a patient occurred
outside a therapy or treatment session or that it occurred off the
premises regularly used by the psychotherapist for therapy or
treatment sessions. No cause of action shall exist between spouses
within a marriage.
(d) In an action for sexual contact, evidence of the plaintiff’s
sexual history is not subject to discovery and is not admissible as
evidence except in either of the following situations:
(1) The plaintiff claims damage to sexual functioning.
(2) The defendant requests a hearing prior to conducting discovery
and makes an offer of proof of the relevancy of the history, and the
court finds that the history is relevant and the probative value of
the history outweighs its prejudicial effect.
The court shall allow the discovery or introduction as evidence
only of specific information or examples of the plaintiff’s conduct
that are determined by the court to be relevant. The court’s order
shall detail the information or conduct that is subject to discovery.

5. In 1983 the Salem Witch Trials era returned in a different form this time emanating from Manhattan Beach where a Judy Johnson, mother of one, complained to the police that her son had been sodomized by her estranged husband and by McMartin teacher Ray Buckey at The McMartin preschool. Members of the McMartin family were charged with numerous acts of sexual abuse of children in their care after a pretrial investigation which ran from 1984 to 1987 led to more than 300 children accusing their teachers not only of sexual, Satanic and ritualistic abuse. The multitude of publicity led to a nationwide panic of satanic ritual abuse in the 1980s and early 1990s in the preschool field with arrest everywhere.

But no one publicized that Johnson, who started it all was diagnosed with and hospitalized for acute paranoid schizophrenia and in 1986 was found dead in her home from complications of chronic alcoholism.
After six years of criminal trials, no convictions were obtained, and all charges were dropped in 1990, ending what had been the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history.[1] The McMartin defendants were acquitted.
It came out in trial several hundred children had been interviewed by the Children’s Institute International (CII), a Los Angeles abuse therapy clinic run by Kee MacFarlane. Her interviewing techniques s were highly suggestive and invited children to pretend or speculate about supposed events. I was not surprised, having had been contacted by MacFarlane and heard her story I had already come to have some doubts. Later research demonstrated that the methods of questioning used on the children were extremely suggestive, leading to false accusations. Others believe that the questioning itself may have led to false memory syndrome among the children who were questioned. Ultimately only 41 of the original 360 children testified during the grand jury and pre-trial hearings, and less than a dozen testified during the actual trial
Recordings of these interviews were instrumental in the jury’s refusal to convict by demonstrating how children could create their vivid and dramatic testimonies without having experienced the abuse.
Robert Philibosian, the deputy district attorney on the case, was accused of lying and withholding evidence from the court by defense lawyers in order to keep the Buckeys in jail and prevent access to exonerating evidence. Before his exoneration Buckley spent 5 years in prison. Robert Philibosian later became the District Attorney
But the public hysteria surrounding alleged day care abuse led to California to pass a law that no one could teach pre-school that would be disqualified if applied for public school teaching. While the law arose out of myth it was also bizarre in its assumption that kids in private schools were somehow safe once they got passed pre school.
Enter in the l990’s q no myth, but real monster, John Gottuso, the same above who in the 80’s lost his psychologist license for sex with patients telling them it would bring them closer to God.
Now he was the principal of his cult run Christ Bridge Academy where he pinched, touched, undressed, ridiculed and preached of sex to elementary children while still having affairs with adult parishioners. My second lawsuit against Gottuso settled for 3.2 million.
Reaching that settlement had nothing to do with the merits. The question was not guilt, nor damages but was their insurance coverage. There was fraud in Christ Bridge insurance policy application (denying prior sexual claims vs. Gottuso) which would have released them from obligation to pay but for mistake that after the knowledge was out premiums were still taken the effect of which was to legally waive the fraud. A big break.

The settlement conference took two days. Gottuso was there. I told him when I settled with him in the 80’s I agreed to a gag order on settlement, but now in the 90’s I did not want to seem him again in the next decade so there would be no gag order. An edited version of the settlement conference brief telling his story is on this cite Escape From Christbridge—The Strange Case of Dr. John Gottuso.
Some home owner policies refused to defend and by taking assignments from paying carriers we sued for legal contribution the non participating carriers owed and ended up with additional monies.
When Gottuso plead to criminal charges on day of sentencing I brought to the court victims from 60’s to 90’s to stand up so the judge would get the idea.
The publicity led to the elimination of McMartin law error limiting the statue to private pre-schools, and the law was amended so that no one could teach private school that would be refused access to public school teaching based on their background. The McMartin law, built on fantasy, was now extended by a true horror.