Remember Seeing Orange?

Articles in the LOOKOUT section of this website span a number of decades and are re-published on behalf of Adrian van Leen for research purposes. Original dates are being added to articles so as to place them in their correct historical setting(s). Adrian has endeavoured to be as fair and accurate as possible at the time of the original writing, but please note that the original article information may no longer reflect the subsequent or current actions, values, beliefs, positions, opinions, teachings or policies held by individuals, groups and/or organisations referred to in the original published article at the time of writing. As people change and move on, the same often applies to related Internet links; some links referred to in articles may have been changed or may no longer be available online.

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More than twenty years ago (1985) CCG Ministries, (as it was known then), issued a ’CLARIFICATION STATEMENT ON THE ORANGE PEOPLE’. This was issued as a general handout and also published in TACL (No.2 Mar-May 1985, pp.7-10 & No.3 June 1985, pp. 14-18). In it we stated: ’We are sure that available evidence earlier this year indicated possible plans for Rajneesh and leading members of his hierarchy to consider Australia, probably W.A., as their next home…We want to share the reasons for that belief and our concerns with this particular cult.

We believe that the recent outrageous statements and behaviour of Rajneeshee leader, Sheela Silverman, has clouded the issues of genuine concern over the teachings, activities and plans of the Rajneesh movement. We believe that the majority of the Orange People are NOT as ill-mannered as Sheela Silverman. There is a real danger that her amateur dramatics will over-excite people and throw a smoke-screen around less obvious activities and plans of the Rajneeshees. At the same time, Sheela Silverman represents a top-level example of the affect of total commitment to Rajneesh as Bhagwan (God).

Our concerns have not been with the average follower, or majority of the members, of the Rajneesh movement. Nevertheless we believe there is a real cause for concern as a result of five years of ongoing extensive research into this group. These concerns have NOT been adequately expressed in brief newspaper comments, loaded questions on radio, or brief interviews on televisions.

We have general concerns about the Orange People, as well as specific concerns relating to the current tensions at Pemberton.’

We listed some nine areas of general concern including the anti-family and anti-society teachings of Rajneesh; the ’long track record of denial, deception and deceit’ on the part of many of the leaders; the manipulation of members, media and more; the build-up of weapons; the paranoia and persecution complex instilled in members; — including our comments: ’The increasing inflammatory statements of Sheela Silverman, and other leaders, about “civil war”, “bloodbaths”, “bulldozers covered in blood” and a repeat of “Jonestown”, as pressure against the legal status of Rajneeshpuram (Rajneesh’s city on his Oregon ranch) and several top aides, continues to mount up from U.S. government authorities. Perth woman, Catherine Jane Paul (Ma Shanti Badra), was quoted by the German Magazine Stern earlier this year, in reference to outside pressure and concern and concern over possible illegal activities and the arms build-up: “We are not creating a second Jonestown, they are doing it. I say we are looking forward to dying by their bullets”.’

Our statement went on to list some fourteen points of specific information and concern in relation to Rajneesh activities and developments in Western Australia, especially in relation to Pemberton; the Rajneeshee takeover of the Karri Valley tourist resort (and the setting up of a school on part of the resort); the evidence indicating Rajneesh and his tops aides were planning to move to Western Australia; Sheela Silverman’s antics on Australian television as she confronted our Director; and more. Our statement also included the comments (in relation to late 1984): ’Rajneesh corporate structures underwent changes of directorships, and Perth Rajneesh follower, Jennifer Margaret Cornish became director of several Eastern States Rajneesh corporations; Jenny Cornish also incorporated the official Rajneesh umbrella organisation, The Rajneesh Foundation Australia, in Perth, in 1984 — Cornish is its Hon. Treasurer, Catherine Jane Paul (Shanti Badra) (now in Oregon, married to an American Rajneeshee [at the time of our statement in 1985]) is its President, one of the other three Board members is West Australian teacher, Susan Elizabeth Menzies Kell.’

American authorities began closing in on the Rajneesh empire, and Sheela Silverman and a few of her top associates (collectively dubbed by other Rajneesh followers as the ’dowager duchesses’) made sudden replacement appointments and took off to Germany in mid-September 1985. One of the women who left with Sheela was Perth-born Catherine Jane Paul — Catherine Jane Lalor — Catherine Jane Elsea — Catherine Jane Stubbs — NOW Catherine Jane Stork — (aka Ma Shanti Bhadra/Shanti B).

Catherine Jane Paul followed in the footsteps of her father, John Paul, a school teacher who became a headmaster. Though she failed to gain a degree at the University of Western Australia during the early 1960s, Jane Paul did become a school teacher and briefly taught at several metropolitan primary schools. In September 1966 she married geologist, Roger Lalor (3 years her senior). After her marriage she gave up teaching and ran a health-food shop for some time. Roger Lalor became a successful businessman and owner of a Kalgoorlie mine, and family fortunes prospered, eventually owning ’an opulent home’, several cars, and a yacht.

Jane Paul had been brought up as an active Roman Catholic, a faith shared by Roger Lalor. Together with their two children, Peter and Kylie, they were a practicing Roman Catholic family — until the late 1970s. In 1977 Catherine Jane Lalor went to visit the Rajneesh commune in Pune (then Poona) in India. She became a totally committed Rajneesh convert, being given the name Ma Shanti Bhadra. Her radical conversion shocked her parents, and others. Roger Lalor took Peter (then 9) and Kylie (7) and went to Pune to join Jane. Media reports suggesting that ’all joined the sect’ were rather misleading — nine and seven year old children don’t have much personal choice when their parents join religious communities. Roger also became a Rajneesh follower and both children were given Rajneeshee names: Peter became ’Santosh’ and Kylie ’Aruna’. Roger Lalor’s move to Pune did not save his marriage. He and Jane separated in 1979, as Jane became even more entrenched in living for Rajneesh. In 1981 Jane Lalor helped the Rajneesh movement set up their Oregon commune on the ranch near the township of Antelope. She contributed her personal life savings of $25,000 to the movement and became one of the top women running the movement under Sheela Silverman’s overall direction, one of a number of powerful ’dowager duchesses’ in control of the Rajneesh movement in Oregon and worldwide.

In March 1983 Jane divorced Roger Lalor and, six days later, married American Rajneeshee, Robert Franklin Elsea (aka Harida — he was 8 years her junior) and gained US rights, becoming Catherine Jane Elsea. Catherine Jane Elsea — rose rapidly in the ranks, becoming Treasurer of the Rajneesh Foundation International; vice-president of the (notorious) Rajneesh Medical Corp; briefly Director of Rajneesh Investment Corp. (Australia); President of the Rajneesh Foundation of Australia.

Life was not all love, joy and peace at the Oregon commune, however. The bullying and other problems that had existed in Pune, India, became worse in Oregon. With its own police (’peace’) force, weapons build-up, plots to take over local government, the deliberate salmonella poisoning of local food supplies leading to some 750 people becoming very ill, illegal telephone tapping, and a whole range of other activities, including immigration fraud, brought scrutiny and action against the movement.

These pressures led to leaders attempting to set up structures in Australia for a move ’down under’. But Sheela mishandled things in Australia, and her television appearances with our Director, plus our public exposure of the nature of the group, its activities and plans, thwarted some of these intentions.

It was all starting to crash around them when Sheela, Jane and others suddenly left Oregon for Germany in September 1985. In October 1985 Rajneesh himself, with a number of other leaders of his movement tried to flee the US in two rented Learjets. Rajneesh and six others were arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina while on their way to Bermuda; Sheela, Jane and several others were arrested near Freiburg in southern Germany; others were arrested in Portland Oregon, and one surrendered to Scotland Yard in London.

Sheela Silverman and Catherine Jane Elsea were extradited to the USA where they were charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and first degree assault. Jane Elsea had been part of a conspiracy to murder Rajneesh’ personal doctor: George Alexander Stowell Wynne-Aubrey Meredith — aka Devaraj. Affidavits submitted in the USA, claimed that she had directly attempted the murder (by injecting poison), resulting in the doctor becoming extremely ill, but ultimately surviving the attempt. In July 1986 Jane Elsea had pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, but was released on parole in June 1987 as a result of plea bargaining agreements. She returned to Western Australia and stayed with her elderly parents in the South West, while under the supervision of the Department of Corrective Services.

At the times she claimed innocence of any wrong doing, declaring her guilty plea was just part of the legal bargaining, and she could not have afforded to do otherwise. She openly declared her loyalty to ’Sheela…a genius, a jewel in existence’ (with whom she shared a US jail cell for some time) and declared that she would prepare the way for Sheela Silverman to return to WA: ’I am personally here ready to roll out the red carpet when she does come.’

In November 1988 Catherine Jane Elsea left Western Australia for Germany, still vowing to come back and roll out the red carpet for Sheela Silverman: ’I’ve promised Sheela that I will come back to Western Australia with her and Savita will be coming, too.’ [Savita, English woman, Sally-Anne Croft, was the Rajneesh movement’s top financial advisor and treasurer, and Sheela’s closest friend.]

Catherine Jane Paul/Lalor/Elsea didn’t move back to Perth to roll out any carpets. She stayed in Germany, where she eventually became a naturalised German citizen. Somewhere along the way became Catherine Jane Stubbs and then, apparently later married Hans-Georg Stork.

The US and Oregon authorities took years to unravel all the plots, intrigues and criminal activities of the Rajneesh hierarchy during their time in Oregon. One of the plots that was uncovered was the planned assassination of the Federal US Attorney for Oregon, Charles Turner. In 1990, the year the deported Rajneesh died in India, seven top Rajneesh leaders, including Catherine Jane Paul/Lalor/Elsea/Stubbs/Stork, were indicted for the attempted murder of the chief federal prosecutor appointed to head a federal grand jury investigation of the commune.

In May 1985 Sheela Silverman called a meeting to plan Turner’s death. Catherine Jane Elsea at that meeting. She was involved in the plotting, surveillance of Turner, purchase of guns and silencers to be used in the assassination, and had volunteered to be the assassin. The plan was cancelled late in the development of the conspiracy.

Jane Elsea/Stubbs/Stork remained in Germany. In spite of USA attempts to extradite her during the past couple of decades, the German authorities refused to hand her over to US authorities. All the others indicted for the assassination conspiracy have faced the US courts and been dealt with, all except Catherine Jane Stork aka Ma Shanti Bhadra.

That was, until September 2005.

During the past two decades the former Jane Lalor’s fractured family moved on. Her parents had died. Roger had remarried, eventually purchasing some land near Byron Bay in New South Wales, where he later died. Peter and Kylie had also married and moved on. Jane remained a ’free’ captive of her German citizenship, unable to leave the country without risk of arrest and extradition to the US on further attempted murder charges.

In late October 2004 Jane received a call from her daughter-in-law, Jennifer Lalor, informing her that her son was seriously ill. Her daughter Kylie, with her husband Greg, was in Germany visiting and so also heard the news. It turned out that Peter Lalor, just before his 36th birthday, suffered seizures due to an inoperable and terminal brain tumour.

In spite of the efforts, advice, and support of various former Rajneeshee and other New Ager friends, Peter Lalor’s condition did not improve. He and his wife, Jennifer, set up an Internet website in which they share diary entries recording their experiences and feelings in dealing with Peter’s brain tumour. The website provides some sad insights into lives of people dealing with love, fear, pain, uncertain future, and the efforts of others to help them through. While lots tried with advice, homeopathic mixtures, visions, diets, detox baths, and a lot more — (one advised that Peter should pray and ’call on a personal team of 500 Light Warriors to help. Ask to have {removed} any and all dark energies from any and all incarnations and through all space and time and through all bodies…clear all entities, ancestral imprinting…ask for millions of microscopic Light Warriors to go in and clear out any cancerous cells on sub-atomic level’). Confusion added to the pains and problems of the young couple involved. This was especially so when some of their New Age Spirituality friends and healers declared Peter healed. One spiritual healer claimed that she channelled an American Lakota Indian spirit guide, as well as Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene and someone else. She later declared: ’Jesus has assured me that you are cancer-free.’ Another person had also told him the same, so Peter recorded in his website journal, on June 5, 2005: ’This is our second confirmation that I am now tumour-free.’

Unfortunately, the medical evidence did NOT support or confirm these two ’spiritual’ pronouncements from well-intentioned people.

Catherine Jane Stork came to realise that the situation with her son was becoming desperate. However, if she tried to leave Germany to visit her dying son in New South Wales she would be arrested before she got anywhere near Australia. As a result she initiated contact with federal USA law authorities and, over some ten months, negotiated her return to face the court. She faced US District Judge Malcolm F. Marsh in the federal court in Portland Oregon, on Monday September 26, 2005, with her current husband, Hans-Georg Stork. The judge ordered that she be permitted to leave the USA to visit her dying son in New South Wales, Australia, on condition that she returns to the court by December 6, 2005, for sentencing. While the others indicted with her in 1990 have all completed there prison sentences, ranging from two to five years, she could potentially face a life sentence.

Over the two decades since initially leaving Oregon with Sheela, Catherine Jane Stork has given no public statements of repentance or remorse. In the late eighties she was declaring herself innocent of any wrongdoing. There has been little public evidence of change, only an obvious concern for her son, which motivated her to face her past in court. She is reported as stating, after the ruling by Judge Marsh: ’I came because I want to take responsibility for what I’ve done. I’ve been carrying this burden for 15 years. It’s enough now.’


Still Available

Published in 1983, two years before Sheela’s Perth performances and the break-up of the Oregon leadership in 1985, O IS FOR ORANGE is still the most thorough and detailed examination of the Rajneeshees and the making of a cult. You can uncover interesting history, discover how people can be manipulated and deceived, and a whole lot more. With ten chapters and three appendices this large A4 manuscript format book is still available in very limited numbers for the original, pre-inflation, price of $10 plus postage (at parcel rate in which a distance fee has to be added to standard parcel rate- usually around $10). Contact our office for your copy before they all run out - once gone they won’t be reprinted.


(From TACL Vol 26 #5 Oct/Nov 2005)