Tag Archives: Kidnapping

Tiffany Moon’s Story of Abuse, Kidnapping and Rape

image027My kidnapping was part of years of violent abuse, deception about my identity, a custody dispute, 10-day captivity, and escape across state lines.  When unable to stop it, the Catholic Diocese of San Diego and the School of the Madeleine chose to hide it.

My birth certificate was falsely marked with the name of the older husband of my 18-year-old mother.  My natural father had refused custody, and finally to pay child support when unable to control her.  I didn’t know his identity until I was an adult, but I did learn the word, “bastard” in conjunction with violence when I was a child.  Throughout my childhood, until I was nine, I was severely abused.  I lived in violent, drug-using homes in California and Oregon, where I was sexually abused by the man I was told was my father, given drugs and alcohol, threatened with guns, photographed, trafficked to men who came to our home, tied with rope, experienced my animals being tortured (hung, strangled, cooked alive), and watched my mother raped and beaten.  Sexual deviance was a hallmark of abuse in our home, with forced urination in my mother’s mouth being among the things I witnessed.  I was first raped by a young neighbor when I was seven, after he had stolen my cat.  But it was this boy’s knowledge of the use of captivity and animal abuse, and early knowledge of intimate secretions, that suggested his own abuse by the man who dominated my home:

Captivity was a common practice by my stepfather, who often separated, restrained, and confined me and my mother, while privacy in the bathroom was not permitted.  The most significant events of violence and captivity leading to my kidnapping occurred in August of 1980, when I was nine, in our Oregon home:  When divorce was imminent, and during a violent argument about custody of me, my mother escaped with me into my parents’ bedroom and locked the door.  My stepfather kicked the door in, punching the doorknob into the wall behind it, missing my face by inches, and then held and beat my mother in the bathroom.  My mother escaped our home after this, leaving me and my 2-year-old half-brother behind.  During the 10 days of her absence, I was held in the house, starved, kept awake, and forcefully raped in my room by a boarder who lived in our home and took LSD with my stepfather at night. On the night my mother returned, when my stepfather became violent and she attempted to walk out through the attached garage, he attempted to kill her.  With a drop latch at the kitchen doorway, he dropped the garage door on her head, and when she had fallen on her back, sat on her abdomen and applied pressure to her chest and neck with his hands to suffocate her.  I was watching from the kitchen, sick and starved, with my rapist standing next to me.  A neighbor called police on that night, but police came and went, regarding my mother as the problem, and leaving us to be abused again.

My mother did finally escape with me and my half-brother that August, returning to California and divorcing my stepfather, and then abandoning me with my grandmother in San Diego.  I was still starved, unable to eat, and had pneumonia when I arrived.  In my grandmother’s home, where I was left to care for my grandfather, a cigarette addict dying of lung cancer, I lived another nine years of severe emotional, physical and mental abuse and neglect, often by my visiting aunt, alcoholic mother, and her many boyfriends.  My grandmother was an employee of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego, and that September, she placed me in the School of the Madeleine, where I was bullied by students and abused by teachers.  School officials had been informed that my mother had custody of me, that my grandmother was my guardian, and that my stepfather was a violent man who did not have permission to see me. During my first month of school, on picture day, I was physically abused and threatened by my 4th-grade teacher, who took me alone into a hallway, pinned me into a corner with her arm to my chest, and told me what she would do if I ever lied to her. Shortly after this, in October, my stepfather, who had driven from Oregon to San Diego, entered the school campus through open gates, without notice.  He first went to the school office and asked permission to take me out of school.  When denied permission, he ran throughout the school, from room to room, yelling my name, with the school principal, a small nun, running behind him.  He forcibly removed me from a classroom, pushing the principal, who had stood in the doorway to block it, out of the way, knocking her into a bench and onto the ground, and dragged me, screaming my fear of falling, down the steep hill away from the school.  He first drove me to an unpopulated restaurant for a drink, then to a secluded canyon, where he raped me, and from a nearby parking lot, returned me to school in a taxi.  Approximately two hours passed from the time I was taken until I was returned.  When I arrived back at the school, there were no police; no one had called them.  The campus was quiet.  I walked back through open school gates, guessed where I should be, and returned to the classroom of the teacher who had threatened me about lying. She had been talking to the class; her words to them when I entered the room were, “It happens every day.”  She called my name as I entered, hugged me, while I stood still and unresponsive, and then took me to the school office.  I was sent home with my grandmother, who had been called away from her job at the Diocese.

Nothing was done, however.  No police report was taken.  No paramedics were called.  No counselors, nor Child Protective Services, were contacted.  I displayed obvious symptoms of abuse on the day of my kidnapping and for my remaining years at the school.  I had regular infections for which I carried cranberry juice to school, information I shared with students and teachers. I described pain to my gym teacher to be excused from class, something for which I was bullied by students.  I described feelings of depression to my choir teacher, who then frequently offered to drive me and other girls home alone after private lessons.  I also disclosed information to the Parish Monsignor in confession two years later, when I was mutilating myself, genitally and compulsively (a result of sexual trauma), who then gave me penance for my sin, but no action was taken.  For my remaining four years at the school, when I was hiding in closets during class, jumping every time a chair moved, sitting alone, dissociated and comatose, during lunches, and finally leaving visible suicide notes, seen by students, in classrooms, no action was taken.  In fact, the school gates remained open every day, despite the kidnapping, and the teacher who had threatened me about lying said to another teacher in reference to my behavior, “I think she just wants attention.”  The same teacher, during a sixth-grade sex-education discussion, told our class, “if a child is sexually abused, she will become schizophrenic.”  The crime was ignored, I was ignored, and I was shamed into silence.  An experienced felon walked free, and my wellbeing continued to decline.  I was still a child, still abused, and still incapable of reporting the crime myself.  I was afraid of my family; I was bullied, ignored, and abused at my school.  Had police been notified by the school or the Diocese when I was kidnapped, I might have been found before I was assaulted.  Had police and paramedics been present when I returned, I would have disclosed what had happened to me, there would have been evidence, and my stepfather could have been convicted.  Had CPS been contacted at any time, I would have explained the kidnapping and abuse, and perhaps been removed from my family and the school.  I might have received help, treatment.  My life today might have been much different if the school and the Diocese had not deliberately chosen not to act.

The years of these events were threateningly normalized by the abusive adults around me while I was living them, and I adapted into the shell of a person I had to be in order to survive.  I have only recently begun to understand exactly how these events created the traumatized, debilitated adult I am, the adult who continued to attract and tolerate abusers, and who has required a severely and increasingly restricted work, home and social life.  But today, despite the fact that my stepfather has confessed to the kidnapping on an audio recording, very little legal action is possible without the support of law enforcement. And while I live with severe disabilities, including chronic C-PTSD and a major depressive disorder, psychological injuries caused by the trauma, something that prevents me from functioning normally, in a way that meets my intellectual potential and potential for sufficient income and community giving, the school and the Diocese have refused to accept responsibility for the tremendous, lifelong damage they caused, also making treatment impossible without compensation.  Today, there is little recourse for these events, and no help available for me.

ABDUCTION madeleine descanso officer finney allowing blocking of my protest statement and me 25 april 2013 turned

Officer Finney allowing blocking of my protest statement and me on 25 April 2013.

SB 131 madeleine descanso front

Protest Statement

In San Diego, CA, my own recent attempts at seeking legal justice and help for the trauma-related symptoms I finally understood, resulted in a death threat, stalking, the questionable suicide of my mother, abuse by police and sheriffs, abuse and denial of service by my local FBI, neglect and abuse by my local DA, callousness and abuse by attorneys, a medical misdiagnosis, permanently damaging medical maltreatment, illegal denial of county health-care services, illegal denial of aid by Social Security, the CalFresh program, and all other social services, denial of service by support organizations, denial of disability by my private insurance carrier, the loss of my small business, the loss of my suburban home, and the depletion of my resources, finally resulting in seven months of homelessness, damaging separation from my physical and psychiatric service animals (one of whom died), and over a year of chronic stress. Ultimately, my attempts at seeking support for the results of the crime that had been ignored in the past were not only ignored in the present, but resulted in ultimate loss, worsening my disability and financial state with abusive and criminal responses. Today, I won’t survive without help.

Today, I’m trying to rebuild, and I’m pursuing legal justice, compensation, and treatment.  After learning that the way I have been treated is very common, and being forced to compile resources alone, I’m also applying my knowledge and skills to support groups filled with amazing abduction and kidnapping survivors, from whom I learn more every day.  And I am sharing my story, because what my teacher said that day is true:  Abduction does happen every day.  The problem is that abduction incidents sound so outlandish to those who are unaware of or simply afraid to hear them, that survivors are left feeling alone, betrayed, and frustrated, with a profound and unique trauma.  Many of us do not survive, not because we did not live through the crime, but because we were denied help after it.  Far from receiving the support and treatment we so desperately need, most abduction and kidnapping survivors are just as profoundly mistreated after the crime.  Today, I’m seeking help, and I hope that, by sharing my story and providing services for other survivors of abduction and kidnapping, while seeking help for myself, I can also promote public awareness about a painful but common crime, and provide the support that I didn’t receive, the support that would have made all the difference.

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ACTION ALERT!  ABDUCTION SB 131 Poster Governor Choose Sign 2

On 12 October, 2013, CA Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 131, the Child Victims Act, the bill that would have allowed me to sue the Catholic Diocese of San Diego for my kidnapping and assault, and to receive justice, compensation, and treatment for the crimes committed against me by the School of the Madeleine. With his veto, Brown chose to protect the school, the Diocese, and my rapist, rather than to protect me, their victim.  He chose to protect powerful institutions that harbor rapists, rather than to protect today’s children and compensate yesterday’s victims.  Please read my statement, and demand Governor Brown’s resignation:

www.facebook.com/notes/tiffany-moon-foundation-for-abduction-recovery/ca-governor-brown-vetos-sb-131-the-child-victims-act/535316056545103

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From the Author: Tiffany currently operates The Tiffany Moon Foundation for Abduction Recovery. This foundation helps in fighting for justice for her kidnapping and abuse at a religious school (and religious abuse in the family) and, offers support to all kidnapping survivors. For more information on her foundation, or to help support the foundation through donations, please visit her website at http://tiffanymoonfoundation.org/index.htm.

Cathy’s Story – Kidnapping, Rape, Abuse and Cover-up – Part 2

girl2Cathy’s Story of Kidnapping, Rape, Abuse and Cover-up~Part II

Posted on June 14, 2011 by chucklestravels

This is the continues from Part 1 of Cathy’s Story.

I twice attended Bob Jones University (BJU), a fundamentalist Christian college in South Carolina. I went for the first time in the 1980′s. After leaving BJU the first time, I went to a community college and received my nursing degree.  For reasons I won’t go into here, I moved to South Carolina. I wanted to get my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Unfortunately, many of my credits from BJU would not transfer to other colleges. However, if I went back to BJU as  a student, I was promised those credits would allow me to obtain my BSN relatively quickly.  However, I did not realize how intrusive BJU was in its student’s lives, even those  living off of the Greenville campus! During that time, I became severely depressed and experienced extreme PTSD symptoms associated with the depression. I did not understand what was happening to me. But my most severe emotional problems were magnified when I went to Jim Berg for counseling while still a student at BJU.

In Jim Berg’s view, as I soon found out, people who had problems such as depression and PTSD were “un-spiritual” (his word, not mine). In the IFB world, depression is a sin. Taking medication for depression only covered sin. I plummeted into a even deeper depression. In June of 1996, during my last counseling appointment with Berg, he told me,

“I can’t help you, no one can help you, not even God can help you,”

because I was not making fast enough progress and still “deep in the sin of depression.”

I will not begin to deny that I was having some serious issues.  Unfortunately, being discouraged from taking medications for these issues did not help. I am by no means proud of this, but I went home from this appointment and overdosed on medication. I realize that it was clearly a bad choice, and that was wrong. I was not thinking clearly, I was angry and in deep emotional pain. Of course, I was admitted to the hospital.

While I was in the hospital, I received a letter from Jim Berg stating,

“I hate to add more to your concerns, but this all comes from the consequences of your own actions, as a result you will not be allowed to continue as a student at BJU. I pray that God will break you of your sin of self-sufficiency and stubbornness and make you a usable vessel for Him.”

Fortunately, I received in the hospital the medical care and kind of counseling I needed from the beginning.  To add insult to injury, I was chastised by the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church affiliated with BJU (the same church Jim Berg attended at the time) because I was receiving counseling from a psychiatrist and licensed therapist.  In the view of the IFB church, secular therapy was wrong, and therefore sinful.  I was mortified to realize that Berg betrayed my confidential talks with him by “sharing” my situation with the pastoral staff, family members, and others in this church and at BJU as well.  In my opinion, Jim Berg made himself out to be “a great caring, godly, humble fellow” who tried at the best of his God-given ability to “lovingly” guide me to “trust God.” This betrayal of my confidence began a painful and difficult process of leaving the church and my circle of friends and family. When  I finally decided to leave my IBF Church, I was especially afraid to leave because of intimidation, pressure, and threats of Divine Judgment. I was harassed by well-meaning church and family members. I was also pursued by not so well-meaning church leaders. Eventually, as a former member, I was publicly chastised and humiliated before the church.  Unless it was to talk to me about the “errors of my ways,” members were discouraged from any association with me.  It seemed that all my friends and most of my support system went up as it were a poof of smoke when they were needed the most.

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For a long time,  I actually felt that I left God Himself when I left the church. It was one of the most depressing times in my life. Few of my former church friends associated with me other than to tell me I was in sin. I felt further isolation and abuse and was fearful of the world. A well known Christian leader questioned me personally, and to others that were still in the church, about my salvation. One tactic that was extremely difficult for me to deal with was the “shepherding” philosophy. Other IFB churches may refer to this as discipleship groups.  As practiced in many IFB churches, this philosophy requires every member to be personally accountable to another “more experienced” or more “spiritual” person. To this person, one must “be transparent”, revealing all personal thoughts, feelings, and future plans. I now understand that this personal information is not used to help the member, but to control the member.

A few years after leaving the IFB church that I had attended, I again became involved in a  Shepherding Group that, at first, seemed harmless. I still did not understand that a person must be very careful about churches that insist members be accountable to some leader for spiritual and personal growth, especially if the group leader begins to demand transparency and accountability of the member regarding personal and or spiritual issues and personal decisions. The most upsetting thing that happened as a result of my departure from that group, took place when my former shepherding group leader, his wife, and several others members of my former church became involved in my current group. This particular group was disbanded by the leaders almost a year before this time due to lack of interest and attendance of group members. Furthermore, two people in this meeting were never involved with me the whole time I was in the church.

One of my then- current church pastors asked me to meet him on a Sunday afternoon. He claimed he wanted to find out how the church could be of assistance to me because he had heard of my then recent surgery and beginning treatments for Clear Cell Chondrosarcoma a rare bone cancer. I had just returned to Greenville after being in another state for over two months for surgery and treatment.  I was still very weak and sick. When I went to the church that afternoon, I found my former Shepherding group leader and his wife there waiting for me. Soon the small conference room was filled with 8 other people. One of the pastoral staff was there, but quickly added he did not know me, “which is probably a good thing.” Only two others were ever directly involved with me. The others were people I did not know personally. I knew they were members of the church. None of these people, other than the Shepherding Group Leader and his wife, ever went to my Shepherding Group. I, in no way expected to experience this very painful “intervention”, or confrontation , by the leadership, which I now refer to as a “surprise party” or “gang-up.” I was lured to this meeting under false pretenses. I have heard from other former members that sometimes such meetings are in the home of an elder or other leader and sometimes in the home of the “problem member” himself. My “intervention” consisted of a hostile and accusatory “interrogation session” that lasted for 3 hours. The group’s objective was to persuade me to confess of the “error of my ways” and of my “need to submit myself to the discipline of the church.” They went on to question the reality of my medical condition. I was told to recant my “slanderous” charges against a “spiritual leader”, obviously referring to Jim Berg. I learned from previous encounters that if I became outwardly hostile during such a ‘process’ things would become worse.  I did, however, refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing on my part. I showed copies of my oncologist surgical report as well as the actual XRAY film which clearly showed the tumor that was recently removed.

Even after all of the evidence I provided, a man who sat directly across from me and who had glared at me the whole time finally said, “Tell me about your salvation experience.” I finally lost it a little and replied, “No matter what I say, no one here will believe that I am saved. You worry about your salvation. Let God and me worry about mine. You are not the Holy Spirit in my life!”

After that outburst, the pastoral staff member said, “Cathy, you go across the hall with the women and we (the pastor staff member, my ex-shepherding group leader and the man whom I did not know) will talk about what we are going to do to help you or how we are going to deal with you. If I had not been recovering from major cancer surgery, I would have certainly handled this differently.  Most likely my response would have been to leave right then and there. I was hurt and bewildered by what the assistant pastor said. However, I did go across the hall with the women. The Shepherding Group leader’s wife then asked me about a family member who was also recently diagnosed with cancer. I was exhausted, but angered by then. I said something to the effect of, “Why don’t you call and ask him yourself?” They talked at me, not to me, for a few minutes. The Shepherding Group leader’s wife closed by telling me, “We all love you, lady.” I did not make any friends when I said, “I can tell how much you love me by all the lies you have told and the knife that is sticking out of my back!” Then the ladies went around the room and prayed for me to “repent” and asked God to “convict me of my bitterness.”

I did not stay for the whole prayer session. I just got up and left the room. When I went out into the hallway, I saw through a small window in the door the men sitting and talking around a conference table. At this point, I was tearful and angry. I knew, at this point, there was nothing to lose. I opened the door and asked, “Are you all having a good gossip fest? Why is it if you were talking about me, I could not stay and defend myself?” The assistant pastor said, “You need to submit yourself to the discipline of the church.” I asked, “For what?” He said he would get in contact in a few days and waved his hand as if to dismiss me. I told him not to bother. As expected, I never heard from them but instead, soon found that my name had been removed from the membership rolls.

© 2011 Catherine Harris

Cathy’s Story of Kidnapping, Rape, Abuse and Cover-up – Part 1

girlPosted on June 11, 2011 by chucklestravels

When I was just three years old, I was kidnapped by a very disturbed woman by the name of Cleo Smith.  I was so young, it is still difficult for me to remember all the events. However, I do have memory of Cleo putting me in her car.  At one point, I remember crying for “mama.”  This infuriated Cleo.  I remember she screamed at me, and told me to shut up.  I remember her car was a green 1966 Cadillac.  At one point, I remember telling Cleo that I needed to go to the bathroom.  That is when she hit me in the face and told me to shut up.  The problem was, I really did have to go to the bathroom, and due to terror, lost control of my bladder.  The next thing I remember was the car being on the side of the road and Cleo cursing at me, screaming, “You are a worthless damn kid!”  The next thing I remember, was being marched to the back of her car, Cleo opened the trunk, picked me up, and threw me in.  Those memories are so engraved in my mind, that I have nightmares about the actual kidnapping even all these years later. I went missing from a local grocery store while my biological mother shopped. She had just given birth to twin daughters she had three very small children with her as she shopped for groceries. I disappeared while she shopped — we would not be reunited for almost 30 years.

I lived with Cleo until I was 12 years old (When the police became involved in my life, although not because of my kidnapping).  Cleo owned many rental properties in Philadelphia, near Temple University.  Ironically, my biological parents leased a home from Cleo and subsequently had some legal dispute with her.    Cleo took me to a 110-acre farm she owned about 25 miles outside of the city.  Cleo owned this home under an alias; she also used an alias for me, Salina. Cleo had no legal documents for me that showed guardianship or an adoption. In fact, there were no records found of anyone born or adopted in the US by the name by which Cleo gave me.  Unfortunately, Cleo died before the investigation of my legal status was completed.

In 1967, the farm was in a very rural area of Pennsylvania.  There were no Amber Alerts, no CNN  or up-to-the minute news broadcasts.  Most people got their news from the local newspaper, a small number of TV stations (with rabbit ears), the radio, or by word of mouth . At the time, most people would not believe a woman would abduct an older child, but only babies. Cleo was never a suspect in the original investigation of my disappearance. Even if she had been, I am quite sure she hid her tracks by taking me to the farm .

It was at that time, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (now known as the IFB) Church became a part of my life. An IFB Pastor would eventually adopt me after the police became involved. He kept telling me many times throughout the years that Cleo had come with me  to the church he was the Pastor of . He said she claimed that she had found me abandoned in a rental property in Philadelphia. He says that he did tell her she should have called the police instead of just keeping me. She told him she never had, or did have, any intention to do so. This Pastor and his wife did not officially adopt me until only a few months before my 18th birthday. It seems they wanted to receive as much foster care benefits from the state as possible.  My “room” was a bed pushed into the corner of their basement. I asked my adopted father many times over the years why he did not call the authorities. I never received a satisfactory answer to my question.

Cleo was a close follower and financial supporter of Dr. Carl McIntire, who was a fiery fundamentalist leader at that time.  McIntire was a contemporary of Dr. Bob Jones, Jr, and was granted a honorary doctorate from Bob Jones University

I had been horribly abused by Cleo and her lover and farm hand, Lou. As as a result of the ensuing investigation at this time, I learned  that Cleo was not my mother. I heard for the first time that I may have been abducted because, with Cleo’s various interviews with the police,  she continued to change her story as to how I came to live with her. The nightmares that I had for as far back as I remember, were not just scary, they were true. I was enrolled in the Christian school associated with my IFB church for most of my life as a student. I did go to two other other IFB schools for a short time. Cleo was able to enroll me by telling these schools she had lost my birth certificate and would order another one from the state. I attended each of these schools for only one year, as Cleo could not provide my birth certificate to enroll the next year. When I was 14 Cleo died while the police investigation was on-going,  taking her secrets with her to the grave.

I was glad when Cleo died. But I never received any professional counseling.  At the time, I was so angry to find out that my life was a lie, from where I came from to what my real name was, that I was not interested in learning any more details. I still believed that my biological parents abandoned me, as Cleo and others told me. I decided I just wanted to get on with my life. I had symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) back then, but of course, did not recognize the symptoms, nor did anyone else as those things were rarely discussed publicly in those days. I did not know what was happening.  When my adoptive father who was a Pastor, and the Youth Pastor, found out about the nightmares and flashbacks about the abduction, and the years of sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of Cleo’s lover, Lou, I, was constantly told not to dwell on it.  When the nightmares persisted, the Youth Pastor, who graduated from Bob Jones, told me that I was “just bitter.”  He repeatedly drew connections between the nightmares plaguing me and rebellion.  Brother Dave then would quote:

“Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. “  I Samuel 13:23

In his mind, and the mind of others, the nightmares, flashbacks, fearfulness and crying spells were because of my refusal to “put the things which are behind.”  I was yelled at and told to “stop having sour grapes.”  If I was not smiling, or looked downcast, Brother Dave would yell at me that I was a witch because in his view, the only reason I was still having problems was because I was in rebellion and refused to give it all over to the Lord.  It did not take me long to stop talking about my past whatsoever.  I worked so hard to “forget those things which are behind” as I was told. I never mentioned it again. The nightmares and flashbacks lasted for many years . I sincerely wanted to be a good Christian.  Completely believed what I was taught; that the IFB were the only one’s who were living Godly lives.  I believed that members of other Churches, and certainly mainline denominations’ salvation were in question.  If perhaps they were able to slip under the fence and find the way to get saved, they weren’t living right.  As a result, I put considerable effort into forgiving and forgetting the abuse, torture by Cleo, and rapes.