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In this case, Rob and Bunny Sherman are parents to a 15-year-old son going by the names Rob Jr. Rob. Sr. Rob and Bunny Sherman are filing a suit pitted against the Church of the Divine Light. This is essentially a religious organisation sharing similar virtues as the renowned Church of Scientology even though its religious fundamentals are essentially unique to its fundamentals compared to other contemporary church organizations. In their accusations the parents, Sr. Rob and Bunny Sherman are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that their son, Rob Jr. was tricked into attending illegal meetings in the church consequently leading to their son’s association with this predominantly illegal group according to their allegations.
In the statement, Sr. Rob and Bunny allege that approximately a year ago on one night when Rob Jr. was getting ready to return home after one of their youth meetings an unfortunate incident happened. It is alleged that, in this particular misgiving, Tom Marsden who was the organizer of the youth retreat made up unsubstantiated excuses that consequently led to Rob Jr. remaining in the venue of the meeting while other children proceeded to the respective homes. Events progressed up to a point when Tom convinced Rob Jr. By telling him, "If you leave, you will be thrown into the eternal fires of Hell, and you will not be allowed back." Due to this statement Rob Jr. acquiesced and decided to remain in the church. The following day Tom had Rob Jr. Jointly wrote a letter to the parents of Rob Jr. informing them of the fact that he will continue staying in the church by virtue of the belief that had become his "new" family. In pursuance to this Rob Jr. was also told to demand money from his parents to cover his expenses during his stay at the church for the extended period of time. Following this agreement of Rob Jr. remained with the church for an extended period of roughly six months. Rob Sr. and Bunny arranged to meet with Rob Jr. in order to give him his money for that month, and pulled him into the car and brought him home. They had to watch him carefully for about two weeks, but he finally came out of the "brainwashing."
In pursuance to this Rob Sr. and Bunny have the belief that their son, Rob Jr. was brainwashed by Tom Marsden with an aim of inflicting undue ham upon their son. Furthermore, as parents they belief that their parental rights have been flawed intentionally leading to events of asking for money for his upkeep by Tom Marsden.
This case entails 3 critical issues, which entail fundamental concerns:
- The intentional torts committed upon Rob Jr. by Tom Marsden. Here we would predominantly ask if the actions of Tom Marsden upon Rob Jr. warranted the kind of treatment and were they potentially harmful in the long run.
- The intentional Torts committed upon Rob Jr. and Bunny by Tom Marsden. Here we would elementally ask if indeed there was a violation against Rob Sr. and Bunny.
In California state, there are special legislative provisions giving due description of the types and respective magnitudes of intentional acts received from people. In this case Tom Marsden could have committed intentional torts to both parties given the circumstances at which both incidents occurred. First, we can look at Rob Jr. respective actions in which we see that none of those actions was as a result of personal will and decision making. In all circumstances, there is an aspect of Tom Marsden completely influencing the manner in which Rob Jr. makes his decisions. Second, taking due consideration of Rob Jr’s age, one immediately notes that he is only 15 years old. Naturally, at this age there is an aspect of wilfully giving in to parental advices or other forms of advice considered to be similar to ‘parental’ magnitude. Rob Jr. therefore acted in response to the manner in which society expected him to act under normal circumstances given the relative differences in age between him and Tom Marsden. Moreover, the fact that Tom Marsden was elementally acting on spiritual capacity as the moral guide to Rob Jr’s actions by taking advantage of the fact that he is the spiritual leader and also doubles as the guide for the youth meeting. This therefore, provides significant support and guidance regarding the special circumstances under which the events potentially occur. Tom Marsden could also have taken advantage of the contextual setting of the event. This was elementally a church setting, while Tom Marsden is in essence the intervener between human and the deity, hence this could have given him the audacity to voluntarily make the statements he was making as he told Rob Jr. “If you leave, you will be thrown into the eternal fires of Hell, and you will not be allowed back.” This confirms his mere moral authority as the spiritual leader of the church and he therefore took advantage of this fact. Looking at the manner in which Tom Marsden and Rob Jr ‘jointly’ wrote a letter to the Rob Sr. and Bunny concerning the matter of monetary provision for Rob Jr’s upkeep. There are chances that the contents of the letter could have been wishfully guided according to the previous or initial instructions from Tom Marsden to Rob Jr. Another important fact to consider, is the principles of the church. This church is in essence closely associated with the church of scientology and by virtue of sharing similar principles in which there is significant experimental practices, Rob Jr. could as well been a ‘guinea pig’ in a bid to indentify other gullible and feasible mechanisms through which the ordinary audience could potentially be exploited by spiritual acclamations by the likes of Tom Marsden.
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Issue 1: Was there was a violation against Rob Sr. and Bunny?
In pursuance of California State Penal code 518 on extortion actions one the act of Tom Marsden and Rob Jr. ‘jointly’ writing a letter could be seen as a potential act of blackmail capable of resulting in significant harm upon Rob Jr.
The action of Tom Marsden demanding for Rob Jr. to request his parents for money for his upkeep for the month could be seen as a wilful act aimed at extorting money from the parents by using Rob Jr. albeit not in a forceful manner. The mere act of involving Rob Jr. as an potential bait to get the money even though not directly implied could have significant effect upon him and the parents, Rob Sr. and Bunny.
Application of Facts
Further reference can be made to the ‘People v. Hesslink (1985) in which the victim was demanded a specific amount of money resulting in the occurrence of an extortion act. This in reference to the main cause seen in the initial facts align Tom Marsden with probability of extortion. In this particular case, looking at the events preceding to the money request from the parents there was a general tendency to convince Rob Jr. to participate under the circumstances. This consequently led to the money requesting habits in which Tom Marsden allegedly makes it look like the act of writing the letter was purposefully for the intended reasons yet there was an act of changing Rob Jr’s perception of the accompanying actions.
Issue 2: Were the actions of Tom Marsden potentially harmful upon Rob Jr.?
In pursuance of California state laws, specifically focusing upon California Penal code 273a ‘Child Endangerment.’ According to these provisions Tom Marsden can be charge if the actions could potentially lead to actual harm on the child.
The actions of Tom Marsden potentially harmed the child as it served to expose him to circumstances under which there was probability of mental harm occurring through brainwashing and Rob Jr’s claims that this was his ‘new family.’ By unlawfully keeping Rob Jr. for an extended period of time without the involvement of the parents could be seen as a criminal act in itself.
Application of Facts
According to the preceding facts there is an incremental possibility of associating Tom Marsden with the sais acts that could lead to individual harm on Rob Jr. Furthermore, similarly looking at the People v. Cockburn (2003) case there is significant possibility that this was a potential criminal act given the circumstances under which it was occurring. In this case, Cockburn is charged pursuance California state Penal code 273a. Similarly, the actions of Tom Marsden appear to be of similar magnitude and therefore connect him directly to possibility of harm occurring under the circumstances.
In conclusion, looking at the circumstances under which the events were taking place in the mentioned case, there is significant possibility that Tom Marsden’s actions were potentially unlawfully and could therefore lead to successful prosecution in a court of law by addressing the arising contextual issues.
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