Proposed child custody order for John Victor Stoen, August 1977

B-3-k-1

Jeffrey A. Haas
Margaret Ryan
Attorneys at Law
3609 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94119
(415) 922-6200

Attorneys for Petitioner

SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

In re the Marriage of
Petitioner: GRACE LUCY STOEN
and
Respondent: TIMOTHY O. STOEN

No. 719-147
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE (MARRIAGE)*

TO: PEOPLE’S TEMPLE

You are ordered to appear in this court

Pending a hearing in this matter, the court further orders:

Petitioner is granted sole physical custody of JOHN VICTOR STOEN, Date of birth January 25, 1972, page 5 years. The PEOPLE’S TEMPLE and its agents and members are ordered to release JOHN VICTOR STOEN to Petitioner or her duly authorized agent.

See Supplemental Document

––––––––––––––––––

Jeffrey A. Haas
3609 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94119
(415) 922-6200

Margaret Ryan
294 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 624-0979

Attorneys for Petitioner

SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

In re the Marriage of
Petitioner: GRACE LUCY STOEN
and
Respondent: TIMOTHY O. STOEN

No. 719-147
SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTS IN
SUPPORT OF PETITIONER’S
REQUEST FOR EX PARTE ORDER
RE CUSTODY OF MINOR

I. SUMMARY

II. POINTS AND AUTHORITIES RE JURISDICTION

III. PETITIONER’S DECLARATION PURSUANT TO RULE 8.2.64 OF DOMESTIC RELATIONS RULES

IV. COUNSEL’S DECLARATION RE DUE DILIGENCE IN ATTEMPTING TO EFFECT SERVICE UPON RESPONDENT

V. AMENDED DECLARATION UNDER UNIFORM CUSTODY OF MINORS ACT

VI. POINTS AND AUTHORITIES RE COURT’S AUTHORITY TO JOIN REVEREND JONES AS A PARTY TO THE INSTANT PROCEEDINGS

VII. PETITIONER’S PROPOSED EX PARTE ORDER RE CUSTODY OF MINOR

VIII. APPENDIX OF STATUTES CITED IN PETITIONER’S PROPOSED ORDER

––––––––––––––––––

SECTION 1. SUMMARY

The instant case involves the plight of a five-year-old child now in the physical custody of the REVEREND JIM JONES, the leader of a communal religion known as the PEOPLE’S TEMPLE. Petitioner recently learned, as set forth in the Amended Declaration Under The Uniform Custody Of Minors Act, page 15, that the Rev. Jones claims a right to custody. As provided for by law (see SECTION VI. POINTS AND AUTHORITIES RE JOINDER, page 17), Petitioner requests that the Court join Rev. Jones as a party to this action.

The REVEREND JONES recently departed from San Francisco for Guyana in the face of serious allegations arising from a number of different sources. The charges against REVEREND JONES include: (1) the authorization of serious physical abuse of church members, including children; (2) improper proper care of children and aged persons housed in Temple-run homes; (3) the use of coercive and fraudulent practices to induce transfers of money and property to the church; and (4) the indoctrination of minors with a philosophy detrimental to their emotional and moral well-being, to wit, that REVEREND JONES is the reincarnation of Buddha, Christ, and Lenin, and that as such, he has the authority to direct acts of physical abuse and mental cruelty against members of his organization.

PETITIONER’S DECLARATION PURSUANT TO RULE 8.2.64, see page 9, details acts of extreme cruelty witnessed by her son which were carried out at the direction of REVEREND JONES under the guise of his purported moral authority. Petitioner further states that her own attempts to secure the return of her son have been unsuccessful. Unless this court acts, the boy will suffer irreparable harm.

As set forth in the attached POINTS AND AUTHORITIES RE JURISDICTION, page 5, this Court clearly has the jurisdiction to make appropriate orders regarding custody of the child. Petitioner diligently attempted to serve Respondent and has set forth facts (see DECLARATION OF COUNSEL, page 13) leading to the inescapable conclusion that Respondent has actual notice of the proceeding for August 19, 1977.

Therefore, Petitioner respectfully requests that this Court act to safeguard the welfare of her minor son and that the proposed order be issued forthwith.

Dated: [blank]

Respectfully submitted,

Margaret Ryan
Attorney for Petitioner

Jeffrey A. Haas
Attorney for Petitioner

––––––––––––––––––

SECTION II. POINTS AND AUTHORITIES RE JURISDICTION

I.

BY VIRTUE OF THE AUTHORITY CONFERRED ON IT UNDER THE UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION ACT (CIVIL CODE SECTIONS 5150-5174), CALIFORNIA HAS JURISDICTION IN THE INSTANT CASE.

A. Residency of the Minor Child at the Time Proceedings Were Commenced Confers Jurisdiction

California Code 5152 provides in pertinent part

(1) A court of this state which is competent to decide child custody matters has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination by initial or modification decree if the conditions set forth in any of the following paragraphs are met:

(a) This state (i) is the home state of the child at the time of commencement of the proceedings or (ii) had been the child’s home state within six months before commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this state because of his removal or retention by a person claiming his custody or for other reasons, and a parent or person acting as parent continues to live in this state.

In the present case, the minor child was born in California on January 25, 1972 and has lived here all his life. He has never resided in any other state. In October of 1976, he was removed to Guyana and currently remains there; it is the only place he has lived outside of California.

The petition for dissolution of the marriage and custody of the minor child, John, was filed by Petitioner on February 23, 1972. As this finding represents the “commencement of proceedings,” it falls well within the requirements of CC 5152 (1) (a) that the state having jurisdiction be the child’s home state within six months prior to the commencement of the proceedings. Section 5152 also states

It is [in] the best interest of the child that a court of this state assume jurisdiction because (i) the child and his parents, or the child and at least one contestant, have a significant connection with this state, and (ii) there is available in this state substantial evidence concerning the child’s present or future care, protection, training, and personal relationships.

(3) Physical presence of the child, while desirable, is not a prerequisite for jurisdiction to determine his custody.

As the child has lived in California for most of his life, most of the information concerning his life are located here; this includes official documents, such as his medical records, and unofficial information, such as that concerning his upbringing and his personal relationships.

California, as well as being the child’s residence for almost all of his short five years, has also been the state of residence for his parents. Petitioner was born in California and for the exception of one interval lasting only a few months has lived here all her life. Any and all information concerning her and her relationship with the child is located here. Respondent, too, though not born in California, has lived a significant portion of his life here. By the time of the filing of the petition for dissolution, he had been a resident here for seventeen years and left the state just shortly afterwards. His life was significantly involved in the community, becoming Deputy District Attorney of Mendocino County and later, Deputy District Attorney in San Francisco. Respondent and petitioner were married in California, had their child in this state, and raised him in this state.

The pattern of the life of the parents and the child overwhelmingly meet the requirements of the above stated section, the requirements of both “significant connection with the state” and “substantial evidence.” Though the child is not currently in the state, the code specifically denies its necessity in determining jurisdiction.

II. CALIFORNIA IS THE MOST APPROPRIATE FORUM FOR DETERMINING CUSTODY OF THE CHILD.

A. For Policy Reasons of CC 5150, This State Should Take Jurisdiction

An exercise of jurisdiction by a court of this state would promote any purpose of this act stated in §5150. As noted before, the child and his family have their closest connection with California. The recent removal of the child from this state and the recent departure of Respondent cannot counteract the effect of their years of residence here – the establishment of strong personal and community ties here and the resulting accumulation of “substantial evidence” concerning their lives.

The sudden movement of the child from California to a foreign country, unaccompanied by his parents, directly contravenes the purpose of CC 5150(1)(d) that states its interest in the “stability of home environment and of secure family relationships.”

This title was also enacted to prevent such “abductions and other unilateral removals of children” [CC 5150(1)(e)] that characterizes the present situation. The child was removed from California in October, 1976, five months after Petitioner had commenced her attempts to secure physical custody of her child. The PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, who took the child to Guyana, have steadfastly refused to return him to his mother. Such action cannot be condoned. The court, by accepting jurisdiction over this matter, will render such action ineffective in preventing adjudication of this matter and promote the occurrence of such abductions in accord with the purposes of this title.

B. There Is No Other Forum Available to Adjudicate This Matter.

Section 5172 of the Act states that “The general policies of this title extend to the international area.” Thus, the appropriateness of California as a forum it is also supported by the inappropriateness of any other forum. Section 5152(1)(d) states that a court of this state has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination if

it appears that no other state would have jurisdiction under prerequisites substantially in accordance with paragraphs (a), (b) … and (ii) it is in the best interest of the child that this court assume jurisdiction.

The child has lived in Guyana for a mere nine months; his parents have never resided there. Respondent visited once for just six weeks; Petitioner has never been there. Therefore, the greatest portion of information regarding the child and his family life has not moved with him, but has remained in California.

The child is also a citizen of the United States in this country has major responsibility for him. He has been removed from this country under dubious circumstances and the People’s Temple, with whom he now resides, refuse Petitioner’s repeated requests to bring him back. It is unquestionably in the “best interests” of the child, as well as in the interests of justice, that the matter of his custody be adjudicated in this country. As California is the only state in this country when the courts can claim jurisdiction over the custody determination, it is not only appropriate but also necessary that they do so.

––––––––––––––––––

[Editor’s note: This portion of the supplemental documents also appear here] make notation there as well]

SECTION III.

JEFFREY A. HAAS, ESQ.
Attorney at Law
3609 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94119
(415) 922-6200

MARGARET RYAN, ESQ.
Attorney at Law
294 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 624-0979

Attorneys for Petitioner

SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

In re the Marriage of
Petitioner: GRACE LUCY STOEN
and
Respondent: TIMOTHY O. STOEN

No. 719-147
PETITIONER’S DECLARATION
PURSUANT TO RULE 8.2.64

I, GRACE STOEN, declare the following under penalty of perjury.

I am the mother of JOHN VICTOR STOEN, d.o.b. January 25, 1972. As set forth in my declaration of August 11, 1977, I have been attempting to secure the return of my son since I left the PEOPLE’S TEMPLE in July, 1976. Unless this Court acts immediately, psychological, moral, and possible physical harm will continue to be done to JOHN.

I base my allegation on the following facts.

A common method of discipline within the PEOPLE’S TEMPLE is the beating of members before the assembled membership. Microphones are placed near the mouth of the person beaten so the intensity of their screams will not be lost on the audience.

-2-

Children are not excluded from watching the public beatings. In fact, they are encouraged and sometimes required to watch them.

While I was a member of the TEMPLE, JOHN and myself were present at many public beatings. On one occasion, a girl of seven was beaten well beyond the point at which she began to scream. On another occasion, a girl of eleven was straddled spread-eagled and beat seventy-five to one hundred times. On still another occasion, a young woman was beaten until both of her eyes were swollen shut.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of public beatings which took place during my time in the TEMPLE. The majority of the members of the TEMPLE were “brought up” before the membership for punishment at some time. Not all of the beatings caused serious injuries. Some merely served to degrade a selected member because of an alleged wrong. Members who did not say “Thank you, Father” to the REV. JONES at the conclusion of a punishment directed by him were beaten more.

Before the assembled membership, REV. JONES claimed at various times to be the reincarnation of Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Lenin. On several occasions when JOHN was present, the REV. JONES exhibited bloody hands, which he instructed the congregation were stigmata. REV. JONES consistently and incessantly presented himself as our ultimate moral authority. Anyone who question this premise was “brought up” for punishment.

REV. JONES worked effectively and persistently to indoctrinate the children of TEMPLE members to believe in his moral authority and fear his power to impose horrifying punishments.

-3-

JOHN and other children were present when a fifteen-year-old youth passed out after being beaten; they saw a young girl vomit after her punishment required her to enter a boxing match with a far more skilled opponent; they frequently heard threats of an instrument known as the “Blue Monster” which would administer shock treatments to the unworthy; they were required to [illegible word] and ridicule members selected for public humiliation under pain of being punished themselves.

I do not believe that JOHN has any direct knowledge of the coercive and fraudulent means which the TEMPLE has used secure transfers of land and money. Nor do I believe he has direct knowledge of the fact that money received by the TEMPLE for care of the aged is diverted for other projects, leaving the aged poorly cared for. However, the twisted sense of morality which authorizes these acts cannot have escaped him.

The twisted moral code which REV. JONES imparts on members of the TEMPLE maybe summarized as follows: REV. JONES advocates social justice, racial equality and the brotherhood of man. He is the reincarnation of a host of divinities from other ages. It is his mission to search out and eradicate low some traits with the members of [the] congregation, even though they may not always wish his help. The severe beating of a young child for a minor infraction becomes an act of divinity.

Members of the TEMPLE including minors are frequently required to sign statements authorizing physical punishment of themselves and their children. These statements are in turn used by the TEMPLE as license for intimidation and degradation.

-4-

I respectfully and urgently request that this Court act that once to remove my son from the physical custody of REV. JONES to prevent further psychological, moral, and emotional harm and possible physical injury from happening to him.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct except as to those matters stated on the information and belief and as to those I believe them to be true.

Executed this 18 day of August, 1977 at San Francisco, California.

/s/ Grace Lucy Stoen
GRACE LUCY STOEN

––––––––––––––––––

SECTION IV.

JEFFREY A. HAAS, ESQ.
Attorney at Law
3609 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94119
(415) 922-6200

MARGARET RYAN, ESQ.
Attorney at Law
294 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 624-0979

Attorneys for Petitioner

SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

In re the Marriage of
Petitioner: GRACE LUCY STOEN
and
Respondent: TIMOTHY O. STOEN

No. 719-147
COUNSEL’S DECLARATION RE DUE DILIGENCE
IN ATTEMPTING TO EFFECT SERVICE
UPON RESPONDENT

I, JEFF A. HAAS, declare the following under penalty of perjury.

I am the attorney of record for Petitioner, GRACE L. STOEN. On February 25, 1977, I attempted to serve the Respondent, TIMOTHY O. STOEN, copies of the Summons, Petition, Order to Show Cause and accompanying documents. This attempt was made at the District Attorneys office at 850 Bryant Street. I was informed that Mr. Stoen had recently taken a leave of absence and would be away for approximately six weeks. I was not informed of his whereabouts.

Further inquiry of various deputy District Attorneys confirmed that Respondent was outside of the country on religious mission. Other sources confirmed that Respondent may be in Guyana. As a service cannot be perfected, the OSC [Order to Show Cause] was dropped from the calendar of March 18, 1977.

I am informed that when Respondent next surfaced he represented to Petitioner that he was somewhere in France. After considerable negotiations Respondent agreed to meet Petitioner in Colorado. The meeting took place in mid-July at Respondent’s brothers home in Colorado. I talked with Respondent by telephone on two separate occasions during this meeting. He informed me, inter alia, that he had been aware of the pending Dissolution but had been avoiding service of process. After indicating that he would not respond to the moving papers, he specifically stated that he would allow the matter to go through default.

I have been informed by Petitioner that copies of Summons, Petition, Order to Show Cause set for August 19, 1977, and accompanying documents, were served on Respondent by his brother, JON STOEN, on July 13, 1977. JON STOEN, according to his wife, is reluctant to sign the affidavit of Service because he does not want to get his brother in trouble. I have been informed that the PEOPLE’S TEMPLE has attempted several times to reach TIMOTHY O. STOEN through his family in Colorado. MRS. JON STOEN did not indicate that there had been threats. She did indicate that her husband was confused and upset and that he was trying to decide if he should execute the Affidavit of Service.

On August 15, 1977, I received a call from MR. PATRICK HALLINAN. MR. HALLINAN stated that he had received a call from TIMOTHY O. STOEN and had been retained to represent the Respondent. He stated that Respondent was out of the country and asked me to drop the OSC from calendar. I indicated that I could not do so.

I declare the following under penalty of perjury.

JEFFERY A. HAAS

––––––––––––––––––

[Editor’s note: Section V, the Amended Declaration Under Uniform Custody Of Minors Act, is a form which lists the addresses the child, John Victor Stoen, has lived since his birth. There are two addresses, one in Ukiah, and the second at the Peoples Temple address on Geary Blvd. in San Francisco.]

––––––––––––––––––

DECLARATION OF PETITIONER

I am informed by my attorney JEFFERY HAAS that Attorney CHARLES GARRY, appearing specially for the PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, represented to him that REV. JIM JONES both has physical custody of the minor child at present and has claimed the right to physical custody. Of my own knowledge, I do not know if this is not true, so accordingly, I am in the Declaration on information and belief.

Dated: [blank]

/s/ Grace Lucy Stoen
GRACE LUCY STOEN
Petitioner

––––––––––––––––––

SECTION VI. POINTS AND AUTHORITIES RE COURT’S AUTHORITY TO JOIN REVEREND JONES AS A PARTY TO THE INSTANT PROCEEDINGS

I.

THE DECLARATION UNDER THE UNIFORM CUSTODY OF MINORS ACT MUST BE AMENDED TO INCLUDE REV. JIM JONES.

The PEOPLE’S TEMPLE currently has physical custody of the minor child. CHARLES GARRY, Attorney for the TEMPLE and its leader REV. JIM JONES, indicated in a special appearance in proceedings held in chambers that REV. JONES, not the TEMPLE, was claiming personal custody of the child. Therefore, pursuant to California Civil Code Section 5158 (3), concerning the party’s duty to inform the Court of any information obtained of in the custody proceeding concerning the child, such information must be included in the pleadings of this proceeding, the dissolution of the marriage of TIMOTHY O. STOEN and GRACE LUCY STOEN. The Declaration Under the Uniform Custody of Minors Act must be amended, then, to includeREV. JONES under Part 4. b. as a person who has physical custody of the child.

II.

UPON THE FILING OF AN AMENDED DECLARATION UNDER THE UNIFORM CUSTODY OF MINORS ACT NAMING A THIRD  PARTY CLAIMANT, THE COURT MUST ORDER JOINDER OF THAT PARTY.

Section 5159 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act gives the Court authority to order joinder in the present situation:

If the Court learns from information furnished by the parties pursuant to Section 5158 or from other sources that a person not a party to the custody proceeding has physical custody of the child or claims to have custody or visitation rights with respect to the child, it shall order that person to be joined as a party…

See also Rule 1254 of the California Rules of Court which provides

(a) The court shall order joined as a party to the proceeding any person the court discovers has physical custody or claims custody or visitation rights with respect to any minor child of the marriage.

As REV. JONES has both physical custody of the child and claims to have custody rights; it is not only appropriate but is indeed mandatory that he be joined as a party to this action.

––––––––––––––––––

SECTION VII. PETITIONER’S PROPOSED EX PARTE ORDER RE CUSTODY OF MINOR

Petitioner respectfully requests that the court make the following ex parte orders:

(1) Petitioner is awarded custody of John Victor Stoen, age 5, d.o.b. 1/25/72 pending further order of this court.

(2) Petitioner’s Order to Show Cause Re Custody this continued for further hearing until September [blank date] 1977, Dept. 13 at 9:00 AM.

(3) Pursuant to Section 5160 (2) of the California Civil Code, Respondent TIMOTHY O. STOEN is ordered to appear before this court on September 8, 1977 to show cause why Petitioner should not be awarded custody of said minor.

(4) Pursuant to Section 5160 (2) of the California Civil Code, Respondent TIMOTHY O. STOEN is advised that a failure to appear at the time and place designated above may result in a decision adverse to himself.

(5) Pursuant to Section 5154 (1) (d) of the California Civil Code, the court directs that service of this order upon Respondent shall be deemed to have been effected upon proof of the doing of the following acts: (1) publication of this order in the San Francisco Chronicle, a newspaper of general circulation for three successive times. The last day of publication shall be no later than August 29, 1977 and (2) the mailing of a copy of this order by first-class postage prepaid to PATRICK HALLINAN, Attorney at Law, 345 Franklin Street, San Francisco, California. Send me a link shall occur no later than August 23, 1977.

(6) Good cause appearing, the REV. JIM JONES it is ordered joined as a party to this action pursuant to Section 5159 of the California Civil Code.

(7) Petitioner is ordered to notify the Claimant JONES of the pendency of these proceedings and of his joinder as a party.

(8) Pursuant to Section 5154 (1) (d) of the California Civil Code, the court directs that service of this order upon Claimant JONES shall be deemed to have been effected upon proof of the doing of the following acts: (1) the mailing of a copy of this order, first class postage prepaid, to the REVEREND JIM JONES, c/o PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, 1851 Geary Street, San Francisco, California. Said mailing shall occur no later than August 23, 1977; (2) the mailing of a copy of this order, airmail postage prepaid to REV. JIM JONES, c/o THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE AGRICULTURAL MISSION, Guyana. Said mailing shall occur no later than August 23, 1977; (3) the mailing of a copy of this order to CHARLES GARRY, Attorney at Law, 1256 Market Street, San Francisco, California. Said mailing shall occur no later than August 23, 1977; and (4) publication of this order in the San Francisco Chronicle, a newspaper of general circulation for three successive times. The last day of publication shall be no later than August 29, 1977.

(9) Pursuant to Section 5160 (2) of the California Civil Code, Claimant REV. JIM JONES is ordered to appear before this court on September [date illegible], 1977 to show cause why Petitioner should not be awarded custody of said minor.

(10) Pursuant to Section 5160 (2) of the California Civil Code, Claimant REV. JIM JONES is advised that a failure to appear at the time and place designated above may result in a decision adverse to himself.

(11) Any previous declaration or statement signed by either Petitioner or Respondent authorizing Claimant JONES to act as guardian of said minor child is hereby declared null and void.

(12) The parties and their agents are restrained from removing said minor from the City and County of San Francisco pending further order of this court.

––––––––––––––––––

[Editor’s note: Section VIII, the “Appendix Of Statutes Cited In Petitioner’s Proposed Order,” gives the texts of three sections of the California Civil Code quoted throughout this document.]

Originally posted on August 14th, 2022.

Skip to main content