My life there and afterwards

Archive for the ‘legal proceedings’ Category

News story – must-see

Channel W5, on Canadian TV, has just done a 4 part investigation into Grenville Christian College and this report includes the connection with The Community of Jesus, Orleans,MA. Here is the link:
http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/former-students-allege-psychological-physical-and-sexual-abuse-at-ont-christian-school-1.2766446
It is a must-see. Finally the abuse is becoming known and the class action suit is going forward.

One person said that her faith was not affected by the “Christian” abuse she endured there. I am truly glad for her, but many others did have their faith shattered, as I had mine shattered by the C of J. When you believe whole-heartedly that the leaders you trust are speaking for God, and interpreting scripture as it was meant to be understood, and then realize the hypocrisy and harm that is going on, it is devastating. It takes time to heal, but I am also very glad that I can now sort things out for myself. No one knows the ultimate answers for sure, and anyone who says they do has too high an opinion of themselves. Now I am free to embrace the journey of life for myself, and to seek for the answers that work for me.

Love is the only thing that transforms the human heart. If a group is Christian, they will see Jesus as fully revealing this divine wisdom, which takes the shape of gentle understanding and radical forgiveness–which is just about all that Jesus does. Jesus, who Christians believe represents God, does not tell the vulnerable how bad they are. Look at Jesus’ interaction with the tax collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). He doesn’t belittle or punish Zacchaeus; instead, Jesus goes to his home, shares a meal with him, and treats him like a friend. He does not submit him to a “light session”.

Anyone who thinks fear, anger, divine intimidation, threat, and punishment are going to lead people to love is on a power trip. Show me where that has worked. You cannot lead people to the highest level of fulfillment and creativity by teaching them they are the scum of the earth. The leaders at GCC and CJ were/are on a power trip and, from my experience, do not show any care for the lives of those they are supposedly caring for.

Public Writing

There is no real protection. In America anyone can sue anyone for anything. They may not win their case, but they can open one against you, and guess what, you have to pay your lawyer.

Whatever you write is public. All your emails are public. Even after you delete them, they are on a Google server somewhere. Google is a private company. The law can subpoena them to provide your emails. It’s up to Google, not you, how they respond to that. Your texts are public and can end up in court. Your written letters are public and can be subpoened.

A phone call didn’t use to be recorded. You can be called upon to try to remember, and to give the gist of your phone conversatons, but everyone knows memory is not infallible, and you can only do your best with it.

If you send off a draft of an article, or whatever, to a journalist, or a book company, or anywhere, even to a friend, it is in the public domain and can end up in court. Did you think it was only a draft, and it was meant to be edited before it got published? No protection there. The unedited draft can be used against you if you were not careful and named names or said anything that can’t be proven.

We do still have freedom of speech, but think before you write.

Oh yes, what I receive in written form is also in the public domain. Did a friend write me in confidence and ask me to not publish it? I have regretfully found out that the fact that you emailed it to me makes it already public. I will certainly keep it in confidence as far as my actions are concerned, but again, Google still has it.

Anonymity certainly helps. I’ve been told by reporters that people can tell their stories anonymously, but I do not know what the law says about their right to not reveal their sources. We know from popular media that sources are sacrosanct and not to be shared, but I don’t know how the real world works.

One thought in our favor is that organizations, groups, leadership, usually do not want the spotlight and probably will take no action publicly as an entity. However there is always the possibility that an individual within a group may take action in the hopes of shutting us up.

Freedom of Speech

I’ve been doing a little reading about freedom of speech. More is allowed than I had realized. Public figures are expected to be in the public scrutiny, so even caustic remarks are allowed. Private citizens are more protected from harm to their reputations. Intent is important. A charge of Defamation has to prove that the statements were made with the intent to harm.

“Defamation law tries to balance competing interests: On the one hand, people should not ruin others’ lives by telling lies about them; but on the other hand, people should be able to speak freely without fear of litigation over every insult, disagreement, or mistake… A defamatory statement must be false…People who aren’t elected but who are still public figures because they are influential or famous — like movie stars — also have to prove that defamatory statements were made with actual malice, in most cases. ” nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/

Legal Navigation

Any ex-cult member who has to deal with a legal situation may find themselves at sea like I did. I have compiled as much as I can remember of what I learned through the process in the hopes that it might be of some use to others.

I received a subpoena to a deposition. I was a witness, not named in the case, therefore it was no real threat to me, but since some of the others involved in the case were members of the group I am a former member of, it was an emotional issue for me. I also had never been involved in any kind of legal action before, did not know the rules of the game, or have a clue as to what to expect the procedure or atmosphere to be like.

This goes without saying, but just to put it onto the record, if you receive a subpoena to a deposition, and it lists documents to bring, do not trash, hide or otherwise do anything to those documents. It is what it is, and at this point you want to cooperate. If you try to hide anything, that could bring you more trouble later. I will talk in another blog about how to think ahead and protect yourself as much as possible from unnecessary legal troubles.

Like most of us who leave a high-control group, my finances were pretty low. I’m not in poverty, but I also don’t have the cushion that many people my age have been able to save. So besides the emotional issue of having to deal with people from my former group, I also had fear about not being able to afford a lawyer, and whether this would put me into debt.

I started researching for free legal advice on the Internet and found good resources. The three free sessions I had with three different lawyers were invaluable with their knowledge and advice, but it took many hours of research and networking to get those three references.

http://www.masslegalhelp.org was an excellent resource. I was able to “chat” with legal librarians who looked up the answers to my questions.
A site in Connecticut is http://slsct.org/ which I have not used, but I would think could certainly point you in the right direction. I also assume each state will have something similar. Even if the site does not seem to list your particular need, get in touch with them anyway. I did not know if anyone could help me, but I asked anyway. You never know what good references you might get.

The librarians at http://www.masslegalhelp.org gave me answers to these questions:
– I didn’t know if I could have a lawyer at a deposition and found out I could. They also sent me literature on the rules of a deposition, which helped me know what to expect.
– I found out that court-appointed lawyers, at least in MA, are only for criminal cases, not for civil cases. What this means is that any fees were going to be solely my responsibility. I wasn’t going to get any financial help from any state agency. This in itself can put a person off, because who can afford a lawyer? I was quoted $350/hour by one lawyer and $275/hour by another. That can really add up. But don’t quit yet. At least keep asking questions to learn what the process is all about.
– I asked next if they could refer me to any lawyers. They gave me this resource:
http://www.mass.gov/courts/programs/legal-assistance/find-lawyer.html
– I found out that I could call the lawyers who had sent me the deposition and say I needed more time in order to find a lawyer, and get the deposition re-scheduled. I had the right to do this.
– The deposition did not spell out what the case was about. I learned that I could call the courthouse and ask them for that information. They told me to ask for the civil clerk’s office.

When I called the courthouse, they said I had to come in person to read the court file, but that it was public record, and I could make copies of it. The copies cost $.25 per page, so take plenty of quarters with you. In my case, this was a 2 hour drive one way, but I considered the effort worth the knowledge that would make me feel more confident and in control of the situation.

When I checked out the http://www.mass.gov/courts/programs/legal-assistance/find-lawyer.html website I filled out a form, and ended up in a phone call with someone from the Mass Bar Referral service. I had to decide how much to tell him, and decided to go for broke and just tell it as it was. I told him the bare facts of the subpoena, and why I was worried – i.e. that these were members of a group I had left, not on amicable terms, and I thought the extent of the documents they were asking for was overboard, etc. I also was upfront with the legal librarians and MassBar that I needed a lawyer that would pro-rate to my income. They gave me the name of a lawyer to contact, which I did. Of course, during all this, I was scared, but pushing forward anyway.

I called the lawyer and set up a preliminary meeting with him. He said the first half hour would be free, to my great relief. This meeting was very informative. I felt I could not afford him, but he helped me to understand the process more and gave me options on what I could do.
– He could negotiate what documents I needed to provide, and change the date of the deposition. That would be minimal involvement and cost.
– If he continued with me and went to the deposition with me, that would increase the time and money.
– I could start my own action, without him, by going to the courthouse and filing for a protective order. This is a request by me for the court to limit what documents they ask for, saying that not all of them are pertinent to the case. I had never heard of this before, so was glad to know this was an option.

When I read through the court documents related to this case, my name was not mentioned anywhere. It made me wonder why I was involved, so I had a second “chat” with the legal librarians and learned:
– The subpoena came directly from the lawyers, not through the court. This is legal and legitimate because lawyers are considered “officers of the court”. This is why a copy of the subpoena was not in the court file at the courthouse.
– For the first time I learned about the option of filing a motion to “quash the subpoena.” This is different than a protective order. It would require the judge to assess the reasonableness of the documents asked for in the attorney’s subpoena.
– The notarization on the subpoena does not have to be that raised stamp that we often see. It can also be an ink stamp.
– They gave me another reference. The Mass Bar Association has a free legal advice service. 617-338-0610 or 877-686-0711

I also talked with a couple of friends about looking for a lawyer and got other referrals that way. They gave me free phone calls, and one said I could call the lawyers and ask them why they needed all of these documents from me. I had not known whether it was considered “OK” or not to talk with the lawyers. He also told me more about the motion to “quash the subpoena”. He sent me the official form to do this. It’s important to get a lawyer’s help in these steps. The official form makes things go more smoothly. Once I had the form I had to again drive it the 2 hours to the courthouse, but it was accepted and a date was set for the hearing. When I went to this hearing I did not understand the importance of being prepared to defend my motion. If you take this step, be sure to practice explaining your reasons ahead of time. Being under the stress of actually appearing in court to argue against the people/situation that trigger your emotions can make it difficult to concentrate and remember what you want to say. At this point I still did not have a lawyer, so was “pro se” that is, representing myself. Also be prepared that the other lawyers will bring their “opposition to the motion to quash the deposition.” In other words, they will bring their reasons why they want you in, and you will have to read those on the spot and be able to articulate your reasons against their reasons. I was not prepared for this.

Once I retained a lawyer, I felt tremendously at ease. He was there to protect me, and he knew the legal landscape and how to navigate it. I no longer had to learn how to invent the wheel. He laid out a plan of action, simple but effective. He gave me papers to read about how depositions work, and how to conduct yourself in one. This is very important information. He made sure I was prepared and knew what it was going to be like. The unknown is stressful and fearful, but knowledge is power and security.

Lawyers are allowed a great deal of latitude in depositions as they are a “discovery process.” They can ask a wide variety of questions, even if the information eventually is not allowed into the courtroom testimony. But what you say is as if you are in a courtroom, so above all, telling the truth is the most important rule to follow, and I would add the second guideline is to answer the questions but don’t volunteer information.

At times I had wondered if it was going to be worth the cost, but once I talked with my lawyer I knew it was worth any cost. He knew how to handle not having to bring in the documents that did not relate to this case. Your lawyer is not allowed to say hardly anything in a deposition, but he gives the opening explanations and just his being there helped me to keep my confidence and clarity. You can also take as many breaks as you want, and can talk with your lawyer out in the hall.

The actual deposition was not a bad experience and I am glad for what I now know. I have a desire to make this information more accessible to all ex-cult members. I also would love to see a fund started to help pay lawyer expenses. Most everyone who leaves a cult has a huge job ahead of them just reintegrating into society, finding a job, supporting themselves, not to mention the emotional rebuilding that is taking place. Being hit with a lawyer bill of $1,000+ (or more) is a huge burden. I have a vision for a fund that can help with these expenses. I do not know how it will come about, but I believe it can happen.

The next blog will be what I have learned so far about writing publicly and what can or cannot be done to protect your interests.

Emotional and Mental Abuse

Emotional abuse is worse than physical or sexual abuse. This was news to me. Inside my own head I have been protesting that what I suffered is as bad as anyone else’s suffering, but haven’t been able to say so. One, I don’t think many people will agree with me that emotional and mental suffering are as bad as physical suffering, especially sexual suffering. Two, I don’t want to get into comparing, because everyone’s suffering is unique and painful to them. Three, I have been thoroughly conditioned to downplay my own suffering for the sake of the group. Unfortunately that is still strong in me because I think there is some truth in it. I don’t want to become the other extreme. I work with someone who is always complaining. That’s one reason I go to a therapist. That is my time to talk about me, and I can talk about what I have suffered, or continue to suffer, as much as I want, and it is in a healthy context.

Rape is a violation on the most intimate level of one’s personal being. Mental conditioning is also rape. Your body is who you are physically, and your mind is who you are cognitively. To have either one invaded, manipulated and used for someone else’s means and ends is rape. Both are rape.

I think it is a shame on modern society that the justice system does not recognize this. I think our society does not recognize that a person’s free will can be taken from them. Americans have put free will on such a pedestal that society does not realize how valuable and how vulnerable it is. It is so easy to be manipulated. Only vigilance (and unfortunately experience) can make us watchful of this.

8 Months

This is a current example of how the Community of Jesus treats those who have left.

I had lived a pretty organized life while I was there, so when it came time to leave, it was not hard to pack my personal possessions into my storage space in the attic. My son was able to go pick them up later, and he stored them at his house until I had found a place to live. One thing I had not packed and had left behind was a cross-stitched picture of 3 Christmas Angels. It was a kit I had bought before I became a sister at the Convent, and I took it with me when I did become a sister. It took me years to finish it, between lack of interest and lack of time, but on occasion I would bring it out and work on it, and eventually finished it. It is a beautiful piece, I was happy with it and we used it every Christmas to help decorate the Extern Sisters’ House where I lived. It was stored with the other Christmas decorations at the the Extern House, which is why I did not remember it when I was packing up my things to leave.

Last Christmas, 2012, was the first time that I felt like decorating for the season. I am finally in my own apartment, and I am also gaining some peace and healing about Christian holidays. At that time I remembered this cross-stitch piece. I  wrote the Community a letter asking if I could have it shipped to me, or I could pick it up. I received it last week, about 8 months after requesting it. Between my first letter and now the Community’s lawyer and I have exchanged many letters, and he tried to get me to sign a legal waiver saying I would never ever request anything again or say anything against them. I call that a “gag order”. All this fuss was made over a store-bought kit of a homemade piece of memorabilia that has value only to me and is rightfully mine. I have printed the whole series of letters, below, and it is a long read, but I think you will find it enlightening to see how they try to manipulate, and I also think it shows the amount of paranoia they are operating under.

Letters between me and Chris Kanaga, Attorney at Law for the Community of Jesus

#1, letter I wrote to Lillian because I did not know who to write to, and she is in charge of the Financial Bursar’s Office, so is in a position of authority

Dec 23, 2012

Dear Lillian,

I have a request to make. There are three things that I have made, and therefore are mine, that I did not take with me when I left. I would now like to have them, and my son Dan would be able to pick them up for me.

One is a cross-stitch, framed picture of Christmas Angels that was stored with the Christmas decorations at the Extern House. I realize it is probably called something differently now, but I am sure you know the house I am talking about, where the Extern sisters lived, attached to the Convent.

The second is the quilt set that I made and that is being used in the Retreat dormitory. It is the one showing the beach scenes. It includes the quilt, pillow, rocking chair cushion and desk chair cushion. I do not want the foot stool cover or the white-stitched quilt.

The third is the quilted picture of the house in the woods. I believe it was hanging in the Retreat dormitory, the last I knew.

If these could all be put aside for Dan to pick up, and could you please let me know when he can come over to get them, I would appreciate it.

Thank you and I hope your Holidays are blessed.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#2, letter from Laraja and Kanaga, Attorneys at Law, written Jan. 21, 2013 and mailed Jan. 23, 2013 on their letterhead

 Dear Ms. Buddington:

Re: Your Request of December 23, 2012

Lillian Miao referred your letter to me for response, since it regards a proposed distribution of church property. I understand that you are asking for certain items of personal property to be sent to you by The Community of Jesus, Inc. (the “Community”), because you had a hand in fabrication of the items. I understand that the materials which were used in the fabrication (as well as the tools, equipment and premises used), were owned by the Community.

I further understand that you participated in the fabrication while you were a vowed monastic sister of the Community. Like all similar Christian monastic organizations of which we are aware, sister (and brothers) upon voluntarily taking vows, voluntarily part with their goods and their right to “own”. This is a free choice made by the individual, and is a well-known characteristic of religious community life. Having taken their vows, the sisters (and brothers) are provided food, housing, medical attention, education and necessities of life by the Community. These are benefits which you undoubtedly shared. The Community does not require departing religious sisters (or brothers) to reimburse the costs of this support and maintenance, and likewise a departing sister does not have a claim to any property of the Community.

All of these principles are set forth in the Rule of Life of the Community to which you agreed, the vows of membership which you signed, the Constitution of the Sisterhood of the Community in which you participated, and the agreement which you signed upon your departure.

The Community is a church and has certain legal obligations with respect to disbursement of funds or assets. As a charity, neither funds nor property can be disbursed except in accordance with the religious purposes of the organization, its Articles, By-laws and direction of the Board of Directors. The distribution you propose would run directly counter to law, and to the religious beliefs, purposes and principles of the Community, and is simply not possible.

I hope that this letter finds you well, and wish you the best in 2013.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

#3, letter

1/26/13

Hi Chris,

How are you Dick doing? Nice to hear from you, although I wish it had been a friendly note instead of this legal stand-offish nonsense.

However, I do understand where you are coming from about the quilt set and quilted hanging that are in the Guest house. I’ll set that aside for now.

I do not see any reason why I would be denied possession of the Christmas Angel cross-stitch picture. I bought that kit with my own money way before I became a sister at the Community of Jesus. I brought it with me into the sisterhood as part of my personal possessions, which we all were allowed to have, and did all the work on it in my “free time”. It was acknowledged all along as being part of my personal stuff. It has no value to the Community or to its “mission”. In the extreme stress that I was under when I left, I simply forgot about it, since it was not with my own personal stuff, and was stored with the Christmas decorations at the Extern house. If they want to quibble about the frame that it is in being part of the donated items that the Community gets, I would be happy to just have the cross-stitch back and not the frame.

I would appreciate a timely response about when my son Dan would be able to pick it up for me.

Thanks, and have a blessed day,

Carrie Buddington

#4, letter

May 13, 2013

Dear Mr. Kanaga and Mr. Laraja,

I am writing with 2 items to discuss.

First, I would like to follow up from my last correspondence with you. I am disappointed that you have not replied to my last letter, dated January 26, 2013, in which I asked when I could expect to pick up my personal item. It seems rather unprofessional, to me, that you have chosen to greet my request with silence.

To reiterate our communication so far, in case my letters have gotten lost, I had requested to retrieve the quilt set and the quilt wall hanging which I had made (completely on my own), and the cross-stitch Christmas Angel picture. You had responded that these were considered Church property, and that you could not see your way to returning to me the fruit of my labor. Also I would like to point out that they were made with material that was donated to the Community of Jesus, not purchased by the Community of Jesus. I then responded that I could understand why you would think that way about the quilt set and wall hanging, as they were being used in the Retreat dormitory, but that the cross-stitch Christmas Angel picture had been purchased with my own money before I became a sister, and had been worked on in my own free time. In addition, I pointed out that all the sisters were allowed to have personal items such as this, and I did not see any reason why I could not have this particular personal item back. I have yet to hear back from you about this matter.

I would appreciate a response to my request to procure my Christmas Angel piece. I can arrange to have it picked up at a time convenient to us both.

Second, having worked in the Scribe’s Office, I know that personal files are kept on all Community members, even after they have left. I know that there is a file on me in that office. I believe it is my legal right to have a copy of these files. I request that you send me a copy of everything that is in my file.

I await your timely reply.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#5, letter

May 17, 2013

Dear Carrie:

Re: Your Correspondence of May 13, 2013

I am enclosing a copy of my January 31st letter responding to your initial requests. I have located what I believe to be the cross-stitch angel you requested. I have also located a second cross-stitch picture (with three angels).

As I mentioned in my correspondence, I would appreciate some assurance from you that this is the final item, as I think we would all appreciate some closure, and not deal with things on an on going basis. In that regard, will you be willing to sign a mutual waiver that the delivery settles all claims?

We can arrange a time for pick up, after you get back to me.

Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly your,

Christopher W. Kanaga

Enclosed copy of Jan. 31 letter

January 31, 2013

Dear Carrie:

Re: Your Request of December 23, 2012

Thank you for your letter of the 26th. I will look into the cross-stitch Christmas angel to which you refer, and see what I can find out. It would be helpful if I could be sure that this is the only remaining issue, so that we can deal with everything at once. I think it would be best for all concerned that way.

Thank you, and hope you are well.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

#6, letter

Dear Chris,

Re: Your Correspondence of May 17, 2013

I am glad to receive the copy of your letter dated 1/31/2013, as I never received the original.

The cross-stitch with the 3 angels is the one that is mine. I spent many hours working on it, and know it well. The faces are done in petit point. Would you please m ail it to me, and if necessary, I will pay for the postage.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#7, letter

June 20, 2013

Dear Chris Kanaga,

I am writing again simply because I have not had a reply to my last letter to you, and want to make sure a letter did not get lost in the mail like last time.

Can you please mail my cross-stitch angels to me, or do I need to come pick it up?

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#8, letter received June 21, 2013

June 17, 2013

Dear Carrie,

I will pack up the Angel picture and mail it to you. There is no need for you to send me postage. Can you please let me know if there is anything else that you have left here, and if not, can you please sign and return the attached waiver? Meanwhile, I will have the Community sign a mutual waiver for your benefit. Thank you.

Regards,

Christopher W Kanaga

Enclosed Waiver

Release and Waiver

I, Carrie Buddington, in exchange for the good and valuable consideration, including but not limited to the delivery of a handmade cross-stitched angel and contingent upon receipt of a mutual Release and Waiver received from The Community of Jesus, Inc., do release and forever discharge The Community of Jesus, Inc., its affiliates, its and their present and former members, officers, agents, and employees, and all people associated with them in (collectively referred to as the “Community”), from any and all charges, claims, complaints, liabilities, obligation, promises, agreements, controversies, damages, actions, suits, rights demands, costs, losses, damages and expenses (including attorneys’’ fees and costs actually incurred unless otherwise provided for herein) of any nature whatsoever, whether they are known to me or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which I now have, own or hold, or have ever held or claimed to have, own or hold against the Community, arising out of any circumstance, action, omission, matter or state of fact up to the date of this Release and Waiver that I may now have as to any relief of any kind from the Community. This means that I may not sue the Community for any claim arising our of, or connected to, in any way, any fact or allegation or circumstance occurring from the beginning of time and up to the date of this Release and Waiver, based on any matter occurring from the beginning of time and up to the date of this Release and Waiver.

#9, letter

June 24, 2013

Dear Mr. Kanaga,

Please disregard the last letter I sent to you on Thursday, June 20, 2013. it crossed in the mail with your letter of June 17, 2013.

Thank you for sending my cross-stitch. I will look for it to arrive.

No, I will not sign the waiver.

When can I expect a copy of my personal files?

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#10, letter

July 15, 2013

Dear Mr. Kanaga,

In your letter dated June 17, 2013 you stated “I will pack up the Angel picture and mail it to you. There is no need for you to send me postage.”

I have not received said Angel cross-stitch yet. Is there a reason for the delay?

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#11, letter

July 22, 2013

Dear Carrie,

Thank you for you note, but you are quoting only a portion of my letter. In my correspondence I have been asking if there is anything else that you claim to own. I have asked for some assurance that this is the only request, so that we can settle everything at once. When nothing came from you, I drafted and sent a mutual waiver for your signature.

So, the reason for the delay is that you have not responded to any of the above. I am happy to finalize this as soon as you are ready. Perhaps if you could call me, we could resolve it over the phone.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

#12, letter

August 5, 2013

Dear Chris,

Wow. I find it truly incredible that you are asking me to exchange all future claims for one little home-made cross-stitch. To me this is indicative of a demanding, controlling and paranoid personality. It seems that you are so narrow in your view of life, and so “under authority” that you cannot see beyond the perceived threat you think I present. I have presented no threat to you.

You state in your letter of Jan. 21, 2013 that I had a “hand in the fabrication of the items.” I did not “have a hand in the fabrication”. The quilt set and the quilt hanging were 100% my labor. The materials used were donated to the Community of Jesus (Community) and did not cost them one cent. The tools and the space were part of the Convent, where I was living and giving all of my life for the support of the Community. The support I received through housing, clothing and food were minimal. We lived, dressed and ate sparingly in order to be as little a financial burden on the Community as possible. I assume that in having a sisterhood, the Community gladly took on the support of the sisters in exchange for all the free labor we provided, which was financially worth far more than the minimal support we received. The medical insurance must have been large for 60+ women, until we went on MassHealth, which does not cost anything. I received medical attention rarely, because we were told often that it was expensive, so I did not seek help unless it was absolutely necessary. I received no education at the expense of the Community, even though I asked to. As I stated in my letter of 1/26/13 I can understand the frame of mind that you are viewing this from, since I lived there for so long and used to have the same frame of mind, but that does not make it accurate or correct.

In my letter of 5/13/13 I requested a copy of my personal records which are kept in the Scribe’s Office. You have chosen to not reply to that request at all. I believe it is my legal right to have a copy of those files.

In your letter of 5/17/13 you asked for reassurance from me that the cross-stitch was the final item I want from the Community. I had already asked for my personal files in addition to the cross-stitch, so no, I will not sign that waiver. I was so shocked by the request, and felt it was so unreasonable, that you are correct, I did not respond to that request right away. I simply reiterated my request for my cross-stitch. It was not until my note of 6/24/13 that I responded and said I would not sign the waiver. I had no idea at that point that you were trying to use a simple cross-stitch that is my personal property and has personal value only to me as a bargaining chip for such a huge request as the waiver represents. I also asked again about my personal files, which you have continued to ignore.

A month went by, so I sent another note asking where my cross-stitch was. Your response of 7/22/13 was the first time I fully realized that you were saying I had to sign the waiver before you would return to me an item that is legally and rightfully mine. How far are you going to take this charade?

I will not call you, as I fear you will not truly listen to what I have to say, as these letters seem to indicate. I prefer to keep our correspondence to letters.

The waiver as I read it says I can never bring any future complaint against the Community. I have no idea what the future will bring, and if it ever comes to my attention that I could get redress for the harm done to me at the Community, I certainly will not sign away that possibility for a simple cross-stitch. And the idea that you think you could trade away my rights for a simple piece of homemade memorabilia is astounding to me.

I have tried in good faith to have a simple dialogue with you about one small piece of personal property, that you have agreed belongs to me. You in return have tried to pressure me into signing a legal waiver that goes far beyond trying to retrieve my personal property, one small item, and I will not do it. I believe that no sane person would.

If you are worried about my bringing a lawsuit against the Community, your withholding behavior is self defeating because it is more likely to provoke what you fear rather than protecting the Community.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#13, Email sent on Aug. 13, 2013

Mr. Chris Kanaga,

To reiterate, I will not sign the waiver that you asked me to sign.

I have every right to speak about my experiences to whomever I chose, including the media.

I have a legal right to a copy of my personal files, and I expect you to send them to me without further delay.

Sincerely,

Carrie Buddington

#14, letter

August 21, 2013

Dear Carrie,

Thank you for responding. I was merely trying to find out what else you might be claiming, so that we could deal with it all at once, rather than piecemeal over an indefinite time into the future.

I think I understand now that you have no interest in that and would like to keep the doors open indefinitely. I am not sure how that leads to closure, but I’ll see what I can do. I have mailed the angel I located, and hope it is what you were requesting.

As to “personal files”, I was unable to locate any, other than your sisterhood vows and property waivers, which I understand you already have. Pursuant to those documents, you vowed as a sister to live a life of poverty in devotion to God, and therefore, nothing at the convent is “rightfully yours”, but as I said, I’ll see what I can do.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga

#15, I received a package which contained 2 angel pictures, the one of 3 angels which I had stated was mine, and also one of a single angel, which is not mine.

 #16, letter

August 28, 2013

Mr. Chris Kanaga,

In my letter dated May 28, 2013, I stated that “The cross-stitch with the 3 angels is the one that is mine.” Therefore, the cross-stitch with the single angel is not mine, and I am returning it to you.

Re: my personal files. I have seen with my own eyes that there is more in my files than the papers I signed at my leaving. Back in the 70’s Cay and Judy had all of the Community members write a “testimony” of how the Community had blessed us and made our lives better. I know that is in my files, and there were other papers as well. I also know that the Community keeps an Access database with important dates, such as when I became a member and the dates of the religious vows I took. I know this is true because I worked on those files, updating and consolidating them when I worked in the Scribe’s Office. I wish a copy of all of that.

Carrie Buddington

#17, letter received after the package with the cross-stitch angels and after my reply of Aug. 28.

August 26, 2013

Dear Carrie:

I have found a second cross stitched angel picture, and am mailing both of them to you. However, I am doing this simply as a courtesy, without agreeing to your claims of ownership or waiving statutes of limitation or any other defences.

Sincerely,

Christopher W. Kanaga