By Nellie Andreeva © 2004
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - HBO is developing a documentary about the Children of God, an apocalyptic cult accused of extreme sexual practices such as incest and rape.
"No Longer Children," will chronicle the lives of several children who, after careful planning, managed to escape without money, education or family support.
The Children of God, a.k.a. the Family, was founded by David Berg in the late '60s. By 1981, it boasted more than 2,000 homes in 76 countries. Former child members include actors Joaquin Phoenix, his late brother River and Rose McGowan.
The group emphasized the cutting of family ties, discipline and commitment to cult beliefs, which included total devotion to cult activities on the part of children of members. The group's activities triggered a 18-month investigation by New York's Attorney General's Office in the 1970s, which led to a 1974 report alleging that cult members were engaged in kidnapping, imprisonment, virtual enslavement, prostitution, polygamy, rape and sexual abuse of children and incest.
The documentary is being produced by Diane Farr (the WB's "Like Family") and Noah Thomson, a former child member who will make his directing debut on the project and appear on camera along with many of his 11 siblings.
Thomson spent his childhood moving all over South America with his parents, who held leadership positions in the cult, until he was moved to Japan at age 17. He worked as the editor for the group's video ministry around the world until he fled at age 21 and came to the United States. Since then, Thomson has obtained custody of his next two siblings from the cult and has been helping second-generation members escape.
© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.
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