Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the State has entered into a consent decree with The Gentle Wind Project, a Kittery-based charitable organization, and six named defendants (collectively, “GWP”) who served as officers or directors for many years. The consent decree resolves violations of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act relating to GWP’s claims about its so-called “healing instruments,” and violations of law relating to the mismanagement of the charity and its funds by those who held positions of fiduciary responsibility.
The “healing instruments” were manufactured and distributed by GWP from designs that allegedly came from the “Spirit World” via telepathic impressions received by the charity’s founder, John Miller. GWP claimed that the instruments repair a person’s “etheric,” or invisible energetic structure, which then improves one’s emotional, mental, and even physical functioning. The instruments were sold to consumers via GWP’s website and through “seminars” for requested “donations” of often hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the design. The research that GWP claimed to have done on the instruments does not support their alleged benefits. The Unfair Trade Practices Act, as interpreted by the Federal Trade Commission and the federal courts, requires that any express or implied health claims be substantiated by objective and reliable scientific evidence. In the absence of such evidence, the claims are deceptive.
The named defendants have agreed to pay civil penalties and costs and to an injunction that prohibits them from making certain health and research claims about the “healing instruments” or from serving as fiduciaries or advisors for any other Maine nonprofit. The parties have also agreed that GWP will be dissolved, and its remaining assets distributed by the Attorney General as restitution to consumers who purchased a “healing instrument” since 2003 and to a Maine charity whose charitable mission is to provide services to those with mental health disabilities.
“We believe that this is a just resolution of the violations of law committed by the defendants. People who give money to a Maine charity should be able to trust in its integrity, and in the integrity of those who are charged with its operation. This charity damaged the public’s trust and it should not be allowed to continue,” Rowe said.
The consent decree and order that were filed in the York County Superior Court late last week will become final once approved by the Court. Attorney General Rowe praised Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Silsby for her work in the case.