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This profile was last updated on 5/14/06  and contains information from public web pages.

Mrs. Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas

Wrong Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas?

Church Worker

Stevens School of the Bible
 
Background

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Founder
    Dayton Hudson Corp.
  • Founder
    The BibleSpeaks Church
  • Member
    The BibleSpeaks Church
  • Member
    Carl Stevens
8 Total References
Web References
Baltimore Free Press
www.carlstevens.org, 14 May 2006 [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].
Boston Globe articles on the 1987 Bankruptcy trial
site.carlstevens.org [cached]
PITTSFIELD -- Since moving to nearby Lenox in 1981, Elizabeth D. Dovydenas, a 33-year-old millionairess, became increasingly active in The BibleSpeaks, a fundamentalist church with headquarters on 86 lush acres of a former private boarding school in Lenox.
During the past 2 1/2 years, Dovydenas, who church officials say was a devoted Christian, gave more than $6.5 million to the church -- the largest donations the religious group has ever received.
...
Earlier, Walker said Dovydenas' funds were transferred "in an atmosphere of fear . . . an atmosphere of secrecy."
...
Dovydenas left The BibleSpeaks in January and agreed to let her father, Wallace C. Dayton, assume temporary control of her assets, citing a "mental weakness.
...
Walker asked Stevens and another church official to return the money to Dovydenas and her husband.
...
In his testimony, Stevens either denied or refused to answer Walker's questions about whether Stevens and other church officials had convinced Dovydenas to give her money to BibleSpeaks by saying God wanted her to.
...
According to documents, Dovydenas made a series of large and small gifts to the church, including more than $1 million in December 1984 and more than $5 million in May 1985.
...
"We have yet to hear from Mrs. Dovydenas . . . saying what my Daddy wants is all right with me," Grutman said.
...
In a brief telephone conversation after the hearing, Dovydenas declined to discuss the matter in detail, but said, "I fully support what our attorneys are trying to do."
...
LENOX -- The escalating legal battle over Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas' $6.5 million donation to The BibleSpeaks religious group is the stuff of movies and soap operas.
In the 1 1/2 days of hearings that ended yesterday, there were suggestions that church members told Dovydenas that her husband, Jonas, and her relatives were demonic, that Dovydenas was told to donate the millions on instructions In the 1 1/2 days of hearings that ended yesterday, there were suggestions that church members told Dovydenas that her husband, Jonas, and her relatives were demonic, that Dovydenas was told to donate the millions on instructions
...
Gordon Walker, the family's attorney, said Dovydenas' funds were given involuntarily "in an atmosphere of fear . . . in an atmosphere of secrecy."
...
Dovydenas, a 33-year-old mother of two, whose fortune even after the gifts is estimated at $12 million, is the daughter of Wallace C. Dayton.
...
In response, the church said the family recently brainwashed Dovydenas.
...
But the key player in this dramatic dispute between big money and a fundamentalist church -- Betsy Dovydenas -- was missing. She remained secluded at her Lenox estate. During a brief telephone conversation Monday she said only, "I fully support what our attorneys are trying to do."
...
Little first-hand information is known about Dovydenas.
...
Betsy, brown-eyed and dark-haired, is ". . .the quiet, mid-western type, very unprepossessing," said Mary-Jane Tichenor, society editor of The Berkshire Eagle.
...
Church officials insisted Dovydenas made the gifts because she supports the work of BibleSpeaks.
...
Dovydenas is the daughter of Wallace C. Dayton, one of five brothers who built the Dayton Hudson Corp., the nation's fifth-largest retailer with $8.5 billion in reported sales last year.
...
Dovydenas and her husband, Jonas, became active in the church soon after their move to Lenox in 1981.
...
In the Pittsfield case, Walker, a Boston-based lawyer, represents the millionaire, Betsy Dovydenas.
...
The bankruptcy motion sparked a bitter response from the millionaire's lawyer, Gordon Walker, who called the motion a "tactical maneuver" designed to thwart justice for his client, Elizabeth D. Dovydenas, 33.
...
In June, Dovydenas sued The BibleSpeaks in an attempt to retrieve nearly $7 million she had given the organization. She claimed the group's founder, Rev. Carl H. Stevens, and other church officials had lied to her and exerted ''undue influence" to solicit her money.
"It is a maneuver by The BibleSpeaks to deprive the state court of jurisdiction in the matter and to deprive Mrs. Dovydenas of her right to a jury trial," Walker said.
...
The bankruptcy motion, filed Tuesday, is the latest volley in a bitter legal battle that began in June when Dovydenas filed suit.
...
Elizabeth Dovydenas, 33, whose father was one of the founders of the Minneapolis-based Dayton Hudson retail chain, claims in her suit filed in Berkshire Superior Court that the Lenox-based fundamentalist sect to which she belonged obtained the money through undue influence and fraud.
...
Elizabeth D. Dovydenas, 33, sat with her husband, Jonas, in the back row of the federal bankruptcy courtroom.
...
WORCESTER -- Elizabeth D. Dovydenas, the Lenox woman trying to retrieve nearly $7 million from The BibleSpeaks, testified last week that after leaving the church last January her family hired a de-programmer who counseled her for several days.
"He is an exit-counselor," Dovydenas said in response to a question at a two-day hearing in US Bankrupty Court.
"Is that a euphemism for a person who brainwashes people to leave organizations? asked Norman Ray Grutman, an attorney for the fundamentalist organization. Dovydenas has sued the church and accused church officials of pressuring and defrauding her.
Dovydenas said The BibleSpeaks had taken control of her mind, and the counselor helped her to understand "how groups work and gain control over people."
The testy exchange captured a key issue in the bitter legal fight between Dovydenas and her family and the controversial religious group: Each side says the other brainwashed her.
In her lawsuit, Dovydenas stated that officials of The BibleSpeaks, including the church's founder and leader, Rev. Carl H. Stevens, exerted undue influence and used fraud to manipulate her into making donations of about $7 million, nearly a third of her fortune.
...
Church officials said they had been providing Dovydenas with spiritual support when her husband, Jonas, and her father, Wallace C. Dayton, took her last January and, with a counselor's help, coerced her into filing the lawsuit.
...
LENOX -- During the summer four years ago, Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas and her husband, Jonas, began attending services at The BibleSpeaks.
...
"It seemed like a church . . . doing things that helped people rather than just saying nice things on Sunday," Elizabeth Dovydenas, 33, said in a recent interview.
They made an offering after a few visits, but no ordinary one. Looking back, Dovydenas believes the $500 check only whetted the church's appetite. Within days, two pastors knocked at her door and began what Dovydenas now views as a relentless effort to strip her of a fortune that had totaled $19 million.
...
NBC interviewed Stevens; CBS' Diane Sawyer interviewed Dovydenas.
...
The church claimed that Dovydenas had become a puppet in the clutches of her husband and father.
In September, she testified at court hearings in Worcester and dispelled the notion that the escalating legal fight with the church was being waged against her wishes.
...
Stevens has called Dovydenas a liar, maintained that the gifts were valid and, along with other church officials, argued they were only helping a troubled woman achieve her own identity.
...
"The BibleSpeaks wants us to be embarrassed and feel foolish . . . so I'll keep quiet," Dovydenas said.
...
"It took Jonas and my family a long time . . . to realize that something was being done to me, that it was more than Betsy was changing."
...
Regarding her charges, Dovydenas said she has the financial resources and emotional strength to fight the church and never considered writing off the money as the equivalent of a bad investment. "It's important to take a stand about these kinds of groups who con people," she said. She expects the battle to grow nastier but believes the worst -- being involved in the church -- is over. "The real stress was being manipulated," she said.
...
The Lenox-based church, which claims 16,000 members in 17 states and 31 foreign countries, maintains Dovydenas donated the money willingly in appreciation for the spiritual support the church was giving her and to help The BibleSpeaks assist alcoholics and others in need.
First Amendment rights, brainwashing and the extent to which one person can influence another are expected to be debated at length as Dovydenas seeks to become a creditor of the
Boston Phoenix
www.carlstevens.org, 24 Nov 2008 [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.
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.
Boston Globe 1986 - 1987
www.carlstevens.org, 15 April 1986 [cached]
PITTSFIELD -- Since moving to nearby Lenox in 1981, Elizabeth D. Dovydenas, a 33-year-old millionairess, became increasingly active in The BibleSpeaks, a fundamentalist church with headquarters on 86 lush acres of a former private boarding school in Lenox. During the past 2 1/2 years, Dovydenas, who church officials say was a devoted Christian, gave more than $6.5 million to the church - the largest donations the religious group has ever received.
...
Earlier, Walker said Dovydenas' funds were transferred "in an atmosphere of fear . . . an atmosphere of secrecy."
...
Dovydenas left The BibleSpeaks in January and agreed to let her father, Wallace C. Dayton, assume temporary control of her assets, citing a "mental weakness.
...
Walker asked Stevens and another church official to return the money to Dovydenas and her husband.
...
In his testimony, Stevens either denied or refused to answer Walker's questions about whether Stevens and other church officials had convinced Dovydenas to give her money to BibleSpeaks by saying God wanted her to.
...
According to documents, Dovydenas made a series of large and small gifts to the church, including more than $1 million in December 1984 and more than $5 million in May 1985.
...
"We have yet to hear from Mrs. Dovydenas . . . saying what my Daddy wants is all right with me," Grutman said.
...
In a brief telephone conversation after the hearing, Dovydenas declined to discuss the matter in detail, but said, "I fully support what our attorneys are trying to do."
...
LENOX -- The escalating legal battle over Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas' $6.5 million donation to The BibleSpeaks religious group is the stuff of movies and soap operas. In the 1 1/2 days of hearings that ended yesterday, there were suggestions that church members told Dovydenas that her husband, Jonas, and her relatives were demonic, that Dovydenas was told to donate the millions on instructions from God. In the 1 1/2 days of hearings that ended yesterday, there were suggestions that church members told Dovydenas that her husband, Jonas, and her relatives were demonic, that Dovydenas was told to donate the millions on instructions from God.
...
Gordon Walker, the family's attorney, said Dovydenas' funds were given involuntarily "in an atmosphere of fear . . . in an atmosphere of secrecy."
...
Dovydenas, a 33-year-old mother of two, whose fortune even after the gifts is estimated at $12 million, is the daughter of Wallace C. Dayton.
...
In response, the church said the family recently brainwashed Dovydenas.
...
But the key player in this dramatic dispute between big money and a fundamentalist church -- Betsy Dovydenas -- was missing. She remained secluded at her Lenox estate. During a brief telephone conversation Monday she said only, "I fully support what our attorneys are trying to do."
...
Little first-hand information is known about Dovydenas.
...
Betsy, brown-eyed and dark-haired, is ". . .the quiet, mid-western type, very unprepossessing," said Mary-Jane Tichenor, society editor of The Berkshire Eagle.
...
Church officials insisted Dovydenas made the gifts because she supports the work of BibleSpeaks.
...
Dovydenas is the daughter of Wallace C. Dayton, one of five brothers who built the Dayton Hudson Corp., the nation's fifth-largest retailer with $8.5 billion in reported sales last year.
...
Dovydenas and her husband, Jonas, became active in the church soon after their move to Lenox in 1981.
...
In the Pittsfield case, Walker, a Boston-based lawyer, represents the millionaire, Betsy Dovydenas.
...
The bankruptcy motion sparked a bitter response from the millionaire's lawyer, Gordon Walker, who called the motion a "tactical maneuver" designed to thwart justice for his client, Elizabeth D. Dovydenas, 33.
...
In June, Dovydenas sued The BibleSpeaks in an attempt to retrieve nearly $7 million she had given the organization. She claimed the group's founder, Rev. Carl H. Stevens, and other church officials had lied to her and exerted ''undue influence" to solicit her money.
"It is a maneuver by The BibleSpeaks to deprive the state court of jurisdiction in the matter and to deprive Mrs. Dovydenas of her right to a jury trial," Walker said.
...
The bankruptcy motion, filed Tuesday, is the latest volley in a bitter legal battle that began in June when Dovydenas filed suit.
...
Elizabeth Dovydenas, 33, whose father was one of the founders of the Minneapolis-based Dayton Hudson retail chain, claims in her suit filed in Berkshire Superior Court that the Lenox-based fundamentalist sect to which she belonged obtained the money through undue influence and fraud.
...
Elizabeth D. Dovydenas, 33, sat with her husband, Jonas, in the back row of the federal bankruptcy courtroom.
...
WORCESTER -- Elizabeth D. Dovydenas, the Lenox woman trying to retrieve nearly $7 million from The BibleSpeaks, testified last week that after leaving the church last January her family hired a de-programmer who counseled her for several days. "He is an exit-counselor," Dovydenas said in response to a question at a two-day hearing in US Bankrupty Court.
"Is that a euphemism for a person who brainwashes people to leave organizations? asked Norman Ray Grutman, an attorney for the fundamentalist organization. Dovydenas has sued the church and accused church officials of pressuring and defrauding her.
Dovydenas said The BibleSpeaks had taken control of her mind, and the counselor helped her to understand "how groups work and gain control over people."
The testy exchange captured a key issue in the bitter legal fight between Dovydenas and her family and the controversial religious group: Each side says the other brainwashed her.
In her lawsuit, Dovydenas stated that officials of The BibleSpeaks, including the church's founder and leader, Rev. Carl H. Stevens, exerted undue influence and used fraud to manipulate her into making donations of about $7 million, nearly a third of her fortune.
...
Church officials said they had been providing Dovydenas with spiritual support when her husband, Jonas, and her father, Wallace C. Dayton, took her last January and, with a counselor's help, coerced her into filing the lawsuit.
...
LENOX -- During the summer four years ago, Elizabeth Dayton Dovydenas and her husband, Jonas, began attending services at The BibleSpeaks.
...
"It seemed like a church . . . doing things that helped people rather than just saying nice things on Sunday," Elizabeth Dovydenas, 33, said in a recent interview.
They made an offering after a few visits, but no ordinary one. Looking back, Dovydenas believes the $500 check only whetted the church's appetite. Within days, two pastors knocked at her door and began what Dovydenas now views as a relentless effort to strip her of a fortune that had totaled $19 million.
...
NBC interviewed Stevens; CBS' Diane Sawyer interviewed Dovydenas.
...
The church claimed that Dovydenas had become a puppet in the clutches of her husband and father.
In September, she testified at court hearings in Worcester and dispelled the notion that the escalating legal fight with the church was being waged against her wishes.
...
Stevens has called Dovydenas a liar, maintained that the gifts were valid and, along with other church officials, argued they were only helping a troubled woman achieve her own identity.
...
"The BibleSpeaks wants us to be embarrassed and feel foolish . . . so I'll keep quiet," Dovydenas said.
...
"It took Jonas and my family a long time . . . to realize that something was being done to me, that it was more than Betsy was changing."
...
Regarding her charges, Dovydenas said she has the financial resources and emotional strength to fight the church and never considered writing off the money as the equivalent of a bad investment. "It's important to take a stand about these kinds of groups who con people," she said. She expects the battle to grow nastier but believes the worst -- being involved in the church -- is over. "The real stress was being manipulated," she said.
...
The Lenox-based church, which claims 16,000 members in 17 states and 31 foreign countries, maintains Dovydenas donated the money willingly in appreciation for the spiritual support the church was giving her and to help The BibleSpeaks assist alcoholics and others in need.
First Amendment rights, brainwashing and the extent to which one person can influence another are expected to be debated at length as Dovydenas seeks to become a creditor of the church and get b
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