Saturday, August 12, 2006

Is Stoen's past relevant?

Is Stoen's past relevant?

Isn't that just character assassination?

Wasn't he just a young college student who made some mistakes in his early years, for which he will pay for the rest of his life?

Shouldn't we be sympathetic to him, feel sorry for him, maybe even look up to him for what he has been through?


  1. Yes Stoens past is RELEVANT ! Stoen's course of conduct has continued on way past his college days. Stoen is in his 60's now. Stoen graduated from Stanford but what else has he done, other than a life time of Wierd and disreputable actions. The continuing saga of the Peoples Temple.

    Stoen was hired by Gallegos,(and it's obvious not because he was a great DDA or administrator) screws things up, causes all kinds of controversy, divides the community and then gets demoted, eventually quits and leaves the county in shame.

    Yes Stoen's past is very relevant to the mess that the DA's office and the county is in still.

  2. I agree. Stoen is relevant because his corrpution is instructive on how our corrupt DA thinks and what he sees as being "ok" to do. Lying, manipulating, trying to bribe judges. Oh yes Timmy is VERY relevant.

  3. Don't know about looking up to him, but he did lose a son.

  4. Hi, eric.

    Well, first of all there is a great deal of disagreement as to whether or not it was his son. He signed "his" son away, saying that he had asked his
    "beloved pastor" to sire the child.

    Then according to the books - the accounts by the survivors - he spent a great deal of time and energy keeping 'his' son away from his wife. Making sure everyone knew it was Jones' son.

    Grace, his wife, left the Temple, and him, before he did, and at a certain point, he sent the kid to Guyana. There's a passage that describes how he tricked her and prevented her from her last opportunity to have stopped him from sending the kid out of the country.

    When he broke with Jones, a custody battle ensued, which many say is what led to the massacre.

    After reading the books, and the accounts of the survivors as to how the "affidavits" came to be, I think it is possible that his signing away of the kid fell into that realm, and that it may very well have been his child.

    Tim Stoen would do anything for the cause, including giving up his son. He has to live with what he did.

    My sympathy goes not to him, but to the child who had a right ot expect his parents to protect him.

    But my sympathy really extends to the OTHER kids, the other people's kids, the foster kids, the wards of the state that Stoen arranged to bring into the Temple as a means of fundraising.

    THOSE kids didn't have a chance, and they died in Guyana. They didn't commit suicide. They were murdered.

    I will post his affidavit, as well as the other information.

  5. Tom Kinsolving8/20/2006 8:46 PM

    Ex-Temple Terrorist Stoen indeed will have to bear the excruciating loss of his young child, one of the worst punishments, for the rest of his life, unlike MOST of the other well-known collaborators (Willie Brown, Cecil Williams, Herb Cain, et al) who helped bring about the Jonestown bloodbath.

    Karma can be a fickle thing, eh? Like honesty. Take, for instance, Stoen's public announcement that he was "never part of Jim Jones's inner circle" when he relocated back to the Mendecino County D.A.'s office recently, the same place 30 years earlier he plotted to murder an Examiner reporter--my father--who was writing exposes about him and Jones in 1972 (while the rest of our crusading media did puff pieces.)
    Stoen effectively sealed the doom of those poor people in Guyana, and attempted a too-little, too-late rescue. The fact that he continues to lie about his central role in the Temple nightmare is just another sad indicator of a soul in overdue need of deep redemption.
    His underhanded, vicious, and unethical behavior as an Asst. D.A. in Humboldt County--especially regarding his ruthless but failed attempts to destroy Debbie August--doesn't bode well for this community he's returned to burrow under.
    God help you all, people of Mendecino.

  6. If it were not for your Dad, Les Kinsolving's coverage of the People's Temple, we might never have been able to uncover what went on.

    I am sure that, as young journalist, he could not have imagined all those years ago, how important his work would be to usall these years in the future.

    I highly recommend people read Tom and Kathleen Kinsolving's piece on People's Temple - Madman in Our Midst. They have graciously allowed me to post it on this blog (posted Sunday, April 30, 2006).

    They have partcularly strong feelings about Stoen and his involvement in the plot to kill their Dad

    MADMAN IN OUR MIDST: Jim Jones and the California Cover Up

  7. I don't disagree that it was a stupid and irresponsible thing to do, but a lot of people trusted Jones. Mainstream people - liberal, conservative, and otherwise. And Stoen was young and stupid.

    I think the Stoen hiring was a huge mistake on Gallegos' part - for the notoriety alone. But people make stupid decisons when they're young, and especially if they get sucked up in the idealism of a moment. It's not necessarily reflective of their character or judgment 30 years later.

  8. Stoen hardly qualified as young and stupid. He was a Stanford Law School graduate.

    There's also a difference between the sheep who follow along and the ones who fleece and eat the flock.

    The letter to the editor below says it best, and also tells you that other people who are aware of his past understand the difference. The author was a reporter at the time of the Temple happenings.

    I might agree with you, Eric, but for the fact that Stoen's actions HERE indicate to me that this man has not changed. He will do anything for a cause, and his activities surrounding the PL suit too closely mirror the People's Temple methodology.

    Here's the letter:

    Stoen’s Past is Too Checkered For Me

    To the Editor:
    When reading the letters supporting Tim Stoen’s candidacy for 1st District Assemblyman, don’t forget that Stoen was People’s Temple cult leader Jim Jones’ right-hand-man. He worked for the Mendocino County District Attorney’s office then, too, and he proved to the people whom he was paid and sworn to represent and protect that we were not among his priorities.

    Before Stoen took the job, he wrote a letter to Jones asking which position he should take in the DA’s office in order to best serve Jones and the church, and he was known to walk out of meetings when summoned by Jones. He arranged the transfer of money, land, houses, businesses and children of church members to Jones and his hierarchy and he hid money for Jones and the church in foreign bank accounts. He denied knowledge of wrongdoing or suspicious activity by Jones or the church when questioned by his colleagues in local law enforcement even when he was aware of threats, physical abuse, suicide drills and God only knows what else.

    Stoen told the press he had witnessed Jones raise the dead, and when the press became more interested in Jones, Stoen and the People’s Temple, he helped plan the move to Guyana. Stoen was arrogant and self-serving enough to believe that he was so revered by and necessary to Jones that he and his family would be spared. He didn’t blow the whistle until he realized he might be in physical danger himself, but that was not until after moving to Guyana which was too near the end to be of any real help.

    Until then Stoen was perfectly happy to help Jones fleece the flock, as it were, and even went so far as to "give" his wife and son to Jones. His values might be cheap but I understand that people with these kinds of ethics are sometimes paid extremely well. To place full blame for the Jonestown tragedy on Stoen might not be completely fair, but the fact remains that many lives in addition to his own, including that of his son, might have been saved had Stoen decided to let his conscience bother him before he headed south.

    When Stoen’s supporters try to defend his past actions as those of an idealistic youth in search of utopia, remember that at the time Stoen was over 30 years old with a degree from Stanford and license to practice law in California. He had already worked for the Mendocino County District Attorney’s office once before and had a private practice in the Bay Area. (His teenage bride, Grace, fresh out of high school then, could be accused of youthful idealism but she was at least intelligent enough to leave Stoen and the Temple while very young.) It’s hard to believe that someone with Stoen’s extensive education and experience could have been duped by Jones, but if he was taken then that is reason enough not to put him in any position of responsibility.

    Stoen has said in recent years that he has repented, found a new religion, is sorry and seeks forgiveness from the people he wronged. Apparently he intends to do this at taxpayer expense as he seems determined to have a publicly funded job. Stoen ran for Congress as a Republican, for Senate as a Democrat (and was soundly rejected by the people of California both times), works for the so-called liberal Norm Vroman [Mendo DA – RB] and is now running for State Assembly as a Republican again. His political flip-flops paint a picture of man no more grounded or any less desperate than the one who worshipped and aided Jim Jones.

    If Stoen truly wanted to do right by the people whose lives and history he helped to so seriously and permanently mar, he would remove himself from the public payroll and stop haunting our ballots. Religious zealots and con men (and the District Attorneys who hire them) do not make good public representatives no matter how sorry they are for past scams and sins.

    Robin Shelley, Laytonville

    (From the Mendocino Coast Observer, Feb. 2, 2002.)

  9. "Young... stupid... irresponsible..."? Tim Stoen was not a bored teenager who stole a car, Mr. Kirk. He was an educated, cultured, well-travelled, worldly & experienced man in full possesion of all his faculties who deliberately & intentionally aided & abetted in one of, if not the biggest & most notorious cons & mass murders in the history of the world. People have been put to death for lesser crimes. You're an attorney - perhaps you can explain to me how this man escaped prosecution? Was it because he destroyed evidence, most of which he created & had control of or was it because 900 & some witnesses were dead in the jungle? There are many adjectives with which to describe Tim Stoen but make no mistake, Mr. Kirk, "stupid" is not one of them.
    Robin Shelley

  10. I'm not all that familiar with the case, nor Stoen's specific involvement in it. But from the little I've read, he was not expecting Jones to kill his followers. Jones was a psycho, but was it a con? I think Jones believed what he was saying. It probably would have gone differently if he didn't. In fact, sometimes the true believers are worse than the con men.

    Certainly if he was aware of illegal activity and aided and abetted in it he was guilty of a crime and should have been prosecuted. But I've heard claims that he was as shocked as everybody else about the abuses in Guyana. Jones certainly had everybody else snowed as well. I don't recall a whole lot of opposition to him at the time, and plenty of dignatories who thought he was a great guy.

    However, I didn't realize he was in his 30s. That makes for much less of an excuse in terms of idealism.

  11. The abuse did not BEGIN in Guyana, Eric. In many ways it escalated there, and extraordinary measures were taken to make sure people could not escape or defect from Guyana (a few made it, and at least one wrote about it).

    No. The abuse began in the states. The "White Nights" practice sessions began long before the move to Guyana.

    "White Nights" were suicide drills. Jones would instruct the followers to drink wine (one of the few times they were allowed). Then he would tell them they had just been poisoned and would soon be dead as he preached about the reason for it, and the need for it.

    Then he would tell them it had been a test of their loyalty. The followers then complied time and time again, seeing no way out. These and other mind deadening sessions were regular if not daily occurrences.

    In Guyana, on the fateful day, it was clear that this was no drill, People panicked, some tried to escape, some were shot, others were injected, babies were injected. Children and old people were injected at gunpoint.

    It was no peaceful and compliant suicide. Some fought for their lives against armed guards. Many were murdered.

    But the stage was set long before.

  12. Mr. Kirk,
    I don't know what Tim Stoen expected but he's the one who declared under penalty of perjury that he had loaned out his wife for stud service by Jim Jones. He's the one who researched & helped orchestrate the move to Guyana when he & Jones feared their operation was about to be exposed in the U.S. & part of the appeal of that country was its child custody laws. He's the one who sent the boy to Jonestown when Grace Stoen threatened court action to gain custody of her son. He knew Jones considered John Victor Stoen to be his own & that Jones had promised that he (& everyone else) would die before he would let anyone take the boy away from him. Stoen lived periodically in Jonestown. He knew he had Jones cornered & he was aware of the White Night suicide practices for use in just such an instance. No, I don't know what Tim Stoen expected.
    Given Stoen's close personal relationship with Jones, his extensive involvement in the church over a period of 8 years, his marriage to a Staff member, his involvement in the formation of a so-called Diversions Dept., his own public humliation for an alleged sexual encounter with Jones & the fact that he lived in Jonestown, too, I seriously doubt he was shocked by the absuses there or anywhere else. For him to look the other way & accept such abhorrent abuse as necessary to the cause until it effected him personally & to claim ignorance of it today is what I find shocking.
    Jones didn't have everybody snowed... just the ones who mattered... a sad commentary on our press & government... & a sickening loss of innocence & faith as well as a prevailing sense of guilt & failure to this day for those people who tried so hard for so long to bring attention to the real goings-on & motives of this madman, his followers & their organization. The People's Temple was a socialist movement disguised as a church.
    I doubt you are old enough to personally recall much of anything that happened with the People's Temple before it made world headlines in 1978 but, if you are truly interested in knowing more about it, I would suggest you start by reading "Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People" by Tim Reiterman & John Jacobs. Then you can tell me if you think this true believe was a con man as well.
    I am interested to know if you know Tim Stoen personally.
    Robin Shelley

  13. Eric Kirk has to defend Stoen cause Tim Stoen was Gallegos' handpicked Assistant DA. And anyone that reads the blogs knows that Eric Kirk is a semi rabid follower/supporter of Gallegos. Eric Kirk sticks up for Gag's when he is exposed for his plagiarism, trying to down play the whole incident. Eric Kirk is just Gallegos' butt boy blog spin doctor.

    All this information, all of it negative, about Stoen reflects poorly on Gallegos So eric has to try and soften it up. Eric Kirk uses the blogs to defend Gag's from negative comments.

    What can you expect from Eric Kirk. He is so very predictable.


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