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Hubbard v. J Message Group Corp.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

July 11, 2018

CAROL HUBBARD, Plaintiff,
v.
J MESSAGE GROUP CORP., a Vermont corporation, KENNETH CHARLES ALEXANDER and DEBORAH SUE ALEXANDER, Husband and Wife, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [1]

          KIRTAN KHALSA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss With Supporting Memorandum (Doc. 19) (“Motion”), filed November 16, 2017. Plaintiff filed a Response on January 24, 2018 (Doc. 32).[2][3] Defendants filed a Reply on January 16, 2018 (Doc. 28). The Court, having reviewed the parties' submissions and the relevant law, and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, finds that the motion is well taken and shall be GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         For the purpose of ruling on Defendants' Motion, the Court assumes that the following well-pled facts taken from Plaintiff's Amended Complaint are true.[4] Mayfield v. Bethards, 826 F.3d 1252, 1255 (10th Cir. 2016) (“[I]n reviewing a motion to dismiss, [the Court] accept[s] the facts alleged in the complaint as true and views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”). Defendant J Message Group Corp. (“JMGC”), also called Companions of Wisdom (“CoW”) is a closed, invitation-only, nonprofit organization, incorporated under the laws of the State of Vermont, with its principal place of business in Vermont. (Doc. 15 at ¶ 10.) Defendant Kenneth Alexander and Defendant Deborah Alexander (husband and wife) are officers and directors of JMGC, and they are citizens of the State of Washington. (Id. at ¶¶ 10, 12.) Defendants conduct fee-based seminars and conferences and develop written materials to promote their reincarnation-based doctrines, worldview, and advocacy agenda to its members and to those interested in engaging in its programs. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 20.) Plaintiff, a citizen of the State of Virginia, met and became acquainted with the Alexanders and with JMGC in 2008, and she began paying to attend JMGC's conferences. (Id. at ¶ 20.) The actions giving rise to this lawsuit occurred during a JMGC conference held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 34-35.)

         Defendants promote the belief that people have past lives that influence their current life and, as noted earlier, Defendants develop written materials to promote their reincarnation-based doctrines, worldview, and advocacy agenda to the organization's members. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 14) As part of the CoW program, Defendants hold seminars and issue publications to the members of JMGC. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 30.) JMGC is authoritarian in nature and does not permit dissent or questions regarding its doctrines or leadership. (Id. at ¶ 12.)

         Mr. Alexander is the “spiritual leader” of JMGC. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Mr. Alexander compels the members of JMGC to adopt the organization's reincarnation doctrines and hierarchical structure. (Id. at ¶¶ 12, 14.) Mr. Alexander claims to channel communications from higher beings or master guides, which communications include instructions and beliefs that are binding on the members of JMGC. (Id. at ¶ 13.)

         JMGC lures people who are looking for spiritual direction and altruistic involvement by initially promoting self-improvement and by engaging its members in discussions and providing publications relating to broader contemporary topics such as history, economics, and spiritual development. (Id. at ¶ 15.) When prospective members wish to advance their association with JMGC and share details of their personal lives with Defendants, Defendants collectively engage in a process designed to control, isolate, shame, emotionally harm, and take advantage of the prospective members, which process is contrary to JMGC's “self-improvement banner.” (Id. at ¶ 16.) Members who dissent or question the leadership's directives become the targets of “shaming conduct”-meaning that Defendants “collectively disseminate false information coupled with outrageous accusations, in CoW communications, designed solely to cause dissenting members substantial emotional and psychological trauma.” (Id. at ¶ 17.) Dissenting members are subjected to this “shaming conduct” until they recant their dissent or quit the organization. (Id. at ¶ 19.)

         As Plaintiff's involvement in JMGC increased, Plaintiff had questions about JMGC/CoW's operations and beliefs. (Id. at ¶ 21) Defendants did not like Plaintiff's inquiring nature and resistance to questionable directions, and they collectively engaged in a campaign to discredit her, and to cause problems in her personal life and to her professional reputation. (Id. at ¶¶ 22, 23.) On one occasion, Plaintiff-who is a government contractor with a high-level security clearance, having attended a CoW conference abroad asked Mrs. Alexander for the name and sponsor of the conference so that she could provide that information on a United States Government security clearance application as required by her employer. (Id. at ¶ 24.) Mrs. Alexander demanded that Plaintiff refrain from disclosing the fact that she had travelled overseas to attend the CoW conference, and insisted that Plaintiff lie to the federal government about the purpose of her travel under threat of “severe consequences” if she did not comply with this directive. (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff refused to comply with Mrs. Alexander's directive to lie to the federal government on the ground that any act of dishonesty or misconduct could compromise her professional credentials and her job. (Id. ¶ 27) This notwithstanding, Mrs. Alexander continued to urge Plaintiff to lie, and Plaintiff continued to refuse to do so. (Id.) In retaliation for Plaintiff's refusal to lie on her security clearance application, Defendants published “Communication 17” (dated February 12-13, 2016) to its membership, stating that: “she [Plaintiff] has a split who is a porn star and is seen doing sex acts with her husband. That is all she does . . . the Hubbard Soul has been part of several sex cults, including the Manson cult.” (Id. at ¶ 28 (italics omitted).)

         In a further act of retaliation, Mr. Alexander began interfering with Plaintiff's personal relationship by urging her then fiancée (now husband) Ken Kyzer to break off his relationship with Plaintiff because she was a destructive influence. (Doc. 15 at ¶ 29.) Defendant Kenneth Alexander told Ken Kyzer that if he were going to be a committed partner associated with CoW, he would have to end his relationship with Plaintiff. (Id.) Because Mr. Kyzer refused to end his relationship with Plaintiff, Defendants terminated Plaintiff's membership in JMGC/CoW, thereby prohibiting Plaintiff from reading Mr. Alexander's channeled communications, and also prohibiting her from attending Defendant's conferences or events. (Doc. 15 at ¶ 30.)

         Thereafter, (from February 25, 2016 through February 28, 2016) Defendants held a JMGC/CoW conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Id. at ¶ 31.) During this conference, Defendants presented the following statements about Plaintiff to the membership of JMGC:

a. Recently, we had to discontinue the access for one aspect of that soul [Carol Hubbard]. And why is that? Because . . . they were very predatory in this group.
b. Sandra Otterson, another famous porn star, they do have a split in your group, believe it or not, but they also have one that just left: Carol Hubbard.
c. The sexual predators you might think are fairly easy to spot because they make you uncomfortable to be around, but they're still there. And your friend Carol Hubbard was a sexual predator, but she was also a financial predator because she was poor. And you have many who come in contact with this group thinking that this is where they will make their riches.
d. We don't judge you over the fact that you have sexual desires or that you want to have wealth. But if you're using other people to get it in a way that is inappropriate, you need to stop and think about how far you're going to get before we see what you're doing. That is why Carol Hubbard and Ken Kyzer are no longer in your group.
e. So this guy who is, uh, previously a reader (Rob Murphy), just reactivated, how long ago what that Deborah?
Deborah [Alexander]: Three days ago.
Three days ago. So we got right of the other one, Carol Hubbard, and now we have this guy. Okay? So, they really want to be involved in this work, but I don't take them seriously any longer . . . But you've got to understand just how messed up human psychology is, to see how you can get such a diversity of expression in the human form.
f. Why are we always so hard on the pornographers? Is it because they're predatory? In most cases, who makes all the money? It's the pornographer, it's not the porn star.
Well, these two, Nina Hartley and Sandra Otterson are a little smarter because they took control of their own destiny and they are the ones making the money . . . But they're still predatory on people who cannot express their sexuality in a normal functional manner.
g. What's happened recently with the Scribe's split, Ken Kyzer, is an example of how the 2nd ray not only got subverted, but got completely kicked out. And what was it due to? I am going to be very blunt about it.
It was about sex and money.
In this group we have worked extremely hard to remove these as factors in the group's functioning. We have tried to keep predatory people out of the group, either who are predatory sexually or monetarily. The sexual predators you might think are fairly easy to spot because they make you uncomfortable to be around, but they're still there.
And your friend Carol Hubbard was a sexual predator, but she was also a financial predator because she was poor.
And you have many who come in contact with this group thinking that this is where they will make their riches . . .
h. Sexual predation is very common. It's a very common part of the 3rd ray Psychoanthropology because 3rd rays tend to be very insensitive to others.
They seek ways of gaining control over others and whether it's sex, money or power, they'll use one or more of these things to gain, uh, the upper hand.
We have told the higher self of Carol Hubbard that if they want to stay in the group, if they want to have a functioning member of the group, there can be no sexual or financial predation going on.
The Scribe's higher self needs to come forward and explain what it is they did to cause the Carol Hubbard/Ken Kyzer problem from occurring in the first place because they were largely responsible for that.
This group cannot exist with financial or sexual predators. You cannot come into this group thinking, “Well, I need to get myself laid, ” or “I need to make a buck.” If you happen to meet somebody in the group and you're attracted to them and you form a relationship, that's perfectly fine.
But if your sole purpose of being here is to have sex, you're in the wrong place. The same is true if you're here to try to make money off of people in the group. This is not the place to do it . . .
But what you have seen with Carol Hubbard and Ken Kyzer is a perfect example of what we are trying to prevent in this group.

(Id. at ¶¶ 31, 35.) (Emphasis in original.)

         The statements, which were made live at the Santa Fe conference before an audience of more than 100 attendees in retaliation against Plaintiff and Mr. Kyzer, were, thereafter, edited, transcribed, and published online on the JMGC/CoW website which is available to JMGC's worldwide membership. (Id. at ¶¶ 33, 34, 37.) Because Defendants had ousted Plaintiff from JMGC, she was precluded from reading the transcribed texts. (Id. at ¶ 35.) The statements have caused Plaintiff extreme embarrassment and emotional distress, and have caused third-parties, friends and associates to avoid being associated with her out of fear of being associated with the statements. (Doc. 15 at ¶¶ 40, 41.)

         Defendants' treatment of Plaintiff is consistent with their history and pattern of targeting members, particularly females, who dissent or question their directives, with shaming conduct. (Id. at ¶¶ 17, 19, 42-44.) Defendants have previously maligned dissenting females by publishing statements labeling a well-respected former member of the United States Congress who was not a CoW member, but founded an organization that CoW's members are expected to volunteer for and financially support, “as a madam at a bordello and a slave holder; and stating that ...


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