An apocalyptic ‘cult’ led by an eccentric misogynist accused of sexually abusing young men has taken over a department of Googlerequired a whistleblower.
Kevin Lloyd, 34, claims he was fired from his job as a video developer at Google last year because he began questioning the cult’s influence.
In August, Lloyd filed a discrimination case in California Superior Court, claiming he was fired for digging into Fellowship of Friends – a group based in the small California town of Oregon House, and whose members made up a large percentage of employees in his division.
“The plaintiff’s preliminary investigation into Oregon House and the Fellowship of Friends described the Fellowship as a destructive cult, with a pedophile leader making false prophecies about the end of the world,” the lawsuit says.
“The prosecutor was concerned that Google was involved in and / or financially supporting such an organization.”
Earlier this month, Lloyd wrote a lengthy description of his case Mediumand talk to The New York Times – which confirmed many of the lawsuits’ claims through interviews with eight current and former employees of the Google Business Unit.
Kevin Lloyd, 34, claims he lost his job at Google because he was worried about how many people in the Google Developer Studio were connected to Fellowship of Friends
Google’s campus in Mountain View is 180 miles from the small town of Oregon House, population 1,250 – yet half the people Lloyd met were from Oregon House, he said
Lloyd said he started working at Google in 2017, as part of Google Developer Studio (GDS) – the tech giant’s in-house production company, and created ads and video content.
He said it gradually dawned on him that many of the people he met at GDS were from the same small California town, 180 miles north of Google’s Silicon Valley home, in Mountain View.
The city of Oregon House is home to 1,250 people, and yet Lloyd said he realized that half of the 25 people he met at GDS were from the same city.
Lloyd said he noticed that many of the outside vendors, such as caterers and entertainers at corporate events, were also from Oregon House.
In 2018, Lloyd said, he spoke with a freelancer who worked with her that day, and was from a city near Oregon House.
Lloyd recalls the freelancer who told him, ‘Oregon House is not a city. It’s a sect. ‘
He began investigating the freelancer’s claim, saying he was shocked by what he found.
“There are online support groups for former Fellowship of Friends members to help them deal with the trauma wounded by their membership, as well as problems that arise after leaving,” says Lloyd’s lawsuit.
Fregowship of Friends, based in Oregon House, was founded in 1970 by Robert Earl Burton, a former San Francisco Bay Area schoolteacher.
“From its inception, the Fellowship’s vision was and remains to establish a practical spiritual organization and make it available to anyone interested in following the spiritual work of awakening,” she states on her website.
Robert Earl Burton, now believed to be around 83, founded Fellowship of Friends in 1970. He has been accused of sexual abuse in several lawsuits.
Burton is seen with a European artwork purchased with the organization’s money. Members must donate 10 percent of their income to the group
Burton, presumably now in his early 80s, sought to create a center that celebrates the fine arts – with opera, ballet, artwork and literature as its focus.
He based his organization in Oregon House, and created a winery where his devotees worked, while not studying the arts.
Google even bought wine, according to the lawsuit, from Grant Marie Winery, an alleged cult vineyard run by a Fellowship member in Oregon House.
But critics claimed he had sexually abused new members of his group – especially young boys.
In 1984, a former member filed a $ 2.75 million lawsuit alleging that young men who had been “forcibly and illegally sexually seduced by Burton” at the organization, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
In 1996, another former member accused Burton in a sexual assault case with him while he was a minor. Both cases are closed out of court.
Some of the defendants, according to Lloyd, were flown to the country under false pretenses and then abused.
Members of Fellowship of Friends are seen with Burton (left, in light blue suit) holding a meeting
Other critics said the group was strongly anti-women, praising white European men above all else.
In September, investigative journalist Jennings Brown published a six-part podcast for Spotify, entitled Revelations.
Brown had spent three years since 2018 digging into the group, documenting allegations of sexual abuse in what he called a “doomsday cult.”
Lloyd said he was shocked that GDS was so strongly associated with the Fellowship, with GDS ‘director, Peter Lubbers, described him as a long-time member of the group, who moved to the US from the Netherlands shortly after moving to the US.
Lubbers introduced a video producer named Gabe Pannell to the Fellowship: Pannell was pictured with Burton in 2015, and described as a ‘new student’, reports The New York Times.
Lloyd’s lawsuit states: ‘Mr Lubbers received status and praise in relation to the increase in money flowing to the Fellowship through his efforts at Google that put (and keep) other Fellowship members – directly or indirectly – on Google’s payroll.
Lubbers insisted that the faith had nothing to do with his hiring.
“My personal religious beliefs are a deeply held private matter,” Lubbers told The New York Times.
‘In all my years in engineering, they’ve never played a role in hiring. I have always fulfilled my role by bringing in the right talent for the situation – bringing in the right suppliers for the jobs. ‘
Pannell told the newspaper that the tenants were brought in from ‘a circle of trusted friends and families with extremely qualified backgrounds’.
Lloyd, in his Medium post – which does not mention Lubbers or Pannell – said that fears about the Fellowship, and its reputation, sparked a panic attack, for which he was admitted to ER.
He said in his court documents that he was concerned about events he produced “could in some way be used to funnel money back into the Fellowship of Friends.”
Burton can be seen in a 1981 photo at Oregon House. In 1984, a former member filed a $ 2.75 million lawsuit alleging that young men who were members of the organization were “violently and illegally sexually seduced by Burton,” according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The trial was adjudicated out of court
Dismissed in February 2021, he retained a lawyer who previously represented a woman at Lubbers’ former company, Kelly Services, and in 2008 sued in a similar case.
Lynn Noyes claimed that Kelly Services failed to promote her because she was not a member of the Fellowship.
A California court has awarded her $ 6.5 million in damages.
“Everyone outside of the Fellowship is seen as somehow inferior and sometimes contradictory,” Lloyd’s lawsuit states.
‘Those who express serious concern, criticism or question, the group may eventually be seen as enemies.’
Google told The New York Times that they were prohibited by law from asking about anyone’s religious practices during the hiring process.
“We have long-standing employee and supplier policies in place to prevent discrimination and conflicts of interest, and we take them seriously,” Google spokesman Courtenay Mencini said in a statement.
‘It is against the law to ask about the religious affiliations of those who work for us or for our suppliers, but we will of course investigate these allegations in detail for any irregularities or wrongful contract practices.
“If we find evidence of policy violations, we will take action.”
Fellowship of Friends was approached for comment.
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