Coral Anika Theill, Letters and Documentation Published in BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark
(Written by Debbie Dresler to custody evaluator Dr. Jean Furchner. Communication by letter also made to custody evaluator Patricia Cox)
March 29, 1996
Dear Dr. Furchner,
I contacted both you and Patricia Cox (after my brief visit with Kathy Warner (Coral Anika Theill) at her home on her first weekend of visitation) because of concerns I had about the children, particularly the hostility expressed by the older children, the aggressive outburst towards my six year old daughter by Theresa, and the overall level of tension in that home.Both of you sought information about my relationship with Kathy and Marty and how long I had known the family, how well I knew the children and other background information. I wanted to be very careful to tell you what I saw directly on the weekend and not to give information about any of the family that I had not seen or heard myself, other than general history of my relationship with them.The sadness of this situation continues to haunt me. I feel ready now to share more of what I know of Kathy and Marty’s relationship because the unusual nature of their relationship makes this such a tragedy for the children.
Marty Warner is a man of intense religious zeal. He has lived his marriage by certain scriptural principles (actually isolated verses from the Bible) that he would freely share with you as he has with me and all of their friends. He believes that these are the irrefutable principles that govern the marriage of a righteous Christian man and woman.
"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be subject to their husbands in all things." Ephesians 5:22-24
"But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman..." I Corinthians 11:3
"For a man does not originate from woman, but woman from man, for indeed man was not created for woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake." I Corinthians 11:8-9
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless." Eph. 5:25-27
Marty took these principles and interpreted them to mean that any disagreement with his wishes or beliefs was ungodly rebellion against himself and God. He interpreted them to mean that Kathy needed constant correcting and punishing to make her pure before God and that he was the husband that God had given her in order to make her "spot free".He established a practice of "headship" in their home.
This is something that bears asking Kathy about because it has had such an impact on the relationships in that family and the sickness of those relationships. It began when they got involved in a charismatic Catholic community. The men were honored as the "heads" in their homes and the wives were expected to demonstrate their submission or they had to go through a process of confessing and restoration.
When Marty was out of town on business, he would assign another man from the "community" to step in as his "head" and monitor Kathy while he was gone. I can only believe she was totally brainwashed to put up with this. The man would come over to see if she was doing her chores and following her schedules. I can't remember how many years they were involved in this, but it was eerie and I only visited her perhaps 4 or 5 times while they were in this group. She finally dug her heels in and refused to be a part of this anymore. She can tell you about all that.
He eventually left that group when she absolutely refused to be a part of it anymore and after some church shopping, I heard from her that Marty had decided they would become their own little church. I don't know how many years that went on, but he persisted in the "headship" practices at home, often accompanied by family Bible study and "encouraging each others growth" which was often a thinly veiled reason to find more and more ways that Kathy needed to improve.As the older girls got to be around 10 years old, they were enlisted in the process of helping Kathy to meet her responsibilities as a godly woman should. He would ask them whether she had taken a nap (how, with 5 children?), had she raised her voice?, had she been available for all their needs? etc.)
They also became involved in the homeschooling movement and very enthusiastic about it, but it resulted in constant demands on her time and constant supervision and reporting to Marty.Kathy had a very warm and gentle style with the children. I last saw the twins with her when they were about 11 or 12, and they had an affectionate bond. Other friends told me that as the twins hit their teen years, they became demanding and critical of her in much the same way as Marty was.
She had her hands full with 6 children by then. Other friends know far more about the relationship with the older children and saw them alot more in these years. The tone in their household when Marty was home was tense. She was quiet and acquiescent and he tended to have a lot of little "needs", this or that for her to find for him. She always responded quickly, as if these little inconveniences he experienced were a top priority. I saw her fairly regularly after she left the Catholic church and things were very tense in their home then. I visited her a number of times when they were involved in the closed charismatic community that had all sorts of "umbrellas of authority".
During this time she looked pretty shell-shocked and I described my visits with her to my husband as visiting one of the "Stepford Wives" (an old TV movie about wives, who were replaced by submissive robots by their husbands). The children were well controlled and angelic, but it was difficult to relate to Kathy. She was very tense and didn't talk freely. She told me years later about the months of trauma she endured when she refused to participate in "Community" anymore.
I saw Kathy after the birth of Joshua and then just heard from her by letter after Rebecca. I had children of my own during that time and the distance and number of obligations I had in Portland with two small children kept me close to home. I visited her when my youngest was two and my older daughter was five. Marty was home and made a point of disparaging women who work as ungodly (I worked 20 hours/week as a physical therapist and Kathy had been asking me about my work and how I handled it).
He has very strong beliefs that children need to be in the home with their mother and has shared these opinions freely and frequently with the women he works with and women of Kathy's circle of friends who work. It is dramatically different than the stand he currently takes with the care of the children.I next heard from Kathy by phone in 1993 or 1994. She sounded very depressed and wanted me to return a book that she said she had sent to her women friends at Marty's request.
She said it had grieved her and that she'd like me to send it back. She talked about her feelings of hopelessness and wanting to die to get away from the pain. I was very alarmed and called Marty at work the next day to find out what he was doing to address her depression. He said he had found a counselor after looking for a long time for one who agreed with his frame of reference. He said he didn't believe in secular counseling or psychology and that he had sought someone who agreed with him. I asked him what he thought Kathy's problem was and he said that she was "shirking her responsibilities".Kathy called again about a month later and asked me to come visit her. I went. She was obviously not well emotionally and it was difficult to reach her conversationally.
Marty was at first congenial when I came to the house, but became tenser and angry with her as the day progressed. I had come without the children and she had only Theresa and Joshua at home. Marty had split the family up and sent the other children to relatives temporarily. At that time, Kathy mentioned several times that the older children had become increasingly abusive with her, to the point of some physical abuse. She told me that Marty had said it was up to her to "earn" their respect. This seemed like a real loser of a suggestion from the man who set them up to report on her shortcomings as part of his "headship" in the home.
There was an incident with a dog fight that day that Marty attempted to break up and was bitten in the process. I heard an animal scream and when Joshua came in, we asked what happened and he said "Dad hit the dog with a board because he got bit".
I left awhile later, feeling like I had never connected with Kathy and sure that she wouldn't get appropriate help with Marty in control. She said he had taken her to see someone in Roseburg or Springfield and that she didn't like him.I got a call from Kathy last December and was surprised to learn she had had another baby and equally surprised at how good she sounded. She called to tell me she was seeking a separation, that she knew she needed to be away from Marty and that he needed to be away from her to stop the abuse he perpetrated against her. She said she preferred not to talk about it, but it was a lot of mental torment. She also said the older girls were visiting their aunt for about a month and that since she had to initiate this without his knowledge (he would never permit it), she had taken the opportunity of their absence to seek an attorney.
I talked to her frequently over the next month and then took her and the three youngest children in for a few nights when she came to Portland to meet Mr. Gearing. The restraining order had been lifted, Marty was very angry and back in the home and she was very distraught. Things were chaotic, over the next few weeks with the depositions, the attorney visits, getting Rebecca into counseling, and getting her psychiatric evaluations done in preparation for the hearings. Kathy was certain that Marty's big thrust would be her mental health and was pleased when Dr. Kuttner was able to validate how well she was doing.
The little children were unsettled, as was Kathy, but this improved once she got through the depositions and was loaned a home by friends who were out of town. I saw her three or four times during those three weeks and took care of the children on several occasions. During this whole time, Kathy would only allow people she personally knew and trusted to take care of the children. Their well-being was a primary concern to her even though it meant a lot of time on the phone before every appointment to line up trusted help.
I sat through the first day of the custody hearings and then was shocked to learn the next week that she had temporarily lost all of the children, including the baby. At the break in the hearing, the twin girls turned their backs on her whenever she was out in the hall. "Shunning" was practiced by the "Community" that Marty had the family involved in when the girls were younger. (Kathy was officially "shunned" by that group for about 6 months until she refused to go sit in the hall during meetings any longer, but many of those people still engage in the practice of officially "shunning" her.)
I went to Kathy at the attorney's office on the day she was given the decision regarding the children and I can't begin to describe the grief of that day. We were all crying. I wondered how she would make it through the next few weeks–her last week before giving up the children and then giving them up. She knows Marty's belief system and what he feels "called" to do to her, just as he knows her weaknesses and the things that she is passionate about. According to his world view, Kathy is a harlot and homewrecker. She is selfish beyond belief to seek anything other than serving him and the children. She is outside her God-appointed "umbrella of authority" and she needs to be punished and brought back into submission. He called her brother during the course of the depositions and said he and his attorney would "have her broken" before the week was over. (Therese Vasquez knows these people) that he is punishing her and that he is "holding the children as hostages" to get her back in the home. He has told co-workers at Hewlett-Packard that he is "going to destroy her" and that she "deserves to be punished".
Kathy loves her children deeply and wants nothing more than to be their mother. Marty knows this and this is how he will punish her. Power over his wife has been the basis of his marriage with her. Now the courts have affirmed this power and he sees the hand of God in this. The tragedy of this divorce is that he will never allow her to have a healthy relationship with the children. He has custody now and can present the divorce and her absence as he sees fit. This is a family that uses the language of religion and the fear of God as motivation as a matter of course in their conversations. Mommy is evil and disobeying God by leaving the family. Mommy would rather work than be at home with them (the meaning of that in this household is clear).
The other belief that Marty clings to is that Kathy must be mentally ill or she would never leave him and the family. He has been heard to share this with the children. How are the children supposed to relate to Kathy in this context? No one has ever shaken Marty from any of his beliefs. Men that he has had friendly relationships with over the years have tried to talk to him about the extreme beliefs he holds and the effect they have had on Kathy and the children, but he cannot be budged.
I think that Marty is aware at some level that he had a lot to do with Kathy's breakdown several years ago because he persists in bragging to people that he can "break" her again. I was with Kathy at the attorney's office for a good part of her depositions because I was taking care of the baby, so I heard a lot about what was being asked of her by Mr. Lawrence and a lot of the questions seemed to be asked directly to humiliate her and hurt her.When I stopped by the home briefly on Sunday the 24th of March, I was again overwhelmed by the daunting task she has of trying to hang onto some kind of relationship with her children.
She knows that he has absolute power in that home. The twin girls were standing in the kitchen, arms folded across their chests, glaring at us all. Parts of the house were locked off. The phones were all locked away. (I had come to the house because I couldn't reach her by phone and she had asked me to contact her). My girls had played with Theresa and Joshua and were getting along beautifully, until Theresa's angry outburst and lashing out at my little one. It was a strange and awful atmosphere that day.I don't think that Marty has any idea what kind of damage the children experience as he sets out to punish her through them. I know children will feel anger towards the parent who initiates a divorce but she is not in a position to affirm her love for them and show them and tell them that she loves them dearly. It would be all but impossible for the little ones to understand a mother who is there for 2 days then disappears for two weeks again. This has got to be very frightening to them since she has been the primary caregiver in their lives.
Marty has told the court that he loves Kathy and they welcome her back in the home with flowers and open arms. He tells others he will destroy her. As Kathy held her eight year old son in her lap as I was leaving on the Saturday of her visitation, the ten year old girl stood across the room and glared at him. I had the impression that a campaign is already going on in that home to turn the children against her. If the children remain in Marty's custody, they will eventually have nothing to do with her. He is very intense and determined in his beliefs. I think that Marty would be unable to come up with a plan for how he will share custody of the children with her in a way that allows both of them to love and raise the children. If he is to be the parent in charge of their upbringing, it would be a revelation to see if he could demonstrate the ability to help the children adjust to this difficult situation with an healthy attitude towards their mother.Kathy's deficiency as a parent errs on the side of perhaps too much gentleness and too many kids to manage simultaneously in a household where disrespect towards her was the norm modeled by her husband.
As she has gotten away from Marty, I have seen her grow stronger, more self-assured and more collected in her thoughts. Going back into the home for visitation was an incredible challenge for her, but she made it through, stood her ground with the twins and will have had this emotionally wrenching first visit behind her. She knows, however, that the hostility towards her in that home is bound to grow as a final hearing date approaches. It seems there are better alternatives to visiting all seven of the eight children at the home at the same time, especially since the twins drive and have their own car, and since their issues with Kathy are much more grown up than the younger children. The younger children could have a much more nurturing visit with Kathy without the hostility of the twins to inhibit that bond.
I have gone far too long with this letter to you. I fear I overstep in suggesting that the courts' plan is not in the best interest of the children. I got to know the little children very well while Kathy was in Portland. I saw their confusion and their hurt and it tears me up to see that now they have lost her love and comfort. I am amazed that at this point she is actually going out for job interviews and moving ahead with her life. I don't know too many women who could lose so much and still do that. She tells me that there is a certain place of calm in having nothing else left to lose. She tries to look at her situation from various vantages to see it in a way that preserves her sanity.
After the attorneys presented the judgment to her, one took me aside and said, "You and the other friends need to watch over her---women jump off bridges over decisions like these". As friends, some of the other women and I may be hypervigilant about how she is doing, but at this point we feel we are all she has and that is a pretty scary place to be.I appreciate you taking the time to wade through my reminiscing and opinions.
Mr. Marty Warner
Independence, OR 97351
This letter is being written after much prayer and thought. Please hear me out. Although I didn’t know you well or very personally when we worked together at CH2M, I regarded you as a nice young man with your feet on the ground. After meeting Kathy, I thought you and she were a fine, young couple to whom my daughter Deborah (Dresler) could relate as Christian friends. Through Deborah I move or less kept abreast your family from time to time.
I knew you were a Catholic back in those days, as once I had been. I also knew you were a charismatic Catholic at one time, which I might have been also, had the movement broadened to the Catholic church before I left it. I was concerned when I learned you were in a charismatic Christian commune whose leaders exercised absolute control over its members. I realized then you were in a cult, and from this point on your separation from Jesus Christ and the destruction of your family snowballed downhill.I wondered how you could fall so far from your faith in Jesus and his assurance of salvation (John 3:16).
Could it have been because you couldn’t quite believe in your good fortune of being saved by faith alone, a gift of God, and not plus works? I know this troubled me until Eph. 2:8,9 leapt off the page of my bible. What demons are you chasing, Marty? If you believe the holy bible is the inspired word of God, how can you believe the words of men who would deceive you, enslave you, and ultimately destroy you and your family? If it’s not in the Word it just isn’t true. (Rev. 22:18, 19)
You may ask what business is it of mine to butt into your personal life. Just this. I think you may still regard yourself as a Christian, so as a brother in Christ I am following the exhortation to rebuke you (Luke 17:3). Not only have you destroyed your own life, but that of your family, as well. I am appalled by your non-Christian behavior!How any man can keep his wife in bondage for some 18-20 years, father eight of her children; expect her to raise them by his rigid, undeviating, pre-planned schedules, home school the oldest five while caring for the youngest three, in addition to her regular household chores; push her to the depth of despair (and almost over the edge)–then cast her aside like a piece of tattered clothing–is beyond my understanding.
I think you may be confused by the word "submit" as used in Eph. 5:22-24, which describes wives’ submission to their husbands. These verses are based on Eph. 5:21, which says, "Submit to one another out of reverence in Christ." Verses 22 and 24 do not say "be subservient to," enslaved by," or "obey." The word "obey" does not appear in Scripture with respect to wives, although it does with respect to children and slaves. God created woman to be the helpmate of man. Both are equal in the eyes of God. They are to consult each other when making decisions affecting the family (Eph. 5:21).
If they arrive at an impasses the husband’s will should prevail. However, he is not Lord and Master, right 100 percent of the time.To take a nursing baby from his mother’s breast, to turn your children against their mother and put them in charge of her, and to withhold common acts of decency from a wife you have controlled for most of her married life are the acts of a hardened heart, and are not Christlike. Cults are of the devil, Marty. Who is driving your life?I don’t know where you found those "Christian" lawyers, or how the judge could have ruled as he did. It is neither right nor just. Kathy deserves better. She should not be deprived of the three youngest children. They need their mother and her love. The oldest ones hate their mother, it seems, and may never love her again.
I don’t know if Kathy can ever forgive you, but if you really want her back, you should get down on your knees, ask God’s forgiveness, find a good Christian counselor, and then try to put your lives back together. But don’t even try if you don’t mean to turn your life around 180 degrees, and are sincere in your resolve to be the Christian husband God intended you to be.May God grant you wisdom in deciding how you pursue your remaining years. Prayerfully it will be by resolving to abide in Jesus. This is the only way it can be.
June 3, 1996
Bridgeport Community Chapel16930 Bridgeport Rd.Dallas, OR 97338Dear Pastor Barnhart,I am sharing these materials with you because I think that we at Bridgeport Chapel have an opportunity to learn from the lives of Kathy and Marty Warner. Indeed, if we are to be able to minister effectively to all people who may happen into our fellowship. I think that it is imperative that we learn from the classroom that God has provided us in the Warners.Kathy told me that she came to Bridgeport because she so desperately needed sound Christian fellowship and a place to worship in truth. Marty had refused to come and to let her come, but when she insisted, he decided to come too. By doing so he has successfully separated her from the fellowship of a Body which might have ministered to her.Kathy has tried to attend Bridgeport on the weekends when she has visitation, but Marty’s presence makes it impossible. Also she senses that Marry has talked to many people and no one really knows how to relate to her. She feels hurt, not just by Bridgeport, but by many well-meaning Christians over the years who have believed Marty’s story and have made judgment without taking the time to learn the truth.
She has told me on several occasions that she did not want their problems to cause divisiveness in the fellowship, but she still hopes that God may use this learning experience to improve the ministry of our church.Scripture teaches that we are to be wise as serpents; innocent as doves. It is dangerous to be too innocent. Having no reason not be believe Marty, the church reached out to him, as was right. But what if we learn that he is not what he appears to be? What if we, however innocently, have ignored the victim and nurtured the villain?What is Bridgeport's responsibility to Marty? To Kathy? To the Warner children who have suffered and continue to suffer so much through all of this? That is for our elders to decide. But I sense a real danger to our fellowship if a decision is not made?
Every Sunday that Marty is at church, I see him engaging several people in intense conversation. I am convinced that he is a serpent in our midst. Marty is a liar and serves the Father of Lies, even though he truly believes, I think that he is telling the truth. He also believes that he is a Christian, but more enlightened that most. (I have read some of his letters which bear witness to this attitude.)Marty Warner defiled his wife before they were married. When she stated this in front of Marty, Pastor Ron, you, and me, you will recall that he did not deny it. He continued to misuse and defile her during their marriage. Marty needs to be rebuked, not embraced by this fellowship. I Corinthians, chapter 5 teaches clearly how the church is to handle immoral people who pretend to be Christians.
I am convinced that if we all knew the real Marty Warner we would see that the entire list presented in verse 11 of that chapter applies to him. Verse 13 commands emphatically, "Remove the wicked man from among yourselves."Do you doubt that these things are true? In light of what is at stake, isn't it imperative that the truth be learned? Kathy provided Brian King with a list of Christian people who knew the Warners well. I have personally met and talked at length with several of these people.They are truly godly Christians and have fruits in their lives which bear this out. I encourage you and others of the elders to talk to them. I can give you their names and phone numbers. Kathy's brother, Don, is a wonderful Christian man, and he would be greatly encouraged if someone from Bridgeport cared enough to talk with him about these matters.
Debbie Dresler, one of Kathy's friends and a sweet Christian lady, wrote the enclosed letter to the child custody experts working on the Warner case. The other document is Kathy's spiritual history, which she wrote. The collection of poems and writings are things that Kathy handed out to people through her business as a testimony and a way of blessing others. I include them so that you may know a little of the Kathy Warner that I know.
I'm sorry for writing such a long letter. I am sharing it only with you and Kathleen, but I hope that you may share it with Pastor Ron and the other Elders as the Lord leads.I am so sad that we as a fellowship have not been able to minister to Kathy in love. She continues to suffer so much from the removal and alienation of her children from her. I pray that the time may yet come when we can show her Christian love and reestablish her confidence in the Church.Thank you both for your ministry among us. Your compassion and discernment are an encouragement to me and to Kathy as well
.In His Love,
(Please note: The fellowship at Bridgeport Community Chapel have taken care of Marty Warner's, (my former husband) every need during the restraining order period and in the months and years that followed and wholeheartedly support him. The elders at Bridgeport Community Chapel expressed to me that it was immoral and sinful for me to divorce my husband)
May 30, 1999
Dear Pastor Ron Sutter,
My name is Tashi Smith, and I am a teacher in the Springfield School District.I am writing to you on behalf of a close Christian friend who used to attend your church, Ms. Kathryn Hall. I worked for Ms. Hall when she was known as Mrs. Marty Warner.Ms. Hall is in need, and, although I understand you probably are not enthusiastic about getting involved in an ugly situation, I am writing to you as a last resort for help. I ask that you read this letter carefully with an open mind, and just pray God will reveal the truth.
Thank you for listening; this is information that you need to know.I became involved in the Warner/Hall case a few years ago when I was still studying to be a teacher at Western, and was hired to help tutor the Warner children. I need to share with you that, while working within the home, I immediately noticed how demeaning and controlling Mr. Warner was toward his wife. However, he assured me he was doing everything "for Kathy’s own good," so I tried to ignore the matter. But as time passed, I was witness to Mr. Warner’s extreme mood swings, angry outbursts, and unrealistic expectations towards his wife.
It is not my intent to criticize Marty Warner, but I will tell you the bare essentials so you can get a glimpse of the reality in which Ms. Hall and her children had to live.At the time I was hired, Kathy had been working for twenty years as a full-time mother of eight kids, ranging from teenagers to a newborn, as well as a full-time cook, housekeeper, and home-school teacher. Any one of these jobs would have been a heavy load for one person alone to handle, yet Kathy was an amazing mother and teacher who always showed compassion and love to her family.
While working with Mrs. Warner over the next few months, I found her to be a positive, Godly woman of utmost integrity. I have never met anyone so wise, loving, gentle, hard working, and giving. As is obvious, I gained a deep respect and admiration for Kathy Warner, and came to think of her as a dear friend as well as a mentor and "mother" in the Lord.
I now have known her for almost four years, and I have absolutely nothing negative to say about her sterling character. She is a beautiful, fragile treasure.How tragic that such a sweet soul would be oppressed by an enraged husband who only treated her with contempt. If the house, the children, or the meals were not perfect, Marty would become violently angry with Kathy. I became extremely uncomfortable working within the home as I witnessed the level of fear both Kathy and the children lived with every day.
Although the family scrambled to please Marty, their efforts were never good enough. He was unable to be satisfied, and continued to bark out his commands to his own family. I had to painfully watch Kathy literally beg him for a few dollars she needed for the kids. I saw the children ignored by Mr. Warner until they accidentally did something "wrong" that he did not like. He would violently spank them for the smallest of offenses. I was shocked that someone who seemed so respectable could be so blatantly wicked in his private life.As you may be aware, Kathy finally gathered the courage to take her children and flee her husband. She was considered a kidnapper, and was taken to court.
When I was asked to testify to Mr. Warner’s controlling and demeaning treatment towards Ms. Hall in court, I learned that Marty had been violently abusing Kathy physically, emotionally, and sexually for the last twenty years. She had been continually raped and beaten, often to the point of being hospitalized, by her "Christian" husband. She was kept a prisoner in her own house, being allowed to see others only under Marty’s supervision and approval.Friends of the family only hope he did not take his sexual aggressions out on his daughters in the same way.
Not believing in divorce, Kathy stayed as long as she could, always trying to please Marty, in hopes that he would change. You may choose to believe that such a pillar of the community as Mr. Warner could not possibly be capable of such behavior, but I am a first-hand witness that he is a smooth talker with much to hide in his private life. Being Mr. Warner’s pastor, it is crucial you are aware of who it is you’re really dealing with.
Because Kathy had been living under such extreme emotional pressure in her marriage, she had suffered from a nervous breakdown a few years before leaving Marty. (It was during this time that, despite Kathy’s catatonic state, Marty raped her and she became pregnant with her eighth child). It was this nervous breakdown that Marty used against Kathy in court. Marty had always controlled all finances and, having a high-praying job, simply hired a high-power attorney who claimed anyone having had a breakdown must be unfit to care for children. Having been isolated from interaction with the real world for the last twenty years, I think Kathy was made to appear naive, confused, and weak.
Can you imagine watching your cherished, innocent, competent friend losing her children to an abusive rage-aholic? I could go into many more gorey details, but my purpose is to warn you about Mr. Warner attending your congregation, and to spur you to help.
For the last two years, Kathy has tried to move on with her life, but is continually harassed by her former husband, as he swings wildly from vicious threats to love poems in an effort to get her back under his control. Marty knows the children are Kathy’s life, and she has to hear them cry as they ask why "daddy said she didn’t love them anymore."Nice guy, huh? Yet Kathy is a better Christian than I, never uttering an unkind word about her former husband, even when we are alone. Kathy somehow manages to hold firm to her faith despite any circumstances, but despite her Job-like faithfulness, Marty has been continually slapping lawsuit after lawsuit against her in a sick attempt to break her once again.
She is so terrified of his obsessive behavior that she recently did what no mother should ever feel she has to do to survive. To escape his constant harassment and persecution once and for all, she was legally advised to cut off all her court-given visitation rights to her children. She now feels completely devastated, empty, and depressed, yet what else could she do to rid herself of him? Fighting him costs money she doesn’t have. Kathy even moved out of state to get away from him, yet had to return for all his ridiculous lawsuits.
Here is Marty’s latest: Oregon took him to court to lower Kathy’s support payments, so he decided to sue her for extra financial support for three children, all over eighteen, and all living on their own, plus $500.00 extra per month for the other kids. Mr. Warner is a long-time wealthy engineer, and Ms. Hall is considered to be unskilled and uneducated within the modern work force. (What kind of job can you get after being locked away from the world in your own house for the last twenty years? "Housewife" doesn’t tend to impress many employers.) Because of Marty’s relentless harassment through the court, she now has over $150,000 in attorney fees, and recently has been too emotionally broken and traumatized by this man to even hold a full-time job. She simply doesn’t have the money.
As a teacher, I am the first person to want what’s best for children, but this is ridiculous. Kathy doesn’t even have the funds to fight back, yet if she loses, she could realistically face imprisonment. Anyway, we all know the money is not what Marty is really after.I don’t like getting involved in other people’s business, but I feel angry that Mr. Warner has been allowed to continue his sick, oppressive, controlling, and appalling behavior towards Kathy Hall, and I want it to stop. I fail to understand why he is not in prison and shunned by his community.
Even the court’s psychological exam on Mr. Warner states in black and white that he is clearly deceptive and dangerous. Yet most can’t seem to see past his slick, smooth talk and "Christianese."Because Mr. Warner has been unresponsive to the numerous attempts from friends and family to convince him to leave Ms. Hall alone, I am desperately hoping that, as his spiritual head, he might possibly listen to you. I am assuming you feel a responsibility as his pastor, and I am asking you to prayerfully consider approaching him on this matter. I pray God will lead you to speak to him immediately about his compulsive behavior and recommend serious psychiatric help. I believe God is calling this matter into the light, and you are seemingly the only person to whom Marty might listen.
I realize you have no reason to accept me as a person of integrity, so I ask you to simply ask God to reveal the truth as you read this letter and continue to observe Mr. Warner. I am not trying to play on your emotions, but be careful; Marty fits every description of sociopathic behavior, meaning he is extremely good at his disguise and can disarm your questions and concerns with ease. I am not asking much. Please just try to get him to leave this poor woman alone. He has everything, but won’t quit until she "pays" for escaping him. Help her. I love her, and I can’t see her slowly, painfully dying like this any more.
Please take courage and pray for them both. My cherished friend’s life literally depends on it.I am extremely concerned that Mr. Warner will harass me as he has done to other court witnesses, so I need you to guard this letter and my identity from Marty. I will be available at the number below through June 12, 1999, if you wish to speak to me, but you must never allow anyone else to see it. Thank you for your time, and for your attentiveness to this serious matter.
*Please note: Tashi (Smith) Gremar never heard back from Pastor Ron. Her letter was "dismissed.""
Shunning" in the Charismatic Community
My wife and our children were active and devoted members of the "People of Praise" Catholic charismatic community in Corvallis, Oregon, from the time it became a branch of the "People of Praise" ecumenical covenant Christian community in South Bend, Indiana, until we dropped out on May 10, 1983.From the day that I made that decision, to the present time, I have never been contacted by any member of that community in any way! No one; not the leaders, the Catholic priest who was the head of the group in Corvallis at that time, or any of the people in that group, ever made any attempt to contact me to find out why I had elected to leave!
When I dropped out, I told my "head" that I would not come to any more meetings, or be a part of the "People of Praise" and that being a member was bringing more discord into our family life, than harmony.It seems rather strange that while living in Corvallis all this time (a community of approximately 40,000), that in the last 18 years in general, and the first few months following my leaving the community in particular, that I have never been approached by any of these people in any way - in stores, at work or in our home, to find why I had made that decision!What is even more mystifying to me is how this so called Christian community, supposedly following the way of Christ, would purposely not seek out the member who had strayed and find out why he had left them! Even the bible tells the story of Christ leaving the flock to seek out the stray sheep!
For some time before I made the decision to leave the group I had begun to question, in my own mind, some of the requirements of the community such as; headship and submission (husband and wife), tithing 10% (gross income) to the community, and their dictating how we raised our children.Initially I (as I’m certain many males would be), was comfortable with the idea of having a "defined" submissive wife. We both had made the decision to join the community knowing that there would be "headship" throughout the hierarchy of the community. (i.e.) Every husband was "head" of his wife and family, every husband was under the "headship of some other (community appointed) "head".
These men, were in turn under some form of male "headship" all the way up the (somehow appointed) chain of command to the Priest, who then was in submission to the leadership of the People of Praise community in South Bend, Indiana.Giving the tithe of 10% of our gross income was quite a monetary strain on our budget (we had seven children, four of which were teenagers at that time) but since it was for "God’s work" was accepted that. However, after a while, it became questionable to me if God really needed that money more than we did in our single-income family!
A good portion of the tithe ultimately went to the leaders in South Bend whose children all were supposedly going to the university!My wife and I also had to account for the scheduling of our time, day and night seven days a week, which was dominated by the community activities and their scrutiny. Our children became very much aware of how our family life, which previously was acceptably challenging yet harmonious, had become more fractionalized after joining the community.I finally realized that the "commitment" of time and money that these cults put on their members deceivingly gives them control and power over the misguided members- so, we left.
Now in our family, we look back on and sometimes discuss those days in community and are thankful that we are all in agreement on the decision that was made. "Friends" like that are not worth the price, and shunning is not God’s way.
Robert L. Walsh
February 3, 2002
Thank you for your recent mailing regarding Bonshea. I received your prior letters and meant to contact you sooner but, to be honest, I think I wasn’t sure what to say.Your case definitely "stayed" with me and I recall vividly a lot of what occurred during my brief time trying to help you. I still remember taking Marty Warner’s deposition and I recall thinking what a cruel person he seemed to be. I remember the boxes of evidence you brought to my office and the story of you being dropped off in an unknown part of northeast Portland by Marty for "counseling."
I remember the hearing with Judge Norblad.I plan to order your book. I think it is a story which needs to be told. Ideally, the law is supposed to be rational, principled and just. Unfortunately, cases are decided by judges and jurors who are human beings and bring with them their own, biases, life experiences (both good and bad) and human shortcomings. To me this is the only explanation for what Judge Norblad did.I no longer practice family law, but for many years I did, and your case stood out as one where the judge’s decision was most clearly wrong. I can’t recall another case of a court removing a nursing child from a mother, except in cases where the mother posed a clear threat to the child’s safety, such as drug addiction, etc. I try to avoid seeing things only from my client’s perspective, and to instead be objective about the facts of a case.
To me, your case was clear through: Marty was an abusive, controlling, inflexible and dogmatic father and husband...who spent his free time at home indulging his religious fanaticism and addressing issues affecting other home-schooling parents, rather than interacting with his own children. You on the other hand, were a devoted mother who clearly did 95% of the hands-on care for the children. You had some post-partum emotional issues after your last child, which Marty exploited to his advantage instead of trying to help you when you needed help.I hope that by writing this I do not upset you or bring up issues you would rather have left alone.I hope that you have found peace and happiness in your life and have made light of the dark, as your subtitle suggests. You are a good person.
Portland, Oregon Attorney
Mr. Benson was my attorney in February - March 1996
Gearing’s office in Portland, Oregon.)
Debbie Custis responds to Coral Theill's son-in-law's disparaging comments
Letter by Debbie Custis, July 16, 2007
Coral’s son-in-law, wasn’t in the Warner’s life nor was he in court for the proceedings during the time Kathy (Coral) was being abused by Marty and the court system in Oregon. I was. I also worked with and for Mr. Warner. Trust me, he can “just flip on an internal switch” when he feels it’s necessary to appear to be a well-adjusted, upstanding member of the community. Feel fortunate that you’re not a “woman” and that Mr. Warner feels no need to “control” you!
You didn’t see Coral with her three youngest children, her patience, the love and the bond that was so clearly there for all to see while she was in hiding from her husband, living from hotel to hotel, with no money, and no food, entirely dependent on friends and yes, even some strangers that wanted to help her. It’s easy to be kind, loving, and nurturing during the good times; Coral was all those things during the hard times as well.
You weren’t there during the court proceedings. You didn’t listen to the absolute absence of feeling for his wife and her trauma in his answer when the judge asked “why would you continue to have marital relations with your wife in her current physical and mental condition.” I was there. I was also outside the courtroom walking the baby when I couldn’t stand to hear any more of what he said in court.
You weren’t there during the court proceedings. You didn’t listen to the absolute absence of feeling for his wife and her trauma in his answer when the judge asked “why would you continue to have marital relations with your wife in her current physical and mental condition.” I was there. I was also outside the courtroom walking the baby when I couldn’t stand to hear any more of what he said in court.
You weren’t there when the court decided to take Coral’s children away. You didn’t see a woman sobbing, rocking back and forth consumed with the kind of grief that only another parent could understand and yet, not wholly fathom.
You weren’t there when we picked up the three youngest children and delivered them to Mr. Warner. You didn’t hear the screams and sobbing of the two little girls in the back seat of my car on the trip to Mr. Warner’s. You never had to watch a grief-stricken mother trying to pump painfully engorged breasts because her six-month-old nursing baby had just been wrenched from her.
Tell me something, what had Coral ever done to deserve this? Coral Theill was a warm and loving mother. She was also a good wife. To this day she loves her eight children deeply, even the ones who no longer call her mother. Coral was the sole nurturer, caregiver, and teacher in that family for nearly 20 years.
At least half of those wonderful, talented, children you speak of received their foundation from their mom.
It saddens and sickens me that all of the wonderful things the children learned from their mother; all of the warm and happy memories that should be Coral’s legacy to these children have been tossed away like yesterday’s garbage.
That, sir, is the real tragedy.—Debbie Custis, Salem, Oregon
Letters published in Coral Anika Theill's memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark