A “cult” victim received a $6.5 million dollar personal injury settlement Tuesday from insurance carriers for 13 years of abuse, experienced through a group called “Kids” reported The New Jersey Law Journal.

Lulu Corter was sent to Kids of North Jersey Inc. in Hackensack by her parents in 1984 at the age of 13. She escaped in 1997, after enduring more than a decade of what other victims call a “living hell.”

Kids was dominated and defined by its charismatic leader Miller Newton now bankrupt, according to victim advocate and activist Wes Fager.

Kids is a spin-off of Straight, another controversial rehab program eventually shut down by litigation and bad press.

Melvin Sembler founded Straight, a wealthy businessman closely associated with the Bush family.

George W. Bush appointed Sembler Ambassador to Italy.

Straight’s roots are in The Seed, a drug rehab program in Florida that lost funding amidst allegations of mind control.

The Seed was itself based upon Synanon; a rehab program turned “cult” founded by Charles Dederich Sr.

Dederich now deceased plead no contest in 1980 to conspiracy, regarding a murder plot to kill a California lawyer litigating against the group. A rattlesnake was placed in his mailbox, but attorney Paul Morantz, survived.

A rattlesnake didn’t bite Corter’s attorney Phil Elberg, but he did manage to take quite a bite out of Miller Newton and his associates through their insurers, not to mention the ebbing credibility of such programs and related supporters like Sembler.

It seems the many incarnations of Synanon’s treatment model once called “the game,” live on and on and on. And it may take more lawsuits to finally slay this many-headed hydra.

Note: The Third International Conference on Adolescent Treatment Abuse will take place this month July 26th and 27th in St. Petersburg, Florida. Contact SAFETY for further information and details.

Organizations or groups that are personality-driven and/or essentially defined by the personality of a charismatic leader, have often been called “cults.”

However, not all cults are destructive and many over the centuries have been relatively benign.

It seems some American corporations can be seen as consumer “cults,” often driven and/or defined by their founder’s personality.

The saga of the corporate Multi-media Empire wrought by Martha Stewart appears to be one example.

This commercial kingdom is so identified and defined by its creator, it is called “Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.”

But Martha’s empire has lost half its value, since the stature of its leader began to crumble.

Would Stewart’s cult following stay loyal to the brand without the presence of her personality?

Martha Stewart is an “extreme case of this corporate cult of personality,” reports the Boston Globe.

But there are other personality-driven enterprises such as Oprah Winfey’s synergistic media holdings, which continue to thrive.

Rosie O’Donnell seemed to be embarking on the path of Oprah, until “coming out” became more important to the talk show host than being in the money.

What will be Martha Stewart’s corporate legacy if she is killed in court?

Will her magazine fold, like George did, not long after founder John F. Kennedy Jr. died?

Most cults end or slowly whither away after the leader dies or self-destructs.

There is no “Family” without Charles Manson. And groups like Synanon, Aum and the Nuwaubians faded after their leaders were prosecuted.

But it seems that if there are significant assets and an ample cash flow “cults” can continue after a founder dies.

Witness how Scientology soldiers on undaunted by L. Ron Hubbard’s death in the 80s. Its celebrity faithful like John Travolta and Tom Cruise have not lost faith and keep paying for Hubbard’s “technology.”

The die-hard followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh still watch his videos long after their leader’s demise. And they gather to honor him at the still active ashram he started in India.

But after Herbert Armstrong died his Worldwide Church of God struggled to establish a new identity. And it shrank as adherents exited. It seems without Armstrong there was no lasting loyalty.

Which historical “cult” example will Stewart’s “corporate cult of personality” parallel?

Will there be consumer fealty for “Martha Stewart Living,” if Martha is living in prison?

Her fans might move on to a less controversial and/or embattled “domestic diva.”

Martha Stewart may have taught Americans that simplicity is timeless, but it seems probable that her cult following will dwindle if she does any time.

Richard Ofshe social psychologist and professor at the University of California at Berkeley commented about the latest sensational claims made by Scott Peterson’s defense team.

Ofshe won a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his work exposing a drug rehab turned cult called Synanon.

But the noted scholar pronounced the theory that Laci Peterson was slain by a satanic cult, dead on arrival.

He said, “I think you’d be better off suggesting Saddam Hussein really did it,” reports ABC News.

This does seem like a more plausible theory.

Ofshe, author of Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria, stated that the idea of “organized satanic cults are a complete myth.”

The most readily recognized expression of Satanism within the United States was the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LeVey.

LeVey was a provocateur and religious entrepreneur who seemed to thrive on controversy, but his church was essentially benign.

The Church of Satan had no history of murder and human sacrifice. Instead, it was for many of its adherents often a means of expressing disdain for the established norms of organized religion in America.

Stories about roving Satanists searching for blood to be spilled on their altars are now relegated to the category of urban myth.

Law enforcement authorities in California apparently know this. And they are dragging the bay rather than seriously searching for fictional cult assassins.

Alfonso Acampora 61, the head of a controversial drug rehab program called Walden House in California committed suicide this past weekend, reports the Oakland Tribune.

Walden House was largely based upon the Synanon model; a scandal ridden drug rehab community founded by the infamous Charles Dederich, which was often called a “cult.”

Acampora and his organization historically also experienced a series of scandals and troubling revelations.

Repeated allegations of “mind games,” graft, corruption and welfare fraud have swirled around the Walden House.

Recently the organization and its leaders were being increasingly scrutinized.

The San Francisco Health Commission has been pressuring Walden House about its finances and encouraging a complete revamping of its financial reporting system.

Acampora received an annual salary of almost $200,000 plus benefits.

But despite his income and status, the former drug addict and convict who rose to political influence, booked a room in a luxury hotel and shot himself in the head Sunday.

What was it that Acampora couldn’t live with?