For people who would like to know more about Tim Stoen, there are many books written about Jonestown. They all have pieces of the story, which, when put together, give you a clearer picture of Tim Stoen's role as second-in-command-right-hand-man to Jim Jones in the People's Temple.
A recent North Coast Journal cover story on Tim Stoen asserted that there was a whisper campaign against Stoen, and that the "whisper campaign" only tells half the story "at best." The reader is left to assume that that half is negative, with the implication that it is, therefore, untrue.
As Stoen has come through the years, the stories about him become more and more sanitized. His past has been reduced to one journalistic line ... "Tim Stoen, right-hand-man, second-in-command, legal advisor to Jim Jones." Some shorten it to say that Stoen has a "colorful" past.
The Journal article states that Stoen was the Attorney of Record and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the People's Temple. Very benign titles. There is much more to it than that.
In "The Strongest Poison," author Mark Lane writes that "Timothy Stoen was later to recount in magnificent detail - - how he had been taken in by Jones. Since many others also had been, Stoen's exposition rang with the feeling of truth..."
Stoen, in fact "... was the closest, the most loyal, the most "in" - strategizer, planner, executor, mastermind of every facet of the church's legal affairs. ..." In essence, Tim Stoen was a partner to Jim Jones. The fiery breakup of this partnership ended up costing 910 people their lives. Some 287 of them were children.
The Journal article quoted Stoen as not knowing of incidents of child abuse, beatings and torture. "Grace told Tim stories that she had learned as the Temple's chief social counselor - stories of physical abuse at the hand of Jones. Stoen hadn't known things had gone that far, he says."
The record clearly indicates Stoen was aware of incidents of child abuse, beatings and torture. Stoen was the highest ranking member of "The Staff" and the "The Planning Commission" - the upper echelon governing bodies of the People's Temple, where the most egregious offenses, the most startling forms of mental, physical and sexual abuse took place.
Read the previous post It's not Family fare for some of details about the child abuse that occurred.
Beatings took place in "Planning Commission" Meetings. "The beatings were intensely brutal. … Many times the beatings would be done on children four and five years old. … ...beaten the number of times decided by Pastor Jones, often as many as 150 times. ...Jones would demand that a microphone be held to the child's mouth so that the audience could hear the groans of pain. ....:
"Following such beatings and punishments, the TEMPLE'S ATTORNEY (emphasis added) secured protective legal documents, notarized parental releases and "requests" for punishment."
As mentioned, in Jonestown, "Big Foot" replaced "the Blue-Eyed Monster." Ordinary childhood antics and mischief resulted in a trip down a dark path, each child firmly escorted by camp enforcers, to where Jones waited at the side of a water well. White with fear, the children were hoisted and dropped by rope into the water. Other members waited in the blackness of the well, coached by Jones to seize the children and drag them underwater. In the darkness, cut off from parents and any possibility of help, the children paid for naughtiness, dunked again and again.... ...Their terrified screams often reverberated through Jonestown, then faded into the lush, silent jungle."
Stoen. living in Jonestown, could not have been ignorant of this. Yet Stoen says "the weeks he spent in Guyana were the happiest of his life."
Whether one wants to believe he was a victim or not, consider this: When Stoen defected all charges and investigations against him were dropped. When he fought Jones' it was for custody of 'his' son, not to save others.
Worse, over the years he aided and abetted Jones in his actions, facilitated the ever escalating cruelty and helped perpetrate the cover-ups, arranging notarized "permission" and after the fact "requests" from parents to beat the children, securing and storing coerced incriminating statements from all followers, designed to keep them in line, and intended to be used against them in the event they "defected."
Reports of criminal activity on the part of the People's Temple were thwarted at every turn by Tim Stoen. His duplicitous role as Temple official and Assistant District Attorney for Mendocino Counties and San Francisco is a matter of record.
But it is Stoen's pivotal role as the head of "The Diversions Department" - also known as "The Dirty Tricks Department." that is most interesting - and most relevant today. Described in varying degrees in all the books, the primary purpose of "the Diversions Department" was to "ensure that the Temple's secrets be kept." This was accomplished through various methods "starting with anonymous threatening phone calls and unsettling letters ..." intended to terrorize potential defectors. "The Diversions Department's" efforts to deflect public scrutiny were intended to manipulate and pressure the media and public officials, first through phone calls and carefully orchestrated letter writing campaigns - given stacks of different kinds of paper and stationery, ink pens in various colors, and typewriters that had been picked up at thrift stores, Temple Members were instructed to write a barrage of letters to be sent to public officials in order to sway their opinion. They used names chosen from phone books from all over the country, varied the message slightly so that they would appear to be from the population at large, and destroyed the typewriters afterwards so that no links would remain. (Many of the books recount these activities, some by people who were part of the letter writing campaign)
"The Dirty Tricks Department" was completely under Stoen's control and operated autonomously, without having to get approval from Jones for its activities. (pg 257 "The Strongest Poison" also detailed in other books) At a meeting in August of 1973 (four years before the Massacre) Stoen opened a meeting of "the Diversions Department" by stating that the result of the meeting should not be reported to "Jim" (Jones). He said that it was his opinion that Jim should not be present at the meetings for tactical planning because Jim was vital to the leadership of the organization and if anything were to go wrong. "We want to be able to say we were acting independently and Jim had not been advised of our actions." Stoen said the group should come up with some contingency plans. The first contingency to be considered, he said, was what the reaction should be if Jim was killed. Stoen then wrote on a piece of paper a "hit list" comprised of Temple defectors and critics that "should be made to pay if anything happens to Jim." On that list was the name of Lester Kinsolving, a man who had written a series of articles critical of the Temple. Stoen then suggested that a kidnap list be compiled. He thought, he said, that if Jim were arrested, political figures should be punished by being kidnapped, not killed.... ....The kidnapped officials were to be held hostage until Jones was released... ... Stoen then assigned a task to each of the members present: "Before the next meeting, come up with the names of likely people to kidnap." ... Stoen then proposed a program for "simultaneous political action" in which some members of the Temple would perform "political activities," while the church as a whole moved forward with its regular program. The "political activities" Stoen suggested included the establishment of a bomb factory and poisoning the water supply of Washington, D.C., and that someone should take on the responsibility of researching the kind of poison that could effectively be used for that purpose. ..." The record shows that Stoen used the District Attorney's office to research the kinds of poison that could be used, and the survivor's books claim it was Stoen who introduced the idea of mass suicide by poison, and Stoen who "found us Guyana."
Recent activities surrounding Stoen's controversial lawsuit against PL - the extensive spate of letters to the editor supporting the lawsuit and Gallegos, fund-raising activities designed to raise money for an extensive lobbying campaign designed to pressure the Board of Supervisors - all bear a striking resemblance to the practices of the People's Temple's "Dirty Tricks Department".
The record shows that Tim Stoen is an expert at taking money through legal means - the People's Temple after all, took people's property, pensions, inheritances, alimony, child support, welfare and social security checks - even foster care payments. All legally. All in the name of a cause.
This is the man Paul Gallegos hired to fill one of the County's top law enforcement positions.
People have a right to know how far he will go in the name of a cause, since in Humboldt County, he appeared to have taken up the banner of the radical and extreme arm of the environmental community. And, as that faction has come to use the court system as a weapon, Stoen's position, talents and inclinations were of particular value to them!
Tim Stoen hasn't changed. He has just found a new cause.
Note: Tim Stoen responded to what I have written here when a portion of this appeared in the McKinleyville Press, saying that it was all just "fantastical imaginings," that none of it was true. He has tried to imply that he was nothing more than a pro-bono attorney for the "church."
Do your own research.
(all passages in quotes above are direct quotes from the books.)
READ THE BOOKS!
There is SO much more to the story. READ THE BOOKS! They are readily available at amazon. I bought and read them all. I warn you, it is like descending into hell to read these books. What those people endured is truly disturbing.
The reporters accounts:
"Guyana Massacre, the Eyewitness Account" by Charles Krause of the Washington Post. He was on the airstrip the day of the shootings.
"The Suicide Cult - The Inside Story of the People's Temple Sect and the Massacre in Guyana" by Marshall Kilduff and Ron Javers, Staff Correspondents of the San Francisco Chronicle
"Raven" by Tim Reiterman who currently works for the LA Times.
"White Night" by John Peer Nugent
The Survivor's Accounts:
"Six Years With God" by Jeannie Mills
"Seductive Poison" by Deborah Layton
"Snake Dance - : Unravelling the
Mysteries of Jonestown" by Laurie Efrien Kahalas http://www.jonestown.com
"The Strongest Poison" Mark Lane (Chapter 18 is titled "Timothy Stoen", 55 pages)
"The Children of Jonestown" by Kenneth Wooden
Or type the name "Tim Stoen" in on a websearch. You will be amazed at what you find.
I do warn you however, that they are very disturbing, and reading them is like descending into Hell.
(all passages in quotes above are direct quotes from the books.)
UPDATE: I strongly recommend http://www.jonestownapologistsalert.blogspot.com/
Tom Kinsolving has posted his father, Les Kinsolving's 1972 People's Temple Exposes on his blog... Kinsolving was the religion reporter for the San Francisco Examiner back then. I haven't found them anywhere else on the net. Tim Stoen is front and center, with details of his machinations and bizarre behavior.
PBS & Director Nelson Claim Jim Jones Cult's Ukiah Years Filled With "Social Advocacy"--While Covering Up Reported Killing & Terror
Illegal Marriages, Welfare Fraud, and More Phony Faith Healings--3rd 1972 People's Temple Expose
Jim Jones 1972 "God Almighty!" Spectacle--and a Monday Morning Quarterback Reporter's Desperate Derision
"Raising The Dead"?....Gun-toting "Guardians"? Ignored Warnings of a Murderous Cult--6 Years Before Jonestown