USDCHS Famous Cases Lecture on the Rajneeshpuram

Wild Wild History: The Rise and Fall of Rajneeshpuram

The U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society proudly presents the latest in its Famous Cases lecture series. Leading advocates on both sides of the Rajneeshpuram episode will address issues that continue to reverberate today. Three of our panelists made prominent appearances in the highly acclaimed Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. Panel includes:

  • Philip Toelkes (a.k.a. Swami Prem Niren), attorney for the Rajneesh
  • Robert Weaver, assistant U.S. attorney at the time and lead federal prosecutor
  • William Gary, then Oregon Deputy Attorney General, who assisted AG Dave Frohnmayer on matters related to Rajneeshpuram
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge John Jelderks who presided over a number of the state court legal proceedings
  • Moderated by Oregon Supreme Court Justice Tom Balmer
$25 / $20 USDCHS members; Register here
For more information, click here.

Background: In 1981, the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, his personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela, and their community of followers purchased the Big Muddy Ranch near the tiny Oregon town of Antelope. The ranch soon became the City of Rajneeshpuram, a center of activity as the Bhagwan began building a utopian city dedicated to dynamic spiritual meditation, New Age healing and a progressive approach to sexuality. The ambitious experiment soon ignited great concern among the citizens of Antelope as well as among state and federal officials. The resulting legal and cultural controversies – many of them caused or exacerbated by supporters of the Bhagwan – played out in state and national media and in state and federal courtrooms. In the end, prosecutors charged more than thirty members of the Rajneeshpuram community with immigration violations or more serious crimes – attempted murder, racketeering, arson, burglary, assault, conspiracy and illegal electronic surveillance. In 1985, the Bhagwan pleaded guilty to immigration fraud and was deported from the United States.

CLE Credit: USDCHS has applied for 2 hours of general CLE credit with the Oregon State Bar.  To receive credit, please be sure to select the “Attorney-CLE credit” pricing option when purchasing tickets.

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Thursday, June 27, 2019


First Congregational Church,1126 SW Park Ave, in downtown Portland