Grace Stoen declaration under Rule 8.2.64, August 18, 1977

Attorney at Law
3609 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94119
(415) 922-6200

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

Attorneys for Petitioner


In re the Marriage of
Respondent: TIMOTHY O. STOEN

No. 719-147

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.


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.


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.


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