40 Years in America
Dr. Andrew Wilson (written in 1977)
Andrew Wilson at a press conference following his return from his deprogramming experience
As director of the Brooklyn center, I drove my members to our witnessing office on Remsen St. and parked the van in a lot behind the A&S department store. At 12:00 I had an appointment to meet my mother for lunch. I had arranged to meet her at her hairdressers, La Coupe, on Madison Ave. and 62nd St., Manhattan. I took the subway to Manhattan, not at all suspicious of anything, since twice previously we had lunch together by the same arrangements.
At La Coupe, I met my mother, my brother Steven, and my aunt, Judy Pestronk. We walked towards my motherís car (a 1975 Cadillac deVille, red) when I was grabbed from behind by two men: Joe Alexander, Jr., and another man who identified himself as "Goose." Both were in their twenties. They grabbed me and shoved me into the back seat of the car. My mother, brother and aunt sat in the front; Goose and Joe Alexander sat on either side of me in the back, and my mother drove, following Joe Alexanderís instructions, out of the city to Connecticut. In the car I found it useless to struggle, and I decided not to grab the wheel and cause an accident for fear of endangering my motherís life.
We drove to a house owned by Mr. Gervissanni in a small Connecticut town, probably Wilton, north of Norwalk, Ct. I identified the house later to Farley Jones and we scouted it and took pictures. I was put in the basement from which the only exit was a spiral staircase, guarded by Goose. Goose is a big man -- about 6í2", 220 lbs. All the doors and windows were locked and nailed shut. Indeed, this house was well prepared for deprogramming and served as a regular location.
I stayed in that house for five days. I tried to get out once, the first night, but Goose stopped me with a head lock and forced me back downstairs. It was forced imprisonment. When I slept, someone was always watching me. Awake, I was kept in the basement except for a few times when I was allowed upstairs in the company of my parents.
June 12-17 Deprogramming
In the house I met my deprogrammers, namely, Ted Patrick, Sondra, his secretary, Dr. George Swope and Joe Alexander, Jr. (son of the Joe Alexander in Arizona), who as I mentioned, directed my abduction. The first deprogrammers to work on me were Joe Alexander, Jr., and Dr. Swope. First they talked to me, played tapes such as the NBC documentary, tried to reason from the Bible, and showed me newspaper clippings. They said that they just wanted me to "think." When I was unwilling to think their way, they accused me of hating my parents, and that I was brainwashed and had no control over my own mind. Joe Alexander, Jr. said that I would never leave that basement until I had left the church. Dr. Swope brought my parents downstairs, and tried to get me to say that I would kill my parents if Rev. Moon told me to, but I refused to take such bait and said "no." Later that evening, Ted Patrick arrived, together with Sondra and Tom Dulack, his ghostwriter.
Ted Patrick used a combination of techniques to break me down: 1) Rational argument, to get me to admit things he could later twist and use against me; 2) 3rd degree sessions of Mr. Patrick cursing and accusing Rev. Moon of being Satan incarnate, a pimp, a snake, ripping up his picture, and much more, accusing me of being insane, a zombie, a prostitute, and everything under the sun. These often ran four or five hours at a time, and one night they kept me up 24 hours straight, throwing water on my face if I started to sleep, and getting me so disoriented that I didnít know what I was saying. 3) Emotional appeals from my parents -- these were the toughest to resist: I could stand hours of Ted Patrickís ranting and raving without getting emotionally involved, but I had to respond to my parentsí emotional outbursts. They would ask questions like, "If your mother died and Rev. Moon told you that you could not go to her funeral, what would you do?" "Would you kill your mother for Rev. Moon?"
My parents, who love me, sitting there watching this display would become so upset, and I became so angry inside, not at my family, but at the deprogrammers and the way they were manipulating my parents and myself. I couldnít help but respond to all the abuse, and I began to bend to their way of thinking. Then as soon as I showed signs of coming around to his viewpoint, Ted Patrick changed to his fourth tactic, 4) and became a kind of father figure, kind and concerned, offering to help me start a new life. He would tell me about himself, cloaked in the self-righteousness of a moral crusader, and tried to make me his confidant. 5) Behind all of this was the ever-present fact of my imprisonment, with the threat that I would never go free until I left the church. I wanted nothing more than to get away from that oppressive atmosphere.
By this time, I knew that they were expecting me to become deprogrammed and that my best hope for a quick escape lay in playing along. I began to relax, to talk more and more, and to play their game, while internally, my faith was still strong. Though I could battle with them on many aspects of our church and Rev. Moon, I found that they could not argue logically about the teachings of the Divine Principle. Their arguments were stupid and uninformed, taken mostly from critical newspaper articles, and I knew where they coming from -- ignorance. When I asked them any questions about the deeper aspects of the Principles, they could only argue that it is not the Bible, or that the Principle was written by somebody else, or some other irrelevant answer, and could not touch its contents.
Since I could not deny what I knew to be true and since they had no logical arguments to prove it false, I could keep that deep within myself as a rock-solid foundation on which I could keep my sanity and strong faith in God, in the Unification Church and Rev. Moon.
Following the biblical injunction not to "throw pearls before swine," I never argued about the teachings again, but I kept them secret within my heart.
I was cooperating, so Dr. Swope left, knowing that I was in good hands with Ted Patrick. I had several good intellectual conversations with Tom Dulack. He seemed the only person there who was willing to talk openly with me and with some respect for me as a person, though he disagreed with the church. Everyone else there was acting in a way calculated to alter my beliefs, as if I were a puppet to be manipulated. The more I cooperated, the better my chances to escape, so I became more comfortable with my parents and began eating with them upstairs, waiting to see when they would send me home. Instead they offered a month in Canada for "rehabilitation."
After five days in Connecticut, I agreed to go to Canada, where my imprisonment would be more lax and I could more easily get away.
June 17-July 15 Nova Scotia Rehabilitation
My mother, my brother and a guard drove me from Connecticut to Boston where my brother and I took a plane to Halifax, Nova Scotia. There we met Dr. John North and his family who live in Kentville, Nova Scotia. Dr. North has two sons, Steve and Alan (both 19-25 yrs.) and several younger daughters. Their mother died some years earlier. Dr. North is a veterinarian and a well-respected citizen in town. Alan had been a member of Hare Krishna before being deprogrammed and Steve, who had assisted in his brotherís deprogramming, became something of a disciple of Ted Patrick: he had spent about a month with him the previous summer. He became my principal counselor and guard.
The Norths have a house in town and cottage on a lake ten miles from town. Everywhere I went, I was guarded by one or more people. In the house they had chimes set up to warn if I should make a break for it. At the cottage, I slept on a bunk eight feet off the floor, and Dr. North hired guards from among Steveís friends to watch me. While my brother was there, he would set his cot across the door of my bedroom to keep me in. In this context they encouraged me to lead a normal life: drink, take pot, go out with girls, express anger and hatred towards the church, and take initiatives to restart my old life. The most important sign was to declare that Rev. Moon exploited me under mind control, and that Iíd sign a notarized statement renouncing my affiliation with the church. As a test, I should willingly participate in the deprogramming of others and support my renunciation publicly. During this period I could "enjoy" myself with swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, reading and resting, but for me it was agonizing, playing their game and keeping my faith secret. Every few days weíd have a session, and Iíd have to admit more and more lies to show them I was being rehabilitated.
After one week I made an escape attempt at 6 a.m. I ran out of the house and called New York from a phone booth. I spoke to Atsuko, a Japanese sister who encouraged me to humbly play along and suggested that I go to the police. That proved to be a mistake. The police were cooperating with the Norths and called them to the station.
Then the police all disappeared while Dr. North and his sons dragged me from the station with a jacket over my head and my arm twisted so I wouldnít scream. After that incident, I was sequestered to the cottage, and they called in ex-member Shelly Turner, who spent a week with me. I didnít like her at all. I made more efforts to cooperate after a week in the cottage and gradually broadened my circle of friends among Steveís acquaintances.
A short while later I was able to try another escape after I was back at the house in town, but this one didnít get past the front door before I was caught -- so I made excuses that Iíd momentarily "slipped back." So then I continued to make positive efforts to play along -- drinking beer, calling my parents to tell them I missed them and that I was "cured," and even forming a mild relationship with a girl (which fortunately didnít go too far). I even showed an interest in resuming my scientific studies, which used to be my main interest until two years before I joined the church. Gradually my captors began to trust me more and more, although they still watched me or made sure that they could trust the person I was with.
The chance finally came for me to make another phone call to the church in New York without being observed. I went with Steve to visit a friend at his college who had a chemistry lab. The boy was late to the lab and Steve had to go to class -- so I was alone. I ran out to a phone booth, called the New York church and spoke to Clark Thompson, who arranged to meet me seven days later at 4 in the morning in front of the house.
During that week between the phone call and my liberation, they trusted me so much that we took excursions to Halifax and Cape Breton Island. In Halifax I had a chance to escape from the apartment where we slept, and in Cape Breton I could have run off into the forest, but I didnít go because I knew that a more sure escape would come in a few days. That week was dangerous for me for another reason -- I was developing an intimate relationship with a girl, and if the affair had gone too far it could have been a disaster for my spiritual life. I am sure that my deprogrammers would have liked nothing better than to see me fall in a love relationship, and they encouraged me to spend time with her in these kinds of outings.
Being with Pam could help me avoid the pain of sessions with the Norths about the church, and also she seemed a humble and idealistic person. Yet even this relationship was twisted, for I dared not tell her my true feelings about God and religion. I could make her happy and give her my attentions, but she could not know my secret desire to escape and return to the church; I could never trust her with that. I cannot say that I was set up with the girl, rather my situation made me vulnerable to the temptation when it arose. I am grateful that I was not overcome before my rescue.
The day before the scheduled escape, Mike Runyon and Clark came to Nova Scotia, and with the cooperation of the Royal Canadian Mounted police, I was liberated. Altogether I was imprisoned for 33 days, five in Connecticut and 28 in Canada. All along I had the intention to escape, but I tried to wait until the best moment before attempting to escape, because if I failed, my life would become more difficult. The whole 33 days I was held against my will.
Since that ordeal, I have mended the breach between my parents and myself, and although they still do not like the Unification Church, they respect me and my convictions. I have visited them several times and all of us are happy that we can see each other and be frank in our opinions. I have always loved my family and they never ceased to love me; even the deprogramming was done, I am convinced, out of love. The incitement of the news media against the church was so alarming to my parents that they understandably worried about my involvement over and above the fact that I was apostatizing from Judaism and abandoning my career as a doctor or professor. They told me that they attended several meetings of Rabbi Davisís parents group, which further convinced them that they should seek such a desperate way to get me out of the church. At one such meeting they met Ted Patrick, and several months later they contacted him and made plans for my deprogramming. The distortions and lies spread by Rabbi Davis at his meetings and to the press led my parents to believe that I was brainwashed. This is the justification for deprogramming, and my parents desperately seized on that rationale with the false hope that I could be "cured." In fact, they no longer believe that I am brainwashed, and we can argue about our beliefs as rational people with opposing viewpoints do.
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