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Morningland Church Renamed The Monastery in Long Beach, CA
Place tries to ditch deceased cult leader's image but continues same tactics
Today it's time to do an overview of the history & timeline of Morningland Church in LB, CA. My time in the cult was from 1974 to 1986. I was age eight on encountering the church with my mom & twin sister.
This will concentrate on the public sequence of events in Long Beach & Escondido, CA, property & real estate dealings, and legal battles which Ed Masry fought as the official Morningland attorney. He was kept busy by Morningland who had several brushes with the law. I will use several archived articles to articulate the church's Long Beach & Escondido, CA, history.
We went to the Long Beach location in ‘74 a couple years after it was founded. Donato (Dan Sperato) was in charge along with his wife and a clergy member called Morningstar. They did spiritual events with Hindu chanting, candles, beautifully ornate rooms with hanging crystals soft lighting, and purple cloth everywhere. Healing, readings in group of Astrology, Tarot, Numerology and other mind reading tricks took place in groups. Those got people interested in private reading which were the money maker at $50 an hour. They also taught classes in metaphysical arts which intrigued my mom. Kids played in one room watched by a disciple or two while parents were in sessions.
Disciples were given a new spiritual mantra and initiated as belonging to the master Donato, and paid $25 for a silver medallion to wear around their neck. Chain not included, I remember we had to go buy the chain to wear it. My family were all made disciples by Donato in ‘74, and each renamed. We are considered regional members, joining quite early in the church's history.
Who’s who in this drama?
Dan Sperato who founded Morningland, is an Italian man who was nicknamed Donato by his family. He abandoned his wife and infant from the East Coast to relocate to California and marry Patricia Diable, aka Patricia Sperato later Patricia Donato. For years, Donato was the North Long Beach, California, Art Director of the Boys and Girls Club. He participated in huge park pancake breakfasts which included boys & girls club members & their families plus members of his metaphysical church. Donato died in November of 1976 and his church was continued by his wife Sri Donato. He had the nerve to align himself with Jesus as the second coming of Christ.
Patricia Diable, Patricia Sperato, Sri Patricia, aka Sri Donato, had two children who she abandoned to start a cult in California and marry Dan Sperato. After his death she became the leader of the cult in Long Beach, California. The sadistic manipulator who destroyed my family systematically and over many years, sex trafficked my twin sister and I and enslaved us in a compound located at 2600 E. 7th St., Long Beach, California. Sri Donato died in 2004 and was buried under the church where she corrupted so many in Long Beach, California.
A clergy member in the religious cult Morningland. She is a Gopi and second highest ranking member in the Church of Morningland, next to Sri Donato, now the highest ranking. A person who helped destroy my family, and relationships with them. A conspirator in my sex trafficking, a sexual abuser. A vicious character who followed orders of Sri Donato and was given acid by Donato as a teen. A young life-long recruit in the cult of Morningland, who's parents resided nearby in Seal Beach, despite her lack of contact with them.
A coke addict, professional ballet dancer, Terry Smith joined Morningland in 1980 and was initiated as a disciple by Sri Donato. She renamed him Kamazi X5 (a clergy order with one other man named Kamazi X1). He later he became very important to Sri Donato and was further initiated as The Lama. X5 was instrumental in my grooming and conditioning and sexual victimization.
A Gopi who was beneath Saravati in rank, a woman who joined the cult young, was a married adult and later became single as her marriage was destroyed by Sri Donato. A woman who was intrinsic in my destruction, training and control, as well as someone who benefited from my service as commanded by Sri Donato. She sexually abused me for years too.
Ed Masry is a California attorney made famous by the film Erin Brochovich. The film covers a case Masry won as a lawyer. Masry was the attorney for Morningland at least since 1976. He was intrinsic in keeping the leader out of jail on several occasions. More on this later.
2600 E. 7th St., Long Beach, California is an entire complex and city block. It includes a synagogue, a parking lot, a garden area, upstairs and downstairs in the main building and a row of storefronts. It exists to this day under a new name, not Morningland Church, but The Monastery. The leadership has not changed.
The retreat location of Morningland is in the small resort city of Crestline, California at 23956 Park Lane, Crestline, CA. The property is couple of acres and has three stories. The loft upstairs was always for clergy only, the main floor with large sitting area and fireplace, kitchen facilities, and another sleeping area for teachers and staff. Retreat guests slept in rooms with bunk beds on the first floor, which also had shower facilities. Crestline is near the resort of Big Bear California. Crestline is also near Lake Greggory and kids retreats would visit it and an area of recreation known as Camp Sealy.
Morningland's history was that it had other names legally. On paper the board members of this organization were in Huntington Beach and Orange County. The Brotherhood of Peace and Tranquility was one paper name, the Church of the Brotherhood was another and Morningland Corporation was registered in Los Angeles County, California. Morningland Church of the Ascended Christ was the name in San Diego County.
In 1974- ‘75 a huge drama in the history of Morningland was unfolding in Escondido, CA. To be clear, Donato ran Long Beach, and Sri Patricia (her name kept changing over time) ran Escondido. A two acre plot of land was purchased in Escondido by the founding couple, by Morningland Corporation. A storefront rental was also leased, where a boutique was featured with metaphysical stuff. In addition, metaphysical readings took place in the back room. I'm sure the suggested donation for readings was about $50 per hour and up. The resale of tarot cards and knick knacks and books was the merchandise in the bay window.
Sri Patricia and some Gopis lived in the city and did events as plans were laid to occupy the two acre Midway Property. But that was impaired by protests of local neighbors. Neighbors went to the City Council to oppose Morningland moving into the Escondido property, so that was in stasis and halls were still being rented for main events.
According to the Times Advocate's Jim Molnar who covered these stories ferociously from Escondido, it was in 1975 the Midway two acre property was purchased. In 1976 a business license for palmistry was obtained. Also in 1976 protests had halted the license applied for by Morningland on the Midway Property.
At the same time, In 1976 Donato (Dan Sperato) died at the Crestline property. COD is listed as heart failure, which must have cast doubt on Sri Patricia as she was with him at his death. There were arguments between them in board meetings recorded by various parties before his death.
A TV interview scheduled with Donato was surprised when his female Gopis (clergy) showed up & he didn't. They were evasive and told interviews he had a flat tire, hiding his death from public as long as they could. Hundreds of people were ex- communicated from Escondido, then Sri Donato (now so named) to a trusted few to move full time to Long Beach and continue saving the earth, wink.
In 1976 the Midway Property in an Escondido spot was sold due to the neighbor's oppositions. And in 1977 Morningland Corporation bought 2600 E. 7th St. from Jewish Synagogue owners for $119,000. It has since become much more valuable.
Okay, now Back to Escondido branch drama. In April of 1978 Charles Ritgers and Inez Binham went to the City Council. Their complaints on Morningland included the organization was breaking up marriages, seeking control of minors, and making false claims of medical cures. A woman named Kathy May was living through breast cancer and receiving healing from Sri Donato and the Gopis at the same time.
They claimed to heal her but she died of the breast cancer. Her husband sued for $22 million and received $50 thousand in an out of court settlement. Morningland used a very high profile lawyer named Ed Masry of Erin Brochavich fame to handle this issue. This would be the beginning of a long relationship with Masry for the church and Sri Patricia (Patricia Sperato).
To backtrack, In Summer of 1977 my family returned from sabbatical. All members of Morningland in Long Beach were put out to await a call back. Some never got called back. How I wish now that we had not! We were called back and my mom remembers there being much discussion amongst returning members of the church about who was left, how Donato died, and the fact that all the Gopis and Sri Patricia moved to Long Beach and now ran it. Sri Patricia changed her name to Sri Donato. This would begin the era of Sri Donato which is who my twin and I got to know. I never really knew much about Sri Patricia being so young.
1978 was a big year for Morningland and we knew very little of what was happening. There was no internet and a very intense closed-mouthed campaign was definitely in progress to control the information the Long Beach members got about what was going on in Escondido. We knew nothing of it.
The church was busy in Escondido countering the City Council's initiated police investigation into the wrong doings in the community. Ed Masry held that Morningland was being denied their constitutional rights of a church with the city council and the Escondido investigation as no information was being provided about its findings.
In October of 1978 the investigation was dropped for Masry and for Morningland Corporation. The city dropped the federal lawsuit. Each party paid its legal fees and went its separate way. By April of 1978 (Times Advocate again) half the Escondido members were purged and some of the Long Beach members too. Total membership of the church dropped from 1000 to between 250 and 400 at that time.
Morningland during this time went from doing Sunday Services and other events in rented halls, operating the storefront, gift shop and boutique where readings were given, to closing up shop and move to Long Beach.
Though the charges by San Diego police could not prove the claims to heal a woman of cancer (wrongly), the breaking up of marriages or seeking control of minors by luring them away from their parents using permission slips etc., during 1978 Morningland, Sri Patricia and the Gopis were virtually run out of town. Only three of the nine Gopis remained once the purge was complete. Those three joined Sri Donato at the new Morningland, in Long Beach, California.
In May of 1978 the drama continued in Los Angeles County. Some of Morningland members of the rock band Shiva attended a fundraiser as guests of Morningland Church's lawyer Ed Masry. The fundraiser was held by Dymally who was running for public election. A $10,000 check was in play which was not labeled as a campaign contribution. It became very important. Mervyn Dymally was a Lieutenant Governor in CA, 1975-1979 and later a US congressman.
According to Russell Chandler of Los Angeles Time (religion writer), April of 1979, the Attorney General Dukemajian had an affidavit and searched the Morningland Long Beach office and Ed Masry's office in Sherman Oaks. The search aimed to uncover the nature of the $10,000 check Masry accepted from the Morningland Church, then gave to Dymally.
The Attorney General was trying to prove Sri Donato (Patricia Sperato / Patricia Diable) attempted to bribe Dymally to set up a legislative committee to influence laws favoring freedom of religion in California. I even remember Dymally looking wide-eyed at me while sitting intimately with Sri Donato at her command post in the kitchen off of the Dome Rome (more on that later) in Long Beach after he attended one of the events.
In April of 1980, Ed Masry and Sri Patricia were indicted by the San Diego Grand Jury. Ed Masry for theft by taking $10,000 under false pretense, and Stri Patricia for misapplication of funds. Masry was also indicted for using monies to retrieve two children who resided with their parent in Hong Kong after a divorce. The children belonged to one of the Gopis who did not approve of the custody her husband was awarded.
Barely unscathed, Sri Patricia was acquitted due to "misconduct by her lawyer" who testified against her during the trial. A different lawyer Sri Patricia had previously acted against her based on his knowledge of his client and that was not allowed.
Masry was acquitted of bribery but convicted of grand theft by false pretense. A new trial was ordered for him due to jury misconduct. He eventually got off on claiming he was not availed of a speedy trial. Masry was very crafty.
I remember clearly Masry standing on stage of the main altar at a Sunday service in Long Beach. He stood with Sri Donato on the huge ornate altar. He was being initiated as an honorary disciple. Sri Patricia called him a "freedom fighter" and told the congregation, hundreds were present, that he cleared her of all the false accusations that had happened of late. Little did we know how close she came to conviction following her husband's death and how twisted her intent to influence a local state public official was. She wanted to ensure her activities wouldn't be opposed further and crossed a line to ensure that. But, she came through the fire unburnt, except publically. There was a lot of press about these incidents.
Due to the fact it was all shielded from the members, disciples mostly did not even understand all that had taken place or what she was even cleared of. These changes came on the tail of Donato's death and were a whirlwind. She took full advantage of everyone's disorientation. A lot like the play Hamlet when the new king takes over his reign and marries his brother's wife. It feels so dirty just thinking of it now.
In 1984 these charges resurfaced as two counts of embezzlement for the $10,000 given to Masry in an effort to stop the investigation into Morningland by Escondido police department. It did not stick. But members of Long Beach or those in Escondido who moved to Long Beach due to closure of Escondido never were informed about the details of any of this.
There was, again, no internet and the news was simply easy to bury. She got off scott free. We were told that the Attorney General tried to make a victim of Morningland and their freedom of religion. We were told in many speeches the Sri Donato was fighting for freedom of religion of all churches in California and the United States. She was. But I had no idea what that meant to her. I was soon to find all that out.
There were dramatic hand-held camera films taken by one of the members and the Gopis were screaming about confidentiality and freedom of religion throughout the film. The black and white film (actual film those days) was of the California Attorney General serving a warrant and searching the premises for evidence of bribery of Dymally. These videos were shown to us and the videos were shown at large, well attended Morningland events. It was extremely dramatized of course because it was Sri Patricia and Morningland. She claimed complete innocence. Another disaster averted by a master manipulator and her lawyer Ed Masry.
Just another weapon in the arsenal of Sri Donato used as propaganda and turned into a gaslighting situation where her wrong doing was never disclosed. Another genius move by the lawyer who showed Sri Patricia how to scoot through anything using "freedom of religion". Another time I think back to the fact that if she were convicted, my life would have been so good and so different.
I left the place in 1987 and never looked back, until 2014 when I began to inmvestigate my past. Morningland is now run by Gopi Saravati, Gopi Chokru, The Lama aka Kamazi X5, and has a very small number of disciples. They have renamed it the Monastery in an obvious effort to obscure their past. But skin remembers.
There is several online sites which show a valuation of this corporation as worth 5 million. A website which is still up despite the webmasters death speaks of several members who are angry having a lean on the property.
That means if they try to sell it, those people will probably be paid damages owed. I am not one of those. The site is up posthumously at ex-morninglanders.com, for your info. But note, it is extremely out of date and does not clearly denounce Morningland.
Healings, readings, family separations, broken marriages, rape, forced vasectomies, drug use, child endangerment, fraud on healings claims are things this cult Morningland has left in its wake.
Though never exceeding a few thousand members, I personally know so many who survived the psychological damage caused by it leaders. But it's not over. The people that crazy Sri Donato trained are running The Monastery using all the tactics taught to them by Sri Donato at the same location now named the Monastery. Let it be known, word must get out to stop these people from tricking & harming others. Enough said. Here, my mom & I speak on Morningland church via the Frankie Files Podcast.
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