Fighting The Family International
Leaving a trail of collateral damage?
Opinions based on personal interactions with Mr. LaMattery
and compilations from various web sources
“You can’t talk your way out of problems you behave yourself into.”
Stephen R. Covey
Jim LaMattery is on a roll. Fighting to expose The Family International, he follows the money and reveals his latest find: a big California real estate purchase (almost $1 million) by leaders of The Family International, formerly known as The Children of God. This is big news indeed, for the organization solicits your donations for "charity work" through their front organizations—the cult now masquerading as NGOs.
Like a self-appointed vigilante in a one-horse town, man of action James Stephen LaMattery arrived on the scene in 2005, guns blazing, determined to administer "justice" ... and hurting the very ex-members he claimed to be trying to help. Although many ex-members had already made and were still making huge sacrifices to expose The Family, Jim accused them of inaction.
Jimmy come lately
Arriving on the scene during talk-show and reality-TV era, LaMattery seemed to assume a self-appointed role of media leadership and appeared on television several times. Most notably, he appeared on Dr. Phil with his daughter, where he displayed such calloused behavior he shocked viewers around the world.[7-8]
To the bafflement of an ex-member community—already struggling with the trauma of having been abused; battling guilt, shame, pain, trust issues and the difficulties of reintegrating into society—Jim LaMattery, who claimed to be on their side against the injustices of The Family, retraumatized them by his belligerence and misdirected aggression.  Complaints about his pushiness and threatening demeanor served to bring on more guilt-pouring and accusations on his part. When asked why he was threatening other ex-members who did not "cooperate" with him, he replied that he did not utter threats, but merely warned.[10-12]
Grieving widows—an opportunity for profit?
And act immediately, Jim did.
One of LaMattery's first actions was to visit the grieving widow of Ricky Rodriguez at her most vulnerable—only a few days after her husband's death—when he convinced her to sign a contract granting him exclusive rights to write the story of Ricky's life and the murder-suicide. Under the agreement, Jim LaMattery would receive 30% of all earnings from the story. It was an action that in his own words "left a lot to be desired.[13-14]
The widow eventually realized what she had been talked into and sent Jim a letter via her attorney, revoking the coerced  agreement. When the entire ex-member community was disgusted at what LaMattery had done, he explained how he was actually trying to protect her from media predators. [15-16]
Jim's motives for speaking out have repeatedly been brought under scrutiny by ex-members. When asked if he was planning on using the publicity and collected affidavits for personal gain he repeatedly denied it. Later it was revealed he had been in the process of writing a novel about the cult, and the fact that he could benefit from it all made him a target of criticism. [17-18] When LaMattery expected ex-members to pay him for helping to bring The Family to justice, many considered him an unscrupulous profiteer. [47,49]
A very late wake-up call for Jim LaMattery
LaMattery, perhaps too busy enjoying the American dream to be aware of the existence of these videos, suddenly found out about them in 2005 and was furious that those who had copies of the videos had supposedly "withheld" them from the authorities. Que?
Just how furious? LaMattery was so furious he began talking openly on his website about going out and buying a gun. [19-21]
For ex-members who fought for the exposure of the cult during those years at great personal cost, LaMattery's mood swings and accusations of inaction were flippant, to say the least. When most of these departees began speaking up, there was none of the public awareness that there is now, nor legions of SGs (2nd-generationers born into the cult) grown up enough to corroborate what a few were saying to denounce the cult's practices. They did not have personal resources and were suffering the effects of having been in a cult for a considerable amount of time.
While getting your face on TV and attaching your image to that of the cult is a high price to pay for anyone, and while many ex-members do respect his courage, they also point out that conversely, Jim "you're-not-doing-as-much-as-me" LaMattery is operating out of a relatively safe base, now that the ground has been prepared.
LaMattery may have missed the cue when stepping on the stage: The landscape has altered dramatically—a new generation has come of age and taken ownership of the battle. Young adults born in the cult are speaking for themselves. They do not need LaMattery or anyone from their parents' generation to speak for them, much less lead them. If FGs still have an important part to play, perhaps it is more and more a supporting role. 
Point man for FBI investigation?
Making himself the "point person" contrary to all FBI policy and procedure, LaMattery at one point insisted that all affidavits of abuse be sent directly to him. He assured contributors that he would then forward them on to the FBI agent in charge of the case. 
Soon however, he began disclosing names and revealing (or threatening to reveal) private content without consent and avoiding answers on how he would be using the affidavits—as many of these could potentially be turned against the signatories themselves as blackmail, contributors became very concerned. [40, 42] In typical taunts made on numerous occasions Jim asked why anyone with such incriminating information had done nothing about it earlier—he went as far as to indicate they were guilty of collaboraton and covering up for their own crimes.
LaMattery further contravened FBI operating procedures, by announcing publicly that an investigation was underway. Without giving any proof of FBI authorization, LaMattery then set himself up as a spokesperson for the FBI, giving "press releases" re: the state of the investigation. [25-26] He refused to give the contact information for the agent in charge of the investigation,  but other ex-members eventually found that out for themselves, and began contacting the agent directly. Several SGs then discovered that some of the information LaMattery was disseminating regarding the FBI investigation was misleading. When they explained to LaMattery that they did not wish to arbitrarily turn over information to him, but would rather work directly with the FBI investigators, LaMattery accused them of trying to derail him to protect their own parents from criminal prosecution. [27-28] While the FBI itself had never confronted ex-members in this manner, LaMatterya private citizen and not a law enforcement officerused terms like "obstruction of justice" to intimidate ex-members into doing things his way.
SGs and ex-members were also upset by the discrepancy between LaMattery's apparent motives and the expectations he was promoting them to have. By enlisting the help of any and all ex-members to submit affidavits through him for the FBI case against The Family, LaMattery appealed to the wider interest of bringing The Family as a whole to justice. Yet, it appeared he was acting for his own narrower interests.  Under fire and intense scrutiny, LaMattery finally conceded and confirmed the suspicions of many, that he had been collecting affidavits in order to glean information in the pursuit of his own daughters' abusers—while this is admirable, his focus was not what he had marketed it to be. Furthermore, the FBI case he was claiming to represent, which had already been underway before he appeared on the scene, was not actually set up to solely process the case of his daughters' abuses. 
Those who had initially welcomed a man of action, entrusting him with their support, now protested his lack of scrupulosity. But intolerant of criticism, LaMattery began to do battle with the very constituents he claimed to be advocating for. He tried to stifle their criticism by telling them they had nothing to say if they did not put their face on television as he had done. This methodology only served to remind ex-members of the very same manipulation techniques used in the cult. [30-31]
"You're not as white as snow"
Time in the cult, is a very relevant factor, according to LaMattery , who seems to look back at his 1970-1975 tenure in the Children of God with fondness: "the days of God and Love... WE WERE BROTHERS!" "These people were beautiful, and we lived together, we shared. We loved differently from the rest of the world, and it turned bad."
LaMattery has indicated that all ex-members who remained in the cult after 1975 are tainted and guilty, while he is not—anyone else who stayed after he wised up and left is guilty for enabling the machinery of beast, which ended up harming scores of SGs, including his daughters; collectively, they have not done anything—or not nearly enough, compared to him—to expose the cult since leaving. LaMattery claims to be innocent of collective crimes, personal crimes and any untoward behavior, and that he had to leave because he tried to prevent a rape from taking place—just when things started getting bad in the group, that is.
A recap: When Jim LaMattery was in the group, it was good. When it turned bad he was not; everyone should have left when he did.
In December 2005, disturbing stories began surfacing of an ex-member who had suffered under the leadership of Jim LaMattery and his wife "Chen" (Hathaway) in Scandinavia. They had allegedly sent away the very young child of an American citizen—literally sent the child to another country—against the wishes of the mother who wept and begged them not to do it. However, LaMattery adamantly denied being part of illegally transporting any American children across international borders. His defence being that he was not a leader and not responsible, but that his wife was. His accuser couldn't disagree more. [35-38]
Appearing on Dr. Phil
In April 2005, LaMattery arranged for himself and his daughter Kristi to be the main guests on the Dr. Phil show. If Jim's intention was to focus on exposing the cult, it was not his day. As direct questions began to be asked, Jim's own daughter began describing how Jim had re-traumatized her since she had left the cult.
According to his own website, Jim LaMattery was reunited with his daughters in 1993 after they were held for 13 years in the cult; their mother Donna Jean Hathaway who remained in The Family, had gone against a court ruling (LaMattery uses clever wording to spin the idea that he was granted sole custody, but this is not true—the court gave him joint custody with visitation rights only [43-44]) by kidnapping them and moving them to different countries; upon their reunion LaMattery "slowed his business activity" in order to help his girls re-assimilate into secular life. Reading this, we might believe he was always being there for his daughter. Hearing what his daughter Kristi said on Dr. Phil however, we could get the opposite impression:
LaMattery's daughter struggles to forgive him for the abuse she suffered at the hands of the cult. "He's always said that this was the greatest experience in his life, having this experience with the group. Do you know how small that makes me feel? The greatest experience in my life was meeting my father."
She articulated what other ex-members who have encountered LaMattery basically feel: disempowerment at his hands; that he is aloof; that he makes decisions on her behalf without adequate consideration of the consequences; that he does not come to terms with his own behavioral traits; that he is sacrificing her for the "greater good" and doesn't really care about her.
(See xFamily.org's Video and transcript of Jim LaMattery on Dr. Phil and also slideshow 2790 of Dr. Phil show 591: The Family Cult: "A Daughter's Dilemma: Kristi says ... [her father, Jim's] motives are for financial gain." )
Immediately following the Dr. Phil show, LaMattery appeared on Channel 8 news remarking on the tense relationship with his daughter, saying that he hoped she would seek the counseling Dr. Phil advised. Amazingly, LaMattery seemed to ignore or miss the fact that Dr. Phil had blasted him for having given up on counseling: "What do you mean you got tired of doing the therapy!?" Dr. Phil asked. LaMattery himself had also been advised to seek counseling and not to give up on it, but he had only mentioned his daughter needing help, not himself.
About 1 year later, LaMattery posted on a public bulletin board that either he or his daughter (the wording is unclear, but by inference he means his daughter) suffers from DID, formerly known as MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder), and that he would never have appeared on TV with her had he known.  In other words, as convincing as she was, she really wasn't quite herself when she appeared on TV criticizing him, and that must have been one of Kristi's manufactued identities speaking?
Although LaMattery has in effect tried to invalidate or discredit everything his daughter said about him on TV, ex-members are not buying it.
• discussion on GenX board re: Jim LaMattery
Jim LaMattery banned from ex-member sites
When Jimmy-come-lately LaMattery continued trying to dominate the ex-member community, bullying and threatening those who did not cooperate with him, he was subsequently banned from posting on three major ex-member websites: www.movingon.org, exFamily.org, and NewDayNews.com .
Banned from MovingOn.org, a website dedicated to SGs— 2nd Generationers born into the cult. Site creator Jules, wrote a definitive letter explaining why Jim was banned from their site. ["fbi/irs update" www.movingon.org/article.asp?sID=1&Cat=31&ID=2818#38327]
Apparently, LaMattery threatened people privately while simultaneously apologizing to them publicly. Or he "apologized" but negated his apologies by saying he did nothing wrong. He threatened to sue victims, to attack them in the media, to attack them online and in circulated emails to others. ) On several occasions, he harassed abuse victims to the point of their seeking legal counsel to protect themselves against him. 
When confronted about his behavior, LaMattery continued to hurl allegations (many which proved false) and attack and retraumatize abuse victims. A standard part of his abusive repertoire is demanding that those whom he has hurt directly confront him, with no thought to their own vulnerability or his triggering behavior.
Apparently wanting to be the center of intrigue, LaMattery asked that people write him privately; then insinuated that there was some hidden secret going on behind the scenes when people tried to accommodate his requests just to find out what he wanted. Refusing to respect the privacy of inidividuals, LaMattery insisted on contacting them against their wishes.
Banned from exFamily.orgscene of the latest uproar, when LaMattery posted unfounded malicious comments about a grieving family.
In May 2006, when an SG had died of an overdose, LaMattery attended the memorial. Without formally introducing himself to the family or really knowing anyone there, he decided to investigate his "suspicions." He pieced together conversations and announced his grandiose conclusions on a public bulletin board, posting the full name of the deceased. One ex-member appropriately described LaMattery as a wrong actor with the wrong script in the wrong movie, conjuring images of him jotting this down in a spiral-bound notepad:Cause of death? suicide due to untreated DID.
Parents? unsupportive, not there for him; still in The Family; probably unaware of the complexity of his condition; did not do enough to prevent his death;
Mother: not bothered to be there for son even in death.
NOW I'M REALLY FED UP!
Jim LaMattery, with his delusions of grandeur, had taken the liberty of publishing conclusions that even the coroner hadn't arrived at. Various friends of the family who knew the real situation did their best to explain and called for LaMattery to apologize. Instead, LaMattery ignored all calls for an apology and talked incessantly about DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as MPD or Multiple Personality Disorder), surmised how the deceased suffered from the disease, and how a correct and early diagnosis would save many SG lives. Reading his comments, Jim would have you believe DID is lurking around the corner in just about all ex-members, and the leading cause of suicide.
To date, no apology has been forthcoming, and the coordinators had to delete his posts to protect the privacy of the grieving family.
Although he had been banned several times from posting on exFamily.org boards, coordinators decided to give LaMattery another chance when he reappeared with the latest news on the expose of Thomas Hack—a high-ranking leader in The Family International who recently purchased real estate for almost $900,000. On his previous ban, he was dubbed a "bulletin board Bruce Lee" for his habit of taking on and doing battle with dozens of outraged posters single-handedly—effectively hijacking the genX bulletin board with 100s of posts about himself. However, due to his refusal to apologize for upsetting the grieving family, exFamily.org coordinators reinstated his ban and upgraded it to permanent.
NewDayNews.com (NDN): In a typical scenario of threats, irrationality, baseless accusations and recriminations, when NDN's webmaster Joseph confronted Jim for continually harassing his wife, Jim counter-attacked sayng Joseph was trying to cover his own crimes, asking how many children he had abused in The Family—but Joseph had never even been a member of The Family, all he wanted was for LaMattery to cease and desist in his harassment
While NDN did not technically ban LaMattery from posting, they banned him from posting news of his investigations and attempting to coerce others into joining him. Since he was asked to post only as a fellow ex-member seeking recovery or helping with other people's recovery, he has been scarce, and virtually stopped posting at NDN. Perhaps recovery and healing are not high on his list.
Perhaps hoping to avoid the negative image he created for himself, LaMattery is starting a number of sites of his own, where references are never made to any of the other ex-member sites where he has created a ruckus and overstayed his welcome.
It is clear that FGAs (First Generation Adults) who committed crimes against their own children—whether crimes of neglect, failure to protect, lack of education, sexual abuse of any kind or physical abuse—are guilty, and that if their now-grown SG (2nd generation) children wish to prosecute them for these things, they have every right to do so.
SGs also have the right, in the interests of their own healing, to reconcile with their parents and make amends. Jim himself has agreed with this, stating: "As to your comment about SG's and parents making amends - this is absolutely important and I would never hinder such a process." However, the same day Jim reiterated his long-standing position: "I have been at direct odds with some in the SGA [2nd Generation Adult] community over the prosecution of their parents. This is something that I will most likely always be at odds over."
Jim LaMattery, in his push for "justice," is willing to disregard even the wishes and needs of the victims themselves. He could afford to listen to his daughter Kristi—that victims should be allowed to own their own process, decide for themselves when and where to tell their story, whether to forgive or prosecute or move on or remain undecided.
LaMattery cannot have it both ways—either he represents the constituents he claims to be advocating for, or he doesn't.
Investigating The Family and the pursuit of leaders in hiding seems to be LaMattery's forte. Human relations it would seem, is not. While most fellow ex-members appreciate his energy and tenacity, they are loath to deal with him because of his pugnacity. More than that, many given up trying to make him understand and come to terms with his own behavioral traits.
Those who deal with Jim LaMattery should do so in caution. As ex-members, we want to see the FBI investigation succeed. We want to give aid and support in whatever ways we feel comfortable with, including working with Jim LaMattery, or NOT. Nobody should be pressured into doing anything they do not feel comfortable about.
We can only sincerely wish LaMattery success in finding justice for his family. May he know who the real enemies are, and may he succeed in putting the real criminals behind bars. May he not haste to harm or do battle with any others. May he know that those who choose not to work with him are not automatically enemies guilty of collaboration and/or obstructing justice; nor are they deserving of his threats/warnings.
Disclaimer: Sarcastic humor was used to soften some very serious matters. It may be naïve and too much to ask, but Jim LaMattery ought to step back and have a laugh at himself, reconsider his methods, and find a (better) way to reconcile with those he has offended, and move on. God knows he could use some allies, if we are all supposedly fighting for the same causes.
This site is supported by
for the right to free speech & opinion
responses to this article
Jim LaMattery's earlier rebuttals for the record:
Jim LaMattery's contact Info from his own website www.LaMatteryResource.org (may now be offline):
To contact Mr. Jim LaMattery directly for questions or information: