Both sides came out fighting Tuesday during the first round of what could be a protracted marital and spiritual dispute between a member of the Kashi Ashram interfaith community in Roseland and her exiled husband who wants to expose the group as a cult and convince their son to leave it.
From one corner, 42-year-old Gina Rosenkranz, who wants $3,200 a month in temporary financial support while she and her husband, Richard Rosenkranz, duke out a divorce, took the first swing by telling Circuit Judge William Roby that Rosenkranz "takes care of me very minimally and himself much more grandly."
In the other corner, Rosenkranz, a human-rights activist, writer and teacher who long served as a spokesman for the Kashi community and its spiritual leader, Ma Jaya Bhagavati, testified he paid his wife $400 a month and also paid her credit card bill until she petitioned for support in December. Her claim "is insupportable. It's not for her, anyway," he said at a hearing on the temporary support petition. "It's for Ma Jaya and that's unconscionable."
Rosenkranz said many of the expenses on his wife's credit card are for personal items for Bhagavati. He also said he has found out things about the Kashi Ranch at 11155 Roseland Road since he moved off it in July 1999 that include black magic, lies and two beatings five years ago of his 18-year-old son, Chun.
Rosenkranz said the beatings were at the direction of Bhagavati, who was trying to teach him a lesson. "She ordered two top monks to dress up like the Mafia and beat him with socks filled with stones," he said. Now she has convinced him to stay at the ranch and defer college, he said. "There's something terrible going on there and exposing it may be the only way to get our son free of it," he said, adding, "I truthfully consider (the Kashi Ashram) a cult now."
Rosenkranz, who is self-employed and heads the Council for the Interfaith Call for Universal Religious Freedom and Freedom of Worship in Tibet, was banned in August from setting foot in the community. In 1997, he inherited from his mother $1 million which she put in a generation-skipping trust for Chun. Another $10,000 also is in trust for Chun, "but Ma has gotten him to sign a bogus piece of paper to get it from him," Rosenkranz said. Rosenkranz also said his wife's financial affidavit, which claims she spends about $2,600 a month to live, is untrue. "One problem I have with the community," he said, "is its leader has said it's OK to lie as long as you don't get caught."
Gina Rosenkranz lives in a house with 20 people, he said, and her stated expenses for cleaning, the telephone and such "are simply not true." Rosenkranz claimed in court documents that he and his wife, who were married in 1981, have not had marital relations since 1982 and have not lived together since 1992. Gina Rosenkranz testified she has lived at the Kashi Ranch for 24 or 25 years and is a Sanyassin - "someone who dedicates his life to humanity and taking care of others."
Although it is the highest-ranking female position in the community and similar to a monk, Sanyassins do not take a vow of poverty, Rosenkranz said. She also said she and Rosenkranz lived together as husband and wife until last October. Roby is expected to rule on the petition for temporary support within a week, said Vero Beach attorney Russell Petersen, who represents Gina Rosenkranz. Roby also ordered Rosenkranz to produce bank statements and other financial documents that had been requested within five days, which "we are happy about," Petersen said. "Apparently the judge was pretty upset the documents hadn't been produced" earlier, he said.
In turn, Rosenkranz said Petersen "is asking for every financial document he can think of, much of which is irrelevant." The documents are needed to move to the next step, which is division of assets, Petersen noted. Florida is a no-fault state, "so if he wants a divorce, there will be a divorce," Petersen said. "I was willing to support (Gina) for the rest of her life, but I'm not going to support Ma," Rosenkranz said.