Paul Robert Morantz (born August 16, 1945) is an American attorney and investigative journalist. He is known for taking legal cases alleging brainwashing by cults, self-help groups and for sexual misconduct by psychotherapists.[2][3][4][5] He is considered an expert on these subjects.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][2][13][14][15][8] His successful prosecution of Synanon led to an attempt against his life, by means of a rattlesnake.[2][16][17][18]

Paul Morantz
Paul Morantz, Esq.
Paul Morantz, Esq.
BornPaul Robert Morantz[1]
(1945-08-16) August 16, 1945 (age 74)
Los Angeles, California
OccupationAttorney, journalist, author
Alma materUSC School of Journalism
USC School of Law
GenreNon-fiction, sports journalism
SubjectCults, institutional abuse, college football

Early life and careerEdit

Morantz was born and raised in Southern California. After high school, he served in the United States Army in 1963 for six months as a reservist. He then attended Santa Monica City College and the University of Southern California (USC) as a journalism major.[19] Morantz became a sportswriter for the USC school newspaper the Daily Trojan. In 1967 he interviewed O. J. Simpson. Later that year he became co-sports editor of the Daily Trojan along with Lance Spiegel.[20]

In 1968, the Los Angeles Times offered Morantz a job as a sportswriter but he decided to go to law school instead. While in law school, Morantz took a position writing for the Pigskin Review. He played for USC Law School in the basketball intramural league.[20][21]

After graduation, Morantz became a Los Angeles public defender. He left the public defender's office in 1973, then worked part-time as both a lawyer and writer. During this time, he developed his feature-length article on surf singers Jan and Dean that was later published in Rolling Stone magazine, and wrote the story for the made-for-television movie.[22][23]

Litigation historyEdit

Nursing home kidnappingsEdit

In 1974 Morantz uncovered a criminal conspiracy to kidnap homeless alcoholics and place them to nursing homes where they were kept sedated with Thorazine while the state was billed through Medical/Medicare and their social security checks taken. Los Angeles County supervisors called for a four-point probe on January 23, 1975, after hearing testimony that patients were often sedated, their ability to communicate with anyone outside the institution restricted, and detained in facilities behind locked gates and barbed wire if they tried to leave.[24][25] Morantz filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the former patients, testified on nursing home abuses during the public hearings and aided in the creation of a district attorney task force on nursing home crimes.[26][27]


In 1977, he investigated the drug rehabilitation institution Synanon, which had a reputation as a seemingly successful program for rehabilitating drug addicts where existing traditional hospitals had failed. Its founder, Charles Dederich, an ex-alcoholic, established it in 1958 as a non-medical self-help program that included the "Game," a session in which participants acted out hostilities and sought the truth about themselves while not being bound by the truth in making critical attacks on each other. Synanon claimed it had cured thousands but by 1967 Dederich turned the organization into a "lifestyle" by recruiting non-addicts ("Squares") and building cities in Marin County, then Tulare County and eventually Lake Havasu.[28][29][30]

In 1974 Synanon declared itself a religion and centered on middle-class searching for utopia rather than addict curing. By then Synanon's assets, including real estate, ten aircraft, 400 cars, trucks and motorcycles, totaled around $33 million. Its advertising and specialty-gifts business netted $2.4 million in 1976 while donations and other income added another $5.5 million.[28] Rules were passed mandating non-smoking, dieting, exercise programs, group marriages, shaved heads, vasectomies, abortions and exchanging mates. Approximately 200 couples "changed partners." Members were trained in "Syndo" (Martial arts) with the elite placed in the Imperial Marines who were trained to and did commit violence against their enemies.[28][29][30]

By 1977 Morantz was warning government authorities Dederich was mandating violence against its enemies ("a reign of terror") and filing lawsuits on behalf of ex-members and victims.[30][31][32] Morantz would later state in 1985, that he was among 50 victims of a Synanon "reign of terror" from 1975 to 1978.[33]

Rattlesnake attackEdit

Synanon members began to exhibit violent behavior, which culminated in 1978 when Dederich inspired followers to try to kill Morantz.[34] Three weeks earlier Morantz had won a $300,000 judgment against Synanon on behalf of a married couple. The couple claimed that the wife had been held captive by Synanon and that during her stay, leaders at Synanon had attempted to brainwash her.[33][34]

On October 10, 1978, Morantz was bitten by a rattlesnake which had been placed in his Pacific Palisades home mailbox by two members of the Synanon Imperial Marines, Lance Kenton and Joe Musico. A neighbor applied a tourniquet that saved Morantz's life. Arriving fire department paramedics chopped off the snake's head with a shovel, and discovered that the rattles had been removed so that the snake could attack without warning.[28] Morantz was hospitalized for six days.[35]

Werner Erhard and estEdit

In May, 1978, Werner Erhard and est officials offered to train the entire city of Parlier, located in the San Joaquin Valley, for free. Two city councilmen who had taken training endorsed it but many town members dropped out after training started and a controversy over est's presence in the community arose. Morantz came to Parlier to help the town. Morantz called the free training offer an attempt to use the tools of coercive persuasion on an entire community. "The whole thing I saw there scared me," said Morantz. "It really was one of the scarier things I've ever seen." [36]

Morantz then went to Deputy Chief Barry Wade of the Los Angeles Police Department and the LAPD police union in effort to stop est from providing free est trainings for LAPD officers. After Morantz contact and warnings, LAPD and its Union ended associations and training with est after one session had taken place.[37]

The Center for Feeling TherapyEdit

Morantz represented approximately forty ex-members of the Center for Feeling Therapy who after nine years rebelled against the Center, leading to its closure in 1980.[38] Many of its former members later sued the founding therapists in what was then the largest psychology malpractice lawsuit in California history.[39][40] The Center, a product of the Human Potential Movement, splintered from Primal Therapy, and was led by Richard "Riggs" Corriere and Joseph Hart who referred to themselves as the "Butch Cassidy and Sundance kid of Psychotherapy" and as the "New Freuds." It also resulted in the removal of many of their therapists licenses.[41][42][43]

During the course of litigation, the California court of appeals in Rains v. Superior Court (Center for Feeling Therapy Psychological Corp.) ruled in Morantz's favor that the Center's use of physical punching ("Sluggo therapy") could be the basis for a battery claim despite patient consent to being hit.[44]

Seven years after the therapeutic community ended, Corriere and Hart's licenses were removed. Four psychologists were found guilty of acts of gross negligence, incompetence, patient abuse, aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of psychology and false advertising after a 94-day hearing before Administrative Law Judge Robert A. Neher.[42][45]

Molko v. Holy Spirit Ass'n for the Unification of World ChristianityEdit

Morantz gave pro-bono assistance to the plaintiffs in the Molko case in which the California Supreme Court would decide if religious organizations could be sued for deceitful brainwashing. In 1988, following his investigation into the Unification Church, the state high court held that religious organizations may be sued for fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress when they use brainwashing techniques.[46][47][48][49][50]

John GottusoEdit

In 1988 Morantz successfully took on representation of former female patients of preacher-psychotherapist John Gottuso for sexual misconduct with his patients as an aid to their psychological and spiritual life.[51][52] As a result, the pastor/therapist of Park View Christian Fellowship in California lost his license to practice psychotherapy as well as the right to be involved in his church's pre-school.[51][53]

A decade later Morantz again represented another six adults and five former students in a 1996 civil lawsuit against Gottuso, his church and its private school.[54][55] The suit for sexual abuse and psychological abuse was settled in March 1998 for $3,200,000.[54][56] In response to this case, California passed related legislation prohibiting private school teachers who by their past actions could not teach in public schools.[57][58][59][60]

Other cases, legislation and law enforcementEdit

He has litigated against the Church of Scientology, Peoples Temple, Hare Krishnas, Rajneesh movement and other religious groups.[61][62][63] Morantz has also worked alongside of anti-cult attorney at law Ford Greene and Los Angeles County class action lawsuit king Thomas Girardi.[38][41][58][63]

He has collaborated with thought reform theorists and anti-cultist authors such as Margaret Singer, Louis Jolyon West, among others.[51][63][64] He helped write the California law setting forth requirements under which a religious organization could be sued for punitive damages.[58][65]

In Hall v. Great Western Bank (1991) 231 Cal. App. 3d 713 [282 Cal.Rptr. 640] Morantz argued successfully banks could not fire employees for reasons that would violate public policy.[66]

In 2013 the City Council of Santa Monica gave Morantz a commendation signed by the Santa Monica Mayor for his cases against Synanon and dedication to welfare of others.[67][68]

"In 2016 a bill Morantz worked on for several years to protect minors from abusive live-in institutions was passed in California and signed into law by Gov. Edmund Brown, Jr."

Publications and other worksEdit


  • Morantz, Paul; Lancaster, Hal (2013). Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Cresta Publications. ISBN 0-18-213220-X. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  • Morantz, Paul (October 28, 2014). From Miracle to Madness: The True Story of Charles Dederich and Synanon (1st ed.). Los Angeles: Cresta Publications. ISBN 0-692-29966-1. Retrieved April 28, 2015.




  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Not all lawyers should be at the bottom of the sea... Paul Morantz, anti-cult litigator, is one of them... - Factnet: Public Dialog on Global Warming & Human Rights Issues". Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  3. ^ 晨曦. "Truth on Falun Gong - Paul Morantz: Rick Ross's Cults Inside Out is Highly Recommended". Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  4. ^ "Escape". Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  5. ^ " Paul Morantz: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle". Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  6. ^ Bret. "The Rise and Fall of Synanon (cult expert Paul Morantz in person!)". Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Paul Morantz - UCTV Blog". Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Paul Morantz: The Center for Feeling Therapy". Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  9. ^ "The Lawyer Synanon Tried to Kill - Legally Speaking". Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  10. ^ "Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, and the Worldwide Church of God". Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  11. ^[permanent dead link]
  12. ^[dead link][unreliable source?]
  13. ^
  14. ^ Kebaslane (June 30, 2011). "An ex-member's reaction to new religious movements: Brainwashing is a crime--just look at California!". Retrieved September 24, 2016.[unreliable source?]
  15. ^ Bret. "The Rise and Fall of Synanon (cult expert Paul Morantz in person!)". Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  16. ^ Morrantz, Paul (2009). "The True Story of the Rattlesnake in the Mailbox". Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  17. ^ "Nation: The Snake in the Mailbox". TIME Magazine. October 23, 1978. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  18. ^ Associated Press (October 13, 1978). "Two Arrests in Rattlesnake Plot". Ocala Star-Banner. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  19. ^ Morrantz, Paul (January 11, 2010). "The Agony and the Ecstasy: Autobiography Part 1 of 4". Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  20. ^ a b "About this issue". West Magazine supplement of The Los Angeles Times. July 9, 1972. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  21. ^ Morrantz, Paul (January 11, 2010). "The Agony and the Ecstasy: Autobiography Part 2 of 4". Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  22. ^ "Jan & Dean Photo Galleries - Jan Berry's Celebration of Life/Paul Morantz". Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  23. ^ Moore, Mark A. (February 18, 2016). "The Jan & Dean Record: A Chronology of Studio Sessions, Live Performances and Chart Positions". McFarland. Retrieved September 24, 2016 – via Google Books.
  24. ^ Peterson, Joyce (January 24, 1975). "Probe into Alleged Detention of Alcoholics Ordered". The Van Nuys News. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  25. ^ Swann, Noel (January 24, 1975). "Alcoholic detention being probed". Long Beach Independent. p. B-1. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  26. ^ "T.B. Renfroe dies". Los Angeles Times. 1976.
  27. ^ Trout, Narda Z. (January 24, 1975). "Supervisors Told of Alleged Scheme to Hold Alcoholics". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  28. ^ a b c d "Nation: Life at Synanon Is Swinging". TIME Magazine. December 26, 1977. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  29. ^ a b Jackovich, Karen G. (December 18, 1978). "Synanon Leader Chuck Dederich Finds Himself Charged in the Notorious Snakebite Case". People Magazine. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  30. ^ a b c Van Gelder, Lawrence (March 4, 1997). "Charles Dederich, founder of cult-like religious group Synanon, dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  31. ^ District of Columbia Circuit Court, Case No. 754 F.2d 395 Archived 2012-05-24 at the Wayback Machine, District of Columbia Circuit Court
  32. ^ Rubenstein, Steve (November 25, 2003). "Margaret Singer -- expert on brainwashing". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  33. ^ a b Rohrlich, Ted (March 6, 1985). "Synanon Founder's Bid to Cut Probation Fails". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  34. ^ a b Dougherty, John (October 10, 1996). "Children of Synanon". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
  35. ^ "Charles Dederich, 83, Synanon Founder, Dies". The New York Times. March 4, 1997. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  36. ^ Murphy, Tom. "The Stanford Daily, Volume 177, Issue 34, April 11, 1980".
  37. ^ Pristin, Terry. "Getting the Most-est out of a Police Force".
  38. ^ a b Morantz, Paul (October 24, 2010). "Escape From The Center For Feeling Therapy: The Cult of Cruelty". Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  39. ^ Morantz, Paul. "Escape From The Center For Feeling Therapy (The Cult Of Cruelty)". Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  40. ^ Mithers, Carol Lynn (1994). Therapy Gone Mad: The True Story of Hundreds of Patients and a Generation Betrayed. Perseus Books. ISBN 0-201-57071-8.
  41. ^ a b Timnick, Lois (21 April 1986). "Licenses of Mental Health Therapists Targeted in Major California Malpractice Case". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  42. ^ a b Timnick, Lois (September 30, 1987). "Psychologists in 'Feeling Therapy' Lose Licenses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  43. ^ Singer, Margaret T.; Harold Goldstein; Michael D. Langone; Jesse S. Miller; Maurice K. Temerlin; Louis J. West (November 1986). "Report of the APA Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Techniques of Persuasion and Control". The Rick Ross Institute Internet Archives. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  44. ^ Rains v. Superior Court, 150 Cal. App. 3d 933, Court of Appeals California, 2nd Appellate Dist., 4th Div. 1984
  45. ^ Ayella, Marybeth F. (1998). Insane therapy: portrait of a psychotherapy cult. Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-601-8.
  46. ^ Sipchen, Bob. "Ten Years After Jonestown, the Battle Intensifies Over the Influence of 'Alternative' Religions".
  47. ^ Admin, Site. "Not all lawyers should be at the bottom of the sea... Paul Morantz, anti-cult litigator, is one of them..." Archived from the original on November 19, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  48. ^ v. Holy Spirit, Molko. "Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn. (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1092, 762 P.2d 46; 252 Cal.Rptr. 122".
  49. ^ Crown, Robert. "Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn".
  50. ^ Mosk, Stanley. "Molko v. Holy Spirit".
  51. ^ a b c Langone, Michael D. (1995). Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-31321-2.
  52. ^ Nelson, L. (August 3, 1988). "Church practices revealed, counseling said to include sexual contact". Arcadia Highlander. p. g.
  53. ^ Milligan, M. (April 30, 1989). "Arcadia counselor stripped of licenses". Pasadena Star-News. p. A-8.
  54. ^ a b Berry, Steve (April 28, 1998). "Man With Sex-Abuse History Runs School". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  55. ^ Williams, Janette; Burry, Jennifer (October 17, 1996). "Minister to face three charges of molestation". Pasadena Star News. p. A-1.
  56. ^ "Verdict: Use Simple Good Sense". Los Angeles Times. May 5, 1998.
  57. ^ "California Education Code, Section 33190-33191". Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  58. ^ a b c Morrantz, Paul (October 2010). "Legislation and law". Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  59. ^ Girardot, Frank C. (May 21, 1998). "Bill aims to close sex case loophole". Pasadena Star News. p. A-1.
  60. ^ Williams, Janette (August 27, 1998). "Gottuso case spurs proposed change". Pasadena Star News. p. A-3.
  61. ^ Church of Scientology v. Armstrong (1991) 232 Cal. App. 3d 1060 [283 Cal.Rptr. 917, Superior Court of Los Angeles County
  62. ^ Associated Press (July 14, 1983). "$42 Million suit filed against Scientologists". Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  63. ^ a b c "Paul Morrantz The Cult Expert Internet Archives". Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  64. ^ West, Louis J. "Cult Phenomenon – Mental Health, Legal and Religious Implications Lecture". Los Angeles, California: Department of Continuing Education and Health Sciences of the UCLA extension; The NeuroPsychiatric Institute; Southern California Psychiatric Society. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  65. ^ "Restrictions on Claims for Punitive Damages Against Religious Corporations". California Code Civil Procedure § 425.14. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  66. ^ "Hall v. Great Western Bank, 231 Cal. App. 3d 713". California Court of Appeals, 2nd Appellate Dist., 4th Div. 1991. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  67. ^
  68. ^

External linksEdit