Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bizarre California cult, Fellowship of Friends, attacks GodLikeProductions.com for reposting WikiLeaks expose

Fellowship of Friends cult leader and dandy Robert Earl Burton (R. E. Burton) leading meeting
Fellowship of Friends cult leader Robert Earl Burton leading a Sunday meeting

From WikiLeaks:
The Fellowship of Friends (FoF) is a controversial Californian headquartered "Forth Way" [sic] religious cult. It claims 40 chapters around the world and has been the subject of a number of law suits in the past five years. The suits, instigated by former members, allege, among other matters, that the supposedly celibate founder and leader, Robert Earl Burton, kept or keeps a secret harem of teenage boys.
Earlier this month, WikiLeaks released a significant internal letter from the former lawyer of the cult, David Springfield. That letter discussed a variety of criminal and unethical activities undertaken by the FoF.
Subsequently, a popular internet forum, GodLikeProductions.com (GLP) posted a copy of the WikiLeaks description, together with a link to the original WikiLeaks article.
On June 21, 2009, an administrator of GLP received the first in series of legal demands over the Springfield letter from "Abraham N. Goldman & Associates, Ltd." of California, who stated they were acting for the Fellowship of Friends. The demands insisted GLP remove references to the WikiLeaks information, claiming copyright and client-attorney privilege on the Springfield letter. 
Importantly, these demands serve to independently authenticate the Springfield document and testify to its significance.
It should be noted that the address used by "Abraham N. Goldman & Associates, Ltd.", 12896 Rices Crossing Road Oregon House, CA 95962-0120, corresponds to the Fellowship Of Friends vast, secured, California compound.
See "Censored Fellowship of Friends cult letter from former legal council David Springfield, 2009" for the Springfield article and this discussion at GLP.
[ed. - If you should search for "Fellowship of Friends" on WikiLeaks, or "david-springfield-letter-2009" on the web, and are led to links to the infamous letter (which may be torrents requiring a tool like BitTorrent to download them), be advised: do not download the letter. You may be subject to legal action.]


"Ames Gilbert" wrote the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 24, 2009:

It appears that someone has posted the “David Springfield” letter on Wikileaks, an act which I suggested as a possibility in my post #74-22 of June 3rd. That someone rather unkindly used my name and telephone number (which is freely available and which I have published before several times on this blog) as a contact person.
Wikileaks has this to say:
Censored Fellowship of Friends cult letter from former legal council David Springfield, 2009
The Fellowship of Friends is a “intellectual” fourth-way cult founded in the 1970s by its current leader Robert Earl Burton[1][2][3]. It claims chapters in many countries, including 10 chapters in the United States[4].
This file contains a copy of a letter sent to the members of the Board of Directors of the Fellowship of Friends apparently by their former legal counsel. The letter outlines many illegal activities of the Fellowship of Friends and omissions of oversight by said Board of Directors, and possible consequences if these matters come to the attention of the authorities.
The document was initially released on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, but was wholly censored by the publisher WordPress.com after it received a claim of copyright infringement under the US DMCA.
A version of it was then made available on the Internet Archive (archive.org), but it too has been removed.
The letter refers to fraud obtaining religious visas, fraudulent accounting, inurements to the chief minister (Robert Earl Burton), tax evasion, and so on. It may be of interest to agencies within the US government and the
governments of other countries.
“Interested parties can call Ames Gilbert at (530) 272-4775 (within U.S.A.).”
__________________________________________________________________
My wife had a very bad dream about Burton last night, and this prompted her to enter his name in Google this morning. The Wikileaks entry was noted by an internet discussion site called Godlike Productions, and it seems like Abraham Goldman was also doing an internet search recently and found the link on Godlike Productions, because when I went to the site (the first time I’ve ever been there, as I had no idea they existed before this), there was a full discussion going on. Why? Not because of the original note (which linked to, but did not quote the Wikipedia entry), but because Abe sent a letter asking them to take the link down. It seems the editor and readers are a lively crowd, so they hastened to discuss the whole matter, with the result that the knowledge of the letter is much more widely dispersed than it would have been if Abe had just shut up. I mean, I bet every reader here didn’t know the letter had been put on Wikileaks, and probably would never have known otherwise.
During the correspondence between Abraham Goldman and the editor of the site, I read two paragraphs that are rather disturbing to me personally. I called Abraham today, and after making a great show about not remembering about this letter, he called back and confirmed that he had indeed written:
“My office intends to subpoena such information pursuant to the DMCA and all other applicable laws very soon.”
“Mr. Gilbert has a long documented history of illegal acts toward the Fellowship, including, but not limited to copyright violations, privacy violations, defamation, invasion of privacy and violation of federal internet and electronic communications laws”.
So, it is apparent that Abraham thinks that I posted the letter to Wikileaks, and that I have a long documented history of illegal acts; and that he intends to act (presumably against me) in some manner soon.
Unfortunately, here in the U.S.A., most of the time plaintiffs and defendants get to pay their own costs, unless some kinds of damages are awarded or the judge makes an exception. So, all Abe and the FoF have to do is to start a case, and my very expensive legal defense bills start mounting up. No matter who ‘wins’, I pay. And that is often used as a weapon to get agreements and settlements in and out of court. The powerful and wealthy can basically use the advantage of their wealth against those with more limited means, and leave them in penury; the one with the deepest pockets wins. Sometimes known as SLAPP suits (from Wiki: A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”) is a lawsuit that is intended to intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Winning the lawsuit is not necessarily the intent of the person filing the SLAPP. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate).
And here is the funny thing. I tried to find the actual letter on Wikileaks, but no joy. It talks about it, but I can’t read it or download it!!
For those with long attention spans, I reproduce the correspondence in full from the website. Worth reading for the irony alone.
Regards to you all,
Ames

[ed. - Contents of letter from Abraham Goldman Associates to Godlike Productions:]
Cc: ‘Abraham Goldman’
Subject: Demand for Immediate Removal of Copyrighted, Private and Privileged Information
ABRAHAM N. GOLDMAN & ASSOCIATES, LTD.
Post Office Box 120
12896 Rices Crossing Road
Oregon House, CA 95962-0120
Abraham N. Goldman Tel. 530-692-2267
agoldman@succeed.net Fax 530692-2543
June 21, 2009
To:
“Godlike Productions”
DMCA and legal compliance officer:
I am the lawyer for the Fellowship of Friends, Inc., a California non-profit religious corporation. Please call my office: 530 692 2267 to verify.
My client wishes to work with you on this matter in a cooperative fashion. Please do no hesitate to contact me by email or by telephone at any time.
This notice concerns a post by a Mr. Ames Gilbert: “Censored Fellowship of Friends cult letter from former legal council David Springfield”, possibly posted or dated 6/14/2009.
My client demands that the Post reproduced below, by Ames Gilbert, be removed immediately, and that all links or traces of this post be eliminated. My client also demands that all electronically stored information, as that term is used in Rules 26 and 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, be preserved immediately and permanently, until further notice. My office intends to subpoena such information pursuant to the DMCA and all other applicable laws very soon.
Please take notice that the post by Mr. Gilbert reiterates or paraphrases copyrighted AND ATTORNEY CLIENT PRIVILEGED MATERIALS, WHICH CAN NEVER BE PUBLISHED UNDER ANY “FAIR USE” DOCTRINE. The underlying materials were and remain privileged and private and no legal rights under any federal or state law were ever waived by my client, the owner of the letter and it’s copyright.
PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF THIS EMAIL IMMEDIATELY, and that the offending post was removed immediately.
In addition to violation of copyright laws and privacy laws, my client also takes the position the post is libel and defamation, and violates federal laws on electronic communications. My client also reserves the right to take legal action against any person or entity involved with the publication or distribution of the subject post by Mr. Gilbert, and/or the referenced underlying attorney client privileged and private letter.
My client looks forward to your immediate cooperation and compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations.
Once again, my client wishes to work with you on this matter in a cooperative fashion. Please do no hesitate to contact me by email or by telephone at any time. Mr. Gilbert has a long documented history of illegal acts toward the Fellowship, including, but not limited to copyright violations, privacy violations, defamation, invasion of privacy and violation of federal internet and electronic communications laws.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this very important matter.

{ed. - Response from Godlike Productions:]
Sir,
For an attorney you should know that the post in question does NOT violate the DMCA. You should also know that NO attorney client privileged information is contained in that post. If you can provide real evidence of a law that is being violated here I will be happy to investigate the matter further. In the mean time I have published this threatening letter on our website for the public to review. If you believe this post represents libel I suggest you take that up with the person who made it and attempt to prove what they are saying is NOT true. (good luck with that) I will be awaiting any subpoena for information via our corporate headquarters in Jersey, Isle of Man. (good luck on that as well)
Please be aware that further threatening letters will also be published for public consumption.
Have a nice day,
jack_frost

Second Letter from Abraham Goldman: 
Dear Mr. Frost:
Thank you for the prompt reply.
You are incorrect that my communication was a “threatening” letter. If you comply with the law, you are protected from any legal process. You state you are or will be in compliance, so there is no possibility of any “threat” to you.
The post in question paraphrases a letter which unquestionably is a privileged Attorney Client communication under the laws of any state, nation and international law. Nothing is more fundamental that the right of a client to communicate with their legal representative. Kings and Emperors and Star Chambers fought against this, but the right to counsel prevailed.
Publishing a paraphrase of a privileged document would be an easy and convenient way to avoid any laws of copyright, privacy or privilege. That is what Mr. Gilbert’s posting attempts to do. There is definitely attorney client information in it that is the whole intent of the posting. It also links, or attempts to link to the full letter itself: the Courts have held such a link can be a violation of copyright laws and the DNCA all by itself. The link is a direction to the full private, privileged letter itself.
People who take a stand for legal rights do not “threaten”. They ask for civilized compliance with the law. Respectfully asking for legal compliance is not a threat. The world stood still while Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin violated law after law: there was the threat. Freedom and Responsibility need and deserve equal respect and equal compliance. Violating laws of privacy and legal privilege do not further either.
I will forward to you the additional information you request. In the interval, my client’s demand and notice that it’s rights of privacy, privilege and copyright be respected stands as previously stated.
If you would be so kind as to reply with the corporate name, address and email that would be greatly appreciated.
Abraham Goldman

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