'Finally, Something Being Done'

The state yanks medical licenses in a cult case

Seattle Weekly/December 7, 2005
By Philip Dawdy

The state Department of Health on Dec. 1 revoked Barbara Loran's licenses to practice naturopathy and chiropractic medicine. The state had suspended the Bellevue doctor earlier this year after articles in Seattle Weekly outlined allegations against the mistress of New Gnostic Church leader James King. The now-disbanded church had as many as 100 members a year ago. Former followers of King described the church, based in Eastern Washington, as a cult. (See "The God Life," May 4, and "'Washing of the Brain,'" May 18.)

The allegations included claims that Loran and King had sex with Samara Lane, then 17, who was a patient of Loran's. State law prohibits doctors from having sex with patients. Loran also allegedly tried to coerce another patient, Beth Jeffrey, into contacting King for counseling. In addition, Loran allegedly allowed King, an unlicensed practitioner, to perform chiropractic adjustments on church members at her practice.

"Finally, I see something being done," says Lane, now 18. "Something concrete." She and other former church members, however, say they are frustrated that King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng's office recently decided against charging either King or Loran with crimes.

Loran has closed her practice and could not be reached for comment. She and King are thought to have fled Washington. The Department of Health earlier issued a cease and desist order against King for practicing without a license.

King made an appearance in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Spokane on Nov. 21. The church leader filed for personal bankruptcy earlier this year and was grilled by a government attorney on the legitimacy of his filing, after former church members complained to authorities that they believed King was using bankruptcy to shield himself from civil claims brought by former church members.

King also is under investigation by the state Department of Financial Institutions for possible violations of state law, according to the department. As reported earlier by Seattle Weekly, former church members alleged that King, unlicensed, had taken money from them to invest in precious metals and securities but never returned the money when asked or provided stock certificates, for example. It is illegal to sell securities without a license in Washington. The department expects to wrap up its investigation within the next two months, and in addition to levying civil penalties, it also could forward results to the U.S. attorney's office for possible criminal prosecution.

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