Help Available

Now that Fr. Maciel, the Founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi Movement has been disciplined by the Vatican on charges of sexual abuse, and even though the Legion uses this fact to claim that he is even more holy, we offer our assistance during this period of inevitable fall-out in the Legion and the Regnum Christi. We reach out to all those concerned, and encourage anyone to contact us who needs assistance, even parents of those who are close to ordination. All is not lost for your loved ones.


“Coping with Cult Involvement, A Handbook for Families and Friends”
by Livia Bardin
go to CONTACT ReGAIN bottom left homepage


 Former Legionaries:

  • New York City area
    Juan Jose Vaca
  • Washington, DC Metro Area
    Glenn Favreau
    cell 202 276 9404
  • Washington, DC, Metro Area [MD & VA] 
    J. Paul Lennon, MA
  • California area
    Kevin Fagan
  • Atlanta area 
    Edward Fink
    ex apostolic and pre candidate
  • Ireland 
    Aaron Loughrey

Former RC Consecrated:

  • Marita La Palm

Former RC members:

  • Genevieve Kineke
  • Annick Stevenson
  • Ruth Heer
    (former instructor of Familia)

New York, NY
Diocesan Priest, PhD., Psychologist
[not xLC or LC affiliated]
will work with xLCs pro bono
We also recommend expert exit counselor CAROL GIAMBALVO’s home page for resources: readings, retreats, support groups, etc.

Home Page:

ICSA Director of Recovery Workshops

Thought Reform Consultant

President, reFOCUS:
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 2180, Flagler Beach, FL 32136
Phone: 386-439-7541 Fax: 386-439-7537

N.B. Carol’s sensitive use of the word ‘cult’ refers to a very wide range of potentially damaging, including Religious, or even Catholic, organizations.
In the Diocese of Tyler, Texas
victims of abuse of any kind by the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi and/or anyone who may have been hurt or abused by a priest, deacon, religious, or anyone working in the name of the Church. The Promoter of Justice, Rev. Gavin N. Vaverek, serves as victim assistance coordinator, confidential phone line (903) 266-2159.

A privately owned page for outreach to Ex Regnum Christi Members:

Hope for the Abused

Victims, false-memory syndrome, recovery.

By Richard Simon
Editor, Psychotherapy Networker, July/August, 2003

Hope For The Abused

Americans have long had a love-hate relationship with psychotherapy. Certainly, therapy in its own way embodies one of the central promises of American democracy. After all, what other profession is more committed to the pursuit of happiness@ At the same time, especially over the past 20 years of so, psychotherapy has been one of society’s favorite whipping boys vilified as the main promoter of the abuse excuse which has turned too many people away from the bedrock American virtue of personal responsibility and created monsters of self-indulgence and whiny self-pity.

This polarization reached its zenith (or nadir) during the vitriolic debate over recovered memories of sexual abuse during the early 90s. Survivors regarded therapists as their best friends and saviors, the only ones who believed their stories and would help them recover. But an indignant chorus of critical voices – notably the False Memory Syndrome Foundation – accused therapists of manipulating clients into manufacturing their own abuse histories and creating a culture of victimhood.

Newly sensitive to the widespread incidence and damaging impact of child sex abuse, therapists tended to focus almost exclusively on the their patients’ suffering – often encouraging endless reliving of old traumas and reinforcing in survivors the sense that they were deeply, perhaps irremediably, wounded. But today, a dozen years down the line, therapist and the recovery movement itself have grown wiser about the perils of perpetually re-experiencing old injuries. We now know that the self-defined identity of survivor, – necessary early in the recovery process – can become a straitjacket if maintained too long. Nobody knows this better than Laura Davis, coauthor of The Courage to Heal – the bible of the recovery movement. As Davis puts it, Eventually, identifying oneself as a survivor is like wearing a sweater that is too small, and you need to take it off, to stand up and say, – I am responsible for my own life, for what I do and what I am..

Nobody here is suggesting a return to the old conspiracy of ignorance and silence. But what all the authors agree upon is that even deeply wounded survivors have the capacity to transcend their wounds; even the most divided families can find some way to reconnect. As Dusty Miller writes, The ripples that flow outward from every traumatic event do not have to sink us, define us, or assign us a spoiled identity. Victim ‘ describes a specific moment in time, not a permanent self-definition.

Workshop: Recovery Newsletter Jan. / Feb. 2004

Welcome to the Vol. 5, No. 1, January/February 2004 edition of the reFOCUS Forum: An Internet Newsletter for Recovery

reFOCUS is: …a network of referral and support for former members of closed, high demand groups, relationships or cults.

reFOCUS is dedicated to the recovery of former members…please visit our web site at

We are a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation – all contributions to reFOCUS are 100% tax deductible. Because reFOCUS is dedicated to recovery, we are looking for suggestions and input from you: are there articles or topics you want to see covered? Are there questions you need answered? Email us at or
Conferences and Workshops:
AFF (American Family Foundation), with the co-sponsorship of ESAMA (Edmonton Society Against Mind Abuse), will conduct an international conference, “Understanding Cults and Other Charismatic Groups,” to be held Friday 9:00 a.m. through Saturday 9:00 p.m., June 11-12, 2004 at the University of Alberta Conference Center at Lister Center (87 Avenue and 116 Street in Edmonton). The theme of the conference is The Violation of Innocence – How Cults Abuse Children. There will be pre-conference workshops on Thursday June 10th for former group members, mental health professionals, and family members of cultists.

AFF executive director Dr. Michael Langone, who also edits the organization’s Cultic Studies Review, says that AFF conferences typically include an interesting mix of ex-members, family members, helping professionals, and researchers. The conference will have three simultaneous tracks addressing the different needs and interests of these four groups. There will be more than 50 presenters.

Among the titles of sessions are:

  • Polygamy’s Impact on Children;
  • Born or Raised in Cults;
  • Transformational Leadership and the Promotion of Core Values in the Workplace: A Recipe for Corporate Cultism;
  • The Neurobiology of Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Application to Child Maltreatment;
  • A Panel of Former Members Discuss Child Abuse and Authoritarianism in Cults;
  • Women and Violence: The Conviction of a Canadian Charismatic Leader;
  • Children in the Unification Church;
  • The Role of New Religions in Legitimating National Socialism in Germany, 1920-1945;
  • The John De Ruiter Story from a New Perspective;
  • Cults and Religious Privileges Under Charity Law in England and Australia;
  • Altered States of Consciousness, Hypnosis, and Mind Control;
  • After the Cult: Who am I? and
  • Brainwashing, Undue Influence, and the Law.

A complete list of session titles and speakers, as well as online registration forms, can be found at AFF’s online bookstore (  click on “Conferences” and follow the hyperlinks). Interested persons may also directly contact AFF (P.O. Box 2265, Bonita Springs, Florida – 239-541-3081; to register or obtain a conference brochure.

Recovery Workshop for Former Group Members
Friday 3:00 p.m. July 23, 2004 to Sunday 3:00 p.m. July 25, 2004

St. Malo Retreat and Conference Center, Estes Park, Colorado (1 hr. NW of Denver) These workshops are for former group members only, not family or friends (AFF has other workshops for these persons.)

Topics discussed typically include:

  • the nature of psychological manipulation and abuse
  • coping with depression and guilt
  • effects of hypnosis and trance techniques
  • coping with feelings of anger
  • coping with anxiety
  • decision-making
  • dependency issues
  • reestablishing trust in yourself and others
  • the grieving process
  • reintegration/identity issues

About the Facility
Nestled at the foot of Mt. Meeker in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Saint Malo Center is truly a memorable location for this workshop. It is just minutes from Estes Park, one of Colorado’s most popular mountain communities and gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a 60-90 minute drive from Denver.

Interested persons may also directly contact AFF (P.O. Box 2265, Bonita Springs, Florida – 239-541-3081; to register or obtain a workshop flyer.

Important new information regarding this recovery workshop:
reFOCUS is happy to be able to make available the Herb Rosedale Memorial Scholarship fund for one or two former members who would not otherwise be able to attend the workshop. The scholarship will cover tuition, room and board. The recipient would need to be responsible for their transportation costs. Those interested in applying for this scholarship should send an email to

Research Project

Attention Former Members:
Thank you for taking the time to read this message. My name is Courtney and I am a doctoral student in the field of clinical psychology. I am writing my dissertation on the topic of cults. As a result, I am seeking former cult members to interview for this study in regards to their experience of belonging to and leaving a cult. Your identity would remain anonymous throughout participation in this study and as the results of it are discussed. If interested in participating, you will need to answer some questions in regards to your experience in a cult so that I can determine if you are suitable to engage in the study. Interviews will be conducted over the phone. If you think you may be interested in participating in this study, please email me at If you don’t mind my calling you over the phone to ask you the screening questions, please send me your preferred phone number. Otherwise, screening questions can be asked over email. Thank you for your time.

Comments, questions, and suggestions: email us!
reFOCUS, P.O. Box 2180, Flagler Beach, FL 32136 904-439-7541
Web site:

The reFOCUS Board of Directors consists of:
Carol Giambalvo, President/Secretary
Rick Seelhoff, Vice President
Mary Krawiec, Treasurer
David Clark
Maureen Griffo
Nancy Miquelon
Vanessa Weber
Advisor: Madeleine Tobias

Email: or

Book Review of “Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse”

Michael Langone, Executive Director of the American Family Foundation (AFF) has done a skillful job of organizing and editing contributions from 22 experts on cults. Recovery from Cults is packed with current wisdom about helping cult victims. The book includes informative sections on understanding mind control, experiences of leaving cults, guidelines for facilitating recovery, and special issues such as child abuse and teen Satanism. I recommend it especially to researchers, mental health specialists, and clergy. Ex-cult members and their families will find particularly helpful the chapters on mind control, exit counseling, rehabilitation, psychotherapy, and guidelines for the postcult period.

Recovery from Cults, which originated from AFF study groups, is an important and heartening milestone in the development of the anticult movement from its infancy to maturity. Over the past 20 years this movement has gone beyond the rather simplistic theory of “brainwashing” in explaining cult recruitment and entrapment. As represented here by the contributions of Singer, Langone, and Zimbardo and Andersen, cult behaviors can be better understood in terms of current theory and research in social psychology, clinical psychology, and psychiatry. Thus destructive groups misuse social persuasion and are often led by sociopaths.

Riveting, if grim, personal accounts and case examples of how individuals are systematically cut off from outside influences, denigrated for expressions of independent thinking, and reduced to psychological dependency are coupled with detailed guidelines for helping professionals working with ex-cult members at various stages of recovery and in a wide range of settings.

In contrast to the days when ex-cult members were dismissed as late adolescent rebels or diagnosed as pathological by mental health specialists, now there is a multidisciplinary core of professionals with expertise in helping former members. Sharing their clinical experiences in the book are a diverse team of experts, representatives of professional psychology (Singer, Langone, Martin), social work (Lorna and William Goldberg, Markowitz), psychiatry (Halperin), nursing (Galanti, Kelley) education (Eisenberg), and counseling (Dowhower, Tobias, Tucker). In short, as the cult member leaves the group, information, rehabilitation, support, psychotherapy, and hospitalization are available as needed. John Clark, the eminent psychiatrist to whom this book is dedicated, is no longer almost alone in providing mental health services. And, in sharp contrast to the days when lawyers tended to avoid cult-related litigation, a group of lawyers with experience in cult cases is represented here by Herbert Rosedale.

With the sunshine of negative publicity, the loss of key lawsuits, the conviction of cult leaders for criminal acts from murder to sexual abuse to fraud, and the outrages of Waco and Jonestown, cults too have changed. For instance, as described by Galanti, the Unification Church no longer always hides its identity when recruiting in this country. As noted by the Goldbergs, cult victims today tend to be older and from diverse groups. Satanism (Tucker), ritual child abuse (Kelley), political cults (Lalich), and New Age groups (Garvey) have attracted attention while Bible-based (Trahan) and Eastern meditation (Ryan) groups continue to exert mind control.

The approach to helping former members has also changed. As described in chapters by former members and exit counselors, each group has a distinct language and modus operandi to control its victims; and helpers need to know the specifics about each group. For the most part, illegal kidnapping and confrontational deprogramming have been replaced by voluntary exit counseling. David Clark, Kevin Garvey, and Carol and Noel Giambalvo stress the voluntary and ethical character of their work with cult members. Ex-members are still an essential part of the helping team. Otherwise traditional mental health interventions may be insufficient. Some exit counselors now have professional qualifications in mental health.

The thorough index and comprehensive references for each chapter will be helpful to scholars and those who want to do further reading or study. Although case histories and personal reports give flesh to the terrible damage associated with cult experiences, the tone of each chapter tends to be serious, and assertions of opinion are documented with relevant research and theory. For the most part, fair-mindedness and objectivity prevail over the temptation to sensationalize or to express outrage. For example, in the chapters he authored, Langone is evenhanded but critical in countering the arguments of cult apologists and procultists.

I have just a few criticisms. As mentioned by Giambalvo and colleagues, consultation is a better term than exit counseling to describe the interaction with a specialist when the member is still in the group and has not requested help. I am uncomfortable when such consultants, associated with the anticult movement and retained by concerned parents, present themselves as impartial counselors. Once the cult member has left the group and has sought assistance about personal issues, then the process becomes counseling. A second flaw: As is almost unavoidable in edited books, the chapters vary somewhat in quality and occasionally duplicate one another.

If I have a major discontent with Recovery from Cults, it is with what is not included here. I encourage Langone and his team to publish another volume. Among appealing topics: successful prevention programs; case histories of ex-cult members years after the experience; cults in court—wins and losses and their consequences; how to respond to the violent and suicidal group; illustrations (from tape recordings) of the distinctive processes of exit consultation; rehabilitation and psychotherapy; how to choose an effective helper; how highly visible destructive groups manipulate celebrities, academics, big business, the church, and the military; and ethical principles for helpers.

In sum, this fascinating text at once replaces popular myths about cults (and the types of people who become members) with hard facts, and provides invaluable guidelines for clergy, therapists, support group leaders, and others looking for ways to facilitate recovery from the effects of involvement with totalist cults.

Congratulations to Langone and his coauthors on a major contribution which belongs on the bookshelves of CSJ readers and all those interested in cults.

Arthur A. Dole, Ph.D., ABBP Emeritus Professor of Education University of Pennsylvania

The Sin of Forgiveness

Since the story of sexual abuse by former Father James Porter broke in the news media in May of 1992, my wife and I have personally received calls from over 3,300 survivors (as of December 1997). Only five calls have been at all negative. One was from an obviously irrational man who left a rather vile message on my answering machine also irrelevantly referring to the fact that I am Irish (actually a Polish, Irish, and French mix). Another hostile call was from a man who pretended to be a newspaper reporter from the Harvard Crimson. Later the Crimson told me they had never heard of him. A third call was from a priest who said he had seen me on TV, and that I was doing some good, but that he still thought I was influenced by the man downstairs. Lastly, two phone calls came from elderly-sounding women shortly after the story first broke. The gist of each of these separate calls was that I was immoral because I did not exercise Christian forgiveness towards Father Porter and the Catholic Church. Here is my answer.

When a person commits sexual assault it is a crime against society and an individual child. In the case of child sexual abuse, justice should always prevail over mercy or forgiveness for several reasons. The most important of these is for the protection of other children. I think you will find very few people who will argue that an armed robber should not receive justice through the criminal court procedures. When sexual assault of a child occurs another type of robbery has taken place. A child has been robbed of his or her innocence. In fact, the crime is even greater, for their childhood has been murdered. To let the sexual assault criminal off without any jail time is to send a signal to other perpetrators that they can get away with it, and that it is not a very important or serious crime. The victim who forgives the perpetrator before justice has been done is really just looking for the comfortable way out. It is emotionally very difficult to confront your perpetrator in court and the forgiveness rule provides a rationalization to avoid this.

One caller, a victim of a Catholic priest, informed me that he was unsure what to do because he feared that bringing discredit on the Catholic Church would be like throwing out the baby with the wash. The irony of his words did not dawn on me until later. To cover up child sexual abuse is to throw out the baby and to save the dirty wash water. It is precisely babies – ourselves, and potential future child victims – who are thrown away.

Before the Father Porter story became public, there were a few victims of his who were worried that we might be doing harm to Mr. Porter because he might have been cured of his evil tendencies. Other survivors of other perpetrators whom I have spoken to have had the same fear. Confronting the perpetrator would cause a disruption in the perpetrator’s family that they thought might not be warranted if the person was now reformed. The problem with this attitude is that the concern is centered on the wrong person. There is no rational reason to take the risk that a perpetrator is reformed when doing so endangers children. Former victims have direct knowledge that the perpetrator has done it before. No one can prove positive that the perpetrator will not do it again. Besides, there is also no way that we can know whether already there are other victims of whom we are unaware, because by its nature the sexual assault of children is a secret act.

We do not have the ethical right to protect the perpetrator from the consequences of his or her actions. The perpetrator must be judged based on what they have actually done, not what they may or may not do in the future. It is not cruelty to make a perpetrator pay for the consequences of his or her actions. It would be cruel to allow a perpetrator, who has not been exposed, loose on an unsuspecting community where children are thereby placed at risk.

Perpetrators by their nature are skilled manipulators. They are able to emotionally or even physically control children and can be very convincing, charming individuals. A perpetrator may produce crocodile tears and sincere sounding words of regret – the motive for which might be only to dissuade the victim from exposing the criminal acts. It is easier for the victim to let himself or herself be manipulated by the perpetrator’s expressions of remorse, because the victim wants to hear that the perpetrator is truly sorry. (I have even been told instances where the perpetrator would assault a child day after day and after each particular incident would cry and express remorse.) It is difficult for survivors to throw off the role of victim – to shed their feelings of shame for what was done to them. The perpetrators sometimes real appearing remorse makes it easy for the victim to remain silent. I believe that the only way to judge the honesty or sincerity of a perpetrator’s remorse is to wait until the day when the he or she is released from prison. If he or she then approaches a former victim and asks for forgiveness, perhaps the perpetrator could be believed sincere, since there might be no self protective motive. We must speak out.

To conclude, I refer you to one of the Survivor Proclamations – Perpetrators shall hide, not their victims.