Cult leader ‘Paddy’ separates Mary and Lloyd Janetzki from their dying daughter as his evil cult destroys the lives of its members
The Courier Mail
February 5, 2017
IT WAS the moment Brisbane psychologist Mary Janetzki and her deaf husband Lloyd realised they had lost both their children to a cult.
A cult leader had stood in the home of their married daughter Renee, who had uterine cancer, pointed his finger at Lloyd and said: “You are cursed and unrepentant."
he said to Lloyd: “What sin are you guilty of, because Renee has cancer?"
That night Paddy, the cult leader (who is known by various names), turned to Renee, who had joined his group with her husband, and told her if she wanted to be healed she had to distance herself from the curse.
Mary and Lloyd Janetzki with Renee and Ben as young children.
A few days later a frightened Renee told her mother, a nurse who had been giving her daily injections, she was not to return to her home.
told his mother he would not contact her again
And then the Janetzkis’ son Ben, who was also a member of the cult, told his mother he would not contact her again unless something serious happened.
“I knew then. This is it. We’ve lost our children. He’d got Ben and that night he’d got Renee," Mary says.
The Janetzkis, both 59, regret ever letting Paddy – a pseudonym he assumed – into their lives, saying he had split up their family and deprived them of the last few years with Renee, before she died in 2014, aged 29.
classic controlling behaviour
Mary, who now counsels cult survivors, says it was classic controlling behaviour so common in cults.
In 2000, a cult researcher told a federal parliamentary committee he estimated about 500,000 Australians were touched by cults, as members or as parents, friends, loved ones or associates of people in cults.
Ros Hodgkins of Cult Information and Family Support, which represents former cult members and those who have lost someone to a cult, says the group has validated information on more than 200 cults in Australia.
Ranging from big to small, cults use control and manipulation to isolate new members from friends and family and control their behaviour and information.
Renee was married with a young baby when she was diagnosed with aggressive cancer at 24.
The Janetzkis met the cult leader through a Brisbane Christian church. “Paddy’s group” which then had about 20 young followers, would show up at Sunday evening services.
Mary says Paddy seemed charming, but also street smart and a bit rough around the edges.
The Janetzkis and their two teenage children once visited his group on a property near Jimboomba, south of Brisbane, but lost contact with them for a few years.
Then the cult leader suddenly came to their home. He said God had told him to visit Mary and later he and his wife and group members began dropping by at their home without warning.
The Janetzkis say this was when Paddy recruited their son Ben, who had left home but still visited them regularly.
“He offered friendship and acceptance and Ben was hungry for that," Mary says.
Ben would attend the group’s regular Friday gatherings at different cult members’ homes, for fellowship and communion.
they saw the cult leader berate and humiliate
But Mary says she and Lloyd became concerned when they saw the cult leader berate and humiliate their son, then in his 20s, in front of others.
Paddy began ingratiating himself into their married daughter Renee’s life and the couple began attending the group meetings.
When Renee, a young mother of 24, was diagnosed with aggressive uterine cancer and spots on the lungs in 2009, Paddy visited her in hospital. He would whisper in her ear.
It was only when Renee knew she had only days to live that she allowed her parents to come and say goodbye, at a hospice. She was 29.
One night he said to Lloyd: “What sin are you guilty of, because Renee has cancer?"
“That night,” says Lloyd, “it was like I was on trial.”
Mary says one night a few weeks after Renee had surgery, she and Lloyd went to their daughter’s house, where Paddy pointed to Lloyd and accused him of being “cursed” and “unrepentant”.
"you cannot expose yourself to that curse"
“He then said to Renee ‘We can’t say why you got the cancer but if you want to be healed you cannot expose yourself to that curse. God is not going to answer your prayers’,” Mary says.
“I was really punched in the guts,” Lloyd says. “I had no energy, no power. My daughter had cancer. There was a new baby in the house and I didn’t know what the future would be,"
Until then, Renee had been “Daddy’s girl" so when she cut them off her parents were shell-shocked. They were not allowed to be with their daughter, who lived just two streets away, as she went through chemotherapy.
“She rejected me as well," Mary says.
Occasional attempts to see their daughter and granddaughter over the years were rebuffed by Renee and her husband, or ended badly.
For years Mary and Lloyd believed Renee was in remission until, 18 months before her death, they found out from others the cancer had returned.
only days to live
It was only when Renee knew she had only days to live that she allowed her parents to come and say goodbye, at a hospice.
“It was a shock. She looked emaciated," Mary says.
Lloyd told his daughter he loved her and she replied in sign language “I love you".
Lloyd and Mary Janetzki, heartbroken that they lost their children to a cult. Photo: Jodie Richter
But, Mary says, Renee let her know she still felt betrayed by her mother choosing her “cursed" husband over her daughter with cancer.
“We’d lost our daughter years ago. It wasn’t really her," Mary says. “I loved her so much. She was so determined to do right by God."
Mary and Lloyd, who have had virtually no contact with Ben for seven years, still blame the cult leader for brainwashing him. After years of researching cults and more recently counselling cult survivors, Mary now knows that anyone can get caught up in a controlling group.
“At first I blamed myself. I brought this man into my home. It was only after immersing myself in the literature that I realised it was not a reflection on myself, it was a reflection on what masterful deceivers these people are.”
Ben has not responded to our attempts to interview him.
Michael, 29, (not his real name) was a member of the same cult from the age of 13 to 17, and was introduced to the group by his religious sister, who also married a member.
met at group barbecues
Initially he thought the charismatic leader he knew, who was then in his late 30s, and the young people he met at group barbecues, some of whom had motorcycles, were fun and exciting.
“As a young guy I looked up to this guy almost as a father figure," Michael says.
He says Paddy, who was then using a different name, claimed his family bloodline was most directly from the tribe of Judah and when he died he would sit at the right hand of God.
As time went by, the regular Bible-based group meetings became intense, with Paddy singling out members he said had done something wrong and disciplining women.
“Meetings were more like interrogations than barbecues," Michael says.
Eventually Paddy turned his attacks on Michael – once accusing him of being a police informant and of having evil thoughts.
Michael tells how, at a group Christmas camp when he was 17, he was circled by 10 male members and the cult leader, who punched him in the face and accused him of violating his sister’s young daughter.
Cults use control and manipulation to isolate new members from friends and family.
The warning signs
It was not an unusual accusation within the cult, as Paddy had accused other males of being homosexuals and paedophiles and branded some women “whores".
Michael says after many denials he became so scared he lied, blurting out: “Maybe I touched her thigh”.
“He called a big meeting with everyone that night and in front of my sister and brother-in-law I was told to tell them what I had done. I was crying.”
Michael, who was kicked out of the group that night, says: “I was just so horrified. I lost my sister, whom I really loved, and I was alienated from my niece and nephew."
felt traumatised for a long time
Although he has now recovered, Michael says he felt traumatised for a long time and did not trust people. He sought help from psychologists.
He did not go to university, despite a good OP score, or look for a girlfriend or do anything meaningful with his life, for fear of being blackmailed by the cult leader.
“This guy was robbing the life of really trusting people who loved God, he was taking advantage of others and destroying families," Michael says.
Anthony, 43, met the same cult leader, who he also knew as Paddy, when he was 19 and hanging around the streets of bayside Brisbane.
Coming from a Presbyterian upbringing but at a time of his life when he was adrift, angry and looking for somewhere to fit in, Anthony was ripe for recruitment.
“I used to blame everyone for my issues. He used that as a wedge," Anthony says. “He put me on the spot at the first meeting: ‘Are you going to give your life to Christ or not?’."
Paddy would take his group into established churches, meeting young people in fellowship groups. If he did not get his way he would move on.
For years Anthony was happy, but after he met and married a group member, he says Paddy turned on him, kicking him out three times, accusing him of being “immoral".
Then he was falsely accused by the cult leader of sexually abusing his own 18-month-old baby, after she fell asleep on his chest one night when his wife was sleeping separately.
Anthony says the cult mind control was so strong, that even before then he had been terrified of changing his baby’s nappy for fear of being called a paedophile.
He now looks back on 20 lost years of his life, the loss of his marriage, loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in “loans" to the cult leader, unpaid work on his properties and physical beatings.
“One time I had cracked ribs after a beating and on another occasion my jaw was so swollen everyone thought I’d broken it," Anthony says.
He controlled us.
It took him years to recover and it is only in the past three years that Anthony has been reconciled with his parents and brother. He hasn’t seen his daughter, now 10, since she was 20 months.
“Getting involved in a cult can happen to anyone, especially someone searching for something," he says. “He controlled us. Where we lived, whom we married, what car we drove, what type of clothes we wore. He controlled 99 per cent of our lives.”
Lifeline 13 11 14
Disclaimer:This news page is about groups, organizations or movements, which may have been called "cults" and/or "cult-like" in some way, shape or form. But not all groups called either "cults" or "cult-like" are harmful. Instead, they may be benign and generally defined as simply people intensely devoted to a person, place or thing. Therefore, the discussion or mention of a group, organization or person on this page, is not necessarily meant pejoratively. Readers are encouraged to read widely on a topic before forming an opinion. Never accept information from a single source at face value. This website only holds a small amount of information and should not be relied on as a complete source. For example, if you find older information, this should be weighed up against newer information as circumstances can change.