Friday, April 3, 2009

Cults, Plea Deals, and Resurrection Clauses

Ria Ramkissoon, part of a religious cult, was arrested for starving her son to death. She was charged with Child Abuse Resulting in Death, and she agreed to a plea deal in the death of her son. According to the article, her son, Javon, was labeled a demon for not saying "amen" after meals. (Note to self.)

What is mind-blowing is that the plea agreement contains a "resurrection clause." Basically, if the child is resurrected, the charges against her will be dropped:
Ramkissoon, a member of a group called One Mind Ministries, believes Javon Thompson, her year-old son [sic], will rise again, and as part of her plea agreement, authorities agreed to the clause.

"She certainly recognizes that her omissions caused the death of her son," [Ramikissoon Lawyer Steven] Silverman said. "To this day, she believes it was God's will and he will be resurrected and this will all take care of itself. She realizes if she's wrong, then everyone has to take responsibility ... and if she's wrong, then she's a failure as a mother and the worst thing imaginable has happened. I don't think that, mentally, she's ready to accept that."
The Court quickly defined the terms of resurrection:
In court Monday, it was clarified that the "resurrection clause" would apply only in the case of Javon's actual resurrection -- not a perceived reincarnation, Silverman said.
Her lawyer then discusses precedent and clarifies her mental condition:
"This has never come up in the history of American law, as far as I've seen," Silverman said, adding that the clause was "very important to her."

"On one level, she certainly is competent to stand trial, because she does recognize that as far as her legal entanglements are concerned, this is a grand-slam resolution for her," Silverman said. "On the other hand, she's still brainwashed, she's still delusional as far as the teachings and influence of this cult, and she certainly is going to benefit with professional help and deprogramming."
The loss of a child to religious violence is always tragic and depressing. In terms of this cult's belief systems (read the whole article) and the terms of this plea arrangement, however, I am speechless.

Tangentially speaking, it dawns on me that the "resurrection clause" could be a useful tool for wills and estates, assuming, of course, some post-apocalyptic parousia: I, of sound mind and body, do hereby bequeath unto XXX, until my resurrection, ...

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