Hello fellow “Disgruntleds” –
A holiday-season lawsuit has been filed against the Gans estate, naming several defendants. The case lays out “school’s” Ponzi scheme in plain language. Here’s the boiled down version, if you don’t feel like reading the 50-plus pages (like I did):
Accusation: it accuses defendants of violating human trafficking laws to benefit financially and otherwise through forced labor and services. It states that they knowingly used coercion, manipulation and various threats.
Motivation: the defendants are beneficiaries in Sharon’s Will. Her estate grants them membership interest in OSG,LLC. It conveys “a strong desire and hope for business to continue to operate successfully.”
Brief history: it explains how in 1978 the San Francisco press exposed a so-called theater group’s “child abuse, sexual abuse, forced labor and bilking of money.” Loyal members, including some named defendants, shuttered the stage and escaped east. In 1980, it morphed into a secret “school,” re-opening in NYC, eventually spreading to Boston, Mass; Copenhagen, Denmark; Condon, Montana; Pawling, NY.
The $$$: From 1980 – 2001, “school” took cash, only. In 2001, it incorporated as OSG, LLC (aka, Odyssey Study Group). It started accepting checks, too. It reported the cash, but not the checks. Some of the defendants oversaw finances and collected “tuition.” Conservative estimates, from NYC alone, calculate that OSG took in $14 million over 20 years.
Some defendants created and directed the following intricate, sophisticated and deceptive recruitment:
1)Target young, affluent, professionals.
2) Engage in conversation to identify those who are dissatisfied and searching for meaning, healthy and open-minded. If yes, say, “Let’s get together!”
3)Set up meetings. Vet further over time. Vaguely offer “tools that enrich lives, improve well-being, help people achieve success…“
4) Introduce to other “friends.”
5) Invite to a “class” (aka a “free five-week experiment.”)
6) Reel ’em in.
7) Bring to a class.
DO NOT mention the group, rules, “tuition,” demands, isolation, hierarchy, annual holiday hijackings, or future requirement to recruit others.
INDOCTRINATION: requirements, rules and surveillance:
A)Requirements: “3 lines of work.”
1) For self: experiments designed to “awaken” participants.
2) For others: help “classmates” to “know themselves.”
3) For group: contribute to “school.” According to “teachers,” the third line “benefit students the most!” Students who neglect this line do not advance.
1)Secrecy -“protect the invisible world” from those who are “threatened by the work.” Secrecy hid the cult’s history.
2)Strict attendance – go to class twice a week, from early evening til late night or early mornings. Absences, even illnesses, are not excused.
3) Arrive early. Stay until dismissed.
4) No bathroom breaks, lest you miss critical info while peeing.
5) Non-fraternization – ignore fellow students if seen outside the “classroom.”
6) The hour of silence – “seal in the work” after classes; don’t speak for one hour.
7) No therapy – you have “school” ideas. You don’t need therapy.
8) Shun former students as pariahs and apostates.
9) Obedience – comply with “teacher” directives. Pushback, questions or contradictory advice are “hostile” and intentional efforts to “sabotage the work.”
10) Cede all personal decisions to the leadership. The “teachers” will eventually tell you how to live.
C)SURVEILLANCE: Minders introduced as “sustainers”—these long-term loyalists meet with newer members under the guise of supporting and answering questions, in confidence. Really they are mining, documenting and sharing personal information with “teachers.”
Isolation: Requirements and assignments devour more and more time. Leaders pitch their demands as “necessary for development.” They berate, badger, criticize and bully over alleged failures.
Teachers characterize non-members who expressed concern, as inferior, jealous, un-evolved saboteurs, who, “don’t get it” and are “threatened by the work.”
The demands build up to the late fall, early winter, Christmas party — a secret hijacking of the holiday season; touted as a gift to honor the teachers. The seasonal uptick widens the wedge between members and non-members.
The Tool Kit: secrecy, isolation, indoctrination, subjugation, shame, humiliation, degradation, sleep deprivation, gaslighting, negative information/collateral and economic abuse.
The more isolated members become from non-members, the more they fear expulsion and alienation from “school” and the more power and control the leaders wield over them.
Eventually, everyone is expected to recruit.
BENEFITS for defendants: “school’s” privileged inner circle had free labor & services though the third line of work requirement, including: construction; meal prep and services; house cleaning; personal assistant services; accounting; chauffeuring; massage; “opportunities for sexual and romantic relationships.”
One defendant owns a staffing company and “school” provides ready line of available workers. Teachers also have access to vacation homes constructed and upgraded by students.
Of course, the more newbies recruited, the more profit for top tier leaders.
Conclusions: Since leaving “school”, I’ve researched, read and spoken with cultic studies experts, obsessively. Still, I’m amazed by the power of social influence. We are wired to connect. In the wrong hands, trust becomes weaponry.
Our social levers set us up. Leaders lambast followers for “failures” and credit themselves for “successes”. They sabotage personal relationships, to then wield threats of alienation and expulsion. Under threat, many give up their lives for an undefined “mission.” These tactics work. That is why all cults use the same toolbox.
It was really something to see this legal filing lay out the bullet points of my five-year bilking so clearly. It helped me forgive myself for not seeing it sooner. I know that as a Boston, OSG person, I dodged a bullet. The satellite branch indoctrinated slowly and insidiously. It tamped down the shaming of those who got sick and missed class, or took bathroom breaks, or got therapy.”
I may have left sooner if exposed to the Gans-Horn hammer. Seedy, in-class massages, or messages like, “… use your sex to promote the School” might have sent me scrambling. On occasion a teacher would insert, “It doesn’t matter who you marry if you are working on yourself.” (barf).
Thankfully, I left before I wound up on a psych ward (very possible) or the cult sabotaged my marriage. I guess we’ll see what happens as this former “student” joins a global fight for justice against cultic abuse.
Fingers crossed for a happy 2023!
This is great! Our legal system needs to be educated more about coercive control. Get after them!!
Hi Debby – Thanks for commenting and yes! Our legal system definitely needs to be educated!! I’ll keep you posted on the case.
Happy New Year, GSR.
I was curious about the “sustainer” I had been assigned for the brief time I was there, Julianna Hoch, and found this:
https://www.lyfarchitects.com/juliannahochmemorial Turns out she died in 2021. I’m guessing she was still in the cult. Do any of your sources know what happened?
We only met a few times. She told me the person she most admired was the Dali Lama. After I left (because I learned the truth), I called to tell her that the Dali Lama probably doesn’t lie to himself or others, hoping that might get her thinking. No one called or otherwise tried to get me to come back.
Hmmm, I don’t know. I can try to find out, though. I remember Julianna, but didn’t know her, myself.
I’m sorry to hear about Julianna’s passing — and have conflicting feelings about her, of course, as conflicting feelings are the name of the game in this cult.
Julianna and Neal were the ones that found me, worked the formula, and reeled me in. She was an architect, but at the time we met and for years afterward, she cleaned houses (some fucked-up advice from a “teacher”, I’d bet!). I knew her a little bit because of the “vetting” time she spent with me. She and her husband, Eric, were both in “school” and both always seemed wrung out and distracted. I remember her as sincere, though, and uncomplaining.
I remember one time the ceiling of their living room caved in. After leaving the cult and realizing the extent of the usurping of lives, I thought “these struggling people probably had no time or resources to attend to their home, and a small problem got worse and literally fell on their heads!”
I met their daughter, Annmarie — just about 5 years old at the time — and later wondered how the heck did they manage babysitting while they spent so much time dealing with “school” demands?
I recall Julianna was going through cancer treatment at a certain point — my memory is not great, but it might have been somewhere in 2006-2009. Her early death makes me think that perhaps the cancer returned.
2021 would be the year that Annmarie would have graduated college…and she lost her mother. Poor kid.
Hi KG – Heartbreaking, yes? How many years did “school” steal from her before she died? That’s tragic.
Aside from all the other stuff, reported *cash* and *not checks*? If you’re going to try to pull a scam, that seems *incredibly* dumb. The old trope is that cash businesses are the ones that get away with who knows what. Checks can get traced for years. Stupid insincerity, perhaps.
HDT – Thanks for your comment & that reporting cash and not checks thing made me scratch my head, too… I tend to call behavior like that Stupid Narcissism, but Stupid Insincerity is better, actually.