Escape From Christbridge Academy (The Strange case of Dr. John Gottuso)

Escape From Christbridge Academy (The Strange case of Dr. John Gottuso)

by Paul Morantz
(c) August 2010

From a settlement conference brief by Paul Morantz—the story of 40 years of cult leader-sexual predator

NOTE FROM AUTHOR:  Due to private psychological treatment names of victims have been changed.

And every time I’m quiet, engulfed in my own thoughts — in my own world,

I’m always told in their whiny, nasal-filled, “curious” voices to “get involved.”

To “relate”.  I detest that.  I also detest when you, D.J.,  tell me I’m a heartless

& self-centered girl who believes her only goal in life is to have sex with every

guy she sees.  You have to know all my inner thoughts at all times.  No, D.J.,

you’re not going to control me any more!  I won’t be one of those starry-eyed,

adoring females who always sit at your feet & laughs at all your stupid jokes

& giggles & blushes when you harshly make fun of their “big butts.”  I’ve put

up with that too far long enough.  And I don’t have a big butt.  I’m not fat….

I wish I could just move  away, move away from this madness.  Leave the

perverted, twisted world of The Fellowship & lead  my own life.  I wish my

parents were understanding.  But you know what they say, When life is hard,

you have to change…  And that’s what I’m going to have to do.  Goodbye world

of religious hypocrisy & psychological torture.  I’m moving on.

The  Diary of Tris Rodan

Christ Bridge Academy High School

October l993

I.         THE CASE

This action is brought by five former students, and six adults against a small cult–the Fellowship[1] — in Arcadia that provided spiritual and psychological counseling and ran a private grade school.  Its charismatic leader Dr. John Gottuso, (D. J. for Dr. John), at one point a licensed therapist, preached and practiced his theory– Psytheosynthesis (“PTS”)– a merger of therapy and Christianity.

The Fellowship met every Thursday night and Sunday at Gottuso’s home or a rented church, and had once-a-month prayer meetings and work days at Gottuso’s house, retreats, trips, plus other regular gatherings and meetings.  All holidays were attended, including Gottuso’s birthday. Each of the members also went to Gottuso for family and/or individual therapy. The children were placed in the grade school and in therapy as well.  All teachers at the school were members of the Fellowship.

Plaintiffs have brought this action for sexual misconduct, psychological malpractice, harassment, abuse, infliction of emotional distress, coercive persuasion, and restitution, all of which took place in the Fellowship, the Defendants’ homes and the school and anywhere else Gottuso was present. The wrongful conduct is part of Gottuso’s history that goes back to the l960’s when Gottuso first started sexually abusing members and continued through his sexual and psychological misconduct, lawsuits, losing his license in l989, State action against the school in l989-1991, his first criminal arrest in 1992  and his second criminal arrest in l996.

In all cases from past to present, the modus operandi was similar.  Gottuso convinced his victims they had a sex problem that each would not admit, and the cure is to be “free” in order to learn that sex is nothing.  To prove his point he forced confessed sexual fantasies, and convinced each victim he is the one each really wants.  He brushed their bodies when he passed by.  While talking his hand would fall on their breasts.  He hugged, touched, hinted, kissed, made innuendoes; wanting his victim to initiate.  His favorite question was “Are you wet?” He had certain requirements to justify his defenses.  The woman must initiate so he could say they were at fault.  If they hesitated he chastised them angrily and would wait until they “were ready.” Intercourse was often withheld so he could claim no real adultery.  When he had children disrobe, he would claim he was not looking so nothing was wrong.  To break his victims down, he verbally degraded them publicly and privately, pinched their breasts and pulled on their pubic hairs.  The children were subject to punishments at school for not dealing with their sexuality and at home their parents received instructions to ground them.  Practically all victims reported that when these event occurred Gottuso’s face would actually change and take on a strange look.

Often Gottuso asked his patient to fantasize how she would initiate sex with him (this was done in group also).  Eventually disrobing, first partial, then complete, took place during sessions, followed by fondling, stroking and ultimately oral sex and sometimes sexual intercourse.   Once the relationship was complete, questions of doubt were put aside.  It did not matter that Dr. Gottuso was married, because there could be many holy relationships before God, only idolatry prevented oneness. Marriage was simply the space between two people.  Thus, women could become secret  “covenant wives.”

He wanted “threesomes” and thus encouraged lesbianism.  He liked it in bathrooms.   He also liked anal sex and to have young girls choke him.

All victims in therapy were made to feel that they were worthless, dependent and in need of Gottuso’s directions.  He controlled how they lived and what they thought. And many thought each was the only one this was happening to.

Plaintiffs Tracy Rodan, Tris Rodan, Elaine Rodan, Monica James and Lisa James (hereinafter collectively referred to as Student Plaintiffs) were students at the school.  Monica James was born in 1976 and Lisa James was born in 1978.  Tris Rodan was born in 1975, Tracey Rodan in 1979 and Elaine Rodan, the youngest, in 1981.

Plaintiff Julia James is the mother of Plaintiff Monica James and Lisa James and a follower from l981 until September of 1995.

Plaintiffs Martin Rodan and Evelyn Rodan are the parents of Plaintiffs Tracy Rodan, Tris Rodan and Elaine Rodan, and followers from l979 for Martin and from l981 for Evelyn until February of 1996.

Plaintiffs Glen Little and Sue Little from on or about l984 were followers until l996.  Glen, however, was under Gottuso’s influence since he was 12 years old.

Plaintiff Denise Trout was a follower from l981 until September of l995.  Herein after the non-students are collectively referred to as the “Adult Plaintiffs.”

Defendants Matthew Sanders, James Axtel, Jeffrey Schultz, Daniel Simonsen, Saralee Schultz, Melinda Simonsen, Jill Fitch, John Cabrerra, Sonia Cabrerra,  Sharron Gottuso (wife of Defendant John Gottuso), Sue Kawell, Maren Stigs (, Diana Sanders and Woodrow Wong are teachers, board members and administrators of Defendant Organizations (Parkview-Christ Bridge). They gave Gottuso the power and opportunity to harm despite knowing his history.


The Fellowship began under the leadership of John Gottuso’s father, Vincent Gottuso, who moved to California from New York in the early l950’s.   John, born February 24, l932, one of nine siblings,[2] was at first an associate pastor.  The corporate name was Italian Pentecostal Church of Christ of Glendale, located at 825 E. Maple Ave, Glendale.  Soon it began calling itself Parkview Christian Church.

Gottuso graduated high school in Rome, New York.  From 1953-1956, he went to Pacific College in Los Angeles.  He lived with his parents form 1960 to 1971 at  2612 East Glenoak, in Glendale and then with his parents at 725 E. Winsor Road, Glendale until l972.

He graduated from Life Bible College, where he was Student Body Treasurer, in l958 and  wrote a scripture verse in the yearbook: “And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”–John 1:14a

In the mid-60’s, while in his early thirties, Gottuso attended Pepperdine University seeking a Master’s in Psychology.  Eventually, he received a doctorate in Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and became a licensed psychologist in the early 1970’s.

In the l960’s Gottuso gave sermons and conducted Sunday school.  There he told young women their biggest concern in life was sex; they guarded their vaginas rather than confront real issues.  He questioned their virginity.  He commented on small breasts.  Women as a whole were put down.  Women couldn’t carry through in relationships.  Sometimes he would dismiss the class but ask one young girl to remain.  Sometimes he brought a woman to the Church study.

The Sunday class was before church and sometimes it ran very late, Gottuso keeping the whole congregation waiting for his sermon.  His father finally put a stop to it.

Ken Gill was the only male in the class.  Uncomfortable, he stopped coming.[3]

In l969, Gottuso was caught “bare naked” with Julie Sereno at the Church office in Glendale.  Semen was observed on the mat.  At a party, Gottuso was seen fooling around with his brother’s wife, Gena Lee, in the pool.  Later, the two were caught in a car in the driveway.  Anthony Gottuso later divorced Gina Lee.[4]

Later that year, Gottuso apologized from the pulpit.  He had been impure, committing a non-described sexual digression.   The same year Ken Gill bought his girlfriend Julia to the Fellowship.  They married a year later.

In l971, Gottuso repeatedly brushed against Judy Gill when she walked by.  When she confronted him he said it was accidental and asked why it bothered her. “What’s the  difference if I touch your breasts  rather than your shoulder,” he said as he touched both. “What’s the big deal.” Another night he locked the doors in the study and placed Judy’s hand on his trousers.  He was erect.  Judy had a problem, he conveyed, and she should trust him.  He explained the Bible says greet with a Holy Kiss and he kissed her on the  mouth.  She pulled away.  Gottuso said “That’s not a kiss… what are you afraid of,  you are quenching the spirit.” He kissed her again, this time longer, trying to insert his tongue.  She pulled away.  He tried again.  Later when she told Ken, he and Judy concluded Gottuso was trying to help her with a problem with sex.  Still, after that, she tried to avoid being alone with him.

Control of the Fellowship passed completely to John Gottuso on his father’s death in 1972.  A great deal of members left, leaving a group Gottuso had largely recruited through counseling, i.e., patients in need, or as Gottuso described them — dysfunctional. The church building was sold and the Fellowship moved to Gottuso’s home.

But the same year, l972, Margie Boyle accused John of seducing and molesting her.  Her husband-to-be, Scott Henrikson, did some research finding a dozen other women victims.  Gottuso denied it.  But when confronted by his assistant, and long time friend, Peiter Lechner, Gottuso admitted getting nude with Margie, but defended saying there was no sex.  Margie said otherwise and left with Scott.  During a board meeting discussion of Margie’s claim other women reported similar stories.

Gottuso replied he took a lot of risks in trying to help people and used unorthodox methods to help people, including things maybe he shouldn’t have done.  He promised to be more careful in the future.

On November 11, l972, Gottuso married Sharron Lynne Metzler.  They moved to 370 West Las Flores in Arcadia.[5] They had two daughters, Carisa and Clarrisa.

Before the marriage, Gottuso warned Sharron that he would walk where others did not in order to help others “breakthrough.”

It wasn’t too long, however, before Sharron was hurt.  It was discovered Gottuso was having affairs with several members.  One, Jill Martin, claimed abuse from 1969 through 1975, including Gottuso pinning her on the floor, saying Don’t fight… it is good for you… it is going to help.” Jill said Gottuso wanted a covenant (Lord’s blessing; but secret) wife.

Gottuso wept before his followers and asked forgiveness for an indiscretion he again never described.  And The Fellowship played on.

By 1975  Ken Gill had become an  Elder and Assistant Pastor.  Judy Gill, nursing their newborn baby, was visited by Gottuso.  He  asked why she had told of their touchings.  Judy replied that while Gottuso thought she needed the help, she didn’t.   Gottuso pulled up his chair real close to her.  Judy moved her baby between them as a shield.  He left.[6]

Gottuso worked at turning parishioners into followers.  In August of l977, he sent letters relieving each “of any and all previous relational contracts (and person-to-person), commitments and conditions made between me and (each member)… so that old needs, now long met, will not be the basis of our association, or that new needs will not be poured into the skins of old expectations, as of this letter, I am nullifying our present relationship… my decision is to be involved in only those relationships which are maintained at a level of meaningful commitment to functional, life-oriented sharing in Christ, by the power of the Spirit…Whatever your choice of communication… may we please finish this action within thirty days. Mizpah!”–Bro John.

Members reeled in, Gottuso preached and led Bible study which was actually group therapy.  People were expected to present “their stuff” to “work” on.  They were to “confess and often Gottuso would reveal their secrets learned in private counseling.  If Gottuso was unsatisfied with the confession he would accuse the person of not being “straight” or willing to “deal.” In the private sessions he would sit with a bowl of grapes beside him and engage in the “fighting in the trenches” as he called it.  Sometimes he did read a passage from the Bible or tell of some event in order to relay some insight.   Gottuso alternated insults and ridicule with occasional praise.  He kept them off balance, wanting approval… a breakthrough.

People were not male or female (and such designations were not allowed) but persons. Only first names were to be used.  Women were not to wear red or black, make-up or dress up, as they needed to battle against their desire for ass power and penis worship. All women wanted to control and manipulate men.  A woman’s worst problem was the belief a man fulfills her. At the same time it is a woman’s role to keep quiet and submit, first to Gottuso then to their husbands.  Men were referred to sarcastically as: “heros,” “fools,” and “jocks.”

Gottuso could get to a person’s wiring or a couples’ cross-wiring. The primary focus was sexuality.  Problems all had a sexual base.  By example, if two women were having problems it was really due to sexual jealousy over Gottuso.

With children, if they misbehaved they were not “in the spirit.” The child was rejecting God.

Gottuso instructed it was functional “ being there” and encouraged members to live in Arcadia, and live together.  You were to hook up with members, marry within the group, and not spend lots of time with outsiders. Saralee, before marrying Jeff Shultz, lived with John and Sharron, taking care of John’s invalid mother.  Jeff and Dan lived together on a couple of occasions¼ Melinda, before she married Dan Simonsen lived with others from group.  The same was true for Jill Fitch and Maren Stigs.

A mansion was purchased — the “Chateau” — where many members lived.[7] Permission was needed just to visit there.  It was even supposed to be secret who lived there.  “Working” on lives outside the group or talking to others about what happens in group  was “breaking covenant.”  One would be “processing” raw information and only “John” could make a final analysis.  Gottuso alone could get to their belly button –– seat of true feelings.  He could read their feeling tones and get them to be real.  Through carefrontation he could tell another person where they are in sin principle and keep one from a sin dominated personality by having them coming through.  He taught, What would love do? and standing in the gap (making up for the sins of another).  He would help stop idolatry function –– acting out sin.  And one was to beware idol form –– an attractive man or woman.  Body parts are just a piece of meat or skin.

He would stop hooking up — a dysfunctional alliance between two or more people to encourage each other to sin and back side hook –– doing the hook while claiming to do the opposite.  Most of all he would keep members from dreaded idolatry in all its forms.

Outsiders” were to be avoided… even parents and relatives.[8] Matters were not to be discussed with outsiders — the covenant of confidentiality. The theme of the Fellowship was echoed by all defendants as to all problems and life decisions …“you need to talk to John.”

He created dress codes and controlled activities.  Rock and roll was condemned as jungle bunny music.

Gottuso was more advanced then his followers and bragged, “You will never catch up with me.” And he said, “If you cannot submit totally to my authority, how are you going to submit to God’s.”  Sin was giving more power, meaning or authority to a person/ event/object than God.  Therefore sexual contact outside of marriage or within it was all right as long it did not reach that level of idolatry.

The Fellowship maintained its Board.  It did not meet frequently, but when it did, Gottuso ran it.  Gottuso preached and counseled a combination of Christian and psychological principles that he represented would help people improve psychologically and get people closer to Jesus Christ.  His theory was called Psytheosynthesis (PTS) .[9] It was presented to the members as “truth.”[10] Gottuso developed his own PTS Profile Questionnaire to assess a person’s dynamics, his own version of an MMPI.

The Fellowship had monthly group studies that started at 5:00 p.m. and went  to 1:00-2:00 in the morning.  Sundays  would be 3-4 hours long, one hour of singing and 2-3 hours of preaching.  The weekly group meetings where people would deal by sharing how they were into “sinful self” would be from 7:30 p.m. until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m.  More often than not the subjects were sexual regardless of the original topic.  By example, once a member said he wanted to beat his wife for leaving water in the sink.  Gottuso’s response was how enjoyable it would be to have sex with your wife right after you beat her.

There were once a month “work days,” where members would meet at Gottuso’s house to work, clean, garden, paint, etc.

In 1981, the Fellowship decided to operate a school using “PTS principle.”  And in l983 the Fellowship purchased Holly Oaks, a pre-school to fourth grade, located at 141 W. Las Tunas, Arcadia.  It later moved to the New Life Christian Center located at 11349 Lower Azusa Road, El Monte.  Defendants represented the school as an environment where children are challenged to think, grow and mature.

Some members on work days were taken to the school.  Gottuso called them “Flip Flop Construction Company.” They did janitorial work, stripped floors, construction, plumbing, painting, and maintenance.  Gottuso said he could hire someone to do a better job but he was doing them a favor by letting them work.  It was good training.

Gottuso had participated in a training program at Campus Crusade for Christ and Warren Willis of that organization referred many young Christians to him.  In particular, Gottuso was invited by Campus Crusade to the Phillipines in 1979 to give workshops on Psytheosynthesis. It was in Guam that Gottuso recruited many young Christians who were there working for Campus Crusade.

The result wasn’t what Willis intended.  All Christians want to be worshiped and Campus Crusade women were no different, Gottuso counseled.  They use their ass to get men.  And saving virginity until marriage was idolatryworshiping their bodies, against Christ’s wishes.  Gottuso helped them get free, breakthrough their idolatry. He personally proved to them they all wanted ass.[11]

Around l985, Warren Willis found out what was happening and members of Campus Crusade came to the Fellowship on a rescue mission.  Until then each female victim generally thought she was the only covenant wife.  In May of l985, approximately 35 members — half of the Fellowship — left and over twenty were taken by Campus Crusade to Arrowhead Springs International, headquarters for Campus Crusade for Christ where they were housed, fed for several weeks and assisted in relocating, all at Campus Crusade’s expense.

Willis confronted Gottuso who defended by saying there was “no penetration,” lifting his hands and gesturing with one finger pointed at two of the opposite hand.

Eventually, many of the women went door to door (Fellowship members lived with other members) telling what Gottuso did to them.  When members then went to Gottuso he said the women were hostile to him, hated God, hated dealing with their stuff, did not want to be functional, and wanted ass power[12] and sinful-self ways.  The women decided to tell lies to have an excuse to leave.

The women were making up stories to justify not wanting to serve God but instead be worldly. Gottuso’s story varied depending on who he was talking to.  Sometimes there was a complete denial, sometimes he stated he walks where others will not to give help.  He said as to one woman only, he got naked and did foreplay just to show her she would do it, i.e. be a whore.  She was into idolatry and ass power, and he was willing to risk trouble because  “Love will go where others won’t go¼ To others, he said the women all wanted him and tried to seduce him, but he wouldn’t do it.  Some took off their clothes, he said, got naked and jumped on his lap.  He should have thrown them out.   Since he refused sex they got angry and wanted revenge.  And again, he held up his  index finger tip next to two fingers to show no insertion.

When questions were raised or a woman who had been involved tried to speak, they were “shut down” by Gottuso.  He even threatened to throw them out. Negativism was disrupting the unity of the body.

Eventually, Gottuso stated he no longer thought of the women who left and stated no one else should think about them either.  As they were now “dead” talking about them was a “dead issue.”  No member of the Board ever interviewed a single woman who left charging Gottuso with sexual abuse.

Women victims plus Blair Cooke of Campus Crusade went to the home shared by four members including Bob Ball and Defendant Dan Simonsen.  Ball, also of Campus Crusade, and ultimately a psychologist, was receiving special “training” from Gottuso.  The women talked to all four men of how Gottuso manipulated them, his method operandi.  Dan Simonsen, a board member, and Defendant herein, was the only one in the household who didn’t then leave the Fellowship.

Bob Ball, and his father, Howard Ball, a pastor, plus former Fellowship director Bill Cates came to a Thursday night on May 2, l985. Defendants Simonsen,, Jeff Shultz, Sharron Gottuso, Jill Fitch, Sarah Lee Shultz, Melinda Simonsen and Woody Wong were there.  When the members saw the senior Ball they protested… “Why is he here… it is not good to bring an ‘outsider’ here.”  Both Balls spoke, listing what the women had reported:  John fondling them, intercourse, etc.  The response was, “How dare you make these allegations.”

A few days later Bob Ball was moving his wife-to-be Jill Palmer when Defendant  Jeff Shultz came in to talk to Jill who he used to date.  Ball and Jill repeated to Shultz what they heard from the  women.  Jeff replied the women “were being disruptive.” Jill lived at the time with Defendant Melinda Simonsen, and Cindy McCullom.  When visited by Pieter Lechner,  Warren Willis, and Blair Cooke, and victim Mora Beani, Melinda admitted she had sexual relations with Gottuso.  Melinda indicated she was going to leave, but the next day she decided to stay.

Gottuso refused to respond to the allegations of sex with patients for the past “twelve years” except to say the women had “ulterior motives,” for their complaints.

Warren Willis, Blair Cook and Roger Sandberg of Campus Crusade went to Arcadia with victims Lacey Sherbet and Sally Remington to confront Gottuso but were told Gottuso was at TAP in New Jersey.[13] So they all got on a plane at Campus Crusade’s expense to New Jersey.  They confronted Gottuso in a parking lot.  He appeared wilted, but was dismissive.  Gottuso would not talk to them.  Back in Arcadia, neither would the Fellowship Board.  When Shelly tried to speak to the group, Gottuso cut her off,  “I know what you have to say.”  He complained of her lack of  Agape (unconditional God’s love). She tried to speak to Jeff Shultz but, he, too, was extremely resistant.

Ted Martin, of Campus Crusade, and his family, came to a Sunday meeting to speak and his son, Tad, was picked up and removed.  Outside Ted asked Defendant Jeff Shultz if he believed Gottuso had sexual involvement with the women.  Jeff said, “I won’t answer that question.” The Martins went to Holly Oaks and asked Defendant Sarah Lee Shultz how she could let Gottuso have access to the children.  She responded, “Get off the property.” Afterward, Mr. Martin tried to call Gottuso every day for one month but was told each time he was “unavailable.”

Former members began handing out flyers and letters listing Gottuso’s abuses to Board members and to followers on the street.[14] But Defendants rejected all who criticized Gottuso and/or the group.

The Board members knew of Gottuso’s sex habits anyway.  Defendants Melinda Simonsen and Jill Fitch were sexually intimate with Gottuso.  Board member Pat Sanchez left soon after the mass exodus, her,  too, being a sexual victim.

Defendant Sharron Gottuso in group sometimes did complain of the attention women gave Gottuso.  Defendant Jim Axtel said, however, she was in a shell being “Little Mrs. Gottuso.”  Another time in Bible study Sharron spoke directly to her husband, “I know what you are doing (sex) and I hate it… but I will stick by you.”

At this time,[15] lawsuits were filed by five female victims against Gottuso, the Fellowship, TAP and herein Defendant Jeff Shultz;  and an action was brought by the Board of Medical Examiners against Defendant Gottuso for his sexual abuse of patients.     Nine women filed complaints.  Later, the Board of Medical Quality Assurance received telephone calls from women complaining Gottuso sexual abused them 20 years ago.

Ultimately, Gottuso repeated his act of the 70’s.  In June of l985, he wept one night saying he had committed an indiscretion that he did not describe, adding he had “tried to reach these women… when you do acts in love ( breakthroughs) there is a price to pay…  Christ did what he did in love and  paid a price.”   The price was to step down.  Gottuso insisted in not preaching on Sundays. “You should all learn to run this, it will be good for you.  I am willing to do this for you.”  The group forgave him and insisted he not step down.  Gottuso continued running the Fellowship, counseling/leading the group and administrating the school.  Three months later he was preaching again.

The lawsuits were settled by Gottuso and the Fellowship in 1989, and the same year Dr. Gottuso lost his license to practice psychology.[16] [17] He was further expunged from the American Psychological Association.

One woman who sued, for purposes of this brief we will call Sue, said Gottuso in therapy began speaking seductively, hugging and moving his pelvis against hers while using explicit sexual language.  He said “What would you want to do if you and I were alone on a deserted island together?” On the subject of marriage, he asked if  was a person she could marry.  Gottuso had her discussing sexual fantasies, saying the purpose was to work through hangups affecting her relationship with God.  He was helping her breakthrough idolatry.  She was led to believe she was like a prostitute.  All she wanted was men for sex. [18]

Gottuso asked her to spread her legs on the couch, she didn’t have to, but it was for her growth.  He first kissed her hand, then her cheek.  Soon after, he held her in his arms,  breathing slow and deep.  He kept asking, “When are you going to take your clothes off?” When she first did, he gave her a blanket.  Next session, clothes off without blanket.  Sometimes he took off her clothes.  Sometimes he took off his clothes.  When she expressed doubts, Gottuso’s response was that he was not acting as her pastor or counselor.  “I am a person.”  He encouraged her to initiate, “Are you going to make me do all the work?” At one point, he French-kissed her.  She became more involved, emotionally.  Once, he put his fingers in her vagina.  Next, he laid on top of her, his penis next to her.  There was genital contact approximately eight times, three with penetration and pain.  She was a virgin.  When he counseled, he sat with pants down.  He talked about oral sex.  The first time he did it she didn’t want to — she stopped.  There were instances of physical force when she did not want to engage.  Once he pushed her head down to his penis.  Another time, he pushed her legs apart forcefully.  Gottuso told her she loved cock better than Christ.  He told her she wanted his.[19]

He used “rationalization” to justify it to her.  “You sin all the time.  You worry.  You break the Sabbath — so why not this.”  As to adultery he said, “Well, we know it was at least partly out of love that you did that… Not one hair on your head is sinful.  It’s just skin.” He further said she had to get through sexual stuff in order to get to God.  As to his wife, he  said, “It doesn’t matters what she thinks.  It matters what Christ thinks.”[20] He discussed making a special covenant with her, a marriage like in the Old Testament. [21]

Sue became dependent on Gottuso. Sex made her more dependent. After leaving there, she felt cut off from life source.  She actually returned once to try to confront and comfort Gottuso.  He struck her with an open hand.  He was angry at her and the others for leaving, saying they’d wrecked the church his father had built, spreading rumors about­ him.  By telephone he told her, “You better quit talking to people.   If you don’t stop talking, I will find a way to make you stop talking.”[22]

Noreen Sully’s experience was similar.  First, Gottuso hugged her at the end of therapy sessions.  He had Ms. Sullivan discuss her sexual fantasies.What would you like to do… Gottuso asked how she would initiate sex with him.  Then he put his hand on her breast.  He touched her and asked “if she was wet.” Then he French kissed her.  He pushed his pelvis against her.  He had her kneel in front of him, and pushed, forcing oral sex.  Next came sexual intercourse.  In therapy, he suggested to her she become a covenant wife.  When she expressed doubt, he responded it was her old self and sin principal dominating her nature.

As would be with other women, she was victimized when staying at the Gottuso home.  She slept sometimes in his daughter’s bedroom after Thursday Group.  He came in at night and fondled her.  Maureen Sullivan said it best for all:

“I thought he loved me, and I thought that he hated me at the same time.”

The same happened to another woman, who herein we will call Linda, who sued.   She ended up trying to commit suicide (pills) and was hospitalized for an extensive period.  It started with Gottuso asking her on the telephone if she was “wet.” Then in therapy when she spoke of affection for a boyfriend, he said, “Well, how do you feel about me.” Later he wanted to know why she doesn’t initiate.  “What about your clothes?”  And, “Nothing else you do will ever compensate for lack of total surrender.”  Eventually, Gottuso was physical, pinning her on the couch, pushing her head down.

Susan  Pensa had begun counseling in l982 three to four hours per week.  She joined the church in l984.  Countless times when they passed each other, Gottuso rubbed himself against her and asked “Are you ready yet?” In therapy, Gottuso told her she looked like a blonde cheerleader he used  to date.  He also said, “Why don’t you take your breast out of your bra and put it in my mouth.”  He expressed anger if they hugged and she didn’t go further.  “Are you wet…Do you want me to check.”   He called her a slut in group. Slowly Gottuso broke her down, making her believe she hated God because Christians can’t have sex.  To get passed this problem she had to stop idolizing sex, by experiences it.  It didn’t matter Gottuso was married. “Adultery  is better than Idolatry.” When Pena slept over after group she could hear him drop his pants in the hallway.   Once, Lira Toone gave Gottuso oral sex in the hallway.  Gottuso said, “I’m home and you are still sitting there with your pants on.” Pensa hesitated and he got angry.  They kissed and  said, “If you can do it up here you can do it down there.” On the floor, he penetrated.  Shelly was a virgin and complained it hurt.  Gottuso got angry that she was changing her mind.  Later that night he required oral sex by his car.  Now when she slept over he woke her up and stood there… waiting for her to initiate.

Sissy Lemon was being asked “if she was ready” or “if she was wet” at the time she found out about the other women in l985.[23]

Three conversations Lemon had with Gottuso or heard were noteworthy.  In l983, a music teacher at Agoura High School was arrested for molesting students, including Ms. Lemon’s son.  Gottuso’s counsel was “so what… there’s no such thing as child molestation per se… it wasn’t seduction… it takes two to tangle… the guy’s addicted to ass… big deal.

When a girl in group spoke of a past molestation, Lemon heard Gottuso call her a liar.  The girl left in tears and quit the Fellowship.

And after hearing the women’s charges, Lemon confronted Gottuso.  He responded:

“Lets say you got a guy that loves ass, like some people like chocolate or booze… and he can’t stay away from it… now that ain’t worse than other addictions, you’re still addicted And suppose he gets tempted by women chasing him and  messes up once in a while… Now I’m not saying that happened, but even if it did, what is that to you?  If you truly dealt with your own stuff, you wouldn’t be concerned about anyone else, so I don’t have to answer your questions.”

Not too long after the exodus, Pat Sanchez, a Board member since 1984, handed in her written resignation stating she could no longer support what Gottuso was doing.  For Patty, it began in counseling in l980.  Gottuso, saying it would help free her so she could go to the next level, be a better person and  closer to Christ, had her sit on his lap, his hand inside her blouse, kissing her, touching her.  She was a virgin — just 23 years old — and would ask him to stop.  He then said she was “coping out… a loser.

At Church, Gottuso would make eye contact to say “find me later.”  Pat  was in conflict between her old morality versus what Gottuso was saying was necessary.  Once she was alone outside by the shed dumping garbage when he came up and said, “Are you ready?  C’mon…” Gottuso undid her clothing, put her on a car undid his belt and pushed on her.  When she stopped he pushed her away angrily.  “Bye, Sanchez.”  Once she spent the  night after a late Thursday night group.   Lights were hardly out when Gottuso came in the family room, where group had been held, laid down next to her, asked if she was ready and began touching her genitals area.

One day at his home, a work day, Gottuso said, “Come here, Sanchez, do you want some.” Gottuso unzipped his pants and pulled it out, already erect, and had her perform.

After the majority of the women left, Patty went to Gottuso’s home to see if she could, in her confusion, mediate for the women.  She didn’t want to lose her best friends and Gottuso had refused to talk to them.  When she came in “that look came over his face.”  Gottuso said, “C’mon Sanchez, right now.”  Patty said she was here to talk, but Gottuso replied, “Are you wet” and directed her to go to the bathroom and take her clothes off.   She felt she would lose a father figure if not.  Scared, still a virgin, she did it.  In the living room Gottuso took off his trousers with the same look on his face.  This time he penetrated.  When she stopped him, fighting for her virginity, he got mad.  “You don’t want to grow… get rid of your idolatry… so get out of here.”  Then he left his own house, leaving her alone on the floor, undressed.

Patty, who unfortunately never  , is still in therapy to this date, still discussing what Gottuso did to her.[24]

At the same time another Board member, Greg Humbles, left.  Initially, he  accepted what Gottuso said: The women who had left were hostile and refused to deal with issues they were in counseling for; they became hostile when he  touched the core of their real issues.  Later, Gottuso admitted some indiscretions and a counseling style since learned to be “inappropriate.”

But the teachings had always bothered Greg:   All women are hostile, fight each other and cause trouble.  Men have to deal with the way women are.  But from Greg’s perspective he saw Gottuso setting it up, pitting one woman versus another so he could say,See, that’s how they are… jealous.”

But what bothered Greg most was that the Board, including Defendant Jeff Shultz, did nothing to look into the charges.  The Board did not interview a single complaining woman. Greg was “not proud of this.”  He resigned by letter, writing:

“I don’t believe I could adequately share in a letter all that has transpired in me.  There is a great sense in which I long to be there sharing in person.  Yet I have chosen to share this way because I don’t believe we as a group functionally work through these issues.

“I know you may not agree with my perceptions, but I remember times when I often felt someone who is stating an unfavorable position or challenging the group or John was not allowed to openly speak.  I look back with regret now in those specific times I did not speak out.”

The Board made no response to the letter.  But soon another Board member, George Garcia, and his wife Shelby showed up in group and announced everyone had been deceived and they were leaving. [25]

Jack Rand also left.  He had met Gottuso in Guam.  Later, after suffering a serious accident that resulted in brain surgery, he sought Gottuso’s counseling.  He soon dropped out of private therapy because Gottuso kept turning all subjects to sex.  But he remained in the Fellowship.  Even this became suspect when Gottuso counseled him that sex outside of marriage was “no big thing.”

Still Jack was a right hand man and was being groomed as a worship leader.  But his final disillusionment came after group wherein Gottuso mocked a letter written by  women who had just left alluding to sex and calling the Fellowship a cult.  After group finished, Joe privately asked Gottuso about the allegations in the letter.  Gottuso was dismissive,  “So what about it!  I let them do some stuff, I didn’t do anything, but I let them do some stuff.” .

A few days later, Joe was visited by Blair Cooke, Warren Willis, and three female victims and heard their stories.  Jack was once engaged to one victim and had dated another.  Jack left within a week, joining others who had left at the special Campus Crusade retreat  in Arrowhead Springs for departing Fellowship victims.

Gottuso continued as if nothing had happened.  He told some followers that his license was not revoked by a hearing.  Instead, he said he voluntarily surrendered it to save the Fellowship the pain of a hearing.  He stated could get his license back whenever wanted to and that he could still go on counseling as before.  He said he still was a doctor of psychology, a professor, who read dissertations.[26] In fact, he did continue to provide therapy.[27] Some were never told he lost his license.[28]

On June 12, l986, Gwen Martin (Ted’s wife) sent a letter to the Fellowship Board complaining Gottuso had not been removed from counseling and that she has “great concern regarding Holly Oaks School… parents of the school children have not been notified by you of the allegations against Dr. Gottuso…

“… I’ve been informed by an attorney that not only could the church be liable for any damage done in regards to the children, but also you could be personally liable… have not carried out your fiduciary duties required of a church board member.”

A month later, Ted Martin sent the board registered letters advising each had a duty to investigate the charges and that he had information Gottuso was still having sex with members.

Gottuso, in fact, did as he pleased.  Paula Fields had been a member since l983, and believed Gottuso when he said the complaining women had been lying.  But she noted Gottuso made women serve him at all parties… his statement a member could never actualize her relationship with a husband who was not part of the group… that other churches do not know the truth as he does… that nobody could grow as spiritual as  was… that everything was sexually motivated… talked about sex and masturbation.  Gottuso claimed Paula liked tennis (she played since age 4) for sexual gratification.  He accused her of being a lesbian. At Disneyland, Paula took a picture of Gottuso kissing his niece on the lips.  Gottuso told her not to show the picture to anyone.[29]

Finally it began for her.  In l987, in Mammoth, Paula was in the bathroom when she heard someone trying to pry the bathroom door open.  She jerked it open and Gottuso fell in holding a steak knife.  He wouldn’t let her past and asked, “Are you wet?”[30] Afterwards, Gottuso sat on the couch and put his hand underneath Paula.  Then in his office in l988, Gottuso again asked her if she was wet, french kissed her and put his hands down her pants.  When she asked him to stop he said she needed to get past her sexual oppression.

When she left the fellowship, Gottuso called her at work and asked why.  Paula replied, “We both know why… you can’t keep your d..k in your pants.”  Gottuso suggested she challenge him in front of group.  But Pamela knew she would be crucified as were the Balls when they tried.  When she once told the group she wanted to go back to school, the leaders, Defendants Jeff, Dan, Jim, and Matt charged her with  idolatry (she was corresponding with a non-member); that her relationship with God would die; she would never learn truth and she would become an emotional wreck.  After hearing this, she was shunned.

In l989, Paula got married to the non-member she was corresponding with.  Sharron Gottuso telephoned her and said Pamela’s getting married was “Idolatry of Ass”. The Association of Christian Schools International canceled Holly Oaks membership in ACSI in June of l988.[31] More important, In the Fall of 1991, Defendants, ending litigation with the State, entered into a stipulation wherein Holly Oaks’ license would be revoked, an application for a child care center would be withdrawn, and if the Fellowship, or any of its members, were to submit another application, it was agreed that Defendant Gottuso shall not be a principal, nor have any ownership interest, either directly or indirectly, in the application/licensee.  Further, it was agreed, Defendant Gottuso shall not have any relationship or participate in the management, nor be an agent, contractor, or otherwise employed, paid or unpaid, or in any way involved in the operation, or influence the policy or administration of any child-related center.  It was further stipulated, Defendant Gottuso shall not be employed, nor set policy, nor be permitted on the “premises” during hours of operation when day care children are present and under the care and supervision of the facility… Day care center children shall not be permitted in Dr. Gottuso’s presence while they are under the care and supervision of the day care center.”

As a result of these actions and accompanied media publicity, Defendants changed the name of the school and church.  Parkview became Christ-Bridge Immanuel Church, and Holly Oaks became Christ-Bridge Academy.  A decision was also made to drop the pre-school portion so the school would no longer continue to be subject to State licensing.

Defendants allowed Gottuso to continue to run the school as  did everything else.[32] He taught a morning Bible Class (also called “Personal Values”) which could last from a half hour to three hours (cutting into class time) if  got really going.  It was in this class, a version of the adults Thursday night group, with Defendant teachers watching, that Gottuso did most of his damage.

Gottuso wanted children at an age easy to convert.  From kindergarten on, students were graded on their ability to accept the truth.  Gottuso stated: “For any conversion time for children, first earliest openness is 7 to 8 years.  2nd, gradually increases 8 to 11 years, 3rd, increases rapidly 11 to 16.  Suddenly decreases 17 to 20.  Decreases steeply 20 to 30.  Rarely to respond after 30… Must present children Christ as Lord at 7-16 years.  After that, it’s too late

“Children do not have to go through adolescence rebellion.  They do not have to check out all the systems to find out there is no life there.  It is not acceptable to live out sin patterns… when you are born again, you get a new nature.”[33]

Gottuso got the help of the Other Defendants.  Each watched and approved what went on in Bible Class, and was silent about the charges against Gottuso.  Many of the Defendants joined the verbal attacks on the students.  Girls were called sluts and whores who only wanted sex from boys, often driven to tears and then ridiculed for crying.  They needed to be free, to see sex was really nothing.  They were made to tell sexual fantasies in class and admit that sex was all they wanted — and that they would like it with Gottuso. He demonstrated the sex act by shoving a pen into a cap.  He discussed lesbianism, bestiality, necrophilia and said the female students were into all this.  He warned the boys about being manipulated by females.  All Defendants did nothing to stop it.[34] And not one reported the abuse to government authorities as required by Penal Code 11166.5.  Instead, each promoted Gottuso as the wisest man on earth and told each student Plaintiff when they had problems to,Go talk to Dr. John!” [35]

Hardly a year went by before Gottuso was arrested in 1992 for child annoyance at Defendant Christ-Bridge Academy.  Victims included Plaintiffs Tris Rodan and Lisa James .[36] Board Members and administrators knew of it.  They even hid Gottuso when the police came on the school campus.[37]

After Gottuso’s lawyer met with alleged victim students regarding their testimony, Gottuso entered into a plea bargain to one count of assault.[38] He agreed to 50 hours of community service and 6 hours of psychotherapy counseling on June 24, 1993 (Ex. D).  This, too, was kept secret from most.  When Gottuso chose to say anything he stated the incident was over wrestling with a male student wherein the student’s arm was accidentally hurt.  This lone student, said Gottuso, was not upset, but his parents were.  He said the Judge stated it was too bad that it went this far and that Gottuso agreed to community service out of the goodness of his heart.

Despite such knowledge by Defendants, Gottuso was allowed to continue on without change, particularly in the Bible Class, a.k.a. “Personal Values.”

Gottuso continued his relentless attack to clone the children as followers and open them to him, as he had done their parents, and those before their parents.  He humiliated the students, made them feel worthless, forced them to tell sexual fantasies and called them whores and nymphomaniacs who wanted only sex.  Some were labeled lesbians; Monica James was told she wanted to have sex on her mother’s grave.  He said the girls were insane and called them other names.[39] He demonstrated sexual acts, again with his favorite pen marker and cap. All women, Gottuso taught, want sex and use sex to manipulate men.  To illustrate, and humiliate, Gottuso would bring up private matters learned about each in counseling in front of all the students.  And when the girls broke out crying, he mocked their tears, claiming the same was also for manipulation and done in effort to make Gottuso feel bad.

Gottuso told the students they were not to discuss what went on in Bible Class with anyone, not even their parents (covenant of confidentiality).  If they did, he said he “would make them wish they hadn’t.”

When he got the girls alone, particularly in “therapy,” he would continue to berate them, pinching their breasts or grabbing their pubic hairs unless they admitted what  wanted.  When he spoke, he sat, legs spread, scratching his genitals. Upon threat of his physical punishments, Gottuso demanded the girls tell him sexual fantasies and who they wanted to have sex with.  To avoid the pain, each would create a fantasy, but the punishment did not end until each admitted that it was Gottuso each fantasized about.

Gottuso told his female students they were always fantasizing about sex and wanting sex.  He further taught the only way to get past this was to have sex freely so each could realize that it wasn’t something that had to take up all their thinking time.  Also, by doing it they would see he was right, it was what they wanted.  Eventually, he would french kiss, fondle, grind, remove clothing and proposition sex, waiting for each to turn 18.

Gottuso would take whatever the girls were doing and attack it as dysfunctional.[40] He made each girl admit she just wanted sex, was a whore and/or nymphomaniac. It was a double bind, because at the same time he professed sex was nothing, they are to be free, and abstinence was idolatry (treating your body as a shrine).  People were addicted to idolatry. And they were into lust.

In class, Gottuso attacked with vicious name calling, such as “bimbos,” “flakes,” “nymphomaniacs,” “fruitcakes,” and “siren sisters,”[41] and made girls admit desires that they did not have.  Tris Rodan was taken in front of the class where Gottuso drew a vagina on her head and called her vaghead.[42] Another student was brought out to physically demonstrate how you get an orgasm by grinding against Gottuso’s pelvis.[43] Teachers present would support the attacks and actions,[44] and did not report said child abuse to Dept of Social Services pursuant to Penal Code 11166.5

The attacks continued on the playgrounds, hallways, homes, or wherever Gottuso encountered them.  He would pinch their rear ends and came up with his own tortures until they admitted they wanted sex. One was to pinch their breasts until the student admitted it, another was to grab their pubic hairs and yank hard.

Resistance meant not “dealing,” which was the primary goal of the school.  Defendants lowered or raised grades based on loyalty and obedience, and/or threatened to do so.  For Plaintiffs Tris Rodan, Monica James, Lisa James, and two other students, there was worse.  For one semester, they were kicked out of Bible Class and placed in separate rooms — so they wouldn’t hook — to copy Bible scriptures and write essays that had to be approved or rewritten.  They had to do same at recess and lunch time.  They were shunned by other students and not allowed on field trips or special events.  Gottuso, having complete control of the parents, issued grounding orders.  The ploy was successful.  There was no escaping his wrath — no safe house — for disobedience.  Both Plaintiffs Tris Rodan and Lisa  James announced they would do anything for all this to stop. Both dropped their pants for Gottuso. Both were kissed and fondled.

It was all similar to the beginnings with his past female patients. He was planting the seeds, waiting for his garden to bloom.

While this was going on, Gottuso counseled the Adult Plaintiffs privately and in Thursday Night Bible Study .[45] The followers were told the later this was the most important part of their therapy and if they did not attend they would be kicked out. Neither sickness nor vacation could be an excuse for non-attendance.  Only Gottuso could give permission for absence — a covenant of continuity. It was the adult version of the morning school class.

Plaintiffs were made to confess — sometimes to things they did not believe — were ridiculed, and name called.  Each was encouraged to “death of self” as a “break through” to being “reborn” as a healthy spiritual person.  Resistance was dysfunctional and worldly. Those who did the latter were looked down upon by the group.  Those who did the former won favor.  Gottuso instructed: “This group is the body and relationship here is relationship with Christ… The only way for growth is involvement… Better to stay and work through problems than leave and die and work through alone… if you don’t grow up, you will be in sin Keep on following me…be like a soldier, slave, seeker.  Absolute obedience.[46]

There was no privacy.  Members knew everything about everyone else.  People were encouraged to report on each other so John would  be made aware.  And anything  he did was because he loves them.

In private counseling, the women were told to be submissive in every way to their men.  Any problems were their fault.  Men could have more than one relationship.

In counseling, all women were into “ass.”  They would use men and then want to divorce them. The women were at fault for all the men’s or family problems.  If the man drank excessively it was the wife’s fault.  If the man did something awful, it was “What did you do make him do that.” If the women would just submit sexually or otherwise, then the man’s problems would go away.  All women are unfaithful in their hearts.  They must be controlled and made to love it.

Women were cunts and cooks. And, of course, Gottuso would teach them.   Gottuso loved them more than their husbands, so who else should they give their favors to other than him.  As he did to others in the l980’s, when Plaintiff Denise Trout slept over he came to her while his wife slept to help Denise “sexually.”  He came to Julia James’s home at night.  Little was sexually used periodically, even though her husband had idolized and followed Gottuso since he was 12.  Gottuso had conducted Glen Little’s first marriage.  Once, before her marriage, sleeping on the floor of his daughters’ bedroom, Gottuso summoned Sue at night to his office, where he disrobed.

Plaintiff Julia James was told she must have hated her parents to have had sex with a Mexican.  Gottuso told her daughter Lisa she was a half-breed who would never be accepted by either race and would amount to nothing.  Everyone was a mess, nobody was going to “make it.”  At least not without Gottuso’s help.  Martin and Evelyn Rodan were actually diagnosed as “Bimbos.” Their children were crazy” and would not make it unless the Rodans did everything Gottuso said.

This was more about his ego, power and control, than sex.  When the students submitted, i.e., dropped pants, or were fondled, or just said they wanted him, Gottuso had his power.  He was worshiped.  When the women were willing, they were then committed to him more than their husbands.  They would not then leave.  He was first in their lives, beyond all others.  Sexual intercourse, climaxing, was of secondary importance.

Often he stopped when the women were on their knees or stripped and ready.  What was important was the submission, that they would answer “yes” when he asked if they were “wet” or if they were “ready.” Being craved was Gottuso’s satisfaction.  He became furious if they did not initiate or if they hesitated.

He also needed a rationale for his own self image.  When the students dropped pants Gottuso would state, “I’m not looking so nothing is wrong. With the adults he argued it was neither sin nor adultery unless there was “complete fornification.”

To the group Gottuso said in substance, “How much do you really love me?… Are you willing to die as Christ had asked?… How dare you question or challenge me… Your family is not  first — your family is the Fellowship.” Gottuso stated that he knew the members better than each knew themselves, he knew everyone’s hidden agenda.  He often said that members came to him because each couldn’t make it in the outside world; they were the rejects.[47]

In 1992, former board member Greg Humbles, Ted Martin and seven former members circulated a letter stating Gottuso’s history and  recent events:  In 1990, a couple was counseled by Gottuso for marital problems without being told he lost his license; the wife stated she felt sexual pressure from Gottuso.  A child sleeping over at Gottuso’s house reported seeing Gottuso’s “thing” as Gottuso walked around naked.  A former substitute teacher reported a tag game between Gottuso, his daughter and another child where an item of clothing was surrendered when caught. A volunteer teacher said she had sex with Gottuso while his children slept in the same room.  Gottuso had read an article about a father who manipulated his daughter’s genitalia, describing it as “gentle and unforced.”  Four teachers at the school, the letter reported, had admitted sex with Gottuso.  One stated it took place in the school facility.

As stated above, in l992, Gottuso was arrested for six counts of child abuse on   six female minors, including Lisa and Tris.  But this was kept secret from the Fellowship.  When the police came on campus, Gottuso was hidden.

But one parent did catch on.  Theresa Chessir was an outsider who placed two young kids and two young nieces in the school.

But she learned of Gottuso’s true nature accidentally from a former female victim, Lila Doon.  She confronted Defendant Sarah Lee Shultz who responded, “It’s hearsay.”  Defendant Dan Simonsen compared it to “Jesus being falsely accused.”  They denied Gottuso did anything.  Nor would they admit Gottuso lost his  license or if the Fellowship had made an agreement with the State to keep Gottuso away from children.  They said instead none of this  was important and that Mrs. Chessir should “go to talk to John.”

Mrs. Cheshir and her husband then went to see Gottuso only to be told by Saralee he was now “unavailable.”

Theresa came to school on Wednesdays school morning “devotion” and saw that the students had to sit on the floor and that Gottuso was  very harsh on the children. Theresa was advised children “have to learn to obey, not  question authority.” She noted words in common Christian songs were changed to reflect Fellowship philosophy.  All the teachers were there.  Theresa was asked to leave by Sarah Lee.  So she left with her kids and Gottuso yelled out, “How dare You!”  She replied, “How dare you…What you are doing is wrong.”

Theresa investigated and received confirmation that Gottuso had lost his license.  Further, she heard Gottuso had been arrested so she went to the police station and read the report.  No one at school had told her of this.

Saralee had said the school was accredited so Theresa confronted her with documents showing it was not.   Saralee got mad and walked away.  The Chesshirs, their own kids removed, then decided to contact other parents.

In a parking lot, Dan Simonson and Saralee took from parents of students the written information Theresa handed out and said they were lies and that the Chesshirs would be punished.[48]

Thereafter, Theresa began getting strange phone calls in the middle of night with no one on other end.  Sometimes there were voices, “How dare you? Sometimes just heavy breathing. A dead cat was left on her porch.

Gottuso carried on.  In group, he stood over Julia James, and blasted her for a negative comment, saying, “Don’t you realize a prophet stands before you!”

For Plaintiffs, the end started at an unrelated summer camp in l995, where Monica James got a job as a counselor.   A young girl spoke of being abused, and suddenly for Monica a flood of memories came forward.  Monica told someone — a fellow counselor — for the first time.  When she came home she spoke again, and then, like dominoes, so did everyone else.  Each Plaintiff learned she wasn’t the only one.  The word spread.  At school, Gottuso put his arm around Tracey Rodan and said he would pinch her breast if she didn’t “tell the truth.”  To Gottuso’s surprise, she said, “No, you’re not!” and removed his hand.  The end was beginning.

It was aided by inquiries of Val Axtel, wife of Defendant Board member Jim Axtel.  She spoke privately with Monica James, Tracey Rodan and Martin Rodan over her concerns something was happening at the school with the children and Gottuso sexually.  Val had seen things and expressed fears for her own children who were approaching Bible Class age.  She asked Martin’s help in getting Jim out of the Fellowship.  She said she tried to discuss it with Jim, even get him to leave the Fellowship, but he wouldn’t listen.  She was considering divorce.

Plaintiff Denise Trout, a long time sexual victim left.  Gottuso announced she was gone and that people leaving comes in cycles.  He said Denise left because she wanted to divorce¼ not continue the battle of life… has given up functioning… is  rebellious to therapy¼has a hidden agenda from old sinful self.”

When Glen Little learned what was happening at the school, and to women in counseling, he arranged a meeting between two students, Monica James and Tris Rodan, to tell Elders — Defendants Jeff Schultz and Matt Sanders — what had happened.  Glen further revealed what he learned was happening to adult women.  Glen felt members had to be informed so people could decide if they wanted their children in the school, or their wives in counseling with Gottuso.  Shultz and Sanders responded with anger that they were being “set up” and that Gottuso has done “so much good.”  Neither Defendant reported the abuse per Penal Code 111.66.  Glen was then shunned.

Later, Glen confronted Gottuso, who admitted walking where others won’t walk,” sticking his tongue in the girls mouths, pinching their breasts and pulling where the “hair is short” to get them  past idolatry.  But Gottuso denied he was some “monster” using “mind control” to lead people to “sin.” There was, Gottuso said, no fornification, so there was no adultery.  He added he was to be loved as all God’s sinners.

Glen returned with his wife Sue and Gottuso then turned the attack on Glen.  The Martin’s were betraying friendship by siding with Monica.  What Glen wanted, Gottuso said, was his idolatry structure¼ himself and family… so he would sink to such low level… to question Gottuso’s integrity.  Sue, his wife, Gottuso said was doing it because she was overweight and was waiting for Glen to finish building their house before  divorcing Glen¼her hidden agenda.  Neither was being functional, associating with people who left and not backing the group.  Worse, they had not been going to group meetings.

Following these statements, Sue confessed to Glen that she also had been sexually intimate with Gottuso as part of “therapy” just a few months ago.  Glen confronted Gottuso again who admitted it, including oral sex, but blamed it on Glen for ignoring his wife.  Gottuso said he was just trying to cheer her up.

Glen told Defendant Sharron Gottuso everything he learned.[49] She responded, “Sometimes he goes in his office and I’ve seem him read that Bible for six hours.  I don’t know how he could do that and do what they say.”

For the adults, leaving has been an awakening, finding themselves again as they were.  They suffer guilt, low self-esteem, depression, lack of trust and the perpetual question of how it could happen to them.  They are angered as to what happened to their children and feel guilty that they had not woken up in time to stop it.

For the children, there have been even greater problems.  Their brainwashing began when they were so young they have little, if anything, to return to.  They have to adjust to the real world, with its own positives and negatives, without any prior social or real education.  Each lacks significant confidence and maturity.

Gottuso, of course, still continued on like the Energizer Bunny after the Student Plaintiffs left.  The Defendants made no changes.  And, of course, soon Gottuso was arrested again, this time for molestation of student Melanie Gold  In front of the Bible Class, under threat of having Melanie “drop her pants,” he put his arms around her and grinded away to demonstrate how you get an orgasm. It was just one of many incidents involving Gottuso and Melanie.  After this second arrest, Gottuso pulled Melanie out of a car to talk her into telling a different story to the police.  She was at first intimidated, but then told the police of this talk as well. [50]

Undaunted, Defendants, following the adverse publicity surrounding Gottuso’s recent arrest and this lawsuit, moved the school still again and falsely told the new landlord, through it leasing agent — Noel Hansen,  Gottuso would not be involved with the kids.  The name of the prior school — Escalon — remains on the property — rather than Christ Bridge Academy.[51]


By John Gottuso

No examination of any self-appointed Messiah is complete without looking at the cult-leaders’ past, as he tells it.  This usually includes the reasons or rationalizations for the treatment of the followers.  Most of what the leader says about the followers or wants them to do is usually about himself. [52] Gottuso, it is evident, harbors a sick hatred for women, almost a desire for revenge; certainly a philosophy that women are manipulative, jealous, can lead men to ruin, only want sex for themselves and in a right world should be submissive to the man’s reality.

The following history is per Gottuso.

He was one of ten children, growing up in Ithaca, New York.  His father was part of the Mafia.  His mother tried to abort him, and this injury causes back pain to him to this date.[53] One day his father left the Mafia unharmed — a miracle.  They became farmers and a lot of miracles happened on the farm: they only had enough spaghetti sauce for his family, but miraculously had enough to feed many other people; his brother died — but Papop would not let them remove the body — and, sure enough, the next day his brother came back to life.[54]

He was a very quiet good boy and never caused trouble; people hardly knew he was there.   His two older sisters protected him from bullies. One day, when he was young, he came home and found nobody was there.  He thought the Rapture[55] had come and he had been left.

Eventually, Papop said God had called upon him to start churches in California.  Mamom refused to go, and Papop packed the family prepared to leave her.  She changed her mind at the last moment.  In California, Papop started the Italian Pentecostal Church of Christ of Glendale hoping to recruit Italians.[56]

Gottuso earned money shoveling coal in high school, working full-time while going to college full-time.  He said he knew what it was like to work hard. He turned down “scholarships” because he did not want charity.

He said that he had been president of several clubs on campus in college.  He was elected Class President… running on a campaign not to promise anything.

He, of course, had been captain of the football team and big man on campus.   He played football until he hurt his knee.  God showed him a verse in the Bible saying we shouldn’t depend on the strength of man — so he understood God let him get hurt to show him this.

In addition to having been the best in football, he was really handsome — all the girls wanted to go out with him.  And one of his girlfriends was really built.  All had “breasts like ski slopes,” “firm butts,” and “nice legs.”[57]

He once was a “rising star” with an insurance company.  He even restructured a “couple of departments,” but was wrongfully passed over for advancement.  He quit.  Further, he had decided, “I only work for myself.”

One day, on a mountain he found God was real.  He said “No,” to old self and made his breakthrough. Before then he had grown up a Christian (Mamom had baptized them Catholic just in case) but had never accepted Jesus — “I never had to.”  But this day  he gave his life to God.

He decided to get a doctorate in Psychology so people would “listen” to him.  After his doctorate, he read dissertations of others and passed or failed them.  He could tell when people were dying — he’d pray for the relatives.

There were other miracles.  In l969, his car rolled car on a deserted road and he was thrown from his vehicle… the person who found him said God told him to go get in his car and drive in that direction.

He worked and had an office at a mental hospital, Olive View, in Sylmar leveled by the l972 earthquake.  Gottuso was never late to work… but God made him late that day… so he wouldn’t get killed.

The same year his father died,[58] and he took over the church.  He also married Sharron.

He knew many famous people and big shots at different “famous” universities.  He wouldn’t say who they were in order to be “humble.”  He did say he was friends with Nixon and Reagan, calling them by their first names.  He was also friends with Hal Lindsay and Harrison Ford.  He had dated starlets.

A group of men wanted to groom him to be President of the United States.  He turned them down.  He was offered six-figure jobs in many corporations.  He refused because he isn’t “into the world’s system.”  He refused a million dollars for use of his name because it was to be without question. He said he could have been a famous person and walk in high social circles but he chose to devote his life to building people, not programs.

He has been a consultant to the Red Cross, the U.S. Department of Commerce on minority development and to “numerous business and professional organizations.”  The L.A. Probation Department, churches and Universities have used his “expertise” and he was Director of the Lathrop treatment facility, a family counseling center.  He is famous for his PTS interpersonal evaluation.

He has been asked to pastor large churches — 5 to 6 thousand people — and make lots of money.[59] But he wanted to “build into people’s lives” instead and that he isn’t “into” big.  He was sacrificing for the Fellowship.  “You help them until they make it.”

When he decided to marry Sharron he had to make sure his mother and dad approved; so Sharron had to learn to cook like his mom.  He warned Sharron that he would walk where others wouldn’t” and she had to understand this and accept it as condition of marriage.  He doesn’t let his kids get inoculations or take medicine.

Perhaps one of his most telling stories was about his days when he wrote his dissertation on adolescent females. He worked at Lathrup Hall, a mental ward for juvenile delinquents.   He spoke of having broken up fights when one girl would break the secret of another. The girls there, of course, all wanted to have sex with him.  He also had the power to issue weekend passes and they would do anything for it. He pushed them away and said no thanks.   He wouldn’t let them go that far.   He would show them that sex wasn’t the issue

He spoke of one girl in the mental hospital who was having sex with another patient — saying she was doing it because she hated her father — having sex to get back at him.

Just as revealing is what Gottuso never told in weaving his legend.  There was a wife before Sharron.  And two other daughters.  When his first wife found out about Gottuso’ affairs, she left him and took the children.  Gottuso has had little a little contact with any of them.  Followers have never seen them.  The mystery woman was at “fault.”[60] Gottuso’s rosebud.

Also not seen by the followers was affection by John to Sharron.  Not a hug, a kiss, nor holding hands.

Gottuso spoke about cults, denying mind control at the Fellowship.  But as to the events at Waco, Gottuso sided with the leader holding out to the very end.  No surrender.[61]

Sexual touching of children was proper in some cultures, Gottuso bragged. “Molestation” is just a cultural label for touching children’s parts:  “So what if you touch their little padokey…What’s that, in and of itself?”  And he once told a story of a man arrested for child molestation who was quoted as saying, “‘You mean I can’t raise my own f–k?’” [62]

“Mary” noted in the l980’s, “I have observed in one of Gottuso’s daugh­ters what seemed to me more sexual curiosity/aggressiveness than I think is healthy.”[63] Christie Rodan testified that Gottuso’s daughters played sex games growing up pretending to be adults making love. [64]

And there is also the story told by a fringe student, Shelby Eidson, perhaps also revealing.  She complained to Gottuso during a volleyball practice when Gottuso used the hair of another female student–Melanie Golson– to wipe the sweat off his body.  Shelby said it was disgusting.

Gottuso laughed and said, “You wouldn’t think it was disgusting if I was Jesus Christ.”

“You’re not,” Shelby replied.

Gottuso looked at her and said, “You never know.”


The term “brainwashing” actually came about from a Chinese-English translator misinterpreting the Chinese words for Thought Reform.  Also referred to as mind control, the name most commonly used is “Coercive Persuasion.”

To most people, it conjures up images of tortured pilots returning from Korean prisoner of war camps.  But in reality, torture or confinement had little to do with it.  Instead, it was getting prisoners to speak out and confess in “struggle groups” so it could be pointed out that past errors were based on a corrupt political system.  Most influential in the group was the fellow prisoner who was further ahead on the conversion process.   He was a rewarded role model.  Resisters were scoffed at and or deprived.

The experts — particularly Dr. Robert J. Lifton and Dr. Margaret Singer — who did the studies noted the process was more successful outside of confinement where subjects came willingly for help. Wanting to participate to “cure” a “sickness,” was more meaningful than imprisonment.  After the Chinese revolution, struggle groups were maintained in communities and in the Universities.  Participants were encouraged to confess their wrongdoings, attacked until they did so, so it could be shown the faults of their parents and past leaders.  But they could be saved, all they had to do was renounce their past, die and be born again.  And the future could be theirs.

In a thought reform environment, generally an individual is placed in an isolated environment where his past behavior is systematically attacked so that the individual will throw off his  identity to avoid further attack and thereafter adopt the values suggested by peers in order to obtain reward and conformity with the environment.  Often individuals are placed in rigid therapy groups where peers join the attack and guide the individual.  This is often done in circumstances where sufficient sleep and nourishment is lacking and no time is left or given for independent thinking.  Each individual is encouraged by the group to eventually confess the “ills” of the past life and in doing so becomes ready to reach out for forgiveness, order, structure and acceptance.  The assault on identity includes the establishment of guilt and shame, self betrayal, alternating leniency and harshness, compulsion to confess, illogical dishonoring, re-education, final confession and use of group intimacy.

Where it is used in cults, the group is bonded by constant interaction, and mutual dependency.  Members are encouraged to only associate with other members and marriages are encouraged to be with other members.  Where possible members will work or start businesses with other members, or at least take all advice regarding same from the leader.  This way each member is invested socially, work-wise and family-wise in the group.  Members must therefore protect the same and leaving becomes very difficult.  Those who do leave are branded as non-persons doomed to fail.

Doctrine is treated as scared, scientific and absolute truth.  Knowledge is reduced to a new language, a series of thought reducing cliches.  One is elite to be privy to this truth, all others are pitied.

All of this was present at the Fellowship.  Plaintiffs, and members, were given contradictory messages, keeping them in double binds.  By example, Plaintiffs were taught they were so messed up in their ability to take care of their own lives that each desperately needed to be a member of the group.  At the same time, each was told that as she was fortunate enough to be there, they were, in fact, saved and psychologically better than people on the outside.

Constant contact was maintained, sleep discounted in marathon encounter groups, and secrecy as to non-members.  Members were encouraged to live with other members and marry within the group.  Within said framework, rewards and punishments were used to support proper behavior, and attack improper behavior.  Proper behavior was cooperation with, surrendering to, and the following of all advice of John Gottuso.  Improper conduct was to deny him (not “deal”).   Rewards included praise, trips, better grades, association, approval, reduced attacks, and status; while punishments included inducing fear, pain, assignments, ridicule, humiliation, degradation, sexual touching, shunning, ostracization, and lowering of status, and/or grades.  In some instances, people who tried to leave group were physically prevented.

To create bonding and submission, each person was ridiculed and attacked into giving confessions, and to confess to, and thereafter believe, deep harmful secrets, including forced confessions to untrue “sins;” this was called “dealing.” Defendants did not keep the confidentiality of inner-revealed secrets, or forced made up confessions, but instead exposed them to the group so that each person could be shamed and ridiculed, but at the same time given the message that by changing to the ways of Gottuso these dreadful inner secrets and false confessions would be wiped away and a new salvation and sanity awaited.  Further such “confession” reinforced need of the group and acted as a peak experience causing a melting of self into the group identity.  Each member shared in sin and stupidity. Each could grow.  Members were pushed to psychologically let their prior self die in order to be reborn in the group.

Members who had seniority, or illustrated more knowledge of the “truth,” were higher in the pecking order and sat closer to Gottuso.  Gottuso played all against each other, keeping everyone struggling for approval.

True information that might negate the beliefs placed upon the group, i.e., the philosophies, psychology and teachings of John Gottuso, were secreted and kept from the Plaintiffs, and members, in an environment where Defendants attempted to control the information known to each Plaintiff by lies and concealment, particularly as to sexual misconduct and criminal activity of John Gottuso.

The school was stacked with teachers and administrators who were followers of Gottuso, thus creating a controlled environment wherein each Student Plaintiff was subjected to on a constant basis only the beliefs systems of Gottuso.  Plaintiffs were urged by Defendants, their role models, to distrust their own thoughts, feelings and beliefs, and substitute those of Gottuso, and punished if they did not.  Even school grades and evaluations, starting from kindergarten were based on accepting and living by “the truth.”[65]

Gottuso was portrayed by Defendants, and by Gottuso himself (in violation of American Psychological Association ethics) as the wisest man on earth, who knew more about psychology and God than anyone.  PTS was the truth. Each was fortunate to find their way there.

People who did not participate fully were criticized and labeled fringies. Those who left were shunned and denounced as psychologically dysfunctional persons who no longer cared about themselves or Christ; no good Christian or sane person would leave.  To give up “Dealing” was to be psychologically and spiritually condemned.

A we-they dichotomy was developed between members and outsiders. The members being sane and saved; outsiders crazy and sinful.

Pursuant thereto, members were taught that they could treat outsiders different, by example, lied to in furtherance of the group, because the group’s purpose was holy and part of the “battle for life.” A new language was provided, suggesting advanced knowledge, but in reality reducing thought and ideas to rote cliches.

Members were provided with loyalty tests, including sex .  As  part of the battle for life, they were to do what was demanded, even to follow Gottuso if he moved.  This included participating in work days, projects, providing money, and, further, if necessary, moving to Mexico.[66] It further meant hiding and covering up Gottuso’s sexual misconduct.

Members were discouraged from discussing the contents of what goes on in the Fellowship with outsiders, and any allowance of outsiders into group activities was controlled by Gottuso.  Participants in Bible class were instructed not to reveal the contents outside, including children’s own parents (“Such people will not understand and confuse you”).

Members were taught that negative thoughts or ideas about the group came from their sinful self, which was part of their own lies and hatred.  Members were taught that they would have these thoughts and were taught through repetition what to say to themselves when they had them, so, in effect, they would work on themselves almost without need of the group.

Role models, i.e., members of the group who were further along the belief process  were exalted as high examples for others to follow; an example of elitist status each could obtain.  Such individuals included Defendants Jeff Schultz, Dan Simonsen and Matt Sanders.  All men.

Family ties were less important than group ties.  Gottuso manipulated women to wanting him sexually, to have covenant relationships, so each would be further invested in him, dominated by him and to insure loyalty to him before spouse and family.  Men were to be dominant in their households; women were to be Stepford Wives.


Tris Rodan (born 1975)

Tris first entered Defendants’ world when she was 6 years old.  By age 11, Gottuso was talking to her about sex. When she was 12 she was put in Bible class.   Gottuso would talk about sex in the class, and when the students wrote stories, he would interpret them as sexual fantasies of each student.

Also when she was 12, she began family counseling sessions wherein Gottuso told her how to live.  When she was 13, she was taught having a boyfriend was bad, people are “persons,” not male or female, it was bad to notice sexuality and wanting a relationship with someone was not proper.  Trendy clothes were not to be worn, nor make-up; girls were warned this was using their bodies to “attract male persons” in order to have sex.

At the same time, she was taught sex was not a big deal, but  to want it was to be a slut. If Tris denied wanting it so, she was accused of wasting Gottuso’s time.  At age 13, Gottuso asked if she touched her “boobs” in the shower and if it felt good.[67] He also asked her if she wore underwear, and if she had been having sex. He would challenge her denial so hard, she actually wondered if she had done those things but merely forgotten.  At this early age, she was taught by Gottuso in therapy how to describe the sexual act in detail.

In therapy sessions from 1988 to 1993, Gottuso convincedTris Rodan that without his help, she would end up having sex with everyone.  He called this “sex therapy.”  Her guilty feelings were caused by her desire to want sex.

Gottuso encouraged her from age 13 to fantasize about different people she wanted to have sex with.  When his name was left out, he would pound on her until she stated that it was he who she wanted to have sex with.  Then he would ask her to describe how they would do it in detail.  Often, Tris was left crying.  But she learned that denial usually did not get him to quit, only submitting to what he wanted could end the ordeal.  And Gottuso never let her forget that she had chosen him.

She had to make up sexual fantasies right in front of Gottuso.  If she would not, she was lying.  In one instance, Gottuso had her seductively talk about a sexual fantasy  using a handkerchief to rub his head.  Then she had to do it.  Gottuso also encouraged her to think about having sex with her dad, the devil and Jesus. He described to her sexual fantasies that other clients of his had.  In family counseling, in front of Tris, Gottuso tried to get her father to admit he wanted to have sex with her.

In therapy sessions, he would make her use names of male and female body parts like penis and vagina while describing her fantasies.  He would use a pen and a cap, pushing the former into the latter, to illustrate the act.  On many occasions, beginning when she was 14, he instructed her on how to have sex, putting his pelvis close to hers and moving back and forth.  Sometimes he would wrap his hands around her waist and say, “Hold still,” keeping his hands there for more than several seconds.

Gottuso would ask her to open her legs during counseling.  If she crossed her legs,  he said she was trying to hide her vagina, calling the maneuver her “fig leaf” cover.  Covering her private parts meant she was keeping herself in a crazed psychological state by refusing to “deal” with her sexuality.

Eventually, the therapy would be, “suppose you and I were having sex…” He described how the man and the woman moved back and forth vigorously.  If Tris expressed ignorance, he made her feel stupid for not knowing.

He told her that she was into sexual idolatry and was a “sex addict,” that only with his help, could she break this idolatry and become psychologically well and at peace with herself and God.  He always talked in a seductive tone and he would sit with his legs spread open, scratching his genitals.  If she would glance, he would reply, “What are you looking at?”  And then he would tell her she was looking because she wanted sex with him.

In other times, in therapy, he would ask her if she was “wet?” “Do you get wet when you think about…” Tris was forced to answer, even when she didn’t know what it meant.

Tris remained in a state of confusion.  She feared sex, especially with Gottuso, yet he always told her she wanted it all the time, and, eventually, that she wanted it with him.  Once, when she resisted having therapy at his house alone, saying it was because she feared they might have sex, he got her to say that it would be her who would rape him.  By this time, he had started “touching” her.

Gottuso eventually told the Bible Class students that Tris was into sex.  He made each female student in one session admit each “wanted sex more than God.”  The boys in class were warned these and other women will “suck you up.

At first during therapy, like Mary, Sullivan, Linda and all the victims before and after Tris, she would give the required hug, but then the hugs became longer.  She could feel him getting hard in his pants, although at first she did not know what that was.  Then he would move his pelvis back and forth.  When she looked inquisitive, he would reply, What’s the matter, baby, don’t you love me?  Are you afraid of me?” Whatever topic she brought up, it was switched to sex, i.e., her real problem.

Gottuso first started kissing Tris on the mouth in 1990, when she was turning 14.  Soon, he began to put his tongue in her mouth.   Once Gottuso did it at his home and  said, “What’s the matter?  You’ve never been french kissed before?… I’ll teach you.

Thereafter, it happened almost every time she kissed him which was mandatory after gatherings and therapy session.  It would occur about three times per week.  And then the hand on her rear end, or the touching of her breasts, while whispering, “Hey, baby.” Once he squeezed her breasts and told her they were getting bigger.  Another time, he told her to “come to grips” with herself and grabbed her vagina, telling her “Come on… you want it!”

Eighty to ninety percent of the time Tris was in contact with Gottuso, he was either pinching her bottom, cupping his hand around her bottom, or pinching her breasts.  He would come up behind her in a crowd, or while she was rushing to classrooms, or it might be at his home.  She could feel his breathing on her neck, and knew what was coming.  Once, he sat down next to her at school and put his hand on her knee and thigh. Another time he squeezed her buttocks while she was in line at the drinking fountain.

Sometimes, Gottuso would talk about behaviors people would have when having sex and then would grab her breasts and butt.  “Let me show you…” again putting his pelvis close to hers and rocking back and forth; she could feel he was hard as he squeezed her buttocks.  “Be free” he demanded.  Or, “See, this is what real love and intimacy is.”

Another practice of Gottuso’s was to ask Tris questions pertaining to sex, threatening to pinch her “boob” if she didn’t tell me the truth. His hand would be over her breast, ready to pinch.  Once he just walked by and asked, “How’s your vagina.”

On one occasion, when she was 16, Gottuso had her put her hands around his throat and choke as hard as she could.   She did it, crying at the same time.

In Bible class Gottuso told all that Tris was a “sex addict,” wanting it at all costs.  He read about “wicked women” who lead men astray and if Christie didn’t say something about sex in class — how she wanted it more than God — he accused her and the other students of lying.  You are wasting my time and everybody’s time.  You don’t want to deal with this.  You believe you really are just a piece of meat.” When Christie, Monica and Lisa would cry, Gottuso would call them “Siren sisters.” They were too crazy to make their own decisions in life.  And they wouldn’t, he said, when they were eighteen, either.  He would.

In one class in her Senior year, Gottuso asked the boys if they would like the girls to have “big boobs.” He asked them to think what it would be like if the girls’ breasts were like huge snakes that could surround their face. “I think it would be kind of cool...”  Gottuso also asked which girls wore “pants” to bed.

Perhaps the single worst incident was when Gottuso, to illustrate to the class how Christie wanted sex, brought her out in front of the classroom and asked if sex would be any different — or if guys would flock to her more — or would she be more sexually desirable — if her vagina was on her forehead instead of her crotch.  He then took a red marker from the erase board and drew a full blown vagina — complete with pubic hairs on her head.  He referred to her as “vagehead.”  He instructed her that she could not wash it off.  So humiliated, she was later found curled up in the bathroom, crying.

Gottuso counseled her parents that Tris was not ready to date, she was a “walking vagina” (her mother repeated this) and gave instructions to ground her.

One of the worst punishments came in l992, when Gottuso, deciding that Tris Rodan would not deal with her sex, along with other students, Monica James, Lisa James, Pansy Koehling and Mary Romero, threw them out of Bible class for the rest of the year.

While at first that might be seen as a blessing, each had to spend that time, recesses, lunch times, before school and after school writing The Old and New Testaments.  Gottuso insisted the handwriting be very neat.  And after each book, they had to write an essay about the “truth.”  If Gottuso didn’t like it, they re-did it.

Each girl was assigned to a different room to sit in by herself.  Gottuso did not want the girls “hooking up.”  It went on for six months.  To this day, Tris Rodan has a lump in her middle finger where the pencil was pressed down as she wrote.  She became so lonely and so depressed that she became ready to “deal” with her “sexuality.”  Gottuso stated in one private conversation that if she would just give in and have sex, she could overcome this idolatry.  It was during this year that he molested her the most.

Finally, in the Spring of 1992, Tris was convinced that the only way to stop the harassment, the punishments, get back her  life, and be rid of her “idolatry” was to do what Gottuso wanted.  She felt until she did so, he would not let up on the humiliations, embarrassment and making her feel worthless.  She thought the torture would stop and that she would no longer be called a “sex maniac.”  That she would be past her idolatry. would no longer grab her breasts and genitalia.  He had given her the message that morning at school — “What’s to keep us from having sex right now… Your parents don’t have to know.” Crying, Tris said, “What if I get pregnant.”  He responded, “Suppose you didn’t get pregnant, what’s to stop us from having sex right now?…We love each other, so what’s wrong with it?”

To end it all, she went to his office that same afternoon and told him that she would have sex with him.  She immediately recanted, but he said it was too late.  As she was the one who brought it up, it had to be the real thing.  She wanted it because she admitted it.  He had her kiss him.  She unbuckled her belt and pulled her jeans and underwear down to her feet.  She was on her period, and felt humiliated.  He said he wasn’t looking so nothing was wrong.  The dialogue:

Well, what’s the first thing people do when they have sex?”

“Kiss and stuff,”


So Tris went over to him and gave him a small hug and kissed him on the cheek.  “And what else?”

“Kiss on the lips?”

“Well?” he said again.  So she kissed him on the mouth.

“Now what?” he said.

After some hesitating, “Do you want me to take off my clothes?

“If that’s what you think people do…Look, I’m turning my head.  I’m not watching you, so I’m not violating any laws.  If I was watching you, I’d be breaking the law.”

In another incident, Gottuso chased her down a school hall and fell on top of her.  He laid there and asked if she was “afraid.” And once in Gottuso’s daughters’s bedroom, he instructed her to drop her pants.

At age 13, before therapy and Bible Classes, Tris began suffering severe stomach aches, heart palpations and nervousness.  These problems exist today.  In a recent college course, a teacher acted forceful and the symptoms bombarded her.  During her deposition she had to take many breaks and walks to calm herself down.

Worse, her crushed self esteem has not recovered to this day.  She is 22, thin, beautiful with a heart of gold, but emotionally can resemble 16.  She has no perception of the positive effect she has on others.

She has had to go through a whole adjustment period just to learn and understand the new world and how people think and interact.  She feels she has to please people, fears they criticize her and is slow to trust. She has concerns still over clothes, nothing sensual; concerned people will think she is a  slut.  Most of all she feels she lost her  childhood.

She has no suicidal thoughts, but had them constantly when at the school.  While thin, she sometimes still feels fat.

She has felt nervous over her new pastor, going to church services, anxious that people will think of her as a bad person, slut, dipsy, and/or bimbo.  Her first reaction to people is that they are thinking something negative about her.

She constantly fears panic attacks or fainting, which has occurred several times.  Driving on freeways, she has had the feeling she is going to pass out.  Just sitting she has felt her heart beat fast.  Her personality is in flux¼ discovering who she really is and what  the world is really like.   Family dynamics have changed.  It is no longer centered on  Gottuso rule.

She still feels uncomfortable dating and sex is out of the question.

The records of her physician, Dr. Charles Rasmussen, note she has had dizziness since age 13, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, hair loss, fainting spells, panic attacks, anxiety and rapid heartbeat.  His records reflect numerous such incidents.  He has kept her on various medications.

In August of l996, she went for nine days with her father and mother to Wellspring, a psychological retreat with expertise in treating people coming out of cults, i.e., thought reform regimes.

The report of Dr. Paul Martin at Wellspring states:

“She was depressed, guilty, angry, anxious and afraid… Would have killed herself if had not left group and its influence.  Occasional panic attacks… She finds teachings of former church running thru her mind frequently.  Doesn’t trust herself… This experience seems strongly related more than any other factor to her symptoms.  Complicates significant relationships and interferes on her job.

“Discipline imposed by parents ‘due to group’s influence’ was strict.  Forbidden to read or write poetry for six months…

“Health has been problematic.  Always on ‘penicillin for something.’  Currently dizziness, headaches, trembling or shakiness, numbness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heart pounding or racing, trouble getting breath, abdominal pain, constipation, fainting, indigestion, irregular menses, loss of appetite, sexual dysfunction, and insomnia… Takes meprobamate as needed, no substance abuse.  When Gottuso said she was fat, anorexia began.

“… All expected to kiss Gottuso.  He represented himself as a psychologist after losing his license without the group knowing.  He stands accused of multiple instances of abuse, women are devalued in teachings.

“… sensitized the physical contact through frequent touchings of breast, buttocks, the genital area.  Pinched breasts, pulled her hair and exposed her pubic hair.  Males wanted a woman trying to seduce them… Forbidden to talk about it to parents.

“Women were told they were sexually immoral and grew up thinking that…

“Therapy goals: 1) Independence from Gottuso, 2) Confidence, 3) Decision making, 4) Flashback relief.

“…Daily period of depressions, anxiety attacks, related to self worth, sexual issues raised by Gottuso… Many serious fears regarding group.  Afraid to wear clothes she likes or make decisions.  Afraid someone will hurt the family pets.  Afraid having left the group of being lonely, going crazy, demon possessed or killing herself.  Distorted body image related to group experience.  Frequent dejavu feelings outside her body, spaced out and far away… Psychological testing revealed anxiety, high level of disassociation, moderate depression.”

Tris has been in therapy at Azusa Pacific since July 1996.

Therapist Dianne Burns records reflect she has relationship issues, i.e., “dating, setting limits, evaluating her actions if congruent with feelings.  Worried how she is perceived by others.  Important because she’s confused and vulnerable and has trouble thinking for herself as for so long she’s been told by Gottuso that she’s a bimbo and a slut So she acts this image out.  Flashbacks are coming quickly now dealing with his touch —  knows what she is thinking and that she is a bad person/slut for thinking that: brainwashing.

“She is apprehensive to resist any kind of control and feels guilty at the same time.  She ties the past to guilt and anxiety to the future.  She is terrified that she will either go insane or become possessed by Satan (Gottuso’s life love and light vs. death, darkness and dementia)….

“And she is sick of always being concerned about other’s thoughts and opinions.  Related this to her cult experience where “you were taught not to make your own decisions.”  She is constantly trying to figure out what attitude they wanted from her…

“…How difficult to make decisions since she was taught not to “be independent,” she’ll only think of the group and ‘give myself up for the group’…

“When I ask where this thinking comes from when she’s not had sex with anyone, she says ‘the evil man’ made it clear she was a slut if she even had a thought about a male.

“1/16/97 Tris came to session stressed over school, home, church, upcoming deposition, her friendship with John at church, and feels like she may have a panic attack at any time.  She stated she’s been trying to keep from panic attacks by concentrating on relaxing or breathing and that she’s done this when she’s been close to having attacks but has done well…

“With previous romantic interest, she had begun to shake when they would hug her because she would have flashbacks of sexual abuse from the cult leader…

“Treatment summary of 2/28/97.  The goal of therapy has been to help Tris .
feel her feelings blocked off as a result of being in the cult, as stated as her goal.  Talked thru some of memories of sexual abuse, identified areas of life affected by what she was taught.  Working on having her identify what thoughts and feelings are a result of what happened, as opposed to what she would think and feel if the past were not affecting her.  Teachings of the cult still have a strong influence in the areas of opposite sex relationships.  She would like to get to the point of making her own decisions and being okay with the decisions rather than questioning herself…”

Monica James  (born 1976)

Monica’s personal counseling started with Gottuso when she was in the 8th grade, and just about all times there was some form of physical contact.  She was confused by it.  Outside the school former members handed out flyers at the school about Gottuso’s arrest and past sexual history, but Dan Simonsen told Monica these women “made it up.”[68]

In the dreaded Bible Class, she was verbally attacked without mercy.[69] Most of the time the topic of conversation revolved around sexual issues and even if they didn’t start that way, 95 percent of the time the conversation would end up there.  Gottuso was vivid, using pen and cap, plus words to explain the sexual act.  He named body parts — vagina penis, etc.  Sometimes Gottuso got so mad he yelled at all of the fellowship girls and teachers in the class.  Sometimes the class went on for hours and during that time Monica and the others were being put down and humiliated.  Gottuso taught her the double bind.  Monica’s problem was that she wanted sex more than God, but if she would just be “free” she could get past it.[70]

Gottuso called her a flake, bimbo, chick, four corners (weakest), siren sisters, slut, whore, prostitute.  Gottuso did it in the classroom, private counseling and with others present.

As stated, the touchings began when Monica was in the eighth grade, and continued throughout the twelfth grade.  It happened at school, Gottuso’s home, wherever the church group went. Gottuso either touched her or made some form of sexual comment, or otherwise humiliated her.  Cupping her breast was a constant event.  So was touching her rear.

The first time she remembers going to his office at the school for counseling, Gottuso told her to come sit next to him, and scooted her closer.  He put his knees between his legs, then he formed a cup with his fingers and placed them on both her breasts“Say it.”[71] But she didn’t know what he  wanted to hear.  He grabbed her pubic hair, both scaring and humiliating her.  When this “session” was over, he demanded his customary hug, but asked, “is that all?”  He was only satisfied when she kissed him on the mouth.

In the 9th grade, he took her into a classroom and shut the door.  He asked that she kiss him, and she did so quickly. “Is that all?  Give me your best.  I know you can do better.  Open your mouth.” He asked if she knew what french kissing was and told her how to use her tongue. Afterwards, she felt dirty as he  tasted bad and smelled.

In another incident, at the same age, she was told to leave Bible class because she had refused to “deal” and be honest and admit she wanted sex more than God.  Gottuso also wanted her to admit she wanted to have sex on her mother’s grave and that she wished to create a world called Assland where she would be queen of ass.” Four girls, including Plaintiffs Tris Rodan and Lisa James, were told to leave Bible Class for not dealing and were kicked out until the last day of school.  As described above under Tris Rodan, each was separated and made to write scripture and essays each day.  They were shunned by friends and cut-off from field trips and class events.

The day before the close of the school year, and the closing ceremonies, each of the four girls was called into Gottuso’s room one by one.  When Monica walked in, she was told to “drop her pants.” She obeyed.   Then Gottuso asked why she had done it, and she said she would do anything to get back into the class (how badly it had affected her life).  Gottuso then spoke of her having sex with him.  When she said no Gottuso replied she wasn’t ready to be let back in yet.

In another incident, when she was in 12th grade, she came to Gottuso to ask him to fill out a reference for college application.  Gottuso asked why she hadn’t been talking to him.  He came over and stood between her legs, and asked her to fantasize about guys in school she’d like to have sex with.  This was not the first time he had so requested.   He didn’t accept her non-answer, so she listed off a few names.  He asked her to fantasize about the men teachers, and then finally,  said, “What about me?” He said they could have sex right then and there.  “Nobody would know.” Monica panicked.  She said she didn’t want to, he was married.  Gottuso asked if she was “wet,” if it was “warm down there,” and if her “juices were flowing.” He also cupped his fingers around her breasts.

Gottuso always demanded she admit she wanted to have sex with him, and if she didn’t initiate he got upset.  The ultimate for Gottuso, she said, “Was for me to say to him, ‘I want to have sex with you.’”

During this time, he also asked that she choke him.  When she said no, he began yelling and Monica started crying.  As he wouldn’t let up, she eventually placed her hands around his throat and squeezed.  He told her to move her thumb.  He was wincing, and his face got all red. It ended due to Gottuso’s daughter walking in.  Gottuso never did sign the college form.

Gottuso’s touching Monica’s breasts, her rear-end, kissing her, was normal and common.  But perhaps the biggest incident happened at member Rene Rutherford’s house in the Summer of 1993.[72] Gottuso took her into a bedroom, shut the door and asked why she was avoiding him.  Monica stated she did not like the way “you touch me.” Gottuso’s response was to again order, “drop your pants.” She fought it, but he was forceful.  As she was having her period, it was even more humiliating.  He told her to drop her underwear as well.  She did, crying the whole time.  Gottuso said he wasn’t looking at her, but she could be seen in the large mirror in the room.  She remained this way several minutes.

.                 After she pulled the pants up, Gottuso asked that she hug him and moved closer. As she hugged, Gottuso dropped his hands around her waist and rocked his pelvis against her — a thrusting action in slow motion.  Monica could feel that he was erect.  After awhile, Gottuso turned her around and leaned over so they fell back on the bed.  He was pressed on top of her; she could feel his heaviness.  Gottuso told her to pull up her shirt, and to pull down her bra.  He said that he wasn’t looking at her exposed breasts, therefore, “nothing is wrong.”[73]

In 1994, everyone was going to Mexico, but Gottuso said that Monica could not go.         She went to ask him to go, and again he put his fingers around her breasts.   He allowed her to go on the trip, but told her that she owed him a favor,” and wanted her to think what it might be.”

She had a counseling session with Gottuso the night before they came back from Mexico.  As she was leaving his office he grabbed both her breasts, cupping his hand and arching his fingers around her breasts–holding them for a couple of seconds.

Gottuso had power over her entire life.  He influenced how she was disciplined at home.  He was in her head.  She would wonder what Gottuso would think when she acted, wondering if he is judging her.  She feared his doing things to her, instructing people to do things to her.  She doubted herself, putting Gottuso thoughts in her mind.

She awoke from this confusion at a summer camp in 1995, confessing to others what occurred.  She then began counseling at Azusa Pacific.  The therapist, Crystal Drewry,  noted her emotional and degrading experiences with Gottuso, the resulting shame and guilt, and how it currently effects her experiences, concentration and dreams.  As with Tris Rodan, the therapist’s notes  comment on her confusion, feelings of worthlessness and lack of maturity. Also, like Tris, the therapist noted she has a deeply rooted fear of disapproval; that someone might think she is bad.  She has difficulty making eye contact if confronted.

The therapy ended when she moved to Redlands where her husband-to-be lives.[74] She started counseling again  at Genesis Counseling Services in San Bernardino.[75]

Today, Monica has low self esteem.  She believes she will not succeed.  Sometimes this feeling is “underneath,” sometimes more conscious.  She gets depressed, and is confused over beliefs taught that conflict with reality; she has had to relearn right and wrong.  She often lacks motivation, thinks little of herself, and that nothing works.  She becomes, in her own words “numb and indifferent.”  In these moods she won’t do much or speak much to anybody.

She constantly questions what she believes, and wonders if what she thinks are her thoughts or the Fellowship’s.

She still fears Gottuso and feels he threatens her family.  She remembers how  intimidated her — getting in her face, yelling, demanding answers, forcing her to admit, deal with what  thought was reality.  He was, she often recalls, scary when angry.

ElaineRodan (born 1981)

From age 7 to almost 15, Elaine Rodan, the youngest of the Plaintiffs, had to go to Gottuso for counseling.  Gottuso counseled her father that Elaine should get a “note,” meaning a no answer, when she didn’t take care of business, i.e., listening.  Such “no” should also follow when she wanted to do something fun.[76] In Bible study, when she was 7 or 8, Gottuso asked the children if they knew what sex was.  She then explained that a boy and a girl would take off their clothes, get into bed and wiggle around.  Gottuso laughed, embarrassed her, and then described the act in detail. She was not old enough to receive this information.  Once staying in the Gottuso house, when she was 8, Gottuso took off his clothes, becoming totally naked. By age 9, she had to watch his pen and cap sexual demonstrations.  When she was 10 years old, she sat on Gottuso’s lap with his arms around her, acting in a sexual manner.

Whenever Elaine came to counseling every two weeks, she was always nervous for having to be forced to confess to Gottuso problems that he had perceived that she needed to “deal with.”  She was told she was not close to God because she wanted, of course, sex. This, Gottuso said, was her “big problem.” She was then only 12. She learned to confess that she wanted to have sex.  Worse, she began to believe she was a girl who only wanted sex and that was all she was good for. Gottuso asked her to explain how meeting a guy would lead to sex.

This went on from ages 11 to 14.  He explained to her that until she had sex she could not be happy because it would be the only thing on her mind.  She was a sex maniac who would do it just for the body.  In therapy, and at school, he started saying, “Let’s say I was your boyfriend…” and asked her to explain how she would meet Gottuso and how this would lead to sex. He once asked if she would rather have sex with him or a monkey.

Gottuso also told her that if she keeps talking to herself (thinking), she’d be put away in an institution.  She felt she “talked” to herself because she was lonely.  She was so scared, she stopped.  She was afraid she would go insane.  She also remembers Gottuso telling her sister, Tracey, she was so screwed up she would be put in a mental institution.  She had nothing going for her.

In a Bible class, Gottuso asked if the girls would marry a guy who did not have a penis. Elaine  was subjected to the usual degrading remarks about women: “stupid,” “chicks,” “fat butts,” “big boobs,” “fluck” [a word that Gottuso would use in place of “fuck”]; “jack-ASSES,” “fruitcakes” (referring to boys or girls  didn’t approve of), etc. She would hear Gottuso talk about the “penis” and “vagina” (and how they work together).  And there was the usual pinching by Gottuso.  He would further demand Elaine kiss him on the lips, not the cheek.

Defendant Saralee Shultz wrote notes to Gottuso before class.  One time, Saralee wrote a note about Elaine concerning a red rash on her neck.   Saralee asked, “Is that a hickey?”  Elaine said no but she didn’t believe her.  Then Gottuso came into the class and stared at her neck.  Elaine had to cover it with her hair and went home crying that day.

Saralee wouldn’t let Elaine speak to her own sister Tracey during snack time and lunch at school.  She told Elaine that the junior high students were not allowed to speak with the high schoolers.  This came from Gottuso.

Another teacher, Defendant Sue Kawell, told Elaine she was “never going to make it,” and was “going to go to hell,” and that Tris wasn’t her “source of life.”  Defendant Kawell said she had taught black kids from the streets and that she knew what was really going on with Elaine. Elaine felt like a really bad person.   Kawell also told her best friend Sueany Eidsen that Sueany was “an angel of death” and that God wouldn’t save her.

Elaine heard Gottuso ask another girl — Kristen — who was 14, if she would give up one of her breasts for one million dollars.  Gottuso kept pressuring her to say that she would.

Like the other girls, he pulled Elaine close, their bodies  pressing  together, saying,  “Oh, baby, oh, baby.”  He would come up behind her and pinch her butt.  He would ask her to come sit on his lap and hug him.

Once when the Pasadena Police came to the school looking for Gottuso, Elaine  saw Gottuso run in the office and hide behind a wall.

These actions led to low esteem and sexual problems.  By the seventh grade Elaine became so low she had suicidal thoughts and once cut herself.

She has had anger, depression, low self esteem, low self image, lack of trust, past suicidal ideation, confusion in life, nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks, anxiety and stomach aches.  Dr. Charles Rasmussen in Pasadena has prescribed medication for stomach starting in October l995 to present.

So difficult was her transition to the real world that she dropped out of school and remains in home study.  Her therapist, Jennie de Gorton, concluded:

“Ms. Rodan’s experiences in the cult and subsequent issues are consistent with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.  The DSM-IV states that, “For children, sexually traumatic events may include developmentally inappropriate sexual experiences without threatened or actual violence or injury…

“She has recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the events including images, thoughts and perceptions at least twice daily.  These thoughts include the leader’s conversations with her and his actions toward her and others.   She also has recurrent distressing dreams of Gottuso… is violently killed in her dreams…she feels him watching her…she has dreams of this nature every night. Rejection…causes a recurrent feeling of severe rejection which is similar in intensity to feelings of rejection related to Gottuso…when she sees anything that reminds her of Gottuso or certain events which occurred in the cult environment she experiences severe psychological distress, and feels nauseous.”

Ms. Gorton reports Elaine suffers irritability and outbursts of anger.  She has had a range of consistent symptoms for two years which impair her social and occupational functioning.  She does not attend school as her stomach hurts too much from the stress.  Her Global Assessment of Functioning is 50, “indicating serious symptomology.”

“For much of her life in the cult, she created ‘Jane,’ an alternate personality to hep her ‘not get torn down and reassure me that I was a good person.  She believes her worth is inextricably tied to sex.”

“Ms. Rodan is continuing in her therapy to process how Gottuso and her life in the cult has–and still–affects her life…the prognosis is long-term...there has been no symptom reduction.”

Lisa James (born 1978)

When Lisa James was 7, Gottuso said that she was an ugly child and would never grow out of it, so “get used to it.” Later, he counseled Lisa that she was conceived in sin because her parents weren’t married when his mother became pregnant.  He told her she could not escape that sin.  And as her father was Mexican, she was neither White nor Mexican, so she would never be accepted by anyone.  He called her a “beaner,” a “dumb Mexican” “half breed” and “half and half.”  He questioned her sanity, and made her, to the point of tears, say who she wanted to have sex with.  In counseling, he asked Lisa if it would help her be real if she took her pants off.

When she was 12, Gottuso asked if she had seen a real penis and  offered to show her his.  Lisa ran off.  By age 13, Gottuso began calling her fat and put her down, comparing her to his skinny daughter, Carisa.  This became so repetitive that Lisa became alternately anorexic and bulimic.

At 14, spending the night at the Gottuso home, Lisa was taking a shower when Gottuso knocked demanding she unlock the door.  She did, and while in the shower, Gottuso went to the bathroom.  He criticized her for locking the door; she was just a body, nothing special.

Gottuso counseled her that her mom was keeping Lisa from enjoying life.  He made Lisa state she hated her mom.  At the same time, he counseled Lisa was the reason her parents fought.  Her father would be better if  had a better wife and daughter.   He said it was her fault her father was an alcoholic, saying, “If I had a daughter like you, I’d drink too.” Using psychological terms, he told Lisa she was mentally sick and crazy, but didn’t know it.  He told students they should not hang around her.  Because she wasn’t “dealing,” she was not allowed to go on field trips.  Gottuso destroyed her self respect and self esteem by making her believe she was something so despised.

Because Lisa wasn’t sufficiently in the spirit Gottuso had her grades lowered.  And she wasn’t allowed on field trips or outings.

She had such depths of self-hate that she became suicidal. Gottuso’s response was to tell her how to do it.  Pills were no good.  If she used a gun he instructed her not to put it under her chin, but in her mouth, “to make sure you blow your brains out.” If she slashes her wrist, he told her to first drink red wine with cough syrup and then sit in a tub of warm water so she falls asleep.  His recommendation, however, was to jump off a building so for a few seconds she could experience flying.

He never mentioned to her that he lost his license, nor that he had ever been arrested.  Particularly, like Tris, Lisa was never advised she was a listed victim in the criminal complaint.

He got angry at Lisa if she would not clean his  house on “work days.”  He put her down for having outsiders as friends.  She was a tomboy who enjoyed freedom.  So he was particularly harsh on her.  In Bible class she was to admit that she wanted sex in front of the other students.  Once in the parking lot, he accused her of idolatry, and said she uses “boob power” to control guys.  Then he touched her crotch and said she has “butt power.”

He described to her sexual organs, bestiality and multiple partners and asked if she would engage in them.  Several times he asked her what color her underwear was and what her bra size was.  He talked to her about a client who had sex with a dog.  Once in class, he asked if she would have a threesome.  He asked who in group would she like to have sex with.  When she said she wouldn’t, he said he didn’t believe her.  He called her a “bimbo” and a “slut” in front of the class when she was just a sophomore.  Every time they spoke, he pushed her to say she wanted sex and would badger her until she cried. On another occasion in the parking lot, he demanded she describe how she would have sex in specific detail.  He asked if she would become a whore for money, and was this a career choice?

And in discussing sex, he used himself as the usual reference point.Say you and I are having sex…”

Gottuso would make her demonstrate what she would do sexually with her boyfriend, how she would like it.  When she said they tickled each other he said that tickling was releasing the sexual tension, because they could touch each other and not be bad.  At the time, Lisa didn’t even know such a thing as sexual tension existed, much less that she had it.  Gottuso made her lie on her back and show him what positions she was in when her boyfriend and her were wrestling and tickling each other.

Around the age of 14, Gottuso pointed out to her that she had no male role model to teach her to french kiss.  In Bible class, he asked her to state who she wanted to have sex with.  He would not accept a “none” answer, and kept at it until she stated names.  Then he said, “What about me?  I’m a guy. In counseling, he was more direct and several times asked if she would ever have sex with him.  The first time, when she said no he commented she answered too quickly and asked, “Why not?” Lisa said he was married. “So what?…What else.”  Lisa added he was too old and Gottuso got very mad.

In class, he would draw sex organs on the board and compare the breast size of the students.  He always commented on hers.  Gottuso constantly demonstrated sex by using the pen marker and cap. And like the others, she listened to the subjects of nymphomania, kleptomania, bestiality, bisexuality, sadism, masochism and other fetishes.

Once, during her sophomore year, Gottuso, in class, had Lisa and some other girls do a “slut walk” to show how they would seduce a man and had the boys judge which girl was the most sexual.  Also during her sophomore year, Gottuso asked Lisa and Tracey Rodan if they would like their boyfriends to put their tampons in for them.  He accused her, Tracey and another student, Mary Romero, of being a Lesbian threesome.

In the eleventh grade in the parking lot, Gottuso described to Lisa sex, oral sex, the missionary position and other sexual positions.  He spoke of how to turn a guy on while touching Lisa ’s breasts and crotch area.[77]

Gottuso made her hug him, and pressed himself against her, always touching her breast.  This occurred at school, at his house, wherever they contacted.   She could feel him hard, and once he pressed so hard into her she went into the bathroom and threw up.

When Lisa lost her virginity, Gottuso asked her if it was good and to describe it in front of her mother and father.  He told the whole Fellowship and demanded she be punished.[78] But Gottuso’s real anger was over his daughter Carisa who had influenced Lisa , having hooked Lisa with the boy.   Carisa also arranged for Lisa to stand guard while she, Carisa, had sex in Gottuso’s office.  Gottuso kept the latter quiet and told Lisa that he was doing so because his daughter was “dealing” with it and is a better person than Lisa .  “You are already a Tramp…and I don’t care who knows it. ”

Once, he got mad because Lisa wouldn’t admit to things in class and yelled at her so loud that she sat with her arms on her knees and cried.  She went to the bathroom after class and threw up, then grabbed her backpack and walked off of campus.  Defendant  Dan Simonsen then drove up and yelled at her to get back into the van and forced her back.  Dan said, “Where are you going to go?…You really think your mother is going to want you at the house?” Lisa would not get in the van but walked back to the school and waited outside for her parents.  When she got home she went to bed and slept until the next morning. [79] At school she was then punished.[80]

In her own words, “He has injured family relations.  Even today, I often wonder what is real.  He confused my mind so much, I can’t afford to think about it any longer.  Mentally, I can no longer handle it.   Doubts, confusions and questions are still unanswered in my mind.  He has caused damage I simply cannot get away from.  He destroyed things deep inside me and I wonder if I’ll ever heal.”

Lisa has suffered anger, depression, low self esteem, low self image, lack of trust, past suicidal ideation, confusion in life, sex and God, nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks.  She has still acted out in ways harmful to her self.  Her eating disorders have continued to date, although it has improved.  She has been in therapy with Karen Ferguson, MFCC, in Pasadena. [81]

Tracey Rodan (born 1979)

Tracey Rodan, like the others, began her counseling sessions with Gottuso at an early age.  The sessions were always called therapy. Gottuso counseled her parents that they should give up trying to help her because “God just doesn’t choose everyone to be His child.” He said that she was “crazy.”  He repeated these criticisms over several years and finally caused her to start to give up on herself.  She resisted his humiliating remarks and intimidation, but eventually began to believe that maybe she was a hopeless cause.

When she was 9, Gottuso asked her if she ever saw a penis and if she knew what sex was.  He then described it, using the body parts.  He also did his pen marker and cap demonstration.  Between the ages of 10 and 13, he would constantly ask her if she was still a virgin and/or if she had begun her menstrual cycles.  Once, in the 11th grade, Gottuso  asked her if she would have sex for money and how much she would charge per night.

At one point, she felt as there was no point in living she might as well kill herself.  She attempted suicide once by taking pills in 1995.  She also began to secretly cut her hands and arms with a kitchen knife, map pins and needles, all beginning when she was 12.  Tracey would take Meprovamete tablets that Tris had been prescribed for panic attacks so she wouldn’t feel worthless by Gottuso’s attacks in counseling.

Gottuso told her that she was responsible for her younger sister Elaine’s failures.  And that because of Tracey, Elaine was “going to hell.”  He told her that all Tracey wanted in life was “fame” and would destroy anyone to get it.  Like everyone else, in Bible class, she was exposed to his sexual talk, his boasting of conquests, and putting down of women.  He told Tracey, “You’re a castrating bitch… If you marry, you are going to get a divorce.  Who would want to stay with you?” To the boys in class, in front of Tracey, Gottuso said,  “This one will bring you down if you let her get too close to you…You wouldn’t want a girl like this…” He  called herbimbo,” “slut,” “narcissistic,” “nymphomaniac,” “piece of ass,” “a mass of protoplasm with a sexual urge,” “evil,” “punk,” “satanic,” “narcistic,” “screwed up,” and “flake.” If she said, “No, I’m not,” he got very mad.

Gottuso pressured her to admit that she hated God.  He spoke about bestiality and asked if Tracey or anyone was having sex with animals.  He also discussed necrophilia. Then he said to Tracey, “I see a lot of this in you.” He told the girls, including Tracey, that they just wanted to date because they wanted a piece of ass.  He warned the guys to “watch out.

Once he ordered Tracey to give him a hug, and then he wouldn’t release, pressing her against the wall, doing so and saying, Seems that this is your problem, loosen up.” He also did the I’ll pinch your breasts if you don’t tell me the truth routine.  And he used the, “Suppose you and I were having sex, and…”

Gottuso bragged that he kept a secret file on her and others.  The teachers, he said,  sent him notes on who the dysfunctional students were, and that her name was constantly mentioned.  He would point at Tracey and ask the other students, Do you want to be like that?”

He demanded Tracey submit to him and she resisted where others could not.[82] As a result kids at school said their parents didn’t want them to be friends with her.  As to her home life, Gottuso bragged,Your parents will do anything I say.”

Once Tracey was so depressed from Bible Class, she sat in her room with suicidal thoughts, cutting her right arm and left hand (she has scars from both).  Her father (unaware of the cutting) threatened to take her to Gottuso for therapy because of the way she was acting.  Tracey responded, “I will kill myself before I go back to Gottuso.”  Martin Rodan called Gottuso and made her talk to him on the phone. Gottuso told Tracey on the telephone she would not commit suicide, she was faking just to get attention.

A little later in Bible Class Gottuso talked about suicide and then mentioned to the whole class that Tracey had suicidal thoughts.  He told Tracey, in front of the class, there are mental institutions for “…people like you… I could call one now” — and started dealing with her. He asked her if she ever tried it or cut herself.  He kept at her until she admitted her thoughts  and that she had cut herself.  He mocked her responses, making her look like an idiot to the class, someone just wanting attention.  After that, no matter how depressed Tracey became she was reluctant to let anyone know.

Since leaving the Fellowship, Tracey became confused about what God and the world are really like.  She questions her feelings, as she was discouraged from trusting the same.  She has had to question every belief she has ever had, and has trouble trusting people and authority.  Gottuso had demanded submission, that she admit her sins and weaknesses and agree that she was “into ass.”  He threatened to end her friendships so that she couldn’t poison other students.  And, like the others, she had been forced to keep it to herself.  This stuff is supposed to stay in the room.  If you don’t, you’ll have to deal with me.  I can’t keep you from telling your parents, but I can make sure you wish you hadn’t.

Gottuso saw to it that she was physically and socially isolated from other students.  She was not invited to parties and events, and not allowed to go to the senior class outing.  She and Lisa James were not allowed to go out with other students after graduation ceremonies, and they were the only two volleyball players not to receive letters at the sports banquet.

At the Gottuso home, Tracey saw Gottuso walk around in his underwear, and once witnessed his telling Tris Rodan to be free and take off her shorts.  Gottuso then walked into the bathroom and urinated with the door open.

She was never told that Gottuso had lost his license, or of his prior arrest.

She has experienced anger, depression, low self esteem, low self image, lack of trust, suicidal ideation, confusion in life, about God, nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks and anxiety.  She has been distracted, effecting short-term memory.

In Tracey’s own words:

“I question every belief I have ever had.  I don’t know what people to believe now.  I have trouble trusting any person in a position of authority, such as the pastor or youth leader.  Gottuso caused me to believe that he knew more about God and psychology than anyone else other than probably God himself.  I believed that he had found all the real answers to life.  Finally, I saw that I could not trust him, but most of what I know came from him, what he said in Sunday School, what he taught in Bible class every day, and what he told me and my family during family counseling.  If I had a question or was having a problem, even the teachers would say, ‘Go talk to Dr. John.’

I have difficulty reading the Bible now.  I am afraid that my mind will become confused about what it really says.  Gottuso and the teachers at the school taught me that Gottuso was superior — in education, in intelligence, in Bible training, and in all his experiences in life.  Gottuso and the teachers caused me to believe Gottuso could interpret Truth better than anyone else and that I should never question what he said. I was not taught or encouraged in any way to study or think for myself.”

Dr. Charles Rasmussen in Pasadena proscribed Tracey antidepressants starting in the Winter of l995 to present.  She has been in therapy with Nola Nordmarken M.F.C.C. since March of l996.

Ms. Nordmarken noted since age three Tracey was singled out as the “evil one” and isolated from students and events.  Her parents were advised to forbid her from speaking to her siblings and playing with her pets.  She diagnosed Tracey as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, DSM 309.81.

Ms. Nordmarken noted Tracey had distressing thoughts and dreams concerning these events, acts as if it is recurring, if reliving, a dissociative flashbacks, intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues resembling the events, difficulties with recollection, avoidance of activites, outburst of anger, and difficulty with sleep.  She stated:

These disturbances have caused significant distress and impairment of the client’s ability to maintain a consistent, positive self image, to identify and value her own feelings and needs, and to develop trust in relationship with others, particularly those in position of authority… episodes of debilitating anxiety and stomach pain when thoughts or exposure to activities…arouse recollections of her victimization by John Gottuso, through his misuse of power.  She suffers from sleep disorder, nightmares and flashbacks involving abuse by John Gottuso.

“The prognosis …is good as she is highly motivated to treatment…The outcome of treatment is expected only if she continues in weekly psychotherapy.  Progress is expected to be slow, will require great effort on her part and may involve reversals as she confronts normal stressors of adult development… treatment is a minimum of three years inclusive.”

Julia James

Julia James first met John Gottuso the Fall of 1980.  He was introduced as a Christian psychologist and she commenced as a patient and member of the Fellowship that year.

In 1987, her spouse, Jose James was released from prison, and she feared his return due to history of sexual misconduct, drugs and crime.  She wanted him to go to a halfway house before coming home.  Gottuso counseled Julia that she only wanted to postpone his coming home because she liked her current life and did not want anyone to tell her what to do.  She responded she was afraid he would use drugs.  Gottuso said she was “making it up” for her own needs.  Per Gottuso’s instructions, Jose came to Julia’s home from prison.

Jose did use drugs and was abusive.  The next three years were overwhelmingly depressing.  As a result, Julia’ was in therapy weekly with Gottuso, plus three to four phone calls per week.  Most of this was over confrontations with Jose.

Gottuso’s counsel was consistent:

When Jose would not come home for several days, Gottuso counseled it was none of her business where Jose is.  Julia needed to trust God and keep her “mouth shut.”

When  Jose was abusive to the kids and her, Gottuso said she must have wanted to start the fight for some reason.  It takes two people to fight so obviously Julia had a need.  She “wanted to create a problem.” And Julia’, according to Gottuso, was the cause for the anger in her husband.

Gottuso counseled that if Julia looked better and showed some interest in “pleasing” Jose, he would be more motivated.  He also said it was not up to her to be satisfied in sex.  She should be the one giving without asking for anything back as GOD would see to her needs.  When Julia said she wanted tenderness, Gottuso said all she wanted was sex.  He said all she saw herself as was an ass.

All marital problems were because she was unwilling to submit to her husband.  She had no right to question her husband when he disappeared for a day or a week at a time.  He instructed her not to ask who he was with or what he had done with the money.

Gottuso stated she did not love her kids or she would be harder on them.  Jose’s corrections were not unkind or cruel, and she stepped in between only to be a wedge.  He stated Julia did not want to help her marriage, but wanted out so that she could “fuck around.”  Jose’s drinking was not her problem.  She was only mad that Jose was not doing what she wanted him to do.  Twelve-step programs were just people wallowing in their problems.  There was no need for it, they had the “truth” right here.

Gottuso counseled Julia was a destructive wife who could not handle that Jose’s shaped-up.  She did not want him to be healthy.  When Jose would “go off,” it was her fault.  Gottuso said Julia was becoming overweight because she was hostile to him, and would not give him a firm, thin body.  She needed to submit, and the way to learn how to submit, was to submit to John Gottuso completely.

Most humiliating for Julia, was that Gottuso made the marital problems, including Jose’s extra-marital affairs, problems she was having with the kids, her weight, public to the group.  He also took her friendships with women, and made them sound like lesbian relationships.

In 1994, Julia found Jose hallucinating from drugs, and called Gottuso for help.  He replied she just wanted to get rid of him.  Jose ended up going through a window in the house, running down the street, and was arrested by the police at a 7-11 store.  When she called Gottuso again, he yelled at her, asking what she did to upset Jose so much that  he would jump out the window.

When Jose came down from the drugs, Julia asked him to leave.  John came down hard  on Julia, in private, and group and social sessions saying that Julia wanted to do this in order to “screw” around.  Julia relented and let Jose stay in the house further.  This created a further hardship on the children.  Jose was abusive to Monica, who was not his daughter.  Gottuso used the incident to describe Julia to the group as “a person who goes for the throat.” [83] And as such, people began to shun her.

Gottuso counseled Julia must have hated her own mother to have married so low.  He said Julia would not be acceptable in a white society because she had a mixed-race child and had she slept with a minority.  “What were you thinking about when you had your daughter?” Gottuso said Lisa wasn’t white and  wasn’t Mexican.  She didn’t belong to anyone.

The touching also began.

When he would hug her he would put his hand part way on the side of her breast.  He would rub bodies in the hallway as he passed, purposefully pushing closer.

Gottuso asked her in therapy multiple times from 1985 as to what people she knew she would like to have sex with.  Then he asked her if she had sex with them.  When she would say no, Gottuso said he didn’t believe her.  He said he knew she was not getting any at home and she could not go without it.  If she did not give him the answer he wanted in therapy, he would pull her pubic hair and tell her to get real.

In counseling, Gottuso also asked her to state how she would tease a man sexually.  He wanted the details, and then he mocked them, saying no wonder she was having problems.  She was not “involved.”

In the middle of many sessions, private and group, he would get up and stick his finger in her mouth even while she was talking, so she would suck his finger.  He would say Yeah, yeah… all talk” Gottuso said if she were getting regular sex she would stop bitching. She said it wasn’t the sex or lack of it, but the anguish she had to live with.  He called Julia a liar; she was manipulating the situation for her own ends.

When she would hug him hello and good-bye, he would push his groin into her and many times she knew he was erect.  He would stick his tongue in her mouth when she would kiss him goodbye.

As with all women, he would grab her breasts.  Once in private counseling, approximately 1989, he pinched her nipples really hard; when she flinched he said “I thought you liked it rough?” She started crying saying she didn’t like it rough, but wanted tenderness.  He told her to stop crying and wash her face or someone would think something was wrong.  She needed to deal with her stuff and still have life and light in her face.  She had to be open to go through tough things without crumbling.

Gottuso asked her to show him her breasts two times in 1989-1990.  When she hesitated he said she was not free, she wasn’t ready.  When she finally did after being punished and shunned, he said “Let me see what all the fuss is about.” She lifted up her shirt and he pulled down her bra.  He touched, kissed and licked her breasts and said see there is nothing to it.  She felt shame and guilt but she was approved by him as starting to breakthrough.

All this was in the context of her having a hang-up and needing to be free of her idolatry.  He once grabbed her arm and said, “This is just a piece of skin.” Then he touched her breast and said “So this is no different.”  He said she was the one making it an issue.  She had given power to the flesh that it should not have.

Once, when Julia had a good night with her ex-husband, Gottuso became enraged and said that since her husband didn’t love her, sex would not be okay.  She would be better to give it away to someone else, someone who deserved it.  Not a person who did nothing for her or the kids, but a person who has given and given to them.  He complained the  person who built into their lives doesn’t get expression of love or gratitude.  “Marriage is space between two people, just because you are married doesn’t mean sex is okay because if we don’t have oneness, we are in idolatry.”

As to the therapy he provided, he said, “How grateful are you?” “How are you going to show your gratitude?” He asked her what guy in the Fellowship would she most like to have sex with and she said Rick.  He said that if Jose wasn’t going to take care of her sexual needs she could get them taken care of here.  She said by Rick and  said “No!! Me!”

He would touch her vagina area to see if she was wet.  He wanted to know what she would do sexually with another woman.  She couldn’t answer him because she wasn’t interested in women.  Then he asked her if she was interested in a threesome.  She said no.  She said Jose wanted a threesome and she wouldn’t do it.  Gottuso said why not?  If it pleased her husband why wouldn’t she do it.  He said she just didn’t want to risk the other woman being better than her and perhaps Jose replacing Julia with her.  Gottuso asked her if she “liked it in the ass.” She said no.  He said she should try it if it is something Jose wanted to do.

Gottuso asked her if there were no men left in the world, who is the woman she would “hook” up with.  By this time, he had painted scenarios in such a way that she was compelled to select answers.  She said her two closest friends, Denise and Sue.  He used that many times to infer that they had or could have a thing going on.  That if they ever dumped their husbands, they wouldn’t need any men at all.

When she would talk to one of the guys in the fellowship he said she was setting something up for sex.  Consequently, she started to be shunned more and more by many people.  And if a guy was talking to her it was suspect.

Gottuso never would accept her answer that she didn’t go outside the marriage for sex.  He kept pressing her to say who was she getting it from.[84] He wanted to know if she masturbated, and had her describe the technique since she “wasn’t getting any.”

From 1987 to approximately 1991 (to a lesser degree afterwards) Gottuso would say the following:

Well, you say you’re so good but I wouldn’t know.”

“Yeah, you’re all talk and no walk.”

“You talk a good line but I haven’t seen it for myself.”

“Are you ready to show me how good you are?”

“How well do you really do it?”

“You say you’re  grateful for what I have done for you, but I wouldn’t know.  You don’t give very freely.”

“You keep saying how good you are but I wouldn’t know.”

“Can you really swallow all of it without choking?”

“Are you as good as you say?”

“Are you ready?”

“Are you wet?”

“Did you shower?”

“Are you ready to take your pants off?”

“You’re not going to do anything… you’re just talk.”

In 1989, Jose had a job and started going away on business trips.  The first night Gottuso came over and said, “Don’t you greet your guests?”  They kissed and he put his hands on Julia.  She pulled away.  Gottuso asked his usual questions: was she “ready” and was she “wet.”  He said that she was not ready and left.

Next time, he tapped on her bedroom window.  He kissed her, and then remarked that she was “all talk and no action.”  He said she was losing her opportunities to really deal with her hang-ups.

Julia began to believe that she was missing her opportunity for a breakthrough at being a whole person.  So by the next time Gottuso came over, she was determined to do what was necessary.  She trusted.  Further, she was being punished by the group for “not making it.”  This time they kissed and Gottuso said, “Oh!  You are ready.” He pulled out his penis, and she commenced oral sex.  Before ejaculation, he pulled away, saying, “That’s enough for now.”  He left her stunned and humiliated on the floor.  She felt that the work was unfinished, and that somehow she had not been completely open, not willing to breakthrough.

In the Spring of 1995, Julia told John that she was ready to do whatever she needed to breakthrough.  He responded, “What about sex?” As she left, he pinched her breasts and her butt.  Her decision to leave the Fellowship was made soon after.

As to the counseling regarding her children, Gottuso said she did not love them much because she was not as hard on them as she should be.  She was more afraid of them not liking her, than concerned about them “making it.” He said if his kids ran the streets, he would break their legs. Yet when Gottuso found out that one of his own daughters was having sex with a boy in his office in the garage during a Thursday night meeting, he blamed Julia’s daughters for their influence and banned them from Fellowship activities.

Gottuso stated Julia should enforce restrictions on her children at home and failure to do so was undermining the work of Gottuso and the teachers.  This showed she loved herself more than her children and that Gottuso cared more about them than she did.  When Gottuso put  six months restriction on her daughters (kicked out of Bible class with no play or break time) Julia was not told and did not even discover this action against her daughters for over two months.

In 1992, Julia saw depression in Lisa , but Gottuso insisted it was because she was not dealing. Julia expressed a concern she might try suicide, and Gottuso responded she was setting this up so that if Lisa did kill herself, Julia would get sympathy as the poor mother who did so much for her kids, and “now this.”  He accused Julia of trying to get attention, rather than make Lisa “deal.” Julia was never told Gottuso was arrested for  child abuses that year, nor that one of the counts was for acts against Lisa .[85]

While going through all this, she was taught, specifically by Gottuso, Jeff Schultz and Dan Simonsen, that if one left the group, they would lose these special people, and would be settling for a lesser level of life.  Julia felt worthless, that she wasn’t going to make it, either here in this world or in eternity.

Gottuso made Julia feel defective, inadequate, unlovable, undeserving, and full of self doubt.  She lost friends and family relationships.  She has an inability to trust, lack of personal boundaries, is over responsible to others, and suspicious.  She is traumatized over what the man she entrusted her daughters to did.  And she lost so many years.  She has been told by a therapist she needs therapy but having to get help for her daughters she has been without funds.

Julia  paid Defendants $36,000.  She worked for Defendants, one work day per month, 132 days at value of $39,600.  If Julia did not attend workday in lieu of taking care of her house and family, she was in idolatry.

Julia’s depression led to poor work performance.  As a result, she was not given increases in position and salary ($34,000) she would otherwise have obtained, and is now starting to earn.  The exact computation requires expert testimony and calculation and salary information from her employer, but we estimate this to be a 10 percent loss that will carry over the lifetime of employment.  Her salary should go up 3 to 5 percent per year, but she lost several years increase, thus reducing her base for future increases.

But her biggest injury is knowing what `Gottuso did to her daughters.  And knowing her daughters are angry that they were raised in the Fellowship.

Martin Rodan

Every day, Martin Rodan remembers he trusted the Defendants and placed his three daughters in the Fellowship where each was abused verbally and physically.

Each was further subjected to humiliations, harassments, punishments, and brainwashing techniques.  As the rules were that children were not supposed to discuss what went on in “Bible class” and their “counseling,” he was unaware.

A Vietnam Veteran with his own Master’s in Divinity, Martin had followed Gottuso since first meeting him in Guam in l979, and had been such a true believer that he followed all of Gottuso’s directions in treating his children, including the implementation of punishments at home, and directing that the children do what Gottuso said.

He so believed in this man who was the spiritual leader, therapist, and “highly educated,” that he turned over to Gottuso decision making, believing Gottuso would help him raise his children psychologically fit and in the eyes of the Lord.

Learning what Gottuso did has devastated him, almost ended his marriage, and has left him saddened with guilt over what has happened to his three daughters’ childhood.  Not only does he know that he placed them with the Fellowship, but he was a lever used by Gottuso.  Often, Gottuso said, “Ground them for at least a month with no privileges except food, clothing and shelter.”

Per the case law below, Defendants owed a duty to Martin not to so harm his daughters, and is therefore liable for this emotional damage.

Some of the other actions  harmful to Martin included:

1.         Being asked by Gottuso in family counseling, in front of Tris, if he wanted to have sex with her.  Gottuso further pressed Tris to say she wanted to have sex with her father.

2.         Gottuso advised his daughter Tracey should be placed in a psychiatric ward.

3.         Sharron Gottuso advising   Tris’s “Academic A” would be lowered because she wasn’t “spiritual” enough.

4.         Required  work on Gottuso’s house, maintaining grass and flower beds, painting, maintaining home heating and air conditioning unit, heavy construction work, laying concrete, and plumbing.  If Martin did not attend a “work a day,” he was confronted by the group.

5.         In therapy, Gottuso advised that Martin hated authority figures, resented his mother, saw his father as weak and ineffective, and that he wanted all women to desire him sexually.[86] If Martin Rodan disagreed with these statements, Gottuso would goad him by accusing him of not loving God and not desiring the best for himself or his family.  In fact, what Gottuso succeeded in was putting a wedge between Martin Rodan and his own father and mother that remained for years until Martin was finally freed.   Communication with his extended family — father, mother, brother and sister — had become quite strained.

Virtually no problems in the Rodan’s marriage were ever worked on properly in counseling, as Gottuso would change from problems presented to stating what they “really” needed to deal with.  He told Martin and Evelyn their problems were sex related, each wanted all the “ass” they could get and that Evelyn had married “beneath” her.  His diagnosis of Marshall included he was “Fucked.” In Thursday night “group” sessions, Gottuso would impermissibly use information gained from Martin Rodan to embarrass him or shut down resistance to Gottuso’s views.

Gottuso counseled Martin that he would be happier with a bigger penis, that his wife did not want him because he was inferior, and that he needed to “drop his pants” to see what he ’s got down there… he  was a whoremonger.

Martin Rodan was impermissibly counseled that the group was superior to others who did not have the opportunity to “deal” under the guidance of John Gottuso.  Often, Gottuso would mock Martin’s southern accent.

In 1992, Martin became aware that John Gottuso was having some problem with the El Monte Police Department.  Learning that there was an allegation that Christie had dropped her pants, he went to Gottuso’s office, but Gottuso stated that his back was turned and he “did not know what she did…but nothing happened that was wrong.[87] Martin was never told that in fact Gottuso was arrested for abusing children, that Gottuso drawing a vagina on Christie Rodan’s forehead was one of charges, nor was Martin ever made aware that Gottuso made a plea bargain to the charges.

John Gottuso, knowing same false, told Martin Rodan that he’d given up his license for love of his followers, that the women’s complaints were really only a misinterpretation of his actions and that he could have retained his license if he wanted to.  He falsely stated that he could get his license back whenever he wanted it.  He further indicated that he could function as he did before, including his psychological counseling.  He was still a “doctor.”

Today, Martin feels that his life has been virtually destroyed.  Gottuso’s attempt to totally remake him has left him with a crushed self esteem, and daughters with their childhoods taken from them.  They have little of their youth they wish to recall, and he knows it… “Our family lives with the pain.”

Martin and Evelyn Rodan paid Gottuso and the Fellowship $70, 101.89 Martin Rodan provided 100 work days at a conservative value of $300.00 day, a total of $30,000.00.

Dr. Charles Rasmussen in Pasadena has provided medication for Martin’s stomach starting in 1985 to present.  So distraught after discovering the truth, Martin took Evelyn and Christie Rodan to the psychological retreat, Wellspring Center, in Ohio, that specializes in treating former cult members as they “come out.”  This was a cost of $9,200, plu$ 392 airfare for one and car travel for two.  Living expenses were $880.  Counseling fees for the family will continue for several years.

Dr. Paul Martin, at Wellspring, wrote Martin had feelings of anger, anxiety,   confusion and conflict with his spouse.[88] Martin felt he lost direction in life, his relationships and  his spirituality.  Physically, he experiences stomach problems, arthritis and heart “fluttering.”  Dr. Martin noted Martin suffers from headaches, low back pain, numbness of right leg, lump in throat, nausea, diarrhea, weakness, lack of energy, heart pounding or racing, trouble getting breath, abdominal pain, neck pain, heartburn, indigestion, rash, sore throat, sexual dysfunction, and insomnia.

Dr. Martin observed Martin appeared “flat” with a loss of interest in people and life in general.  The “Group Psychological Abuse Scale” indicated that the Fellowship was “very likely to have used unethical persuasion to recruit and retain its members.  Compulsion was very characteristic of this group.”  A diagnosis was made of 309.81 post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic.  Recommendations included “additional counseling.

Evelyn Rodan

Evelyn Rodan’s commencement with the Defendants began at the same time as Marshall Rodan, and her injury and damages concerning what happened to her daughters is the same.  Like Marshall, she was also an instrument of Gottuso.  One of her most horrible memories was repeating to Christie what Gottuso told Evelyn, that her daughter was a walking vagina.”

Directly, Gottuso called Evelyn a “cold  hard castrating bitch,” “power mamma,”     “withholding bitch, ” “hostile bitch,” “fruitcake,” “flake,”  and “ fat chick.”  Other times he referenced her in terms of “butt” and “boobs.”

This was in line with Gottuso’s view of women in general.  All were into power, manipulating and using their men, and each had to learn to be submissive instead.

Gottuso repeatedly damaged Evelyn in counseling with his verbal abuse.  He told her that she was destructive, evil and suggested that people should be “afraid” of her.  Correspondingly, there were times she was shunned.  He lowered Evelyn’s perspectives of her own intelligence, and she came to actually expect punishment and humiliation as “part of the process.”

To keep control of Evelyn, Gottuso stated that her children, without him, “weren’t going to make it.” It was necessary that she “shape up.”  Gottuso commonly referred to the source of her daughters’ problems as “sexual,” “into ass,” and “into guys.”  He led her to believe all three of her daughters were sexual deviates.

Gottuso instructed her to keep her daughter Tracey from her best friend, Lisa James, even forbidding that they speak to each other.  This in turn caused anger in her daughter for “doing whatever Dr. John says.”  At one time, Gottuso instructed her to ground all three children for three months from all privileges, including entertainment, snack food, social visits and phone calls with friends. Her daughters were not allowed to talk with friends or spend time with them on campus.  Gottuso called this “shutting everything down.”  It was repeated for six months in early 1992.  During this time, Evelyn watched her children grow more depressed and anxious, crying and begging, nevertheless, the Rodans stuck to Gottuso’s counsel.  The girls  would ask for relief, but Gottuso never recanted.  In fact, he blamed the Rodans for not implementing the discipline sooner, stating that the children were now “hopeless.” Specifically, he advised Evelyn that she was “too close to Tracey.”[89]

As he was her pastor and psychologist, she believed he knew best and followed his advice “to the letter.”

She believed he really knew her, what was best, that she was a poor wife, mother, and in need of great help, so she kept coming back for more therapy.

And in counseling, Gottuso stated Evelyn was trying to run her husband, deny him sex, and would mess up her children’s lives if she didn’t follow his counsel.  He once yelled at her on the phone, “Why don’t you parents just leave us alone and let us do our thing.” She spent over a decade in despair.

And when something did go wrong in Gottuso’s eyes, Gottuso would always say, If you had listened to me…” or “if you had come to me first…” As a carrot, Gottuso held up his own daughters as “perfect examples” as how children should develop.[90]

As Gottuso punished people for “talking outside the group”  Evelyn became very  hush-hush about her life and this affected the previous warm relationship she had with her  parents.

Evelyn learned from experience that to question Gottuso’s word was to suffer “loud and abusive criticism,” as well as “shunning” from others.  Despite having prior college degrees and talents, Evelyn Rodan’s self esteem was destroyed.  She accepted Gottuso’s reality over her own and her insecurity exists to this date.

Gottuso denied to her twice having drawn a vagina on Christie’s forehead during a Bible study class in high school.  He said both times that  had made only one dot on Christie’s forehead with a black felt-tip pen.

Gottuso lied about the loss of his license.  He told Evelyn and other group members that he had voluntarily given up the license without a fight because he cared about the group and didn’t want to involve “us” in this matter.  He said that the loss of his license was temporary and that he could get it back when he wanted.  He could still counsel.

Gottuso lied about the women who left the group in Mid-1980’s.  Shortly after they had left, he told Evelyn in a private counseling session that (a) he had never had sexual intercourse with those women; (b) that they had all pursued him aggressively in sexually explicit ways (including sitting on his lap without underwear on); {c) that he had resisted their attempts but they would not take no for an answer; (d) the women were all lying and out for revenge because of his rejection of them; (e) that some of them were angry because they had wanted to run the group “their way.”

Gottuso emphatically denied having had full intercourse with any of them.  He said  he had only been concerned about helping these women “break the idolatry of sexuality” and was willing “to take risks” other professionals in his field wouldn’t.  He also said that some of the women who had left were deliberately trying to break up his marriage.

On one occasion, in the early 1980’s, Evelyn entered Gottuso’s office and was suddenly french kissed.  When she replied she had a husband, Gottuso laughed.  Not so long after that, he followed her into a garage, grabbed her and kissed her hard on the mouth.  When she pushed back, he responded, “You are just like all the others.” While she felt dirty and humiliated, Gottuso then caused her to believe that the event was her fault.  “You are too tight.” He reached over and pinched the nipple of her right breast. She took this to mean that she should be comfortable with whatever he did.

In 1994, he made an obscene gesture on her palm, and in 1995, in front of others,  put a flat hand on her buttocks.

As stated, Marshall and Evelyn Rodan paid Gottuso and the Fellowship $70, 101.89 Evelyn Rodan donated four work days at Gottuso’s home and approximately 200 hours at the school; a value of approximable $3,000.00.

Evelyn went to Wellspring with Marshall and Christie for a week in August of l996.

Evelyn Rodan has suffered anger, anguish, weight gain, depression, low self esteem, low self image, lack of trust, confusion in life, nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks, anxiety, feelings of emptiness and loss.  She fears her daughters will never forgive her and a cloud has been placed on her marriage.

Dr. Martin, at Wellspring, reported Evelyn had numerous symptoms of depression, felt isolated, confused, disillusioned and angry.  Her goals for treatment were “to know what happened in my head” while in the group.

`                 The Group Psychological Abuse Scale indicated that the conditions and practices “in Mrs. Rodan’s group were characteristic of an unethical persuasion system,” anxious dependency indicated.  Dr. Martin reported conditions described in the sessions indicate the group did exploit its members.

Dr. Martin noted Ms. Rodan has difficulty trusting those who are trying to help her.   Many environmental conditions or situations now “trigger” old feelings about herself and others learned in the group.  This factor may hinder formation of a supportive community and trusted counselor.  “She experiences frequent, intrusive feelings related to her experiences in the group.  These are often accompanied by emotions not appropriate to the situation at hand.  Treatment focused on legitimizing all her feelings and acquiring tools to regulate them with her beliefs about her self worth and her right to emotionally self protective behavior…

“There is little evidence of pre-existing clinically significant symptoms in Ms. Rodan prior to her involvement with the organization and would not for this involvement, it is unlikely that she would require professional mental health services…

“Ms. Rodan’s recovery is contingent on several issues.  If she is able to form a supportive community, improve her relationship with her spouse, significantly reduce lifestyle stress, medium-term individual and relationship counseling could eventually relieve her distress.”

Glen Little

Glen Little had the longest involvement with Defendants of any, and as he had the greatest idolization of Gottuso, he had perhaps the worst fall.

Glen’s father met Gottuso when Glen was in the 6th grade.  Glen was exposed to him both in California and when Gottuso visited their home in Winchester, Kentucky.  Eventually, the Martin family moved to Arcadia, but in the summer of 1970 his family abruptly moved to Kelso, Washington.  Glen was in the 9th grade, but he maintained contact by telephone with Gottuso for advice and counseling.  Eventually, in 1984, following the death of his father, Glen moved back to Arcadia and rejoined the Fellowship.  Gottuso married Glen and his then wife.

In 1985, when some 14 women left the church, claiming sexual improprieties with Gottuso, Glen confronted Gottuso who said that there was only one event with one person and that it was blown out of proportion.  Gottuso said he laid down nude with one woman who had been flirtatious and into sex power but not willing to admit it during counseling.  He had made an effort to prove to her that she in fact would go all the way (sex) and break her denial.  He was “willing to walk in love where others would not walk.” Gottuso had said that he placed his penis against her vagina but never inserted it.  Maybe 1/8 of an inch.  He said he would never do it again.  He said the other women were hostile, and into “ass power.” Glen believed him and stayed another 12 years.

In group, Glen was encouraged to endure “death to self,” and to be “born again” into a new life.   Those matters disclosed in private were exposed in Thursday night groups. Glen merged with the group.  Everyone else was “outside.”

As Glen did not find “dealing” easy he was made to feel guilt and shame.  He took degrading remarks hard and felt things were his fault.

In 1989, when Gottuso lost his professional counseling license, Gottuso told Glen that  had not lost it, but “decided not to renew.”  He said he could reapply anytime for a new license and that he could continue to counsel.  Again, Glen believed him, and stayed another seven years.

In 1990, Glen married Sue Little in Las Vegas.  Gottuso became enraged because they did not get his counsel first.  When Sue became pregnant, Gottuso said the child would die due to their sin.  For Glen this began a depression that would last the remainder of his Fellowship years and continues to this date.  It led him to becoming quiet in group, dropping down the Fellowship  hierarchy ladder, and caring little about work.

In 1992, Gottuso concealed that he had been arrested on child abuse charges and made a plea bargain, but stated to some, including Glen, that he had been arrested on child annoyance charges due to trouble with a parent and a single child at school, involving a wrestling match, and that a judge had said that it was a shame that it had gone this far, and that Gottuso had agreed to do some community service in spite of the “ridiculous charges.”  Glen believed him, and remained another four years.

Ultimately, in the beginning of 1996, Glen was to learn that Gottuso had been having sex with his wife.  The very same man who had married Glen in the past, was now committing adultery.  The very therapist in whom he had believed and trusted, and who had been his idol since he was twelve years old, had betrayed him.

To justify his actions with his wife Sue, Gottuso told Glen that Sue really wanted to divorce Glen and that she had “wanted it (sex with Gottuso).”

This created, needless to say, problems with Glen’s marriage, problems with sex.

In his subsequent investigation, Glen learned that Gottuso had been involved sexually with members as far back as the 1960’s, and in the 1970’s, Gottuso even tried to seduce Glen’s mother.

He confronted Gottuso, and then was made to feel shame and guilt for doing so.  He also had earlier arranged for Tris Rodan and Monica James to talk about what happened to them to Defendants Matt Sanders and Jeff Shultz.  For all this, he was shunned by the group.

Glen has been damaged in his marriage, his family structure, relationship with his child, has problems with trust, has suffered severe depression, and identity crisis.  He has problems with nerves and his hand trembles.

He has low self esteem, low self image, confusion in life, and about God, nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks, anxiety attacks, lack of direction, eye twitch and tension.

Feeling he needed professional help, Glen and his wife Sue went to Wellsprings, a cost of $7,500 in fees, plus $500 plane fare and $400 car rental.  He is a licensed contractor but his depression has left him mainly home non-motivated to work.  This has improved this year.

Glen has had years he earned between $30-40,000 per year.  The last three years due to depression as stated herein, he has not actively sought employment.  Earnings did not exceed costs for these years.  This situation continues, but is improving.

Glen Little paid $20,750 cash and $1,770.00 in goods to Defendants.   1,716 hours  of labor was provided at a value of $21,450.00.

Sue Little

Sue Little graduated in 1979 from Bowling Green University and went on staff with Campus Crusade overseas in the Phillippines.  She met Gottuso who was  respected by Crusade staff members.  Warren Willis of Crusade had invited Gottuso to the South Pacific to do seminars on Psytheosynthesis. When Sue came back to the States in June of 1982, she worked at Crusade headquarters in San Bernardino until 1984-1985.  But upon her return she was depressed, burnt out, feeling guilty for leaving her crew in Tokyo.  She was thin and not eating.  She felt something was wrong.  She met Gottuso again and told he her he had a  practice in Arcadia.  She started counseling.   At first she thought it was a “crock” and quit for six weeks.  But his followers encouraged her to go back and she did.  After a year or so, she learned Gottuso was also a pastor and that many of the Crusade staff attended his Fellowship.  She started attending in 1983-84.

Sue babysat Gottuso’s kids on Tuesday nights’ group meetings (before they switched to Thursday) to help pay her counseling debt.  Due to the late hour and long distance home she often spent the night.  After everyone left, she saw Gottuso walk naked around 10 to 15 different times.  As she generally felt embarrassed she would try to leave early in the morning.  Gottuso would then chew her out at group for leaving without saying goodbye.  He said it was unloving and unkind.  She gave up the babysitting chores and started attending the weekly group sessions herself in 1985.

.      In counseling, John Gottuso constantly advised Sue Little that she would “never make it,” that all her relationships would disintegrate.  Nobody wanted her because she was a loser, a lost cause.  Her constant message was what a crummy person she was and she must  break her idolatry.  But even after she “died to self” there was no guarantee for her because she was a real flake.  She quit whatever she started.  Gottuso explained she was after all the men in the group and would be mad at God because she couldn’t have sex and wanted sex so she could get a man to bow down and worship her. He accused her of flirting and said her motives were evil.

After counseling for 6 to 7 months, Gottuso said it was all right to hug after an appointment.  A few times he pinched her breast and when she reacted, she was told it should be no different than touching her hand“A piece of flesh.” Sometimes he would put his hand on her butt when she hugged him.  At his house, he would brush up against her.  It seemed sensual, but she wasn’t sure, maybe she was being over-sensitive.

Gottuso said she was some kind of low life, a power-hungry insensitive female.  Later, Gottuso tried to convince Sue to get involved in a threesome with him and Defendant Melinda Simonsen (it got as far as kissing and hugging).  He also encouraged her to have a lesbian affair with Melinda.  He told everyone they were attracted to each other.  “Well, have you done it?” Melinda began to believe it.

In l986, she was sleeping on the floor in the Gottuso kids’ room when Gottuso late at night came in with a flashlight and asked her come to his office.  He had a robe on and asked if she was ready.  He opened the robe.  He was naked.  He asked her to take off her clothes and, half-asleep, she did.  Sue felt privileged that this spiritual person was trusting her.  A noise occurred and he told her to put her clothes back on, saying he just wanted to see if she was ready.  “Are you always going to be ready,” he asked.  She answered, “Yes.”

The next morning, she felt it was almost dreamlike, an experience to make her free and open.  Gottuso started treating her better from this point, so she thought she had arrived.  She didn’t think it was immoral because Gottuso could not do anything immoral.  She thought it was a test.  After that, Gottuso would say “I’ll always be there for you.” And, “Remember you said you would always be ready.”  Sue thought Gottuso wanted a close personal relationship with her, not sex, and this to her meant she wasn’t that bad off.

In l988, Gottuso tore into her at group.  Once Sue said Gottuso needed to work on being more loving and Gottuso became furious.  She begged his forgiveness, making up stuff to confess.  She thought she would collapse.  He said Sue might be a sociopath. Another time Gottuso said, “You are late, why do we even bother with you?” Sue then had her first seizure. An EEG showed some abnormalities that Dr. Charles Inbus indicated could be stress-related.  Approximately five seizures were to follow over the years.  At this point, she actually thought about leaving, and stopped attending, because she was made out to be such a bad person.  But members began calling her, saying bad things would happen to her if she left… she needed to talk to John… they all loved her… prayed for her.  She was told she was terrible for not coming.  Gottuso  called Denise Drew, a Fellowship member who was her roommate, and told her to watch Sue for him.  Gottuso telephoned, telling her that she was part of the family and that she was having seizures because she wasn’t there.  She returned.

By 1988-l989, John would hug her and kiss her and say you are not really ready to kiss back.  Sue became confused.  She didn’t know what she was supposed to do and it caused her great anxiety.  Sometimes she did kiss back.   She didn’t know what she had to do to “break through…”

Gottuso got into the Jacuzzi with her and then asked her if she was good at “sucking… Don’t you know anything?  How are you ever going to take care of a man if you don’t even know the basics of lovemaking?” When she objected, he said, “I guess you’re not ready to grow up.  Too bad.  It would be better to learn from someone who loves you and will take the time to teach you… Stop acting so immature.”  He pushed her head down, but the incident ended when Gottuso’s daughter came out in her swimsuit to join.  The last thing Gottuso said was See, you’ll do anything for a piece of ass.”

In 1990, Gottuso became angry that she was to marry Glen Little in Ohio.  He was upset he was not performing the wedding and that his permission and guidance was not sought.  He announced Sue was so hung up on getting ass-fection rather than God’s affection that she would ruin Glen’s life.   She had “hooked” Glen and would cause him to be a loser like her.  She became friendless with the women in the group.  She wasn’t invited to get-togethers.  Her best friend, Melinda, would not attend Sue’s wedding, saying, since Sue was disapproved by Gottuso, “I can’t be your friend and be a part of your wedding,”

When Sue became pregnant, and had to have surgery, Gottuso told her that she was having this difficulty because she had not been “dealing,” and that if the baby died, it was her fault.  He further told her that she was a bad wife and had ruined Glen’s chances of getting custody of his son by a prior marriage.  He counseled her that she was only affectionate to men because she was so into “ass” and wanted only self satisfaction.  She was, according to Gottuso’s diagnosis, a “tease.

Gottuso further told Sue she was a bad mother, a bad worker, a bad wife, bad spiritually, she couldn’t do anything right.

Further, Sue was in a double bind wherein no matter what response she gave to a question, it was wrong.  Gottuso convinced her that she was a stupid person, and kept her off balance trying to figure out how to correct herself.  Gottuso told her that the only reason she had a child was to use her and parade her around.  He caused her to feel guilty when hugging her own child.  She believed that she was a bad mother, and when the baby cried out, Gottuso told her to leave the baby alone.  And, of course, when she left the baby alone, Gottuso would tell her to comfort her.                  .

Gottuso compared Sue to a lady who drowned her kids (1995).  He said in group  Sue could drown her kids if they won’t “give you what you want.”  Everyone stared at her for 20 minutes.  She wondered, “am I this way?”  Later, she actually believed her good times with her daughter were attributed to John making her deal with this murderous attitude towards her daughter.  Today she realizes she just simply loved her child.

She became so depressed that she overate and gained 80 pounds.  By the time she left the group, she weighed 215 pounds.

She never was advised concerning the prior charges against Gottuso, and as to the 1992 criminal charges, she got the same story that Glen did about some boy complaining about a wrestling match.  As to losing his license, Gottuso said only temporarily he could not provide therapy; later he told her that he could resume, and he did

In the Winter of 1995, Sue came to Gottuso’s house.  He gave her a hug, and then put his hands under her shirt and he unfastened her bra.  He started kissing her and fondling her breasts.  When she began to resist, he said, “I thought you were open and I thought you were going to give to me no matter what.” He pulled her pants and underwear down and asked, “Are you wet?”  “You let me touch your boobs, but not your butt.  Why?… Oh yeah, you are ready.”  He turned her around, and tried to insert, but finally she stopped him.  He then held his penis out for her to orally copulate.  He waited for her to initiate. She got on her knees although she was shaking.  He then pushed her head away, and said, “We better not let anything come out this time.”

She made an appointment to talk to Gottuso and find out how this was supposed to be relating to her religious and psychological development.  He replied, “Don’t judge it.  Just share for real what you want. Then he kissed and pressed his mouth and tongue into hers.  “The stuff we do is so much better and farther and beyond any connection you’ll ever get with Glen.  Even if we don’t finish the act, we are going much deeper.”

Before leaving, she went to see Gottuso for counseling, and he said he would not speak to her unless she took off her pants and she had to come to counseling from now on with no underwear. She undressed and Gottuso took off her nylons and then her underwear.  She believed this was supposed to make her more open.  He had the doctorate in Psychology.  He cared for her.  She sat down, and Gottuso then insisted that she open her legs.

Today, Sue has resulting anger, depression, low self esteem, low self image, lack of trust, confusion in life and God, nightmares, sleeplessness, flashbacks, anxiety attacks, seizures, lack of direction, difficulty at work, family relation interference.  She has guilt knowing this has hurt her husband.  She went with Glen to Fuller for therapy and to Wellspring.

At Wellspring, based on years of prior knowledge about John Gottuso, they were prepared for Sue’s problems in advance having literature on the morality of  “fornification.”  They already knew how Gottuso operated.  However, Sue was so mistrusting that it was days before she would actually speak alone with Dr. Martin because he, too, had a degree in psychology.

Dr. Paul Martin reported Sue had numerous depressive symptoms.  Her sleep was frequently interrupted by disturbing dreams about the group.  She felt insecure, cried infrequently, and experienced mood swings, including anger at a level uncharacteristic for her.  He noted the leader’s teachings conflicted with her other knowledge and this was   troubling for her.  These symptoms interfered, he noted, with her efficiency at work, and with her relationship with her spouse and children.

“Ms. Little has moderate difficulty trusting those who are trying to help her which would be appropriate given her many years of betrayal in a confidence situation.  Many otherwise innocuous environmental conditions or situations now ‘trigger’ old feelings about the leader and other members or situations of the group.  This factor may somewhat hinder formation of a supportive community and the trusting of a counselor… She experiences often… emotions not appropriate to the situation at hand.

“…if not for involvement with this group and its leader… she would not require professional mental health service.

“If she is able to form a significant relationship with a counselor, continues work.. she will eventually be relieved of her distress.  Continued improvement of relationship with her husband will undoubtedly enhance this process… she may continue to experience occasional feelings of vulnerability, hyper vigilance, loss of sleep and strained interpersonal relationships.”

In l994, she earned $38,000.00.  In l997, it was raised to $55,000.00.  She would have been paid the latter amount in l995 and l996 but for problems effecting performance.  Her employer will testify to confirm this, including her work improvement after finally leaving the group.

Sue Little paid Defendants $45,850.00, plus another $2,220.00 in babysitting. Approximately 288 hours of labor were provided at approximate value of $3,600.

In August of 1996, after returning from Wellspring, the EEG showed that the abnormalities had disappeared.  She has had no further seizures.

Denise Trout

Denise and her husband Mike began marriage counseling with Gottuso in 1981.  Gottuso continued this counseling until she left.  Although Gottuso said he had lost his license, he said he could still counsel, he just couldn’t bill insurance.

Her problem, counseled Gottuso, was that she was “into herself… sick… sin… out of the spirit.” She always fell short of his standards, never quite making it.  He bounced her around, whatever she did wasn’t right, and she was left  just trying to figure out what she was supposed to do.  Major decisions were turned over to him.

Gottuso violated her confidence and privacy by telling her private confidences to the group.  He said this was for her own good; that he loved her enough to take the time to do it.

All marriage problems were her fault.  She was instructed to go along with whatever Mike wanted.   At one point, Gottuso told Denise to have sex with her husband three times a day for several months, and thereafter repeated this order several times over the course of a year.  The idea was that Denise would learn to be submissive, ready and available.  Gottuso wanted to know why she had a problem with anal sex.  Just get a bowl of soupy water and make everything clean before you do it.”

When many of the women left in the 1980’s claiming improper sex, Gottuso stated it was over-exaggerated, that he never had sex with another woman for his own personal gratification.

She also never learned about Gottuso’s arrest for sexual abuse of minors in 1992.  Gottuso said, “How can they (the women who left) look at themselves in the mirror.”

When her husband left the therapy counseling sessions, Gottuso asked her to enter into a “deeper, special relationship.”  It  would be a covenant, more involved than that of  her husband.  It would help make her marriage work.   Supposedly this covenant would teach her to submit, not argue and “be available at any time.”  Also, Gottuso counseled it would keep Denise happy and fill voids in her  marriage; thus she wouldn’t nag her husband and be focused on her marriage all the time.  At this time, Gottuso began to touch Denise’s breasts and crotch whenever they passed and no one was looking around.

Gottuso asked when she was most turned on, and she said after her period.  He instructed her to call the next time and come to his office.  When she did, he said, “Well?” and waited… then asked, “What would you do?”  He had her sit on his lap and they kissed. In another session, Gottuso asked her to show him how she kissed someone… When she did it turned into a long French kiss.  He said, “You never kissed me like that before.”

She used to sleep at the Gottuso’s home after group meetings because her home was 65 miles away, work was closer and she started work  at 3:00 a.m.   On one of the first times, Gottuso came into the bathroom and  put his hand up Denise’s shorts until he touched the vaginal area.  Ultimately, when his own wife was asleep, Gottuso would come in and say, “Are you ready? Then he’d leave saying, “let me know when you’re ready.”  Other times, Gottuso would stand over her without saying a word and wait for her to do something.  He didn’t speak.  Other times, there would be a rub on the back, but eventually it led to sex.  Sometimes it was oral sex.  He would stop.  Gottuso never climaxed.  He would usually end it by saying, “I can tell you don’t really want to.” These encounters occurred every few months over approximately 12 years.  This was all supposed to help her become free sexually and help her marriage.

Denise cleaned house regularly for Sharron Gottuso and was usually there by herself.  Gottuso would stop in and talk; sometimes it turned into an actual session in his office.  There was always touching — after the first few times no kissing, just groping, sometimes over the clothes, sometimes under.

For eight years she tried to leave the group, but Gottuso would always tell her that she should reconsider leaving, and made her feel guilty to even think of leaving.  Gottuso said, “After everything your family’s been given, how could you consider leaving?He asked her how many hours  she spends sleeping, working, eating, etc.; and how many hours actually in Arcadia (Fellowship), pointing out going to Arcadia wasn’t her  problem.  Gottuso said, Trout is going to be like a partner who regularly says they want a divorce… eventually we’ll tell you to go and not come back.”

But if she left, she’d be out there by herself.  Her life would be empty.  Gottuso said she would hook up with someone and have an affair.  She wouldn’t make it.  He told her that she and Julia would have a lesbian affair if she left.

Leaving and/or disobeying was indeed difficult.  The group had became her social life, her support group.   Before going there she had felt she didn’t really fit in or belong anywhere.  She had not felt accepted anywhere else before like she was in this group.  Denise was afraid that if she left she would be alone again.  And Gottuso told her she needed ongoing counseling to keep her marriage together.  If she left she would have to deal with her problems herself.  She was even told on a Thursday night that if she left, she would be out there by herself.  She felt her life would be empty.  She wouldn’t make it apart from the group.  Gottuso said she was at the lowest end of the group and the most in need.

But in the end, she began to entertain a doubt that her past sexual contact with Gottuso was part of therapy; but maybe was for Gottuso.  She tried to avoid sexual involvement, but could not.  He made her feel indebted.  She started sleeping in her car at the store parking lot, rather than at  Gottuso’s  home.

Denise Trout provided services cleaning Gottuso’s house approximately 60 times.  This is a value of $18,000.     Financial payments to Defendants totaled $37,778.00.

She has been left with depression, anger, confusion, lack of trust, doubts over belief system, tendencies to be submissive, loss of sleep, nightmares, difficulties with commitment, fear and a ruined marriage.  She is now divorced.

She has been in extensive psychotherapy since first with Greg Hamlin at Shephard’s House from November l995 to May l996 and from May 1996 on with Craig Jiroch.

Mr. Hemlin diagnosed Denise as having an Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood (309.0).  Her depression resulted from the breakup of her marriage (which Mr. Hemlin noted was affected by Gottuso) and the “trauma of religious, sexual and psychological abuse allegedly perpetrated by Dr. Gottuso.”  Her prognosis was good as long as she has access to individual psychotherapy.[91]

VI.      THE LAW

A.        Psychological malpractice.

John Gottuso was a licensed therapist until l989.  At that time both he and the Fellowship were paid for the counseling.  The private sessions spilled over into Thursday Night group where private matters learned by Gottuso in private counseling were put before the group to be “dealt with.” His patients were required to attend.  His theory was Psytheosynthesis. The combining of psychology and theology. In and of itself, such merger is malpractice — A dual role relationship.  After he lost his license, he continued counseling on behalf of Christ-Bridge.  This is reflected in Fellowship board minutes, as well as that all Defendants knew of Gottuso’s loss of license for sex with clients/members and of the State of California action to keep him from kids.

This is important not only in making Defendants responsible for the malpractice, but it clearly brings in the Church Mutual second annual one million dollar policy (six years) for “counseling” malpractice (see below).

Much of the malpractice began while Gottuso had a license.  But Plaintiffs claim the counseling after he lost it was not just spiritual, but  primarily psychology.  Nothing changed.  Plaintiffs were misled to believe he could still give therapy.  To some it was pointed out he still had his degree.  Some were told falsely he surrendered his license temporarily, could still counsel, and could get his license back when he wanted to; the accusing women lied, but he did want to go through the process in order to protect the Fellowship.  Some were never even told he lost his license.  Gottuso still practiced Psytheosynthesis. Some Plaintiffs even made their checks payable to PTS.

This issue of his practicing after losing his license is important mainly in determining if treble damages and attorney fees are obtainable.  And if Gottuso practiced therapy without a license, while the standard of care still applies, Defendants are liable for any damage that follows.  As stated in McKay v. Longsworth (1989) 211 Cal.App.3d 1592, 260 Cal.Rptr. 250, not only is one engaged in activity requiring a license responsible as if he had a license, he is not subject to same protections a licensed person charged with the same tort might have. Impropriety of methods need not be proved.  The mere engagement is a misdemeanor; such conduct is to be discouraged and not protected by immunity from civil liability.[92]

Even, however, if it is found he stopped therapy in l990, the duty of a therapist to not harm his client does not dissipate with the end of therapy, particularly if the counseling continues in the same or similar manner as Defendants’ claim, i.e., a label change (spiritual)… (See APA ethics).

The improper counseling has been set forth above.  It also is unethical for a therapist to promote himself as having special ability, a better therapy or use testimonials.  Therapists are not to socialize with patients (APA ethics), or enter into dual relationships.

Then, of course there was sex. If Gottuso is deemed to have continued to have practiced therapy after losing his license then the strict liability of CCP 43.93 applies, i.e., a therapist is liable if he has sex with a client during or within two years of termination.  If it is found he did not so practice, he is strictly liable for sexual acts  until l992, i.e., two years after therapy  terminated (CCP 43.93).

It is a question of fact beyond that.  The American Psychological Association Ethics 4.07 states: “..not engage in sexual intimacies with a former therapy patient or client for at least two years…

“Because sexual intimacies with a former therapy patient or client are so frequently harmful to the patient or clients…do not engage…even after a two year interval except in the most unusual circumstances… (and if does) bears the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation…”

Factors are (1) time, (2) nature of treatment (here total control), (3) circumstances of termination (lost license but allegedly continued under guise of spiritual counseling), (4) personal history (dependency), (5) current mental status ( said they were all dysfunctional), (6) Likelihood of severe adverse impact (obvious), (7) statements or actions made during therapy inviting post relationship (Gottuso had a seduction pattern  repeated with all victims which began in therapy).

Since it is alleged all Plaintiffs were receiving psychological family counseling from Dr. Gottuso, on behalf of Defendants, and as each act alleged affected the “family,” each act violated the duty to each member of that family, a duty not to harm the family unit for which counseling was sought.  Marlene F. v. Affiliated Psychiatric Med. Clinic, Inc., 48 Cal.3d 583, 257 Cal.Rptr. 98.  The duty not to breach trust, such as having an affair with the patient’s spouse, extends beyond counseling and includes social situations.  Mazza v. Huffaker, 388 S.E.2d 833.[93] Further, it continues even after formal therapy ends.

Thus, the major damages to Marshall Rodan, Evelyn Rodan and Julia James, i.e., what was done to their children, and as to Glen Little, what was done to his wife, are recoverable.

Other malpractice includes revealing private information obtained in counseling and forcing members to reveal their private matters to the other members. This is actionable.  Cutter v. Brownbridge (l986) 183 Cal. App. 3d 836.  Further, Defendants demeaned Plaintiffs with their name calling.

The “breakthrough” “death of self” “battle for life” were all designed to make Plaintiffs dependent on Defendants, contrary to the standard of practice goal to make clients/patients independent and capable of their own decision making (APA Ethics).

The methods of “indoctrination” in this “cure” are also malpractice per se.  Defendants “diagnosed” all patients/followers as suffering from “idolatry;” each patient/follower is then humiliated and degraded over personal goals and desires for self.  Rather than accomplishing goals, one must give them up and instead give themselves to Gottuso and the Fellowship.  To accomplish this, patients/followers were molded into a group, which employed rewards and punishment systems, similar to those experienced by the Korean prisoners of war, to modify belief structures.  To leave was to give up on the battle of life, God and to be dysfunctional.  In essence, they were brainwashed.

Patients/followers who attempted to assert themselves were “authority bitches” or into “Ass power.”  To be “sane” was to be obedient. All women were to be submissive to men and all men were to dominate their women.  And to criticize meant one had a “hidden agenda.”

The Defense may argue that much of this is religious dogma and not actionable.   But Defendants mixed it with therapy and called it scientific.  First Amendment privileges are lost if representations are secular, i.e., psychological.  Christofferson v. Church of Scientology of Portland (1982) 644 P. 2d 577;  Van Schaick v. Church of Scientology, 535 F.Supp 1125.  And torts are not protected by the First Amendment (see Molko, infra).

B.        Fraud

It is clear from  Fellowship Minutes  the Defendants knew the State of California was taking action against the pre-school after Gottuso lost his license for sexual improprieties including allegations concerning children.  The Fellowship resolved that an agreement be made with the State that Gottuso not be involved with the school, allowed at the school or near the children.  Not only were parents of students not told, but after the agreement with the State, the Fellowship resolved to drop the pre-school, keeping a  private grade school which is not subject to State licensing.  Further, they resolved to change the name of the Fellowship and the school (see Board minutes).

While all Defendants continued to recommend all Plaintiffs attend the school and go to Gottuso for all advice and counseling, Defendants concealed from Plaintiffs what occurred sexually to the women, and in the two licensing actions.  Later, they concealed Gottuso’s 1992 arrest and plea bargain.

Nor were Plaintiffs advised Gottuso settled his prior civil litigation charging him with sexual misconduct.[94] Perhaps, most fraudulent, Parents were not told of what was happening to their children in “Bible Class” and the students were threatened not to reveal it.

In Randi W. v. Muroc Joint Unified School District, (1997) 60 Cal.Rptr.2d 263, the Supreme Court held teachers at different schools who wrote recommendations for the hiring of a school administrator by the Muroc Joint Unified School District liable for negligent representation and fraud because they withheld knowledge of charges made against said administrator at their schools.  At one school, the administrator was accused of hugging, back massages and sexual remarks.  At another he was charged with leading a panty raid, sexual overtures and remarks.  At a third school, the Defendant knew of charges that the administrator had committed sexual touchings on female students.

Randi held that when these teachers made an affirmative representation as to the good morality, conduct and qualifications of the administrator to Muroc, they had an affirmative obligation to advise of those charges, and the failure to do so, was both negligence and fraud. The Supreme Court held there was a duty to prevent a resulting physical injury to the students at Muroc, and each teacher was held to be liable for said conduct to the students who were ultimately abused at the Muroc school.  At 272-275.

The Supreme Court further in Randi W., held that “one of society’s highest priorities is to protect children from sexual or physical abuse.” It held there was a duty of all citizens to protect children from same.  At 270.

The recommendations, the high court stated, made about the administrator were “misleading half-truths.”  As Defendants had undertaken to provide some information, they “were obliged to disclose all of the facts which could materially qualify the limited facts disclosed.”

In the herein case, Plaintiffs allege that each of the Defendants recommended to the Plaintiffs that they go to school, put their children in the Bible class, and go to John Gottuso for advice on all issues.  The school brochure promised a safe environment, with qualified skilled teachers and subjects suitable to each child’s age.

In this case, we do not seek, as in Randi W., to extend liability to injured students at another school where abuse occurred.  Herein, the issue is not of Defendants recommending another school hire Gottuso, but where Defendants actually hired, participated and supported the appointment, making representations directly to Plaintiffs  that they should participate as students and in counseling with Defendant Gottuso.  And Defendants had knowledge of the charges, the agreement with the State of California, the criminal arrest, all regarding Gottuso, and knew the reasons Gottuso lost his license, none of which they revealed to the Plaintiffs.


1.         Fiduciary Duty

A fiduciary relationship exists whenever trust and confidence is reposed by one person in the integrity and fidelity of another. A breach of same allows the awarding of punitive damages. Michelson v. Hamada (l994) 29 Cal.App 4th 1566, 1581-1582.

Teachers, as loco parentis, are fiduciaries.  Phyllis P. v. Superior Court (1986)  183 Cal.App.3d 1193, 1196. Psychotherapists have a fiduciary relationship of trust with a patient.  Ford v. Shearson Neiman American Express Inc. (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d 1011.  As in Ford the fiduciary obligations continue even after the therapy ends.

As to a Church and/or clergymen, the leading case is Molko v. Holy Spirit Association (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1092 involving two adult law students  invited to dinner and an indoctrina­tion camp, while told the organiza­tion was not the Moonies.  Plaintiffs alleged they were then brainwashed and thus remained after learning the identification of the  Church.  They were subsequently kidnaped by their parents, deprogrammed and then brought a civil lawsuit.[95]

The court citing Peterson v. Sorlien (Minn. 1981) 299 N.W. 2d 123, stated brainwashing isa forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas.”[96]

Importantly, the court held such deceptions a breach of plaintiff’s trust in the integrity of those who are promising to make their lives more meaningful (1112).”  This is the same definition of a fiduciary relationship, i.e., a condition of trust.  See Michelson, supra, above.[97]

Molko cited a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions setting forth that the freedom of religion clause protects only belief, but not conduct, which remains subject to regulation for protection of society (citing Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (112-113).[98]

As the fraudulent practices in Molko, i.e., “heavenly deception (one may tell a lie to further God),” were done pursuant to a religious belief, the court addressed whether or not the state’s interest in allowing tort liability for deceptive practice was important enough to outweigh any burden it might impose on religious conduct.  The court found no difficulty in finding that the conduct was a substantial threat to public safety, peace or order.

The court noted as submitting to “coercive persuasion,” without consent, as alleged herein, may cause development of serious and sometimes irreversible physical and psychiatric disorders up to and including schizophrenia, self-mutilization and suicide,[99] the state clearly has a compelling interest in preventing its citizens from being deceived into such a potentially dangerous process (117-118).

Following, in 1992, came Wollersheim vs. Scientology, 212 Cal.App.3d 872, 260 Cal.Rptr. 640, wherein Scientology acted oppressively on a susceptible Plaintiff using the religious doctrine of “fair game” (an enemy may be destroyed) to threaten harassment if plaintiff ever left or posed a threat to the organization.

The lawsuit, like herein, covered long ago events.  From 1973 through 1979, Wollersheim went through Scientology “auditing” and was persuaded to do religious training aboard a Scientology ship run as a military regime.  He attempted to escape but was held captive.  Later, he was convinced to disconnect from his wife, parents and other family members and was advised if he ever left the organization, he would have to pay a freeloader debt for services rendered (similar allegations are in this case).

Concerned the religious auditing was causing him psychiatric problems, he finally left, and Scientology then implemented a “fair game” campaign to destroy him and his businesses.  There was testimony that while doing the auditing, he was subjected to practices of brainwashing (coercive persuasion).  The jury awarded Wollersheim $5,000,000 compensatory damages and $25,000,000 punitive damages.  The appellate court held the above acts constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress. The outrageous conduct included (1) auditing aggravating his bipolar mania, (2) forcing him to disconnect with his family, (3) disclosing private information obtained during auditing, and (4) conducting a retribution campaign — fair game.

In finding the same outrageous, the appellate court, as in Molko, noted again a fiduciary type of trust, saying Scientology had used “its position as his religious leader… forced Wollersheim to continue auditing… compelled him to abandon his wife and his family through the policy of disconnect… forbidding him to seek professional help when he became suicidal and then forcing his financial ruin.”

The court stated,Any one of these acts exceeds the bounds usually tolerated by a decent society.” (Pgs 881-882).  The court further added, “It was outrageous physically restraining him from leaving the church ship.  If not calculated to cause emotional distress, it unquestionably constituted a reckless disregard for the likelihood of causing same.” (882)

Scientology argued the conduct was religious expression, but the court concluded some was not protected even if Wollersheim had freely participated.  The conduct was not related to religious thought, but to practices designed to run the religion.[100]

Further, while Scientology’s auditing was a religious practice, Scientology knew it was leading Wollersheim to psychological harm.  Auditing was also actionable as participation was due to coercion.[101]

The court held intentional disclosure of private information obtained during auditing does not qualify as a religious expression.  The same occurred  in this action.[102]

2.         Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

In addition, in Molko the California high court ruled the state has a compel­ling interest in protecting the family institution,” as alleged in this case, and noted a family invariably suffers when one of its members is unknowingly subjected to coercive persuasion (118).

The court further held such seduction supports an action for intentional infliction of emotional distress (1120).  Even if it was not intended to cause harm, there was a reckless disregard of the probability of causing same (1121).  It was further outrageous and exceeds all bounds usually tolerated by a decent society.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages actions for sex with therapist is recognized in Waters v. Bourhis (1985) 40 Cal.3d 424, 709 P.2d 469; 220 Cal. Rptr. 666.  Sexual abuse with minors is also outrageous conduct that meets the requirements for an award of punitive damages.  Angie v. Superior Court, (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 1217, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 197 (supports a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress).

Sexual abuse and harassment includes a teacher staring at a student, inappropriate touching, including touching buttocks, winking, use of nicknames, touching sexually over clothing.  Oona v. Santa Rosa City Schools, (1995) 890 F.Supp 1452.

And in Phyllis v. Superior Court (1986) 183 Cal.App.3d 1193, 228 Cal.Rptr. 776 the court found under circumstances similar to this case the sexual abuse to a minor in school is classified as an intentional tort towards the parents of the minor as well.

3.         Duty to Parents of Students

In Phyllis, supra, a child was repeatedly sexually harassed by another student.  It was reported to the school who took action against the abusing child, but never advised or warned the victim’s parents.

The mother alleged that had she been informed of the earlier sexual assaults she could have taken precautionary measures to prevent the rape which ultimately occurred.  As a result of defendants’ failure to notify her of these assaults, she suffered severe emotional distress, both because of the rape and because she has had to observe the “physiological and psychological deterioration of her daughter from a happy, well adjusted, above average student, to a morose, sullen, despondent and withdrawn, near failing student over a period of thirteen weeks.”

Defendants, standing in loco parentis, were held to have breached a number of duties owed to mother, including the duty to supervise the minor both on the school grounds and en route to and from school, the duty to notify mother of the repeated sexual assaults, the duty to report such assaults to a child protective agency (which presumably would have notified parent), and the duty to obtain mother’s written consent before placing Ciera “in a program of psychological treatment dealing with matters of a sensitive sexual nature.”

Citing Johnson v. County of Los Angeles (1983) 143 Cal.App.3d 298; 191 Cal.Rptr. 704 (sheriffs, who acknowledged to wife they were aware of husband’s psychological problems yet released him from jail without notifying wife, were responsible to wife for husband’s suicide due to “special relationship”requiring a duty to warn of release), Phyliss held school and employees had a “special relationship” requiring they notify parents of sexual assaults to child.  The court noted the mother’s shock to discover not only the rape, but of prior incidents.  The court stated:

“In Molien v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (1980) 27 Cal.3d 916, 167 Cal.Rptr. 831, the court determined that a defendant was liable for emotional distress injuries caused where, under all the circumstances of the case, the ordinary prudent person reasonably could have foreseen such injury.  In the present case, defendants engaged in a ‘cover‑up’ which they should have foreseen would cause petitioner more emotional distress than merely informing her of the incidents in the first place.  Petitioner’s emotional distress was compounded when she learned of the rape, which she felt could have been prevented, and when she thereafter witnessed the physical and emotional deterioration of her child.”

Herein, Gottuso certainly knew of the assaults.  And the touching of children in school were widespread.  The sexual and other humiliation the children suffered in “Bible Class” were witnessed by the teachers and approved.  But by policy, parents were not told of the sexual and psychological “counseling” their children were enduring.  Nor were they told of the 1992 criminal charges.  And the students were told to keep quiet.

The family counseling, to benefit family relationships, also created a “special relationship” to parents broken by the concealed abuse of their children.  Marlene F., supra.

D.        Negligence

1.         Gottuso

It follows that the intentional acts alleged above also establish negligence.  And as Gottuso claims his sexual contacts were not intended to be sexual, but counseling, then he has acted negligently.

As to the sexual contacts with patients and former patients, the California Supreme Court in Waters v. Bourhis (1985) 40 Cal.3d 424, 709 P.2d 469; 220 Cal.Rptr. 666 held same a hybrid that includes ordinary torts as well as malpractice.

Staring, inappropriate touching, including touching buttocks, winking, use of nicknames, touching over clothing, constitutes a tort by a teacher on his students, including sexual abuse and sexual harassment.  Oona v. Santa Rosa City Schools, (1995) 890 F.Supp 1452.[103]

2.         Other Defendants

a.  Negligent hiring, supervising

Other Defendants are the Fellowship (Parkview-ChristBridge), operating a church and  school (Holly Oak — ChristBridge),  Board of trustees , School officials  and teachers.  As stated above, Defendants allowed Gottuso to run the church and school, teach sex, provide therapy and harass (without knowledge of parents) the students, all with knowledge of Gottuso’s history, that he lost his therapy license for sexual abuse, had settled (along with the Fellowship) a civil suit for the same, the State had taken action to keep him from children, and that he was arrested in l992 for child abuse..  Several of the female Defendants knew personally of Gottuso’s sexual intentions as they were having such relationships with him.  As stated in the II.  History, people wrote and visited the Board regarding same, even warning the Defendants would be liable for damages if Gottuso harmed the kids.

Defendants further took actions to cover-up.  The name changes took place after the State action, as well as the decision to drop the pre-school.  A grade school is not licensed.

When the police came to the school in l992, Gottuso was hidden by Defendants.

After this case was filed, the school moved again  and Defendants lied to the landlord re Gottuso’s involvement in order continue.

Virginia G. v. ABC Unified School District, (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 1848, 19 Cal.Rptr.2d 67 held there is a special relationship formed between a school and its students so as to impose an affirmative duty on the school to take all reasonable steps to protect its students; thus, there is a duty to protect students from sexual assaults by a teacher if individual school employees responsible for hiring or supervising teachers knew or should have known of the teacher’s prior sexual misconduct toward students, and, that the teacher posed a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to students under his supervision.  The school employees owed a duty to protect the students from such harm.[104]

The same rule applies to Church counseling.  In Evan F. v. Hughson United Methodist Church (1992) 8 Cal.App.4th 828, 10 Cal.Rptr.2d 748, evidence Defendant had sexually molested males in the past was relevant to a subsequent child molestation; church held liable.  Herein, the State tried to actually keep Gottuso away from children.  All Defendants knew this.[105]

And in Randi W. v. Muroc Joint Unified School District, (1997) 60 Cal.Rptr.2d 263, supra, The California Supreme Court held teachers making positive recommendations for hiring liable for negligence, as well as fraud, to subsequently abused students due to failure to disclose knowledge of prior sex abuse charges.  The high court stated there was a duty of all citizens to protect children from same (At 270).   Per Phyliss, supra, this duty runs to the parents as well, they are direct victims entitled to sue.

In Oona, supra,  the court cited, with approval the United States Supreme Court in Franklin, supra, Footnote 14, stating a school’s failure to take appropriate action against a teacher could be circumstantial evidence of intent to discriminate by the school (see Oona, Page 1466).

In Oona, supervisorial liability was found to be sufficiently alleged against teachers by allegations that the assistant teacher committed acts of harassments against female students in “clear view” of Defendants.  Liability also attaches if the teachers failed to respond appropriately to (assistant teacher) conduct (1468).”[106]

Like Virginia G. supra, Leger v. Stockton Unified School District, (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 1448, 249 Cal.Rptr. 688 also held that a principal who fails to supervise a teacher that he knew or should have known might cause harm to a student is liable.   More important Leger stated this liability applies equally to a private school, i.e., a duty to provide supervision with respect to a particular activity if the school officials could reasonably anticipate that supervision was required.

“…the question of private school negligence is one for the jury if there is evidence of the existence of a danger known to the school authorities, with a neglect to guard the student against such danger, or if there is an unknown danger which the school, by the exercise of ordinary care as a reasonably prudent person, would have discovered… (1461)

“Where the liability of the private school is sought to be predicated on alleged negligence of teachers or other employees or agents of the school, it is generally recognized that liability on the part of the school may be established under the doctrine of respondent superior that negligence within the scope of their employment is shown.  (At 1462).”[107]

Also on point is Pamela L. v. Farmer (1980) 112 Cal.App.3d 206, 169 Cal.Rptr. 282.  A wife’s husband sexually assaulted three minors in her home while she was at work. As she knew of her husband’s prior acts, knew the children were invited and did not warn the children or their parents she was liable.  The inviting of the children to their homes, with the implications of safety, created a special relationship.[108] Sharron Gottuso knew what was happening in her home.

b.  Failure to report

Penal code 11166 requires teachers, administrators, churches, pastors, therapists, counselors to report to Department of Social Services any observations of child abuse.  Despite the constant touchings by Gottuso on school, and his misconduct in Bible classes, none of this was reported.  Nor did any teachers report after told of Gottuso’s abuse by certain students.

In Randi, supra, the California Supreme Court noted that teachers obligated to report under Penal Code 11166 are liable for subsequent damages resulting from said failure to any other students within their custodial protection (the herein Student Plaintiffs) (at 276).

And People v. Hodges, 10 Cal.App.4th Supp. 20, 13 Cal.Rptr.2d 412,  held  a Pastor and Assistant Pastor, who also were president and principal of the church school, were required to report information received of a violation of a child care custodian who they know, or suspect, may have committed child abuse. Defendants were convicted despite First Amendment claims.

In Hodges, the child reported to Defendants who were pastors and assistant pastors at the South Bay Christian Academy, a school operated by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church, that she had been molested by a minister in the church for several years.  She told this to her classroom teacher, as well as the administrator (pastor).  Touchings included breasts and private parts.[109] See also Phyllis, supra.[110]


Plaintiffs provided donations, services  and labor to Defendants, including Gottuso’s home.  The American Psychological Association ethics prohibits a therapist using clients for a work force, voluntary or otherwise, and/or accepting gifts and donations.  As Gottuso was not licensed post 1989 payments for this therapy may not be retained.

There is further the issue of coercive persuasion. The California Supreme Court in Molko v. Holy Spirit Association (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1092 allowed an action for restitution for gifts given to the church based on the allegations of coercive persuasion, i.e., undue influence used by one in whom a confidence has been placed, by use of authority over a person when said authority is used for obtaining an unfair  advantage.  The court stated, “When one party uses its dominant psychological position in an unfair manner to induce a subservient party to consent to an agreement to which he would otherwise not have consented... (1124)”.

As to “work days” even a Church, per the United States Supreme Court, must pay its followers at least minimum wagesTony and Susan Alamo Foundation v. Sec. of Labor (1985) 471 U.S. 290, 305 [85 L.Ed.2d 278, 290‑291, 105 S.Ct. 1953].


In addition to the other documents referred to herein there are tape recordings of Gottuso’s lecturing filled with his sexual preoccupation, diaries and canceled checks (payable to PTS, showing psychotherapy).  That Defendants continued to employ Gottuso with knowledge of charges is evident  in the Board minutes.  Plaintiff Glen Little took notes of telephone and in person confrontations with Gottuso.  Christie Rodan recorded in her diary.  Gottuso’s own therapy notes are equally revealing.  There are the flyers and letters mailed to the board and teachers warning of Gottuso.

There is additional ammunition in the prior civil case against Gottuso, but a gag order on discovery prevents disclosure of some information unless Defendants get permission from the court.  There is the prior settlement which involved the Fellowship.   All materials will be used at trial herein.  Nor has everything been set forth herein.  Before disclosing some matters we plan to first take Gottuso’s deposition.[111]

A.        Fellowship Board Minutes (taken by secretary to corporation)

Minutes of the Regular Meeting June 15, 1989


The possibility of John Gottuso doing spiritual counseling through the auspices of Parkview Christian Church was discussedJeff Schultz moved that if John Gottuso so desired, that he be authorized to do so.  Donna Conn seconded the motion.  The motion carried.

Minutes of the Annual Meeting August 24, 1989

School Name

A new name for the school was presented.  Discussion was held regarding changing the name of “Holly Oaks Christian School” to “Christ Bridge Academy”.  Melinda Simonson motioned to change the name to Christ Bridge Academy.  The motion was seconded by Glen Little and received the unanimous approval of the membership.

Minutes of the Regular Meeting October 5, 1989


Re-evaluated pastoral compensation as regards the manse allowance and decided to increase allowance to $1,500 a month beginning January 1990 until further notice.

8/30 Present 6:50

Dr. John, Dan, Jim, Matt, Jeff, Deb

Dr. John read article on group that is hired to “de-program” people out of “cults.”  Article went into backgrounds of the leaders of this group.  The Greens parents hired this group.

Board Meeting 3-1-90

Jeff, Saralee, Matt, Dan, John, Marshall

Appeal on Holly Oaks license — John volunteering to resign as administrator.  Sent to State — May 8th is date.

Discussion of name — Christview Immanuel Fellowship

Christ Bridge Immanuel Church

Christoak Immanuel Church

ChristYoke Immanuel Church

Christoak Immanuel Fellowship

Minutes of the Regular Meeting March 15, 1990


The Trustees unanimously agreed to sell the property at 141 West Las Tunas, Arcadia.  A copy of the resolution authorizing John Gottuso to act as our agent follows these minutes and is entered into the minute book.


An appeal is being made against the licensing of Holly Oaks.  Dr. Gottuso has chosen to resign as Administrator.  Date of appeal is May 8, 1990.

Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees of Parkview Christian Church

Request: (See Attached)

It was motioned by Jeff Schultz and seconded by Saralee DiGiorgio, to accept the request of Dr. Gottuso, effective April 1, 1990.  Motion carried unanimously.

“April 1, 1990



Please accept my request to transfer the administrative duties of

Holly Oaks Preschool to a new governing Board, effective

April 1, 1990.

Yours for the Cause of Christ.”

[signed by John Gottuso, citing his doctorate in pyschology.]


After a thorough discussion it was resolved to establish a new Board to run Holly Oaks Christian Preschool; motioned by James Axtel and seconded by Daniel Simonson.

Due to the above actions, the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

RESOLVED, that a separate three-member Board to oversee the operation of Holly Oaks Christian Preschool be established effective  April 15, 1990 and be comprised of Woodrow Wong, Diana Sanders and Rene Rutherford.

Minutes of the Special Meeting… August 2, 1990


After being recommended by the Board, that with a time of prayer and a period of time for trial usage (to see if Christ Bridge Immanuel Church fits the meaning and purpose of the Body) it was unanimously approved that we file a Fictitious Name Statement with the County Clerk’s Office to change the D.B.A. from Parkview Christian Church to Christ Bridge Immanuel Church.

Minutes of the Regular Meeting…October 11, 1990


Date set for hearing on pre-school is January 7, 1991. Board considering closing pre-school and instituting a Junior-kindergarten class.

Minutes of the Special Meeting…December 13, 1990

A special meeting of the Board of Trustees of Parkview Christian Church was held on December 13, 1990 at 6:30 p.m.  The meeting was called to order by Dan Simonson who presided over the meeting as Acting Chairperson in Dr. Gottuso’s absence.


It was reported that the pre-school is carrying on as usual.

Minutes of the Regular Meeting…January 31, 1991


Fictitious Business Name: DBA for Christ Bridge Immanuel Church and Christ Bridge Academy are officially registered with the L. A. County Clerk’s office.


Michael Hurd has been selected to head up the team at TAP in the East.  Requirements were divine call to ministry, at least 21 years old, 5 years in ministry, spiritually mature.  Dr. John will be going East this weekend to introduce him to the staff and for a time of integrating.

Board Meeting 3/15 6:40

Saralee suggests phasing out pre-school.  If we sell, we need to look for new facility.  Do we want a school at all?  Yes!

Thurs. 3/29 6:55

Thurs. 4/26 7 p.m.

Selling of Property on Las Tunas offers several options.

Is it wise to keep it or time to move on appeal on Holly Oaks.

License attached to building not organization — lose bldg lose license.

John resigned as administrator effective April 1.

New board effective, April 15

Woody,  Diana, Renee

Overseer board, separate from faculty.

Philosophy, policy, procedure is implemented at school.

Academic institution w/ spiritual framework.

Even w/ sale, better to resolve now so when we apply for new license may come up again.

School board cannot be anyone who is on church board.

John, Renee, Woody, Saralee, Denise, Matt, Aliviara, Marshall, Jim, Jeff, Diana, Melinda, Dan

Thurs. 7/5 6:30

Thurs. 8/2 6:30

Christ Bridge Immanuel Church

Matt as 1st Alt. is replacing Saralee as trustee on board due to her involvement.  Education the job of the family — spiritual training in pre-school not for outsiders.

Woody still administrator of pre-school Saralee is his representative in his absence.

Rent at CBA doubled.

John, Dan, Jeff, Saralee, Deb, Matt, Marshall, Woody, Jim

Thurs. 12/20 6:45

Pre-school closes Dec. 21, scheduled to re-open in Jan. Still not shut-down by the state.

Winter retreat — pray something will open up.

Jeff, Dan, Jim, Matt, Woody, Marshall, Denise

Special Meeting of the Board September 23, 1991

A Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees of Parkview Christian Church was held on September 23, 1991 at 9:30 p.m. at 370 West Las Flores, Arcadia, California, for the purpose of considering the Stipulation and Waiver/Decision and Order submitted by counsel in the matter of the Accusation against Parkview Christian Church by the Department of Social Services, Case No. 62892281, OAH No. L-48977, involving the licensing of Holly Oaks Christian Preschool and Christcare Family Learning Center.

A quorum of the Board of Trustees being present, and it having been duly moved and seconded, the following resolution was adopted:

RESOLVED: That Dr. John Gottuso is authorized

To sign said Stipulation and Waiver on behalf of

Parkview Christian Church


James Axtel and Jeff Schultz

B.        Diary of Christie Rodan [112]

(It begins at the tender  age of 12.  Undated entries are placed in chronological order corresponding to approximate times they were made).

January 4, 1988.  Dr. John, I can tell, doesn’t think very much of me.  He said one of us was an elephant, a monkey, a giraffe.  He thought I wasn’t in the spirit.

January 7, l988:  Dr. John counseled just us four… It was grabbing… That was the first time I saw daddy cry, I felt funny.  I was sick today.  I prayed for myself, too.  We’re fixing to go to Thursday night Bible study… We learned a lot about ourselves this afternoon!  I was next to open up and share.

March 30, l988: We have to go to “therapy” with Dr. John.  I’m “dreading tomorrow.”

October 8, l988: Daddy says that people at Campus Crusade for Christ like Myra, Jama, Bill, Maurine, Cathy, Peter are trying to shut down Holly Oaks.  Jesus said it would happen.  They are also trying to hurt us kids.  Imagine Christians hurting other Christians.  They sent letters to our grandparents saying how bad it was to be in the Fellowship.

Oct. 16, 1988: I wonder if I am pretty… What purpose does God have for my life.  I thought I always wanted to be someone’s bride.  But one day — Thursday — Dr. John said that we are the bride of Christ… It never struck me that way before.

November 4, l988: Damn really worried today.  Dr. John read our poems.  He could find something wrong with everyone.  Soon we’ll have to read him our stories.  I wrote a story about a poor boy who fights a little man and rescues a princess and they get married.  When I wrote this I thought marriage was life but now its different… we had a talk…. I’m afraid he will think that I am into that stuff (sex), and the truth is, I don’t know if I am or not.  I’m not into marriage, that’s for sure.  Oh well, just think of Monica! I’m not the only one.

December 3, l988: I don’t like to watch Laverne & Shirley; I’m afraid I will see something dysfunctional and worry about it for a long time.

December 15, l988: Today, I had another therapy. Mom wasn’t there.  I’m getting used to it.  Again, we talked about the same thing (sex).

December 29,1988: In therapy, we stayed one hour, 45 minutes, of work went on, I needed it.  I might go regularly at a new schedule.

January 4, 1989 (age 13): We’re going to the library tomorrow, plus it’s therapy.  I don’t like therapy, the name sounds like we need some kind of mental health.  I like the name counseling better.  I will have to get a new therapy time for my “sex” therapy.

January 29, l989: A lot has been going on in me, mostly about sex. It’s a new area.  I feel as though I am the only one who’s ever gone through this.  I’m going to have my own therapy time…. Sex is just a word I label nasty.  If I think of having it with someone I think wrong — nasty — stop!  I really don’t picture action itself, which is wrong (Gottuso was instructing her to picture it).

February 12, l989: Last Thursday, I was in full time (therapy).  This was about having sex with another female… in other words gay or lesbian.  Dr. John sensed that I was more nervous than I have been before.  We talked about that, too.  The Thursday before went fine…(sex with God)… today I got a Barbie doll.  It has really dysfunctional bathing suits.

March 30, 1989: …I had… strange feeling like I was going crazy.  Everything seemed a swirl inside my head.  Asking questions like why are humans here, what is the purpose for life, etc.  I really felt like I was going crazy.  Crying out of confusion and fear… whether I was really a Christian… talked about it with Dr. John.  I finally decided to just accept Christ and forget the doubts…Then a little later in therapy, or “counseling,” if  Elaine was saved.  Then that night I kept wondering, wondering in vain, whether I was really a Christian… I Battled over this for about 2 weeks, talking about it with Dr. John.  I finally decided to just accept Christ and forget the doubts.  Next, I started to feel worthless, depressed about my problems, not any good (Problems Gottuso told her that she had regarding sex, not having God first, psychologically ill). I considered…considered means “what if” or thought about suicide. What would happen?  Why bother living?… I talked with Dr. John about it at counseling and school…Dr. John: you can’t go on the feeling level with God.  You need to go to the spiritual level.

I think there might be some kind of spiritual world, like the horror movies, where something or someone takes your brain and changes your mind

December 29, l989: Bible Class… started talking, how we do in counseling!  Oh my!  At one point D.J. asked a question (something like that) and my answer — I felt I had to say it or I’d be nailed or press it out of me — was sex.

I feel ever more so I am the only one who has that problem.  A conflict and now it seems everyone knows… or guesses what goes on in counseling or at least what I’m going through.  I was surprised he would talk about it and was shy the rest of the day.

December 31, 1989: It first started when I was talking to mom awhile back about how I disliked therapy. Part of it was about Dr. John and how sometimes he smiles a bit to make me smile… then he’d ask me why I was smiling.

Undated: The reason why I’m not really dealing … I have to turn to God and leave my other ways.  I don’t want to do that… talks with Dr. J. alone… I also am angry with Dr. John… perhaps that has something to do with it.

  1. 1.      Undated:  When I see someone on T.V. or in a store, I immediately limit my whole person to a vagina and their whole person to a penis. But all the truth I’ve ever learned I don’t exercise and challenge that because I like the thrill of either my fantasies of that person or just thinking sex with that person.

After I hear truth in Bible class, many times I don’t use it.  I let it sit and then I don’t mature and grow.  Then I get angry because someone else younger than me is older spiritually, more mature, a better person, when really it’s my fault that I didn’t do anything to grow.  I must remember that spiritual growth has nothing to do with being physically younger.

  1. 2.      Undated: “Belief is a lie that you say is true… don’t mess around with truth Don’t wait until you’re 18 or 25 or 105 to get with it right now.

Don’t say things flippantly.  Don’t mess around with truth. You deal with the truth, you battle in group, but don’t say it’s not true…  Word is absolute truth … don’t say it’s not … but sin is sin and destroys no matter how righteous you are or have been.

March 1, 1992: “I came up with why I want sex so much (which is really sin).  It’s not that every guy wants me.  It’s that I want every guy.  I want every guy’s penis.  I ask myself why.  I’ll get his penis that’s attached to his whole body and I get his whole power.  I get his power.  It’s something that I don’t have.  I have a struggle with God over who’s going to be God… Why won’t you go with Christ?  I can’t get the glory through sex.  Christie, who gets the glory anyhow?  You’re only one-half the party doing it.  He’s probably thinking how wonderful I am.  No,… he’s thinking how much  is he getting pleasure and gratification.  What makes you think he’s thinking of you?  I’ve got a warped view of my own self.  Encouraged by my fantasies that I constantly have.

If something’s a lie, that’s the way it’s going to be.  Reality is not interrupted by my own fantasies.  I know that it’s truth.  So what is reality?  What is real?  I wish I could change reality to go with whatever I feel… Who am I anyway.  How come I’m so great?

— I can have sex.  Big deal.  Ameba’s can have sex — So do dogs…

It would be great if a top guy chose me to have sex with him over all these other girls… Why would he choose me?  I believe that if I can get someone to choose me like that, I’ll be worshiped… in heaven.  But he’s worshiping himself.  So you have two self-worship persons.  Both thinking the other one’s worshiping them.

Undated (Fantasy writing):  “All of that juice, excitement, thrill and good feeling (learned in Bible class)… I am one half of the excitement makes… of course, he could do it with someone else, but that female would have the same power… How much power… must I really possess for him to be crawling all over me, moving back and forth with his pelvis in my vagina … If I could find the perfect man who would do this for the rest of my life … my life would be completely satisfied.

If I get tired of him I will find someone else who will do it and go til I get tired of him… “What if he gets tired of you?  What have you got to make him stay?”  How come… good looking adults …complain… world says: “Sex is ultimate answer.”  The problem isn’t sex, it’s sin.  SIN.

Undated:  I imagine that before the man and I have sex… (a detailed description of sex  goes on for several pages)… Does this ever get old?  Would he move to someone else if I get old and flabby?  Will I move to someone else?…  I find no problem with searching for someone else.  Who would do it better, more intensely … I have counted males that I have pretended and fantasized about.  How come he would want to stay and work his buns off just so he could have the privilege of having the sex experience with me… nothing will matter as long as we’re having sex.  What will happen when we’re old and gray?  What will happen if one of us gets sick?  What will happen if one of us can’t have sex … like he can’t ejaculate or one of us gets HIV.  What do I have that makes him so hot?

April 9, 1992: I don’t want to go crazy.  I know it’ll do me no good to ignore it.  So I want to deal. I must deal with whatever.

My fantasies are driving me farther and farther from the real world.

Also I don’t want to call Dr. John or talk to him… I’m not in the spirit and following Christ.  How come I don’t want to call him?  I don’t want to deal (but I do).  How come I don’t?  I’m afraid he’ll ask me if I want to have sex with himI always say yes.  If something can lead into trying it.  I don’t like that but I always feel better afterwards.

I’d just be calling him because I want to manipulate dad saying, “Well, I called Dr. John.  Can I get off grounding now?”

I just don’t want to.  I don’t want to get back into the class (this is when she was tossed out).

I think sex is life.  I think I’ll achieve life and admiration through sex.

I feel like you (D.J.) my parents and teachers are forcing me to be spiritual.

I vowed never to bow.  But I find I am.  It’s like there’s no escaping it. I have to be in the spirit, or I’m in real trouble.  I have to see him.

I know I’m getting harder.  I know that Christ can heal any hardness.  But I don’t want Christ as King… I wanna be king.  That’s how I’ve been thinking in my writing.

Undated: I want to be in this relationship with Christ… In my ‘theory’ I end up at death, murder, unhappiness… resentment against God and my parents because they won’t let me have sex the way I want to… But I know that sex isn’t a big deal because it’s just physical.  Lots can be proven against that… Maybe I should look at what I think I get from sex.  Lover.  That a whole guy is seduced by me… Maybe, it’s just to “establish myself” like I’m here and I’m “God.”

Undated: Today, I learned about faith… bowed to Jesus’ authority.  Jesus was ultimate authority and had ultimate power ….

Undated: I feel mad because I’m giving all this info about myself, take the heat, the looks, the thoughts like I’m a jerk obsessed, “crazy”… others think the same things and then he turns on me, puts me down in front of others even for the slightest thing and I hate it… Carissa (Gottuso’s daughter) gets talked to like she’s this good perfect one.

Undated: …(thoughts)… merely cover-ups for the real reason.  I don’t want to change my ways.  Oh, God, help me!  I’ve lost connection with my belly button (what Gottuso would say when she would complain)…

I am starting to resist and refuse the truth. I am getting confusion… sometimes … so into my room … and name all the people who don’t like me anymore or who know about my “problem” (wants sex).

Undated: I just had an insight.  Why am I so worried about my weight, will I or will I not have sex, I want to be good.

Undated: You will be stripped of the boobs and butt you think is life.

May 17, l992: I am a sinner.  All Fellowship through whatever I do, including sex, would be from a spirit with Christ… John says that if we confess our sins, we are faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

Howling... who does not own the sheep sees the wolf coming and leaves them behind and the wolf comes and scatters them.  Howling... someone who’s paid to stay by me just for what he can get.  If I get my sex in exchange for them “working” for me, then that’s a payment to the man.

How long will he stay.  When a wolf comes?  How long is my butt going to hold up?  But Christ owns me.  Don’t you think that a person loves the things that belong to them?

September 20, 1993: Here’s my life 18 years… Dr. J seems to strictly forbid any contact with anyone unless they believe strongly exactly as  does… they’ll never let me (Church) go until they are satisfied that they’ve successfully created a clone of themselves.  But I sure as hell never become like  them, or like those in my church with those plastic smiles (as Tracey says) and those daggers they hold, ready to stab all outsiders in the back!

Because of DJ, I’ve been grounded three times, once for three months, two weeks, six months in the last two and a half years. No TV, radio, books, games, drawings, writing, sports, talking to friends ever at school, and definitely not on the phone, and those hours in counseling which is really psych therapy.  I dread those and our Bible times.

Brainwashed.  They are all brainwashed.  I won’t conform to them.  Never…God, I hope no one reads this.

… I have a boyfriend who cares about me and no, DJ, I have not had sex with him.  I am not the whore that I was portrayed to be the last 5 years.  It’s common for girls to have hormones.  Am I a slut for saying I have them?

September 23, l993: “I’m not fat, I’m not ugly, I’m not a slut.  How can you people judge me like that.  Especially you, DJ?  Why do I even care about what you think?  I hate therapy, but I didn’t have to go today…”

September 29, 1993: I want to go to the moon.  It’s an escape.  I suppose up there no one can bother me.  Maybe my troubles will be some for a short while.  Why must existence be so tough, why must I go through this shit?

September 1993: I’ve been in therapy for 5 years.  I have resisted D.J.’s cloning.  I will not be his clone. I am an individual.  There are 4 things they can never take from me.  1. My individuality; 2. My secret thoughts; 3. The person that I love; you!; 4. My memories.

Fuck: the whole damn hypocritical system of my “church.”  I hate it and I want out.

My Life

By cunning lies you lead me in

And keep me by my talk of sin

There you hypnotize my mind

And tell me I’m hateful & unkind.

You want to lead me Farther till

I bend completely to your will

And with adoring eye I smile

And be your child.

Fills your needs.

You tell me I’m fat

You tell me I’m ugly

You tell me I’m stupid

You said I was a slut

You called  me a whore

And I believed you.

I feel captive to your word

Your word was law

And I was a law-abiding citizen

Until you cut me and I bled.

And from your sanctuary I Fled.

And shook loose the chains of your deception

And broke the bonds of pain…

And dared to love a Friend, another lover

And dared to have him love me back.

In his arms I’m wrapped today.

And you can’t get me, I’m far away.

October 3, l993: One day soon I want to move out, be on my own.  Yes, Dr. John, I said it. OOO.  On my own.  Am I the rebellious teenager you said I was or am I merely looking for myself. How should I know.

It is so true.  They can’t understand me.  They can’t understand anything.  I’ll go wrong in their eyes.  I’m automatically “the outsider.”

I don’t  know how much longer I’ll be going to that institution.

You don’t like my point of view and… I’m insane. That’s the way DJ views me — insane.  Thank God I’m out of that fucking class.  I wouldn’t have survived another year.

My life has always been plain, whether it is the way I’ve been forced to look, or the music I’ve been forced to listen to, or the calm, subdued attitude I’ve been told I must have.  Even the People that were chosen to be my friends are horribly plain.  And yet my life is not plain because it wasn’t, isn’t and never will be normal.

And every time I’m quiet, engulfed in my own thoughts — in my own world,

I’m always told in their whiny, nasal-filled, “curious” voices to “get involved.”

To “relate”.  I detest that.  I also detest when you, D.J.,  tell me I’m a heartless

& self-centered girl who believes her only goal in life is to have sex with every

guy she sees.  You have to know all my inner thoughts at all times.  No, D.J.,

you’re not going to control me any more!  I won’t be one of those starry-eyed,

adoring females who always sit at your feet & laughs at all your stupid jokes

& giggles & blushes when you harshly make fun of their “big butts.”  I’ve put

up with that too far long enough.  And I don’t have a big butt.  I’m not fat….

I wish I could just move  away, move away from this madness.  Leave the

perverted, twisted world of The Fellowship & lead  my own life.  I wish my

parents were understanding.  But you know what they say, When life is hard,

you have to change…  And that’s what I’m going to have to do.  Goodbye world

of religious hypocrisy & psychological torture.  I’m moving on.

October 21, 1993: If only he (boyfriend) knew everything I’ve gone through, but he can’t know.  He’ll never know.  I can’t tell him.  I promised myself I never would (refers to Gottuso touching).  All the psychological games.  I just want to fly away.

November 16, 1993:  I laugh when they kick me and beg for more.  My virginity is ripped from between my legs (Gottuso).  My heart is laid bare and open in their sight.  Nothing is mine anymore.  I have no identity.  Who am I and who is Christie Rodan?  The only name I’ve ever known: I say is Christie of the Fellowship.

Undated: You wrapped your arms around me and called me yours.

Robbed me of my soul and left me unable to cry.

My memories are crowded by your face.

Your voice haunts me in the evening.

When it arrives you are hovering over me.

Yes you wrapped your ugly arms around me and called me yours.

Then you slipped a dagger into my heart and laughed.


Glen Little, in 1996, having listened to Monica James and Christie Rodan, then confronted Gottuso by telephone, and took notes.  He also took notes right after speaking to him in person.  In both cases, he transferred them to his computer.

Gottuso: “What if it were all true?  I’m not saying it is or isn’t you understand?   I’m saying even if it were all true, then why don’t they have to love the way Christ says?  How come I’m supposed to be a certain way but they don’t have to.  Why, when it comes down to loving the way Christ says, love goes out the window?  If I’m supposedly so evil, if I’m their enemy, then Christ says to love your enemy.  So where’s all this wonderful Christian love for me, that’s what I want to know?… If I’m so terrible and sinful, isn’t God’s grace great enough for all my sin?  If I’m lost then Christ say’s  goes to save that lost sheep.  Am I beyond saving?  Is my sin greater than Christ’s power to save?  It can’t be.  So, if Christ died for my sins like He did for yours, aren’t I covered by grace like you and them?  I’m not saying I did or didn’t sin, I’m saying if I did, then doesn’t the love of Christ cover me like it does you? Of course.  But they don’t see that.  Suddenly Christ’s love is forgotten in the name of I’m supposed to be some kind of evil monster or something; A non-person, an unlovable monster like the devil.  Can you believe that?…Then if love is the greatest commandment, and I your brother am in sin, I mean supposedly, then why doesn’t anyone come and tie me down, and hold me down and stop me and love me enough to save me?  Huh?  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because there is no love!  There’s hate!  All in the name of I’m some kind of monster or something, and so therefore that they don’t have to obey Christ.  They won’t love the way Christ says to love, because they don’t want to live the way Christ says to live!

“I’ve dealt with thousands of these cases, with thousands of people, about all kinds of sexual stuff… They’re (the girls)  the ones who always bring it (sex) up.  And that day someone claimed they didn’t know what an orgasm was…Well first you hold hands and then what?  Then one of them said ‘kiss or something’.  So I kept asking ‘then what?’ because they acted like it was some mystical process or something when they already knew anyway.  So it got to one point and they had all clammed up, and nobody would be straight.  So I asked Melanie to come up front.  And I even said to myself, ‘You be careful Gottuso!‘  So she came up to the front of the class.  And I said like well ‘what do you do now?  You’ve held hands and kissed so now what?’  They kept playing dumb, like they didn’t know.  Finally someone said ‘you hug’.  So we hugged.  We’re standing in front of the class hugging.  So I have my arms around her and she has her’s around me.  So I say and ‘now what’, and they’re all giggling and laughing and it was funny.  No one had a problem with it.  So I kept asking ‘now what?’  So finally someone said ‘Oh, you have to move around a little.’  So then we moved our hips a little and everyone laughed.

“We had come back from vacation and everyone talked about how they had such a good  time.  So I had asked who had spent time praying or reading their Bible.  And hardly no one had.  So I challenged how they could have such great times without Christ.  I gave an assignment to read up and find some verses that would glorify God, of how Christ gave us things and blessed us.

“… I have never French kissed her (Monica).  Glen, why would I do something like that?  If I wanted sex I could get it all over the place.  I don’t have to get it that way.  I mean you can get sex anywhere for crying out loud.  You can just go buy it or just go to the bars.  Monica was the one who always brought it up to me.  She said that’s all she could think about was boys and it was getting in the way of her relating with Christ.  She was the one always talking about it.  I was just trying to help her.  She said she ‘felt ugly’.  And I said ‘I don’t think you’re ugly.’  She said ‘she ends up hurting everyone she loves and nobody likes her.’  I told her ‘I like you’.  She was the one who kissed and hugged me. I never demanded a kiss on the lips, they just used to do it.  I mean what’s the big deal.  But I never French kissed her, that’s a lie.” (Glen: “Did you touch your tongue to her tongue?” )… “Well, I may have opened my mouth a little bit.

Gottuso went on to add that he had grabbed the kids boobs and grabbed them “where the hair is short” all as attempts to get them to deal with their sexual idolatry.  He said he never instructed the kids to disrobe, but had laid down very close to Monica once at Rene Rutherford’s house.

“It was Monica who wanted to talk to me, not I who wanted to talk to her!  She was crying and saying ‘Please’.  So of course I was willing to talk to her.  And the place was all stacked up with boxes everywhere.  Rene was moving or remodeling over there.  Jeff and Dan were even there.  There was just no place to sit and talk but in the bedroom.  So we went in there and shut the door for her privacy.  There was no coercion into the bedroom.  It was her idea not mine.  So she was crying and sat down on the bed and held her hands over her face and was saying ‘I always hurt everyone who loves me,’ and ‘Nobody likes me anymore.’  So then I sat down beside her to comfort her cause she was obviously distraught.  Then she laid back on the bed with her hands on her face.  Her legs were over the edge touching the floor.  I never pushed her over!  I didn’t even touch her.  I remember thinking ‘You better watch out Gottuso!’ because I laid down beside her, sort of on my side you know?  I had my arm holding up my head and was careful not to even touch her.  I never laid on top of her!  That’s a complete distortion and fabrication.  I said to her, ‘I think you’re likable. I like you’ because she had said no one liked her anymore and was hurting and weeping. [113]

(Glen: “What about what Julia and Denise are saying, that this has been going on since 1985?”)… I don’t want to get into that without them present… I’ve never caused anyone to stumble or sin!  I am not the cause of anyone breaking with Christ or keeping them from Christ!  No one can stop someone from coming to Christ!  That is an absolute lie! … They’re just using that!”

(Second Session)

Gottuso accused Sue of “taking sides with Monica against Carissa (Gottuso’s daughter)

“She doesn’t have any friends because they know she’s serious about Christ and they aren’t.  They’ve abandoned relationship with her, not the other way around.  I know what they’re saying.  It’s a lie!  I don’t know what I’m gonna do when those kids (Calicia & Calissa) find out what’s being said.  Especially Carisa!  I don’t think I can hold her back.  She could just take her out.

5                “They have a cause so now they’re gonna build their case.”

Gottuso said he understood Glen’s “vestedness” that Glen just wanted a “peaceful-happy-perfect little home.  Me, my wife Sue, us four, no more…

“But (to Sue) I don’t understand what you’re in it for… Oh, I know!  You identify with Julia as being fat and unlovable, and that you have to go to work while he (Glen) does whatever he wants, then you have to come home and do housework.  So then you’ll get your house fixed up and divorce him just like Julia is doing!”

“It’s always the Fellowship kids that cause trouble especially the fringe kids.  They get all the training and all the benefits but aren’t thankful.  With the exception of Marisol, and her stuff ain’t straight, it’s only the fellowship kids who are making allegations.  That’s all they have.  They don’t have anything else.”  (Glen: did you counsel  other non-fellowship children at the school using the same methods?)… “They only have the fellowship kids.

“She (Tris) came to me!  She said ‘I want to have sex with you.’  And she started taking off her clothes.  I didn’t tell her to do it.  She was the one who kept telling me she was ‘thinking about sex all the time’.  So I got up and went to the window and looked outside.  She was over on the floor.  I don’t know what she was doing, she was moaning and making some noises, and I said, ‘Are you finished yet?  I’m not looking.’  Then she put her clothes back on.  I didn’t make her do anything.”

Again Gottuso said he pinched their boobs or grabbed them “where the hair was short” pointing just above the crotch to his pubic hair area, saying that “a little pain would get their attention” or “change their perspective.”

“They (James) wanted to set me up with that question.  They meant when would it be appropriate to be molesting or trying to get a little feel or something.  They wanted to catch me, they didn’t want to understand or come to resolution, they just want to nail me.  Why should I answer that?  They don’t want reconciliation or resolution.  They don’t want to win a brother.  They’re not into love.  They just want to get me.  I wouldn’t answer that.  You’d have to be a fool.  When would it be appropriate to molest a child for lust?  Never!  I can answer that!  Never, ever!  Of course not.  But that’s not what they were asking.[114]

(Third Conversation)

(Glen, after learning from his wife that she, too, had sex with Gottuso, “Did you or did you not touch Sue in a sexual way.  Yes or No!”).

“What you mean, sexually?…Well I don’t know what she’s told you.  She ought to be here…Well she came over and was very upset and was crying saying things like ‘Glen won’t have sex with me cause I’m a fat pig.’  So I wanted to comfort her… So I put my arm around her and we hugged and kissed…

(Glen: “Did you or did you not touch your tongue to her tongue?  Did your saliva mix with hers?)


(Glen: “Did you or did you not reach under her blouse, lift up her bra, and massage her breasts?  Yes or no?!”)


(Glen: “Did you or did you not suck on her nipples?  Oh, let me rephrase it.  Did you or did you not place your mouth on her breast?  Did you touch your tongue to her nipple?  Yes or No?”)


(Glen: “Did you or did you not pull down her pants and panties, bend her over and rub your erect penis against her buttocks?!  Yes or No?!”)


(Glen: “Did you by any means at all, allow her mouth and tongue to come in contact with the skin on your erect penis!?  Did you or did you not!?  Yes or No.”)


“She came to me upset.  She said she felt like a fat pig, and that you wouldn’t touch her or have sex with her.  I wanted to comfort her, I had empathy for her.  She was crying and weeping… And I want to know how things got that way!

“Maybe you’re the one God will use… So what do you really want?” (Glen: “What do you mean?”) “What are you really after?  What are you here for?…

“It’s not adultery there was no fornication…Intercourse.”  (Glen: “To be adultery, there has to be fornication?  And to be fornication there has to be intercourse?”)  “Yeah…

“What do you want from me?  Why are you here?…They want to paint this global view that I’m some kind of monster, and blow this thing way out of proportion… All they can see is this sex stuff.  You tell me some little sexual activity or even what they say is worse than murder and hate?!  It can’t be.  But nobody sees that.  They get upset about some little activity over here, but not about hateful and murderous hearts.   That’s what I’m saying.  They want me to admit that I’m having sex all over the place with everyone against their will because of some kind of mind control garbage.  And that ain’t never gonna happen!  You understand me!  I’ll never admit to that!  Because it’s an absolute lie!…

“What do you want.”  (Glen: “I thought you would at least say something like ‘I’m sorry. I know I’ve hurt you.’”)   “I’m sorry. I know I’ve hurt you… I violated your trust.  I violated your family.  Forgive me for violating your trust.  There. You see.  You’re not satisfied.  I gave you what you wanted, and did it make any difference?  No.  So that’s why I say what do you really want?”

(Glen: “I want to know if this is of God.  Tell me. Yes or no.”) “No.”  (Glen: “Then why are you doing it?”)  No answer.


The following are quotes from Gottuso’s notes of therapy with the Rodans:

You believe sex is the greatest thing in the universe.

A big penis fills her

Fucken to the core

“I need to drop my pants, but I refuse”

Undress – personal private deep thought.  Drop pants.

Whore monger inside – whoremonger – whore

need a zipper in your mouth…sexuality

shithead, sexual freak; penis ugly and abusive

kingdom of juice- sexual juice, excitement, desire.  Queen of

fuck; queen of suck (Gottuso re: Evelyn).

bitch bite the dust

highly explosive sexual experience; wet, wild, warm.  I have

a fantasy= sexual I’ll admit.  (Fantasy partner) doesn’t have

a face, just a body.

No relationship prior to the act- wet, wild, explosive sexual

orgasm.  Lustful- impure, feeling dirty.  Completely

responsive to this guy (ie. her sexual fantasy)- do what ever

he wants.

(Marshall would) like to have a wild time (sexually);

enjoy the moment… didn’t matter, sin and

not have to pay for it.

Male but not man; Female, but not woman.

Intensity desire for sexual involvement.

Voracious hunger to be wanted: if I let go = I would fuck =

do it.  Highest value in life = tremendous sexual experience

(Evelyn) feel inferior= dirty= person.  Not keep myself

morally pure and clean= Sexually dirty thoughts. Hungry (for)

juice ugly.

Want me right now.

(Evelyn’s sexual fantasies- entire page listed)

(Evelyn) through sex and power, Evelyn could fool, snow most men.

“               sexuality makes greater

the only place of power sexual

F              Fuck you baby.

(Whole page- Marshall’s sexual fantasies)

Wimp.  Thing I swore I’d never be — here I am.

Give God the finger — the fig leaf.

Evelyn did not want to be hooked to someone inferior (ie.


be good in bed

Idolatry on sexuality: my way of getting the ultimate in life

“never had all the ass I want”

walk without ass, house, etc.

guys go for big breast without face

(Marshall) want my ass

he kind of sucks, doesn’t stand.

Ass power

Fear of what going to do with Holly Oaks —

public investigation.  Don’t know what (they are) doing.  Go as far as have to do. Allegations, Sensationalists.  Media really scares me.  Not knowing.  Child abuse –vulnerable =small.  Activities at the school stir up the parentsNo grain of truthPick apartWhispers of possibilities.

Personal Fear: Worst  thing: go after the school.  Innocent stuff.  Innocent bystanders.  Crazy: flipped out.  Evil external contact.  Sitting on raw material.  Boring.  Sleepy.  4 letters.  Open sexuality.  Revving up again, not let it go.  Fanatical = go after somebody.  Seem right = irrational.  I’m getting concerned again.  Longer go on.  Wonder what going on!

1) Why did he (Gottuso) have to screw up.  2) Look at all the people who had to pay.  3) Blue my stack Friday  a.  so angry b. Real Bitch. C. Chew Nails.

1). Above board, 2) resented-lead the charge 3) want to shake (grounds), 4) I believed after Thursday

1)   not hold accountable,  2)   not deal with issues   3)   slap on-wrist,  4)    mostly  words,  5)   good enough for   board … good enough for me — not separate, go through motions, spiritual sense….forgive forget…not deal with spirit… we love you and we trust you.

sexuality with Christ

completion = sexuality = want a hot honey

House full of call girls female approval (Marshall will do anything…

Fucking all over the place.  All sex in world not satisfy me

(Tracey had problem at school- the whole page discusses it).

Inside a whoremonger/whore


Like all cult leaders, Gottuso, believed his teachings should be preserved for mankind, i.e., tape recorded.  These tapes reveal that “sex and idolatry” predominate all his services, speeches, etc.  His favorite word is “penetrate,” but other often used words are “penis,” “sucking” and “eating Jesus Christ.”

Ethical slurs occur such as “Jew boy” andJews use crucification to expose idolatry.” The Jewish experience, he states, is “the most tragic experience of ignorance the world has ever seen.”

The tapes also reveal Gottuso boasting how well-renowned he is, how people all over the world call for his advice and gives many examples of how perfect he is.

Another theme is that the self must be put aside and Christ must be followed.  At the same time, Gottuso indicates that Christ has shown him personally how this is to be done, and therefore to follow Christ is to follow his instructions.

Gottuso also says that his followers must admit they do not know anything and “must go to the ones who know.  And you better be sure they know because you’re going to buy their theory and you will live by that and ultimately die by that.” Gottuso communicates that he is one of the ones who knows.”

Gottuso says: “Let him or her kiss me with the kisses of their mouth for your love is more delightful than wine.  Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes… take me away with you…” Gottuso says we error by turning sex into an idol, but there is no sin in sex itself.

Most important, Gottuso teaches on tape that it is idolatry to be involved in relationships outside of the people in the Fellowship.  He advises that friends and other significant people will dislike them because of their new beliefs.

He also states that outside psychotherapy will not help people, but only break their pocketbooks.  Of 82 tapes that were reviewed, there is not one that does not refer to sex.  There are references to fantasies, self-stimulation, penetration, etc.  “Have you been in heat for God.” Simply put, the tapes reveal a man obsessed with sex.

Another tape theme is Gottuso’s self-comparisons to Christ and/or as one who communicates with him.  He makes it clear that he is on a higher intellectual level than his followers.  And in describing their community he refers to The Association of Psytheosynthesis.

F. LOGIC   (And the Police investigation)

Defendants may try to argue that Gottuso was not trying to seduce the girls, but show them the down sides of sex and that it wasn’t a big deal so they would be free of it and choose God.  The first problem Defendants face is that the methods themselves are improper and actionable.  But their bigger problem is that like their alternate “conspiracy” theory, the same defies logic.

The truth is evident from the fact that Gottuso’s method operantis has never wavered.  In the l980’s when the women told their stories of seduction they had not spoken to the victims of the 70’s.  Yet their stories matched. When the girls came forward in the l990’s they knew nothing of the testimony of the women in the l980’s.  And again the stories matched.

Then came the police investigation in l996.  Student Plaintiffs had all left the school when the police began to ask questions.  They heard a story that Gottuso had taken student Melanie Golson in front of Bible Class and grinded into her in order to demonstrate how you get an orgasm. At first Melanie was non cooperative, but then she contacted the police and confessed that Gottuso had spoken to her first for two hours before the police did, coaching her what to say, i.e., nothing happened.

In fact, she told the police that on the day of the orgasm incident she didn’t want to do it, but Gottuso threatened to “pull her pants down.”

Melanie said that Gottuso then hugged her face to face with his arms around her back for a few seconds.  Gottuso rubbed the front of his body against the front of Melanie’s body, moving his own body side to side.  His body lingered against hers, but Gottuso then stated to the class, “I would never want to have sex with you because you don’t move?”

But more compelling are the other incidents Melanie, not ever having heard the stories of Monica, Tris, Tracey, Lisa and Elaine, told the police of.[115] The events  she reported to the police were all too familiar.

She said it began in the 7th grade when Gottuso told her she was too shy and then began to hug her, face to face.  In the 8th grade, Gottuso said she had to kiss him on the cheek, then  began to turn his head towards her when she kissed him.  By the end of the 8th grade, she had to kiss him on the lips.  During Christmas break in 1995, Gottuso made a bet with student Josh Barker, wherein the loser of the wager would have to kiss Melanie.  Josh won the bet, and Gottuso collected.  He hugged Melanie, but she tried to pull away.  He held her tighter and tried to put his tongue into her mouth.  According to Melanie, the scene was witnessed by both of Gottuso’s daughters.  Gottuso said to them, “She didn’t want to take my tongue.”

In the 10th grade, while at Gottuso’s house, Gottuso hugged her, touching  the side of her breast as he said, “Goodnight.”  She estimated that she’d been touched by Gottuso approximately ten timesDan Simonsen and Matt  Sanders and Gottuso’s daughters witnessed some of these events.  She repeated Gottuso’s common technique, “If you don’t answer (the question), I’ll grab your chest.” And once, he approached her in the school and asked why she had been avoiding him.  He warned her not to say, “I don’t know” or “I’ll grab you.”  She reported that in the personal values class, when a girl said she liked a guy, Gottuso asked her if she thought about sex with him, and does she touch her breasts or vagina when she does so.  He rubbed his own chest and asked her “do you love yourself?”  Gottuso then told the class the name of the girl’s boyfriend.

Gottuso told Melanie that she would want a boyfriend because “all you want is sex.”  And he asked her, too, “Do you touch your breasts?  Do you touch your vagina… have you thought about me?” When she said “No,” he replied, “Why not?”  Once, Gottuso asked her, if she had the choice between “sex with a younger person or me, who would you choose?” When she said the younger person, Gottuso asked why?  He pressed for an answer.  When Melanie said he was too old, Gottuso replied, “It doesn’t matter if two people love each other.”

Another time, Gottuso ordered Melanie to “put your hand on my leg.”  She felt “pounded” in the conversation and knew she had to touch him to end the situation.   Another time, she was on the pay phone, talking to her father when Gottuso came up and started tickling her and stuck his hand down her gym shorts.  He said if she tried to pull away, he would go down farther. “You know I will.” Fearing he would, she continued the phone conversation while he slid his hand around her hip bone.  Later, Gottuso bought her a $100 pair of volleyball shoes.[116]

The police also interviewed Gottuso, who falsely said the school had started as a home study for his own children.  When asked who runs the school, he became evasive… He did not see the points in the questions.  He refused to say who comprised the board or admit he  was the Fellowship pastor.

Gottuso said that Bible class is called “personal values” for accreditation so that units would apply to high school.  He teaches “dealing with self” rules and relational issues.  These issues fell into three categories: the person, sexuality and social.  He commenced each class by asking students what they read in the Bible, discussed scriptures, and one of the three levels.  He would not state how much time he spent on any one area.  Then he said the majority was all on the “person” level.

Gottuso claimed he was a “private person.”  He said a friend of his daughter’s used to kiss him on the cheek, having learned it from his own daughters, but he has put a stop to it because it is meaningless.  He did not really touch people, nor does he condone “public displays of affections.”  He won’t turn away from a hug, he just does not “initiate them.”

He bragged that none of his students have been pregnant, involved in drugs or violent because they share their anger in class.  The only rule of the entire school is that they respect persons, property and privacy.  He split the Bible class because it was large, and those who were with him, were those who “wanted to be in his class.”  Gottuso denied ever using words such as “slut,” or “bimbo,” or “penis,” or “vagina” as these were not the types of words he uses.  But a couple were used during the “orgasm” incident with Melanie Golson.  He said he was reading an unknown article when a student turned red and Gottuso said, “What?  Are you having an orgasm?” and everyone giggled.  Gottuso then asked if the students knew what an orgasm was, and if they had ever seen a vagina or a penis.  But he said he was only asking if they had ever seen the same in a “book.”  He said when Melanie came up, it was her own idea to come up with “motion.”

Gottuso, to the police, blamed the whole thing, all the complaints by the students, on a sole student who said she did not get anything out of reading Matthew 21, and to whom Gottuso had responded that there were at least 20 things she should have gotten out of it.  This girl, Gottuso said, was the “source’ of the complaints and her motives should be examined.  The police, he said, were hunting him because of his past.  He was unjustly being pursued.  He denied any “coercion.”  He claimed Melanie wanted them to drop the case, but the police were refusing to do so.  He didn’t know she had since talked to the police again and spoke of Gottuso’s two hour effort to silence her. The police were not fooled.  Logic sometimes does dictate the truth.  John Gottuso, indeed, had been raising his own flock.

In the end, there is clarity.  All women, Gottuso had concluded, are jealous . They just want to use their husbands, manipulate through sex,   then divorce and move on to another man.  They hate Christ and lust for sex.  They need to be shown what they are, dominated and controlled.  Gottuso punished.  To him, all women were Elaine.


A.        General law

In determining coverage, the Court looks for the mutual intent of the parties from the language, interpreted in their “ordinary and popular sense.”  AIU Insurance Company vs. Superior Court (1990) 51 C 3rd. 807, 821-822, 274 CR 820, 831, This is stated as what a reasonable insured would have understood the words to mean.  Crane vs. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. (1971) 5 C 3rd. 112, 115, 95 CR 513, 514.  If there is no clear and plain meaning, the ambiguity will be resolved in accordance with the insured’s reasonable expectations.  The insurer is responsible for the uncertainty.  If two interpretations are reasonable the one favoring the insured is adopted.   AIU Insurance Company, supra. Public policy is to protect insured’s reasonable expectations.  AIU Insurance Company, supra. Coverage clauses are interpreted broadlySilberg v. California Life Ins. Co. 11 Cal. 3rd. 452 at 464-466.  On the other hand, exclusions are narrowly construed and interpreted liberally in favor of the insured.  Delgado v. Heritage Life Insurance Co. (1984) 157 CA 3rd. 262, 271, 203 CR 672, 677.

B.        Church Mutual

1.  General liability

Church Mutual issued two three-year policies covering periods from 1990 to 1996.          However, the aggregate $1 million general liability  policy is defined on Page 3, Paragraph 8, as an “annual” aggregate.  This means there is $6 million coverage.

Paragraph 2 on Page 3 defines personal injury as including “injury arising out of ‘mental anguish’” and under Paragraph (b) as including “injury” arising out of utterance that is defamatory or disparaging or violates an individual’s right of privacy.  This would cover  the use of confidential information, ridicule, harassing and disparaging statements alleged in this action.  It would include demeaning statements made in counseling.[117]

The policy also includes “incidental malpractice injury.” The term is not defined.  So it must be given it’s broadest interpretation.  Therefore, the claim for the unlicensed rendering of psychological services would be covered, and/or abuses within said counseling, whether spiritual, psychological or both.  That Gottuso’s counseling was authorized on behalf of the Fellowship is stated in the Corporation minutes.  Under the list of exclusions, there is no exclusion for sexual acts.

However, near the end of the attached riders to the policy, there is a  sexual misconduct rider that has a paragraph at the top stating that the policy to which the rider  is “attached” does not apply to any claims seeking damages arising out of sexual misconduct or molestation except as limited in the rider ($300,000.00. for all claims).

This is not conspicuous enough to apply (see below).  The exclusion is not listed in the exclusions within the liability policy, but appears only in the supplementary rider.  The fact such exclusion is not mentioned within the actual policy itself makes a statement of coverage and the insureds cannot be credited with a statement to the contrary attached in a rider near the end of a policy.  If it were otherwise, there would be the result of the insureds actually purchasing an elimination of coverage, i.e., without the rider, there would be no sex exclusion in the basic liability policy.

Even if the exclusion applied, ultimate coverage would not be affected.  The name calling, brainwashing, psychological counseling, punishments, shunning, batteries are concurrent causes of harm.  And per State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Partridge (1973) 10 Cal.3d 94, 100‑103 [109 Cal.Rptr. 811, 514 P.2d 123] if one concurrent cause is insured, coverage applies.  See also Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Purdie (1983) 145 Cal.App.3d 57, 193 Cal.Rptr. 248. Certainly defense counsel are not going to submit interrogatories to the jury that might eliminate their clients’ insurance.  That would be malpractice.

In addition, Gottuso claims whatever he did was not intended to be sexual in his interrogatory answers.[118] To others he has said breast pinching and pubic hair pulling was to get the students attention and help them.  The policy has a specific rider extending  coverage to acts of  corporeal punishment.  There is no sex act exception to this rider.  Thus one rider adds coverage, another attempts to remove it.  Tie goes to the insured.

2.         Counseling

There is a separate million dollar policy for each year for “counseling professional liability insurance.”

This term is not defined, either, but Paragraph 1 of Page 1 states that it covers acts, errors or omissions “arising out of” counseling activities.  Thus, anything involving or related to counseling would be covered.  This would include the physical touching, pinching, language, psychological counseling for which license was needed, dropped pants, etc.  Plaintiffs have testified that all contact with Gottuso is part of counseling.

Again, the Church Minutes authorize Gottuso to provide counseling and thus the acts alleged are covered.  As this is a supplement policy, another million per year coverage is provided, i.e. another $6 million total.

This portion of the policy does have an exclusion (a)(9) for “conduct of a sexual nature.”[119] But this matters little per Partridge and Gottuso’s claims these acts were not intended to be sexual. The term is also too vague to be enforced.

Thus, there is a combined $12 million of insurance.

3.         Sexual Molestation Coverage

As stated, the exclusionary paragraph regarding sex hidden near the end in a  supplementary rider for sexual misconduct, and not within the actual policy itself, is not likely to pass the clear and conspicuous test.  Thus, there is a strong argument that this rider is supplement to the personal injury liability, not in place thereof.  If that is the case, there is another $1,800,000 of coverage.  If it is not, the personal injury million dollar policy is still going to apply because of the multiple claims in addition to sexual conduct per the law of Partridge.

The limits of liability in this rider state that regardless of the number of sexual misconducts  or sexual molestations over a period of time or the  number of persons acted upon, or number who acted, all acts are treated as one claim re  the limit of liability.

However, there is no language stating that the time period covers subsequent policy periods these events occurred in.  And as the face sheet states that the aggregate liability is $300,000 annual, this must be defined as $300,000 per year, i.e. the time limit reference must be read as to apply only to each policy period.  If any other construction were made the words $300,000 annual aggregate would be meaningless.  Annual means one year.  Further, if the limit applied to all policy periods combined, an insured would be paying for periods in which he would be receiving no insurance.  Thus, this is a potential $1,800,000 additional coverage.

4.         Waiver

Church Mutual has asserted no reservation of rights to any defendant including Gottuso.  Thus the exclusions are no longer applicable.

An insurer’s assumption of the defense of its insured without giving notice of a reservation of rights may preclude the insurer from denying coverage for  that which could have been reserved. Miller v. Elite Ins. Co. (1980) 100 Cal.App.3d 739, 754 [161 Cal.Rptr. 322].  This preclusion results from either a known waiver by the insurer or estoppel where the insured is prejudiced by the insurer’s failure. (Id., at pp. 754‑755; see also Insurance Co. of the West v. Haralambos Beverage Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1308, 1320 [241 Cal.Rptr. 427]; Val’s Painting & Drywall, Inc. v. Allstate Ins. Co. (1975) 53 Cal.App.3d 576 [126 Cal.Rptr. 267].).

Stonewall Ins. Co. v. City of Palos Verdes Estates (1992) 34 Cal.App.4th 244 noted that by a carrier not reserving its rights with respect to an action the carrier  placed the counsel it had selected in a conflict of interest in the preparation and pretrial conduct of the insured’s defense of action.  The harm is inherent in the compromised attorney‑client confidentiality (See Glacier Gen. Assurance Co. v. Superior Court (1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 836 [157 Cal.Rptr. 435].)

Civ. Code, § 2860, subd. (d), provides that when an insurer has provided a defense under reservation of rights, thus entitling the insured to representation by independent counsel, the insured and his or her counsel are not required to disclose to the insurer privileged materials relevant to coverage disputes.

By not so declaring, the carrier has circumvented this code and has had access to otherwise privileged matters relating to coverage.  Thus there is waiver.  See Rockwell International. Corp. v. Superior Court (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1255, 32 Cal.Rptr.2d 153.  The detriment is not putting the defendants on notice to obtain their own counsel due to the conflict that would exist if the carrier asserted the exclusions.

If an action is brought against an insured and if the insurer, with knowledge of a ground of non coverage under the policy, assumes and conducts the defense without disclaiming liability and giving notice of its reservation of rights, the insurer is held to have waived its right to assert non coverage. Phoenix Ins. Co. v. United States Fire Ins. Co. (1987) 189 Cal.App.3d 1511.  Thus all sexual exclusions, even if valid, are no longer applicable.

5.         Exclusion must be Clear and Conspicuous

Where, as here, a claim falls within the insuring clause, the insurer has the burden of showing an exclusion applies.  American Star Ins. Co. v. De May v. Interinsurance Exchange (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 1133, page 1137; Insurance Co. of the West (1991) 232 Cal.App.3d 1320, 1327, 284 Cal.Rptr. 45.)  An exclusionary clause “must be conspicuous, plain and clear.”  Steven v. Fidelity & Casualty Co. (1962) 58 Cal.2d 862, 878, 27 Cal.Rptr. 172, 377 P.2d 284.  The conspicuous requirement is separate and independent of the clear requirement.  Ponder v. Blue Cross of Southern California (1983) 145 Cal.App.3d 709, 193 Cal.Rptr. 632

“Exclusionary clauses in insurance policies must be conspicuous, and, if they are not, they will be strictly construed against the insurer.  (Merrill & Seeley, Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co. (1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 624, 630 [275 Cal.Rptr. 280].)  ‘Courts have invalidated exclusions under the conspicuous requirement where (1) they are not included under the exclusion section and are placed on an overcrowded page; (2) they are included in a ‘General Limitations’ section but in a dense pack format; or (3) they are hidden in fine print in a policy section bearing no clear relationship to the insuring clause. ’ (Id. at pp. 630‑631.)”

On point is Shepard v. Cal Farm Life Ins. Co. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 1067, 7 Cal.Rptr.2d 428 wherein an insurer tried to rely on an exclusion in a supplemental form.  It was held not clear and conspicuous. Putting it on a rider was not complying with the rule “the exclusion must be positioned in a place and printed in a form which would attract a reader’s attention.”  Indeed, riders are not even always read.   As in this case, the court noted that the carrier chose not to put the exclusion within the policy itself.[120]

A similar holding occurred in Jauregui v. Mid‑Century Ins. Co. (1991) 1 Cal.App.4th 1544, 3 Cal.Rptr.2d 21 where the carrier put the exclusion in a location other than the liability portion. “We find the insurer does not meet its stringent obligation to alert a policyholder to limitations on anticipated coverage by hiding the disfavored language in an inconspicuous portion of the policy.”

See Also Fields v. Blue Shield of California (1985) 163 Cal.App.3d 570, 209 Cal.Rptr. 781, wherein the court stated the uncontested evidence demonstrated the limitation of coverage was placed, not in the limitation or exclusion section, but at the end of benefit‑granting provisions, that the insurer did not notify plaintiff by a clear, conspicuous notice in an expected place that coverage  originally had was now withdrawn, and that plaintiff was therefore entitled to a directed verdict as to the compensatory damages; and Ponder V. Blue Cross of Southern California (1983) 145 Cal.App.3d 709, 193 Cal.Rptr. 632, holding invalid exclusion contained in a rider.

Like herein, the exclusion sought to be enforced in Fields was contained in a separate document from the insuring language.  And, like here, there was nothing in the title to alert the insured that exclusions to the liability policy are contained therein.  Insureds, the court stated, are not required to search the policy, and every subsection to look for an exclusion.[121]

6.         Continuous Coverage

Each policy period is stacked.  As stated in Stonewall, supra, “We conclude that Prudential‑LMI’s analytical framework requires that in third party/liability insurance involving continuous and repeated exposure to a continuing series of loss causing events of the same character a “continuous trigger” of coverage applies: all carriers on the risk from inception of harm to the time the loss is no longer contingent are liable to the insured.”

7.  Conflicts

During the deposition of Glen Little the defense questioned to support a theory that some or all of the defendants may have been fooled and as brainwashed as Glen was.  And while this would probably exonerate a defendant from punitive damages, and raise issues even as to general liability, it, in turn, creates liability for the Fellowship.  Further, to assert  this defense, a defendant would have to so testify.  But the carriers have provided the same counsel for the Fellowship and all individual defendants except Gottuso.  If one decides to so testify, he is a danger to the others who do not.  Given the single counsel, exploitation of this defense is limited because to do so, unless applicable to all, exposes the others.  As stated, this defense is not open to the corporation and assertion of it by any individual would make the corporation liable.  The corporation is also imputed with all the knowledge of its officers and directors, past and present (including Gottuso’s knowledge) which is not true as to the individual defendants.

And there is also the fact that the level of knowledge on the part of various defendants will not be the same.  At Glen Little’s deposition, defense counsel brought out that a “core” of defendants knew more than others, etc.  Jeff Schultz was a defendant in the 80’s lawsuit.  He knew what the settlements were.  Board members had particular knowledge.  Teachers who attended Bible Class had other special knowledge.

In essence, the carriers are opened up to the claim of not properly providing a separate defense to each insured.

Nor will the defense be unified.  The defendants except Gottuso will try to claim counseling was not part of the Fellowship in order to avoid liability for it.  But if that were true, Gottuso might be left without coverage for certain acts.  He will argue it was part of the Fellowship.


The Fellowship, when it called itself Parkview was insured by Preferred Risk.  It’s policy extended until at least l986.  They were involved in the settlements in the l980’s litigation.  How much they contributed to those settlements and what remains is not known.

American Home insured Gottuso for professional malpractice until at least l986 as well and contributed to the earlier settlements.  This carrier has not responded to demands by Gottuso for defense herein.

Various defendants have homeowner policies and  events of touchings and abuse occurred at various homes, particularly Gottuso’s.  The homeowners’ policies generally  have an exception for  business related acts but excepted from those exclusions are activities  ordinarily incident to a non-business pursuit even if they occur during a business pursuit.  Therefore, coverage applies.  Crane v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company 5 Cal 3d 112, and Safeco Insurance Company v. Hale 140 Cal App 3d 347.

This includes John and Sonia Cabererra’s Allstate Policy of $100,000 per year liability coverage.  Allstate has denied coverage.

Matt and Diane Sanders have a similar policy with State Farm, which is defending.  And John and Sharron Gottuso have the same with Safeco, who has not accepted defense but claims after 14 months to be still “investigating.”  James Axtel has the same coverage with Farmers, who also remains non-committed on an “investigating” status.  This policy includes liability for invasion of privacy and has no arising out of business exclusion, only an exclusion for claims based on contract.

Sue Kawell has rental dwelling coverage with State Farm that provides $300,000/$600,000 business liability coverage.  State Farm has denied coverage.

Woodrow Wong has a $1,000,000 liability policy with All State, which is still “investigating.”.

Defendant The Association of Psytheosynthesis has been served but has not appeared.  A default is now being prepared.  It had insurance in the 1980’s.  Current insurance is not known.


On April 29, 1997, statutory demands of $500,000 for each of the 11 Plaintiffs were made.  Defendants asked for additional time to respond, it was granted, but no action was taken and the same expired July 18, l997.  This figure was picked because it created a total of $5,500,0000, under the six million general liability policy alone, leaving aside the counseling policy and sex rider.   We did not consider the 6 million counseling policy, with the sex acts exclusions, in making this demand, despite the Partridge rule, in order to guarantee the demand was within policy limits.  We assumed correctly Church Mutual would not take this opportunity to get their Insureds out of this case by reasonable settlement within policy limits, and therefore Church  Mutual is on the hook for whatever the jury awards.[122] Certainly the details of this brief have clearly put them on notice.

It is submitted that every Plaintiff has a case in excess of seven figures.  Juries have given that amount in cases of sexual obscenities at the work place. And none of those cases compare to what went on here, nor for so long, or to those so young.

This settlement brief clearly puts the carriers on notice of the likelihood of verdict.  Just this last July, in a similar case, 11 boys (there are 11 plaintiffs herein) were awarded $119 million against the Catholic Church (see attached).  Our demands have been limited only by the  policy coverage.  Once this settlement conference ends without settlement, there will no longer be any limit to Church Mutual’s policy.   This will also be true as to all the other carriers who refused to tender policy limits at the conference.  So that there is no doubt the carriers clearly had a chance to settle within policy the demand is now $6 million. After the conference our demand will  increase  to $12 million and to 24 million at time of trial.

It is also hoped something will come out of this conference that protects children from Gottuso in the future.

Last, as this brief was finished, Other Defendants have filed a cross-complaint against the Plaintiff Parents seeking to hold them responsible for what happen to their children. Devoid of any facts plead to support it, or even theory, it seeks contribution for legal fees and costs.   This, of course, is lawyering at its worst.  But it is not the first time such a ploy has been attempted in a cult case.  This office has a no-negotiable policy in regards to such ploys.   After passage of a certain date–in this case Sept 2, l997–we will not waive malicious prosecution as part of settlement.   In two prior cases I have had, this policy resulted in two successful malicious prosecution actions.

More important these parent plaintiffs are insureds within the same Church Mutual Policy.  Particularly, Marshall Rodan and Evelyn Rodan  had postitions for the Fellowship.  Thus Church Mutual has now committed bad faith to Plaintiffs by impermissibly being part of an action seeking indemnity against its insured.  A carrier, directly or indirectly may not see indemnity against an insured.  In St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. v. Murray Plumbing & Heating Corp., 65 Cal.App.3d 66 (1976); Liberty Mutual Farm Insurance Co v. Auto Springs, 59 Cal. App. 2nd. 860.  Acts violating the  “bargained for benefit…peace of mind.”  Johnson v. Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co., 847 F.2d 600.  The fact insured is forced to hire an attorney to secure corrections is a breach of their peace of mind.  See also Crisci v. Security Insurance Co., 66 Cal.2d 425;  Egan v. Mutual Omaha Insurance Co., 24 Cal.3d 809.

In addition, we have just submitted a demand for defense to Church Mutual.  As there is clearly a conflict, I will be damanding to be the selected attorney for the Cross-Defendants.

Date:   8-7-97                        Respectively Submitted,

Paul Morantz

[1]It first went by the name Parkview Christian Church and then Christ-Bridge Immanuel Church.

[2]Three brothers–Peter, Carl and Vincent, Jr. have died. Remaining are Mario, Salvatore, Anthony, Nick, Rose and Florence.  .

[3]Ken’s high school best friend who had brought him to Gottuso, a nephew of Gottuso, also named Vincent Gottuso, told him Gottuso was having affairs with women members but Ken did not believe it.  Ken did wonder about the way Gottuso brushed against women after sermons and saw a paper in Gottuso’s hand repeatedly touch a woman’s breast over and over as they spoke.

[4] Julie Serano and Gina Lee were high school friends of Gottuso’s wife to be, Sharron Lynn Metzler.  Julie had wanted to marry Gottuso herself.   Julie practically lives at the Gottuso house to this date and treats Gottuso’s children as her own.  Julie’s sister married one of Gottuso’s brothers.

One time Julie Sereno tried to leave group and was held down in the bathtub while asked, “Do you want God more than air?”  Sharron knew about John and Julie and was upset by it.

[5] Later, this property, as the first lawsuits against Gottuso approached trial, was Quit Claimed on August 3, l989 to the Sharron L. Gottuso Trust.

Gottuso also purchased the Chateau at 2232 S. California, Duarte in l987.  Valued at   $764,700.00, this property, also in August of l989–18th to be exact–was deeded to Church Contribution Trust which then transferred it to “10-31 Tax Deferred Exchange, Inc.”  The latter than deeded it  to Scot T. Anderson who executed a $100,000 trust deed to John Gottuso, trustee for Church Contribution Trust. Two weeks later, Gottuso paid off the original trust deed belonging to Imperial Savings Association which had purchased the Trust Deed from the lender at the time of Gottuso’s purchase, Cathedral Mortgage.  This property has 5625 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 3 baths and  more than two acres.  Anderson later secured a $250,000 loan on the property

Church Contribution Trust also owned The Association of Psytheosynthesis (TAP) building in New Jersey which was put up for sale also in l989.  Gottuso was co-founder and director of TAP.  And TAP was also a defendant in the same upcoming trial.

Also in l989 Clinton Davidson, III, a psychotherapist and grandson of the couple who set up the Church Contribution Trust advised that in the early 60’’s there had been a complaint concerning Gottuso and a nine year old girl in New Jersey.

[6]In l977, The Gills visited TAP (see footnote 4) in New Jersey on the way to England.  Gottuso was there.  On the morning they were to leave for the  airport, Julia was in the bathroom brushing her teeth.  When she finished and opened the door, Gottuso pushed his way in and locked the door.  He told Julia he just wanted to say goodbye, he  missed her and loved her.  He  tried another  “Holy Kiss.”  She pushed away.

In  1985, after his affairs were known, Gottuso called Julia and said he was being misunderstood.  Julia replied she knew better, particularly what he tried to do with her. Gottuso asked if they could talk again about it.  She said yes, but he never called again.

[7] See Footnote 5 for description.

[8] One Grandmother of current members today prays each night her family will leave the Fellowship.

[9]Gottuso was a co-founder and Director of TAP, i.e., The Association of Psytheosynthesis and the Fellowship in 1991 selected Mike Hurd to run TAP following the death of co-founder Clinton Rutherford.  Hurd was uniquely qualified.  A religious leader in Texas, and a close follower of Gottuso, he and his wife had taken two nursing students into their home, one of which Hurd then got pregnant.  Gottuso criticized him for ejaculating.

In advertisements PTS is represented as providing “individual or group counseling to solve psychological difficulties or provide new break-through’s in your Christian growth.” Added are “testimonials” of alleged patients whose lives were transformed, and statements of huge success rates, all of which are prohibited by APA ethics.

Other literature represents it as a “… therapeutic approach… confirmed clinically and by ongoing scientific research.”

PTS was the one truth God created.  As God made psychology He knew everything about it.  Thus, there was unity of psychology and theology.  This was revealed to Gottuso as  absolute truth.  It was not debatable, but as absolute as earth and sky.  Members needed his help, his therapy, to deal with the problem of sin, which  resided in psychology and controlled  minds.  Members had Persinality.  Only through higher truth could one escape being controlled by sin.  To speak of self was dangerous¼ to feel for self or wanting for self was sin dominated.  It meant to hate God.  To want, to try, was suspect…a hidden agenda. One had to work through your stuff — everything you ever did and felt — in therapy and Thursday Group.  The only way to freedom was to get a breakthrough¼ death to self.  One had to yield to truth as Gottuso  presented it¼be totally submissive and  respond instantly, achieve breakthrough like Gotusso  had.  It was the way, Gottuso said, to understand all your life before and what it should be.  It was the mechanism by which Gottuso controlled and dominated.

[10] Gottuso wasn’t always into truth.  In l981, he asked for money to bail his brothers — Salvatore and Anthony — out of a company debt (Professional Development Builders).  The brothers never paid the money back.  Board member Bill Cates found out Gottuso was CEO of the company.  He left the Fellowship.

Gottuso also did private counseling at this company’s location between l975 and l978.

[11]One patient said she would be in counseling with John and while hearing the Fellowship singing, he would have her on the floor undressed in 30 seconds.  Afterwards,  would walk out to the group like the most godly person on earth.

[12]Gottuso also used ASS to stand for Absolute Sin Syndrome.

[13] It is reported that In the l960’s, allegations were made involving Gottuso and a nine year old girl in New Jersey.

[14] This activity has continued to this date.

[15] On February 3, l985, Gottuso’s mother died.  Gottuso was in Russia at the time.

[16] The Administrative Judge’s findings are res judicata and admissible in this case by rules of collateral estoppel. People v. Sims (1982) 32 Cal.3d 468, 651 P.2d 321; 186 Cal. Rptr. 77.  City and County of San Francisco v. Ang (1979) 97 Cal.3d 673; United States v. Utah Construction Co. (1966) 384 v. 394; People v. Rodriguez (1984) 160 Cal.3d 650.  Further, as the burden of proof to remove a Doctor’s license is “clear and convincing” evidence of “gross negligence”; the administrative hearing findings are also res adjudicata on the issues of entitlement to punitive damages. Ettinger v. BMQA (1982) 135 Cal.3d 835.

In Imen v. Glassford (1988) 201 Cal.App.3d 898, 247 Cal. Rptr. 514, the Court of Appeal held administrative proceedings to revoke defendant’s licenses were judicial in character, and contained all the elements necessary for application of the doctrine of collateral estoppel in a plaintiff’s action based on the same conduct. As the provisions for administrative adjudication set out in Gov. Code, § 11500 et seq., guaranteed a fair hearing, the Appellate Court held that the trial court properly summarily adjudicated defendant’s fraud on the basis of the administrative findings.

[17] Administrative Hearing findings included that between l979 and l985, Gottuso sexually abused women, having oral sex and intercourse.  Gottuso also fondled, disrobed his clients and use sexual graphic language.  He asked his usual questions: “Are you wet? Are you ready to remove your pants?…Is your pubic hair curly or straight?”

The Administrative Court further ruled that Dr. Gottuso:

“…failed to treat, or attempt to treat by legitimate means, the problems presented to him.  Respondent (Gottuso) failed, in each instance, to do a proper psychological work-up and develop a treatment plan, and continually directed the therapy sessions toward sexual matters unrelated to legitimate therapy.  In each case, Respondent (Gottuso) conducted the therapy in a degrading manner which resulted in confusion to his patients.  Each patient left therapy with Respondent (Gottuso) in a worse psychological and emotional state than when they began.  Those patients required extensive follow-up psychological care to alleviate and treat the damage caused by their contact with Respondent.”

[18] This is the same thing he was to tell his female students at the school years later.

[19] Ironically, when Sue started therapy, she had heard of Gottuso sexually using other clients/members.  She confronted Gottuso, who said it was a “lie.”  He was still able to seduce her, just as he would seduce Plaintiffs later, after saying Sue and the others were “lying.”

[20] 15 other followers/clients who reported sex with Gottuso at this time.

Ms. Arenson is typical.  She trusted him.  He would make her kiss him, and put her down about sexual things, making her think she was a bad person.  Next thing she knew she was taking off her clothes.  He would fondle her genitals and ask “are you wet yet?” Sometimes she would be crying.

Fran Brown removed her clothing.

Gottuso fooled around with Lacey in his mother’s bedroom while she slept.  She was just 19 at the  time.

[21]With others such as Lacy he had covenants of oneness with him written out.

[22] Similar threats by followers have been made in this case.

[23] Lemon  reported feeling suicidal and Dr. Gottuso recommended she point a gun at her head rather than her throat.  She was further not allowed to discuss any fears unless they dealt with her “sexuality.”  Gottuso referred to this as her “sinsuality.”

In counseling, Gottuso suggested she “undress” and “we mess around…fuck,” Emmons commented on the Bible.  Gottuso mocked her, “Oh, the Bible.”  This was in February of l986, after the other women left in l985.

[24] Before she left, at one of meetings with members, led by Warren Willis of Campus Crusade, after he had tried to confront Gottuso in New Jersey, Patty said what happened to her and asked if there was one woman here Gottuso had not touched she should speak out.  No one did.  Present were Defendants Melinda Simonsen and  Dan Simonsen.  Melinda and Sharon Greene admitted they had sexual contact  with Gottuso.

Patty  also observed, after Gottuso’s mother died, Gottuso repeatedly going into Defendant Saralee Shultz’s room late at night when Patty slept over.  Saralee lived at the time in the Gottuso home, having taken care of Gottuso’s mother.

[25] Shelby’s mother said Gottuso touched her breast in counseling.  On work days if Shelby called her husband at Gottuso’s home, Gottuso listened in.

[26] Since the mid 80’s Gottuso has read dissertations for a do-it-yourself-college, California Coast College.  Officially, he is “Adjunct Faculty.”  But his flier says, “Professor of Psychology.”  Gottuso continues at this job to this date.  The college is not aware of Gottuso’s history or charges.

[27] The Board minutes reflect at this time approval of Gottuso being allowed to continue giving spiritual counseling.  But his ego would not let him admit to his clients that he could not give therapy.  And his theory, Psytheosynthesis was based on science.  Per case law below, spiritual counseling is actionable to the extent it contains secular representations.  And as Gottuso led his clients to believe he could still provide therapy after his license revocation in l989, from that point on Plaintiffs are entitled to treble damages and attorney fees per CCP 1029.8.

[28]Plaintiff Glen Little did not know Gottuso lost his license until he heard the court evaluator mention it during his child custody battle with his former wife (who had also sued the Fellowship). Gottuso then told Glen he had not lost it, but surrendered it, didn’t need it and could get it back.

The court ordered that the child  was not allowed to participate in or be around the Fellowship. Defendants knew of this order.

[29]Certain members of Gottuso’s family are estranged due to concerns regarding Gottuso and his niece.

[30]On another occasion when Paula was in the hospital with torn ligaments, Gottuso tried to go in the bathroom with her.  Doctors asked him to leave.

[31] The school was never accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

[32] An organization of victims and relatives would still picket the school and hand out warnings.  They called themselves Concerned Parents for Christ Bridge Students.

[33] From lecture notes taken by Glen Little.

[34]The school  promotional fliers stated it was accredited, and hired onlyqualified persons, trained, educated and credentialed in their fields…carefully selected who is professionally skilled and who is a living sample of a maturing spiritual and supportive atmosphere…We count it a privilege to be entrusted by you and the Lord with the training and teaching of your children.”

Another flier says aims include, “offering subjects appropriate to his mental age. …a happy, relaxed atmosphere…to assist in the development of happy, parent-child relationships. Included in things children like best: pen markers.

[35] The Defendants also played zombie games where they chased the girls and tickled them.  At first it was fun, but as they got older it got more physical.  When caught, instead of tickling, Defendants licked arms, necks and faces.  This usually involved Gottuso, Jeff Shultz and Dan Simonson. At school there was a similar shoe game, but it, too, evolved from wrestling to removing pants and a girl crying out rape.

[36] Plaintiffs Tris Rodan and Lisa James were not interviewed by the police, who apparently heard of what happened from fringe students present.  Neither Plaintiff was aware they were alleged victims in the criminal complaint, let alone that a complaint was filed.

Fringies are participants who are not totally in the group.  Outsiders is the term used for the rest of the world.

[37]In the 1990’s, John Gottuso and the Fellowship were actually making the pages of books on cults, Gottuso cited as a California pastor/therapist who becomes sexually involved with his followers to aid their lives.

[38] In making this deal, Gottuso told Detective Fowler he wouldn’t be a problem because he was moving to Kentucky to be with his Father.  Of course, his father had died in l972.

[39]Gottuso and other Defendants commonly used derogatory words   designed to or had a potential to, berate, make fun of, hurt the feelings of, speak poorly of in order to  label Plaintiffs as being in need of   help or   improvement, spiritually, psychologically, socially or otherwise.

This included  such terms as “into ass power,” “flake,” “bimbo,” “fruit cake,” “siren sisters,” “wants big breasts,” “into boob power,” “queens of ass,” “perverted,”  “wet,” “butt power,” “slut,” “slut walk,” “idolatry,” “nymphomaniac,” “whore,” “sex maniac,” “going to hell,” “out of favor with God,” “into sexual idolatry,” “trash,” “fat,” “wicked,” “sassy,” “bitch,” “son of a bitch,” “fat butts,” “vagehead,” “fringies,” “bozos,” “ding-a-lings,” “piece of meat,” “piece of ass,” “ sex addict,” “bad,” “assholes,” “prostitute,” “poison,” “insane,” “crazy,” “screwed up,” “castrating bitch,” “necrophiliac,” “evil,” “narcissistic,” “satanic,” “punks,” “a mass of protoplasm with a sexual urge,” “chunk of meat,” “into sex,” “hooking,” “getting identity from sexuality,” “angel of death,” “nice legs,” “firm butts,” “breasts like ski slopes,”  “animal,” “less than human,” “dominated by sin,”  “dysfunctional,” “stupid,” “wants only sex,” “wants sex with a parent,” “does not live by the ‘truth,’” “does not live by God,” “hurtful to friends,” “self-centered,” “into self,” “queen of assland,” “queen on her throne,” “fat ass,” “fat butt,”  “wants to funk,” “queen of gas (insinuating passing gas),” “borderline,” “schizoid,” “schizophrenic,” “wants to have sex with the devil,   “wants to have sex with Jesus, wants to have sex with another female,” “lesbian,” “queen lesbian,” “dizzy,” “sociopath,” “witch,” “breasts like snakes,” “big boobs,” “has mosquito bites for boobs,” “has two bumps for boobs,” “unspiritual (not spiritual),” “unbeliever,” “unchristian,” “not a Christ-one,” “center of attention,” “fat and sassy,” “big and wide,” and  words stating a person is responsible for the plight of another person, wants to have sex with an animal, and wants to have sex with a parent.

In responses to Interrogatories, Gottuso not only denied using the above words with Plaintiffs, but denied these are words he would ever use.

[40]Plaintiffs were told  the word “fun” was dysfunctional because it was self-indulgent.  They  were to “build” relationships.  This took much away from the kids.  They weren’t allowed to have fun but to make every incident functional and building for them

[41] See Footnote 39 for examples.

[42] This was one of the incidents listed in his l992 criminal arrest.   Later Gottuso described Tris as a Walking Vagina.

[43] There are current criminal charges pending against Gottuso arising out of this incident.

[44] If they didn’t they were subject to Gottuso’s attack themselves.

[45]Originally, this was just a group encounter session, but when Bible Class ceased on Sundays, it took that name.  A Bible passage might be read, but it remained in reality a volatile encounter group and attendance was mandatory.

[46]From the lecture notes of Gottuso’s speaking taken by Glen Little.

[47] Gottuso challenged the Fellowship as to whether it was being “the light & salt of the earth…we’re to bring light, not be conformed to the world…Function of sin is decay.  How many people have we witnessed to in the last 5 years? Connect with the persons.” (4-25-1991 minutes).

[48]Theresa noted a story in the paper alleging the Fellowship was using an area out of zone for a summer school, wherein the Fellowship denied it, saying it was a vacation spot.  As Theresa had the actual summer school applications in her hands, she contacted the Mayor of Temple City.

[49] Glen conducted his own investigation, speaking to former Board members who filled him in on prior sexual abuses.  His own mother revealed Gottuso had tried to seduce her.

He also spoke to Gottuso’s niece.  She expressed difficulties she had with the Fellowship because she married outside of the group.  She said she didn’t understand her uncle, why this keeps happening.  She made statements concerning sexual complaints her cousins had against Gottuso and that certain cousins did not want to be involved with him.

[50] Marisol Escobar reported the Melanie Golson incident to her mother, Grace Escobar, who then tried to speak to Gottuso but couldn’t get an audience. Ms. Escobar took Marisol out of the school.

[51] In responding to interrogatories, so far Gottuso has refused to answer regarding his sexual past.  As to Plaintiffs, he only admits sexual contact with Sue Little, but he pointed out that she wanted it.

[52] An example would be the leader of Heaven’s Gate requiring sexual abstinence after his own homosexuality ruined his marriage and cost him his career.  Or Synanon’s leader ordering everyone to change marital partners every three years so no one would experience the grief of divorce or death of spouse as he had three times..

[53]Gottuso also had an undescended testicle that almost killed him as a teenager.

[54] One of his brothers smoked — Gottuso told him not to — and the brother died of lung cancer.  Another died of a brain tumor.

[55]THE RAPTURE is the day God removes all Christians.

[56]The Fellowship was then called Parkview.  It was to have several locations, sometimes the Gottuso home, sometimes a rented portion of a Lutheran Church.

[57] One of his sisters, he said, had large breasts so some people from the church had told Papop that she shouldn’t wear a sweater, but Gottuso said Papop had said that God had given her big breasts, so it was OK.

[58]Before his father died he called John on the phone from the hospital to tell him something important — but Gottuso put him off — his father died soon after — and Gottuso regretted that.  When his mother died, Gottuso was on his way home from Russia.

[59] His daughters tell a different story, saying he is really rich — has millions of dollars.  Carisa told Tracey that “My dad has a lot of money no one knows about.”

[60] At the young age of 20, Gottuso married his first wife, Elaine, October 19, l952.  His first daughter  was born May 13, l953 indicating Elaine was pregnant before they were married.  The second daughter  was born August 28, l955.

Gottuso filed for divorce on July 9, l958, claiming his wife treated him with extreme cruelty and wrongfully inflicted upon him grievous mental suffering. He lost and custody was granted to his ex-wife.  Elaine and the two girls moved to Phoenix and each changed their last name.

[61]The basis of our government– “we the people, for the people”–was idolatry. Our justice system was “just-a-system.”

[62]In the early l980’s, Gottuso spoke of a man he knew who was being unfairly dragged through the courts for taking a bath with his young daughter.  He said that nothing really happened and that the hostile ex-wife was making a big deal about a little incident just so she could get full custody.  He said he saw nothing wrong with the father bathing with the daughter, what better way to find out about things than from your own father.

In one group session on Thursday night, he read an article about African sexuality and how the fathers would have sex with their daughters so as to be the first ones to initiate them   into the area of sexuality.  Gottuso defended that as a loving act,   the best thing to do rather than “having them go out to the street.”

[63]One of Gottuso’s daughters, when she was young, Sue said, came up and stood by Sue and grabbed her between her legs and said something about her vagina.  The other daughter came up and ripped open her blouse.  On some occasions the daughters went up to some of the men and touched their genital area.

Ten years later, one of the daughters secretly used Gottuso’s office for sex with a classmate.

[64]As young as seven, Carissa Gottuso told Tris Rodan sex was men and woman in shower together… naked… wearing g-strings… she demonstrated and played games based on sex.  She showed how to kiss using a 4 foot doll¼talked of kissing in closet¼men and women strapped together naked.  She got on top of Monica and kissed her.  She directed games where one would play the man and get into bed. Sarah Emmons reported Carissa wanted to play games where everyone took off their clothes.

[65] One non-plaintiff fringe student, Shelby Eidson, would not accept the “truth” and was given C’s and D’s.  After she left the school,  her grades have been A’s and B’s ever since.

As an example, Lisa James, in the 3rd grade, was cited:

“Lisa has a respect for God and a sense of what is functional life which she applies inconsistently.”

In the 4th grade, her evaluation was:

“Lisa needs to internalize spiritual truth.  She has much knowledge, but it does not consistently hold sway over her function.”

[66] Gottuso arranged goodwill trips to Mexico where he had his followers assist another organization by working on construction of homes.

[67] He would ask this question of students in Bible class.

[68] Like all Student Plaintiffs, Monica was never told Gottuso had lost his license.

[69] Monica has pain also at remembering what was done to others in Bible class.  Gottuso once asked Defendant Matthew Sanders who was prettier between Tris and Monica.  The teacher chose Monica.  Monica also remembers the incident of Tris Rodan having a vagina drawn on her head, and in fact, found her later in the bathroom crying.  She further saw her sister Lisa  called a slut and a bimbo in class in front of the other students and teachers.  She heard Gottuso tell Lisa that she was the reason her father was an alcoholic and comment on Lisa’s breasts, encouraging her to be “free” and wear T-shirts (the “attic” shirt) that made her breasts more showing.

[70]Gottuso admitted to Julia James that he had Monica’s grades lowered because he could not give good grades to students who did poorly in Bible class.

[71]This was a common Gottuso’ tool used when dealing with “sexual  issues.”

[72]See Gottuso’s discussion of these incidents in Section “Glen Little’s notes.”

[73] Monica testified to her reasons for compliance:

She had complete fear of him¼what he could do¼growing up since third grade.  She feared him at same level she feared Jesus Christ.  All the Fellowship believed he can do no wrong¼no one could question him.  Gottuso was considered right, he was law.  He and the Fellowship made everyone feel “we” are wrong, not dealing with self and sin. Gottuso’s thoughts were everyone else’s beliefs.  His actions were forceful¼ She was humiliated and embarrassed.  Gottuso mixed emotional and psychological ties¼saying he was helping her while he was touching her.  Gottuso had control over her life.  She knew from past experiences when she resisted, things got worse. “Also I was crying¼

[74] She was married this June.  Prior to then she did not engage in sex with her husband.

[75] Her new therapist, Walter Linn, was familiar with her problem.  He had counseled previously several other women victims of Gottuso.

[76] Members were not supposed to have fun unless it was connected to Christ.

[77] Lisa also saw him touch others, like Melanie Golson.     Once Lisa asked Gottuso why he always spoke about sex.  He responded, “I’m not the one bringing it up.”

[78] Gottuso ordered her classmates not to associate with her.

[79]Later, she was told by her counselor Karen Ferguson she had a nervous break down.

[80] The younger girls, having the older to observe, were more suspicious.  Lisa eventually became afraid of Gottuso being alone with her sister Monica and eventually tried to avoid contact with him.

[81] Ms. Ferguson is in Mexico and will not return until August 18.  We will get her report then.

[82]From her junior year, Tracey tried to protect her friend Lisa and her sister Elaine from Gottuso.  She would take up for Lisa during Bible class whenever Gottuso verbally attacked her  and wouldn’t back down.  She kept a close watch on Elaine during recesses to make sure she didn’t get near Gottuso.

[83]It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the effect of Gottuso’s first wife.

[84]He came in on her when she was going to the bathroom and said “I was just checking.” then he stayed and said she wanted him to see her.  She felt very uncomfortable but tried to urinate and couldn’t.  Finally she got up and left.

[85] Neither Tris Rodan nor Lisa James were ever told by any Defendant that they were listed as victims in the criminal complaint.  They were instead encouraged to continue in the Fellowship.

[86]Not too surprisingly, this is an accurate description of John Gottuso.

[87]For the true account, see the Tris Rodan section.

[88] As Gottuso had pitted Marshall and Evelyn against each other for so many years, they came to Wellspring still having the feelings and thoughts towards the others that Gottuso had implanted.  They have since had to rediscover themselves.

[89]It has taken the children time to forgive their parents for believing in Gottuso.

[90]In fact, Gottuso’s daughters were brought up with a high degree of sexual familiarity, and became very sexually active.

[91]Hemlin wrote: “Dr. Gottuso, as described by Ms.Trout during counseling sessions used his position as religious leader and therapist to abuse Ms. Trout in ways commonly associated with religious cults: (1)  discouraged conversation between followers, lest they compare notes on their experiences; (2)  insisted on a nearly absolute dedication to all meetings, without regard for the stress or effects on Ms. Trout, her marriage and her relationship with her son; (3)  exploited the trust built up during numerous counseling sessions as well as her marital conflict to require increasing dedication to his own agenda; (4)  appeared to discourage any outside appraisal of his activities by insisting on secrecy and by insisting that most of her time and energy be consumed with activities and meetings that he directed; (5) Her protests regarding any aspect of the “treatment” or religous involvement were consistently reinterpreted by Dr. Gottuso to be evidence of her imperfect commitment and human frailty; (6) Finally, he used group meetings to publicly humiliate dissenters, thus controlling Ms. Trout through fear of castigation in front of a peer group that was increasingly exclusive.  Her peer group with Dr. Gottuso’s religious group was increasingly necessary for Ms. Trout’s social well-being, having been encouraged to distance herself from all other family and friends.

“Based on Ms. Trout’s reports to me of Dr. Gottuso’s activities, he appears to have been in flagrant violation of both the spirit and letter of professional ethics in the practice of psychological counseling in the State of California.  As noted above, he allegedly maintained a dual relationship with Ms. Trout in which he met regularly with her as her psychologist, but also used her for oral sex, household chores, and religious manipulation.  Furthermore, he appears to have been consciously grooming her for his sexual advances during the counseling process.  For example, during counseling sessions he would refer to future sexual involvement with her and say “You know it’s going to happen.” Later, when sexual contact was made he apparently had no regard for exposing her to possible sexually transmitted diseases as illustrated by his silence on the matter of birth control protection and by failing to divulge to her any of his other alleged sexual encounters.”

[92] This case also acknowledged that anyone who engages in such activity without license is subject to treble damages, and the court may award costs and attorney fees.

[93]American Psychological Association “ethical standards of psychology,” state therapists are not to invade privacy, exploit trust and dependency, and are not to have dual relationships with employees, friends, relatives, nor sexual intimacies.

[94]Gottuso insisted on a gag order on the settlement amount.

[95]The undersigned was appellate counsel in Molko.

[96]In Molko footnote 10, the High Court noted brainwashing, coercive persuasion and mind control are words similarly used to describe the same intense indoctrination procedures. The court noted same is fostered through the creation of a controlled environment that heightens the susceptibility of subjects to suggestion and manipu­lation and the aftermath is often a severe impairment of autonomy and the ability to think independently which induces the subject’s unyielding compliance and the rupture of past connections, affiliations and associations (p. 1109).

[97]Molko also allowed an action for restitution for gifts given to the church based on the allegations of coercive persuasion, i.e., undue influence used by one in whom a confidence has been placed, by use of authority over a person when said authority is used for obtaining an unfair advantage.  The court stated, When one party uses its dominant psychological position in an unfair manner to induce a subservient party to consent to an agreement to which  would otherwise not have consented…” (1124).

[98]In Cantwell, the U.S. Supreme Court stated the First Amend­ment “embraces two concepts… freedom to believe and freedom to act.  The first is absolute, but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be.”  Molko noted it is well settled religious groups may be held liable in tort for secular acts.  And, “most relevant here, in appropriate cases courts will recognize tort liability even for acts that are religiously motivated” citing O’Moore v. Driscoll (1933) 135 Cal.App. 770, 778, false imprisonment designed to obtain a confession of sins; Bear v. Reform Mennonite Church (1975) 462 PA 330, 341 A2d 105, 107, interference with a marriage and business interests by church order to shun former members; Carrieri v. Bush 69 WN 2d 536, P2d, 132, 137 alienation of affections against a pastor who counseled a woman to leave her husband because  was “full of the devil;” Candy H. v. Redemption Ranch, Inc. 563F. Supp. 505, false imprisonment; Van Schaick v. Church of Scientology of California, Inc. 535 F. Supp. 1125, conduct  proscribed even though wrongdoer acts upon a religious belief.  Molko also cited Reynolds v. The United States,  391 U.S. 367, “Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.

[99]Both self mutilization and suicide attempts occurred herein.

[100]Wollersheim noted California Supreme Court in Molko approved Bear v. Mennonite holding that the practice of directing church members to “shun” was actionable, supra.

[101]It was noted Scientology used the alternate practice of “bait” and “badger,” along with scare tactics, to override resisting the church’s order. This is an example of coercive persuasion.

[102] Snyder v. Evangelical Orthodox Church v. Roberson (1989) 216 Cal Appp 3d 297, 269 Cal Rpt 640, held church and its officials could be sued for revealing confidential communications to  congregation and the public.   If such conduct is pursuant to church doctrine, the court must consider whether the conduct is of significant interest to the state to warrant tort liability.

Like Molko,and Wollersheim, Snyder approved Bear, supra, holding tort liability for shunning.

[103] Oona , supra, on Page 1467 noted the United States Supreme Court in  Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 503 U.S. 60, 1112 S.Ct. 1208, stated, “sexual harassment can take many forms: verbal harassment, such as sexual comments or name calling; leering or ogling; jokes or pictures; unnecessary touching; sexist remarks about a person’s clothing, body or sexual activities; constant brushing up against a person’s body; subtle or overt pressures for sexual pleasures; physical assault; and rape.

In Franklin, supra at 1461-1462, 1464, the high court held liability on a school “when a supervisor sexually harasses a subordinate because of subordinate’s sex, that supervisor discriminates on the basis of sex.”  We believe that the same rule should apply when a teacher sexually harasses and abuses a student.

[104] In Virginia the teacher had been terminated earlier from another school “because of his sexual misconduct in relation to his then young female students.”  Here, the charges were made at the very same school Defendants allowed Gottuso to continue at.

[105] In Evan F. the evidence showed that the church did not investigate or make any inquiry regarding the pastor’s fitness to serve as a pastor even though there were reasons to do so of which it was aware. The court stated:

“At the time Conference selected Murphy as pastor, it had information that he had been fired from his counselor position because of charges involving inappropriate behavior with an adolescent male.  In fact, Dew had been contacted by authorities in 1980 or 1981 and told that Murphy was being investigated for an inappropriate relationship with a schoolboy staying in Murphy’s home without his parents’ knowledge.  Murphy told Dew this matter involved allowing a potential runaway to stay in his home.  Dew did not investigate the matter any further.  It was Donald Getty’s understanding (the past superintendent) that Dew also knew at this time of the Syd S. charges. (At 832-833).”

[106]Other allegations held constituting negligence in Oona were strikingly similar to allegations herein; that the Defendants’ would lower grades in retaliation, and otherwise provided school punishments (not participate in newsletters, etc.).  Further, male students would make remarks to the female students, using words such as “melons,” and “beavers.”

[107]The court in Leger, cited with approval several out of state cases.  One, Schultz v. Gould Academy (Me) (1975) 332 A.2d 368 held the school liable for a watchmen’s negligence in preventing a criminal assault on a 16 year old student by an intruder when he saw evidence of entry into a school dormitory and did not properly follow-up.

The court held employees at school have a duty to guard against dangers that they know of, or “which they should reasonably anticipate.”  The issue was, based upon the information, should a reasonable prudent man, charged with the protection… have taken some measures to avert the likelihood that one (or more) of them would be physically harmed.”  (At 1462).

[108]See also Draper Mortuary v Superior Court (1982) 135 Ca. App. 3d 533. 185 Cal Rptr 96 where mortuary liable for emotional damages to wife over sexual assault on dead husband due to failure to lock the door.  Undertaking created duty of care.

[109]Not only did the Defendants not report the same, claiming that they could resolve it themselves within the church, they told the minor, who as a  result left home, that unless she came back she would not be allowed to return to school and would not graduate (similar occurred to Plaintiff Lisa James).  Defendants were held to be child care custodians, and it was stated  that the First Amendment was not violated by the requirement that the church pastors  report pursuant to Penal Code 11166.  As  the reporting was required, convictions were upheld.


[110]Of interest, neither Defendant Jeff Schultz or Matt Sanders reported when their students Tris Rodan and Monica James told them of Gottuso’s abuses.  Yet several months later when Glen Little repeated what the girls said to these Defendants to his therapist, the therapist reported.

[111] Gottuso was ordered last May to provide further answers to interrogatories and produce documents but has not done so as of the filing of this brief.  Counsel for the Other Defendants promised responses to interrogatories and the production of documents this July.  The discovery was served in February.  As of the filing of this brief there has been no response, and defendants are objecting to producing all of the Fellowship Board minutes.

[112] This brief begins with one of her last entries.  In this section we start at the beginning.

[113] When asked why Monica would lie, Gottuso said she had wanted to get away from Christ-Bridge and school for a long time, had become hostile to God and her focus was on him because he wouldn’t back off from Christ.  He said she wanted to do her thing with boys, and that she didn’t believe that Christ could integrate that into her life.  And so, she had to go to her own power to make life come down the way she wanted, and of course the easy way to do this was to “get rid of” the one who kept reminding her of Christ, just like the Pharisees wanted to get rid of Jesus for messing up their little religious system.

[114]The issue of the Gottuso’s arrest for 8 counts of sexual abuse in  ’92 came up.  Gottuso said it had been a single battery charge. He retold the same story as he had on a Thursday night back in ’92.  He said one of the children had been playing and roughhousing with him.  He vaguely described holding his arm around the child’s neck and acted like he rubbed his knuckles against the kids hair.  He said the kid got mad and blew things out of proportion with the parents who had filed charges.  He indicated that the parents were unreasonable and wouldn’t discuss it but rather had gone to the police.  He said it was “only battery” and “nothing sexual.”  He didn’t say whether it was a girl or boy.  He stated the judge said it was a ‘shame that it had come this far’ and that ‘it should have been dismissed’.  He said that because of some sort of legal due process he’d had to do community service even though the judge wanted to dismiss.  He said that they had stipulated to community service to expedite the process and put and end to it.  He made it sound like even the courts thought it ridiculous, and backed this up with the fact that the judge had subsequently dismissed the case and allowed him to enter a plea of not guilty.

[115]Nor has Melanie ever been interviewed by anyone representing the Plaintiffs.

[116]Grace Escobar, the parent of Marisol Escobar, who witnessed the orgasm incident, quickly removed Marisol from the school after Defendants refused to let her not attend Bible Class.  Marisol told the police that Gottuso constantly talked about sex.  Defendants covered up her leaving, falsely saying it was because her mother was “moving.”

Marisol told the police Gottuso ordered one male student, Johnny Cabrerra, son of the Defendants John and Sonia, to pray because he “lusted after sex.”  Gottuso, she said, once  asked why do people have sex, and then wrote answers on the board.  She recalled Gottuso saying that some girls wanted “large boobs” and others wanted “smaller boobs.”  Once in class, he asked Marisol if she would choose sex with him or a monkey.  When she said neither, Gottuso asked why not. Gottuso, she said, also told the class that sex was no mystery.  A girl only needed a banana and a guy only needed a donut. As to the orgasm incident with Melanie, she said, it began with Gottuso  discussing masturbation and orgasms.  Marisol reported she has been suffering nightmares about being stalked by Gottuso and that often Defendants Dan Simonsen and Saralee Schultz pop up in her dreams.  She has had three dreams where she was strangled.

Kristen Drayton told the police she saw Gottuso touch the two Asian girls, Shirley and Christine, embracing each and running his hands down their backs to their behind, leaning on their necks as if kissing.  She saw him do this with Melanie Golson also.   She saw him call forward Dalia to demonstrate making out. When the police arrived on campus she saw Gottuso hide.  She wrote out her own statement for the police.

“Bible Class…was extremely disturbing… he would tell us that the phrase “Pisseth on the wall was in the Bible…sorry for the people whose lives he has destroyed, such as the teachers and the brain-washed members of his church.  I am so glad to be out…Sometimes he would say things in Bible Class like, “How many of you ever thought about having sex or imagining yourself having sex”… he would yell out nasty words like penis, boob or sex and the teachers would laugh whether they wanted to or not….Sometimes he would take a marker and the top of the marker and put them together and say this was sexual intercourse… ‘would you get your boobs cut off for a million dollars?’  He would even correct the teachers in front of the students.

“In the beginning of the school year he told us that we were not to discuss anything that was talked about in our Bible class outside of it or to our parents or anyone.  I just believe that he (Dr. John) is an evil and sick man….”

A “Jane Doe” telephoned the police and stated that Gottuso was having sexual relationships with Defendants Jill Fitch and Maren Stigs.

The police asked Defendant Dan Simonsen for a student list.  He gave it only after stalling.  Then he told students, such as Josh Barker and Christine Chiang, they did not have to talk to the police.  Chiang’s parents are in Taiwan and she lives with Defendant Matt Sanders who was present when she was interviewed, as well as when her sister was interviewed.  When Dalia Menesas was interviewed her guardians, Defendants Sonia and John Cabrerra were present.  When the discussion turned to the incident of Meliss Golson and Gottuso orgasm demonstration, John Cabrerra cut short the interview.  Dalia then gave a “testimonial” for Gottuso.

[117] See footnote 32 for names used.

[118] An example would be the drawing of a vagina on Tris Rodan’s forehead during class.  Gottuso would say this was to educate and get a point across.  It was just as humiliating and inappropriate for Tris Rodan either way.

[119] The fact the counseling policy specifically excludes sexual acts is indicative that the liability portion of the policy does cover same as the exclusion does not appear. That can be the only interpretation given to the choice to include the exclusion as to one coverage but not as to another.

[120]The court stated:

“Moreover, Cal Farm showed through its Exclusions and Limitations section of Plan P that it had the capability of clearly specifying the consequences of an insured’s receipt of medical care which is covered under a government program, such as any worker’s compensation law or act.  However, Cal Farm failed to set forth in unambiguous, clear and conspicuous terms the consequences of an insured’s eligibility for Medicare during the period of coverage under the comprehensive medical insurance plan.”

As Church Mutual was capable of putting a sex exclusion in its counseling policy, it could do so also in its general liability policy.  Policies are not “hunts” for exclusions.  One turns to the exclusion section and expects to find all exclusions stated therein.

[121] Nor is a notice of limiting coverage on a face sheet sufficient to meet the conspicuous Test.  Hurd v. Republic Ins. Co. (1980) 113 Cal.App.3d 250, 169 CR 675.

[122]The issue of whether the carrier may be liable for punitive damages reasonably foreseeable if settlement within policy limits is refused is now pending before the Supreme Court.