In three signed, notarized affidavits, former students of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment are alleging that JZ Knight, while purportedly channeling Ramtha, instructed them to ingest a concoction that contained industrial lye.
The affidavits were obtained by Virginia Coverdale, a former RSE student sued by Knight after posting YouTube videos of Knight making offensive remarks about Catholics, gays, Jews, Mexicans and organic farmers. Coverdale said she has seen other affidavits that have not been notarized yet.
In the affidavits, the former students say detailed instructions were given for preparing the mixture properly to neutralize the lye.
The former students also claim they were instructed to memorize the instructions and that RSE tudents mixed the concoction while intoxicated.
The affidavits have not been filed in court, but attorney Shawn Newman said in an e-mail that he intends to file them.
Newman is the lawyer representing Coverdale.
Dr. Brian Keay, a local doctor who formerly was in a relationship with Coverdale, said he was concerned enough to report the alleged instructions by Ramtha to the Thurston County Health Department officials which forwarded the report to law enforcement agencies.
Representatives from RSE said they weren’t contacted by any state or local agency regarding the matter.
RSE Legal Affairs Manager Mike Wright said he hasn’t seen the affidavits and is unable to respond to them.
Wright said no government authority contacted the school regarding the allegations.
The instructions were allegedly given to students in the late-1990s and early-2000s, the former RSE students stated in their affidavits.
Former RSE student Janet Muller said in her affidavit that she created, and ingested, the “elixir” from 1998-2002.
Gail Andres, another former RSE student, said in an affidavit that Ramtha told students to prepare and ingest the formula to accelerate their “individual enlightenment.”
Students were also allegedly told to ingest it in the morning on an empty stomach and in the evening before sleeping, claim the affidavits.
Ramtha allegedly told students to take between one quarter of a teaspoon and one teaspoon twice per day.
“I personally knew many students who took much more each day thinking it would speed up their enlightenment process,” Muller said in her affidavit.
“This information was given to us in a general atmosphere of secrecy,” Andres wrote.
Main ingredients in the formula were allegedly sea water and 100 percent lye, “such as Red Devil (lye).”
The lye was supposed to be neutralized by the process described in the formula.
Muller claims she was among RSE students who mixed the formula based on handwritten notes from a lecture at an RSE event held sometime between 1996-97. During that session, Ramtha allegedly told students “to memorize the formula and to stop writing it down.” She also claims that RSE staff members told students not to buy lye at local grocery stores because “it was bringing unwanted attention to RSE from the police” because lye can be used to manufacture methamphetamine.
Muller also stated in her affidavit that Ramtha, at an RSE event in 2002, said that “he would no longer teach the new students the sacred knowledge of the elixir because too many students were taking it with a bad attitude which was making their hair fall out and get sick.”
“Ramtha further forbade advanced students from passing on the sacred knowledge of the elixir,” Muller said in her statement.
“We students were blamed for not being ready to handle being given such a divine gift as this elixir recipe.”
Another former RSE student said in her affidavit that she experienced “extreme swelling of my limbs and numbness in my arms” from ingesting the formula, initially attributing the symptoms to a difficult pregnancy.
“After giving birth, my hair started falling out, I developed a goiter on my thyroid, my hands shook constantly and my resting heart rate increased by 120 bmp (beats per minute),” she stated, adding that the symptoms ceased after she stopped taking the formula.
Keay, who practices medicine in Yelm, said he sent a letter expressing safety concerns about the formula to Dr. Diana Yu, the Health Officer for Thurston County.
Keay and Coverdale were formerly in a relationship and are still friends.
Keay said that he has taken an interest in an online support group for former students of RSE.
Keay said he learned about the formula from former RSE students and was alarmed by what he was told.
He said the directions required the students to manipulate the pH levels of the formula, which he said is “not easy to do” with the required level of sophistication.
“You have to be very precise and it will precipitate out the minerals in the water,” he said.
The concoction is then washed a couple times.
Without precise measurements students wouldn’t know if they were really washing out the lye, he said.
“If you’re inebriated, you shouldn’t being doing this stuff anyway,” he said.
Keay said he is concerned that RSE students were allegedly told to use industrial-quality lye — used as a cleaning agent — as opposed to food-quality lye, which is used to prepare lutefisk and other foods.
Yu, who said she received Keay’s letter when she returned to work after Veterans Day, said she couldn’t be sure the allegations in the letter she received were factual.
Yu said she forwarded Keay’s letter to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and Yelm Police Department.
The county health department doesn’t have power to take action over the allegations, Yu said.
“This matter and any potential investigation would be the responsibility of the sheriffs office,” Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil said in an email.
“I discussed this with Dr. Yu.”
“In this kind of case, I don’t have the power or the jurisdiction,” Yu said.
Yu said she could have interviewed people who had taken the alleged lye mixture, but couldn’t have taken any action beyond interviews.
Thurston County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Greg Elwin said the sheriff’s office is looking into the allegations, but has made no real progress yet and has “nothing of significance to report.”
He said some “other information” had come into the office, but that he can’t say yet what that information is or who provided it.
Some of what is referenced in Keay’s letter seems to be outside of the sheriff’s office’s purview, or seem to be things they don’t have the authority to address, Elwin said.
He said some elements addressed in the letter, combined with the unspecified information provided to the sheriff’s office, are being looked into to “see if there is any criminal element or activity we need to investigate.”