Al Rahm's Explanatory Letter
The letter copied below was from: Al Rahm. Date: 2004-11-15 12:27 a.m. to: Joe Moreno. The latter says that he is not a devotee but has sites on the web that show beyond doubt that he is highly partial to SSB. Sometimes pointing to genuine mistakes (which are not sinister, as he would often have it), he has typically leaped to most unfair, out-of-context, erroneous conclusions, virtually trying to set himself up as a sort of one-man ombudsman. With no sensitivity to how sexual abuse (and other victims) feel, he has, e.g., demanded that they send their affidavits to him. He has raised questions about the validity of much former devotee testimony, and Al Rahm's response is surely a model of restraint in the face of one who shows great insensitivity to the feelings of many SSB survivors, who this adversary daily excels himself in assailing and whose goodness only bigotted SSB activists would ever dare to slur.
Cc.'d recipients of the letter below were former devotees:1. Rick Raines. Before leaving the Sathya Sai Organization, he was a Regional president in an area comprising Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana - the South Central Region of USA. He was a member of the national council, reporting to Dr Michael Goldstein. 2. Glen Meloy, 26 years a devotee, was a close personal assistant to Mrs Elsie Cowan, member of the first Advisory Board of the SSB Society for USA, and Co-Manager, Sathya Sai Book Center of America, Tustin, California. 3. Barry Pittard, 25 years a devotee, taught English for two years at the Sathya Sai College at Whitefield, 1978-1979.
Al Rahm. Brief Background:
In a sworn affidavit forwarded to the FBI, the State Department and other relevant agencies, dated Tuesday, October 31, 2000,
Al Rahm writes: "By the year 1999 I had been a devotee of Sai Baba for 26 years. I started and lived in a Sai Baba community in Northwest Arkansas. I was one of 5 regional officers in region 10 of the Sai Baba Organization of the United States. I had started the first Sai School in the United States at the personal direction of Sai Baba in interviews that took place in 1997. The school was a 501c3 non-profit by the name of School of Human Values. I was travelling to regional conferences all over the United States along with my family as a guest speaker and we also sang devotional music. The crowds would often be as large as 500 or more people."
Faithfully, Barry Pittard. December 6, 2004
Joe Moreno, and others, contacted me to clarify what appear to be inconsistencies in Alaya’s testimony. All of Alaya’s testimony and the testimony of his family is true. The inconsistencies are merely editing issues. Perhaps the following will explain for you.
Alaya was born into a family who taught him from birth to believe that Sai Baba was a fully conscious, physical manifestation of god, or otherwise known as an avatar. Alaya’s first personal contact with Sai Baba was in a family interview with his parents when he was 8 months old. Alaya was again in an interview with his family when he was in the second grade. He did not have any private time with Sai Baba on either of those occasions. When he was 16 years old he went to India with a friend along with Wilma Bronke’s group. On that trip Sai Baba called him into a private interview and on that occasion Sai Baba began the sexual contact by rubbing oil on Alaya’s genitals and kissing on the mouth and attempting to cause an erection in Alaya. When Alaya returned from that trip with a robe and a ring that had been given to him by Sai Baba we asked many questions about every detail of his interview. He told us that there were some things he could not tell because Sai Baba had told him never to tell anyone. I suspected that this must be the oil treatment since I had received a similar treatment when I was 18 and was also told by Sai Baba never to tell anyone. Also, the leader of the Litestorm group, who I was staying with at the time asked me if Baba had made me oil and rubbed it on me. I said yes and he told me that it had happened to all the guys in the group. He said, “Welcome to the club, Swami does that to help get rid of sexual desires in us.” That was in 1974 and it was 1979 before I had another interview with Sai Baba. I was married by then and had a child. I had no further experiences involving oil or touching by Sai Baba and so I accepted the oil experience as sort of a doctor patient relationship and thought no harm was done.
After Alaya’s return from his first private interview in 1995 I privately asked if he had received the oil treatment from Sai Baba. Alaya was surprised that I knew. He admitted it to me and we agreed to keep it to ourselves. I asked him if he felt that there was anything sexual in it and he said no, that it was like Baba was a doctor doing his job. He did not mention to me at that time that Sai Baba had kissed him deeply or tried to cause an erection. What the reader must realize here is that a 16-year-old boy who has been born and raised into this belief thinks of this person, Sai Baba, as god, tells himself that it must be a great blessing and there could not be any way that it was sexual. Baba was saying it was a good luck opportunity and that he was purifying him. However, in Alaya’s case it went further. In 1997, in front of the first international young adult conference in http://shirdisai.vnd.ruparthi, Alaya was singled out and called in for 14 interviews in a period of less than 2 months in front of 20,000 young adults from around the world. 7 of those interviews were with his family but Alaya was also called privately in each of those as well. He and his entire family were given rings, watches, earrings, photos with Sai Baba, robes, silk lungis etc. etc. etc. Alaya was the envy of every young adult there and his family was also in a very desired position. Alaya came out of one interview with a hand full of cash given to him from Sai Baba. There was over $1000 in rupees that Alaya was told to give to his mother to take care of the room, food, saris etc. and there was $3000 in crisp one hundred dollar bills for Alaya.
Sai Baba kept calling Alaya his exemplary boy. He told Alaya that he had picked out his wife, a daughter of the Craxi family of Italy. Baba impressed on Alaya how much money they had and that he, (Baba), would introduce Alaya to prime ministers and presidents from around the world. Baba always impressed on Alaya how wealthy he was going to make him if he did what he wanted him to. We did not know at that time what Sai Baba really meant. We thought he meant if Alaya behaved with exemplary character and studied well etc.
Sai Baba told us that all of this attention was being given to us because we were all great devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba and that Alaya was the greatest devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. Baba instructed us to start the first Sai School in the US but not to use his name in it because the US organization would give us too much hassle if we did. He told me he wanted me to make a movie and that he would be in it. He looked over the by laws and photos of our community and signed them with his approval. He invited us to sing in the mandir, which we did. He invited us back to Puttaparthi for Christmas.
You can only imagine the high that we were all going through. You can only imagine how Alaya felt seeing his family in the peak of their life. After all, from his viewpoint, this was their god. This was what they lived for. This was what every devotee hoped for. What we did not know at the time is that Alaya was paying a heavy price for all of this glory. A price, which he did not understand and could not tell us about because Sai Baba was threatening him not to tell, or Baba would never talk to his mother or family again. How would you feel? Baba even threatened to cause an accident and cut off Alaya’s penis if he told. Remember, this is a boy who believed that Baba had this power.
We returned for Christmas and received more interviews, more money, more stuff, more singing in the mandir. We returned the next summer; more interviews, more money, more stuff and so on. By the summer of 1998, Alaya’s mother began to detect a troubled feeling in him. She assessed that the pressure Sai Baba was putting on Alaya was too much for him. For example, Alaya was not to have any friendships outside of his family. He was to be in school or at home. He was not to speak with or associate with girls in any way. He was only 18 and was to live like this until he was 25 when Sai Baba would perform his marriage to the Craxi girl. Baba insisted on these things openly in our family interviews and told Alaya’s mother and I that we were to insist and keep him in line. We spoke to leaders of the US organization who had been devotees for 30 plus years about these concerns over Alaya’s apparent hesitation and subtle withdrawal. They always assured us that we should not be concerned and that Baba knew what was best. When we asked Alaya about it he said that he wasn’t sure he wanted the marriage. He said that he wasn’t sure that Sai Baba knew what was best for him. By Christmas of 1999 we began to suspect something was very wrong. I even told Alaya that if he was ever asked by Baba or anyone else to do anything that he didn’t feel was right in his heart, that he should say no. I told him that his family was with him and that we didn’t care if we ever had another interview. Alaya had his last private interview on our final trip to see Sai Baba that Christmas. In that interview, we later found out, he told Sai Baba that he didn’t like his behavior and Alaya left the interview.
After our return to the US we became even more concerned. Alaya did not look happy, he did not want Baba’s robe in his room, and he did not participate in young adult programs. Alaya said that he did not trust that Sai Baba knew what was best for him and that he didn’t care how much money the Craxis had, he wanted love in his marriage more than anything. Marisa and I confronted Alaya in hopes of shaking him out of his resistance. With great fear and hesitation Alaya finally told us what had really been happening behind that curtain in the private interview room. I asked him why he had never told us before and he said that he was afraid that he would be responsible for bringing down the organization and that his parents might choose to stay with Sai Baba and that he would be alone without the family that he loved. He also explained that he was hoping it would stop and everything would be all right. But it didn’t stop, it kept getting worse until all he could think to do was to stop going to India and never tell us about it for fear of losing us.
The abuse was much worse than oil on the genitals. Baba would get very angry with Alaya because Alaya couldn’t get an erection for Baba. Alaya explained that he did not like it and that he liked girls. He told Baba that he loved him but he did not want sex with him. Baba didn’t care, that was what he wanted and he used the excuse that he was purifying Alaya. On one occasion Baba took off his robe and lungi and, fully naked, attempted to pull down Alaya’s pants and climb onto his back in an effort to have anal sex. Alaya pushed him off and said no. Baba got angry and put his robe back on. Then said he would never talk to Alaya again. Alaya pleaded with him not to be angry and to please continue to grant interviews and talk with his parents and sisters.
After hearing the truth we contacted and met with Bill Harvey and Dr. Goldstein and told them the entire story. We thought that they would at least get the information out to devotees so they would have the right to choose whether or not they accepted this behavior of Sai Baba. In time this information was shared with all of the leaders of the SSB organization of the United States as well as India.
Now, many claims have been made that testimony is inconsistent. For example;
1. Alaya first said that when Baba first used oil and kissed him it was not sexual. Later Alaya said it was sexual.
When he was 16 he convinced himself that it was not sexual and that is what he believed to be true. Later, after so many other experiences and a retrospective viewpoint, when Mick Brown, the Danish Broadcasting Co. and the BBC interviewed him, he could see that it was sexual. The BBC film did not explain that. Only so much could be included in the final edit to keep within the time limits of the film. We never got to see any rough edits nor were we consulted regarding the final edit. As a matter of fact we didn’t even see a copy until after it aired in the UK.
2. Alaya said he received $10,000 and I said several thousand dollars.
To me several means 3 or more. I don’t bother counting it all up. Who cares? So What? It may have been more than $10,000 in cash.
3. Alaya talked openly with other American devotee boys who had similar experiences, or they didn’t talk because they were afraid that Baba, who was omnipresent, would know.
Yes, he talked with American and Indian devotees, at Sai retreats in the US. One of these boys attended Baba’s school and was the son of a woman who worked in the balvikas program in the US. This boy was undergoing similar sexual pressure and threats from Sai Baba. His mother always received a lot of attention from Sai Baba including earrings, praise etc. This boy was afraid to tell her because Sai Baba would threaten never to talk to her again. That is the same technique that Sai Baba used on Alaya (a boy’s love for his mother). That boy never did tell his mother that we know of and eventually left Sai Baba’s school. Other boys who went to Baba’s school said that there are whole groups of boys who have sex with Sai Baba and that Baba has boys brought to his bedroom at night. Alaya and these boys tried to figure it out together since they could not tell anyone else, but they were afraid to talk about it too much because they were afraid also that Baba might know. They weren’t sure. They suspected that Sai Baba really didn’t know. Sai Baba often displayed anger toward the boys. They were young, they were confused, they were abused, and they were searching! Don’t get caught up with details that don’t matter.
The reason that other names, (like Sam Young) were used in Mick Brown’s article is because we were fresh into the awareness of the abuse and concerned about Alaya’s exposure and our family’s. We were unsure what it would mean to expose our family and our son to the world. There was even some concern for safety since reports of Dr. Batia fleeing for his life were circulating and Anil Kumar was in the states asking about our family. Yet, we felt it was important to share the truth. We never contacted the media they contacted us. We did however share the true story with anyone who asked. By the time the BBC contacted us we had had several years to think about it and we decided to come fully forward. It took a lot of courage on Alaya’s part and on ours. We were never paid anything for any of our testimony. We have nothing to gain from any of it. We simply did it to share the truth with those who might have the courage to hear it.
All of the testimony is true. The editing often makes it difficult to follow the timing and remember this took place from the spring of 1995 to January of 1999.
The most important fact is that sexual abuse has taken place not only with Alaya but also with many boys. I personally have been contacted by boys from around the world since this happened. Their stories are the same when it comes to the sexual abuse. It always starts with the oil and then it escalates. I suspect that it is still going on.
Please don’t get caught up over insignificant details
Sincerely and Truthfully,