A self-described “thought reform consultant” named Patrick Ryan is now being sued by a former client.

The lawsuit currently filed in Philadelphia Municipal Court First Judicial District of Pennsylvania (Claim number SC-04-09-23-6469) states that Mr. Ryan was “verbally contracted” in June “to provide counseling services,” commonly called “cult deprogramming.”

On June 23rd he received $2,250.00 on deposit for “three days worth of counseling”

Shortly after making the deposit the plaintiff “cancelled” due to the “uncomfortable technique that [Patrick Ryan] was explaining.”

The thought reform consultant later allegedly agreed to refund the deposit, but it was never returned.

Now Mr. Ryan’s former client is seeking that refund through legal action.

Patrick Ryan lives in Philadelphia and is the webmaster for the American Family Foundation (now known as the International Cultic Studies Association), a nonprofit cult research and education organization.

Mr. Ryan often does presentations at the organization’s conferences and is scheduled for an upcoming panel discussion about cult “exit counseling” this month.

According to his bio Patrick Ryan is “a co-author of ‘Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants.’”

Another co-author and fellow thought reform consultant Carol Giambalvo strongly recommended Patrick Ryan to the person now suing him.

Ms. Giambalvo is also a board member of the American Family Foundation and an ex-cult member herself who often leads recovery workshops.

The ethical standards Ms. Giambalvo and Mr. Ryan co-authored specifically emphasize “the importance of clear understandings on financial matters with clients…at the beginning of the consultation relationship.”

But according to the lawsuit filed against Mr. Ryan “he would not give an actual amount of the time and money that [his] counseling would cost.”

Patick Ryan was contacted for comment by CultNews, but he did not respond.

When asked by CultNews about the pending litigation Ms. Giambalvo said, “It’s none of my business.”

Interestingly, a producer for the popular TV program “Judge Judy” wants to make it the judge’s business.

The producer for the nationally syndicated show starring retired Judge Judith Sheindlin wrote the plaintiff late last month, “Please call me at your earliest convenience if you are interested in the possibility of arbitrating your case on ‘Judge Judy.’ I look forward to hearing from you.”

Meanwhile Mr. Ryan’s former client has heard nothing from him lately about any deposit refund.

Note: The case is currently scheduled to go to court December 3, 2004 at 1:15 PM. Anyone interested can attend the proceeding at 34 South 11th Street Courtroom 4F in downtown Philadelphia.

Update: Patrick Ryan lost in court repeatedly. First he lost at trial and later on appeal.

See “‘Cult deprogrammer’ loses court battle–judgment awarded to former client.

See  “‘Cult deprogrammer’ Patrick L. Ryan loses in court again.

President Bush has issued a “proclamation” honoring the leader of a small fringe group of unorthodox “Sikhs” Associated Press and KOBTV in New Mexico.

One thousand of the faithful converged on Santa Fe to pay their last respects to the dead leader Harbhajan Singh Puri, known to his followers as “Yogi Bhajan.”

Bhajan died a few days ago from heart failure at 75.

The guru died a rich man and controlled numerous lucrative companies run by his devotees, including AKAL Security, which was launched from his New Mexico ashram.

Akal now boasts a billion dollars in government contracts.

It seems somewhat sordid that some prominent politicians seem to think they owe something to the old guru, who was accused of sexual assault and battery and considered by many of his former followers to be something less than a “holy man.”

However, the likes of no less than two New Mexico governors and now a sitting US President have honored the man many called a “cult leader.”

The group the guru started in a Los Angeles garage in the 1970s known as the “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) has little more than a few thousand faithful and has been dwindling for years.

Nevertheless “Yogi Bhajan” got quite a sendoff, offering proof that political patronage, repeated campaign contributions and savvy business deals is what really counts amongst many politicians in America.

Note: See previous story about the life and times of “Yogi Bhajan”

Harbhajan Singh Puri, known to his devoted followers as “Yogi Bhajan,” is dead at 75, reports the Times of India.

A former customs agent in New Delhi, Bhajan emigrated to the United Stated from India through Canada during the 1970s guru craze. He eventually became a Los Angeles yoga teacher and ultimately formed a religious group known as “3HO” (The “Happy, Holy, Healthy Organization”).

Like other pop gurus Bhajan had his share of celebrity followers.

3HO has been linked to singers Courtney Love and Seal. And a popular LA yoga teacher and 3HO member attracted celebrity students such as Madonna, Rosanna Arquette, Melissa Etheridge, Cindy Crawford, David Duchovny and Sherilyn Fenn.

However, despite its name 3HO had many unhappy former followers and ironically the guru that claimed his yoga made its adherents healthy, was plagued by perpetual illnesses and died from heart disease.

Bhajan also had a history of allegations regarding rather unholy sexual misconduct.

He was repeatedly accused of exploiting female devotees and once sued by his personal secretary for “assault and battery.” The case was later quietly settled out of court.

Yogi Bhajan’s followers preferred to address him as “Siri Singh Sahib,” but he was also known as a “cult leader” and once compared to Rev. Moon founder of the Unification Church.

Prominent sociologist and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Offshe said in an affidavit that 3HO “exhibits characteristics common to cult organizations.”

The self-proclaimed “world Sikh leader” actually ruled over a relatively small religious following composed primarily of Americans and situated largely in New Mexico, Arizona and California within small insular communities.

Bhajan’s faithful were known for their yoga, vegetarian diet and white dress code.

In India, Sikhs allow democratic elections of priests and oppose personality cults. Yoga has no part in Sikhism, and India’s Sikhs are known to be meat eaters and often wear colorful garments.

Despite a historic rift between mainline Sikhs and Bhajan’s American disciples an Indian Sikh leader eulogized the alleged “cult leader” as “a tech-savvy new age guru” who propogated “the message of Sikism,” reports Indo-Asian News Service.

Bhajan’s religious compound near Espanola, New Mexico experienced an exodus of members in 1985 and 3HO today appears to be an aging and dwindling group.

Nevertheless New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson declared, “Yogi Bhajan a leader in the Sikh community nationally and internationally…[and]…a great friend of New Mexico” reported The Albuquerque Journal.

Richardson benefited politically from 3HO support and its members made substantial campaign contributions.

The governor has ordered flags throughout the state to be flown at half-mast for two days to honor Yogi Bhajan.

Perhaps Gov. Richardson overlooked these prophetic words of Bhajan who once told his followers, “Your dead bodies will lie on these roads, your children will be orphans, and nobody will kick them, rather, people will eat them alive! There will be tremendous insanity. That is the time we are going to face.”

He concluded, “So you have two choices: be a Sikh, or a sick.”

Hardly the thoughts of a benign spiritual leader and “friend.”

Bhajan was a relentless self-promoter and his multi-million dollar business empire is likely to be his most enduring legacy.

The web of corporate holdings he once controlled includes Akal Security, a company responsible for $1 billion dollars in US government contracts, according to a recent article run in the New York Times.

How could “homeland security” be in any way dependent upon a company linked to an alleged “cult,” which also has a closely related history of criminal indictments regarding one of its past and most prominent leaders?

Yogi Bhajan’s trusted subordinate, Gurujot Singh Khalsa (AKA Robert Alwin Taylor), was convicted for conspiracy to import marijuana, racketeering and money laundering. He also attempted to obtain illegal weapons.

Ironically, while Gurujot served time in a federal prison Akal Security began to turn a profit for Yogi Bhajan and his 3HO followers, largely through federal contracts.

The legacy of loot left behind by Bhajan is considerable and no doubt his surviving family will live comfortably.

Somewhat uncomfortable though is the thought of Akal as part of America’s “homeland security” and a US governor pandering to a purported “cult” by memorializing a man many considered little more than a megalomaniac.

Note: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson later declared October 23rd officially “Yogi Bhajan Memorial Day.”