Posted on | May 24, 2014 | 51 Comments
A couple have claimed that their three daughters were indoctrinated into a religious cult by their school teachers leaving them with suicidal thoughts and alienated from their loving family, according to a new lawsuit.
The couple, from Avon, Connecticut, filed the civil lawsuit in federal court on Monday against the Avon school district, three teachers and a guidance counselor at Avon High School and Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
The parents alleged that their older daughters, now aged 22 and 19, became ‘reclusive, secretive and distant’ after they began taking Spanish classes at Avon High.
The named defendants are Connecticut residents Tanya Mastoloni (also known as Tanya Romero), Rebecca Kessler; Laura Sullivan and California resident Christopher Esposito. . . .
Their girls began having ‘fantasies of suicidal ideation and martyrdom’, according to the suit.
They also began to speak in a strange language and gathered at Wellesley College in Massachusetts to perform religious ‘whirling dervish’ dances throughout the night.
The couple claimed that the teachers and counselor indoctrinated their daughters into a cult that promotes martyrdom and celebrates death. . . .
The indoctrination by the teachers reportedly continued when two of the girls went to Wellesley College.
According to the 64-page lawsuit, the youngest daughter was also targeted to be indoctrinated into the same belief system, but she broke free. She has jointly filed the lawsuit with her parents.
The two elder sisters have had no contact with their family since last July along with their extended family and friends at the urging of the group of teachers, it is claimed.
You can read the whole thing. It makes perfect sense that the cult leaders would encourage their young acolytes to attend Wellesley College — Hillary Clinton’s alma mater, IYKWIMAITYD.
UPDATE: The lawsuit refers to the parents as Jane and John Doe, and refers to their three daughters as E.D. (age 22), L.D. (19), and J.D. (16), and describes their “indoctrination”:
All three girls experienced sudden and severe personality changes. They became flat and distant, reclusive, secretive, and non-communicative. They lost their humor and their empathy. They began speaking in a bizarre new language. They became unable to think critically or independently. They became dependent on the school teachers and guidance counselor who had indoctrinated them, especially Defendant Tanya Mastoloni.
On information and belief, the two older Doe sisters were indoctrinated into a religious cult that promotes martyrdom, and celebrates death. This has caused the elder Doe sisters to experience fantasies of suicidal ideation and martyrdom.
The youngest Doe daughter, J.D., was targeted to be indoctrinated into the same belief system, but she eventually broke free. …
Defendant Mastoloni would often act as a friend to the students rather than a teacher. She spent much class time socializing with the students rather than teaching. During Spanish class, Defendant Mastoloni often told inappropriate stories to the students. For instance, Defendant Mastoloni freely discussed her abusive upbringing, including stories of kidnapping and forcible rape by her stepfather. . . .
Defendant Mastoloni would often pry into students’ personal lives, and try to [elicit] personal information about them. Defendant Mastoloni would constantly ask the students in class to tell her who is dating who. Defendant Mastoloni would ask the students to describe their dreams, so that she could interpret them for the students. Defendant Mastoloni would frequently talk to the students about her own boyfriends and other personal business . . .
Defendants Mastoloni, Kessler, Esposito, and Sullivan behaved as if they were in a clique. When they liked a student, they would make that student feel like he or she was part of their group. When they did not like a student, they would ostracize and alienate that student. . . .
Defendant Mastoloni freely gave students access to her home address and private cell phone number. Students would go to her house and talk to her frequently and consider her a friend. . . . .
Defendant Mastoloni was not just teaching her students Spanish. She taught her students religion and pseudoscience. Specifically, she taught her students to believe in superstition, magic, and a non-scientific, anti-intellectual worldview. She would discuss spirituality, numerology, astrology, dreams, mysticism, looking for signs, angels, symbols, synchronicity, negativity, seeking the truth, and death.
The lawsuit never gives a specific name to the “religion” into which the parents claim their daughters were indoctrinated, but the description seems generally to be a sort of New Age mysticism.
UPDATE II: More details from the lawsuit:
During senior year, after E.D. turned 18, Defendant Mastoloni’s attention to E.D. became even more intense. Defendant Mastoloni said to E.D., “Now that you are mi hermana, you are an adult and we can be friends outside of school.” …
Defendant Esposito was also being inappropriately intrusive. For instance, he once asked E.D. about the sexual orientation of her siblings. …
E.D. underwent another phase of her personality change in August of 2012, when she was entering her junior year in college. . . . Defendant Mastoloni would constantly be looking to go out with E.D. socially. Defendant Mastoloni brought E.D. into her home. E.D. told Jane and John [her parents] that she wanted to attend Defendant Mastoloni’s graduation from some type of school where Defendant Mastoloni was receiving a degree in spirituality. Defendant Mastoloni claimed it was a masters in conscious evolution. Yet, when Jane and John asked E.D. for the name of the school, E.D. claimed she did not know. Then, E.D. suddenly declared that her major would be philosophy, instead of political science or international relations like she originally decided. E.D. also announced that she wanted to seek a masters in Divinity following graduation from Wellesley. E.D. was unable to offer any real explanation for her sudden interest in religion. …
E.D. was constantly talking about seeking the truth and pursuing a greater purpose. All of E.D.’s conversations involved Defendant Mastoloni. . . .
When confronted by her family about her disturbing behavior, she gave a pat answer, “You don’t understand the person I have become.”
UPDATE III: After the two older girls had allegedly been “indoctrinated” and were both attending Wellesley, Mastoloni then allegedly targeted the youngest sister, with the help of the older girls:
In spring semester 2013, the Doe’s youngest child, J.D., was 15 and had Defendant Mastoloni as a Spanish teacher. . . . Once again, Defendant Mastoloni consistently proselytized her religious views in the classroom, teaching J.D. and the other students to believe in superstition and magic. Defendant Mastoloni constantly discussed spirituality, numerology, astrology, dreams, mysticism, looking for signs, angels, symbols, synchronicity, negativity, seeking the truth, and death. Although Defendant Mastoloni would preach her religious ideas to the whole class, she took a special interest in J.D. Defendant Mastoloni had already converted the two older Doe sisters, and now she was looking to add the third sister to her coven. . . .
At Defendant Mastoloni’s urging, E.D. and L.D. asked J.D. to come to Wellesley during her April break, luring her there by telling her that they would take her to a music concert. J.D. was looking forward to seeing if she could find out some information that would reveal the cause of B.D.’s and L.D.’s bizarre behavior. …
When J.D. retuned after that week, she was cold, lacked affect, and was behaving just like E.D. and L.D. …
When E.D. and L.D. came home from school at the end of May 2013, all three girls were isolating and fearful. They spent countless hours on their laptops, or reading books about mysticism, astrology, dreams, and Carl Jung. . . .
Finally, after a confrontation with her mother, the youngest sister broke down and started explaining:
J.D. began to reveal the details of what had occurred. Jane and John learned that J.D. did not attend any concert while she was visiting her sisters at Wellesley. For the entire week she was there, J.D. was under the total and constant control of her sister, E.D., who was acting at the direction of Defendant Mastoloni. . . . E.D. barraged J.D. with thoughts that turned J.D. against her parents . . .
Most importantly, however, J.D. revealed how Defendant Mastoloni had orchestrated the entire ordeal. . . .
After J.D. returned from Wellesley, Defendants Mastoloni, Kessler, Esposito, and Sullivan used E.D. and L.D. to relentlessly maintain and intensify their control over J.D. E.D. began making bizarre comments to J.D., in an effort to reorganize J.D.’s thinking. For instance, E.D. discussed with J.D. how education was not that important. E.D. told J.D. that she did not want to have children, but that she wanted to give birth to feel the pain. E.D. also told J.D. that she did not want to get married, but if she lived with someone they would have separate bedrooms with one room being strictly for sex. . . .
It was not until J.D. broke free that Jane and John understood that their three daughters had been subjected to religious indoctrination at Avon High School . . .
Here is the full text of the lawsuit: