Religion News Report
Archived News items about religious cults, sects, and alternative religions
Class-action lawsuit brewing against CUT
Livingston Enterprise, July 19, 2001
Some former Church Universal and Triumphant members are attempting to collect information to see if a class action lawsuit can be filed against the CUT.
A set of questions posted last week on the Web site www.factsource.com run by Emigrant area resident Kenneth Paolini - a former CUT member himself - requests information from past members of the New Age group.
The 10 questions were prepared with the help of two lawyers, both of whom have won various cases against the church in the past ' Paolini told The Enterprise Thursday.
Peter Arnone, also a former member, said he and Paolini are spearheading the proposed lawsuit with the help of the two lawyers.
The questions will help California attorney Lawrence Levy and Bozeman attorney Stephen Roberts determine if there is a possibility of a class action lawsuit against CUT.
But Levy said Thursday that until enough information is collected, it is not known if a lawsuit can be filed.
Levy said this was not a solicitation of information, but rather responding to a client's inquiry.
CUT spokesman Chris Kelley said he has seen ft questions and told The Enterprise these types of lawsuits are expected.
"Any significant organization is often subjected to attempts by attorneys soliciting clients for lawsuits," Kelley said.
"Lawrence Levy says that there are different ways that people gave to the group: money, property, time, and service," the site states. "There are many ways that people have suffered from their association with the group ... the stories are endless. The comon factor is that misrepresentations were made. If you had been told the truth at the very beginning of your association with Church Universal and Triumphant, you would have made different choices. These choices manifested differently in each of our lives: where we live, our jobs, our spouses (or the decision to stay single), our use of funds, etc. But, we made choices based on faith in the truthfulness and integrity of Elizabeth Clare Prophet and her representatives."
"Very few people who have left the church are intact with the funds they came in with," Paolini said Thursday.
The questions will remain on the Web site for six to eight weeks, he added.
It is unknown how much longer after that period it would take to determine whether or not to file a lawsuit, Paolini said.
Letter to the editor
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 19:27:54 -0600
From: Kenneth Paolini <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Livingston Enterprise <email@example.com>
Your article on a potential class-action lawsuit against Church Universal and Triumphant needs clarification.
The article states, "The 10 questions were prepared with the help of two lawyers." These questions were written and prepared entirely by the lawyers.
The article quotes me saying that tens of thousands of questionnaires could be completed. This is not correct. What I said was that if this goes to court and the judge certifies a class, that this could encompass possibly tens of thousands of people. Those people would be contacted and told that they would have the option of participating or not because they were members during the period of time specified by the definition of the class.
Both Peter Arnone and I want to make it clear that we are not the issue here. CUT may want it to look like the potential lawsuit is from a couple of people with "axes to grind," but that's not the case. Peter and I probably don't even qualify for this action because of the statutes of limitations. My role is to publicize the potential class-action lawsuit, provide information, and facilitate communication among the parties.
For years, Peter and I have heard from many members and ex-members who have expressed a desire for CUT to be held accountable for their actions and representations, but they didn't know how to proceed. This invitation to assemble a class-action lawsuit is at their behest and for their benefit. We are not the issue. This is about an opportunity for people who gave their time, money, and effort to help create the tens of millions of dollars of assets CUT enjoys today to recover some compensation for their efforts and sacrifices.
It is difficult for some to understand the depth of sacrifice members of CUT made--remember the bomb shelter crisis? This was not your typical church-down-the-street. There were many levels of membership, so, yes, some people attended services and lived relatively normal lives. But others sacrificed their spouses, children, careers, native countries, savings, and their very lives in service to the promises of the group's leaders. Countless cases of broken promises, shattered dreams, and outright deception have left many wondering what went wrong.
These are the voices behind this potential lawsuit, and if this case comes to trial, those voices will be heard.
» Latest Religion and Cult News
Religion News Blog
Religion News Blog (RNB) carries the latest news about cults, religious sects, world religions, televangelists, and related issues.