8 11-04-88 08:41 pes Abductors of Unification Church member
acquitted of kidnapping By BRAD SMITH
DENVER (UPI) _ Two men who admitted abducting a woman at her
parents' request to get her away from the Unification Church were
acquitted by a jury Friday of kidnapping and conspiracy charges.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated more than
eight hours over two days before finding Dennis Whelan, 52, of
Omaha, Neb., and Robert Brandyberry, 41, of Brice, Ohio,
innocent. If convicted, they would have faced maximum sentences
of eight years in prison.
Whelan, who has helped scores of families abduct loved ones
from the church for "deprogramming", said the verdict "sends a
clear message to cult members that parents will strike back when
their children are lured into cults."
Whelan and Brandyberry were charged with second-degree
kidnapping and conspiracy for abducting Britta Adolfsson, 31,
from a Denver street May 26, 1987. The two had been hired by
Adolfsson's Swedish parents. Adolfsson escaped eight days later
from a house in Lyons, Kan. attorneys admitted the two men
abducted Adolfsson. But they arge "rescue" was justified because
the woman had been brainwas the controversial church, whose
members are popularly red to as "Moonies" after their leader, the
Rev. Sun Myung Moonn closing arguments Thursday, defense lawyers
characterized the church as a cultose leaders deceive and control
members for the aggrandizement, and said forcible abduction of
members is neceso save them from a life of servitude.
Denver District Court Juoert Hyatt issued detailed
instructiing the jury to consider the so-called
"choice-of-evilfense, which permits commission of a crime to pra
greater offense. He said in order to acquit the defendants,ury
must believe the kidnapping was necessary to prevent harm to
Dnse attorneys said Whelan, a private detective, ken part int
100 "rescues." They said Brandyberry has earned his living as a
"deprogrammer" since leaving the Unification Church in 1982.
Attorneys for both sides agreed the issue at trial was
freedom. Defense lawyers said members of the Unification Church
have lost their free will. Prosecutors argued the church is a
religion and that Constitution guarantees everyone the right to
practice whatever faith they choose.
Brandyberry said the jury's decision means "the people of
Colorado don't appreciate the kind of coercion going on in the
Unification Church. Then, breaking into tears, he said, "I'm
just sorry I couldn't help her (Adolfsson)."
Juror Jacqueline Smith said Whelan and Brandyberry "did
whathad to do."
"They were trying to help the parents," she said. "She (Adol)
has the right to choose her religion. But we didn't thinchose
this religion. She was sucked in there."
Moses Durst, a national leader the Unification Church,
callejury's verdict "obscene."
"The practice of kidnapping members of religious grs to
deprthem is nothing less than spiritual gang rape," Durst
said.dolfsson faces deportation for lying to federal immigration
officials three yeargo that she was living with a husband she h
during a mass wedding of 2,000 church members. They were
divorced after she reced her green card, the immigration
documeowing her to remain in the U.S.
Prosecutor Diane Balkin told jurors they shounot base their on
on their personal feelings about the Unification Church, and
should decide only if Whelan and Brandyberry broke the law. She
said the defendants "aren't rescuers. They're out-of-town hired
guns. They're vigilantes."
She said Adolfsson's parents, physicist Tord Adolfsson and his
wife, Edith, might have been well-intentioned, but did not have
the right to force their daughter to leave her chosen religion.
Defense attorney Jeff Pagliuca told the jury the Unification
Church "is not a religious organization. It is a fund-raising
organization that uses people."
He said church members are very restricted, and have no free
choice to decide where to live, how to spend most of their time
or whoo marry.
Pagliuca and co-counsel Jim Davis said Denver police the abon
three days before it occurred, and told Whelan that he andyberry
probably would not be arrested.
"This was a rescue, not a kidnapping,"vis said. "If it was
apping, would you tell the police before?
Pagliuca also said the trial was "ab one thing _ love. Love
parent harbors for a child." He described Whelan as a
"grandfaith a heart condition" and the paunchy Brandyberry as ady
bear who wouldn't hurt anyone."