Tuesday, April 21, 2020

F.A.C.T. Board Member Mark Postelnek, responds to New Yorker article about Sharon Stern

As a member of the Board of Directors of Families Against Cult Teachings (FACT), the organization established by Tibor Stern after his daughter’s suicide, I read with great personal interest “Dancer in the Dark” by Rachel Aviv.

For the most part, I found the article to be well written and informative. However, Ms. Aviv’s portrayal of Katsura Kan calls into question whether she was unwittingly susceptible to his charismatic appeal, common to cults of personality. To attribute nobility to any aspect of Kan’s character or to suggest that he was an innocent victim of an evil fairy tale or the victim of a witch hunt perpetrated by Sharoni’s father defies reality.

Kan, in his role as Sharoni’s mentor, master, guru and sensei, betrayed his ethical obligations to his protegee. Kan, knew that Sharoni was immature, unstable and vulnerable. There were ample warning signs that she was becoming unhinged. He acknowledged that Butoh was a “bit too much for Sharoni” but he nonetheless subjected her to the disabling forces of darkness while she was in an altered state of consciousness. He led her down the path of depersonalization, only to abandon her as she was falling into emptiness, denying her access to the requisite guidance to get through the ordeal. Kan’s suggestive innuendoes reported by Ms. Aviv (i.e. “Continue your search in another world” and “You must suicide yourself”) constitutes culpable negligence especially when knowingly made to a person experiencing self-disintegration. Sharoni surrendered herself to Kan who exploited his devotee with the misguided expectation that they would “keep seeking together till the end of life, or more?” The potent forces of Butoh, in the hands of a narcissistic master that shrieks his responsibilities of guidance and protection of his student precipitated Sharoni’s descent into psychotic episodes of dread and her ultimate death.

Nor was Kan a victim of the American judicial system. He was afforded appropriate due process. The civil proceedings against him were subject to appellate review on multiple occasions. Kan considered the cultural divide between Japan and the U.S. regarding suicide as placing him above American law that served to hold him accountable for being the proximate cause of Sharoni’s death. The article should celebrate American jurisprudence that encourages the evolution of justice to hold accountable those who undertake the responsibility of the well-being of a person in his(her) charge. And Tibor Stern should be commended for his dedication, at great personal sacrifice and expense, to the pursuit of justice. Referencing the Sterns as a family attracted to the diamond simply has no place in this story as it only conjures up stereotypical ethnic prejudices.

The followers of Butoh would be well advised to study the proscriptions related to the study of the Kabbalah, a potent force of Jewish mysticism. It was with this in mind that the Shach, a 17th century commentator on Jewish Law, suggested that the study of mysticism be deferred until the age of 40 when one is imbued with the requisite wisdom and maturity necessary to comprehend the esoteric aspects of Kabbalah. The purpose was to avoid misguided applications with the potential of disastrous consequences based upon misunderstanding and distortion.

Sharoni came under the sway of Katsuri Kan as an uninitiated neophyte. She was easy prey for a sociopath devoid of respect and regard for the traditional boundaries between teacher and student. He is not the victim: he is the villain.

Marc Postelnek
PO Box 1844 
Boca Raton, FL 33429
(305) 962 7111

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Tibor Stern responds to New Yorker Magazine

This comes as a response to what we believe is Highly Inaccurate writing by Rachel Aviv in her recent article about Sharon Stern, Butoh and Katsura Kan published in the New Yorker Magazine on April 06, 2020.

This opinion reaction was sent on April 10, 2020, from Tibor Stern, President of F.A.C.T. and the father of the deceased Sharon Stern, on behalf of the Sharon Stern Estate.

In our opinion, we believe the article is very misleading and didn’t accurately portray the destructive nature of Butoh dance form and failed to address the undue influence of Katsura Kan over his student, Sharon Stern, which led to her inner destruction of self, loss of critical thinking, and encouragement of suicide leading to her death in 2012.


After reading your article in the "New Yorker," I realized how unethical, mean spirited, biased, untruthful and deceiving in nature your final article was, in my opinion.

You portray the perpetrator as an innocent man while you are bashing my family and the real victim, my daughter, may she rest in peace.

It is beyond my comprehension how a man that was found guilty for the wrongful death of my daughter in the court of law could be called a 'noble man' by the writer of New Yorker Magazine.

You and your magazine missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring light to this tremendous epidemic that destroys thousands of great families in our country.

I can assure you that I had many projects to share with you in the future... no more!!!

I have many credible and honest writers, journalists, and media outlets that are eager to expose the horrific abuse to the vulnerable and weak victims of undue influence and brainwashing.  They all have one thing in common, which is to stop the abusers through education by bringing awareness to the public at large.  Unlike you, in my opinion.  

Yes, you may sell more prints, but it is my belief that this type of writing is more suitable for tabloid publishing. 

You were so busy with my wife's diamonds, but do you care at all what a tremendous philanthropist my wife is?  25% of our yearly income is donated to charities.  Do you even know that the diamonds represent 70% of our not-for-profit organization's budget?  The organization saves children from abuse, unites families, works with law enforcement, helps victims to start a new life, assists with food and housing, psychological care, etc.  I believe that you were blinded with jealousy over her diamonds which kept you from seeing our true nature.  To write a quote as you did: "Sterns like only diamonds," is highly inaccurate, defamatory in nature and is extremely unethical journalism.  Nothing is farther from the truth. 

It is my opinion, as a result of our conversations (which I will keep to myself at this point), that you have portrayed my family through the eyes of your own family struggle.  When you have an assignment, you should leave those past issues and struggles on your kitchen table. 

There is a saying, "One who doesn't confront evil will empower evil;"  I believe you have achieved that through your article.  Is Katsura Kan the kind of exemplary teacher that you chose to portray as a victim?  You may regret saying that one day; I wonder how you would react if your kids would have such a teacher as Katsura Kan.   

Now to the facts.

1.  When Anna initially approached me for fact-finding, I knew it would be a problem when she opened with the first question:  Is it true that your daughter had a hooked nose and a sly smile?  I understood that she was only interested in selective facts that would fit your agenda.  I find that highly offensive, discriminatory in nature, defamatory, unethical, mean-spirited and anti-Semetic in nature.  In Nazi Germany, Jews were portrayed in caricatures this way and were sent to gas chambers.  I lost my whole family in Auschwitz.  You tried to apologize many times, but your apology is not accepted.  She didn't have a hooked nose, nor sly smile.  Why was it so important for you to wrongly emphasize false physical attributes?

2.  I never told you Katsura Kan killed my daughter!  My daughter committed suicide.  What I told you is: Katsura Kan brought the death upon my daughter.  Katsura Kan contributed to the death of my daughter.  Katsura Kan is responsible for the death of my daughter; he was found guilty for the wrongful death of Sharon Stern in the court of law.

3.  Denmark.  At the event of 100 dancers, they didn't stay all over the town.  Katsura kept my daughter for 2 weeks in a place called Christiana, also known as being the center for drug trading in a dangerous part of Copenhagen.  At that point, my daughter was mentally broken down.  When I contacted Detective Thomas Miller from the Copenhagen police force for help to find my daughter and join me in the search for her, he advised me not to go there because I would be endangering my life.  He told me his police force doesn't even go there.  I went and took pictures as evidence.  I shared with you the whole event, but I guess it didn't fit into your agenda for this article.  Would you want your children's teacher taking them to this kind of place?

4.  Lawsuit.  You spoke to our attorney, Ben Murphey, for hours, I believe.  Not one piece of input, not one quote of his did you include in the article.  The only thing you made sure of including is Katsura Kan's quotes and lies.  Our judicial system allowed Katsura Kan 6 years of lying and deceiving the court while wasting tax payer's money with 3-4 appeals of his, which were all denied.  Yet, you chose to believe him as your 'judicial expert.'  According to you, this 'poor, innocent man' was denied justice.  The court admitted every, single piece of evidence submitted to the exhibit.  Each of those clearly indicated his guilt.  Among the exhibits were evidence of his manipulation of my daughter to her death, denying her much needed mental health care, telling my daughter which day to die with instructions to first take money from her family and to wire it to his bank account in Japan.  He wrote, 'you are stupid to follow me in to danger,' 'kisses to the stupid girl.'   

5.  I have evidence of at least 10 different pieces of correspondence from Katsura inviting Sharon in February 2012 to San Francisco to attend the Butoh performance.  Where did you come up with the notion that she was not invited?  Seems to me that you are interested only in limited facts that fit your agenda.  In my opinion, your conduct on this subject was highly unethical, which doesn't comply with the journalistic code of ethics. 

6. Many more cases have landed on our desks against Katsura Kan and his group.  Second victim of Katsura Kan:  One more documented complaint from a young female student of Katsura came to our attention.  The alleged complaint was: Katsura drugged her and raped her and she didn't remember anything about her whereabouts for 2 weeks.  I informed you about this and the victim's request to stay anonymous.  I have the victim's girl friend, also a Butoh dancer, to testify on this matter.  I have the consent of the victim to expose this story only if I can keep her anonymous, which I am.  I told you that I would like to connect you with her.  She is fragile and afraid for her life.  I never heard back from you showing any further interest in her story.  I am glad it didn't work out; I believe that you would twist her story, too, which would further harm her recovery.  There was a case of a Butoh dancer disappearing in the forest somewhere in Japan.  It is no wonder that they are all fearful to speak out.  I have a new complaint from Butoh dancers about Katsura's ex-student who is operating a Butoh retreat and promoting pedophilia in the name of enlightenment and cleanliness.  When they complained to Katsura, he brushed it to the side.  It just so happens that Katsura is a welcome guest at this center numerous times each year.  The petition is signed by 200 ex-students.  This new project will go to a highly ethical journalist who will confront the evil.

7.  You had the opportunity to challenge why Naropa, an accredited, American university, allowed an unlicensed construction worker from Japan to teach the MFA Program curriculum of psychology and philosophy in the student body classroom while we all know that his Butoh dance curriculum teaches pain, suffering and death!  Butoh was banned in Japan for these reasons!  He claims, and you second it, that his English is to be blamed for his convictions.  If that is so, don't you ask how he could teach, in English, university-level psychology and philosophy courses for the MFA program?

8.  You wrote that his goal was modest:  To survive as an avant-garde artist - don’t be so naive!  His goal was to have sex with beautiful young students of his, exploit them mentally, physically and monetarily, and destroy their ego and critical thinking so he can manipulate them as a toy. He admitted to having sex with 160 of his female dance students.  You quoted Katsura saying, "If married couples had a crisis in their relationship, they can go to the choreographer."  You made him out to be a marriage counselor, but we see what happened with my daughter's marriage after 4 years of his brainwashing through destructive dance - she is six feet under!  Wake up, girl!

9.  You claim Kan's loss in the lawsuit against him was a kind of evil fairy tale. Wrong!  It brought justice.  I believe your writing created an evil fairy tale.

10. Finally, your quote: “There was almost a kind of nobility in his encyclopedic candidness.“  Enclosed, see the picture of him with Hitler (which I gave to you) that he posted to upset me. I believe that you may be able to find some nobility in Hitler, too. Katsura doesn’t need an advocate anymore; he has you.  As I mentioned earlier, “One who doesn’t confront evil will empower the evil.”  I believe you did just that. 

For closing: Who are you, Rachel Aviv?  What do you stand for?  In my opinion, you are a dishonest journalist and I also believe you are highly unethical.  I provided you with all supporting material in hope and belief that your article will bring awareness to educate the public about the cult epidemic that destroys thousands of American families.  

Unfortunately, I believe you missed an opportunity to educate the public, the vulnerable, and the sick.  In my belief there can be only 2 reasons for that: 1) Katsura Kan managed to manipulate you as he did 160 of his own students; 2) In my opinion, you must have had a wicked agenda in your mind to have successfully twisted all of the facts on this story.  I do not think that you are too naive to be manipulated by Katsura, but your writing shows otherwise.

In my opinion, you do not have even a minimal understanding regarding the subjects of cults, brainwashing, exploitation, undue influence, nor a minimum ounce of compassion for the pain and suffering inflicted upon the victims in this epidemic who lose their critical thinking and are in dire need of direction.  My recommendation to you would be that you no longer write about these subjects in which you do not understand as I further believe your writing may inflict more toxic harm on the victims by being grossly misleading.

You and your team denied my request for the article NOT to be published without me first checking all related facts.  The responsibility for this article lies on you.  I trust the readers will have their own conclusion about this article after reading my own published response."

Tibor Stern

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Abuse Continues - Student of Katsura Kan Butoh Dance, Confesses to Pedophilia

Outlined below is a Summary of events reported to us. In addition to the below we received a petition to stop this abuse, signed by 200 of Rizome Lee's former students . Katsura Kan is a regular guest teacher in this center, he was alerted about this abuse, which he totally ignored as per reports to us.

YouTube Videos:



"Summary of The Beginning

On September 18, 2019 in the evening, Subbody Butoh School facilitators Özerk Sonat Pamir and Robert Montilla (also known as Adam Koan, his stage name) confronted Rhizome Lee (real name Ryuji Oka, a Japanese national living here in Dharamsala, India on a tourist visa) about some information that came to us from Dara (former student, email below) about Lee engaging in abusive behavior. The Subbody facility is located at MDR 44, Jogibara Rd, McleodGanj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh 176219, India 50 meters behind Illiterati Cafe.

What he told us is that the stories we were hearing were true and that he had a problem with pedophilia, which he calls "Lolita Syndrome." He told us he sexually abused three underage girls over the last 15 years.

Right after we heard this statement, we contacted a psychologist who gave us advise on the steps to take (Rajita Ramachandram) to report this because we were concerned about future victims and that there were currently 2 children still living in the space. The 2 children belong to the Indian family that works for Lee.

Two women from the family that work for him were molested when they were underage (victim 2 and victim 3). Victim 3 explained this condition to school manager of the time (Vishal) and Vishal told Dara and Piyu (Priyadarshani-email below). Soon after, Victim 3 died from Malaria, though not everybody agrees she actually caught Malaria. That there are holes in that story.

Also: Lee asked a former student to have sex with him as a way for him to cure his pedophilia. She declined. She also does not wish to reveal her name at this time. 

Details of His Talk with Ozerk and Adam

That same day, September 18, Robert and Ozerk asked him if these were only sexual fantasies or if he acted upon them. He told us that when he moved to Jogiwara from Japan (we don’t know the exact year but it should be around 2002-2004), he loved a 5-year-old girl that lived in a near-by village. He said he wanted to turn this child into his ideal wife and since he loved her, then whatever he did was okay.

We asked for the details of his actions with this girl and he told us he was having sexual gratification from touching her and she was on his lap when they were playing together and he was enjoying that. We learned from him that this situation continued for 10 years until she was 15. She was a Tibetan girl. Priyadarshani has made contact with this girl before, but she refuses to reveal her name for India social ramifications.  She is no longer in Dharamsala, but in a city (maybe New Delhi).

Oka told us that he now feels guilty because he believed at that time he was in love with her and now realizes it was sexual desire. He explained that he confused love and sexual desire. After she left, he attempted to stay in contact with her, as she was suffering mentally and emotionally from this experience. In 2019 he encouraged her to write her traumatic past in novel form so that she could transform her suffering into creation. Oka also told us he was teaching how to write to Victim 1 when she was young. He told us he believed only he can cure her from her suffering.

When this young woman left the village, Oka said he fell in love with another 15-year-old girl whose family worked for him. The family father was also Oka's best friend. He asked to marry her but was rejected. She soon married to another man, and is now a mother. She still works for him as his assistant at the studio and he claims he is no longer attracted to her because she is a mother. Her child plays around Oka and during the day they are generally in Oka’s workroom/ livingroom.

Oka turned his affections to the other daughter of the family (we don’t know her age). At the end of 2018 she complained about the situation with Oka to the Indian manager of the studio (Vishal), as he was taking her (victim 3) to the hospital in another town. Shortly after this event, she died from complications of malaria so the story goes.

After she died, Oka said he began to feel guilty about his behavior through the years. He also expressed that he cannot function sexually anymore and that he is no longer attracted to young girls. He described his affliction as the "Lolita Syndrome" as stated above.

Upon hearing his confession, we told him that he should immediately stop teaching and that children should not be in his presence. We told him clearly that this was the end of his school and his subbody dance method.

Oka said that he believed he should continue teaching and that he was transforming his condition through his method and he just needed some more time to heal himself completely. Currently, as mentioned on his website (www.subbody.net) he has stepped down from teaching, but is still the owner of the space. Spring semester is beginning on March 9, 2020.

We told him he should be under psychiatric treatment. He said he didn’t believe in social institutions and no one knows him better than himself. This conversation lasted around 3,5 hours. When we left the room we told everything to Julie Becton Gillum (from North Carolina, curator of Asheville Butoh Festival).

We contacted a therapist, Rajita, who supported us from this first day and she offered much advice including exposing this condition publicly. We wanted to guarantee that Oka would not ever hurt a child again. That he should be isolated from children and should never teach. Rajita found us the contacts of many NGO’s (including Jagori). She also advised us to contact Commission For Protecting Child Rights at Shimla. Dharamsala Jagori NGO was contacted and we had 2 meetings with them in person. The person we were in contact with at that NGO was the former mayor of Dharamsala.  Unfortunately, Lee has not been stopped from carrying on his school.

After the first conversation with Oka, on different days we talked to him more than 10 hours (former students and current manager also joined these conversations). Each time we had to explain again and again why he shouldn’t teach, and why we needed a legal institution to take care of this condition.
At one point he asked us why we didn’t believe him when he told us he no longer feels attracted to children.

We told him he had been lying to all his students for 15 years. People who are interested in dance ended up at his school and no one would have joined his school in the first place if they knew what was going on. We told him we didn’t have any confidence in his words about his current sexuality.

His Confession in Front of the Class

Two days after we first talked to him about this issue, he confessed his condition to a group of current and former students (including Ian, Julie, Harsha, Robert , Ozerk, and other students, and the current manager. The others were not willing to take action, but among them was Yi (who is a current facilitator for Spring semester).

Leaving Subbody

After this confession, we decided as a group to leave Subbody School. We decided that all the students should be refunded (this process was completed in almost a month). The manager (Naireet Bashak, email below) which connects Subbody to a legal business entity at the time then said he was resigning from the manager position, but it was false. He did not resign and kept supporting Lee. At this moment, we do not know if he is still the manager.

After two days we left the school, we heard from one of the current students (Ian) that children were still present at Oka’s room when Ian went there to sort out his refunding. A day after hearing this information from Ian, in order to protect children and to stop new students from coming to the studio, we exposed the information we had in our social media accounts and on one of the official websites of the school which was www.subbody.in (now no longer up).

Several former students protested our action of exposing this condition. Two female students from the community contacted with the family of the second and third victims and made a voice recording in which the Victim 2 and her sister (also have a daughter around 5-7 years old and she is working at the school) denied that anything happened. These recordings, however, have been gathered from Yi who is in 100% support of Oka. We have not heard these recordings.

This statement contradicts what Oka had told to us and the group. It is clear that they are not interested in revealing any damaging information about their relationship with Oka.

During one of our meetings with the community, Piyu joined us through video conference, she told us she has the contact of the Victim 1 and showed us a message from Victim1 (by hiding her name) and read it; which clarified that Victim 1 is experiencing emotional and mental problems due to her past with Oka.

Victim 1 expressed that she does not wish to bring up her past trauma publicly by acting as a witness against Oka and hopes that she will have the power to do so in the future. We asked Piyu to tell Victim 1 we are ready to support her if she is willing to take action.

Oka also sent a mass email to former students defending himself against the information on subbody.in, but in the email statement, he does mention a rather strange line of sexuality and children--"skinship" (email is attached in word documented and this specific section highlighted, and the email can be forwarded on demand).

Five police officers also arrived on the 12th because they got a hold of the statement from subbody in. When this happened, Oka sent Ozerk and Robert this following email, in which he is lying to the police about his condition as the main teacher. In fact he has been guiding this year and the rest of the years that the facility has been in operation. All the students of this year can easily tell you he was definitely the main teacher (we can give you their emails upon request). Oka by law can't teach or a make a business on a tourist visa. He tried working with a loophole by attaching a local business entity (Naireet or formerly Vishal) in order to say he was just hired by them.

The following is the email Oka sent to Ozerk and Adam on October 12, 2019 (we can share the original email if wanted):

Dear Adam and Ozerk,
How are you?
I hope to calm down and listen to Life.
Yesterday, five policemen visited me, with a copy of your statement of
subbody.in. I don’t know how they got it.
They interviewed me and checked all the spaces in the house. Finally, they
demanded me to write a statement. I wrote a statement like the following:

12 October 2019
1. I am Ryuji Oka, Japanese. Twenty years ago, I had a contract to rent this
land for thirty years with my landowner Madan Shing and built this house.
2. My friend Babul made a foundation “Subbody Butoh Insititute,” and I
became an employer of the foundation as a facilitator of Butoh dance.
But, five years ago, the foundation system in India has collapsed, then I had
to change to a tourist visa. I know that the tourist visa holder can’t work at all
in India. Then I stopped teaching at all five years ago. The participant's age
was 20-70 years old.
3. Now I stopped all activity and just meditation and writing. I will never do
any activity here at all.

Ryuji Oka

March 9, 2020: Spring Semester Begins

The school is opening for Spring term very soon with the facilitator Yi (email below) and Honza Svasek (email below). 2 days ago she wrote Adam an email telling him to come back to the school because she forgives him and knows all the exposure he did was simply because he was in pain. She said she was trying to commit suicide in September specifically due to Adam's actions.

Yi very clearly told Adam in email that the space will accept both pedophiles and even murderers because this is a space to turn the tendency to hurt oneself or another into creativity instead.

Take note, neither Honza nor Yi have any experience in social work or therapy. Yi in the past has recruited students without them knowing anything about the history of Subbody, and when the information has gotten to them, it left them shocked and very disappointed.
Yi in October also came up with a false collaboration between the Tushita meditation space and Subbody Butoh School. They were going to use the space as an extension of Subbody teaching and never let the Tushita organization know. Many people reported this to Tushita and Tushita immediately told Yi to take them off the event.
Honza Svasek is the other facilitator and holder of another space called Free Butoh School situated in a farm  (Durgadahali) 2 hours north of Bangalore, India. He believes it is all lies. The figure on the right will be the pitch he will be telling the future students.

Other Teachers Worth Mentioning or Negligent

Mushimaru Fujieda according to the Subbody website (subbody.net) is due to teach there this month. He is a well-known figure in the Butoh world and lives in Japan. Has traveled a lot internationally. Adam mentioned in message what Lee confessed to us, but he replied that he finds no problem in simply being in his space because he is "Lee's friend." Adam also talked to Mushimaru's student who travels with him and she has chosen to be silent. Note: Mushimaru has worked with children before in the field of butoh.

A very good friend of Lee, has kept silent about the whole affair. Adam messaged him with the information and he only replied with a thanks for the information.

When Adam brought up the situation about Katsura Kan to Lee in email, Lee wrote back that the Families Against Cult Teachings are wrong. That it was a "setup" and is due to "the father's failures as a father being projected onto Katsura Kan".

Gadu Doushin

A former Japanese Subbody student, now a teacher in Minneapolis. The school name is Heart of Tao Resonance Art. On his website, it appears he also works with children. Gadu was emailed by Adam, only to get a very angry reply by Gadu saying everything said was 100% false and never to email him again."

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