Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer) was incensed when some ex-devotees (of Sathya Sai Baba) described me as a scholar. He went to elaborate lengths to snub this classification. His blog Kevin RD Shepherd is NOT an Academic appeared in 2009, and notably capitalised the negative word.
Since 1983, when I first emerged in print, I have made clear that I am not an academic, both to avoid confusion and to allay any grievances of specialist academics. The Equalizer treatment of this issue, in 2009, was memorable even by the vehemently distorting standards of Pro-Sai web campaign:
Kevin R. D. Shepherd is a sectarian bigot who obsessively, unremittingly and fanatically attacks and stalks everything and everyone affiliated with the Findhorn Foundation.
Equalizer (Moreno) here relinquished completely any credence to accurate reporting. It is well known that I am not a member of any sect. My criticisms of the Findhorn Foundation do not come under the sectarian category, as is obvious to diligent readers. Nor do I criticise “everything and everyone” affiliated with that organisation.
Informed readers concluded that the extremist Moreno assertion closely reflected his own ill-repute as an obsessive stalker of “Anti-Sai” critics and ex-devotees of Sathya Sai Baba (d.2011). Moreno was much more than a troll, gaining the repute of a cyberstalker who went to almost unbelievable lengths to blacken the reputation of his adversaries. For instance, he was reported to distort images of ex-devotees, and to harass victims by emailing their contacts with adverse portrayals. He targeted Google name lists with multiple entries visibly agitating against the victims. At one time there were seven hostile Moreno web entries listed in a row on my own Google listing, with many others following in a more scattered density.
The peculiar spite of Equalizer (Moreno) was evidenced in his concluding remark at the NOT blog. “The only thing that trumps Kevin R. D. Shepherd’s non-academic role is his big ego.” Equalizer also had a non-academic role, referring to Moreno in the third person, and making many mistakes in his vituperation. The lack of context in his stigmas became a source of amazement, not merely notoriety.
Equalizer urged that my “big ego” was proved by my pointing out the lack of academic credentials in others. The only instance he supplied was that of Craig Gibsone, an influential member of the Findhorn Foundation. No further information was given. The missing context is relevant here.
Medical doctors considered my objection to be perfectly valid. However, in cult lore, such reservations are caricatured in terms of “big ego.” To extend that argument in due proportion, the Equalizer category of “big ego” discrepantly covers many medical doctors, psychiatrists, and other professional parties of scruple. Ethical complaint at discrepancy is set at naught by cult lore, an endangering activity involving a blanket dismissal of criticism and a hate campaign against any objector.
Observers of this situation pointed out that the Moreno (Equalizer) slurs, aimed at diverse victims, comprised an attempt to distract attention from the “allegations” of sexual abuse made against Sathya Sai Baba. The solid testimonies are revealing.
A well known testimony came from Jens Sethi, a German who encountered Sathya Sai Baba at close quarters during the 1990s. In the notorious interview room at Puttaparthi ashram, “he [Sathya] commanded me to remove my trousers, unzipped my fly and went with his right hand into my underpants. Sathya Sai Baba the divine touched and massaged my genitals unasked. He expected some erection, but this didn’t happen for I did not feel any sexual excitement, no lust in the presence of a seventy year old man. I was really disgusted. Then he had the impudence to say, ‘It is very weak, don’t waste energy.’ When I looked at him I realised the truth about him and was shocked indeed” (Experiences of an ex-Sai Baba devotee I, exbaba.com, Witnesses tab).
Sethi continues his narration of events:
I came into contact with other devotees who had similar and even worse sexual experiences [with Sathya Sai], and came to the conclusion that there is indeed a pattern of behaviour towards his victims. First he establishes contact and checks the devotional potential of the devotee. Afterwards, once he has decided to molest a person he starts by kissing the same [on the lips]. The next step is massaging the genitals with oil or vibhuti [sacred ash], and finally [he] is masturbating them. In the end he asks [the victim] to do oral sex! This is nothing but the truth. Also, [there are] testimonies from Indians who have been sexually molested through Swami [Sathya Sai] even in the early seventies [1970s]. Now it becomes evident through many testimonies that he had sexually molested and raped young boys for a very long time. This made me very sad and it broke my heart…. To cover up the awful incidents, he builds more and more buildings to distract innocent devotees from his evil motive. He wants to become more famous than Krishna and is after name and fame. (Experiences of an ex-Sai Baba devotee II, exbaba.com, Witnesses tab)
Some Western victims tried to justify their plight by inventing bizarre justifications. The oiling ritual was invested by these alarmed devotees with supposed significances of “kundalini energy,” a Tantric theme becoming popular in the Western new age. This excuse also became associated with the Sathya Sai action of kissing the lips. Some victims referred to the “balancing” of kundalini, a fantasist belief in Western sectors created by entrepreneurs.
Apologist devotees subsequently resorted (by 2006) to a belief that “spiritual healing” was being accomplished in sordid activities of the interview room and the bedroom. Others denied that the abuse had ever occurred. Sathya Sai himself apparently favoured the “spiritual healing” interpretation. A prominent Dutch devotee insisted that the abuse was a remedy for “karmic debts and sexual lust” (Dogged Denial).
Western victims were often very confused. One of these was Gerald Joe Moreno, who early stated that he had experienced the oiling ritual in 1988, at the age of eighteen. The Pro-Sai activist subsequently attempted to justify (and to ignore) such guru eccentricities, which complicated his apologist tactic. Ex-devotees pointed out the discrepancies. This was no proof of their “big ego.” To the contrary, they were opposing a guru who claimed to be God while pursuing phallic and paedophile preoccupations in numerous instances. One devotee justification for all discrepancies was the assertion: “Swami (Sathya Sai) is God.” They were repeating the guru’s own inflated emphasis.
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
December 2013 (modified 2021)
ENTRY no. 13
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