Parents of Russell Gould, 30, whose adherence to the philosophy of David Wynn Miller has landed him in trouble with the law, say their son has been "brainwashed," and they want to take him back to their Wyoming home while his court case is pending.
Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust declined to let Gould out of jail immediately, but he did lower Gould's cash bond from $30,000 to $12,000, a sum that Stella and Bruce Gould may be able to come up with if they choose to mortgage their house.
Still, as their son left the courtroom he looked at his parents and said, "Don't you ever post bail for me."
It was the latest chapter in local courts of the organization Miller, of Milwaukee, calls the Unity-States of Our World, which has its own language and own legal system and whose adherents, like Gould, have been arrested here for serving phony lawsuits on public officials.
A year ago this month, two other members of the strange group, Jason Zellmer, 23, of Oconomowoc and Janice Kay Logan, 46, of Catham, Ill., went on trial here for serving phony legal papers on the police and court officials involved in Zellmer's arrest and prosecution on a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a fight outside a campus area bar. Gould would have been the third defendant in the case, but he had not been arrested.
At the trial both Logan and Zellmer chose to speak mostly in the language called "The Truth," an invention of Miller which is supposedly based on mathematics and maritime law. It has a puzzling syntax, with meanings of words changing depending on what word is used before them. Speakers of "The Truth" also use punctuation in a strange way and pronounce each punctuation mark.
All of that caused a certain amount of mirth and humor among those who witnessed last year's trial, but the feelings expressed by Gould's parents Thursday were those of desperation and despair as they sought ways to free their son from Miller's grasp.
"I believe he is brainwashed," Stella Gould said of her son, adding that "his bizarre behavior in court has embarrassed me."
Gould sat quietly at counsel table as his parents spoke, not looking at them but occasionally shaking his head. In previous court appearances he has insisted on reading lengthy writings in the language of the Miller followers, often continuing when judges have told him to quiet down.
"Russell has been seven years with David Wynn Miller, and he has different beliefs about the legal system," his mother said. "He acted according to David Wynn Miller's teachings." She also blamed Russell Gould's hunger strike in the jail on Miller. "He's told him not to eat; he's told him not to participate," in the legal system. "David Miller has led him astray and right now he can't find his way out," she said.
Bruce Gould had even harsher words for Miller and his philosophy. He said he talked to a man who was supposedly a follower of Miller's but found the man was anything but. "When I finished my conversation with him I knew Russell was in big trouble," he said. "What he told me made the hair on the back of my head rise."
"He is a very dangerous psychopath," said Bruce Gould of Miller, "as dangerous as James Jones." Although he said he was not contending Miller would lead followers to the same kind of mass suicide Jones and his followers committed in Guyana in 1978, Bruce Gould said Miller "has the same type of control."
Miller has been in court for nearly all of the appearances of his followers, but was not in court Thursday.
In last year's trial he described himself as the king of Hawaii as well as the head of the Unity-States of Our World.
The Goulds said that in recent weeks communication with their son, who has been both in jail and Mendota Mental Health Institute, has improved and they want him to return to Wyoming.
Foust said he sympathized with the Goulds' efforts to "deprogram" Russell, but was not prepared to release him on a signature bond. His trial is set for late May.
Although a warrant had been issued for his arrest, Gould apparently managed to travel with Miller to Europe last year. He was not stopped either leaving the country or returning, despite the existence of that warrant and increased border security. In addition, he claims he has no passport.