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Sexual harassment/abuse lawsuit updates

By date, the most recent information first:

Wednesday, April 29, 1998

Judge Stevens today ruled against the plaintiff in their attempt to make Ananda liable for the 1.3 million dollar compensatory and punitive damage awards found against Walters. This will result in further examination of Walters finances to determine what assets, if any, may be taken.

Ananda has also anounced they will be filing for a reduction in the church and Walters damage awards.

No further details available at this time.

Ananda Awareness Network

Wednesday, 3-11-98

Today was supposed to be the last day of testimony regarding the alter ego motion. However, Plaintiff's witness, Mr. Rosensweet (sp) tracked some income ($86,000 in 1994, $50,000 in 1995, and $25,000 in 1996) until in his words it "disappeared" from all accounting records, and never ended up on the trial balances or in financial statements for those periods of time. Therefore, Defense was told to produce more records for those three years (Transaction Registers, AKA Posted Transaction Listings) to show where these monies went. The Defense also has to produce a Chart of Accounts for Crystal Hermitage. Plaintiff is wondering where these monies went because a likely possibility if they did "disappear" from the financial records is that the money went to Walters. The defense will have the necessary records to Ford Greene by Monday, March 16. The records MAY make another day in court necessary to have testimony by Mr. Rosensweet (Plaintiff's witness) and Mr. Peters (Defense witness) regardiing the financial records and where those monies went. The Plaintiff is to submit their written Point and Authority by March 23 to the Court. The Defense has until March 30 to respond to that "Points and Authorities" with their own written "Points and Authorities" Then, Plaintiff has until April 2 to give a (short) written rebuttal/response. Then, the judge will consider everything and make his decision at some point.

Vidura testified that in the 1978 fire, the County admitted fault in the fire starting by a faulty spark arrester on their truck. He testified that Walters led the discussion about whether or not to sue the County for the loss of about 22 Ananda homes, and that Walters said he didn't want to sue. Vidura said Walters' actions showed that he was not using his position to gain financially. Mike Flynn said on cross that there could have been a million reasons for Walters to not want to make the claim to the County. Perhaps he was thinking about incorporating and thought suing the County wouldn't be a good move.

Wednesday, 2-25-98:

More testimony from a number of witnesses by the plaintiff this morning. Some rebuttal by Ananda in the afternoon. It appears that all testimony relating to the "alter-ego" issue has been presented. The judge has requested "breifs", or written arguments, from both sides, which he will then study, and render a verdict.
This process may take some days or weeks. Judge Stevens will present a schedule for these, perhaps tomorrow.

Tuesday, 2-24-98:

A hearing was held in the morning on the "alter-ego" issue: should Ananda be liable for Mr. Walters
damages? Evidence was heard pro and con. The hearing will continue tomorrow, Wednesday, 2-25-98.

                             Verdict for Punitive Damages

Thursday, 2-19-98:

The jury has levied $1,000,000 (one million) in punitive damages against Mr. Walters, none against the Ananda Church. A hearing is set for Tuesday to decide if the Ananda church should be held liable for for Mr. Walters damages. In legal terms, the plaintiff is maintaining that the Ananda Church is the "altar-ego" of Mr. Walters, that in essence, the church is Walters, and should therefore be liable for his damages. Mr. Walters has claimed that he is a monk with no assets.

Wednesday, 2-18-98: Summary of Punitive Damage Assessment:

Since the verdict against Ananda, the trial has entered a "penalty phase", where Ananda has been required to procure documents and testimony regarding their financial status. Both legal teams then presented closing arguments regarding the awarding of punitive damages that should be levied against Ananda.

Reports from an observer: (Detailed transcripts may be available soon)

Ananda church attorney Gordon Rockhill gave his presentation first. He appealed to the juries sympathy for the ordinary Ananda member, who faces the possible loss of their homes if large punitive damages are awarded.

Michael Flynn then gave his presentation for the plaintiff. He pointed out how Ananda is in denial,
unwilling to accept any responsibility. He gave as an example that of Devi Novak, one of Ananda's
assistant spiritual directors, describing to the Ananda community how the verdict was the result of "the terrible lies" that were told about Ananda. A tape recording of this had been offered as evidence. He said that nothing had changed, that the fraud continues. He said nothing will change, unless the jury awards enough damages to "wake them up". He said that the people at Ananda need not lose their homes, that they should demand the deeds to their homes, sue Ananda if neccasary for the deeds. (At present, even though a member pays to build a home, it is legally owned by Ananda, which is obligated to reimburse them if they ever move.)

Though Mr. Walters, the main target for punitive damages, has said he is a monk, and owns nothing, Mr. Flynn stated that the evidence shows clearly that Ananda business Crystal Clarity Publishing is
"laundering money for Walters"

An expert witness hired by Mr. Flynn disputed Mr. Walters claim that the copyrights to his books are only worth $7-8,000 dollars. This witness gave his opinion that the copyrights alone were worth $6-800,000, based on such factors as past and future projected sales.

After closing arguments on the afternoon of Wednesday, 2-18-98, this final responsibility was given to the jury at about 4:00 pm. They met for about half an hour, then adjourned. Deliberations will resume tomorrow morning, Thursday, 2-19-98, at 9:00 am.

Thursday, Janurary 29, 1998:

Click here for an actual transcript of Michael Flynn's final closing arguments. (The plaintiff is allowed a final 45 minute closing argument, without rebuttal, as the "burden of proof" is on them)

Wednesday, January 28, 1998:

Click here for a summary of Michael Flynn's and Gordon Rockhill's closing arguments.

Tuesday, January 27, 1998:

The plaintiff offered several rebuttal witnesses in the morning. The Reverend Jack Gorsuch testified that he had discussed with Jyotish Novak the issue of Walters sexual activity, contradicting what Mr. Novak had testified to last week. Mr. Novak had reportedly admitted that the issue of Walters sexual activity "was not a brand new thing."

Testimony was also offered describing how Ananda had indeed been presenting Walters to the public as "Swami Kriyananda", even before his "renewal" of his vows several years ago, contradicting Ananda's claims. This included an incident where Walters was introduced to a crowd as "Swami Kriyananda", as he made a public appearance at the community.

Tricia Ryan, an ex-member who had lived at Ananda for almost 20 years, testified that it was common knowledge that Walters was supposed to be celibate, even during his marraige, again in contradiction to Ananda's claims. They recalled an incident where someone had congratulated Walters on his marraige, and said they hoped the union would be blessed with many children. Walters replied: "Well, I don't think I will be doing anything that will make THAT happen." Ms. Ryan also testified that Mr. Levin was a part of an inner circle, or core group, at Ananda, which goes to the issue of the power imbalance between Mr. Levin and the plaintiff.

Witness Steve Scott testified to a technical point about an incident involving the plaintiff, where the
dimensions of a room was important. Mr. Scott had acted as an investigator for the plaintiff's attorneys with regard to this. Mr. Scott was also credited with breaking up the courtroom with some much needed laughter, as he deftly dealt with Ananda attorney Rockhill's cross-examination using some well placed humor.

The defense presented one rebutal witness, an investigator involved with a previous witness, whose
testimony had been called into question.

Tomorrow will be closing arguments, where both sides will sum up the totality of their cases.

Friday, January 23, 1998, Concludes the defense portion of the trial: Ananda rests it's case. Court will resume Tuesday, January 27, 1998, with the plaintiff's side presenting it's "rebuttal", and the defense presenting it's rebuttal in the afternoon. Wednesday, January 28, will see the final closing arguments by both sides: plaintiff first in the morning, then the defense. Also, both defense and plaintiff's team will discuss with the judge issues around "jury instructions", where the judge will instruct the jury on details of the law and charges they will be deciding upon. Thursday morning, January 29, the case will go to the jury for deliberations and a verdict.

Friday, January 23, 1998:

Witness for the defense:

Continuation of Danny Levin's testimony.

Thursday, January 22, 1998:

Witness called for the defense:

Continuation of Danny Levin's testimony.

Wednesday, January 21, 1998:

Witnesses called for the defense:

Ananda members Savitri Simpson, James Gerber, Marcia Wilmot, Lisa Powers. Danny Levin, one of the defendents, began his testimony today.

Tuesday, January 20, 1998:

Witnesses called for the defense: Ananda ministers Padma Mcgilloway, Uma Mcfarlane and Diana Smith.

Court case update for Friday, 1-16-98:

Witness called: Community Manager Vidura Smallen.

Court case update for Thursday, 1-15-98:

Witnesses called: Deputy Spiritual Director, Jyotish Novak, Ananda members Kelly Coogan, Nancy Mair.

Court case update for Wednesday, 1-14-98: ("Daily Summary" available)

Witnesses: Karen Locicero, described as a friend of the plaintiff, during the time she lived at Ananda.
Jyotish Novak, Deputy Spiritual Director. It was reported that Mr. Novak, under cross-examination, claimed that for the 30 years he was with Swami Kriyananda and Ananda, he didn't really know what a swami was; or that a swami was supposed to be celibate. The defense states that their presentation will go on all next week, and into the next...ending about Wednesday, January 28th. At this point closing arguments will be heard. The judge has said he wants these to be brief. The plaintiff's team has said they may only present two witnesses in their rebuttal. One juror has had to drop out, due to work considerations.

Court case update for Tuesday, 1-13-98:

Asha Praver continued her testimony for most of the day, followed by her husband and fellow minister David Praver.

Court case update for Monday, 1-12-98: ("Daily Summary" available)

The morning began with an Ananda member, Jacilyn Snitken being called, followed by another member, Byasa. They were followed by Asha Praver, minister of Ananda's Palo Alto church.

Court case update for Thursday, 1-8-98:

Last day of court for this short week: Ananda called another mental health professional, a Dr. Misset, psychiatrist, who also had interveiwed the plaintiff for the defense. Ananda stated that this portion of it's defense would run through Friday of next week, and possibly into the following week.

Court case update for Wednesday, 1-7-98:

Ananda called Dr. Leslie Packer, psychologist, to the stand. Dr. Packer had done a court ordered
evaluation of the plaintiff.

Court case update for Tuesday, 1-6-98:

Back in session after the holidays, Ananda resumed it's defense portion of the trial. Two witnessens were called: Joy Holloway, who served at one point as counselor for the plaintiff, and Ananda member Peter Mcdow. Attorney Michael Flynn was not present due to illness.

Court case update for Friday, 12-19-97:

Continuation of direct examination of Joy Holloway, by Ananda attorney Gordon Rockhill, followed by cross-examination by plaintiff's attorney Michael Flynn. Last day of the trial until after the holidays. Court will again be in session on Tuesday, January 6.

Court case update for Thursday, 12-18-97:

Continuation of Dr. Connie Jones' cross examination by Mike Flynn, called as an expert witness for the defense. Direct examination by attorney Rockhill of Joy Holloway. Redirect and recross by attorney Mike Flynn.

Court case update for Wednesday, 12-17-97:

The day started with further protests from the plaintiff's side about Connie Jones qualifications as an
expert witness. She was allowed to testify further.

Court case update for Tuesday, 12-16-97

Devi Novak again took the stand, and her cross-examination by Michael Flynn continued. Robin Sacolick was next, an Ananda member from New York City, who testified about her positive experiences with Ananda. She was followed by a witness named Connie Jones, who Ananda claimed was an expert witness, which the plaintiff's side disputed. She was allowed to testify, and did so for the remainder of the day.

Court case update for Monday, 12-15-97:

Morning session started with Caroline Alioto, one of the plaintiff's therapists, testifiying for a short
period.Then Devi Novak, Assistant Spiritual Director of Ananda Church testified for Ananda. She was then cross-examined by the plaintiff's attorney, Mike Flynn. The calling of Devi Novak also marked the beginning of Ananda's portion of the trial, with Ananda now calling witnesses for it's defense. This will continue until the end of this week, when court will recess for the holidays, and resume around January 5th.

Court case update for Friday, 12-12-97:

Morning session only: Testimony from Gary B., the plaintiff's ex-husband.

Court case update for Thursday, 12-11-97:

Morning and Afternoon session: Testimony and cross-examination of a former Ananda member, Don P., followed by witness "JM", and another of the plaintiff's therapists, Caroline Alioto.

Court case update for Wednesday, 12-10-97:

Morning session: The beginning of direct examination by the plaintiff's attorney's of one of the plaintiff's therapists.

Afternoon session: cross-examination of the same witness by Ananda attorney Rockhill.

Court case update for Tuesday, 12-9-97:

All of the morning session, and into the afternoon was the continuation of Rev. White's cross-examination by Ananda attorney Gordon Rockhill.

Court case update for Monday, 12-8-97:

Morning session: Continuation of the direct examination of the Reverend Pamela Cooper White by the plaintiff's attorneys.

Afternoon session: beginning of cross-examination of Rev. White by Ananda attorney Gordon Rockhill.

Court Case Update for 12-5-97. Friday: ("Daily Summary" available)

The week finished up with sometimes long questioning of witnesses called by the plaintiff's team. The
writer of the "declaration of JM" did make it to the stand, as did another longtime ex-Ananda member who left the community recently after living there for over 17 years. She and her husband had served there as "Lightbearers", Ananda's term for a minister. Friday also saw the first of the expert witnesses: the Rev. Pamela Cooper White, (See "declaration of Pamela Cooper White") a Harvard educated expert on clergy sexual abuse, was called.

Court Case Update for 12-3-97. Wednesday:

The schedule of witnesses went according to schedule, with a female Ananda member (woman #8 in
Walter's deposition) finishing her testimony, followed by (AC) another female Ananda member and
onetime program directory of Ananda's "monastic training program" who's letter to Walter's about his sexual problems was included in Ford Greene's motion of 7-15-97. (See yesterday's update for links)

Court Case Update for 12-2-97: Tuesday.

Mr. Walters was again on the stand, being questioned by both sides, for essentially the whole day. A female Ananda member ("woman # 8" in Walter's deposition) was then called for a brief period, and her testimony was expected to resume tomorrow. Other Ananda members are expected to testify tomorrow, such as the woman who wrote the letter to Walters in Ford Greene's motion of 7-15-97. See index, "legal documents". Also possible for testimony tomorrow is the woman who wrote "the declaration of J.M."

Court Case Update for 12-1-97: Monday.

After finishing up with one of the women alleging sexual abuse by Mr. Walters, Walters himself took the stand for the first time beginning in the afternoon session. He was cross-examined for the rest of the afternoon.

Court Case Update for 11-30-97: Sunday.

Court resumes tomorrow, Monday, with more testimony and further cross-examination of the woman who testified last Wednesday about Mr. Walter's alleged sexual abuse.

Court Case Update for 11-26-97: Wednesday.

Tuesday saw Ananda attorney Gordon Rockhill finish his cross-examination of the plaintiff in the early morning. Then began more of the women's testimony alleging sexual harassment/abuse by J. Donald Walters. Three of the women were heard. Today, Wednesday, another woman will testify. (See "declarations of the women" under "lawsuit documents" in the quick link index. Court ends at noon today, due to the holidays.

Court Case Update for 11-24-97: Monday.

The schedule is again delayed, this time by a power outage in the morning session, due to construction next door. Ananda attorney Gordon Rockhill resumed his cross-examination of the plaintiff in the afternoon. Other witnesses have been postponed accordingly.

Court Case Update for 11-22-97: Saturday.

The judge ordered that Mr. Walters return this Monday to resume the trial. Mr. Walters had flown to Italy this past Wednesday for a conference. After the first of the women alleging sexual abuse by Mr. Walters had been cross-examined by Ananda's attorney, Gordon Rockhill, the plaintiff again took the stand for the rest of the day, as she is also expected to do Monday.

Court Case Update for 11-21-97; Friday.

On Thursday, the plaintiff was cross-examined by Ananda attorney Gordon Rockhill. Friday saw the first of the women who have alleged sexual misconduct by Mr. Walters take the stand to testify. She was also cross-examined by attorney Rockhill. Testimony will resume on Monday, November 24. The judge also agreed to allow Ananda to cross-examine the women alleging sexual abuse, but only about matters unrelated to their testimony of sexual misconduct, as per the judge's earlier ruling. See update for 11-3-97, below, and the "newspaper articles about Ananda" in the quick link index.

Court Case Update for 11-18-97; Tuesday.

As is often the case, the schedule is moving more slowly than anticipated: as of Tuesday, the plaintiff was continuing her initial testimony, which began last Friday. She has yet to be cross-examined. It has been reported that Mr. Walters is leaving for Italy on Thursday Nov. 20, but will be back Saturday, Nov. 22.

Court Case Update for 11-14-97; Friday.

The first "real" day of the trial. First on the stand was the plaintiff, who was not cross examined at that time. There was also a report that Mr. Walters is talking about going to Italy, and evidently not testifying, or having his attorney appear for him. There is a hearing on this matter set for Monday, 11-16-97. Further witnesses for the plaintiff are expected to testify this week as the trial resumes Monday.

Court Case Update for 11-11-97; Tuesday.

All depositions in the trial, including those of Mr. Walters seven days of questioning under oath, are now "unsealed" and available to the public. This includes the video tapes that were made of his deposition. Watch for announcements on availability. This is the deposition where Mr. Walters admitted to sexual activities with followers.

Court Case Update for 11-10-97

Opening statements by both sides was on schedule today. Attorney Michael Flynn for the plaintiff offered a time line of Ananda from it's founding, and the long history of Mr. Walters alleged sexual exploitation of women. Attorney Gordon Rockhill for Ananda claimed that Walters behavior had nothing to do with what happened between the plaintiff and the minister accused of harassing her, describing it as a "love story that never should have happened". (See "The Union" 11-11-97, in the Newspaper articles about Ananda in the quick link index) The trial resumes this Friday, Nov. 14, 1997. Mr. Flynn stated he may call either Mr. Walters or the plaintiff to the witness stand.

Court Case Update for 11-7-97

The last day of jury selection. Jury is sworn in. All depositions, including that of J. Donald Walters, are now unsealed and available to the public. Opening statements, and first witnesses, will be on Monday, 11-10-97.

Court Case Update for 11-4-97

Jury selection begins.

Court Case Update for 11-3-97

As a sanction against Ananda for illegally holding the documents taken from opposing attorney's trash, which contained the names of witnesses and courtroom strategy, Judge Stevens issued a punitive sanction that prohibits Ananda's legal team from offering evidence or contradicting women who allege Walters sexually exploited them.

Court Case Update for 10-20-97

- Two private investigators evidently hired by Ananda were in court over charges of unethical conduct; going through the trash of opposing counsel, the plaintiff's attorneys, Micheal Flynn and Ford Greene.

Court Case Update for 10-13-97:

-The latest information is that Ananda may be liable for between 50,000 to 100,000 dollars: by dismissing their cross-complaint, they are admitting, in legal terms, that the suit was "without merit". Thus, they are liable to pay legal expenses for the side that had to defend against their charges. In addition, the plaintiff's side may be filing an additional claim against Ananda for "malicious prosecution". On this one, Ananda may be liable for even more money, perhaps another 100,000 dollars or more.

Court Case Update for 10-8-97:

On Thursday, September 26, one working day before the scheduled start of the sexual harassment case against Ananda, Ananda filed 13 new legal "motions" in a bid to knock out most of the plaintiff's case against them. As of yesterday, 10-8-97, here are the results;

-Ananda lost their bid to keep Mr. Walter's past sexual history, such as the women's declarations, out of the trial. The judge ruled it was pertinent and may be heard. (It will also become part of the public record)

-Ananda has "dismissed" or dropped, their "cross-complaint" for defamation against the plaintiff, which included allegations of "conspiracy" with a number of individuals and an organization called SRF; this means, from a legal standpoint, that the courts now regard all the claims made therein to be "without merit".

-On the "SRF" issue, Mr. Parsons, one of Ananda's attorney's, said in court; "If I may, your honor, as far as I am concerned, the whole SRF thing is dead"

-The plaintiff's attorney's are now suing Ananda for "malicious prosecution" for filing a "frivolous claim" (the cross-complaint) (alleging conspiracy and slander)

-Ananda lost their bid to have any (alleged) misconduct protected under the First Amendment, freedom of religion. The court ruled that "tortious conduct" (from "tort", misconduct or wrongdoing) is not protected by the constitution.

-Ananda lost their bid to keep the Reverend Pamela Cooper White from testifying at the trial as an expert witness. Ms. White, an Episcopal priest, holds a degree from Harvard, and has spent the last 10 years specializing in the area of "pastoral sexual abuse".

-Ananda lost it's bid to have the word "cult" not admissible at trial; the judge ruled "50/50" on this. (the term may be used some of the time)

-Ananda lost it's bid to have to have the terms "Lightbearer" and "minister" not admissible in the trial; the judge again ruled 50/50 on this.

A ruling on the use of the term "mind control" has been deferred to the 20th.

The plaintiff's attorney's are also seeking a judgment on the whole case, and a reconsideration of the
sealing order, on the 20th, based also on Ananda's alleged "malicious prosecution" by filing a "frivolous claim".

One of the plaintiff's attorney's said that Ananda had essentially lost on all major motions and issues, and had been "devastated", that "no words could describe how well it's gone..." (for the plaintiff) and that Ananda was "reeling", legally.