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NYC cult purchased $925K upstate retreat, makes use of ‘compelled labor’ to dig ditches

A Manhattan cult that preys upon rich New Yorkers is increasing upstate. And placing new recruits to work on round-the-clock renovations and landscaping. In keeping with public data and a supply near the group.

On June 29, 2021, a non-public firm linked to members of Odyssey. Research Group purchased a sprawling compound on 100 wooded acres within the outskirts of Margaretville. A village of 700 nestled within the Catskill Mountains.  Sharon Gans Horn, an erstwhile actor who had a small half within the 1972 movie “Slaughterhouse-5.”

Also referred to as The Work and A Fourth Method College. The group beneath Gans Horn’s management has long been accused of sexual and youngster abuse in addition. To siphoning money from its members to pay for its leaders. Extravagant existence in Manhattan, Boston, the Hamptons and Mexico.

Starting in February, a gaggle of some 15 new recruits. Who pay $400 a month to take part in twice-weekly “research” classes in Manhattan. Was pushed to the Margaretville property and put to work digging ditches for the development of a pavilion. The supply instructed The Put up. The native municipality authorized a allow on Could 27 to construct a 2,880 sq. Foot pavilion on the property, in keeping with public data.

“They’re constructing the pavilion and likewise farming,” the supply instructed The Put up. Including that the property will probably be used as a retreat for the group. OSG has held retreats at properties in Montana. And the Boston-based arm of the group owns three adjoining properties in rural New Hampshire purchased between 1997 and 2001. Which altogether at the moment are value greater than $1 million, in keeping with public data.

“They get members to do all of the work,” the supply claimed. “Lengthy hours. No pay. Intense. Individuals are taken there [Margaretville] without realizing the place they’re going.”

Gans Horn and her playwright husband Alex Horn, who died in 2007. Co-founded OSG in San Francisco within the Nineteen Seventies. The group was recognized then as Theater of All Potentialities. Was partly set as much as placed on performances by Horn.

The couple shuttered their San Francisco theater in December 1978 once they discovered that police and social welfare. Investigators have been interviewing their former college students who alleged sexual abuse and beatings. In keeping with experiences. Gans Horn and her husband fled first to Montana. After they ended up in New York Metropolis within the Eighties. Once they established OSG and lived in a collection of opulent houses. Together with a condo in Greenwich Village the place actress Marisa Tomei was their next-door neighbor.

The group registered OSG as a for-profit firm in 2001. And at present has 200 members on the East Coast, cult specialists say.

Spencer Schneider, a New York lawyer who spent 23 years. In OSG and not too long ago wrote a memoir about his experiences. “Manhattan Cult Story My Unbelievable True Story of Intercourse, Crimes, Chaos, and Survival. Mentioned leaders repeatedly intruded into the non-public lives of their “college students.” Gans Horn organized marriages. Together with Schneider, and at one level instructed him to impregnate his 19-year-old stepdaughter. He refused.

“It’s very heavy thoughts management,” Schneider instructed The Put up Wednesday. “I do know it’s onerous to imagine, however [members] simply don’t look them up. They’re afraid to look. When you do look them up and inform somebody about it.

The secluded three-bedroom property within the Catskills is situated. On the very finish of a city street rising a number of hundred toes. Close to a reservoir In keeping with a list. The three,161 sq. Foot residence has “hovering ceilings” and “theatrical lighting,” in keeping with the itemizing. It additionally has “glass partitions in sudden areas [that] suffuse rooms with gentle, creating angular luminous splashes in every single place,” the itemizing says. The $925,000 buy was finalized in July 2021 by MR100 LLC. A non-public firm managed by Greg Koch. A contractor who has been accused of being one of many alleged leaders of OSG. In keeping with courtroom papers.

Koch, together with three different alleged leaders. Is known in a class-action regulation swimsuit filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court docket final 12 months. By two girls who accuse the group of utilizing them as slave labor between 2005 and 2019. The ladies — Stephanie Rosenberg and Marjorie Hochman — mentioned they labored without cost. Cleansing and doing renovations into the wee hours on luxurious properties. Together with an $8.5 million condo within the Plaza Lodge utilized by Gans Horn as a residence. Earlier than her demise from COVID in January 2021.

On the time that he bought the Margaretville property. Koch signed paperwork for an $832,500 mortgage granted by LDS New York Realty. A Massachusetts-based firm, in keeping with public data.  Unit 405 Plaza LLC — purchased Gans’ Plaza Lodge condo in 2008. Courtroom data present. It’s not clear what number of properties OSG at present owns. Previously, they owned properties within the Hamptons, Montana, and Mexico.

Koch occupies the master suite within the Margaretville property, in keeping with the supply. “Everybody else sleeps on the ground,” the supply mentioned. Including that the group has stepped up its recruitment efforts since Gans Horn’s demise. Leaders have prevailed upon members to encourage their mates to hitch the trigger, the supply mentioned.

A 39-year-old New York Metropolis-based musician.  I used to be in a darkish place and obtained along with a good friend who belonged to OSG. He instructed The Put up. The good friend who pressured him to hitch instructed him the group forbade members from consulting. A therapist or researching the group online.

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One other current tried recruit is a 23-year-old designer for a tech startup. One of all OSG’s leaders, at an espresso store in June. Was chatting with my mates. After a month throughout which they met to have espresso and chat. Taylor invited her to a gathering final week at a French evangelical church on West sixteenth St, she mentioned.

“One of many issues that were actually off-putting. On the assembly was that as Greg [Koch} was talking. Somebody would go as much as him and always serve him San Pellegrino water. She instructed The Put up Thursday. “On the finish of the evening. They mentioned No that’s just for the leaders.

The designer mentioned she left after one assembly, for which she mentioned she paid $150. “I went residence and began Googling everybody’s identify, and located the lawsuit and all of the articles about them. I by no means went again.”

OSG follows the teachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a Russian mystic and thinker. Who additionally impressed the Fellowship of Buddies. A California-based cult widespread with Google workers, in keeping with a lawsuit filed in California Superior Court docket in August.

“The fundamental thrust of OSG’s teachings is that mankind is asleep. And to be able to awaken they have to attend an esoteric faculty. A hidden faculty that teaches larger data and self-awareness,” Schneider mentioned. “It’s just like Scientology in that they’ve charismatic leaders and hand-picked successors.  No person desires to speak about it.”

The musician mentioned he was instantly suspicious. However when he tried to distance himself from OSG, the stress to remain elevated.

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My alarm bells have been ringing since the second my good friend invited me. He mentioned, including that he started researching the group after which confronted leaders at a “research session” final week.

Armed with a digicam and microphone hidden in a pen. The musician mentioned he requested the group concerning the class-action regulation swimsuit and allegations of slave labor.

“It was wonderful, once I introduced all of this up they didn’t flinch. It’s as in the event that they have been ready for somebody to ask all of those uncomfortable questions.”

I went again and recorded a category as a result of I wished to assist folks to perceive how harmful. They mentioned that musician Recruitment is an enormous cope with these folks. And I obtained the sense they’re increasing.

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