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Paul Morantz Papers

Collection no.:

Morantz graduated USC school of journalism (Sports Editor) and the USC School of Law. In 1974 he uncovered a criminal conspiracy to kidnap skid row alcoholics and sell them to nursing homes where they were kept sedated while Medicare was billed. Morantz then testified on nursing home abuses at public hearings and aided setting up district attorney task force on nursing home crimes. In 1977 he began a battle to expose Synanon for civil liability for brainwashing and other torts and for criminal conspiracy to commit terrorism against its enemies. In 1978 Synanon tried to kill Morantz by placing a rattlesnake in his mailbox. Investigations led to the arrest of Charles Dederich and two Synanon Imperial Marines. Morantz then assisted state wide prosecution and became a consultant to the United States Department of Justice in a tax case against Synanon that eventually shut the organization down. For over the next 20 years Morantz specialized (perhaps the only attorney to do so) in litigating against cults and self-help groups raising the issue of brainwashing. He also specialized in suing psychotherapists and religious leaders for dual relationship violations and undue influence, particular sex with their clients/followers. He has had cases against Church of Scientology, People's Temple, Moonies, Krishnas, Rajneesh and Center for Feeling Therapy (therapeutic community run by doctors who beat their patients, had sex with them and controlled their lives--has been considered the worst psychotherapy scandal in United States History and resulted in year long license removal hearings). He twice over two decades went after a psychologist/minister, John Gottuso, who sexually abused his female followers. The second time (after he lost his license) victims included the daughters of followers placed in his church run school in which he was principal and taught bible class. His most important case was as serving as pro bono appellate counsel in Molko vs Unification Church in 1988 wherein the California Supreme Court recognized the existence of brainwashing and the right for victims of it to sue for damages.

circa 1970s-1980s

20.0 Linear feet


Social service


Geographic Name(s):
California, Southern--Archival resources
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Archival resources

Conditions governing access:
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: Advance notice required for access.

Preferred citation:
[Box/folder# or item name], Paul Morantz Papers, Collection no. 0346, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

Record date:

Contact Information:
USC Libraries Special Collections
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California, 90089-0189