We have a new announcement (please see below) about our "Protect Free Speech Legal Defense Fund."
As many of you may know, we were sued by Gentle Wind Project and the GWP core group in May 2004. Since then we've been working toward dismissals of GWP's Federal charges and were successful with that on GWP's first claim. Then GWP filed an amended claim and the Judge dismissed one count and allowed one to stay.
Defending ourselves against GWP's lawsuit is very costly. That's why we are now appealing for contributions. We believe it is important to keep going with this defense, and that we have a right to tell our personal stories.
You can help us by posting this appeal in forums or locations where people can learn about the GWP lawsuit, and contribute, if they are able, to our defense fund.
On March 7th our response to GWP's Amended Lawsuit will be filed in Court, along with our counterclaims. That document will be on Wind of Changes website, [www.windofchanges.org
] -- the website that GWP is trying to shut down.
Please read on . . .
Jim and Judy
Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey are being sued in U.S. Federal Court by the leaders of Gentle Wind Project (GWP) for posting our personal accounts about GWP experiences on Wind of Changes, a website for former GWP members: [www.windofchanges.org
] The GWP leaders’ lawsuit is an attempt to silence us and force us to remove Wind of Changes website.
You can help uphold the right to Free Speech, and the right for former members of GWP, or similar groups, to tell their stories, as we have in “Insiders’ Stories” [www.windofchanges.org
] and “A Husband’s Perspective” [windofchanges.org
Please contribute, if you can, to the Protect Free Speech Legal Defense Fund: [www.windofchanges.org
All contributions -- large or small -- will be used to help pay legal costs.
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE?
1) Contribute through PayPal at: [www.windofchanges.org
2) Personal Checks, Money Orders, Bank Checks, Travelers Checks:
Payable to: Protect Free Speech, or to Jim Bergin or Judy Garvey
Postal Mailing address: Protect Free Speech, P.O. Box 1616, Blue Hill, ME 04614 USA; or to The First NA, Account: 3474275, 102 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 USA.
3) Electronic Transfers:
Bank Routing number: 011201762 / Account number: 3474275
Bank: The First NA, 102 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 USA
WHY IS THIS DEFENSE SO IMPORTANT?
This is an important appeal for anyone who believes in an individual’s right to speak freely and to share information of public importance through the Internet without fear of being intimidated, sued, silenced, and harmed financially.
1) GWP’s lawsuit could have serious repercussions for those who are willing to share information of public importance. Vital knowledge could be suppressed through legal intimidation by any group with the resources to hire a law firm willing to litigate.
2) If our money is depleted, GWP’s lawsuit could set a precedent whereby any similar group wishing to silence individual voices would be encouraged to use these kinds of legal tactics, thus greatly threatening freedom of speech.
3) Websites like Wind of Changes could become a thing of the past, if this is allowed to happen.
May 2004: Gentle Wind Project leaders filed a lawsuit (please see [www.windofchanges.org
] for documents) in U.S. District Court, Portland, Maine, against former GWP members, Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey, and ten other defendants.
REASON FOR LAWSUIT?
Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey shared their personal experiences about their 17-year association with GWP, and made these stories available on the Internet. In response, GWP has spent upwards of $115,000 in legal costs as of 9/04 (per their own statement) in an attempt to remove [www.windofchanges.org
] -- accusing Jim and Judy of "wild and scurrilous lies," among numerous other defamatory terms.
Over 90 Court documents have been filed as a result of the GWP lawsuit. In February 2005 Federal Judge Gene Carter dismissed all charges for J. F. Bergin Co., and for Rick Ross and the Rick A. Ross Institute for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements, and Count II (Lanham Act) for Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey.
Defendant Ian Mander of New Zealand did not respond to GWP's lawsuit. Defendant Steve Hassan reached an agreement with the plaintiffs a few months ago and the claims against him and Freedom of Mind Center were dropped. Defendants Ivan Fraser and Steve Gamble’s agreement with the plaintiffs was finalized more recently, and made public on their websites and on Wind of Changes.
After the Court decides on GWP's Federal Count I (RICO Act) against Jim and Judy, GWP leaders would then have the choice to continue with their state charges (defamation, invasion of privacy, and the like).
All other defendants have now been dismissed, or defaulted, or reached an agreement with GWP because of financial necessity. For more details, please read “Lawsuit Against Cult-watcher Dismissed” on Rick Ross Institute’s website at [www.cultnews.org
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey will now challenge the accusations of GWP’s leaders through the court process, which will be costly and time-consuming, yet essential. Freedom of expression and speaking the truth are powerful defenses, and we feel confident about the importance of ensuring that these rights continue.
DEFENDANTS – WHO WAS SUED BY GWP?
Rick Ross and Rick Ross Institute [www.culteducation.com
]; Ian Mander [www.cults.co.nz
]; Steve Gamble and Equilibra [www.equilibra.uk.com
]; Ivan Fraser and The Truth Campaign [www.truthcampaign.ukf.net
]; Steve Hassan and Freedom of Mind [www.freedomofmind.com
], and Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey [www.windofchanges.org
]; and J. F. Bergin Co.
PLAINTIFFS – WHO IS DOING THE SUING?
Gentle Wind Project [www.gentlewindproject.org
] and the GWP leaders and core group – John "Tubby" Miller, Mary "Moe/Mo" Miller, Carol Miller, Shelly Miller, Joan Carreiro, and Pam Ranheim.