Patrick L. Ryan, “thought reform consultant” (TRC), a job more commonly called “cult deprogrammer,” recently lost a court appeal filed in Philadelphia. Ryan attempted to reverse a two thousand-dollar judgement awarded against him regarding an unearned deposit the TRC would not return to a potential client.

ICSA President Alan Scheflin won't comment about associate's legal woesRyan is closely associated with the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) previously known as the American Family Foundation (AFF).

CultNews reported details of Ryan’s first trial.

Another CultNews article reported the interest expressed by “Judge Judy” to televise that proceeding, but the plaintiffs passed on her offer.

On September 17th an appeals panel of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ruled, “We find in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendant [Patrick L. Ryan] in the amount of $2,447.00.”

Interestingly, the arbitration panel composed of three attorneys, increased the amount of the judgment against the TRC by about $400.00.

Nevertheless Ryan has decided to try again and the TRC filed yet another appeal on October 17th further forestalling payment of the money he owes.

Early last week just before Thanksgiving a courthouse conference was scheduled in downtown Philadelphia concerning Ryan’s latest motion.

Diehard legal maneuvering like this is typical of Scientology lawyers engaged in seemingly endless legal wrangling with a plaintiff they don’t want to pay.

But Mr. Ryan is a TRC, which is supposedly someone devoted to helping the victims of alleged “cults,” not working for one.

Ryan was represented by Robert A. Rosin, Esquire an attorney in the Philadelphia area.

The plaintiffs had no lawyer and represented themselves pro se; nevertheless they scored their second victory.

Patrick Ryan is the Webmaster for the ICSA, a member of its Cultic Studies Review Editorial Board and he also helps to facilitate the organization’s conferences.

Ryan, TRC Joseph F. Kelly and TRC/ICSA Bord of Directors member Carol Giambalvo essentially make up what is considered the TRC professional association. Their bios and papers appear on the ICSA Web site, which promotes them and is largely either directly and/or indirectly responsible for many of their client referrals.

This same trio was also largely responsible for putting together the TRC “Ethical Standards,” which were published by the ICSA and sold through its Web site.

But it seems Ryan violated one of those standards that states; “a subscribing consultant recognizes the importance of clear understandings on financial matters with clients. Arrangements for payments are settled at the beginning of the consultation relationship. Each consultant will provide a written and dated schedule of fees to potential clients.”

However, according to the facts as established in court and the rulings of one judge and subsequently an appellate panel Ryan had no “clear understandings on financial matters with [his] client.”

CultNews repeatedly attempted to contact ICSA President Alan Scheflin for comment concerning Mr. Ryan, but he never responded. Scheflin likewise did not respond to previous requests for comment before each of the other two reports were run about Ryan’s legal problems, despite the TRC’s close ties to ICSA and its programs.

It should also be noted that the TRC ethical standards Carol Giambalvo co-authored with Ryan state, “when information is possessed that raises doubt as to the ethical behavior of a professional colleague…the member should take action to attempt to rectify such a condition.”

However, TRC member Carol Giambalvo gave no response when asked by CultNews what “action” she has taken or plans to take in an “attempt to rectify” Ryan’s behavior.

Ms. Giambalvo has personally and professionally recommended Ryan, including an endorsement to the would-be client that now holds a judgment against him.

However, Ryan’s fellow TRC member has failed to resolve this professional dilemma.

The only TRC that has taken action specifically related to Patrick Ryan’s legal problems is Joseph Kelly.

Kelly offered testimony in court on his domestic partner/professional associate Ryan’s behalf in an attempt to keep the unearned deposit.

When asked to support his professional standing at the September appeal hearing Patrick Ryan presented certificates to the court issued to him by the ICSA.

ICSA states at its Web site that it is “known for its professionalism and capacity to respond effectively to families.”

But how is Ryan’s behavior coupled with the deafening silence of both ICSA President Alan Scheflin and its board member Ms. Giambalvo a reflection of that claim?

Alan Scheflin certainly cannot say he doesn’t understand the weight and significance of two court rulings against Ryan. After all Scheflin is a lawyer with a LL.M. from Harvard Law School and he teaches law at Santa Clara University.

CultNews also contacted Steve K. D. Eichel, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania who has been associated with both ICSA and Patrick Ryan for some time.

Ryan cited Eichel during his testimony in court as a mental health professional that would work with him.

Dr. Eichel responded through a prepared written statement.

The psychologist said that he is “greatly pained by what has happened” and has “deep empathy and respect for the travails and tribulations of the client” that sued Ryan.

He also says that “most professional associations have mandated consequences when a member of that association breaches its ethics code” and that “an ethics code without some means of enforcement…is of educational value and little more.” Eichel added, that a “meaningful venue for enforcing an ethics code” is required or a “‘code of ethics’ is simply a set of aspirations that has no bearing on actual behavior.”

No “consequences” appear likely for Patrick Ryan due to his “breaches” through either ICSA or the TRC professional association. The only meaningful “venue” for any of Ryan’s injured or potential clients with grievances appears to be before a judge in court.

Dr. Eichel also observed that perhaps the “ethical standards put together by Ryan and Giambalvo and published by the ICSA” may be little more than “a political platform.”

This is an interesting point.

The TRC “ethical standards” can be seen as politics or advertising. And the TRC professional association essentially uses ICSA as its “platform” for business purposes.

Eichel concludes that Ryan’s current situation may “clearly demonstrate the need for some form of accountability.”

But based upon the history of this situation don’t expect any “accountability” at ICSA, the TRC group or from Patrick L. Ryan outside of a courtroom.

Update 2006: After losing a second time in court Ryan filed yet another appeal again. But this time his former clients decided that they were done with the seemingly endless and time consuming litigation process, so they did not appear in court. The case was then dismissed  due to the plaintiff’s “failure to appear”  (May 2006). Despite the fact that Ryan had lost twice in court, he managed to abuse the appeals process to quite literally wear his victims out, and in this way avoided paying the judgment recorded against him.

Nothing was every done to enforce the TRC ethical standards. And there was nothing done by ICSA concerning Ryan’s conduct, despite repeated court rulings against him and pleas from his former clients.

Whoever once said, “there’s no business like show business” probably didn’t know about the “cult” business, with only a few devoted followers you can accumulate millions of dollars quite quickly (not to mention tax-exempt status).

Witness the financial success of former psychologist Peter Bowes and his sidekick Clare Watts, now known as the dynamic duo “Father Peter” and “Mother Clare.”

Peter Bowes and Clare Watts hug their faithfulThe pair, both formerly members of a purported California “cult” called the “Holy Order of Mans,” started up their very own religious organization the “Order of Christ Sophia” (OCS) also known as the “Centers of Light,” which has been called a “cult.”

Essentially OCS is a copy of the Mans group with one big difference, instead of Earl Blighton (deceased); a former electrician responsible for training and ordaining Bowes, it’s Bowes and Watts that run this group.

And Blighton’s “spiritual” progeny have apparently put together a similar scheme not much different from the now defunct Mans order, which accumulates assets and cash largely through group housing, labor, tithes and offerings.

OCS opens “houses” for its members who pay rent to the order and tithes. The group, which has been called a “cult,” has successfully set up such housing in Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Haven, Seattle and Oakland.

Bowes and Watts have their own personal houses. Bowes keeps a private place in Oakland next to the “Order House” there and Watts has her digs near Seattle.

With less than 200 active members OCS has already accumulated millions of dollars in assets at a breathtaking pace.

Last year OCS bought a historical house in Milwaukee for $909,000 and this year they topped that by purchasing a retreat in Colorado for more than a million.

“Mother Clare” reportedly raised approximately $1,225,000 from her “parishioners” for the down payment.

Avatar Financial Group helped her out by providing transitional financing to the tune of $1,725,000.

The company reports, “The retreat and conference center sleeps 60 and seats 100+. There is a beautifully appointed 7-year old lodge and bunkhouse on 30 acres of inspiring Colorado landscape. The property is in excellent condition and both the Lodge and Bunkhouse are fully equipped to continue to be a turn-key event and retreat center.”

Wow! And to think that only a few short years ago before going full-time as a “Master Teacher” at OCS Peter Bowes surrendered his license as a clinical psychologist in Wisconsin, effectively ending that career choice after complaints were filed against him by former clients.

It just goes to show that there’s no business like “cult” business.

With less than 200 followers paying rent, doing remodeling work on OCS properties shelling out tithes, offerings and seminar fees Bowes and his associate Watts have built a spiritual empire worth millions.

The pair jets around the country ministering to their minions, though they manage to find some downtime to relax in Italy.

What a life!

However, for the families of many current OCS members the supposed “spiritual” teachings of this duo appear to be devastating.

Parents say they have been cut off from the children.

According to one estranged mother Bowes and Watts “use deception, mind control, hypnosis, all kinds of devious tactics to get you to follow them blindly.”

Whatever the pair practices though one thing is for sure, it has proven to be quite profitable.

Douglas Macarthur once observed, “old soldiers never die,” but perhaps the general might have also included old “cult leaders.”

Terri Hoffman now known as Terri Lilya Keanely, a notorious “spiritualist” who made headlines in the early 1990s, is still plying her trade even though she is pushing seventy.

Ms. Hoffman/Keanely became notorious because she allegedly committed “murder through mind control.”

No less than ten of the Dallas guru’s associates met with untimely deaths while under her influence.

Hoffman launched her career during the disco days of the 1970s and eventually founded a company called “Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul Inc.” in Dallas, Texas.

Terri’s devoted disciples wrote her big checks, one couple alone gave Hoffman more than a hundred thousand dollars.

However, the spiritualist eventually declared bankruptcy after a series of lawsuits and an ongoing criminal investigation supposedly exhausted her resources.

In 1993 Hoffman seemed to hit bottom when she was convicted on ten counts of bankruptcy fraud.

Never mind.

Flash forward to today and Terri Lilya Keanely has reinvented herself and is now a “visionary cloud artist” with a spiffy little Web site selling “angel photographs” featuring “a view into God’s kingdom, normally not seen by physical eyes.”

In her new bio, which not surprisingly neglects to mention Hoffman’s past woes, Terri touts herself as a “self-taught” jewelry, floral and clothing “designer,” not to mention an inspirational writer, speaker, consultant, counselor and seminar leader.

The Web site states, “Terri has had a series of classes for over 30 years…[teaching] methods…to grow and develop in consciousness.”

Hmmm, doesn’t this sound suspiciously like her old company “Conscious Development of Body, Mind and Soul Inc.” that went belly up more than a decade ago?

Terri also wants her Web site visitors to know that “a great deal of her work has been within the area of healing which encompasses many levels of energy.”

Is Hoffman/Keanely referring to the “healing” she performed on her ten dead former associates left in the wake of her previous failed business?

The guru’s latest technique for healing is “called Multi-Body Release therapy, which…involves removal of ‘stuck’ energies from the body.”

Does Ms. Hoffman/Keanely mean the removal of the soul from the body, which many believe, occurs upon death? This could relate to her claimed “view into God’s kingdom,” a place some of her past students have moved on to.

Maybe Terri is talking about simply separating people from some green “energies” they are “stuck” to, more often simply called money.

Hoffman/Keanely says she is also offering “financial (planning) workshops.”

Well there it is, old “cult” leaders never die and Terri Hoffman is a diehard.

Note: An old crony of Ms. Hoffman/Keanely and a fellow “healer” also appears to be something of a diehard in her devotion to the old guru. Ariana Mariah Geoffrey Stahlka who is doing “energy work” around Chicago names Keanely within the “Philosophy/Approach” of an interview as her source of learning and attributes the “healing technique developed by Terri” as a basis “for work on others.”

Update: Apparently Ms. Stahlka is not quite so devoted to her old friend and mentor Hoffman/Keanely. Since this article first appeared she has had deleted any reference to “Terri” from the previously cited interview. However, to see the reference to “Terri Lilya Keanely” as it appeared originally through the Internet archive Way Back Machine click here.

Stahlda said, “My answers started flooding in when I began to learn and apply the techniques Terri Lilya Keanely offers through A Balanced Path to Mastery and Enlightenment. I had a great deal of inner healing to do, and my desire for Spiritual Evolution and growth is ever growing. Application of these techniques, including meditation, has brought me closer to myself, closer to God and inspired me to help bring these possibilities to others. I have been teaching meditation and energy techniques and practicing Krashada, an energy healing technique developed by Terri for work on others for 15 years.”

Madonna is in an awkward position regarding her beloved Kabbalah Centre (KC), now that one of its most important leaders has been charged with fraud.

Shaul Youdkevitch head of the Israeli branch of the KC, the man that prompted the 1980s diva’s recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, has been charged with bilking a dying woman that was once his disciple.

Mrs. Youdkevitch has been pulled in for questioning too by Israeli authorities concerning the activities of the religious organization, which has been called a “cult.”

The husband of a ten-year member stricken with cancer says his wife was told if she gave tens of thousands of dollars to the KC, it would somehow improve her condition.

She gave the money, but died at the age of 50.

Subsequently, her husband filed an official complaint alleging fraud.

Such allegations against the Kabbalah Centre are not new.

Earlier this year the London branch of the religious organization was filmed undercover making similar claims to a cancer patient in Britain. This was later broadcast nationally and reported widely in the British press.

But now it’s not just bad press that Madonna and her fellow KC groupies have to contend with, it’s criminal charges and the prospect of jail time hanging over their leader’s head.

So far Madonna seems to believe whatever the KC tells her and continues to ignore the implications of these serious charges.

Madonna has reportedly given the organization millions.

Perhaps, the former “Material Girl” is more cocerned with protecting her investment and subsequent sense of equity, than her fans and the public from the “cult” she has promoted for so many years.

The 47-year-old 1980s pop queen told the New York Daily News, “We’re all in a cult.” And reportedly sounds “not wildly dissimilar to Pat Robertson” when going on about her spirituality.

The singer claims that the KC is “not hurting anybody.”

Maybe Madonna should amend that statement given the current circumstances, which includes her spritual mentor being held under house arrest.

In the same Daily News interview the singer went on to defend Tom Cruise, another celebrity, who constantly is out shilling for Scientology, another group often called a “cult.”

“If [Scientology] makes Tom Cruise happy, I don’t care if he prays to turtles,” Madonna says. “And I don’t think anybody else should.”

However, making celebrities “happy” isn’t the issue.

Since celebs like Madonna and Tom Cruise constantly use their status to proselytize, shouldn’t they accept some of the responsibility when things go wrong and people get hurt by their controversial religions?

Scientology has paid out millions in settlements over personal injury claims regarding its bad behavior and faced criminal charges.

Now it seems that the KC may be following in its footsteps.

Let’s hope the media begins ask Madonna some tough questions, instead of allowing her to use interviews much like infomercials to promote the Kabbalah Centre. After all, her spiritual mentors in Israel are facing tough questioning from the police.