Welcome to the third installment in my examination of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, a British cult founded by two former Scientologists (Robert and Mary Ann de Grimston) who graced the streets of America during the 1960s and 1970s. During this time the Process garnered little national attention, being one among many upstart cults and alternative religious movements that sprung up during this era. In the years to follow, however, they would enter into the popular consciousness both through their legendary magazines and counterculture affiliation with popular rock stars and such of the 1960s as well as various conspiracy theories that sprang up around them in the wake of The Family, Ed Sanders' (of the folk-rock act the Fugs) highly controversial account of the Manson Family.
In 1987 these conspiracy theories when into overdrive when Maury Terry's The Ultimate Evil was published. In this tome Terry linked the Process not only to the Manson Family, but also to the Son of Sam killings, the murders of vaudeville promoter Roy Radin and Stanford University student Arlis Perry, and several other notorious individuals. Since then several other compelling accounts of this alleged cult and other groups and incidents possibly affiliated with it have been written by authors such as David McGowan, Adam Gorightly, and Peter Levenda.
In the first installment of this series I examined the various cultural ramifications of the Process as well as the credibility of Maury Terry's research, from which many other subsequence works have been heavily dependent upon. In the second installment of this series I examined the long alleged connections between the Manson Family and the Process and found many of them to be highly dubious. With this in mind, I shall now turn my attention to the possible links between the Process and Maury Terry's alleged Son of Sam cult.
Of course, if the links between the Process and Manson are already highly tenuous then Terry's premise is already on shaky footing as it is highly dependent upon the Manson linkage to give this cult the nationwide scope Terry's informants insisted that it possessed as well as provide links between Manson and the Son of Sam cult. With this in mind, let us now examine the first connection Terry made between the Process and the Sam cult, namely the German shepherds. This stemmed from a connection Terry had already made between convicted Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz's fondness for dogs and a wave of dead dogs that were found in New York City during the time of the killings.
"There was, I reasoned in mid-December 1977, a considerable log of accounts linking Berkowitz to dogs, especially German shepherds. Carr's dog, which was wounded, was a black Lab; but that was an exception. The Neto dog, shot Christmas Eve, 1976, Wicker Street --the day before the boys discovered three more --was a German shepherd, as were others previously referenced.
"Satanic cults sacrificed animals, including dogs and cats. But why only German shepherds in Yonkers? Research had led me to knowledge that groups of dead German shepherds, presumably sacrificed, were found in recent years in scattered locations across the U.S. --including Houston, where the .44 was purchased. Both northern and southern California authorities reported similar finds, as did the police in New England. And I would learn that several more were found in Minot, North Dakota.
"A total of eighty-five skinned German shepherds and Dobermans were found in Walden, New York, between late October 1976 and October 1977. Officials believed a cult was behind the killings. The site was only an hour's drive from Yonkers, and people later connected the Son of Sam case were known to have frequented that vicinity."
(The Ultimate Evil, Maury Terry, pg. 162)
From here Terry quickly connected the Process with the Son of Sam cult after a conversation with an individual who helped him with the research for his book.
"I raises the subject of the dead German shepherds with Larry Siegel... while visiting his home in mid-December. Larry, twenty-seven, was a well-informed researcher and professional writer. He'd offered to spend some time checking into the occult, and was ready with an opinion.
"'You've heard of the Process, right? Well, the process German shepherds.'
"'The Process? I've only heard a little about them. But we want someone who killed German shepherds, not kept them.'
"'You've got to remember that cults split up and change their names. Their as varied as other religions. They worship one deity, but they do it under different names and practices...'
"Following Larry's reasoning, I asked if we might be looking for a Process splinter group that, instead of keeping dogs, was killing them as an act of defiance or a sign of independence.
"'That could make sense,' Larry agreed. 'These satan cults are religious, too. Perverse in sick, but still religious.'"
(ibid, pg. 164)
|some Processeans with their dogs|
Needless to say, Mr. Larry Siegel does not come off as the occult expert that Terry bills him as and his reasoning is suspect at best. Even Peter Levenda, whose Sinister Forces trilogy is probably the most compelling defense of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Process, found Terry's association of the Process with the Son of Sam cult over the dead German shepherds flimsy.
"Terry connects the German Shepherd sacrifices with the Process, due to their fondness for the animals. Members of the Process in those halcyon days of the 1960s were to be seen around San Francisco dressed in black and leading shepherds on the leash. The 'Fear' issue of the Process magazine featured a photo spread of twenty German shepherds in a menacing pose. It doesn't automatically follow, however, that the Process would sacrifice the animals.
"Another symbolic associations that should be mentioned is the fact that Hitler favored German shepherds above all other animals. That there might be a Nazi or neo-Nazi element to the Son of Sam cult should not be ignored, especially as mass murderer Fred Cowan --one of the 'Sons' according to Berkowitz -- was a neo-Nazi."
(Sinister Forces Book III, Peter Levenda, pgs. 197-198)
Indeed, the reoccurring theme of Nazism and fascism is one of the most compelling, if least explored, aspects of Terry's thesis. We shall return to it in more depth in just a moment.
Timothy Wyllie, an early member of the Process who spent more than a decade in the cult through several incarnations, compellingly debunks the notion that the Process would have engaged in any type of cruelty to animals in his extended essay included in the collection Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment.
"... She was passionately anti-vivisectionist and a great collector dogs, large dogs. German shepherds, mostly.
"The more maliciously-minded of those who have written about The Process have commended on the excessive number of German shepherds we had, making idiotic implications of animal sacrifice and bestiality. One of these unfortunate scribblers has even been heard to claim he was sent a bloody dogs had by The Process. As if! We weren't the Godfather, for goodness' sakes! We fed our hounds better than we fed ourselves. In Paris, I recall we schlepped every day to the enormous meat market to pick up fresh meat for the dogs.
"Apart from the fact that Mary Ann generally gave us each our own dog, which naturally made it special, we all loved those animals. Ishmael, the beautiful German shepherd passed down to me by Mary Ann, became my constant companion for all the years of his life and kept my heart open through many difficult times."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 56)
In fairness to Terry, he did not claim that the Process Church itself were the ones doing the animal sacrifices, but rather a splinter group of the Process. In Terry's thesis this split occurred sometime around 1968, shortly before the Manson killings.
"Further, the Process symbol was stylized swastika: what some members referred to as 'four P's'; these 'four P's' later contributed to the name of a Process splinter group called Four P after the same symbol. It was this group that remained behind in California after most of the regular Process decamped and went to New York City following the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Four P --and its reputed leader, the Grand Chingon --have been implicated in a number of vile acts, including animal and human sacrifice, in northern and southern California. Convicted serial killer and cannibal Stanley Baker claimed to belong to the cult, and Manson Family members were known to refer to Charles Manson as the Grand Chingon, even though the organization was supposedly so secret that it's very existence was unknown to all but a few."
(Sinister Forces Book III, Peter Levenda, pg. 198)There is very little to confirm this long alleged split. Neither Wyllie or any other former Process member featured in Love Sex Fear Death make mention of a split this early in the group. Based upon the almost total control Mary Ann de Grimston exerted over the cult (I shall expand upon May Ann's control in the next installment) at this point it seems highly improbable that a break with leadership could have occurred at this juncture. This doesn't mean there was no "Four P," just that it's highly unlikely to have derived from the Process.
|Many researchers have insisted that the Four P cult adopted the Process' logo (above)|
When a split did occur it happened in 1974 when Robert de Grimston left the cult with his wife-to-be, Morgana. Robert made several ill-fated attempts to restart the Process with former members throughout the 1970s but finally gave up in 1979 after repeated failures.
Mary Ann continued to have control over the bulk of the cult and soldiered on under the banner of the Foundation Church of the Millennium in 1974. Remnants of the Process still exist to this day under the guise of the Best Friends Animal Society (yes, the one featured on the TV show DogTown), which includes about a dozen members of the Process collective. Mary Ann remained in firm control of the Best Friends Animal Society all the way up to the time of her death in 2005. Obviously this does not seem an especially apt candidate for a cult that practices animal sacrifices.
|the final home of the Process|
Thus, many of the theories concerning this Process splinter have centered around Robert de Grimston's attempts to restart the Process. The possibility that de Grimston could have actually managed such a feat will be considered in just a moment, but let us first look at another significant link several researchers have made between the Process and Terry's alleged underground cult network, namely the locations (as well as the timeframe) in which the Process resided.
After all, not only did members of the Process regularly appear with German shepherds in the streets, but they were in San Francisco at roughly the same time as Manson and had their chapter house set up only a few blocks from where the Family was crashing on Cole Street. It's long been alleged that Manson and the Process were also active in Los Angeles at the same time. While this is somewhat plausible there is no indication that they were near each other at this time and certainly not within contact of each other, as discussed in part two.
Then, adding to these "coincidences," the Process also happened to be in New York City in the 1970s during the timeframe that the Son of Sam cult was plotting their reign of terror and decamped from there shortly after David Berkowitz was arrested for the killings (Berkowitz was arrested in 1977 while the Process, now operating under the name of the Foundation Faith, left New York some time during 1978). What's more, Terry claims that he has witnesses placing Berkowitz and Michael Carr, another member of his alleged son of Sam cult, at Process meetings during the 1970s.
"By 1997, we had accumulated much new data about the British cult's activities in the United States and its immersion in the .44 shootings. It is not possible to explore the depths of that investigation here, but I will list a few highlights. For example, an admitted former Process members named Linda Harrison came forward to say she saw Michael Carr at a 1970s Process meeting in Chicago. 'It was definitely Michael,' she said. 'And knowing what I came to know about the Process' real purpose, I also believe Berkowitz was nothing more than one of their hitmen.'
"In addition, Berkowitz verified a report that had languished in NYPD's files since the days following his arrest -- when a witness stated she saw him with one 'Father Lars' at the Process' Manhattan headquarters. 'It's true. I was there with him,' Berkowitz said of the report, which was ignored by the NYPD.
"Berkowitz said he had a reason to visit the group's headquarters: 'They had a big role in all of it.' Specifically, he charged that the overall plan for a series of shootings was brainstormed during a surreal meeting at Moloch's White Plains-area home in the spring of 1976. Present at the meeting, Berkowitz said, were at least eight Process leaders and members, along with 'some friends of theirs' and 'at least two' lower-ranked members of the Westchester cult -- including himself."
(The Ultimate Evil, Maury Terry, pg. 533)
As was noted in part two, simply placing members of Terry's alleged cult with members of the Process does not imply some type of nefarious conspiracy or that they were even part of the same group. The Process actively courted the public with chapters typically having at least one open meeting per week. Likely hundreds, even thousands of people attended such gatherings in the 1960s and 70s. Beyond that, Processeans regularly canvassed the streets attempting to sell their magazines and interest the public in their church. Berkowitz was hardly the only person seen speaking to a Processean on the streets of New York City during that era and was surely not the only person to do so in front of their headquarters.
As to Berkowitz's claims, Terry seems to have boxed himself into the either or corner, i.e. either Berkowitz is lying and his story is false or he is telling the truth and every word of it is thus the gospel. But things are rarely as they seem and there are certainly compelling alternative explanations. For instance, Berkowitz could broadly be telling the truth but may have implemented the Process as a ruse to shield the identity of the actual party behind the cult. After all, they had already gained a certain degree of notoriety after the publication of Ed Sanders' The Family in 1971 and were active in New York at the time under a different name. Berkowitz may have done this for any number of reasons, least of all his own safety.
Or perhaps Berkowitz himself was telling the whole truth about his dealings with the Son of Sam cult, but Berkowitz may have been fed a considerable amount of misinformation by his superiors concerning the cult's origins and purposes. By his own acknowledgment, Berkowitz was a low ranking member and thus would almost surely be depended upon his superiors to explain such things. If Berkowitz was meant to be a patsy (a possibility the Terry seems to allude to) then it seems even more probable that he would have been fed ample amounts of disinformation in preparation for his eventual arrest.
In general, it is when Terry tries to link the Process to the nationwide structure that he attaches to this cult that his thesis becomes especially flimsy. Consider, for instance, the cities he cites as being important to the Son of Sam cult, or the Children, as Terry refers to them:
"The Westchester group, whom we will call the Children for identification purposes, planned and carried out the Son of Sam attacks. The cult was an offshoot of a parent group which originated in England. As such, it did not exist in a vacuum. The Children are link to similar groups in the United States, with Houston, Los Angeles and the Dakotas predominantly mentioned. The cult maintained a primary headquarters near Los Angeles."
(The Ultimate Evil, Maury Terry, pg. 410)
Terry also alleges that the Children cult had operations and Tampa, Florida as well as unnamed locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Process can be reliably dated to several of these locations in the timeframe Terry establishes but not all of them, especially in two locations that are crucial to Terry's thesis: Houston (Terry claims that there was a Process chapter in Dallas but I have not been able to confirm this) and the Dakotas, or specifically North Dakota. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that the Process ever tried to establish chapters in either location. Terry, seemingly realizing this, attempted to address this discrepancy by alluding to a possible link between the Process and Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), which he speculates was the origin of America's occult underground.
"The Process and its secret offshoots didn't have the Southern California or U.S. occult scene or philosophies to themselves. Master black magician Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947, had written of the unification of God and Satan. That precept, and other Crowleyisms, found their way into Process doctrine...
"... Crowley one permission to head a British OTO branch, and the teachings of the OTO entered the United States with Crowley in 1916, during World War I in Europe.
"Later, during World War II, Crowley helped establish an OTO Lodge in Pasadena, California, and OTO branches subsequently sprouted in a number of U.S. cities, including New York and Houston. In effect, a loose network was formed and already functioning via occult shops and bookstores, newsletters, ads in the underground press and other methods --including personal contacts --by the time the Process arrived in 1967.
"In fact, many believe that the entire occult underground in America today can be traced back to the formation of that Crowley OTO operation in Pasadena."
(ibid, pgs. 180-181)
Needless to say, this line of thinking is highly debatable. I've found nothing especially Crowleyian in the Process' theology, especially in terms of the bizarre sexual practices the cult employed, but more on that later. What's more, the above-mentioned Pasadena branch of the OTO by all accounts struggled to keep its head afloat for decades, with a very limited amount of funds and followers being available to it for much of its run. Indeed, in the wake of OTO head Karl Germer's death in 1962 the Pasadena branch effectively shut down and ceased operating for all sakes and purposes until Grady McMurty revived it in 1969.
Beyond that, the chief link between the OTO and the Process is Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was briefly involved with the OTO in the mid-1940s. Prior to founding the Process, the de Grimstons had been Scientologist. Manson had also studied Scientology in prison during the mid-60s while Michael Carr, an alleged member of the Son of Sam cult, was also a Scientologist based out of Clearwater, Florida.
The problem with this argument is that it implies L. Ron Hubbard was some type of rabid Thelemite engaged in a rather Machiavellian plot to use Scientology to create a Satanic underground to conquer the United States (and presumably the rest of the world). L Ron Hubbard's involvement with the OTO is a highly complex topic that is far beyond the scope of this series to adequately address but, as I alluded to in the second installment, such a notion seems highly improbable. There is nothing to indicate that Hubbard took the theology of the OTO seriously and that if there was some type of conspiracy involving his presence in the cult it was likely that he was working as an informant for the Office of Naval Intelligence or some such agency (which is exactly what Hubbard claimed his involvement with the OTO consisted of). This of course raises the possibility that the OTO, and later the Church of Scientology, were being used for some type of intelligence operation, but I also find this to be rather implausible for reason also outlined in the second installment.
So, if the Process cannot be linked to the various regions of the country that Terry attributes to the Son of Sam cult then the question becomes: Is there another organization or network that can be?
This is where the numerous references Terry makes to the fetish (if not outright of obsession) the Son of Sam cult and other groups and individuals linked to it have with Nazism especially interesting. The Process also had a soft spot for fascism (a topic that will be addressed in much greater depth in the next installment) which likely led Terry to dismiss it as another influence from the British cult, but I suspect the issue is far more relevant than that. After all, the theology of the Manson cult revolved around a coming race war that would lead to the apocalypse. The Family attempted to blame the Tate-LaBianca killings on the Black Panthers in order to trigger said race war. Later, upon being arrested, Manson forged an alliance with the Aryan Brotherhood which was eventually dissolved on the grounds that Manson wasn't "racist enough."
As noted above, one of the individuals linked to the Son of Sam cult, Valentine's Day killer Fred Cowen, was an unabashed neo-Nazi who shot up an office building in NYC while trying to take out his Jewish boss. Another individual linked to the cult, William "Manson II" Mentzer, was involved with an L.A.-based hit squad that featured Argentine neo-Nazi Alex Marti (both Marti and Mentzer were convicted of the murder of producer Roy Radin).
|Big Fred (top) and Mentzer (bottom)|
Thus, the possibility that the Son of Sam cult had ties with some type of far right, Nazi-tinged network is not without merit. And there is indeed a nationwide network of various far right groups with criminal and even paramilitary characteristics that operated out of many of the regions of the nation Terry linked to the Son of Sam cult in roughly the same timeframe that he established.
The militant wing of the Posse Comitatus/Christian Identity network had their origins in 1960s paramilitary groups such as the Minutemen and California Rangers. Virtually all of these groups, as well as various branches of the Ku Klux Klan, maintained loose ties with one another in the years that followed. A former member of the Minutemen, a certain "Reverend" Leroy, explained this incestuous relationship in a letter to researcher Kenn Thomas:
"The Minutemen [group] was national and split into three regions: East Coast; Central States (my area); and West Coast. Had over 30,000 readers of a newsletter called the 'On Target,' went out in the late 70s, 1962-1980... Nearly all of the 'Christian Identity' leaders came to our annual conventions in Kansas City, MO from 1973-1980. I have met them all at one time or another. I was one of the few Baptist ministers who fully supported the Minutemen from 1962 to 1982. Now the new militia movement has taken over most of the old Minute Men. DePugh and I both believed like Gerald L.K. Smith. But we were not as anti-Jewish or anti-Negro as Smith and also the New Identity pastors. The Identity people under Sheldon Emery; Colonel Bill Gale of California; Gordon Kahl of Harvey, ND; Bob Miles of Michigan; Richard Butler of Idaho; James Ellison of Arkansas; Louis Beam of Texas; Mr. J.B. Stoner of Georgia; Larry McMurry of Montana; K.A. Badynski (KKK) of Tacoma, WA; Col Jack Mohr of Mississippi; Rev. Thorn Robb of Arkansas and Dr. Ed Fields Georgia; etc. were all leaders and editors of small newsletters like myself. Some are still at it after 40 years...
"The movement got its start under Wesley Swift of California during World War II and grew under R. Butler and Colonel Gale, who studied under his teachings. Rev. Sheldon Emery operated on his own in Arizona. Others in other states did the same thing. So like the Baptist, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and Methodists, etc. they are split-up into dozens of right-wing factions nationally.
"All names were semi-secret and given a number to use in all (1962-1982) communications. My number was 511, given after my WWII parachute regiment. DePugh's was #551, etc..."
(JFK & UFO, Kenn Thomas, pgs. 107-108)
The above-mentioned William (Bill) Potter Gale confirmed these connections (and hinted that there was far more organization at a national level than "Reverend" Leroy acknowledged) in a series of extended interviews he gave to journalist Cheri Seymour shortly before his death in 1988. Seymour reproduced these interviews almost verbatim in her book Committee of the States: Inside the Radical Right, which I highly recommend to my readers.
According to Dick Russell in The Man Who Knew to Much Gale began building some type of paramilitary network (that likely used Robert DePugh's Minutemen network as a front) sometime around 1964 or 1965 in the L.A. area (Gale established a church in Glendale, which is just outside L.A., in 1965 and continued to operate there until the early 1970s). This corresponds rather nicely to the location and timeframe Terry cited for the origins of the Son of Sam cult.
As the above referenced passage makes clear, there were also branches of this network in many of the locations associated with the Son of Sam cult, the major except being New York City itself. Still, both New York state and the city have produced more than there fair share of fascist groups and individuals over the years and given the incestuous relationship (those of you wondering just how incestuous it could possibly be are strongly advised to pick up a copy of John Bevilaqua's mind-bending J.FK. --The Final Solution ASAP) of many of these organizations some type of connection would certainly be possible (New York City is also widely perceived as an icon of liberalism and multiculturalism, which would make it an idea location for a right wing terror campaign). The same can be said of several other locations Terry associates with the Son of Sam cult, especially Florida and Connecticut, that do not have direct ties to the old Minutemen/Christian Identity/KKK network but none the less featured a fascist underground.
There are a few other curious connections as well. For instance, at least four individuals Terry links to the Son of Sam cult (Berkowitz himself, Cowen, Mentzer and John Carr, brother of Scientologist Michael) were all former military men (in fairness, Robert de Grimston had also served in the British armed forces). Right wing paramilitary groups have often be a Mecca for ex-military (and law enforcement). Several of the most notorious members of the Identity network such as Gale, Bob Miles and Louis Beam (who grew up near Houston and was active in the area throughout the 1970s) were all ex-military.
|Robert Miles (top, right corner) and Louis "Leaderless Resistance" Beam|
Militant far right groups have often sought out ties with biker gangs as well. Seymour reported in Committee of the States that federal authorities suspected William Potter Gale of trying to set up some type of alliance with biker gangs. Terry was told that the Son of Sam cult also had close ties with biker gangs, an alliance Ed Sanders wrote that the Manson Family had sought out as well.
And yes, there is evidence that the Christian Identity network had some "occult" trappings. For instance, Gale boasted to Seymour that one of his earliest and longest standing supporters (an individual of whom Gale describes as possessing incredible wealth and who he credits with both providing the initial funds for Gale's "church" as well as continuing to financially support it for years afterwards) was the most powerful Freemason in the entire state of California. In fact, Gale stated that his "church" (of whom Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler belonged to until at least the late 1960s) held its services at a Masonic lodge in Glendale until the early 1970s.
"The Identity movement was initiated and has been carried on for twenty-six years with dedicated work and tape groups of the Ministry of Christ Church. Our services were held for over thirteen years at the Masonic Temple in Glendale, California. That was the York Rights Lodge; the headmaster there attended our church every Sunday. I buried him."
(Committee of the States, Cheri Seymour, pg. 86)But I digress. Those wanting to learn more about this Minutemen/Christian Identity/KKK network are advised to read parts five and six of my Oklahoma City bombing series "The Road to Elohim."
|the "Reverend" Gale|
As I hope the preceding paragraphs illustrated, there were certainly other alternatives available out there besides the Process as candidates for some type of nationwide crime and terror network. That Terry seems to have become fixated on the Process so early in his investigation is, to my mind, one of the chief weaknesses of his thesis. While he can be forgiven for not being aware of the Minutemen/Christian Identity/KKK network (little had been written on it in the 1980s) the blind eyes he turns towards the military backgrounds (as well as links to US intelligence services) of various members of the Son of Sam cult as well as their blatant instances of Nazism are much more problematic. At times Terry seems to have totally ignored some of the more compelling leads that his investigation had unearthed for the sake of "proving" that the Process (or some other type of cult originating from hippie/New Age types) was behind the network he had discovered. This seems to be evidence of a predetermined bias surrounding Terry's thesis and is thus a major weakness.
Possibly the biggest weakness in Terry's thesis, however, is his depiction of the Process' leadership, a mistake that virtually everyone applying nefarious deeds to the Process makes. In any number of accounts Robert de Grimston is portrayed as some type of magnetic cult leader in the mold of Manson or even Jim Jones. And yet the reason given for his departure from the Process is downright comical when considered from this perspective.
"Religious scholar J. Gordon Melton reports that Process members devoted to Christ or Jehovah were fed up with Robert DeGrimston's emphasis on Satan by March 1974, dumping their founder to pursue a path of high-minded morality. Other sources describe the rift as a marital spat between Robert and Mary Anne, with Robert either 'ousted' by his wife or 'running off' to try life on his own."
(Raising Hell, Michael Newton, pgs. 297-298)
|Robert de Grimston|
So, a pursuit of "high-minded" morality (which is partly true, as the new Foundation Church that succeeded the Process far more closely resembled a Christian Fundamentalist cult than some type of New Age outfit) or "marital spat" is what led to the removal of this Mesmer-like cult leader? If this was not undignified enough, rumors have long persisted that this marital spat stemmed from the outrage Mary Ann felt when Robert suggested that they perform a ménage a trois with one of his closest female followers. Timothy Wyllie indicates that this rumor is not without merit.
"The road that had been simmering between Mary Ann and Robert for the previous months, which in my opinion must have been exasperated by the loss of the London court case, boiled over in a series of embarrassing incidents. It was hard to know what was going on behind the Omega's closed doors, but as one of the inner circle I witnessed Mary Ann at her manipulative worst. While I can't say with complete certainty that she set Robert up for his fall from grace, from her treatment of me in a later situation, it's a reasonable assumption. All we could see at the time was that Mary Ann had appeared to encourage Robert to sexualize his relationship with Mother Morgana, his closest protégé. Perhaps it is true, as has been suggested by some, that Robert was hoping for a ménage a trois, and it was this that so enraged Mary Ann that she kicked him out. Yet, even if this is so, it would have only been the precipitating event in what was already a disintegrating relationship, and an oversimplification of Mary Ann's motives.
"In retrospect, it is far easier to see how deliberate were her motives and taking over sole leadership of The Process, but in the fear and confusion of the moment, as we watched our two revered teachers ripping into one another, those of us close to the Omega went passively along with Mary Ann's furious dismissal of her husband."
(Love Sex Fear Death, "My Life Inside the Process Church," Timothy Wyllie, pg. 105)
Nor does Terry seem to have seriously considered the possibility that Mary Ann de Grimston, and not the hapless Robert, was the real power behind the throne despite the fact that there has always been more than a little circumstantial evidence pointing in this direction. After all, Mary Ann managed (unlike Robert) to keep some version of the cult functioning all the way up to the time of her death in 2005 all the while her life remained shrouded in secrecy. In fact, any number of assertions that Terry and other researchers have made about Mary Ann over the years have proven to be largely inaccurate.
And that's a real pity, because if there was something truly nefarious about the Process, Mary Ann would almost surely have been the key figure to conduct such activities. In the next installment we shall finally examine Mary Ann in depth and consider the possibility that there was indeed something conspiratorial about the Process in light recent revelations concerning Miss de Grimston. Stay tuned.