Bellflower : Psychic Sues School District

A Bellflower psychic has filed a libel and slander suit against the Bellflower Unified School District and two other defendants, including a Bellflower church, an attorney for the psychic said.

The suit, which was filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges "libel, invasion of privacy, slander, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress" against the psychic, the Rev. Joan.

Named as defendants are the school district, the Hosanna Chapel of Bellflower, the Cult Information Bureau of Bellflower and Bob Eliff, a private citizen.

Joan had been requested to give a series of lectures to students at the district's Somerset High School, said Lisa Sepe, the attorney for Joan.

However, Sepe said, a letter was circulated on or about May 28, 1985, "inferring that Rev. Joan belonged to a cult" and inferred that "children should not be taught by this type of person."

The suit says that the letter accuses Joan of teaching "occult, astrology, numerology, divination, psychometry, clairvoyance, trance and Tarot."

The letter, according to the suit, implied that Joan was a member of a cult and that "her series was being used to proselytize into the cult."

The suit claims that the letter was written by Eliff, who Sepe claims is "somehow connected with" the Cult Information Bureau and Hosanna Chapel.

Joan began the lecture series on a "self awareness/motivation concept" in January, 1985, according to the suit. But after the letter was circulated, Joan was asked to discontinue the lectures and was prevented from taking part in an awards ceremony for students at the school, the suit alleges.

Joan suffered "shame, mortification, loss of reputation and hurt feelings" by the incident, the suit says.

Joan is seeking $200,000 in general damages and $1 million in punitive damages each from Hosanna Chapel, the Cult Information Bureau and the school district, Sepe said. The suit was not clear about what damages might be sought from Eliff.

In a 1983 interview with The Times, Joan said she opened a non-sectarian church called A Universe of Metaphysics Center on Palm Avenue in 1976. She said she legally dropped her last name.

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