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Wrong Elizabeth Dovydenas?

Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas

Church Worker

Stevens School of the Bible

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Web References(8 Total References)


Carl Stevens, TBS, GGWO, The Bible Speaks, Greater Grace World Outreach, Maryland Bible College and Seminary, Greater Grace Christian Academy, Grace Hour Radio Program

carlstevens.org [cached]

According to court records and press accounts, Elizabeth Day­ton Dovydenas, a young heiress to a depart­ment store fortune, had moved to the Lenox area from Chicago with her husband and baby in 1981.
Dovydenas, who disliked many of the staid conventions of her upperclass upbringing and was attracted to more spontaneous forms of religious expression, was introduced to The Bible Speaks the next year by her housekeeper. She and her husband attended a few services; impressed by what they saw, they dropped a check for $600 in the collection basket during one service. Though her husband soon pulled away from the church, Dovydenas was gradually drawn into it more deeply. She took courses at the Stevens School of the Bible and became a zealous church worker. She also received private counseling from Stevens and became close friends with Stevens' fiancee (later his wife) and a church bookkeeper. In 1984, she donated $1 million to The Bible Speaks. She and her husband fought over the gift. When she gave the church $5.6 million the next year, she didn't tell her husband, though he and her family later learned of it. At the end of 1985, Dovydenas revised her will, making The Bible Speaks her primary beneficiary. In early 1986, Dovydenas was lured to a rented house in Minnesota, ostensibly for a surprise party for her father. After five-and-a-half days of exit counsel­ing, Dovydenas decided to break from The Bible Speaks. Before leaving Minnesota, she again rewrote her will, this time cutting out the church. Later that year, concluding that she had been unethically manipulated by Stevens, Dovydenas considered filing suit to recover her donations. In an attempt to preempt any legal action on her part, The Bible Speaks asked a Massachusetts state court to declare that the gifts were legitimate. The church's request was dismissed, and Dovydenas filed suit seeking damages and resti­tution of the donations, on the grounds of undue influence. Dovydenas, in turn, filed a claim for restitution in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Ina strongly worded decision issued in May 1987, Judge James F Queenan, Jr., sided with Dovydenas, citing deliberate deception by Stevens and others. (Queenan noted that after the $1 million donation in 1984, for example, Dovydenas was told that the gift had led to a miracu­lous cure of a migraine condition from which Stevens' wife suffered, when in fact the condition persisted. Ina strongly worded decision issued in May 1987, Judge James F Queenan, Jr., sided with Dovydenas, citing deliberate deception by Stevens and others. (Queenan noted that after the $1 million donation in 1984, for example, Dovydenas was told that the gift had led to a miracu­lous cure of a migraine condition from which Stevens' wife suffered, when in fact the condition persisted. Queenan stated that the case had revealed "an astonishing saga of clerical deceit, avarice, and subjugation on the part of the Church's founder, Carl H. Stevens," and awarded Dovydenas $6.6 million. According to a recent report in a Lenox area newspaper, Dovydenas has managed to recover between $4 million and $5 million, although the amount does not take into account legal expenses and other costs from her action against the church. Church representatives have argued that Dovydenas was turned against The Bible Speaks by a family that resorted to "depro­gramming" out of embarrassment and greed. There's only been one successful depro­gramming attempt. and that's [Dovydenas].


Baltimore Free Press

site.carlstevens.org [cached]

According to court records and press accounts, Elizabeth Day­ton Dovydenas, a young heiress to a depart­ment store fortune, had moved to the Lenox area from Chicago with her husband and baby in 1981.
Dovydenas, who disliked many of the staid conventions of her upperclass upbringing and was attracted to more spontaneous forms of religious expression, was introduced to The Bible Speaks the next year by her housekeeper. She and her husband attended a few services; impressed by what they saw, they dropped a check for $600 in the collection basket during one service. Though her husband soon pulled away from the church, Dovydenas was gradually drawn into it more deeply. She took courses at the Stevens School of the Bible and became a zealous church worker. She also received private counseling from Stevens and became close friends with Stevens' fiancee (later his wife) and a church bookkeeper. In 1984, she donated $1 million to The Bible Speaks. She and her husband fought over the gift. When she gave the church $5.6 million the next year, she didn't tell her husband, though he and her family later learned of it. At the end of 1985, Dovydenas revised her will, making The Bible Speaks her primary beneficiary. In early 1986, Dovydenas was lured to a rented house in Minnesota, ostensibly for a surprise party for her father. After five-and-a-half days of exit counsel­ing, Dovydenas decided to break from The Bible Speaks. Before leaving Minnesota, she again rewrote her will, this time cutting out the church. Later that year, concluding that she had been unethically manipulated by Stevens, Dovydenas considered filing suit to recover her donations. In an attempt to preempt any legal action on her part, The Bible Speaks asked a Massachusetts state court to declare that the gifts were legitimate. The church's request was dismissed, and Dovydenas filed suit seeking damages and resti­tution of the donations, on the grounds of undue influence. Dovydenas, in turn, filed a claim for restitution in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Ina strongly worded decision issued in May 1987, Judge James F Queenan, Jr., sided with Dovydenas. …..deliberate deception by Stevens and others. (Queenan noted that after the $1 million donation in 1984, for example, Dovydenas was told that the gift had led to a miracu­lous cure of a migraine condition from which Stevens' wife suffered, when in fact the condition persisted. Queenan stated that the case had revealed "an astonishing saga of clerical deceit, avarice, and subjugation on the part of the Church's founder, Carl H. Stevens," and awarded Dovydenas $6.6 million. According to a recent report in a Lenox area newspaper, Dovydenas has managed to recover between $4 million and $5 million, although the amount does not take into account legal expenses and other costs from her action against the church. Church representatives have argued that Dovydenas was turned against The Bible Speaks by a family that resorted to "depro­gramming" out of embarrassment and greed. There's only been one successful depro­gramming attempt. and that's [Dovydenas].... part of that is because I keep our people well prepared, but it's also because we're just not a major target.


Scientology's Revenge

www.rickross.com [cached]

The Bible Speaks' troubles erupted with Betsy Dovydenas, heiress to the Dayton-Hudson department store fortune (which includes Target stores).Dovydenas joined Stevens' church in 1982 and was soon persuaded to leave her husband and two children and to turn over to The Bible Speaks $6.6 million of an estate then estimated to be worth $20 million.Flush with cash, Stevens' operation expanded to a wooded 85-acre campus on the outskirts of town, complete with state-of-the-art radio and television studios, an assembly center, and a new home for the Stevens College of the Bible.But in 1986, Dovydenas' husband and parents pried her away from the group long enough to have a cult deprogrammer convince her that she had been mesmerized.The next year she sued the church to get her money back,claiming undue influence.The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and, although she eventually won, the victory was largely empty.The Bible Speaks had declared bankruptcy.Among other things, court records show that Stevens had used some of the money to buy a fancy Florida condo.The heiress ended up with a white elephant -- the former church's headquarters campus."I got brainwashed," recalls Dovydenas, 47, of the experience.She refers to Stevens as a "bogus, sleazy preacher,"adding, "I find it incomprehensible that anyone in the hierarchy of his organization could be sincerely motivated." Yet, the controversy didn't end Stevens' career or Robertson's affiliation with him.Stevens shuttered the Lenox operation and moved to Baltimore."The new entity enabled them to protect their assets from the [Dovydenas] judgment."Although it may not have attracted any rich heiresses, Stevens' ministry has made inroads among wealthy athletes.For example, the Reverend John Love, a Stevens subordinate, has done much to burnish the image of the NBA's New York Knicks as the "god squad" by leading post game prayer huddles at center court."His credentials aren't worth the paper they're written on," contends David Clark, the exit counselor who deprogrammed Dovydenas.


Boston Phoenix

www.carlstevens.org [cached]

Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas, a 34-year-old housewife from Minnesota who now lives in Lenox, Massachusetts, is meek nearly to the point of painfulness.
This avoidance of public discourse is probably a wise approach for her, because Betsy Dovydenas is emphatically not a threat to win the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. And yet she stands to inherit, if not the Earth, then at least a healthy share of its worldly goods and chattel, having had the good fortune to be born the daughter of department-store magnate Wallace Dayton, the lady is worth something in the neighborhood of 20 million bucks. Or at least, she was - before she met Carl Stevens. Five years after their meeting, Betsy Dovydenas's worth has decreased to about $13 million, and Carl Stevens is in big trouble. For the past three weeks Stevens has been spending his days in a Worcester courtroom, trying to convince a federal bankruptcy judge that Betsy Dovydenas shouldn't get back the $7 million she has given him over the past half-decade. To Betsy Dovydenas, the issue is perhaps a bit simpler: the lady wants her money back. For starters, there is the complexity of the legal issues: Dovydenas originally filed her lawsuit - seeking return of the $7 million on the grounds that Stevens and an associate exercised "undue influence" in convincing her to donate so much to The Bible Speaks - in Berkshire Superior Court. Dovydenas's team of attorneys - headed by Gordon Walker, chief of litigation for the prestigious Boston firm of McDermott, Will, and Emery - maintains that the heiress, after moving to Lenox with her husband, Jonas, in 1981, and becoming an avid member of The Bible Speaks, was singled out for special attention by Stevens because of her extraordinary wealth. Stevens, they claim, saw to it that his wife-to-be, Barbara, and a church clerk named Kathleen Hill cultivated friendships with Dovydenas and then exploited those friendships to wheedle vast sums of money from her. Another $5.3 million in Dayton Hudson stock was given, Dovydenas says, so that God would bring about the release of a Bible Speaks minister who had reportedly been detained by the Romanian police. Betsy Dovydenas - who before joining The Bible Speaks indulged an interest in Transcendental Meditation, reportedly demonstrating such facility at clearing her mind that her instructor marveled at her ability to focus on only one idea at a time - is said by her attorneys to be particularly susceptible to brainwashing. Dovydenas gave the money because, at the time she believed that God wanted her to. That may not seem to be a rational belief to many people, but the court has no business deciding which religious beliefs are right, and which are wrong. To say that it does is to threaten the constitutional protection of all religious beliefs." Grutman does not dispute that Dovydenas is peculiarly susceptible to psychological manipulation. Grutman alleges that the ones guilty of "brainwashing" Betsy are her husband, Jonas, a freelance photographer with no significant income, a man who simply lived off his wife's fortune, and her multimillionaire father, who, after reading newspaper articles that blasted the church, arranged for his daughter to be "deprogrammed" by a team of psychologists specializing in cults. Betsy, evidently at Stevens's suggestion, was insisting that Jonas actually get a paying job - which may have been one of the things that prompted him to testify that Stevens had turned his marriage into "a plateau of misery." After conferring with his in-laws, Jonas went along with a plan to lure her to the family home back in Minnesota under the pretext of attending a birthday party for her father; the deprogramming experts took over, and after only four days, Betsy signed yet another will. Those are the two contesting claims that Queenan will have to decide - along with the technical issue of whether The Bible Speaks should receive Chapter 11 protection, with Betsy Dovydenas listed as the church's creditor. Given the nationwide tendency of plaintiffs to win deprogramming cases at the trial level - coupled with the fact that Queenan has ruled against the church on the issue of admitting some evidence that Grutman believes is crucial to the case - legal observers expect Dovydenas has a better-than-even chance of winning this first round, although of course there is no sure way of predicting Queenan's ruling ahead of time, All that can be predicted with reasonable certainty is that the loser will appeal Queenan's decision. In April 1985 - shortly before Dovydenas made her mammoth $5.3 million gift to The Bible Speaks - Turkia was apprehended while trying to cross into Romania with an unidentified member of another religious organization. In the meantime, the church congregation busily prayed for his release, and Dovydenas got the idea that she might grease the skids with the Almighty by forking over $5 million. But what does Betsy Dovydenas think of all this? It's hard to say, because aside from her testimony she has had virtually nothing to say in public. Her lawyers have instructed her not to speak to the press, and she has evidently taken this instruction, like so many others over the years, quite literally. She will smile, nod, occasionally even wave at the members of the fourth estate, but she will hardly ever open her mouth. Focusing ability, no doubt. Nor is Betsy Dovydenas the only former Bible Speaks follower to complain about how the church uses, and solicits, its donations. Keating also reported that in the spring of 1985 some disgruntled donors had received partial refunds as high as $20,000; although no one outside the spring of 1985 - about the time that Betsy Dovydenas was starting to shower The Bible Speaks with megabucks. With Betsy's $5.3 million gift in April, Stevens could embark on an ambitious building program for the campus.


Court of Appeals Document

site.carlstevens.org [cached]

lawsuit brought by Betsy Dovydenas.
It presents testimony from both sides as well as findings of fact by the presiding judge. The lower court had found in favor of Betsy, so this ruling is the final word on the case. _______________________________________________________________ IN RE THE BIBLE SPEAKS, Debtor. ELIZABETH DOVYDENAS, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. THE BIBLE SPEAKS, Defendant, Appellant TBS brought suit in Berkshire Superior Court [Massachusetts] against Elizabeth Dovydenas on April 14, 1986 seeking a declaratory judgment that it did not owe her any debt or liability and that it did not have to return funds transferred by her. This suit was dismissed on June 13, 1986. The Massachusetts Appeals Court dismissal was affirmed on April 8, 1987. Elizabeth Dovydenas then brought suit on June 19, 1986 in Berkshire Superior Court against TBS. She sought rescission of gifts made by her between December 1984 and December 1985 because of undue influence and fraud. After its motion to dismiss was denied on July 15, 1986, TBS sought protection of the bankruptcy court filing for Chapter 11 reorganization on July 29, 1986. Its petition, which stayed the state court action, stated that Elizabeth Dovydenas' claim against it was a core proceeding. Elizabeth Dovydenas then filed a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court on October 31, 1986. Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas, the plaintiff, was born in 1952 and grew up in Minnesota. She is an heir to the Dayton-Hudson fortune. Stevens response was to "slap[] his table, he had the Bible there, he said, 'Jonas, I swear before Jesus Christ and on the Bible that I have never taken any money from Betsy without your knowledge.'" Although Stevens' statement was not true, plaintiff believed it to be true. Well, when we got back in the car, [on the way from Framingham to Lenox,] Carl Stevens said to me, "Betsy, it seems like you've really been hearing from the holy spirit.


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