Revenge Against Religious Sect

A young man commits murder and suicide. The video tells only part of the story.

ByABC News
January 31, 2007, 2:52 PM

Feb. 2, 2007 &#0151 -- Two decades after a Christian religious sect officially renounced adult-child sex in response to allegations of sexual misconduct, a new British documentary "Cult Killer" is reviving questions.

The sect, known as The Family International, and commonly known as The Family, was founded in the late 1960s with thousands of members around the world.

In January 2005, Ricky Rodriguez, the one-time heir apparent to The Family, fatally stabbed his former nanny and then shot himself dead. He left a chilling videotape alleging that the sexual abuse he had suffered as a child at the hands of members of the group was too much to bear.

On the tape, the 29-year-old could be seen assembling weapons. "It's a need for revenge," he told the camera. "What about the thousands of us who have been f--ed over literally? It happened right before me. It happened to all of you."

Since Ricky's death, others from his generation in the group have become more vocal about their suffering. Celeste Jones, who left the group in 2001, said that when she was 5 and 6, "I also was subject to sexual abuse -- adults teaching me mainly to fondle them."

In 2005, The Family spokeswoman Claire Borowik told ABC News that while she was deeply saddened by the murder/suicide, the group was not responsible for Rodriguez's death.

Describing the group's attitudes, she said: "It wasn't really an issue of sex. There was a liberal liberality that existed in some homes, not most homes."

Borowik also noted that compounds belonging to the organization had been subject to police raids, but that no member had ever been convicted of sexual abuse. Ricky's sister,Techi, a current member of The Family, also issued a letter after his death stating that he had "become severely disturbedwhen I knew him he never ever felt any of the things he stated in his video."

It's hard to refute that Rodriguez grew up in a sexually charged atmosphere. The group, founded under the name Children of God, promoted a strange brew of biblical prophecy and sexual freedom.

In 1978, the Children of God was formally dissolved and a new group, The Family of Love, with a new organizational structure, was formed. In recent years, this name has gradually been shortened to The Family.

Its charismatic leader, Moses David Berg, once said: "I practice what I preach! And I preach sex, boys and girls." Berg died of natural causes in 1994.