NYA WERMLANDS TIDNINGEN
A Case Study of Newspaper Slander and Defamation
Against NCCG, a Small Christian Church
08[2C]. Deprogramming Case Study #2: Stephanie Riethmiller
The 'deprogramming' of Stephanie Riethmiller
by Richard Raskin
MS Magazine, Sept 1982
This article shows how the "mind-control" allegation is used despite the fact that Riethmiller wasn't part of any group, she was just engaged in an alleged lesbian relationship. As for cult deprogramming victims, the mind-control rhetoric succeeded to get the deprogrammers acquitted despite the fact that they kidnapped her, raped her, and tried to forcefully impose their own values to her.
In October, 1981, two young women were walking to their suburban Cincinnati home when they were approached by two men. One of the men asked directions; as the women responded, one woman was Maced, the other seized and thrown into a van that whisked her away from the scene.
Thus began the bizarre 'deprogramming' of Stephanie Riethmiller. Suspected by her parents, Marita and William Riethmiller, of becoming a lesbian, Riethmiller, then 19, was driven to a house in Alabama where, she claimed, she was subjected to seven days of forced captivity, verbal harassment, and rape. Last April, the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnatti heard the criminal trial of Riethmiller's captors. In proceedings that drew the attention of gay and women's rights observers from across the country, controversial deprogrammer Ted Patrick and two of his associates - James Roe and Naomi Goss - were variously charged with abduction, assault, and sexual battery. Patrick has built a reputation as a deprogrammer of converts to religious sects.
Before a packed courtroom [...] testified that James Roe raped her on the second night in Alabama and every night thereafter. Terrified, she could not scream or offer resistance, she said. Insisting that everyone in the house was fully aware of what was happening, she quoted her mother as later saying that 'it was all right I was raped and anything was better than what I was doing.'
At the house in Alabama, her treatment included nearly constant yelling about her roommate, Patty Thiemann. Defense witnesses at the trial portrayed Thiemann as a dominering lesbian bent on controlling Riethmiller's lifestyle and mind. They focused on Thiemann's footwear (boots), her car (a pickp truck), and dog (Doberman pinscher) as evidence of her overbearing style.
The prosecutor in the trial, Hamilton County's Simon L. Leis, came under criticism for his unsympathetic treatment of the victim's lifestyle as well as for granting immunity to her parents who had paid $8,000 for the deprogramming. It was reported that Leis in the past had called homosexality immoral, and in addressing the jury, he said that though her lifestyle wasn't at issue, "I'm not going to represent to you that I approve of the victim's sexual preference." He referred to lesbianism as "unnatural." Although he said the parents' action was 'totally wrong', he declared: 'I don't think there's any question that what the parents did in the matter was done totally out of love for their daughter.' As to the deprogrammers, Leis described their tactics in court papers as 'sexual intercourse to detract [...] from her lesbianism and attract her to heterosexual activity.'
Thus observers were only moderately surprised when, after two weeks of testimony and 16 hours of jury deliberation, none of the criminal charges under consideration was upheld. The jury, however, deadlocked on the abduction charge for Roe and Goss, and a retrial was scheduled."
This article Copyright © 1982 Richard Raskin