Former cult member reflects on Waco 15 years later

KOAA TV News, Colorado Springs/April 14, 2008

This time of year brings back all sorts of memories for Alice Scott. 15 years ago she watched in disbelief as the Branch Davidian compound in Waco burned, knowing that by a stroke of luck her son wasn't inside.

"It really does bring back a lot of emotions," said Alice Scott. She now keeps a scrap book of photos and newspaper clippings from the raid, eerie reminders of what happened to her son back in 1989.

Long before the standoff, Robert Scott, then 26, stepped off a private jet in Colorado Springs. His family says the flight was arranged by the Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh. They say he was sent home because he had a mental breakdown. Alice says he wasn't the Robert Scott she remembered. "My son was unrecognizable. I would have avoided him on the street."

Three months of mental manipulation had taken its toll on Robert Scott. His mother said he came back unshaven, ragged, and he had lost his grip on reality. "He actually believed Koresh was Christ," said Alice Scott. "He would do anything Koresh asked him to do no matter what it was."

Robert never went back to Waco. But Waco beckoned him. The cult sent letters asking him to return for more than a year, Alice Scott said.

Today a lot has changed in Robert Scott. He says he's blocked most of his memories of what happened. He does remember one thing though. "I was basically full of fear."

Robert Scott is living in Colorado Springs. He says he's tried to get on with his life after the events of 15 years ago.

Though he's blocked many painful memories, there's one thing he says he can't block: a valuable lesson learned. It's the reason his family shares their story, so it doesn't happen again.

"Everybody in this world is as vulnerable as my son was," said Alice Scott.

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