IV. All the other allegations: Ananda answers the testimony of the four remaining women who filed depositions
Thora McDonnel (Woman #4)
Thora claims Swami made sexual advances to her and she rejected him. After being rejected, Thora says, Swami made no further efforts, verbal or physical, to pursue a sexual relationship with her.
In her declaration, Thora describes “skinny-dipping” with Swami Kriyananda and others from Ananda, which could have happened. It, was, after all, the 60s, and everyone went “skinny-dipping” at the nearby Yuba River. Even today, once you get around the bend from the bridge, the Yuba River is a virtual nudist colony. After a few excursions, however, most Ananda residents, including Kriyananda, began to feel “skinny-dipping” was not consistent with the rest of the Ananda lifestyle, so we gave it up.
In her declaration, Thora also says that she had been around Kriyananda many times and even performed office work for him.
In many other contexts, including his response to the declaration of Chandra Slavonic (Woman #5), Swami shows he has a very clear and accurate memory, even of events and people from years ago. Thora says she worked for him as a secretary, but Swami does not remember her at all. Nor does he recall the incidents she describes.
No one else who was part of Ananda at that time remembers her either.
Swami Kriyananda’s testimony about Thora is on page 1261 of his deposition.
Chandra Slavonic (Woman #5)
Chandra says she had sex with Swami in 1969. Later, she says, when Swami heard that Chandra was talking about their relations, she claims he “cornered her” and told her not to tell anybody.
Chandra was among the very early residents of Ananda. During that time, there were essentially two Anandas. The true ashram community was at the Seclusion Retreat, and the more hippy version of Ananda occupied what is now the Village, but was then called “The Farm.”
At the beginning, Chandra was sort of in the middle between the two groups. But as Ananda became more of an ashram, she felt less and less in tune with it. In 1976, a huge forest fire burned down many houses at “The Farm” and devastated hundreds of acres. This was a turning point in Ananda’s history. Many people, including Chandra, who didn’t resonate with the way Ananda was going, left at that time.
Chandra is well remembered, and well liked by all those who knew her during those early years. It wasn’t exactly public knowledge that she had had sexual relations with Swami, but nor was it a secret. For 25 years—until this declaration—she gave no indication of being upset with Ananda or Swami Kriyananda for anything that had happened. She continued to live in the area and was always very cordial when she happened to meet anyone she knew from Ananda.
When asked about Chandra, Swami Kriyananda said, on pages 686-687 of his deposition:
“[Chandra] was one of the early people at Ananda. This was in 1969.”
“I remember being attracted to her physically, and on two occasions that I recall, having had sexual intercourse with her.”
“She was somewhat well built…I don’t want to use the word stocky, but approaching that. Robust. I would estimate 29 years old, but I don’t know. I think she had brown hair…Probably about 5’4″.”
Then, on page 698-699, Flynn gets more specific in his questions to Kriyananda about the details of Chandra’s declaration:
Q. Chandra says “At one point Swami and I were alone together and he used me for sex.”… Is that a true statement?
A. …It’s wrong to say “he used me for sex.” Did we make love? That’s a different question. “Used me”? No, I did not.
Q. … In what way did you make love?
[Kriyananda’s lawyer interjects, “Are you asking for the physical position?” Flynn then restates the question.]
Q. I’m asking what he meant when he just said, “we made love”?
A. I suppose the usual meaning. Sexual intercourse.
Q. Did you demonstrate affection for her?
A. I did.
Q. And did she demonstrate affection for you?
A. My perception is that she did.
Q. Did you corner Chandra Lee Slavonic in the washroom and tell her not to divulge the fact that you were having sex with her to anyone?
A. I have no such recollection.
So there is the story of “Woman #5.” In the simple facts, Chandra and Swami agree. But between “using me for sex” and “making love,” you, the reader, will have to decide.
Marilyn Stuart (Woman #8)
Marilyn says this incident took place about 30 years ago. which puts it around 1971. At that time, she was newly divorced and had a home and three children in San Rafael. While visiting Ananda, she was “honored,” as she puts it (with the quotation marks) to be invited to give Swami Kriyananda a foot massage. He was lying in a hammock on his porch, she was rubbing his feet. She says he exposed himself, and invited her to have intercourse. She says she “respectfully declined. He didn’t argue, and I left.”
In other words, according to Marilyn, he offered, she declined, and he did nothing either physically to restrain her or verbally to persuade her. Marilyn’s story appears on the SRF/AAN website under the title “Swami Kriyananda as Sexual Predator.” A title consistent with the “Big Lie,” but a bit overstated given the facts of the matter, even as Marilyn tells them.
On the website, most of Marilyn’s story is her scornful opinion of Swami Kriyananda, speculation as to what his motives might have been, and a brief look at her own past history of having been physically beaten in a sexually related incident.
There is no deposition testimony from Swami about Marilyn, because she did not file a declaration. However, Swamiji remembers having dinner at Marilyn’s house, and her occasional visits to Ananda. He says this incident never happened.
Others of us who were at Ananda at that time also remember Marilyn. She had a general interest in Ananda that focused primarily on Kriyananda. She seemed to be frustrated, however, because her children, her divorce, the house in San Rafael, all kept her from following up on her interest.
Sunny Plant (Woman #6)
In 1981, Wendy Holmes lived at the Sacramento Ananda center. She called herself “Sunny Plant,” and worked as a massage therapist. She says Swami asked her for a massage and then asked her to massage his genitals. When she refused, Kriyananda “treated the issue as if it were of no great importance.” In other words, he did not physically force her, nor did he try verbally to persuade her.
From Kriyananda’s deposition testimony, page 1273:
Q. Sunny Plant, did you have any kind of sexual contact with Sunny Plant?
A. I don’t know Sunny Plant.
Q. You have no idea who Sunny Plant is?
A. No idea.
Earlier, on page 600 of the transcript, Flynn also asked about Wendy Holmes. Kriyananda’s response:
A. I don’t know who Wendy Holmes is.
Q. Wendy Homes is Sunny Plant.
Q. Sunny Plant?
A. I still don’t know her.