Former members of the Odyssey study group ‘cult’ paid $ 400 per month while the founder lived at the Plaza Hotel
Sharon Gans, who died in January at the age of 85, led the Odyssey study group on the “top secret cult”
Two members of a “top-secret cult” in New York City say they had to pay to work as unpaid housekeepers, cooks and assistants for founder Sharon Gans and her husband.
Stephanie Rosenberg and Marjorie Hochman filed a lawsuit against the Odyssey Study Group, which billed itself as a study group but was in fact an alleged cult, in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday. The lawsuit also names the property managers of actress Gans.
The two women, who defected in 2019 and 2016, say they paid $ 400 per month in dues starting in 2005 for the privilege of serving as “personal assistants, cooks, housekeepers, drivers and personal buyers” for Gans who lived in luxury. with her husband at the Plaza Hotel.
Rosenberg and Hochman say they witnessed physical and mental violence, child abuse, sexual abuse, private adoptions, arranged marriages and financial crimes while in Gans’ group.
Examples of the more serious allegations are not set out in the 21-page lawsuit.
“Thanks to the methods traditionally used by sects to prepare, intimidate, weaken, enlighten and exploit their victims, the OSG coerced and deceived its members,” said the trial.
“The cult members have made the accused Sharon Gans and others very wealthy.”
The two women who filed the complaint and other members are said to have worked up to 80 hours a week and paid for things like groceries out of pocket as part of their participation in the group.
Gans (left) and her husband Alex Horn reportedly fled San Francisco in the late 1970s after a similar group, Theater of All Possibilities, were charged with child neglect and physical abuse.
Their group “Odyssey” in New York reportedly treated its members like slaves and demanded monthly dues of $ 400 which enabled Gans to purchase an $ 8.5 million apartment at the Plaza Hotel.
They are asking for reimbursement of their monthly fees of $ 400 as well as payment for thousands of hours of unpaid work.
Gans won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1966 for her performance in Soon Jack November. She then starred in a 1972 film version of Slaughterhouse-Five. She died in January at the age of 85.
Gans and her husband Alex Horn fled San Francisco in the late 1970s after similar allegations regarding their first group, Theater of All Possibilities, were published in the Chronicle of San Francisco in December 1978.
Members of the Theater of All Possibilities told The Chronicle and officials in San Francisco that they had paid thousands of dollars to learn techniques from Russian philosophers George Ivanovich Gurdjieff and PD Ouspensky.
Members of that group said they were beaten if they did not sell enough tickets to dinner shows to people they were asked to confront on the streets.
They also alleged child neglect as children were left behind the scenes while their parents rehearsed or performed “countless other chores.”
Members of the Gans Theater Troupe in San Francisco in the 1970s said they saw neglected children backstage while their parents did countless household chores.
Gans and her husband believed that the path to personal development involves work and intentional suffering, according to the New York Post.
After the San Francisco debacle, Sharon and her husband moved to New York City in the early 1980s and were ultimately able to purchase an $ 8.5 million apartment at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan with the money collected from their subjects. , according to the Post.
“In my 30 years of working in this field, this is one of the most secretive groups I have encountered,” said cult expert Rick Ross, key witness to recent sex cult trial. New Yorker Nxivm, who has trapped a number of Hollywood actors and filmmakers under the spell of frontman Keith Reniere.
Ross tried unsuccessfully to organize an intervention for an OGS member in the early 2000s.
“After San Francisco, everything was secret,” he told The Post.
Monday’s trial says Rosenberg and Hochman joined the group in 2005 “because they were told by former members and leaders that OSG would help improve their lives economically, physically and spiritually.”
The group posed as “a study group or” esoteric school of inner development “with unique opportunities to” improve “and” grow “, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit names Minerva Taylor, Lorraine Imlay, Greg Koch and Ken Salaz as the beneficiaries of Horn’s interest in the group. Taylor, Imlay and Michael Horn are appointed Trustees of the Gans Estate.
All except Michael Horn were leaders of the OSG sect, the lawsuit says.
“The plaintiffs understood that once they left the group, they would be rejected, declared unhappy and cut off from the community of friends which, as a direct and intentional consequence of the defendants’ efforts, has become its whole world,” the lawsuit alleges.
Rosenberg left the group on April 5, 2019, according to the lawsuit. Hochman escaped around May 2016.
In addition to the $ 8.5 million Plaza apartment, Gans reportedly owned a ranch and property in Montana, Mexico at one point.
In 2015, Gans’ son David Kulko left OGS and sued his siblings in an attempt to dissolve the company that owns the Montana ranch, according to the New York Post.
After Kulko left the “cult” in 2000, his family pulled him out of the business and kicked him out of the ranch they used to “support, fund and house the operations of the Odyssey Study Group.” according to Montana Supreme Court documents. .