Mentor is Dogged by Cult Charges 22, 2002
By Jeane Macintosh

His followers compare him to Gandhi, but his detractors say he's a power-hungry cult leader. Either way, Fred Newman - the self-styled Marxist whom Lenora Fulani credits as her mentor - is controversial.

Much of the controversy centers around Newman's East Side Center for Short Term Psychotherapy, an organization that blends Newman's brand of socialism with New Age therapy.

At the institute, Newman, Fulani and other "social therapists" believe emotional and psychological problems can be cured by political activism; "patients" are enlisted to push the Fulani-Newman political agenda.

"Everything this group does is a front for advancing Fred and Lenora's politics," said one former member, who asked for anonymity.

Other Newmanites interviewed by The Post recounted tales of a manipulative, deceptive, abusive environment where employees, "patients" and volunteers dedicate their lives to Newman's cause.

"Fred Newman runs [a] cult which fuses politics seamlessly with psychotherapy," writes Dennis Tourish, co-author of "On the Edge: Political Cults of the Left and Right."

Former followers of Newman later told of being pressured to give up jobs, break off ties with family and friends outside, turn over personal property to the group and live in communal homes.

Newman has repeatedly denied charges - including one by the FBI in 1994 - that his group is a cult.

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