Kashi Ashram: Claims of Rape, Child Abuse, and Kidnapping

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Those who condemn Ma Jaya emerged in a vicious 2001 divorce between former Kashi resident Richard Rosenkranz and his wife, Gina, who remains in the ashram. In court filings, several ex-church members remembered scenarios they say constitute mind control. One afternoon in the early 1980s, Richard Rosenkranz dipped his entire head into a vat of red paint. "When asked what had happened, he answered that he'd gotten the message from Ma," onetime resident Helene Rousseau recalled in a sworn statement.

Or they recalled Ma Jaya's sudden fixation on children after she had several miscarriages with her new husband, Soo Se Cho. Rosanne Henry is a former Ashram resident who's now a psychologist in Littleton, Colorado. "My husband and I wanted to have a child in 1981," she remembered in a deposition logged in the Rosenkranz divorce case. "But we had to ask permission."

Before she entered labor on October 21, 1981, Henry says she dyed her blond hair raven to impersonate Ma Jaya. She even signed the guru's name on her daughter's birth certificate. Then, after she was wheeled out of Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami carrying her newborn, she spotted a van full of Kashi followers. Without hesitation, she handed over her daughter, who was secreted back to the ranch. (Henry testified to all this in court, adding she did this because she believed Ma Jaya to be the "Divine Mother.")

In all, four mothers from 1978 to 1982 signed Ma Jaya or her new husband as biological parents on birth certificates, the Palm Beach Post reported in 1992. Ma Jaya told the newspaper she took the children to save them from abortion, though Henry denies that.

Another disputed tale emerged weeks after Henry's child was born, on the night of December 10. Ma Jaya's followers were called into the main house at Kashi Ashram in Sebastian for their nightly prayer session. The guru, in Palmetto Bay at the time, was on speakerphone, recalls Deadmore, who left the church in 1990. Dozens packed into a room cluttered with urns and statues. Over the phone, the guru launched into a perfunctory monologue. But then, according to three witnesses, she dropped a bomb. Like it was nothing. "I've married my [14-year-old] daughter [Molly]," she said, "to Datta Das."

Puzzled looks crisscrossed the room, the witnesses say. Datta Das was a 25-year-old man.

"I remember thinking, 'She can't possibly be old enough to be married,'" says Deadmore. "I thought she was 12. But I knew Ma wouldn't hurt her own child. There was no child abuse in Kashi at that time."

The masked men came for 13-year-old Wang Chun Rosenkranz on a spring day in 1996, says New York jeweler Sal Conti. At a small garden temple beside Ma Jaya's two-story house, near a pond where residents sprinkled the ashes of their dead, the wiry, dark-haired boy waited. Ma Jaya had requested to see him, but, according to Conti's 2001 deposition and a police complaint, she didn't arrive. Instead, the two masked men grabbed the boy. They plastered duct tape over his mouth and restrained him. Then they whipped him over and over again with rock-laden socks.

Ma Jaya and Conti, who was then her confidant and treasurer, were allegedly outside her house at the time. "She was just ecstatic," Conti claimed. Wang Chun, he recalled, "came out completely bloodied."

Weeks later, the men donned their "ninja outfits" and again savaged the child, Conti testified. But this time, it was in clear sight of Ma Jaya's house. The guru watched the violence with Conti and several others. Wang Chun allegedly crumpled into a fetal position and wept. His face was awash in blood. Ma Jaya, Conti said, had a strange look on her face. "Hit him harder," she allegedly said. "Hit him harder."

The beatings were Wang Chun's punishment, Conti stated. The boy had declined to have sex with a young girl at the ranch. And Ma Jaya "didn't want to hear that," Conti explained. "She started calling him a pervert and cursing at him. The kid was whimpering and shaking, and she enjoyed that. You could see it in her face that she was enjoying it."

Wang Chun didn't respond to four messages left by New Times. Spokespeople with Kashi Ashram, then and now, deny this story, and no criminal charges were ever filed. "The story's made up," said ranch spokesperson Cirillo.

Wang Chun initially told his father, Richard Rosenkranz, he'd been bloodied at the ranch but later withdrew the claim. While his parents' divorce case raged through 2002 and under the supervision of two Kashi members, the then-19-year-old told Florida Today: "I stupidly said I was beaten by people here, which was a lie." Ma Jaya denied any involvement, calling Conti "very sad and very lonely."

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Terrence McCoy