Affidavit of Katherine L. Tonkin
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, December 12, 1994
The Honorable John C. Coughenour
The Honorable John C. Coughenour
December 12, 1994
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
Jason Scott, No.C94-0079
Affidavit of Katherine L. Tonkin in Support of motion
Rick Ross, a/k/a Rickey Allen for Summary Judgment
Ross, Mark Workman, Charles
Simpson, Clark Rotroff, Cult Awareness
Network, a California Non-profit
corporation; and John Doe 1 -
John Doe 20,
State of Washington
County of King
Katherine L. Tonkin, being first duly sworn on oath, deposes
- I am Jason Scott's mother.
- I became a member of the Life Tabernacle Church in 1989, after
being recruited by my former husband. The Life Tabernacle Church
is a small Pentecostal group [member of the United Pentecostal Church
International] which meets in Bellevue, Washington.
I joined in an attempt to save my marriage and to find some healing
for my alcoholic husband. I brought seven children into the church
- I was uneasy about some of the teachings of the church from
the time I joined. About eight months later, my concerns reached
the point of considering leaving the church. Many of the church
regulations bothered me. The church teaches that women cannot
wear pants, makeup, jewelry, or short-sleeved shirts. We could
not cut or perm our hair. Members were forbidden to watch t.v.
or go to the movies.
- The church used fear indoctrination to keep the members in
line. The leaders told us we would "lose our salvation"
if we disobeyed the rules. We were told never to miss a church
service or question authority. Services were held three times
a week, for up to three hours at a time. They told us stories
about members who left the church. We were told that former members
felt God's wrath, through misfortunes such as car accidents or
houses burning down. I heard of one occasion where a child was
chastised and severely spanked in front of the entire congregation
for his disobedience. Church services were often frenzied, with
members "running the aisles" and sometimes experiencing
altered mind states.
- The pastor, Harold Kearn, usurped my authority with my children.
They looked to him as the ultimate authority figure, seeking
permission from him for things that ordinarily would be the province
of the parents.
- Pastor Kearn, and the church leaders seemed unduly concerned
with money and material possessions. I felt increasing pressure
to recruit other members of my family into the church. I personally
tithed about $8000 to the church over the course of a year. After
I left the church, I heard Kearn respond to a question about what
was done with the money the church received, and whether there
was any oversight on spending. Kearn replied that he was accountable
only to God.
- The main reason I left the church was because of a very unhealthy
relationship between my son, Thysen, and "Brother" Rethmeyer,
a member of the church and a business associate of mine, At the
direction of Pastor Kearn, I had entered into an informal partnership
with Rethmeyer. Rethmeyer, about 28 at that time, began calling
Thysen, who was fourteen or fifteen at the time, constantly.
He often bought Thysen clothing, and let him drive his car. At
some point he began spending almost every night at out house,
in the same bed as Thysen. They often came home after I was already
in bed, so it was some time before I was aware of the situation.
I asked Pastor Kearn to help, but nothing was done.
- I was also concerned about the education my children were
receiving. After joining the church, I started getting pressure
from church leadership to enroll my children in the church-affiliated
school. In fact, they told me they had been "praying for
boys" to join the school, as there were very few boys enrolled.
They put pressure on the boys as well, and the boys became very
excited to join the school. They begged me to let them enroll.
We discussed this decision at length. The boys convinced me
that it was what they wanted . I gave in to the combined pressures
from the church and the boys, and let them enroll. I was originally
told that the school had applied for accreditation. It was just
a glorified home school, with teachers that were not certified.
- Eventually, I concluded the best thing I could do for my family
was leave the church. This was not an easy decision, but it was
one I came to on my own, without any outside influences. I had
never heard of the Cult Awareness Network.
[Note: WARNING! The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) was recently
bankrupted and bought up by Scientology. We strongly recommend you do
not contact them for assistance.]
- I asked my family to leave the church when I did. However,
my sons Jason, Thysen and Matthew refused to do so. Thysen and
Matthew moved out of the house the day I quit going to Life Tabernacle
Church. Kearn told them that if they left the church with me,
they would lose their salvation and be "out of the truth."
Kearn called me a back-slider reprobate. Jason move out a few
- I became very depressed and despondent, and was fearful about
what would happen to my children. My sister-in-law gave me a
Community Service number to call for help. I thought it was a
"cult hotline." When I called the number, Shirley Landa
answered. She did not identify herself as being affiliated with
any organization. She listened to my story, and said that it
sounded like I had been involved with a cult.
- I asked Shirley about my options concerning my sons. She
told me that one option was to do nothing. Another option was
to try and reach them myself and persuade them to leave. Still
another option would be to hire a deprogrammer. I asked what
deprogrammers did. She explained that deprogrammers had extensive
knowledge of cults and cult-like groups, and could help victims
understand how cults operate. Deprogrammers can help show how
cults practice mind-control, and how they manipulate the Scriptures.
Deprogrammers also try to help cult victims look at the Scriptures
from a more balanced, objective view, that is more in line with
traditional Christianity. Shirley gave me the names of two deprogrammers
she knew of - David Clark and Rick Ross.
- I became aware that David Clark was too busy to help me. I
then contacted Rick Ross, who lives in Arizona. Mr. Ross has
worked as an independent cult consultant. I learned that he has
helped reunite many families whose children have fallen prey to
- I hired Mr. Ross to act as an exit-counselor for Thysen and
Matthew, to reveal information he had on cults and destructive
Bible-based groups. At that time, I did not to deprogram Jason,
who was then 18.
- The deprogramming session for Thysen and Matthew was held
at the home of the boys' grandmother in Kirkland. It lasted for
four days. Thysen and Matthew were resistant at first, screaming
"Satan", "backslider" and other terrible names
at me when I came into the room. After talking with Mr. Ross,
they eventually came to see the way the church had been controlling
them and warping their views about religion in general, and their
relationship with me. They left the church and came back to live
- During the time of the deprogramming, I had to obtain an anti-harassment
order against Life Tabernacle Church. Susan Landa, Shirley's
daughter, a Seattle attorney, helped me obtain it. Members of
the church were continuously harassing us; coming on to the property,
shouting at us, and calling the house constantly in an effort
to "hold on" to Thysen and Matthew. They even went
so far as to go to my house while I was gone and loosen the lugnuts
on my nanny's boyfriend's truck. The Kirkland Police had to come
to the house where the deprogramming was taking place in order
to enforce the anti-harassment order.
- After the success with Thysen and Matthew, I remained heartbroken
over Jason. I had heard rumors that the church was going to take
Jason out of the country, and that he was being rushed into a
marriage with a member of the church. I felt increasingly fearful
that I was going to lose my son forever. I also thought about
how Jason would feel, thinking I would not go as far for him as
for Thysen and Matthew. I didn't want him to feel rejected, or
to think that I loved him any less than his brothers. I wanted
my family back.
- So I asked Mr. Ross to help me deprogram Jason. I told him
I needed to try and get my son back. He agreed to help me.
- My only knowledge of the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) was
that it provides information to the public about cults. I became
aware of CAN either through Shirley Landa or Mr. Ross (I can't
remember which). My only contact with CAN was to telephone the
Chicago office for some literature on cults. The material never
arrived and I haven't talked to anyone at CAN since then. CAN
had nothing to do with my efforts to help my children escape the
Life Tabernacle Church.
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