EVIL WEB by Mary Rich


A True Story of Cult Abuse and Courage
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 The dismaying confession of a woman who, with her husband and six children, was in thrall to a sadistic, self-described ``chosen servant of Jesus Christ.'' It is giving the deranged Ron Larrinaga too much credit to call him a cult leader--at its maximum, his California ``compound'' comprised two dozen people, half of them his own wife and 11 children, another eight the author and her family. Over the years, he beat, starved, sexually abused, abandoned, and otherwise tortured not only Rich and her children, but his own sons and daughters. He was found guilty in a Florida court of 42 counts of molestation and child abuse and sentenced to 180 years in prison. But not before he had used the Bible to convince the author and her husband that they deserved the years of humiliation and abuse he inflicted in the name of God. Rich and coauthor Jose, a Florida journalist, graphically describe the horrors, beginning early on when Larrinaga parked himself and his family in the Riches' home and harangued whoever would sit still- -usually Mary--on his or her sins. Finally situated in his own group complex, Larrinaga escalated his level of sadism; despite neighbors' complaints about the noise (Ron's amplified sermons and the loud music that muffled screams from the beatings), the police took no action. Most of the group moved to Florida, where Mary eventually broke free. What is still not clear, even with the stumbling afterword by a psychotherapist, is why Rich endured this--and permitted her children to endure it, too. In an era of mind-bending by both political and religious sects, this simplistic effort to explain the tragedies of cultist commitment will leave worried readers more puzzled than ever.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-88282-139-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: New Horizon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1995