Teen in US cult sends 'last word' to folks

The Star - South Africa/April 9, 2005
By Kashiefa Ajam

The 18-year-old Northcliff High schoolgirl who married into an American cult now refuses to have any contact with her family.

This came after Saturday Star published the story about her marriage last week and dozens of people posted obscene messages on the cult's website.

Ian and [Mrs. M.] approached us for help after receiving what they felt had been "little to no assistance" from the authorities or the United States Embassy.

Their daughter, [D.M.] - who was still in matric when she left the country for the US in March - wed Amadon, an elderly leader of the Living Love cult based in Oregon, barely 24 hours after arriving in the States.

The marriage is likely to violate US immigration laws but, three weeks on, the teenager and 58-year-old self-styled mystic are still together, and the US Embassy in Pretoria does not appear to have launched an inquiry.

The Johannesburg child protection unit did hold a meeting with [the Ms] family this week. Details were not divulged - in order, it was said, to protect the integrity of the investigation.

A distraught [Mr. M.] said [D.M.] had sent him and his wife, Karene, an email cutting all ties with her family. He described it as "very personal and extremely brutal: 'we have pushed her away.' Things are bad enough.

"We do not want to make it worse. She warned us that if we protested any further she would not communicate with us at all - and now she has (made good on her threat)."

Saturday Star posted its own message on the cult's website, addressed to Amadon. We asked whether [D.M.] was happy and whether Amadon was aware that he was breaking his own country's immigration laws by marrying an 18-year-old South African within 24 hours of her arrival in the US.

We did not get a response from Amadon, but did receive one from [D.M.] She writes: "I am touched by all the concern about me, but I want people to know that I am really safe and very happy with my new life. I hope people will start to believe me when I say so.

"I feel it is sad how much negative attention we have received in the press. Many people meet and fall in love on the Internet these days. Many people change their religious affiliations.

"Everybody knows fathers don't always react positively to their daughter's choice of husband. The simple truth is I am a young woman who is pursuing certain interests and goals that I have had for a long time. It is a personal choice and it is very different to what is being portrayed to the public.

"I am glad at least that the wedding picture was included with the recent articles. The picture speaks for itself.

"We really are that happy together. We really don't notice the age difference. The website of the Living Love fellowship also speaks for itself. Such good and nourishing fruit does not come from an evil tree.

"This is my final and complete statement to the press. Like everybody else, we would like to be left alone and allowed to live our private lives in peace. Regards, [D. M.] ."

[The Ms] only discovered [D.M.]'s relationship with the cult leader in last 2004 when she announced her engagement to him. The matter was then investigated by the Pretoria child protection unit as [D.M.] was just 17 at the time.

A forensic audit on [D.M.] home computer revealed she had been corresponding with the cult via the Internet since she was 15.

Meanwhile, a Joburg company has offered other parents advice designed to prevent another such incident.

Peter Boxall, one of the directors of Thummb.com - an initiative that would enable Internet users to filter out harmful sites such as porn and cult sites - said: "We do not want to detract from the tremendous suffering of this girl's parents, but it seems there was a lack of parental control over [D.M.] use of the Internet."

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