An apocalyptic “cult” led by an eccentric misogynist accused of sexually abusing young men has taken over a division of Google, a whistleblower has claimed.
Kevin Lloyd, 34, claims he was fired as a video developer from Google last year because he began to question the cult’s influence.
In August, Lloyd filed a discrimination lawsuit in California Superior Court, alleging he had been fired for entrenching himself in Fellowship of Friends — a group based in the small California town of Oregon House, whose members make up a large percentage of the employees in his division.
Plaintiffs’ preliminary investigation into Oregon House and the Fellowship of Friends described the Fellowship as a destructive cult, with a pedophile leader making false prophecies about the end of the world,” the lawsuit alleges.
‘Plaintiff became alarmed that Google was involved in and/or provided financial support for such an organization.’
Earlier this month, Lloyd wrote a detailed description of his case on… Mediumand spoke to The New York Times — which corroborated many of the lawsuit’s claims through interviews with eight current and former employees of the Google business unit.
Kevin Lloyd, 34, claims he lost his job at Google because he was concerned about how many people within the Google Developer Studio were affiliated with Fellowship of Friends
Google’s Mountain View campus is 180 miles from the small town of Oregon House, which has a population of 1,250, yet half of the people Lloyd met were from Oregon House, he said.
Lloyd said he started working at Google in 2017, as part of Google Developer Studio (GDS) – the tech giant’s in-house production company, which creates ads and video content.
He said it slowly dawned on him that many of the people he met at GDS were from the same small California town, 180 miles north of Google’s Silicon Valley home, in Mountain View.
The town of Oregon House is home to 1,250 people, yet Lloyd said he realized that half of the 25 people he met at GDS were from the same town.
Lloyd said he noticed that many of the outside suppliers, such as caterers and entertainers at corporate events, were also from Oregon House.
In 2018, Lloyd said, he spoke to a freelancer who was working with them that day and was from a town near Oregon House.
Lloyd recalls the freelancer telling him, “Oregon House is not a city. It’s a cult.’
He began investigating the freelancer’s claim and said he was shocked by what he found.
“There are online support groups for former Fellowship of Friends members to help them cope with the trauma they experienced during their membership, as well as the problems that arise after they leave,” Lloyd’s lawsuit states.
Based at Oregon House, Fellowship of Friends was founded in 1970 by Robert Earl Burton, a former school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“From its inception, the Fellowship’s vision has been and remains to establish a practical spiritual organization and make it available to anyone interested in pursuing the spiritual work of awakening,” they state on their website.
Robert Earl Burton, now believed to be around 83, founded Fellowship of Friends in 1970. He has been accused of sexual abuse in multiple lawsuits
Burton is seen with a European artwork purchased with money from the organization. Members must give 10 percent of their earnings to the group
Burton, who is believed to be in his early 80s, sought to establish a center that celebrates the fine arts — with opera, ballet, artwork and literature as the focus.
He established his organization at Oregon House and created a winery where his devotees worked when not studying art.
Google has even bought wine, the lawsuit alleges, from the Grant Marie Winery, an allegedly cult-affiliated vineyard run by a Fellowship member at Oregon House.
But critics claimed he sexually assaulted new members of his group, especially young boys.
In 1984, a former member filed a $2.75 million lawsuit alleging that young men who had joined the organization had been “forcibly and unlawfully sexually seduced by Burton,” according to documents obtained by The New York Times†
In 1996, another former member accused Burton of sexual misconduct with him while he was a minor in a lawsuit. Both lawsuits were settled out of court.
Some prosecutors, Lloyd claimed, had flown into the country under false pretenses and then abused it.
Fellowship of Friends members are seen with Burton (left, in light blue suit) holding a meeting
Other critics said the group was strongly anti-women, celebrating mostly white European men.
In September, investigative journalist Jennings Brown published a six-part podcast produced for Spotify entitled Revelations†
Brown had spent three years as of 2018 digging into the group and documenting allegations of sexual abuse in what he called a “doomsday cult.”
Lloyd said he was dismayed that GDS was so strongly associated with the Fellowship, with GDS director Peter Lubbers being described as a longtime member of the group, who joined the group shortly after moving to the US from the Netherlands. .
Lubbers introduced a video producer named Gabe Pannell to the Fellowship: Pannell was photographed with Burton in 2015 and was described as a “new student,” The New York Times reports.
Lloyd’s lawsuit states: “Mr. Lubbers gained status and praise in proportion to the increase in the money flowing to the Fellowship through his efforts at Google, which brought (and kept) other Fellowship members – directly or indirectly – on Google’s payroll. ‘.
Lubbers insisted that faith had nothing to do with his hiring.
“My personal religious beliefs are a deeply entrenched private matter,” Lubbers told The New York Times.
“In all my years in tech, they’ve never played a role in hiring. I’ve always fulfilled my role by bringing in the right talent for the situation – bringing in the right suppliers for the jobs.”
Pannell told the paper the people hired had come from “a circle of trusted friends and families from highly qualified backgrounds.”
Lloyd, in his Medium post – who does not name Lubbers or Pannell – said concerns about the Fellowship and his reputation triggered a panic attack, for which he was admitted to ER.
He said in his court documents that he was concerned about events he produced “could somehow be used to funnel money back into the Fellowship of Friends.”
Burton can be seen in a 1981 photo at Oregon House. In 1984, a former member filed a $2.75 million lawsuit alleging that young men who had joined the organization had been “forcibly and unlawfully sexually seduced by Burton,” according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The suit was settled out of court
He was fired in February 2021 and has hired a lawyer who previously represented a woman at Lubbers’ previous firm, Kelly Services, and sued a similar case in 2008.
Lynn Noyes claimed that Kelly Services did not promote her because she was not a member of the Fellowship.
A California court awarded her $6.5 million in damages.
“Everyone outside the Fellowship is seen as inferior and sometimes hostile in one way or another,” Lloyd’s lawsuit says.
“Those who express serious concerns, criticize or question the group may end up being seen as enemies.”
Google told The New York Times that they were prohibited by law from inquiring about a person’s religious practices during the hiring process.
“We have a long-standing policy for employees and suppliers to prevent discrimination and conflicts of interest, and we take that seriously,” a Google spokeswoman Courtenay Mencini said in a statement.
“It is against the law to ask about the religious affiliations of those who work for us or for our suppliers, but we will of course thoroughly investigate these allegations for irregularities or inappropriate contract practices.
“If we find evidence of policy violations, we will take action.”
Fellowship of Friends has been contacted for comment.