Sunday, August 20, 2006

Stoen's "Diversions Department" AKA "the Dirty Tricks Department" - plots to murder Les Kinsolving and poison the water supply of Washington DC

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.)



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

"The Strongest Poison" Mark Lane (Chapter 18 is titled "Timothy Stoen", 55 pages)

Other accounts:

"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
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


  1. keep up the good work Rose.It's important that Stoen be exposed. And just as important to remind people that Gallegos chose this an as his 2nd in command. Especially when all the information was readily available.


  2. You're welcome, 9:42.

    I do think under any circumstances that Stoen's past is relevant given that he was in a position to prosecute people who were far more innocent than he.

    I also believe that the fact that he was known - by the FBI - to have planned to kill a reporter, and to have used his office to go after his enemies and accomplish nefarious deeds is relevant under any circumstances.

    But as I read up on his activities what struck me was that Tim Stoen had not changed.

    He had found a new cause, and he was hell bent on serving that new cause just as he had all those years ago.

    The same zealousness, the same kind of posturing, the use of euphemistic titles for groups that acted in support of his efforts to sway public officials, the same kinds of tactics, including the sudden occurrence of $1,000 "grants" to reporters... I'll explain more later.

    I think he should have been disbarred long ago.

  3. You have to be the devil himself to be disbarred. Lawyers take care of lawyers, even ones they don't like.

  4. Taking money and property from well-intentioned and gullible people ought to qualify, especially on the scale that Stoen was involved in. Forcing people to sign over their welfare and social security checks ought to qualify.

    Everything in the books point to coercion and outright threats.

    In the case of Maxine Harpe, who reportedly had resisted signing over her assets, she was found hanging in her garage. Though it was officially ruled a suicide, locals and family blame her death squarely on People's Temple.

  5. Headline -
    Did Temple members murder 5 persons
    in Mendocino County and Bay Area?

    Eric Krueger (Ukiah Daily) Journal Staff Writer
    (This comes from a newspaper clipping I received in the mail. I don't have the date because it wasn't attached, and some of the words were fuzzy, blanks indicate those gaps.)

    Sources familiar with the People's Temple have linked Rev. Jim Jones to several deaths in Mendocino County and the Bay Area over the past seven years, but no concrete evidence has been presented to substantiate the claims.

    According to these sources, Temple members, acting on Jones' orders have murdered at least five people.

    The sources are firm in their conviction that Jones ordered the execution of Temple members he perceived as a threat to the church.

    "I think he is the cause of several deaths around here," a source said.

    Jones was said to be responsible for the death of Maxine Swaney who died in a 1976 auto accident on Highway 101 near Gobbi Street.

    "Jim said the reason she died was because she was planning on leaving the church," said one source. The source indicated that Swaney's car had been run off the road.

    According to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office files, Maxine Elizabeth Swaney, 52, of Redwood Valley, died when the car she was a passenger in went out of control, ran off the freeway and rolled over five times.

    Swaney was crushed by the car after being ejected from it, files note.

    Her husband Nathaniel, had been driving the car and was not injured. He told authorities he had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel.

    Although the car was registered to Mr. Swaney, Sheriff's files had the People's Temple listed as its legal owner.

    Investigators found no evidence of foul play,

    Files indicate the Swaney's operated a home care facility in Redwood Valley.

    Sources also said the 1970 death of Maxine Harpe could be traced back to Jones.

    The 30 year old divorced mother of three was found hanged in a garage near her Talmage residence.

    The Sheriff's office listed the death as a suicide. No signs of violence were reported at or near the scene of her death.

    But sources said Jones had Harpe killed because she was planning to leave the temple. "She knew too much," said one source.

    Sources indicated Harpe's death was staged to look like a suicide. There were "too many accidents like that" involving people planning to leave the temple, a source observed.

    Harpe revealed little in her reputed suicide note.

    It read: "Call Jim (Randolph), it's very important, if he's not there, try Edith, tell her or Jim I'm not home and they should get here right away. Then stay in the house until they come."

    The note was apparently left for one of Harpe's daughters.

    Files indicate Harpe was having a relationship with Randolph, also a Temple member and an employee of the county welfare department.

    Shortly before Harpe's death, Randolph transferred at least $3,400 of her money to the temple. Files say the money was supposed to go into a fund - set up by the temple - for Harpe's children.

    "Maxine didn't want any of this money for herself and wanted the children to have it," Randolph told investigators after Harpe's death.

    He said he would sign the official statement for authorities after it was reviewed by Tim Stoen, at the time a Temple member and Mendocino County assistant district attorney.

    No signature appears on the statement read by the Journal.

    According to the files, Stoen had helped set up the Temple trust fund for Harpe's children. Files also note that former Mendocino County Sheriff Reno Bartolomei was a "custodian of the trust fund."

    Around a year before Harpe's death, her sister had reportedly called the local welfare office. Fearing Harpe might commit suicide, the sister asked the office to check on Harpe's mental condition, sheriff's files show.

    However, Randolph reportedly tampered with Harpe's file at the welfare office and apparently prevented any action based on her sister's request.

    The 1974 death of Leo Bleier was yet another incident sources linked to Jim Jones and the People's Temple.

    Sources said the 64 year old Redwood Valley man owned property the temple wanted. When Bleier refused to sell, Jones allegedly used two young girls from the temple to sexually entrap him.

    This presumably resulted in the arrest of Bleier on charges of child molesting,

    According to official files, Bleir's death was a suicide, involving a self inflicted gunshot wound and slashed wrists.

    Investigators believed that he killed himself out of despair over his arrest.

    Sources say he was shot on orders from Jim Jones.

    Investigators found no signs of a struggle in Bleir's residence. He had owned the Redwood Valley Market.

    According to sources, Jones was behind two murders in San Francisco. Jones, they said, had Christopher Lewis around age 35 gunned down in 1977.

    Lewis was killed because he knew too much about Jones and the temple said sources. They said Lewis had been a bodyguard _and hit-man for Jones.___ had? ____ Jim ______

    Lewis had been sentenced to perceived to and______ and? Jones was afraid he'd start ____ ____ _there, the___ sources said.
    (The above paragraph is unreadable.)

    The San Francisco Police Department has confirmed that Lewis was shot and that there was an investigation of the case.

    An SFPD spokesman said he couldn't reveal more information about the case because the inspector in charge of it was out with an injury.

    In a bizarre case, sources said Jones was responsible for the poisoning of young Curtis Buckly in San Francisco some four years ago.

    The youth planned to leave the temple and speak out against it, sources said.

    Jones reportedly told a congregation that Buckly, who was about 13 would die. A while later, Jones returned from a phone call and announced to his followers "Curtis Buckly just died with rat poison in a Coke," sources recalled.

    Jones then told the youth's mother that her son would be reincarnated said the sources.

    According to them the death was never investigated.

    Neither San Francisco Police nor the coroner's office have any record of the death. The city's health department death registry would not release any information over the phone when called by the Journal

  6. this blog should be renamed

    "Watch Tim (and sometimes Paul)"

  7. Bear with me. There's more to come, Stoen is only part of the story. It is impossible to separate them.

    But you're right about the need for a Stoen blog, and I have considered it, because wherever he goes, as long as he is in a position to prosecute people, they have a right to know what they are dealing with.


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