Articles From the October 1993 Unification News


Galen Kelly Gets CANned

by Peter Ross

On Friday, September 26, 1993, Galen Kelly was sentenced to seven and a quarter years in jail by Judge Timothy S. Ellis III, in the Federal District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. On May 27, Kelly had been found guilty by a jury of having kidnapped a woman, Debra Dobrowski, in Washington, D.C., bringing her to Leesburg, Virginia, where he learned that he had kidnapped the wrong woman. He then threw Ms. Dobrowski back into the van, drove her back to D.C. and then cast her out on the street.

The intended victim's mother, Donna Bruckert, had retained Kelly's services because of her opposition to Ms. Dobrowski's choice of religious affiliation and choice of sexual life-style.

In December of 1992, Kelly had narrowly escaped a similar fate when a jury, after deliberating for twelve hours finally acquitted him, and several other defendants, on charges of conspiring to kidnap Lewis du Pont Smith. Judge Ellis was the presiding judge in both cases.

In the du Pont case Judge Ellis had warned Kelly: "this trial ought to be a clear message to you that under no circumstances is it ever justified to snatch, lift, or pull anybody off the street against their will." Judge Ellis in referring to the fact that people join cults said that "society is tolerant of that. One man's cult is another man's community, however wacky you or I may think that is." Less than nine months later, Kelly would stand before Judge Ellis for sentencing in the Dobrowski case.

At the conclusion of the du Pont trial, Judge Ellis provided specific advice to Edgar Newbold Smith, father of Lewis du Pont Smith and a co-defendant with Kelly: "the principle for which the government was advocating is a principle that really doesn't need a trial to be vindicated; it's a principle that ought to be clear to anyone. Nothing in the jury's verdict justifies or excuses any parent from trying to kidnap a child they believe is involved in some kind of cult, political activity, criminal activity, or other kind of activity. It does not justify a kidnapping, and the government should act with dispatch and effectiveness in seeking to prosecute and halt such action."

Judge Ellis extended a personal parental insight to Newbold Smith: "You can't control [your son's] life. All you can do is tell him what any father would, give him advice, but it's his life. And as painful as that is for many of us who are parents to watch some of our children do things that we think demonstrates terribly poor judgment, that's one of the pains of being a parent. It's their lives, not ours."

After the jury had reached its verdict in the Dobrowski case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Leiser, was quoted: " Kelly thinks he has the right to go out because somebody pays him and kidnap someone. That's incredible, and he's been doing it for 10 - 15 years. He admitted on the stand that he has abducted 30 - 40 people."

Not the truth

Despite this admission before Judge T.S. Ellis III, Kelly in fact lied about the full extent of his career in the kidnapping business. For example in 1981, Kelly admitted under oath before the Town of Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals to having deprogrammed 150 people. Under cross-examination in 1982 in the Colombrito case, Kelly boasted of having conducted "maybe 130." Again under oath in 1982, Kelly found it difficult to remember exactly how many deprogrammings he had conducted and could only guess that the number was "more than 100, less than 1,000." Similarly, Kelly told the court in the Dobrowski case that he had not forcibly deprogrammed anyone for 10 years!

It is worthwhile noting the amount of support provided to Kelly throughout his trials, particularly from one of his chief patrons, Herbert Rosedale. Rosedale, a law partner in the well-heeled New York firm of Parker Chapin Flattau & Klimpl, wrote to the court in the du Pont case on behalf of Kelly: "I have known Galen Kelly for about 10 years. He has testified in matters in which I have been involved and his testimony has to my knowledge been accepted and relied upon by various administrative agencies in the State of New York. His credibility and trustworthiness have been evident and exemplary." Mr. Rosedale!!!

Herbert did forget to mention in this letter, and presumably in his later letter to the court in the Dobrowski case, that it was he, Rosedale, who had solicited Kelly's participation in a series of kangaroo proceedings before a number of zoning boards reviewing use applications submitted by the Unification Church. These circuses, conducted by Mr Rosedale as ring-master, will go down in the annals of zoning board folklore as the most deft, and yet most blatant, responses to "guess who's moving into the neighborhood?"

Of particular significance, is the clamor of opposition that arose in response to the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Leiser, in both the Dobrowski and the duPont cases by members of his own profession. Breckenridge Willcox, a partner at the Washington D.C. law firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn was quoted in Legal Times as stating, "what Leiser's doing, and the way he's doing it, is unconscionable." Not surprisingly, Mr. Willcox was identified as having represented former members of religious sects. Indeed, the pro bono counsel for the local affiliate of the Cult Awareness Network, David Bardin, is also quoted in the Legal Times report and curiously enough he is also identified as a partner in the Arent Fox firm.

Legal Times described Kelly's final lawyer in the Dobrowski case, Frank Dunham Jr., as a "white-collar defense specialist." Mr. Durham was quoted as saying "As a taxpayer, this really burns me up. [Leiser] must have a rationale that justifies the amount of effort that the federal government has put in, but I don't know what it is."

Suffice to say, Kelly did not loose his case for a lack of ardent (Arent?) and passionate legal counsel.

In addition to the support offered by partners in the Arent Fox law firm, local representatives of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), particularly Ms. Mira Lansky Boland, were frequent visitors to the court proceedings. It is indeed a sad and ironic twist of history that the Cult Awareness Network, and other similar organizations like the American Family Foundation, and the International Cult Education Program, derive their only legitimacy and credibility in their printed literature through asserting an association with The Jewish Board of Family And Children's Services and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Both of these latter organizations are well respected in American society for their exemplary social, educational, and humanitarian efforts. It is lamentable that they allow themselves to be exploited and compromised by hate groups.

Far-reaching implications

Because of the broader historical background, this case has far-reaching implications beyond the merits of this particular trial. For those who have promoted deprogramming through the years, Kelly's conviction tolls the bell. Organizations like the Cult Awareness Network which have routinely referred inquirers to kidnappers like Kelly are now prime candidates for further investigation.

Cynthia Kisser, Executive Director of CAN, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch in May of this year that Kelly was retained by the Cult Awareness Network (or to those in the kidnapping trade, the Cult Awareness Network), "as a paid consultant." What in particular was Kelly consulted on, Ms. Kisser, that warranted this retainer? Ms. Kisser was perhaps alluding to her statements, given under oath, in which she confirmed referring callers to the Cult Awareness Network to deprogrammers, like Galen Kelly.

The conviction of Galen Kelly marks a significant legal precedent in the fight against the practice of deprogramming. The Reverend Dean Kelley, Counselor on Religious Liberty for the National Council of Churches has described deprogramming as "the most serious stain on religious liberty facing this country in the latter half of the 20th. Century." Professor J. Gordon Melton, director of the Center for the Study of American Religion, has described the deprogramming activities of Kelly and his cohorts as "terrorism."

In the Dobrowski case, the government offered Kelly an opportunity to cooperate in several ongoing and related investigations. However, Kelly refused to cooperate. His wife, Liz, stated: "Galen would never do that, he believes he is right." Perhaps when prison life becomes a reality to him, he may think differently. At least throughout his brief stay in a minimum security jail, if Kelly really believes he is right, then he will be afforded an opportunity to empathize with those hundreds of others whose liberty he has denied for no lawful or legitimate reason except his own economic gain. Once, during a television interview, Kelly was asked by a member of the audience if what he did was illegal. Kelly purportedly responded "Yes, but it's a living."

If successive cases are brought against Kelly by the government for other kidnappings he may yet be induced to cooperate. In which case, perhaps for Mr. Kelly's own safety, a minimum security jail is inappropriate. One such case involves the kidnapping of a woman in New York in September of 1991. Apparently, Kelly and others were hired to deprogram the woman out of her relationship with a particular boyfriend. If CAN and its associates have their way, it would seem that homosexual relationships, and indeed heterosexual relationships will soon be added to their nefarious list of "2,500 destructive cults in America." (After all, cannot one's lover fit perfectly the definition of a cult leader that is promoted by CAN?).

Throughout America, jurists, civil libertarians, religious leaders, academics, journalists, law enforcement personnel, deprogramming survivors, and private citizens, will all be keenly watching to see how these cases proceed. At some point one would hope that a national consensus could be reached through the publicity attached to these cases, one which would echo the response to previous pogroms: Never Again.


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