Parents: 'Evil Cult Leader' Lured Wheaton Students

Families Consider Suing; Claim School Didn't Protect Children 25, 2004

Chicago -- The families of three former students at Wheaton College said they are considering suing the school, claiming that college officials failed to protect their children from a person they said is an "evil cult leader."

According to the Boston Herald, parents said that the man, 36-year-old Feroze Golwalla, lured their children into a cult that engaged in ritualistic torture. Golwalla, the paper further reported, was known for recruiting students on the campus, and parents reported his controversial practices to college officials on several occasions, ex-members told the paper.

Golwalla is accused of recruiting at least six former students from Wheaton College while he attended school there from 1999 to 2001, NBC5's Jennifer Mitchell reported. Golwalla was working on his master's degree but also allegedly lured students into his Baruch Ha Shem cult with promises of a better life and a closer relationship with God.

"He kind of went off the idea, 'Come with me and leave everything behind,'" said Wheaton student Ben Yee.

School officials took no action, allowing Golwalla to continue as a graduate student and continuing to support his Parsee Missionary team, a program Golwalla allegedly ran to help the Parsee people of Iran, according to published reports. In a statement released by Wheaton College Thursday, school officials said no such allegations were ever brought to their attention during Golwalla's enrollment.

According to published reports, late last year, two former students who'd been living with Golwalla in Maryland went to authorities claiming years of mental, physical and sexual abuse. Allegations include beatings, being forced to stay awake for days at a time, being told to injure themselves and other members, and rape.

Golwalla, who is Pakistani, is wanted by Maryland state police on assault charges stemming from severe beatings he allegedly committed on twin brothers in 2002 in a in which home Golwalla's brother lived. The beatings allegedly took place after the group returned from a Wheaton College-sanctioned trip to Pakistan, the Herald reported. One man was beaten so badly that blood poured from his ears when his eardrums were ruptured from Golwalla's open-handed strikes.

The former students claimed that they recently escaped the cult, and that they had followed Golwalla to Maryland and Texas. The students claimed that in addition to beating them severely, Golwalla pulled out their hair and made them lick the bathroom floor.

Golwalla could not be reached for comment, but the Herald reported that he was spotted last week preaching at a Christian women's conference in Bemidji, Minn. NBC5 reported that Golwalla is believed to be in the Texas area.

Authorities believe there are more victims who have yet to come forward.

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