Vol. 4, No. 1
How We Rescued Our Daughter
Professor, Psychology in Education
This is the story of how
Marjorie Dole and I arranged to rescue and
deprogram our daughter more than 25 years ago. It
is adapted from a chapter in my memoir, Senior
Papers (Dole, 2002). In a preceding chapter
in this book I describe how lovely, idealistic,
and naive "Carole" dropped out of college at 19
"to find herself," was converted by the
Unification Church, and became a dedicated
fund-raiser for five years.
In a concluding comment, I
will briefly compare our experiences in
liberating a cult victim with contemporary exit
consultation. I share these reminiscences in
order to give people new to this area some
appreciation of how far the field has evolved.
It promised to be a hot
day in Los Angeles that August At 9 a.m the smog
was beginning to lift in the empty mall parking
lot. A white van drove in; it dropped off a a
tall young woman, casually dressed, then drove
away. Energetically the tall young woman set up
five laser photographs for business. Shortly a
black van parked a few spaces away and a smartly
dressed, thirtyish woman strode toward the
paintings. After a few minutes of negotiations,
the two women approached the black van, carrying
all five photographs. The young seller appeared
jubilant. Then quickly two pairs of brawny arms
lunged out of the van and yanked her inside.
Angry and frustrated, the young woman screamed
�I�m being kidnapped!�
Then she noticed a
familiar figure inside the van.
�Mom,� she yelled, �You promised not to do
�I changed my mind.�
Meanwhile another car had
entered the lot. A man ran over to the black van
and tapped on the door.
�Is something wrong?�
�No. This poor girl has overdosed. Her
mother�s right here. Thank you for asking, sir.�
�Oh. O.K.� The fellow walked away.
The black van sped off to
a secluded house in Pasadena. Two burley men
dragged the tall girl inside and secured the
�No harm will come to you. We just want to
talk with you privately.� Her captors assured
her. Her mother dialed a number and handed her
�Happy birthday! I�m on my way to see you.�
�Dad, how could you do this to me? �
The young woman slammed
down the phone.
She was angry and scared.
She knew what was going to happen to her. She
prayed to Father Moon for inner strength.
Meanwhile, the white van
returned to the mall in Los Angeles at noon.
There was no sign of the young woman and her
* * *
This event is pivotal for
understanding what preceded and what followed the
rescue of Carole Dole.
Our Search Continues
Once three years before "Jim
Blue," a former Moonie, had attempted a voluntary
exit counseling, using a shock and awe approach.
It failed. Thereafter we rarely saw Carole and we
were rarely sure of her exact whereabouts.
realized with despair that the likelihood was
slim that Carole would leave her group on her own
or that we could arrange another exit counseling.
We kept searching for solutions. We identified
prospective deprogrammers and secure residences
in California. But the apparent opportunities to
rescue her vanished like smoke. At the suggestion
of Judge Eisen, we hired a lawyer and petitioned
the Merit County Family Court for a temporary
guardianship. Although the Judge was persuaded,
Carole always fended off our warm invitations to
come home for a visit.
We read with interest
accounts of involuntary deprogramming. Quite a
number succeeded. At a meeting in Westchester
County, New York, we met a former high-ranking
Moonie named Steve Hassan. While Steve was
driving a Church van one night, tired from a
heavy day of fund-raising, he fell asleep,
crashed, and was hospitalized. His parents
arranged for a deprogramming. Since Steve was in
traction, he could not escape. Eventually he
decided to resign from the Unification Church.
deprogrammings were less successful. �Elsie
Blue,� Jim�s sister, slit her wrists while a
captive; several others escaped and then sued the
deprogrammers and the parents. Although juries
and police were consistently lenient, some judges
were less sympathetic. When communities and state
legislators attempted to control cults--for
example by blocking real estate deals or
requiring that �churches� file financial records,
civil libertarians and politicians pointed to the
first amendment. Some of the richer and more
powerful cults joined together, hired lawyers and
public relations people, and mounted strong
criticism. They alleged that deprogrammers
overcharged parents and abused cultists. Thus
opponents of cult controls steadily gained in
Marj�s anguish about Carole
intensified. �I�d do anything to get her
out!� My belief in the power of non-violence and
in freedom of religious choice further hurt her
terribly. She was torn, as was I. Rather
reluctantly I relaxed my scruples. �O.K. Let�s do
it right this time. Forget the cost.�
From her irregular phone
calls we knew that Carole was now fund-raising
somewhere in the Los Angeles area. �Evan and
Betty Nordstrom,� as I�ll call them here, were
recommended to us as helpful resources, staunch
cult opponents. They had lost a daughter to the
Unification Church and then rescued her. We flew
out and consulted. They were understanding,
supportive, and very consoling as they described
their own experience.
�'Enid Palmer' (not her real name) is a fine,
reliable, mature, and experienced deprogrammer.
She�s a former Moonie. She knows them inside out.
She lives in Pasadena. Check her out.�
We did check her out�very
thoroughly. We flew her to Philadelphia. She was
a poised, self-assured, affable but business-like
woman in her early thirties. We liked her
immediately. We told her about Carole as a
person. She told us how she conducted a rescue.
She stressed respect and kindness toward the
cultist. No Ted Patrick shock treatment. She
relied heavily on presenting facts about the
Unification Church. We checked out her
references. We were satisfied. Let�s give it a
It took several months for
us and Enid to develop a plan. To start with,
Enid knew where the Moonies owned a house in
which Carole might be staying. Armed with a
picture of Carole Dole, she staked it out. On
several mornings she spotted a tall young woman
who along with other Moonies climbed into one of
several vans. This girl resembled the picture of
Next Enid lined up two more
deprogrammers, �Mike Inscom,� a former Moonie,
and �Ted Savage,� once a member of the Church of
Scientology. Mike lived nearby, Ted in Minnesota.
�George,� a security man she trusted, was in
Buffalo, New York, and �Mohammed,� a second
experienced guard, lived in Canada. We learned
later that Muhammad had once been bodyguard for
an Arab leader until he was overthrown. George
was a professional wrestler.
Enid had the use of a large
house while her parents were on vacation: A
window of opportunity. She laid in a supply of
food for eight people and rented two vans.
When Carole called in July,
her mother said,
�How about giving me a phone number so I can call
you on your birthday?�
Amazingly, after consulting
her supervisor, Carole, pleased, agreed. Carole�s
birthday is August 13.
A flurry of phone calls
followed. From Marj to her travel agent. From
Enid to Buffalo, Minnesota, and Canada. From Art
to the bank and the kennel. The logistics were
too complicated to recall in further detail here.
For the plan to succeed we
needed to be sure that on her birthday Carole was
indeed at the Moonie house and that Carole and
her chaperones thought her mother and I were in
Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In case the
wary Moonies checked out our whereabouts I stayed
home to answer the phone and Marj flew alone to
Los Angeles. The rescue team was ready. Our
Waiting for the Call
Anxiously I eyed the phone
and paced the house all day on August 13. It did
not ring until dark. Marj had mixed news. She had
reached Carole early that morning from a public
phone in a noisy hospital waiting room. After she
heard the conventional birthday greetings, Carole
asked suspiciously, "What's all that noise?"
"Oh, I'm calling from the hospital. That's the
That was not entirely a lie,
since she knew that Marj was chief microbiologist
at Pennsylvania Hospital. Carole had no idea her
mother was in a hospital 3000 miles from
Philadelphia. Or that an actual cleaning woman
was vacuuming near the telephone Marj was using.
A few minutes later, Marj
told me, the rescue team sat in two parked vans,
where, inconspicuously. they could observe the
Moonie house and talk via walkie talkies. Several
vans filled with Moonies drove off to breakfast
at a Jack in the Box. No Carole. So the rescue
crew drove all the way to Riverside where Carole
had said (lied) that she was going. Again no
Carole. Marj was disappointed, upset to the point
The next day, as I learned
later, Marj and her team set up again near the
Moonie house. Here�s her recollection.
�We were pretty sure we saw Carole get in a white
van. The two black vans followed it, making many
turns, going on a freeway and then taking an
exit. But Carole�s van driver was clearly lost
and he was winding over many back roads with
little or no traffic. The driver of my van,
George, was petrified that he would be obvious in
the rear mirror of the white van so he decided he
would have to drop out and go back to Enid�s
place�which he did. I was beside myself: All
that time, effort and money to no avail. In tears
I sat with George in the living room.
�Suddenly, the phone rang. It was Enid. She had
been able to follow Carole�s van to a shopping
mall where Carole was let off to sell paintings.
George and I quickly drove to the mall, parked at
some distance from our quarry and peered through
a telescope. Sure enough, it was Carole and she
was by herself.�
* * *
I was sitting in our bedroom
about one p.m. with the air conditioner mulling
and Kala panting beside me, when the phone rang.
�The rescue worked! Would you like to talk to
After Carole hung up on me,
I called American Airlines, was able to book a
flight, phoned Marj to arrange to be picked up in
Los Angeles, locked up our house, stopped the
mail, placed a big fat envelope in my breast
pocket, and rushed to Philadelphia International
Airport. I was nervous about that envelope
because it contained a huge wad of crisp new
bills--the payroll for the rescue team. As the
continent passed below me in the perpetual
sunset, I worried about all the things that might
go wrong in this crazy adventure. I felt like a
deprogramming in Pasadena was completely
different from the one near San Francisco three
years before. Carole was scared and defiant, so
angry at us she barely spoke. She refused to eat,
even her birthday cake.
Enid reassured her. �What
you�ve been told about deprogramming is false. We
won�t harm you. Your parents will be right here.
As former Moonies, Mike and I have a lot of
information to share with you. Ted was in
Scientology; he�s going to tell you about
�I�m not brainwashed. This is illegal. Let me go.
I suppose these guys,� pointing to Muhammad and
George, �are here to make friends.�
�They won�t harm you. They will make sure we
aren�t interrupted while we discuss what we have
to tell you.�
That night Carole slept in a
room with her mother. When she used the adjacent
bathroom, Marj watched to guard against self-harm
or escape. Carole wept and prayed for strength
from Father. Meanwhile Muhammad stretched his
muscular frame across the stairs. George guarded
the downstairs and the grounds from intruders.
The following morning Carole and her three
deprogrammers sat together in Enid�s comfortable
living room. Marj and I read (if we could) on the
pleasant patio; we could make out the Rose Bowl
in the far distance. Muhammad and George lounged
near the exits.
We could hear the even tone
of conversation in the living room but not the
words. Sometimes there was laughter but no
screaming or crying. From time to time Mike or
Enid emerged to give us a progress report. They
were reviewing Lifton�s chapter on the essential
characteristics of brainwashing (Lifton, 1961).
They were discussing Moonie doctrine and
practices. �But we don�t criticize Rev. Moon
As we ate dinner together,
Carole broke her fast and finished with a piece
of the birthday cake. Though serious and pensive,
she became involved, seeming to realize that
Enid, Mike, and Ted were genuine and that perhaps
she could trust them even though they were wrong.
We were cautioned that sometimes cultists at this
stage feign cooperation in order to grasp an
opportunity to escape when the rescue team is off
The next morning Marj
reported that Carole had cried during the night.
was wrong. I�m a fool.�
She was especially perturbed
by discrepancies Mike and Enid had pointed out to
her in Moon doctrine; his divinity was perhaps
questionable. As the discussion continued in the
living room Carole decided she would resign from
the Unification Church. Within 36 hours she had
changed from zealot back to college girl. As she
sat down to write her letter to the U. C., Marj
and I were jubilant; our daughter had been
The repercussions of
Carole�s rescue both for our daughter and for us
continue to this day. For Carole the first major
step after the successful rescue was to make sure
she did not return to the Unification Church. The
rescue team advised us that ex-cultists
experience frightening flashbacks, called
floating, after they have been deprogrammed. A
reminder such as the thought of Church teaching
about those who leave�terrible punishments,
severe illness, satanic fire�trips a terrifying
flashback. Hearing a casual dirty joke or
drinking a glass of wine can return the
ex-cultist to her former conscious state�guilt.
The rescue team took us and
Carole to a local diner for a victory breakfast.
There was much joking with waves of laughter.
Suddenly Enid and Mike got up from our booth and
rushed outside with Carole.
�She�s floating,� Ted explained. �It�s very
common after a successful deprogramming.
Something caused a flashback. Enid and Mike will
help her to regain control.�
The three returned. Carole
looked scared. But then she seemed to perk up.
And we all returned to our hashed browns and wise
Enid recommended a farm for
cult victims in Boise, Idaho. With Mike as
chaperone Marj and I and Carole flew to Idaho.
Mike, a small dark haired, personable young man
who was studying social work, was good company.
He told us something of his days as a mid-level
U.C. administrator. Carole was shocked to hear
about the hypocrisy and male chauvinism of Moonie
leadership. Money, not doctrine, was what
mattered. Her long dormant passion for feminism
began to return.
In Boise, Mike left us,
Marj, Carole and I moved into a big two story
farm house with a large lot and swimming pool. A
high wall discretely hid the lot from outside
view. The manager, a retired minister, and his
staff were warm and friendly but alert for
intruders or unplanned departures by their
guests. Food was ample . Guests could sleep late
in the morning. One or more staff were always
present during the day and chaperoned on
scheduled excursions to the city. For two weeks
Carole relaxed, rode horses, bought new clothes,
went to a bar, drank a beer, danced, and played
games with the three other guests. She was
beginning to relearn the basics of adolescent
life. The farm staff counseled her in individual
and group settings. They encouraged intensive
reading about cults and mind control in the
center�s carefully selected library. Until we
left, after the first week, we had time to become
reacquainted with our daughter. A heart-warming
Among the other guests one
had been in the Way, another in Scientology, and
a third had been a devotee of Hare Krishna. As
trust and friendships developed each told about
life in the cult. Carole was impressed with the
similarities in recruiting, in deception, in mind
altering methods, and in doctrines among cults.
Each of these ex-cultists had been deeply
wounded. For instance, �Harry Adams,� once a star
lineman and honors student at Dartmouth, could
not concentrate, could not make sense of the
daily paper. His cognitive abilities had been
addled by hours and hours every day of chanting
his mantra, �om, om.� He and the others made
evident progress while we were there. But
floating and emotional outbursts were common.
One of the staff, I�ll call
him �Adam Adonis,� guarded the only exit at bed
time and chaperoned nights in town. He had been a
high ranking official in the Canadian branch of
the Unification Church for several years. He also
shared his experiences. Adam, a tall handsome
blond fellow in his late twenties, made a strong
impression. He confessed that while his crew was
fund-raising in the streets and bars of Toronto,
secretly Adam snuck off to enjoy the good
life�wine, filet mignon for lunch, and porno
movies in the afternoon, all paid for courtesy of
his missionaries. The lesson: Cults are corrupt
and abusive. And even powerful adult men can be
A week after our stay at the
farm we drove to the airport to pick up our
daughter. We were apprehensive. She had to change
planes in Fort Worth. Would the Moonies find her?
On her own for the first time, would she seize
the chance to go back to her former group? To our
relief, she was first to deplane.
For several weeks after she
settled in, Moonie friends telephoned, urging her
to rejoin the Church. Politely she declined. And
she wrote the Moonie house in Los Angeles
requesting the return of her personal
possessions. Finally they complied.
Victories for independence
The road back to normalcy
was not easy for our daughter. For a year she
lived again in her old room. At 24 she faced
the usual developmental tasks of a late
adolescent: Finding a vocation, finding a life
partner, finding a philosophy of life, finding
confidence and autonomy, and finding new social
relationships. In addition to adapting to a world
that she had left for five years, she had to cope
with intense feelings. She was angry, angry at
the Unification Church, angry at herself. And she
was scared and vulnerable. She felt guilty about
using heavenly deception,
about the dollars she had conned from poor Latin
Americans. As her parents, Marj and I represented
a sensitive problem.
On the one hand, she felt
ashamed because she had failed while on her own
in California against our wishes. And now we were
clearly apprehensive that she would regress; her
occasional floating was terrifying to all of us.
On the other hand, she craved full independence
but realized she was not ready. We three had many
intense discussions. As parents we tottered to
find the balance between sensible protection,
encouragement, and hands off. She relived her
experiences by writing them down. And therapy
little by little strengthened her. Good group
counseling with social workers Linda and Bill
Goldberg and individual sessions with clinical
psychologist Margaret Singer helped immensely.
During that first year of
her regained independence, Carole became a
professional exit counselor. She became an
articulate expert on the abuses of deception and
coercive mind control. She was a dramatic example
of how a normal well-balanced person could get
ensnared by an abusive group. With Steve Hassan,
Harry Adams, and others she learned how to help
young women and men who had been trapped by a
cult. Our home became a center for former
cultists. She assembled her own library of
counter cult material. And she flew off all over
the country to rescue victims of abusive groups,
She joined us at local and national counter cult
meetings; she lectured at schools, colleges, and
churches. She appeared on radio and television.
She earned enough to buy a new wardrobe and small
indulgences. She matured, learned how to speak to
large groups, acquired increased confidence and
One lovely spring Sunday,
Carole, and Marj and I were driving home from
Lancaster. We had made a presentation at a
church. Carole had recalled in vivid language the
story of her sudden transformation from butterfly
The nice kids at Berkeley had been so
friendly, so concerned with ecology (her college
major), that she was excited at the opportunity
they offered her to visit their farm in
Booneville, 60 miles north of San Francisco, just
for the weekend. At the farm everybody was
extremely friendly; they lavished her with praise
and attention. One girl, Amy, was almost like a
big sister. Amy stayed with her during the games,
the singing, and the lectures that continued
intensely from morning to late at night. At the
end of the weekend, Carole agreed when Amy
suggested she stay �a few more days.�
After a week, Carole announced that she needed
to return to San Francisco. �Carole,� Amy accused
her, �you�re selfish.� Carole, shaken, decided
to stay �just a little more.� In two weeks of
calculated and scripted pressure Carole heard not
one word about Sun Myung Moon or the Unification
Church. She did hear a great deal from long and
tedious staff lectures and from Amy and her
fellow campers about the importance of leading a
pure life and about the evils of society.
Because of the long hours and a bland diet she
felt tired and fuzzy headed.
The Moonies encouraged her to meditate alone
on a hillside. In her words, �After so many days
of endless lectures, work, and scripted group
meetings, always accompanied by at least one
group member, being alone was like that moment
you stop getting hit on the head with a hammer.�
She broke down. She wept. See, the Moonies
insisted, God is telling you to join us in our
important work. She was overwhelmed with love for
her fellow campers and with excitement at her new
commitment. She would help to build a better
For several weeks she joined the camp staff in
entertaining new �guests.� Then she was informed:
Because of your exceptional qualities you have
been chosen to go to Barrytown, New York for
training as a missionary: Cheers, smiles, hugs
all around. She had no idea what a Unification
Church missionary did.
��Had I known before my emotional breakdown
that this camp was run by the Unification Church,
�she explained to the congregation, �I would not
have touched it with a ten foot pole.�
We drove away from
Lancaster. I broke the silence.
�You were quite eloquent today, Carole.�
�Are you sure you did not know when you went to
the farm in California that your conversion was
scripted by the Moonies?�
wouldn't have touched the Unification Church with
a 10 foot pole!� She spoke emphatically.
�That�s deception in merchandising. Why don�t you
And Carole did sue.
After years of lawyers,
judges, depositions, hearings, appeals, and
counter suits, the Unification Church settled
(Cf. Molko, et al, vs. Holy Spirit Association,
1989, as cited in Abraham Nievod�s summary, 1993,
in contract and probate law of undue influence by
totalistic groups.) Carole now has a pleasant
stock portfolio to show for her five years as an
Besides the Moonie
settlement and the gratification of helping other
cult victims after her rescue, there were other
positive consequences for Carole. She capitalized
on opportunities to give back to the Latin
American poor whom she had once scammed. When she
resumed her higher education, she chose Spanish
as one of her majors and to satisfy a living
abroad requirement chose Mexico. After half a
year living with a Mexican doctor and his family,
she became quite fluent; when she graduated she
earned a master's in Teaching English as a Second
Language. Several years after she married
Colombian Santiago Ruiz, they moved with their
two sons to a suburb of Bogot�. Together they
collaborated in founding AGUA, a non governmental
organization. AGUA's mission was to help
campesinos help themselves and to promote sound
agricultural practices. In forwarding this
enterprise, Carole capitalized on the skills in
fund-raising and in leadership she had mastered
in the Moonies. Of course, she abandoned
deception in soliciting donors.
Also the healthy settlement
from Moon helped Carole and her husband to devote
seven years to these ventures.
The Ruizes have moved to
Minnesota, where Carole has completed her
doctorate. She is a research specialist for a
national research institute and an adjunct
associate professor at a local university. Her
current professional concern is the education of
Spanish speaking immigrant children. I think she
has much more than compensated for the phony
crucifixes she once palmed off on Latinas "for a
donation." Thus, some of Carole's terrible
experiences as a Moonie many years ago continue
to contribute positively to her activities today.
Over the past three or four
decades cultic groups, counter cult
organizations, victims and their families,
scholars of cultic behaviors, and supportive
specialists have changed. One example of many,
because of litigation and official inquiries
intense religious groups have modified their
practices in recruitment and fund-raising, while
deprogrammers (the term has come to imply
"kidnapping") have largely been replaced by exit
consultants and rehabilitationists. As described
by Kent and Szimhart (2002) and Giambalvo (1995),
today parents like Marj and me, if their loved
one appears to be the victim of a controversial
ideological group, can more easily find an
experienced, ethical exit consultant who will
gently and respectfully and without restraint
encourage freedom of mind.
Dole, A. A. (2002).
Senior papers. Haverford, PA: Infinity Press
Giambalvo, C. (1995).
Exit counseling. A family intervention.
Bonita Springs, Florida: American Family
Kent, S. A., & Szimhart, J.
P. (2002) Exit counseling and the decline of
deprogramming. Cultic Studies Review, 1(3),
Lifton, R. J. (1961).
Thought reform and the psychology of totalism.
New York: Norton.
Nievod, A. (1993). Undue
influence in contract and probate law. Cultic
Studies Journal, 10(1), 1-18.