Rev. Jim Jones' use of sex to control followers


SAN FRANCISCO -- Cult leader Rev. Jim Jones sometimes engaged in sex with followers of his People's Temple to 'subjugate and humiliate' them, an attorney testified.

But some members of the People's Temple cult headed by Jones, who led 912 followers in a mass suicide in Guyana in 1978, felt it was a 'privilege' to engage in sex with him, a former defense attorney for Jones follower Larry Layton said Friday.


Layton's former defense attorney Tony Tamburello was grilled by Layton's new defense attorney Robert Bryan, who is seeking a third murder-conspiracy trial for Layton on grounds the previous defense team mishandled Layton's case.

After his first trial ended in a hung jury, Layton was convicted at a second trial of murder-conspiracy for the slaying of Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., and four others and the wounding of diplomat Richard Dwyer at the Jonestown airtrip Nov. 18, 1978. Ryan's party was preparing to leave after investigating conditions at Jonestown.

Bryan is seeking to convince a federal judge that Layton's previous defense team improperly refused to enter an insanity plea for him or let him testify during the second trial.

Bryan's grilling produced the revelation Thursday that Layton and Jones had engaged in homosexual relations.


Layton had sex with the cult leader on at least two occasions, Tamburello said after returning to the stand on Friday. One of those incidents included Layton's former wife Carolyn Layton, he said.

Bryan pressed Tamburello about the sexual practices of Jones and temple devotees, asking whether Jones coerced members to engage in sex with him as a form of humiliation and quest for control.

Tamburello said in some instances Jones used it for manipulation but in other cases the sex was consentual and not part of mind control efforts.

'He used sex to subjugate and humiliate his followers didn't he?' Bryan asked.

'In some cases yes and in some cases no,' Tamburello responded.

'Layton fit into that normal heterosexual group in which sex was used to break down pride and identity?' Bryan suggested.

'I really don't know if that was the purpose,' Tamburello said.

Some of the members of Jones' inner circle were not forced into sexual relations but 'felt it was a privilege,' Tamburello said.

Both of the instances involving Layton occurred before the group left California and moved to the South American jungle commune in Guyana, Tamburello said.

Layton contends that neither he nor his lawyers knew he faced a mandatory term of life imprisonment if convicted. He said if he had known, he would have insisted on testifying in his own defense.


His former attorneys said he declined to take the stand in his own defense for fear the homosexual actions with Jones would be revealed.

Ryan, three journalists and a temple defector died in the ambush at a dirt Guyana airstrip. It occured a short time before Jones led 912 followers in a mass suicide at the nearby temple compound.

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