Dec 10, 2012

Lying, Stealing, and Threats, Part II

(Intro) (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (En Español)

So a couple of years went by. My doubts of the integrity of VGSr continued to mount. Ever since I met him, I would constantly get this feeling like he was lying. Except I could never catch him in a direct lie. It was usually over things that I could not verify, and the couple of times that I asked him about things he seemed to get offended, so I didn't press. I figured, if he really is lying, it will eventually come out - he can't hide it forever. If he's not, I'll just be making a fool of myself.

So after undergoing the same sensation dozens if not hundreds of times, or possibly every time VGSr opened his mouth, the time came where I was able to definitively prove for myself whether my suspicions were well-founded or not...

For me, comments like "The key to being effective with people is fooling them into thinking you are sincere," while disturbing to hear, were not complete proof. He could be speaking tongue in-cheek, although he gave no sign of it.

But my doubts were confirmed soon enough. During the course of normal conversation, he gave me a piece of advice: lie.

After explaining a situation to him, and asking him what I thought I should do, he said, "Just tell him...", a bit of advice which was clearly to lie. I replied, "Why should I lie to him?" VGSr got mad and replied something like, "Well if you don't want to, tell him something else." But I could tell that casual lying was such a normal part of his thinking that it set off no alarms in his head -- just as I had suspected, it was his regular form of daily operation.

But even I was surprised by the cynicism and deception that was yet to be revealed.

I had gone to different leaders in the church with my concerns and describing how VGSr had bilked me out of thousands of dollars. Their reactions fell into two categories: 1. Throwing it back in my face / acting as they didn't believe me, and 2. Believing me and telling me that were not in the least bit surprised to hear what I was telling them. But none suggested any steps or offered any help to fix the situation. That is, until mentioning things to JC. JC got alarmed and immediately got in contact with both Kip and VGSr, saying that either I was lying, or that something was very wrong, and that he was going to get it figured out.

So JC set up a meeting with himself, VGSr, and me. VGSr acted very contrite and admitted that everything that I had accused him of was true. In fact, it went beyond my accusations. He explained that when he had asked me to lend him my credit card, that all of the money for travel to the aforementioned conference had already been disbursed, and since he was coming up short, he hatched this plan to get me to cover the expenses of the van. There was never going to be any reimbursement check. And his stories later about getting the check cut were made up, and the check that had supposedly been cut, cashed, and spent, had never even existed. Wow. I was floored! This guy had been building a whole network of lies, had planned it out, and very cynically carried it through until completely trapped in a corner.

So we had a second meeting set up for a couple of days later, with the three of us plus Kip. I was hopeful that Kip would put order in his house, because that was every impression that I had had of him. But when VGSr started telling his side of the story, he started out complaining about how ungrateful I was for all the help that he had given me, and that I was digging out such ancient history that he could not even remember what had happened.

I was even more floored! Just days after explaining the details of every step of his deceit, here he was, feigning total memory loss! It was a fear-driven and cynical attempt to avoid looking the fool in front of his boss, Kip, and unfortunately, it worked perfectly. Kip didn't hesitate in taking VGSr's word over mine, and unfortunately Jeremy Ciaramella (JC), who had set up the meeting, sat silently on the side, refusing to open his mouth and tell Kip that VGSr was lying through his teeth. Then moments later, the conversation turned to me, and everything that was wrong with me, and conversation did not return to the topic of VGSr's deceit. Kip viewed everything as an innocent misunderstanding, and suggested that the only thing that I was looking for was money. Yeah, right! After cheerfully giving tens of thousands of dollars to the church, I resented having a few thousand bilked out of me by a lying minister who saw no repercussion whatsoever for what he did. (All in all, I lost about $40,000 to Kip and his groups over the years of my involvement.)

And so a main leader in the church had been lying systematically for months, bilked me out of thousands of dollars, then threatened me, and suffered zero consequence. When I went to the head to get things put in order, I was the one treated as the liar, and never given true consideration. Kip, the God of the ICC, never admitted even the possibility that Victor could have been guilty of any of the crimes that he had committed. So today that same leader, Victor Gonzalez Sr, still works for Kip, representing the ICC and dealing with people both inside and outside the church.

And believe me, I am just one in a long string of people who have been systematically mistreated, used and abused, and then discarded by Victor. The same goes for Kip (you haven't seen anything until you read the $#!+ that Kip does in Part 3!)

Some time after this meeting, Kip had the ICC accountants reimburse me for about one-third of what Victor had stolen from me. In doing so he made sure to convey the message that he was doing me a quite large and undeserved favor, and only because he was worried that I might try to sue the church. (I never even mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit, but in hindsight probably should have.) The portion of the stolen money that was reimbursed was the part I still had a paper record for. Unfortunately, I had previously destroyed the remaining records in a time of deep frustration when I believed that Victor would never ever pay me back, and that the only resolution possible was for me to suck it up and "forgive" Victor for stealing it from me. The ICC's teachings and practices had conditioned me to allow myself to be endlessly trampled on (although I did thankfully relearn to stand up for myself later on).

By the way, Kip did admonish Victor a bit during the meeting. However, he did NOT admonish him AT ALL for any of the lying, bullying, threatening, or stealing that he committed. Kip rather corrected Victor for being "insensitive," since I was "weak" and Victor should have therefore treated my feelings with greater sensitivity. (Kip has many subtle tactics like this to throw the guilt back on whomever he wants, and exonerate whomever he desires.) In the end, of course, no action was taken to remove Victor from leadership or prevent him from abusing anyone else in the future.

Should I mention that shortly after this, the Victor's youngest child took him to court for child abuse? The courts sided with the child, whom they allowed to permanently leave Victor's home and enter the foster care system. As I have said, I was just one person in a long string and pattern of abuse.

Anyway, that meeting marked the beginning of the death knell of my membership in this church that I had helped found as one of the original missionaries. I lingered around for a little bit after that, until the final chapter of my 15 years of membership in Kip's churches was written by these same players...

Part 3, Things Get Much, Much Worse >>

7 comments:

  1. I believe your story, but there seems to be a void. Why did you ask a guy you suspected of being a liar and who deceived you for advice?

    Your story reads true, I saw Kip do this same thing in LA. It was never a leader's fault - the member was always wrong.

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    1. Looking back, believe me, I ask myself the same question. I did want to give him the benefit of the doubt, until I could prove that my suspicions were correct. There are a number of psychological factors at play when people fall victim to the influence of charismatic leaders. Let it be noted that I eventually learned my lesson and stopped believing anything he said, and of course, asking for his opinion of anything.

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  2. I'm so sorry this happened to you and your family, but hopefully you were able to learn a lot about yourself and about people in this church. I too was a member with my husband (though in another city) and we both decided to leave due to the way we were being treated. Your story reminded me of how much leaders are idolized and have the image that they can do no wrong. I hope your story goes on to help many others to find their voices to speak out. In the church we're taught to be loving and to assume the best of people, but unfortunately it can lead to being manipulated especially by leaders. Just know and rest assured that God is in charge and He has seen all that has happened. Trust that He will show you all that you need to learn from this and will give you the strength to move on and forgive (yourself, VGSr, & the others). And never forget that God is the Avenger. He will take care of VGSr and Kip & whomever else when the time comes. At least you had the courage to alert the leaders about what's going in their church, and now God will handle the rest. Please continue in your faith and not let these people discourage your relationship with God. Best wishes to you and your family.

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  3. Hello my friend.

    I joined Kip's original franchise back in 1994. I can assure you that the abuse, narcissism, and expert use of Satan's native language were well executed even back then. What you have described could have been written in 1987, 1992, 1994, or last week.

    While it might seem hard to believe, please know that one day, all of this stomach ache and frustration will be out of your heart and soul. It will be a memory and little more. You will be like most of us who occasionally remember the crazy self-important mental illness of that 'movement,' but little more...

    You are older a lot longer than you are younger. So do not let your sense of value, importance, or purpose be diminished because Kip's re-reminant. There are amazing experiences, truths, and faith building things still awaiting you.

    God is not diminished by the failings of sinful men, and your spiritual value is not lessened because that neurotic fanclub wont let you be a member. I can PROMISE you (by the testimony of hundreds of thousands of ex-members) that Kip and his leaders have NO special knowledge or standing with God. You are not missing out on anything your soul or life needs. I can claim to have the ability to time travel and turn into the Hulk, but that doesn't make it true.

    During my time in the Phoenix ICOC, I saw outright lies and deceit by all of the famous 'leaders' as well as vicious character assignations and evidence of financial dealings that were legal yet without integrity. They can split hairs about how Kip's two new franchises are BETTER than the ICOC. However, the roots of their work are gangreen with deceit, obstruction, and self-preservation.

    You own them nothing. They are men. They took upon themselves the mantle of 'special' and have thrown MANY thousands of people into the fiery furnace in order to protect their strange ideas of self-importance.

    But again, I urge you.... DO NOT let this poison you. God is the only authority, and I do not recall Him (either by beams of light or twisted unbiblical interpretation) ever calling Kip or his 'mighty men and Timothy's.

    The lesson you have been able to take into yourself about your own boundaries will be worth more than gold to your from now on.

    Grace and Peace to you.

    Jeremie Lederman

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    1. Jeremie, thank you so much for your words!

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