Karen Robidoux was found not guilty of second-degree murder, in the 1999 death of her infant child this week, reported the Taunton Gazette.

The Massachusetts mother was accused of starving her baby son Samuel to death.

Robidoux’s husband Jacques was convicted for Samuel’s murder in 2002 and is now serving a life sentence.

But the mother’s attorney, Joseph Krowski, offered the defense that cult “brainwashing” coerced Karen Robidoux’s behavior

The attorney argued that his client was victimized, abused and ultimately controlled by an obscure religious sect led by her father-in-law Roland Robidoux called “The Body.”

“There were two victims here, Karen and Samuel,” Robidoux’s older sister told the press.

And after seven hours of deliberation the jury agreed with the defense and its witnesses, acquitting the “cult” mom of murder, but finding her guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery.

“Because a child died, it may be an unpopular verdict, but we felt Karen Robidoux’s intent was not to kill her baby,” the jury foreman told the Boston Herald.

He later added, “I do believe she was psychologically held prisoner,” and concluded “she has suffered enough” reported NBC News.

Private journals kept by a “cult” member were made public after the verdict and they offered further proof of Roland Robidoux’s total control over his followers reported the Boston Herald.

“Dad [Roland Robidoux] feels that the end is coming soon…Our prayers should not be for Samuel to be healed but for God’s purposes to be fulfilled…What can we do for Samuel? Nothing…God is the master. We are his servants,” wrote the “cult” member.

The mother of four was sentenced to time served and walked out of the Bristol courthouse a free woman reported the Boston Globe.

“I’m just glad the nightmare door is shut,” she told reporters on the courthouse steps.

“It was a trail-blazing case that will affect all cult cases nationally. It’s now been proven what can happen when someone is brainwashed,” said nationally known forensic pathologist Dr. Millard Bass.

In Virginia late last year another jury came to a similar conclusion regarding the sentencing of “D.C. sniper” Lee Malvo. His lawyers also claimed their client was “brainwashed.”

The teenager’s defense team contended that he was dominated and controlled by his mentor John Mohammed.

Mohammed was sentenced to death, but Malvo was sent to prison for life.

In a noteworthy child custody case in North Carolina this fall a judge ruled that the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) exerted “complete control over the mind, body and spirit of its members, both adults and children.”

WOFF led by Jane Whaley has been called a “cult.”

The Carolina judge concluded, “The environment created at WOFF has an adverse effect on the health, safety and welfare of children,” and he subsequently ordered them to be removed from the group.

In a tacit acknowledgement of cult “brainwashing” another judge in California granted the release last year of a woman charged with the death of her small child to receive “deprogramming.”

Later that same judge sentenced the cult leader to 16 years in prison, while charges were dismissed against two of his followers.

The mother charged received an eleven-year sentence and told the court, “Mind control is a reality.”

CultNews reported that professional cult apologist Dick Anthony was involved in both the California and Carolina cases. Anthony is a psychologist and well paid for his work, but he failed his clients abysmally.

Judging from the prosecution’s arguments in the Robidoux case, they apparently were receiving input from someone like Anthony.

But the Robidoux verdict may be the most colossal setback for cults and their apologists to date. And will likely be cited in the future as proof of “brainwashing.”

Overall, 2003 was possibly the worst year ever for cults and their apologists.

They even attempted fruitlessly to dismiss the “brainwashing” of kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart.

But brainwashing has become understandable to the public after Jonestown, Waco and the “Heaven’s Gate” suicides. It is no longer the mystery it once was when Charles Manson and his followers entered the California judicial system.

Europeans likewise came to acutely understand the cult brainwashing phenomenon through the Solar Temple suicides in Switzerland. And the Japanese were forced to confront this reality by the cult Aum, when it attacked Tokyo’s subways.

Joseph Kibwetere sent shockwaves through Africa when he led hundreds of his followers to death in Uganda shortly after the Millenium, once again demonstrating the power of cult mind control.

And isn’t “brainwashing” something Osama bin Laden has used to transform his followers into tools of terror?

Cults and their apologists will have increasing difficulty convincing anyone that “brainwashing” is only a “theory.”

The Robidoux verdict is evidence of that.

Nuwaubian “cult leader” and apparent pedophile predator Dwight “Malachi” York is facing judge and jury in what appears to be the beginning of the final chapter of his sordid life.

York is accused of sexually abusing minor children, through hundreds of criminal counts.

One witness told jurors yesterday how the self-proclaimed “Imperial Grand Potentate,” now known as “Chief Black Thunderbird Eagle,” regularly molested her beginning at the age of 8 reports the Athens Banner-Herald.

The “cult leader” allegedly created a contingent of child sex-slaves, and at least 13 of his purported victims have come forward as potential witnesses reports Associated Press.

These minor children reportedly often went hungry and struggled in substandard living conditions while the “cult leader” led a lifestyle of luxury, as a seemingly absolute ruler.

Hopefully, the York case will focus needed attention on the issue of the plight of children within destructive cults.

Kids in cults are most often brought into such groups like so much baggage when parents join. They have no choice, and are instead dependent upon their family to make choices for them. Subsequently, they may suffer whatever hardships and/or abuse is meted out by a cult, often with no meaningful protection.

The safeguards and advocacy, which are usually readily available to mainstream kids through concerned parents, schools, neighbors or child protection services, are not typically accessible to minors housed within cult compounds.

Cult parents typically rely upon their leader’s value judgements, whatever the leader says is right is right and whatever the leader says is wrong is wrong.

Morality may become situational and essentially subject to the whims of someone like York.

Historically, in many cults parents have actually cooperated in the harm done to their own children, through medical neglect, brutal physical punishment and at times sexual abuse.

Reports of child abuse and/or endangerment has surfaced repeatedly in groups such as the Waco Davidians, Children of God, Word of Faith Fellowship, The Church of God Restoration and the so-called “Twelve Tribes,” just to name a few.

Courts have increasingly ruled that parental prerogatives do not include doing anything in the name of religion.

Most of York’s followers remain faithful despite the horrible crimes he is accused of, even though the “cult leader” confessed in a plea agreement, which was ultimately rejected.

The judge apparently felt 15 years was not enough prison time for the admitted child molester.

York’s devotees prefer to see his criminal prosecution as “persecution,” the end result of a conspiracy concocted by law-enforcement together with disgruntled former members. And some have said York’s confession was the result of “torture.”

Such bizarre claims do seem to indicate that the Nuwaubians, like other “cult” members reported about in the past, are deeply “brainwashed.” Perhaps they are so personally invested in the mythology York created and have sacrificed so much; they are unable to move on.

Sadly, the children of this faithful remnant remain prisoners of the “cult” until their parents break free from the mental and emotional bondage wrought by York.

The Nuwaubian leader will likely end his life in prison. But despite that punishment, nothing can restore the innocence of the children he victimized.

A notorious “cult” has filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Social Services (DSS) in North Carolina claiming its “religious rights” have been violated reports the Digital Courier.

Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), led by Jane Whaley, has been in court quite a bit this past year. But now it seems the “cult” wants to retaliate by initiating its own legal action and Whaley may be receiving advice from arguably the most litigious “cult” in the world, Scientology.

Eric Lieberman, a New York attorney that has frequently represented Scientology, reportedly has joined Jane Whaley’s legal team.

Lieberman is a seasoned trooper for Scientology in its seemingly endless litigation, used as a device to silence its critics and keep secret religious writings off the Internet.

This Scientology lawyer certainly has his work cut out for him with his new client.

During 2003 several children were removed from WOFF due to abuse. Most recently a judge ordered four children taken out of WOFF declaring it an “abusive environment” for kids. The children were placed with DSS, which had investigated repeated abuse charges against the group.

Whaley apparently thinks that the “abusive” treatment of children is somehow a “religious right.”

A spokesperson for DSS responded, “I feel like we’ve done our job in terms of policy and law and we’ll continue to do so.”

But Whaley has historically gotten her way in Spindale, a town in North Carolina where hundreds of her followers live and work. And she doesn’t like the job DSS has done on her.

Like Scientology Whaley appears intent upon using litigation as a means of retaliation against her perceived enemies.

So can veteran Scientology litigator Lieberman turn things around for Whaley?

The WOFF leader appears to be something of a public relations nightmare with quite a temper. She was recently charged for assaulting a woman that decided to ignore her edicts and leave the group.

Sounds like Whaley is a sore loser and can’t handle rejection.

Lieberman and his new client are unlikely to win friends in North Carolina by suing a social service agency. Of course the New York attorney will just pick up his check and leave town.

Scientology has purportedly turned litigation into something of a religious rite. Maybe that’s the “religious right” Whaley is really concerned about in her apparent “holy war” with DSS.

Shana Muse, a former member of the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, North Carolina, has been separated from her four children more than a year.

When Muse left the controversial church, which has been called a “cult,” members arranged to take custody away from the confused mother.

It seems that they felt the mother’s parental rights should be superceded by the church’s prerogatives.

At first it looked like the church might prevail, since its members wield considerable clout in the small southern town.

The founder and virtual dictator of WOFF is Jane Whaley, a woman that is used to getting her way in Spindale.

WOFF is known for its authoritarian structure, harsh discipline and the bizarre practice of “blasting” members with shouted prayers for supposed deliverance.

One couple within the tight knit communal group kept Muse’s children and claimed they had legal custody through a rather contrived contract, that was signed by the mother when she fled the church to seek professional counseling.

Muse’s struggle to regain custody became a public battle. But this month a district court judge finally put an end to her ordeal and ordered the four minor children out of WOFF reported the Daily Courier.

“I had trust in God…it’s a happy day and a sad day because I know what my kids are going through,” the mother said.

At first after the court ruling church members apparently hid the children, but eventually they were surrendered to authorities reported the Daily Courier.

The family reunion will be delayed by a transition period that could take months, managed by the Department of Social Services.

The judge ruled decisively though against WOFF.

He stated for the record that “the environment created at WOFF has an adverse effect on the health, safety and welfare of children.” And added he found “clear and convincing evidence the children were abused and neglected by isolation, excessive corporal punishment and blasting while at WOFF.”

The WOFF family that kept the children over the past year was denied visitation. And the children are restricted from setting foot on church property.

An interesting footnote was the employ of cult apologist Dick Anthony by WOFF to assist in its legal effort to keep the minor children from returning to their mother.

Anthony charges $3,500.00 per day for his services plus expenses.

The self-described “forensic psychologist” sat in the courtroom scribbling notes in an apparent effort to somehow help his client spin a defense against allegations of “cult” abuse.

However, despite the big bill Anthony must have sent someone in the group, he completely failed to have a positive affect on the case’s outcome.

Jane Whaley and WOFF have suffered a severe and very public setback.

Whaley may rule over her flock like a queen, but she has found there are limits to her power. And it seems the political influence she has historically enjoyed in the town of Spindale has hit an impasse.

As for Shana Muse she still has difficult journey ahead. The estranged mother must work to restore a meaningful relationship with her four children, who have been under the control of Whaley and her faithful followers for some time.

“The court finds that WOFF authorities attempt to exercise complete control over the mind, body and spirit of its members, both adults and children,” the judge’s ruling read.

It is likely that Muse will require professional help to break the hold WOFF may still have over her children’s young minds.

Psychologist and peripatetic professional “cult apologist” Dick Anthony is on the road again.

This time the man who often defends Scientology and considers Rev. Moon’s Unification Church and the Waco Davidians “non traditional religions” is plying his trade in Dixie.

Anthony charges $3,500 per day for his services and is now working for Jane Whaley, the leader of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, North Carolina.

WOFF has often been called a “cult,” so it seems that would qualify Whaley as a client for Anthony.

Whaley and her followers are warring against a mother for custody of her four minor children. The alleged “cult leader” has apparently decided that some parents can’t leave her church with their family intact.

Former members say Whaley essentially controls her following through “brainwashing.”

However, Anthony is slated to submit an affidavit that will rebut such claims reports the Digital Courier.

Such a job is rather routine for the traveling professional apologist whose trade seems to be getting “cults” off the hook in legal situations.

“Have apologies, will travel,” must be Anthony’s motto in what appears to be a lucrative business.

And he certainly has his work cut out for him in the WOFF case.

The group is known for its bizarre behavior through such practices as “blasting.” This is when members are subjected to so-called “strong prayer” to deliver them from evil influences and/or sinfulness. Blasting basically amounts to surrounding and then screaming at someone designated as a likely “sinner.”

Not a pleasant experience according to some former members.

During recent court proceedings in Spindale Anthony was seen taking copious notes.

But at $3,500 per day is Whaley really getting her money’s worth?

Maybe the alleged “cult leader” should have checked out Anthony’s references first, case by case.

Dick has been on a bit of a losing streak lately.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientology, two of his most recent clients, each paid out substantial settlements despite Dick’s help.

The Witnesses alone opted to pay a plaintiff $1.5 million, the largest settlement in their history, rather than rely on Anthony as an expert in court.

Such settlements don’t really support the effectiveness and/or professional ability of this “cult apologist.”

Never mind. Anthony still seems to be laughing all the way to the bank and it looks like another good payday for him in Spindale.

Another complaint alleging child abuse has been filed regarding Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) headed by Jane Whaley reports The Digital Courier.

Whaley leads hundreds of followers in what critics have called a “cult” in Spindale, North Carolina.

Shana Muse, a former member of WOFF and mother of four, is still waiting for her four children to be released from the group. The estranged mother fled the group last year and later filed for the return of her minor children during December of last year.

However, authorities in Spindale apparently care more about pleasing Ms. Whaley than they do restoring children to a legal custodial parent.

It has been said that the “cult” leader wields considerable political clout and influence in the small town.

Muse has been tangled up with seemingly endless litigation and needless red tape, while her minor children remain effectively under Whaley’s control.

Meanwhile other children are being removed from Whaley’s group amidst allegations of abuse.

How much longer must Muse wait before her family is restored?

Word of Faith Fellowship” (WOFF) is the name of a church in the small town of Spindale, North Carolina run by authoritarian leader Jane Whaley, which has been called a “cult.”

Whaley seems to do pretty much what she likes in Spindale and town officials appear afraid to stop her.

Her latest apparent victim is Shana Muse, a mother of four children and former member of WOFF.

Not only did Muse commit the seemingly “unpardonable sin” of leaving the despot’s domain; she had the effrontery to expect to take her children out too.

Whaley has repeatedly refused to send the children out and they remain essentially under her control despite the fact they are all minors.

Muse has so far not succeeded in gaining them back, even though she is clearly their legal guardian.

The courts have dawdled endlessly in this matter and failed to remove the children from the church for months, apparently afraid of Whaley’s wrath.

But this week a unique confrontation took place. Whaley and her “cult” faced a picket line of protestors, reports the Digital Courier.

Muse and her supporters carried signs and protested quietly just outside church property.

“Jane Whaley Set My Family Free” read the estranged mother’s placard.

No doubt Muse will eventually regain her children since Whaley had no real legal claim.

The amazing thing is how long this has dragged on and what pain officials have allowed this mother to go through.

At times Spindale seems to be a town without pity.

A father has joined the growing list of parents removing their children from the influence of the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, North Carolina.

A primary reason cited in this court action was exposure “to the doctrines and discipline of Word of Faith Fellowship,” which has been called a “cult” by some critics.

A 6-year-old boy was taken away from his aunt who is a follower of WOFF leader Jane Whaley. That child will now stay with his stepmother, reports The Digital Courier.

However, Shana Muse, another parent who wants her four children out of the Whaley group, is still waiting after months of red tape and courtroom wrangling.

The judge and sheriff quickly complied with the request of the 6-year-old boy’s parents, so why does Muse continue to endure seemingly endless legal delays?

Judge Robert S. Cilley cited a previous custody case in his recent ruling to remove the 6-year-old boy. He acknowledged that WOFF has had “an adverse effect on the health, safety and welfare of children.”

So what about the Muse children and their “health, safety and welfare”?

County Social Services are supposedly investigating allegations of abuse within WOFF.

Meanwhile Muse has taken a job to pay expenses while she waits for the court to conclude her case.

The controversial “Word of Faith Fellowship” (WOFF), which has been called a “cult,” led by Jane Whaley is now being sued by a former member claiming personal injuries, reports The Herald-Journal.

The former member now plaintiff Holly Hamrick said, “I can’t sit back and be quiet when I see abuse going on. A lot of people didn’t see Waco coming or Jonestown…”

The embattled group is already engaged in a bitter legal battle with another former member who wants her minor children back.

The WOFF apparently thinks its religious prerogatives trump a custodial parent’s rights.

Whaley and her followers have withheld the minors from their mother who left WOFF months ago. After receiving help at a cult recovery center called “Wellspring Retreat,” she came back for her four children.

Abuse claims by the alleged victims of WOFF seem to be gathering momentum. Are Whaley’s glory days of power passing in Spindale, North Carolina?

For years the purported “cult leader” has been something of a big fish in a small pond. But it looks like Whaley’s pond is either drying up or becoming increasingly difficult for her to swim in.

A Michigan man removed his two minor children from a controversial church in North Carolina called a “cult,” reports the Digital Courier.

The sheriff assisted Andre Clark when he sought his children, which had somehow been placed with families associated with the Word of Faith Fellowship(WOFF), led by Jane Whaley.

However, Shana Muse, another parent seeking the release of her four minor children from WOFF has not yet received the same assistance from local authorities.

Muse has waited a month now to be reunited permanently with her children, while authorities dither and seem needlessly deferential to Whaley and her followers.

When will the red tape and seemingly endless due process reach a conclusion for the distraught mother?

Can there be any doubt that Whaley and her followers do not have the authority to separate a mother from her minor children?