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UPDATE Abuse of Trust

They came to him for healing. They found a nightmare instead.
By Glenna Whitley |

In October, D Magazine pub

lished the story of Gloria Grady, 32, who had accused her parents, Lee and Jean Grady, a Baptist minister and his wife, of being Satanists. Extensive interviews with those who know Gloria and her parents, as well as medical records, indicate that her accusations of rape, torture and murder are false. Gloria’s “memories” did not arise until she began therapy for an eating disorder with Dr. Richard Flournoy, formerly of Richardson’s Minirth-Meier Clinic and now in private practice. After the story appeared, D Magazine received calls from a number of other women who have been in treatment with Flournoy and his partner, Mike Moore, during the 1980s; some attended group therapy with Gloria Grady. (In most cases, the women would see Flournoy for individual therapy, and Moore and Flournoy together for group therapy.) While some of the ex-patients bear the scars of genuine abuse, they all complain of the therapists’ unorthodox methods and believe that Flournoy and Moore often helped to create the “buried memories” of abuse and satanic behavior. Flournoy and Moore have refused to comment.

FOR YEARS, LYNN PRICE FELT AS IF SHE HAD BEEN SUCKED INTO an abyss, a terrifying hole with no escape. Now Price is angry for what happened not only to her, but to other women. “We lost cars, homes, credit. I think we lost control over our own lives,” Price says. What started as therapy for emotionally disturbed women with eating disorders evolved into a bizarre group much like a cult, say Price and four other women. And like a cult. it had at its center a charismatic leader, a licensed professional counselor named Mike Moore, who seemed to offer hope to people who were suffering. Moore, who holds master’s degrees in social work and divinity, worked as an inpatient therapist for Minirth-Meier Clinic for six years. He went into private practice in September 1985, specializing in eating disorders, child abuse, incest and depression. Though he was short, overweight and not particularly handsome, former patients say Moore seemed to exude a power they believed would help them overcome their many problems. He told his patients that he had “a calling from God” to treat eating disorders.

About the same time, Dr. Richard Flournoy left Minirth-Meier to become his partner. Women from all over the country began coming to them for treatment, thanks to a 1984 book called The Monster Within, written by a woman who overcame bulimia with Moore’s help. And along the way, Moore’s calling from God was extended to cover victims of sexual abuse, says former patient Heidi Prior, who lives in Wichita, Kansas. “Then it was cult victims. It was weird.”

Therapy with Moore wasn’t conventional. Often he would just sit, saying nothing or reading a book. “Occasionally he would say things that were very long and complicated,” says Evonne, who works at the Dallas Police Department. (She asked that only her middle name be used.) She first began seeing Moore in 1985. “I wouldn’t understand. He would say. That’s OK, your subconscious understood it.’” Though she thought the therapy was peculiar, Evonne quickly grew attached to Moore. “I was hungry for somebody to listen to me,” she says.

One of Moore’s basic premises was that women with eating disorders had probably been sexually abused in their youth. In many cases, he was right. Lynn Price, a bulimic woman who now lives in Piano, remembered being abused by a relative. Prior, who had moved from Oklahoma to be treated by Moore, had been abused by a family friend.

But Moore and Flournoy weren’t content with those memories. There had to be more, something so traumatic the women had repressed it for years. The therapists urged their patients to recover those “memories” through individual “trance writing” sessions. Price describes a typical session: Moore would do standard relaxation hypnosis with the patient, then say that her parents weren’t “blocking” her, that the truth could come out. Then he would leave the room, and she was supposed to write or draw what had happened to her in the past.

“You couldn’t just say it didn’t work,” Price says. “I wrote something. I was rebellious, but I got caught up in it.” Prior told Moore she had nothing to draw. “Mike would say ’Baloney,’” she says. “He wanted pictures of horrible, cruel abuse. Most of us obliged him. I’d make up something to get out of there.”

Brenda, a 43-year-old nurse, knew that she had been sexually abused by a male relative as a child. Individual trance writing sessions with Moore did help her remember a few additional incidents that she knew to be true. “But Mike kept pressing me for more,” says Brenda (not her real name). “But there weren’t any more. 1 wrote more detailed things about my father that didn’t happen.” While part of her believed what she was writing, another part didn’t. On a yellow legal pad, Brenda wrote, “I’m making this up. I’m a bad girl, I’m making this up.” Moore refused to believe she was fantasizing. All victims maintained they were making it up, Moore told her. They didn’t want to admit what had really happened.

Moore and Flournoy pushed their patients to remember forgotten abuse in group therapy, as well. Prior says she began the group therapy in 1988 with eight other women. The weekly sessions started out calmly enough, with people talking about their feelings, about their eating disorders, about their parents.

But the group encounters grew wilder over time. Women would scream and cry, banging on chairs with bats, tearing up phone books and throwing them across the room, One woman would say somebody abused her in a certain way, and then another woman would say the same thing, just changing the “facts” slightly. At first the stories were about incest and sexual abuse. But the tales grew more bizarre. One woman claimed that she had been forced to drink blood, that her twin was hanged in a tree in a satanic ritual. “Dick and Mike would really be watching us to see if we’d get upset during these stories,” says Price. “That would mean it had happened to us.”

“It was highly contagious,” says Brenda, who points out that Gloria Grady never mentioned a murdered baby until another woman discovered the same memory. “Mike would have me convinced of some really sick things.” Brenda at one point believed she had been raped, as a child, by her brother, father and numerous others. But she was confused: If that were true, why had she bled during what she thought was her first sexual intercourse at age 18?

Prior met Gloria Grady when both were hospitalized at HCA Willow Park Hospital in 1989. By this time, Gloria’s “memories” had escalated to include charges that her father raped her with a knife and a gun barrel . She also claimed that she had been impregnated and forced to undergo four or five ritual abortions, and had been made to eat a portion of a fetus. Gloria seemed bent on convincing Prior that her parents, too, were Satanists and that she needed to admit it so that she could get better. “Mike kept telling me the only way I’d ever get out [of the hospital] was if I began having flashbacks and memories of the abuse,” Prior says. She actually walked out of the hospital at one point, but a nurse told her that her insurance company wouldn’t pay the bills if she left against medical advice.

“I finally figured out the only way I could get out was to fake some flashbacks and say my parents were Satanists. I was out in less than a week.” According to these women, there was nothing a patient could say to make Moore believe she wasn’t a victim of a cult. Debbie Nicholas, who now lives in Austin, first met Moore at Richardson Medical Center in December 1987 after she had been hospitalized for an eating disorder. Debbie had been sexually abused by several male relatives when growing up, a trauma she had not forgotten. But her real-life misery was not enough for Moore,

“Mike insisted constantly that my father was one of the perpetrators because my dad is a Shriner, and Mike believed that anyone in the Shriners was in a cult,” says Debbie. But Debbie knew her father had not abused her, and she told Moore so. “He would laugh, real sarcastic, and get up and leave.” In order to get at the “memories” of parental abuse, Moore put Debbie in a trance state. “He left me confused and doubting my own mind,” she says. “I found myself wondering if anything had happened.”

Eventually, Debbie left the group, with Moore taunting her that she would never get well, that she would struggle all her life because she wouldn’t admit her father abused her. “I moved to Austin to get away from it all.” Today, after going through therapy with another counselor, she is no longer binging and purging and is dealing successfully with the trauma of incest. She wonders what would have happened to her if she had stayed.

“I never saw anyone get any better in that group,” Debbie says, “They either tried to commit suicide or ended up in the hospital.” Lynn Price both frequently attempted suicide, and Evonne deliberately took small overdoses of her medication, hoping to draw extra attention from Moore. “It’s almost like the Hemlock Society,” Price says. “Everybody’s constantly talking about suicide, about how they’re going to do it.”

Price says that whenever a patient questioned their therapy methods, Flournoy and Moore would simply point out that, after all, she was the one who was sick. “You’re ’incest’ or an ’eating disorder,’” says Price. “They’d say, ’You have an inability to trust, you’re manipulative, this is transference.” We couldn’t speak up. Who was going to listen to us? We were ’sick, manipulative’ people.”

Price says that she was also on heavy medication while under the care of Flournoy and Moore; at one point she was taking Nortramine, an antidepressant, as well as lithium, and Mellaril, an antipsychotic. She wonders what role the drugs had on the “memory” recovery process.

At the therapists’ insistence, most of the women cut themselves off from their families-another trait common to a cult.

“None of us were able to see our parents,” Lynn says. “If we did, we got screamed at in group. You’d really get harassed if you said you wanted to see your parents.” Moore and Flournoy told the patients that if they saw their parents, they were trying to kill their ’little girl,’ their child within, and that they were putting the group in jeopardy.

Moore seemed obsessed with the Gradys in particular; he told Brenda that Lee Grady was the highest-ranking “satanic high priest” and “satanic programmer” in Dallas and that he had programmed Gloria and other women to commit suicide or homocide. Moore told others that the Gradys must have “supernatural power” because they were always able to find out information about Gloria. (Their “power” was actually a private detective.)

Price was at Flournoy’s office one night when Gloria’s parents brought some gifts for her; the couple was turned away. “Mike and Dick used it to scare us,” Price says. The therapists told their patients that the Gradys were evil and were trying to get into the offices in order to pull their “victims” back into the satanic cult or to pressure them not to reveal the cult’s secrets.

Moore had Gloria convinced that she would disappear or be killed if she saw her parents, and Gloria’s fear infected others. “She had the entire hospital terrified that her parents were going to come up and kill everyone in the entire hospital,” says Prior, who was in HCA Willow Park Hospital at the same time as Gloria. But, as if some part of her didn’t believe the stories she was telling, Gloria would call her parents to listen to their voices, then hang up without saying anything. She frequently sobbed in the group when she was berated for wanting to see her parents.

Isolated from their families, the women in the group clung to each other like desperate shipwreck victims on a life raft. “We were all so dependent and enmeshed and sick,” says Price. “All we had was each other. Everyone else was bad.”

In 1987, Moore began holding “spiritual growth” sessions at his office on Saturday morning. They weren’t church services; for one thing, they cost patients $15 a session. They were more like lectures, at least at first. Though Moore described himself as a Christian therapist, “he was always negative about church people and preachers,” says Price. “They were the abusers, they were lin denial.’ A lot of people were ’in denial.’” After a while, Moore began using these sessions to cast out demons and “lay hands” on women who came with illness or problems. “It was obvious that he felt like he had some power,” says Brenda.

In 1988, Evonne was hospitalized for 30 days. She noticed that the stories told by Moore’s in-hospital therapy group had grown even more bizarre than the things she had heard during a previous month-long hospitalization in 1987. “Out of 10 women, eight said they were cult victims,” says Evonne. Evonne had accused her mother of sexual abuse, but not of Satanism. That set her apart from the group. “All of them ate babies, all of them drank blood. It got to a point where it was ridiculous. At the last group I went to, a woman said she had a flashback of people hanging from meat hooks on trees.”

Moore seemed to view all the cult victims as notches in his belt; in 1988, he told Evonne he was treating 22 women who suffered satanic ritual abuse. That Halloween, Moore kept his office open until midnight for all the cult victims.

Evonne’s mounting therapy bills almost cost her her house; finally, she decided she had had enough. But during one of their last sessions, Moore was still trying. “It was then that Mike accused me of being a cult victim,” Evonne says. “I hit the ceiling. I yelled, ’Don’t make me one of your cult victims!’ There wasn’t one genuine cult victim in the bunch.”

As difficult as it was for Evonne to break away, it was even harder for Lynn Price. When her hospitalization benefits ran out after 30 days, Flournoy attempted to get her to commit herself voluntarily to Terrell State Hospital; he told her she was so sick that she needed inpatient care for “probably 10 years.” When she refused, sheriff’s deputies took her out of Richardson Medical Center in handcuffs and took her to the Mental Diagnostic Clinic. She was forced to spend a weekend there before a psychiatrist examined her for the county and released her.

It took her several years, but Price has gotten her life back together. With the help of a 12-step program and a stay in rehabilitation, she kicked an addiction to the prescription drugs. She is working as a computer network communications technician and is no longer binging and purging. In 1990, she married and now has a year-old son. But she mourns for what she-and other women-have lost.

Price thinks that at one point. Moore and Flournoy were gifted therapists. But something went wrong. “They got caught up in it,” Price says. She predicts that Moore’s next “calling from God” will direct him to treat women with multiple personality disorder. Several of the women in the group, including Brenda and Gloria, were diagnosed as MPD. “You had to get more desperate as this game went on,” says Price, who claims that Flournoy tried to diagnose her as having multiple personalities. “There’s only so much you can say about sexual abuse, then it’s cults, then it’s multi-Die personalities.”

Price has contacted several other women who were in group therapy with her. “Only Gloria’s still there,” she says. “Most of the rest of us have gotten away and rebuilt our lives.” [In addition to the women interviewed for this story, three other former patients have told Price that their allegations of satanic abuse were untrue. Price and Evonne have talked to a lawyer about filing suit against Moore.]

Price remembers how free she felt when she finally admitted that the stories she had told about her relatives committing bizarre acts were not true. She hopes that Gloria will be able to admit that her own memories are fabrications and will create a new life that includes her parents, as she has.

“One of these days, Mike’s going to retire,and Gloria’s not going to have him,” Evonnesays. She says that well-meaning people whobelieve Gloria because her pain seems soreal simply perpetuate the problem. “Iseemed real, too,” Evonne says. “I was inpain, but I didn’t know where the pain wascoming from.”