Written by Guru Terath Singh and posted by his wife Jivan Joti Kaur on SUTRA on April 7, 2020.
Because of his extensive experience for decades as an investigator, as an attorney with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, as an attorney for the NM Medical Board, as the Chancellor for International Sikh Dharma and as a hearing officer (judge), he has some very real concerns about An Olive Branch as the investigative team we have hired to do the investigation for the Yogi Bhajan allegations. He has not come to any conclusions of his own about the allegations, he is just very concerned about the process. He hasn’t known how to go about making public his concerns, so he asked me to post them here and on Facebook. Thank you for reading…
My wife sent a statement to the Olive Branch people and in it she suggested that they contact me since I was privy to so much information from the early ‘70s when I was appointed Chancellor by the Siri Singh Sahib until years after he died. I received a form letter from them asking if I wanted to submit a written statement or participate in an interview. He are my responses:
Dear Ms. Wiedman:
Thank you for your email. I do not participate in social media. My wife informed me from time to time of the nature and extent of social media attention to the Yogi Bhajan (“YB”) allegations. She thought it would be helpful for me to address what was going on in messages that she could post. I am attaching those messages. They may give you some context of my professional experience and approach to this matter.
I would like you to address my initial concerns. Although requested numerous times, there has been no information given about the investigators’ education, training and experience doing investigations. With only the most superficial information that is available, I do not know if I would be aiding a thorough investigation or enabling one that is not competent. I would like to know the education, training and experience of each investigator, including the total number of investigations of any kind that has been done, and in cases of alleged sexual misconduct, how many involved complete denials (as opposed to issues of consent, etc.) and how many concluded without findings of sexual misconduct. I am not, of course, asking for any information about the identities of anyone or of any confidential information. Just numbers. Looking at the very limited information on the website, it appears that the investigative “dept.” is part of a bigger enterprise that is largely focused on helping spiritual communities who have been victimized by sexual misconduct of religious leaders. This raises questions of bias that I would like you to address.
I would also like to know what standard you will be using in coming to conclusions. Is it that something might have happened, probably happened, clear and convincing evidence that it did happen, damn sure that it did happen (analogous to beyond a reasonable doubt). Is the timing of the end of the investigation set in stone? With so many people to contact (including all members of the “staff” for 30-40 years), it does not seem reasonable to set an absolute end date. And as you know, you don’t know what you don’t know – ie, more information can lead to more interviews and work. It is the nature of an investigation.
I certainly do not intend this communication to create conflict or defensiveness. I just need this basic information. If we do proceed, because I was a Mukhia Singh Sahib minister and General Counsel to YB and all of the entities for over 30 years and privy to so much information, I think that the only efficient way to proceed would be with an interview. I expect that as in any substantive investigation an interview would have the form of you asking me if I have any information that can help you further understand whatever specific claims you are investigating. I am sure that in some situations I would have useful information and in others I would not.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Guru Terath Singh (“GTS”)
Dear Ms. Wiedman:
Upon a more careful reading of the FAQs, I noticed that in addition to always sensational sexual misconduct allegations, you will be looking at “other misconduct” allegations. Those are always dangerous words. In order to prepare for an interview, can you describe the “other misconduct” allegations? Are you referring to allegations about his yogic “education?” – ie, in a factitious way, that he did not ever produce Certificates of Completion for courses or weekend seminars presented by Swami Whatshisname in the 1930s and 40s? Or the more serious allegations that have been trumpeted by the usual suspects over the past 30-40 years of fraudulent business practices, drug dealing and murder?
With respect to the sexual misconduct allegations, have you requested or received all social media conversations of whatever level of privacy (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) from each of his specific accusers during at least the past 2 years that are always discoverable? If not, why not?
If he was still alive, would you present him with the specific allegations including the names of his accusers and the what, when, and where the alleged offenses occurred? If not, why not? Since he has been dead for 15 years, who are you sending that information to so that he, his legacy, his family and staff can actively defend themselves? I know these are difficult questions but they need to be addressed.
Again, I look forward to hearing from you. And as a trained and experienced EMT and Paramedic for the Santa Fe County Fire Dept. for about the past 10 years after my retirement form State Government, I hope you, your family and business associates are staying safe during these difficult times.
Guru Terath Singh
Olive Branch replied on April 6th and refused to provide any information. They referred me to the FAQs and the CRT for information that for the most part only they have. If you look at the FAQs, you will see that none of the requested information is there. And despite repeated requests as recently as during a minister’s meeting, the CRT won’t even disclose any substantive information about Olive Branch’s investigative experience.
The fact that in preparing for an interview I would not even be told what the “other allegations” are was shocking. Even accused terrorists have the right to know what they are being charged with so that they can defend themselves. And we are not talking about accused terrorists. This is about Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji.
This is not an “investigation” by any accepted definition of that word. Freshman class Justice 101 teaches that the purpose of an investigation is to prepare for a trial. With the information developed in the investigation, both sides can then present their evidence at a trial. Here, without any traditional safeguards, the investigation has become the trial!! The closest historical analogies that come to mind are Stalin’s Show Trials in the 1930s and the McCarthy Hearings in the 1950s.
This is a disgrace. The people who put this together and those who have given them such awful advice should step aside and just get out of the way. But then what?
Then – the powers that be should hire a retired District Court Judge or a panel of retired District Court Judges and task them with getting to the bottom of all of this. They should have funds to hire real investigators that they know through experience can get the job done. They might even consider hiring retired career FBI agents who are now doing private investigations. In any event, they would know how to proceed.
YB taught that one way to approach difficult problems is to poke, provoke, confront and elevate. Well I’ve done enough poking, provoking and confronting. It’s time for the last part.
I want to share 2 stories with you that have been helpful to me as I go through the kaleidoscope of life’s challenges. I discovered the first shortly after I was appointed Chancellor when we were laying the foundation of what would become SDI, 3HO, KRI, the Khalsa Council, the businesses and so many other things. I knew that others must have had similar experiences as they built what would become the world’s major religions. Here’s something I found during those studies.
After Jesus Christ was crucified, his followers were tortured, put into the lion’s den for the amusement of the Romans as they were being torn apart, had to go deep into the catacombs to just pray together and so many other terrible things. Almost all of the early Popes were hunted, captured and killed. But they kept up.
Then in 312 AD Constantine was the Roman Emperor and had to win one final battle at the Milvian Bridge on the outskirts of Rome to consolidate the Empire. The reality was that he was surely going to win the battle. But before the battle began, he saw a cross in the clouds and heard a voice say to him that “Under this symbol, you shall prevail.” And he did prevail. He then told his top General to find the Pope. Pope Miltiades was living (hiding) in a basement of a house in Rome and was captured. He was dragged out to Constantine who was on his war horse outside the house. Miltiades surely thought that this must his time to join his martyred predecessors.
Constantine told him about the cross and the voice he heard and in so many words said: “From this day forward, I am a Christian and so is the Roman Empire.”
The other is something the beloved American folk singer Pete Seeger said: If this was a world where everything was good, people were smart, respected each other, had what they needed and mostly died from old age, you’d have to go a very long way out of your way to make a difference. But in a world that sucks, like this one, you don’t have to do much at all. Just give someone a smile or a hug and practice random acts of kindness. There has probably never been a time when you could do so much by doing so little.
I like that.
Take care and be safe.
Guru Terath Singh