Move to malign Sai Baba fails
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Move to malign Sai Baba fails

Sandhya jain

On March 14, a lingering, insidious smear campaign against Sathya Sai Baba quietly fizzled out when Channel Nine MSN removed a biased anti-Baba broadcast from its official Website. Ardent Sai defamer Robert Priddy admitted on his blog that Channel Nine MSN “would not have removed the video had there not been legitimate complaints about the content and disinformation in their video”.

Sai Baba devotees following the so-called sex scandal case were gratified to find that over the past few years many accusers were exposed as liars and worse. The main accuser, who inspired a BBC documentary, withdrew his California court case against the Sai Baba Society on realising exposure was nigh.

As usual, when false accusations are made against Hindu gurus, a high-decibel media campaign begins. But when the innocence of the accused is established, the cacophony melts into stoic silence. It is to the credit of devotees that anti-Sai Baba information has been purged from US Government and UNESCO Websites, among others.

Mr Alaya Rahm’s sexual abuse allegations against Sai Baba gained international notoriety when featured on the documentaries, Seduced By Sai Baba and Secret Swami. His allegations were published in Britain (The Daily Telegraph) and India (India Today). An army of anti-Sai activists translated the allegations into several languages and spread them via the Internet. At first, the claims seemed disturbingly true; now they have simply vanished!

Mr Rahm filed his lawsuit, Alaya Rahm vs Sathya Sai Baba Society, in the Superior Court of California on January 6, 2005 (Case No. 05cc01931). Under California’s statute of limitations, an individual can file a lawsuit for alleged sexual molestation up to his/her 26th birthday, if the alleged events occurred before the age of 18. Mr Rahm filed his case two days before this expiry date.

The trial was set for April 28, 2006, but on April 7 the plaintiff self-dismissed his own lawsuit. He attempted to sue for money damages, but no offers of settlement were made and no money or other consideration was paid; the case was dismissed “with prejudice” and is binding under the international doctrine of res judicata. This means Mr Rahm can never file another lawsuit against Sathya Sai Baba, in the US or in India, for the same claims made in this case.

Mr Rahm never sought medical or psychiatric treatment for alleged trauma and could not itemise any wage losses. Moreover, no other alleged victim came forward to testify in support of his allegations, though anti-Sai activists claimed there were “over a hundred” alleged victims in the US. He gave no reasons for quitting; no deposition was filed and no witnesses were identified to the court on his behalf.

Although Mr Rahm’s accusations received publicity, his claims were not thoroughly investigated until the lawsuit was filed. During the subsequent legal process, it was found that Mr Rahm and his family members made speeches at a number of retreats and conferences between 1995 and 1999, the period in which the alleged sexual abuses took place. Many talks were recorded and found to contain no suggestion of wrongdoing. Rather, there was enthusiastic praise of the Baba; Mr Rahm even wrote a love poem to him.

The legal process identified witnesses present at the Indian ashram when the events allegedly occurred. One witness, Mr Lewis Kreydick, purchased Mr Rahm’s ticket and accompanied him to India in 1995 and in 1997; he was present in some meetings in which Mr Rahm later claimed to have been sexually abused.

Mr Kreydick inter alia testified that he had close links with Mr Rahm from 1995 to 1997, and spoke with him daily when at the ashram in 1995 and 1997, discussing details of each meeting Mr Rahm had with Baba. Though Mr Rahm shared confidential details about his sexual past with Mr Kreydick, he never related or suggested, in this period, that any misconduct, wrongdoing or sexual actions had transpired between him and Baba. In fact, he only narrated positive and miraculous experiences.

Mr Kreydick signed his typed deposition on April 7, 2006. The same day, the defendant (the Sathya Sai Baba Society) filed Mr Kreydick’s deposition as part of the official record, and Mr Rahm self-dismissed his case! Obviously, he did not feel confident to take his case to trial, though he was represented by an experienced sexual abuse trial lawyer.

Further, in Form Interrogatory No. 6.3, Set One, Mr Rahm admitted to being a daily user of illegal street drugs and alcohol from 1995 to 2005. Thus, throughout his allegations and the filming of the BBC Documentary Secret Swami and the Danish Documentary Seduced By Sai Baba, Mr Rahm was under the influence of illegal street drugs and alcohol. This was suppressed from the general public by his family and anti-Baba associates.

The controversy persisted because of the doggedness of ex-devotees, possibly persons who infiltrated the ashram in the guise of devotees, with the intention of maligning Baba later. Key blogs in the defamation were;; None of these gentlemen was sexually abused, nor had personally witnessed any incident of alleged abuse. Interestingly, some eminent Western ‘Hindus’ joined the anti-Sai crusade with startling enthusiasm, fuelling suspicions about the possible political agendas of these faux converts.

No alleged victim ever filed a police or court case against Baba in India for alleged improprieties, though former devotees kept chanting that ‘hundreds’, indeed ‘‘thousands’’ of ‘‘minors’’, ‘‘children’’ and ‘male youth’ were molested by Sathya Sai Baba.

Who inspired these venomous former devotees to launch investigations into vile rumours? Devotees say the ‘Anti-Sai Movement’ is an extremist hate group which habitually makes wild allegations, including the laughable claim that the Baba is allied with terrorists! One magazine published a fake picture of Sai Baba holding hands with Idi Amin!

The truth is that neither Sai Baba nor any organisation associated with him has been charged or implicated for sexual abuse, either directly or indirectly, and that reputable media agencies and independent journalists have not been able to confirm a single instance of sexual abuse linked to Sai Baba or his organisations. Gutter allegations tend to choke on their own stink.

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