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New Gnostic Church

Controlling Leader Investigated for Sex Abuse
New Gnostic Church leader James King, who uses his “process” to help recruits deal with life crises, is being investigated by the King County (WA) Sheriff’s office for allegedly having sex with a minor, and by the state Department of Health for allegedly violating state medical regulations. The church, which has no formal meeting place, has perhaps 100 members and the goal of creating heaven on earth using methods, according to former members, derived from self-empowerment movements and Scientology.[csr 4.2 2005]

Some former members call the church a cult and say King brainwashed them. They agreed to the “process” because it helped them clean up their mental “garbage,” and deal with “issues.” In return, they gave King money and their trust. A couple who were members tell how, when King persuaded their daughter to marry him (although he already had a wife and mistress), they arranged for her to be “deprogrammed” by a cult expert and then contacted authorities.[csr 4.2 2005]

Recruits, drawn by word of mouth from members, include starving artists, strippers, small-business owners, and Microsoft employees. Applicants pay from $500 to $2000 for a week at King’s rural retreat and spend a series of 12-hour “processing” sessions with him dealing with their problems. At one point he asks them to put their hands in his hands and says, “Thank you.” This is repeated every few seconds for up to ten minutes, a process described by experts as a way to create a hypnotic bond with a leader. Former members report disorientation during this processing. [csr 4.2 2005]

Some former members say they had sex with King while being initiated. “He told me I had issues with sex and that I was sending him sexual energy,” says one. “He said, ‘You want to fuck like you’ve never wanted to fuck before.’ I wasn’t attracted to him. Then he told me that the way to get clear of them [issues] was to have sex with him, since he had no issues with sex.” The now-17-year-old whose member parents sent her to King at the age of 13, when she seemed suicidal, reports that he persuaded her to deal with her self-reported sexual issues by having sex with both him and his mistress. “I’d been raised to respect him. He’s fully god-realized. I took it as truth. He was more like a priest than a counselor.”[csr 4.2 2005]

The former members say they depended greatly on King, phoning him at any time for advice. Sometimes he held virtual sessions with them in Internet chat rooms and sometimes he communicated with them via instant messaging, thus developing a supplicant-master relationship typical of cults, according to experts. And they tithed up to 10 percent of their income. He also involved many of them in investment schemes and multi-level marketing scams in which they invested a great deal with him and received nothing in return.[csr 4.2 2005]

The state Health Department investigation stems from insurance claims made by King’s mistress, a chiropractor, for chiropractic work done on members by the unlicensed King. (Philip Dawdy, Seattle Weekly, Internet, 5/4/05) [csr 4.2 2005]