Expert: dkennedy replied 2 years ago.
TO: XXXXX Attorney
DATE: June 24, 2012
RE: Sherman Case
The potential clients are Rob Sherman and his wife, Bunny Sherman. They have a 15 year old son, Rob, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Sherman’s goal is to file suit against the Church of the Divine Light, which is in practice similar to the Church of Scientology, but is in actuality independent of any organized church. The couple alleges that they have suffered damages by the Church of the Divine Light (the Church) as has their son. They stated that their son, Rob, Jr. unknowingly got mixed up with the church about a year ago. He attended a few of the Church services and after one of the youth meetings, was getting ready to leave for home. Before he could leave, Tom Marsden, the youth retreat organizer approached the boy, making various excuses to keep Rob from going home. At one point, Marsden apparently told the boy that should he leave, he would be thrown “into the eternal fires of Hell” never to return. For whatever reason, Rob, Jr. agreed to stay at the Church. The very next day, Marsden talked the boy into writing a letter to his parents telling them of his plans to stay at the Church. He told them the Church was his new family. As part of this “coercion” he was also told to demand money from his parents, by writing a letter to them, which he did. The Shermans agreed and paid him money each month for five months. His mother, Bunny, was getting ready to pay him the sixth monthly payment but instead, pulled her son into the car and brought him home, away from the Church. After a few weeks back at home, he was all right again. The Sherman’s believe their son was brainwashed and “conned” out of money, and that both they and their son suffered damages due to the Church of Divine Light. Rob and Bunny Sherman “lost” their son, Rob, Jr. to this Church or cult, for a period of almost six months. This could have caused them severe emotional distress. Therefore, the tort of the intentional infliction of emotional distress may also be another cause of action for the parents. Although the evidence has not yet been gathered, not only the parents, Rob and Bunny may have suffered severe emotional distress but also Rob, Jr. being “lured” away from his home and his parents might have also suffered distress. He is only 15 years old and probably missed his family, friends, and school during the time he was away, causing him great harm. The intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs because a person’s conduct, being extreme and outrageous, causes some emotional distress to another. The potential clients’ allegation could be that this Church intentionally caused this distress by luring away their son in order to get the money, knowing and fully understanding the emotional burden and upset it would cause the family. In addition, taking a boy of that age away from his parents would also possibly be very distressing to him, having to live with strangers and taken away from everything he ever knew. One of the problems with this cause of action would be that there is no evidence at all that either the parents or the child suffered any distress at all, until the mother just “grabbed him” and took him home. They were all right, apparently, with him staying at first, or at the very least, there is nothing to support the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. And, in the same vein, plaintiffs (the Shermans) would have to prove that their son also suffered severe stress intentionally through the actions of the Church and his stay with them. Rob, Jr. is 15 years old, as was mentioned previously in this memoranda, and as such is under the legal supervision and custody of his parents. Neither Tom Madsen, nor the Church of the Divine Light had permission to take Rob, Jr. into their care, nor to keep him. He is a minor and they had no legal right to take him into the Church establishment or building or to keep...
References: Bd. of Dirs. of Rotary Int 'l v. Rotary Club (1987) 481 U.S. 537, 544 (95 L.Ed.2d 474, 483-484, 107 S.Ct. 1940)
Esbeck, Tort Claims Against Churches and Ecclesiastical Officers: The First Amendment Considerations, 89 W. Va. L. Rev. 1,5 (1986) .
Hart v. Cult Awareness Network (1993) 13 Cal. App. 4th 777 (16 Cal. Rptr. 2d 705)
Molko v Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, 762 P. 2d 46 (Cal. 1988) cert denied,XXXXX 2110 (1989).
(Roberts v. United States Jaycees (1984) 468 U.S. 609 (82 L.Ed.2d 462, 104 S.Ct. 3244)).
United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 7S, 64S.CT. 882, S8L.Ed. 1148
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