Jim Jones Statement on John Victor Stoen,
August 1978


I, Jim Jones, affirm under penalty of perjury, that the following is true.

I firmly believe that the custody battle over my son, John Victor, is an absolutely politically-motivated ploy on the part of Timothy Stoen and a number of other individuals, using my son as a power in an attempt to destroy my life’s work and the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project here in the North West Region of Guyana.

I base this conviction upon a massive and growing body of evidence of great complexity that I will hear an attempt to highlight, with the help of supporting documents. The tangled web of circumstances is not easy to follow. I shall show, however, that this is not a simple custody matter at all, as the Stoens have attempted to portray it.

Originally Mr. Stoen himself insisted on my wife [Marceline Jones] and I retaining custody of John, and agreed with many others in Peoples Temple who had observed the manner in which Mrs. Stoen comported herself with John, that she (Grace Stoen) was an unfit mother, and had no interest in the child. Mr. Stoen even visited my son here in Guyana and was most approving of John remaining here. However, Stoen later took a completely opposite position. It was then that he began making efforts to organize people against me and Peoples Temple. He recruited a group of people that he called “concerned relatives,” bringing outlandish and reckless charges against the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project and myself which were never substantiated and which flew in the face of reality, as witnessed and attested to by a host of persons, including US State Department observers.

I am convinced, and can clearly demonstrate, that the custody case is being used as a pretext to cause trouble for me and Peoples Temple. The complexity and totality of the factors involved are difficult to capsulize: I need to go into some background and some detail about the entire pattern of extensive efforts against this church which has, under my ministry, been



Statement of Jim Jones

active for twenty-five years against racism, injustice, corruption, oppression, and a variety of social abuses. An active conspiracy to destroy our church has been carried on for many years. The total catalog of harassments, death threats, arson attacks, attempts on my life and the lives of my children, sabotage, and the like would take a volume to detail. It has been in recent years, however, as our church has become more outspoken against injustice, and has attempted, in accordance with our religious beliefs, to live a co-operative lifestyle, but concerted efforts against us have taken a new and more serious dimension – what our attorney, Charles Garry, is characterized as an “organized, premeditated, government campaign.” About 18 months ago, according to documented information, Grace Stoen met with government agents to participate – indeed, to play a key role – in these efforts. They have included attempts to bribe and blackmail many former members, community leaders, and activists (such as American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks) into denouncing Peoples Temple. Timothy Stoen, as I have indicated, came to participate in this campaign and take a leading role, even offering the money to prominent individuals in civil rights and progressive movements to denounce me. He has spent unspecified amounts of money (we know of at least $20,000 US) in these and other efforts, even though he had no funds to begin with and has been unemployed for quite some time and, in any case, and no visible means of securing the money for these kinds of activities. Some of the highlights of this campaign have included:

– sabotage of mail between Guyana and the U.S.

– holding back of Social Security and pension checks from elderly people residing here at our community

– fronting of ‘smear’ articles to major US media (and outside of the US), full of outrageous lies and unsubstantiated allegations (Note: An extensive public relations firm was even hired to promote these efforts, spearheaded by a man with a long criminal record, and described by prison authorities as a ‘con man,’ a ‘public menace,’ and a person with ‘an insatiable desire to get ahead.’ The individual, Joseph Mazor, was mysteriously granted a private detective license by the State of California shortly after his release from jail, enabling him to pursue these activities).

– A systematic, concerted campaign of telephone harassment of a number of people, with the callers impersonating members of my church, in order to turn persons called against me and my church



Statement of Jim Jones

– many more activities, including ransacking of our shipments, and the mysterious murder of a member of our church in December, 1977 [Chris Lewis].

Stoen, as I mentioned, has been the key organizer behind a group of individuals styling themselves as the ‘concerned relatives,’ which include persons who have been a part of the anti-Jim Jones faction for months and in some cases, years. One of the members of this group is threatening to ‘hire mercenaries’ to send to Guyana in violation of international law and Guyana’s sovereignty in order to ‘retrieve’ members of Peoples Temple legally residing here. Stoen has been – according to absolutely reliable, documented proof – in contact within aerial reconnaissance outfit that has been involved in coordinating subversive activities with the help of armed mercenaries, in Africa.

Stoen has also spearheaded attempts to influence a host of US Congressmen, Senators, State Department officials, US Embassy officials, and others in trying to discredit us, as well as in trying to embarrass (and insulting – in a direct, arrogant manner) the government of Guyana, even going so far as to cause or provoke an international incident which would (hopefully) jeopardize the standing of Peoples Temple here in Guyana.

Experts who have reviewed the chronicle of Mr. Stoen’s activities, dating back to an incident some 15 years ago when he got himself arrested and kicked out of the German Democratic Republic (under strange circumstances) and used the incident to create decidedly unfavorable publicity against the GDR in the US mass-media, have said that Stoen has acted in the manner of a CIA agent or operative, and is my own belief that this may indeed be the case.

There is another dimension to this entire matter. According to his own sworn statement (Exhibit A, attached, Stoen, in 1971 insisted that his wife have sexual relations with me because he wanted a child and could not sire one himself. He referred to me in the statement as “the most compassionate, honest, and courageous human being the world contains.” The statement was witnessed by my wife. I was not, as the statement clarifies, an eager participant



Statement of Jim Jones

in this arrangement, but proceeded to Mr. Stoen’s behests which, I say without hesitation, or desperately advanced. I was also – simultaneously – being pressured by Mrs. Stoen, whose extreme emotional instability caused her to resort to a form of sexual blackmail. She threatened that if I would not engage in sexual relations with her, she would do what she could to ruin me, Peoples Temple, and her husband. My wife of some thirty years and others with whom I discussed this matter, supported and encouraged me in the painful decision I came to at that time: to meet Mr. and Mrs. Stoen on their desperate terms. We saw no other way.

Since the pregnancy and subsequent child that came out of our relationship, Mrs. Stoen has callously and cruelly manipulated the entire situation – with the child in the center of it all – to deliberately caused me great pain and anguish, knowing well of my deep care and love for my son. This had caused my son severe emotional distress from which he is now fairly well recovered, though, when inflicted at such an early age it is difficult to say that such effects can be wholly overcome.

Four years, Grace Stoen – as has been witnessed by hundreds of people who knew her during this time – was not a caring mother to John. She had bizarre child-rearing patterns that resulted an emotional torment to the trial, who she often and openly spurned. On one occasion she locked the very young boy in the garage while she engaged in sexual relations with a man. The child could hear everything and was traumatized. My wife and I had to step in on many occasions to provide the child with the kind of consistent paternal and maternal care for John that Grace and Tim Stoen were unable to provide, and emotionally unprepared to assume.

It is obvious even to a person with ordinary common sense that the child represented to Mr. Stoen an image and reminder of his own personal (sexual) inadequacy, so that his attitude toward John was at best ambivalent and, at worst, resentful. Everyone was concerned, besides, about Grace Stoen’s extremely erratic patterns.



Statement of Jim Jones

She finally ran off with a lover in 1976, abandoning the child – indeed, she directly handed the child to me and my wife and said, within the child’s hearing and in the presence of other witnesses: “here, he’s yours, take him, I don’t want any part of him.”

Shortly after this, Mr. Stoen prepare the attached document (Exhibit B) which details several well-known factors in Mrs. Stoen’s outlook and personality. In this document, Mr. Stoen indicates, among other things, that Grace Stoen:

– is unfit to have custody over John

– is a dangerous reactionary who has indicated that she would work with the CIA to harm nations like Guyana

– abandoned the child and ran off with a reactionary racist, totally opposed to socialism

– wanted John to remain in Guyana under my care

Grace Stoen, in addition, was given (by me) in round-trip ticket to come and visit her son. She cashed in the ticket. There are numerous sworn statements that are available to interested parties that also reflect upon Mrs. Stoen’s unfitness and personal moral inadequacies (i.e., patterns of promiscuity, etc.).

Now Mrs. Stoen is clamoring to have ‘her son back’ along with Timothy Stoen who, until several months ago was actively and firmly opposed to such a course, and was (to all appearances) a firm supporter of me and my work: in fact, in the face of Mrs. Stoen’s original allegations, Stoen threatened to sue the publications carrying them for $18 million! Even today, he is separated from Grace Stoen, who continues to live with other men. I must also remark that Mrs. Stoen’s claims were not privately advanced, but were aired in the context of a series of dubious stratagems being advanced by several persons – including government agents – in conjunction with other bizarre allegations about Peoples Temple in the sensationalist press. The issue about ‘getting her son back’ was (and still is) part of a gross publicity stunt. Mrs. Stoen had been actively conspiring with a group of these individuals for the express purpose (in the words of one of the most outspoken of the false witnesses who she is collaborating with) ‘destroying’ me



Statement of Jim Jones

and my organization.

The total change in the attitude of Mr. Stoen (he has now joined with those who he had been attacking, and has authored suits against us totaling $53 million – and is also working with the very person – his wife – who he said was an unfit mother who would resort to working with the CIA to harm me) as well as the above-mentioned activities, leads to the inescapable conclusion that Mr. Stoen is actively working against me under severe pressure from those involved in the original efforts to destroy me and my work.

In all this, their desire for custody has nothing what so ever to do with the welfare and well-being of John Victor. This (as I have said) is only a pretext, to advance conspiratorial efforts against me, as has been exhaustively documented. If I thought that Mrs. Stoen was sincerely concerned about her child, and was intended to rear him in a manner that would comport to his health and well-being I would not heavenly hesitancy in releasing John to her custody, though I love the child dearly, and he is very attached to me and my wife. Such, however, it is not the case with Mrs. Stoen. Far from it. This is a cruel, vicious attempt to use a child as a pawn in a devious game. The child is quite bright (indeed, brilliant) and understands much of what has been swirling around him. Though the nearly two years he has spent here in an environment of care and concern has helped markedly in his personal growth, and despite the fact that we have encouraged him not to harbor negative feelings about his mother – despite our own – John is so emotionally scarred and wrought up over his mother that he has actually expressed that, were he to be returned to her custody, he would commit suicide.

In light of this, and in addition to all of the above factors and evidence, I am convinced that this whole custody case is a sham and is being pursued only as a vehicle to advance schemes to harm this organization. I am firmly, and on the highest moral grounds, opposed to sacrificing the welfare of my son (which would be a certain consequence were he placed in the custody of Grace and/or Tim Stoen) and turning him over to what amounts to a



Statement of Jim Jones

broken home (at best). I am joined in this resolved by literally thousands of people who know the situation, who have known for years but my wife and I have been the true and loving and consistent parents of John Victor. There are indeed other psychological factors in the case – especially concerning extreme character disorders of Mr. Stoen (transvestitism) which have no doubt (as I have mentioned) contributed to his desire to be the father of a child, even if it meant imploring a surrogate to impregnate his wife.

Mr. Stoen as always been abnormally possessed with what he conceives as ‘power’ – in his masculine image was threatened by his own personality weaknesses and aberrations (which resulted in his periodically donning women’s garments and parading them in public). In order to psychologically compensate for this, Mr. Stoen wanted to have a son that would be the image and ‘proof’ of his potency, sired by a person who he envied as a kind of image of the power he knew he lacked in himself.

I understood these factors, and Tim Stoen’s own sense of desperation. I was, perhaps, on reflection, mistaken in meeting Mr. Stoen (and his wife) on their desperate terms, but today, over seven years later, I have to think not about the causes, but the consequences of that painful decision. I refer here to my son. And in the face of the errors, human feelings, misplaced motives, jealousies, projections, and morass of insecurity and twisted desires that have characterized the actions of Grace and Tim Stoen, and which have propelled them on their destructive course of action against me and Peoples Temple, I am determined to shield my son. I am pledged with my life that he will have a clear, bright future ahead of him. It is this determination of a father, it is in this spirit, that I have made this statement.

As a final note, I would like to add that I have personally chosen to make all the evidence in this matter public, even though the fact that I am – and freely admit to being – the father of John Victor, constitutes as grave threat to my reputation, personal and professional standing as a minister and Pastor of



Statement of Jim Jones

Peoples Temple Christian Church, to my position in the community, in the civil rights movement in the United States, and within the Disciples of Christ denomination of which my church has been an affiliate for many years. I obviously have nothing to personally again in doing this, and a great deal to lose. I only wish to protect the well-being and life of my son, to prevent him from being cruelly abused in a cheap ploy and power-play by people with no principles. I could have easily relinquished custody of John Victor to Grace Stoen and have avoided all of the personal and legal difficulties (arrest orders, legal fees, and many other problems and pressures) that have ensued from my stand – taken on moral and ethical grounds of conscience alone – to refuse to allow my son to be used as a pawn in a heartless game that has as its object the destruction of what I judged to be one of the most significant humanitarian and social justice organizations anywhere, confirmation of which you can get from a host of individuals who have positions of responsibility in public and civic life, in government service, in religious community, everywhere – who are intimately aware of the work of Peoples Temple, and who understand precisely why efforts (such as those outlined above) have been mounted to terminate it. Similar efforts, as is practically common knowledge, have been launched against many progressive and civil rights and third-world organizations in the US that are working for a world of equality and economic justice.

I am attaching statements and further documentation that will help put all of this in perspective. What is being advanced is, as many have clearly recognize, no more ‘custody case.’ It is part of a conspiracy, operating at several levels.

I apologize for the somewhat disjointed and loose construction of this statement, which I have hastily dictated in order that it may be filed appropriately as soon as possible.

(Signed) Jim Jones

Dated: 16 August 1978