Some followers of The Way International (TWI) are surprised to hear that former presidents L. Craig Martindale and V. P. Wierwille had many sexual relationships with female staff and Corps. They are hesitant to believe that these "Men of God" could sexually abuse their own followers.
How could sinful sexual activity go on without becoming known?
Portions of testimony in the Allen-TWI lawsuit give insights into how Way leaders recruited women and kept the sexual practices secret. Below are excerpts from the first set of interrogatories in which the defendants (TWI) question the plaintiffs (Paul and Mrs. Allen) regarding the allegations made in their lawsuit against TWI. (Note: "Mrs. Allen" is used in place of her first name to protect her privacy.)
INTERROGATORY NO. 8: Identify and describe the actions allegedly taken or statements allegedly made by Ramona Biden to coerce (Mrs.) Allen into engaging in sexual activity with Reverend Martindale....
ANSWER: Ramona Biden (will full knowledge that Martindale wanted to sexually victimize (Mrs.) Allen and also with full knowledge that an "inner circle" of women existed who secretly and obediently provided Martindale with sexual "favors") went out of her way to foster a friendship with (Mrs.Allen) beginning Sept. 1995 (approx.) Later Ramona (once (Mrs.Allen) had finally capitulated to the coercion and victimization) confided in (Mrs.) that Martindale had told her very early on that it was his desire to have sex with (Mrs.Allen).
Through the course of the year 1995-1996 Ramona continued to work with (Mrs.) and continued telling her how privileged she was to be able to work so close to the "man of God," how she must be really "spiritually mature enough" to be around close to him (referring to (Mrs.)' part time extra job working in backstage hair and makeup dept.). Ramona (who was a graduated Way Corps member for many years and considered by (Mrs.Allen) to be an overseer, as opposed to (Mrs.) who was still in training) told (Mrs.) that only a privileged, mature few were allowed work this close to the :man of God."
Later in the year, after Martindale himself had come to (Mrs.Allen) in an effort to cause her to capitulate and have sex with him, (Mrs.Allen) went to Ramona for her Christian advice and perspective on the issue as she herself was dreadfully confused and alarmed. Unbeknownst to (Mrs.Allen), Ramona was at this time part of the plan to sexually victimize (Mrs.Allen). When asked by (Mrs.Allen) "how can this be right with God?", Ramona told (Mrs.Allen) that it was right with God. She told her that V.P. Wierwille had told Martindale that his behavior was acceptable and that as the "man of God," Martindale carried enormous stress in running the ministry and that she ((Mrs.)) could help alleviate this stress by allowing Martindale to have sex with her. Having sex with Martindale, Ramona reasoned, was in effect helping God. If Martindale were less stressed, then he could in turn, carry out his God-given duties more effectively. Ramona recounted that Martindale had said that Wierwille had taught him to consider all the women in the kingdom to be his- he was the king.
When (Mrs.Allen) asked if this is right, then why can't I talk about it to my husband, Paul? Ramona responded that only a few people were spiritually mature enough to be able to handle this type of information. She told (Mrs.Allen) that she should not confide in her husband as he would likely not understand.
Ramona brought (Mrs. Allen) for her first sexual, violation by Martindale which took place in the Way Woods late on the evening of August 6, 1996. This sexual episode is what is commonly referred to as a "threesome." Ramona was present to assure that (Mrs. Allen) could not refuse Martindale and she knew or should have known that (Mrs.Allen) was succumbing to coercion. Ramona had been a part of planning and orchestrating this event for several months.
INTERROGATORY NO. 9, ANSWER:
.... Howard Allen and Donald Wierwille had themselves in previous years taken advantage of their positions of trust and responsibility as Way trustees and had victimized numerous other women and had full knowledge that Craig Martindale was a serial sex predator and that he continued to be a serial sex predator.
Allen and Wierwille took no steps whatsoever to ensure that Martindale's access to unsuspecting victims would be hindered. As co-trustees in The Way, they allowed Martindale to have complete and easy access to as many new victims as he could want. Martindale was the Way Corps director, and as such was in close contact with those in training.... In order to facilitate Martindale's access to (Mrs.Allen), she was assigned to be "hostess" for Martindale's Cabin 12 at Gunnison in 1994 during Martindale's visit....
Allen and Wierwille and Biden knew that this behavior was the norm for Martindale and they did nothing to prevent the behavior. They implicitly and explicitly rationalized it as being ok, as it met the need of the ",man of God." They excused the behavior because Martindale was the Way's "cash cow" and had to be afforded certain privileges in order to keep him "teaching the Word."
Over the years, the Way trustees had fired and silenced those who stood up to expose the misdeeds of the trustees and other high ranking Way leadership.... The Way trustees knew that the rank and file Way followers would not "understand" their rampant adultery and sexual victimization of women and thus tried to get rid of (them)....
Rosalie Rivenbark and John Reynolds, when confronted with facts relating to Martindale's conduct in this matter on March 23, 1999, concealed the matter by designating us as "mark and avoid" to prevent our truth from reaching those who were still loyal (financial) supporters of The Way. They ensured that John Linder was the only one to have contact with us as TWI HQ during our departure so that we would not be able to have contact with other Way followers and thus spread the word about Martindale's assault.
(END OF EXCERPTS)
These excerpts revealed how women were recruited, coerced in sexual victimization, and how the practice was rationalized and kept secret.
First, only a small percentage of Way followers knew of these secret sexual practices. The secret nature of this teaching and practice explains why rank and file followers, as well as most leaders, are unaware of it. The "inner circle" tried to make it attractive to potential female recruits by emphasizing that only "privileged, mature" believers could understand it. This also inferred that if recruits resisted the idea, they were showing themselves to be immature and lacking in spiritual understanding.
The inner circle targeted certain females as recruits. In this case, both Biden and Martindale conspired together to win this recruit. Both Martindale, as president and Corps director, and Biden, as her supervisor, were above the recruit, they unduly used their authority as employers as well as their "spiritual" authority as tools to manipulate her response. The recruiter was also present at the first sexual encounter to pressure the new victim into complying. The leaders used their power as employers to give Martindale continuous access to compliant women-- access which included working as an employee ("hostess") in Martindale's own bedroom. Leaders also used their power to both fire and "mark and avoid" Way employees who confronted the trustees with this evil practice in order to hide this practice from other Wayers.
(The (Mrs.) Parker lawsuit also alleges that TWI leaders used their power of hiring, firing and moving staff in order to keep her available to Martindale "P27 ...to continue to use a TWI employee (Parker) as a sexual toy." "P.19 ...Way Leadership fired Gary Barnes from his TWI employment as a ploy to separate husband and wife, and forced him out of the TWI group and away from Plaintiff (Parker), in an effort to intimidate Plaintiff to continue to submit to Defendant Martindale's sexual advances and to increase her dependency on Martindale and TWI." The complaint adds that Martindale had power to advance her career, or to terminate it, which he did only a few weeks after she refused to submit to any more of his sexual advances. Complaint for Momentary Damages, March 15, 2001, (Mrs.) Parker vs. TWI, Martindale, Rivenbark, Reynolds and Allen.)
The leaders also tried to use the new recruit's compassion and devotion to God to convince her to comply. They also used allegedly "biblical" arguments to rationalize the evil behavior. They convinced her that sexual compliance would help God by helping the "man of God" deal with stress. They billed extra-marital sex as being "spiritually mature."
They also used the words of the greatest authority in TWI-- founder V. P. Wierwille-- in their efforts to convince her of the spiritual value of serving "the man of God" sexually. Undoubtedly, new recruits like (Mrs.) would hesitate blowing the whistle on the "man of God's" sinful behavior, because it would mean serious damage to the "ministry" and the two "men of God" who she loved and served. Other trustees were even more aware of this potential damage exposure would cause, and so were complicit in hiding it.
The sexual activity was not just the work of one perverted man. Several top leaders and at least one woman active in the sex ring worked together to involve more females.
Clearly, TWI leadership used several kinds of spiritual, emotional and financial manipulation and coercion.
After reviewing the evidence, Judge John D. Schmitt rendered the "Decision and Order Entry Granting Partial Summary Judgement" on Oct. 30, 2000. He states:
"There is evidence that Rosalie Rivenbark knew about Craig Martindale's extra marital sexual relationships, as early as 1995. Deposition of L. Craig Martindale, page 123.... There is evidence to indicate that both Rosalie Rivenbark and Ramona Biden played a role in the events leading up to the sexual encounter between Craig Martindale and (Mrs.) Allen. A jury must decide whether the encounter was consensual, or if an assault occurred. If the jury finds that an assault occurred, the same jury might reasonably conclude that defendants engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity, which led to the assault."
In other words, the judge found that Martindale did have sex with women who weren't his wife, partly on the basis of Martindale's own admissions, which TWI itself would not refute. He also concluded that there was a conspiracy, because at least Rivenbark and Martindale (two of the three trustees) were aware of his previous sexual relationships. He also concluded that there was a pattern of corrupt activity which led to the assault. In effect, the Judge stated that his opinion was that the Allens' allegations of conspiracy and a pattern of corrupt activity were true. It is no wonder that TWI chose to settle with the Allens in order to avoid losing a jury trial as well as putting a lot of testimony against the trustees on public record.
In effect, Judge Schmitt confirmed the substance of the Allens' allegations and interrogatories.
Dr. John Juedes, 2001
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