Cultic transformations.

Disturbing news story that qualifies for today’s new “You couldn’t make this stuff up and I don’t mean that in a good way” award. No prizes.

This week there have been more than enough horrors, such as the Burmese cyclone, that numb your responses with the numbers of dead and injured. As well as the more chilling and incomprehensible stories like the Austrian who kept his daughter locked in cellar for a quarter century and a German couple whose grown children found they had three dead babies in their freezer.

This latest mad “heart of darkness” tale brings in religion as well.

The BBC report says:

A Czech woman charged with deceiving a children’s home into thinking she was a 13-year-old girl has been found not guilty by a court in the city of Brno.
The court said Barbora Skrlova, who along with five others is believed to belong to a secretive cult, meant no ill-will towards the children’s home.
But Ms Skrlova, aged 33, was immediately re-arrested to face more serious charges of child abuse.
Ms Skrlova went on the run after the child abuse case erupted.
She re-appeared months later in Norway, where she posed as a 13-year-old boy.

Blimey. Hypnotised like a hen on a chalk line, I must find out more.

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I’ve looked at the development of this story in Czech.
25/05/07 A boy was taken into care after mind-numbingly horrific levels of abuse. So was his 13-year-old “sister” who the mother was trying to adopt. But she turned out to be a 34-year-old woman. (Well, the Czech paper says 34. Ages seem very fluid in this story. )

14/01/07 Woman posing as child may have fallen victim to strange sect

The mysterious case of the Czech woman charged with identity fraud after posing as a 12-year old girl in the Czech Republic and a 13-year old boy in Norway has shocked and baffled the nation. Czech investigators are slowly piecing together the picture of her life and there are serious indications that she was a victim of a sect whose members made a profit from child-abuse films.
Barbora Škrlová as a 13-year old boy,
The strange case first surfaced when Barbora Škrlová was found living with a woman who tortured her two young boys. Škrlová, then living in the family under the guise of their 12-year-old sister Ani?ka, was put in a children’s home where she duped social workers into believing they were dealing with a stricken, abused child. Ani?ka fled the home and disappeared for many months surfacing unexpectedly in Norway last week where she had been living and attending school under the guise of a 13-year-old boy.
Is this strange figure – at the centre of a frightening child-abuse case – a criminal or a victim? Teachers and social workers who knew her in the Czech Republic and Norway say she appeared withdrawn, unbalanced and may herself have a history of abuse. Marie Vodi?ková head of the Czech Fund for Children in Need says it seems that she was most likely abused as a child and then turned into an obedient puppet by a sect which may have made a profit from making and selling child-abuse films. There is at least one direct piece of evidence to support this theory – the torture of one of her alleged brothers was documented day and night by a professional camera system. Both boys showed signs of abuse – cigarette burns in their genital regions and numerous welts and bruises. The children said they had been tortured by several members and “friends” of the family.

She appeared “unbalanced”? Oh the beauty of understatement.

Škrlová’s teacher in Norway says she decided to contact the Norwegian police after the alleged 13-year-old boy painted a picture showing seven children all bruised and bleeding and each with a number.

Her biological father

“who is believed to be the head of this strange sect once led a religious group called The Ants which splintered off from the Holy Grail Movement centred in Europe. Czech experts on religious sects say that whatever is going on in this terrifying community, it is unchartered territory because there is no known sect in Europe involved in child identity fraud. What is particularly worrisome is that this strange case came to light by pure accident when a neighbour of one of the abused boys got a glimpse of him bound and naked in a closet – on his own baby monitoring device.

(I have to drop any pretence of having read this in the original language. It’s all from the English version)

According to the July 2007 Independent

The Grail Movement follows the teachings of Oskar Ernst Bernhardt, a German also known as Abd-ru-shin, who from 1923-38 wrote the Grail Message, which depicts man as a being whose spirit can return to its source in heaven by performing good deeds on Earth. It claims to have at least 10,000 followers worldwide, including several hundred in Britain.
“We broke with the people involved in this 11 years ago, after they added to the Grail Message with their own imaginings and fantasies,” said Artur Zaplukal, spokesman of the Grail Movement in the Czech Republic, where it has about 1,500 followers. “I sent them a letter telling them they were no longer part of the Grail Movement.”

So these weird people are a a break-away movement considered too eccentric even by an apparently off-the-wall cult.

Just when you think you can understand a bit of this, the Independent threw in a few more odd facts, such as the fact that Barbora – of indeterminate age and gender and apparently parentage – is the second cult member to have masqueraded as “Anna” the “girl” that the woman who tortured her own sons wanted to adopt.

Arrgh. My head hurts…… How many dangerously more insane cults are there?

2 thoughts on “Cultic transformations.

  1. Hi,

    I’m an American living here and thus am always privy to the latest developments in this case, though generally after hearing them I wish I weren’t.

    The abusing mother gave an interview with TYDEN (THE WEEK) Magazine this week and, unless she’s an exceptional liar — rather than a woman totally messed up by the weight of the messed-up things she let herself be duped into doing — the real culprit here is very, very much Skrlova, with the mother’s sister placing a distant second.

    Interestingly, the mother mentions Skrlova referring to Norway long before Skrlova’s recent disappearance to Norway:

    TYDEN: “And what about the boys, where were they [in the period when Skrlova first started visiting you]?”

    Klara Mauerova: “They were living with me, I was taking care of them the same as always. It was all gradual. Anicka [i.e. Skrlova] was coming over, she behaved like a little girl, she drank from a bottle, she was like a wolf-girl, I bought her rattles. Besides Czech she spoke Norse, and sometimes English. Sometime in 2005 she betrayed the fact [ahem] to me that her name was Anne Jervinen and that I should never tell her name to anyone. […]”

    What wasn’t mentioned in the interview or the various sidebars was any significant unbalancedness in Skrlova except for the “evil manipulator” sort… now, having read above about the painting she did during the Adam masquerade, I’m considerably less sure.

    Other fun facts:
    * One of the people who (mildly) helped with the bureaucratic steps needed for the 33-year-old Skrlova disappear and become the 13-year-old “Anicka” Skrlova was the co-founder of the country’s largest non-imported environmental group (and my ex-boss, many ages ago). I think he was acting in good faith, and just another dupe among many, but the police sure were quick to snap up that opportunity (we’re talking a year ago in the original phase of the case) to harass him — tear up his house and drag everything out for a search, etc. We never got along well, but — poor guy.

    – The mother states that she did what she did upon instructions from “Anicka” (who eventually moved in with her) and from the “doctor” who had originally been “healing” “Anicka”… whom she only met, or thought she met, once. Ultimately it turned out that the “doctor’s” SMSes were coming from her sister’s phone, and were apparently from Skrlova.

    Erm… for a complete stranger, I’ve spent too much time on this. But it’s all so morbidly fascinating, since, as it says in the TYDEN introductory editorial for the week:

    “The case from Kurim [i.e. the Skrlova case] has gradually become a psychedelic and barely comprehensible story.”


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