in the Spatz community the first handful of us who spoke up were ignored by the rest for almost 20 years while the justice system slowly turned its wheels, and even accused of demonic possession and all sorts of nonsense.
It was painful, but I believe that most of these people were taken in by the lies that Spatz told them, and that they each told each other. During those years, many of the children grew up and left the community and began the slow struggle to clear their minds and one by one, they began to speak up. By the time we got to trial last year, there were some 30 ex-disciples who came to testify, each one with his or her own horrific story.
Multiple women testified to suffering years of sexual abuse, from as young as age 12. Parents were pressured to send their children away to another country to be raised by the community at age 2 or 3, and thereafter saw their children only once or twice a year. Small children were beaten, starved, locked overnight in rat-infested closets, and more. Disciples suffering from cancer were told not to seek medical treatment and died in horrible pain. And so forth and so on, but each person suffering from mistreatment thought his or her pain was an isolated incident, and kept the secret because of the community rule that no one ever criticizes the lama or the community.
Anyway, the trial (which went on for months) changed the hearts of many people, particularly those who came and sat in the courtroom and listened to their former friends and family members relate what they had suffered. One or two or even give or six people can be ignored, but the weight of the evidence finally snowballed to the point that it was hard for even the most persistent Buddhist to explain things away in terms of karma and wisdom and pure perception and what not. It didn’t happen overnight, some people wavered for months while the trial went on, but by the time it ended many of those who had staunchly supported Spatz for 20-40 years had pulled the wool from their eyes and were walking away.
But this process, of letting go of a lifetime’s worth of lies in which one may have inadvertently been complicit is very painful, confusing and anxiety-provoking. In the end, I believe everyone is a victim, other than the lama/cult leader and perhaps a very small circle of his most devoted lieutenants.