Flynn, Sheridan & Stillman
July 24, 2001
New Times, Los Angeles, LP
1950 Sawtelle Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, Ca. 90025
Re: Demand for retraction pursuant to Cal. Civil Code § 48a; ORS § 30.165; Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 41.336; MCLS §600.2911; and the general laws of Massachusetts and New York
Pursuant to Cal. Civil Code § 48a, ORS § 30.165; Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 41.336; MCLS § 600.2911; and the general laws of Massachusetts, and New York, this letter shall constitute a demand for a retraction as specified in the attached letter, dated July 12, 2001 and attachments; the attached letter to Vanu Bagchi, dated July 19, 2001; the attached letter to Anil Nerode, dated July 19, 2001 and the attachment to said letter; and the attached letter to Shane Reed, Esq. dated July 16, 2001 and attachments. All of said letters and attachments are hereby expressly incorporated into this letter demanding a retraction pursuant to the statutes and general laws cited above.
This letter, together with all of the attachments, and more specifically, the underlined attachment to the Nerode letter, are being served on you in order to supplement the previous demands for a retraction of the Russell article. As noted in the Nerode letter, Mr. Nerode had previously posted a web-site containing malicious, false and defamatory statements of and concerning Self Realization Fellowship, its monastics and Paramahansa Yogananda. Notwithstanding the false and/or equivocal assertions in the Russell article that Mr. Nerode removed his web-site "not because of pressure from attorney Michael Flynn", there is written confirmation by Mr. Nerode that he removed the web-site specifically in response to a demand under California law by Mr. Flynn that the web-site be removed within 48 hours. Mr. Nerode, by his own written admission, was served with a demand for removal of the site on March 15, 2000 by means of a letter dated March 10, 2000. Mr. Nerode admits in writing on March 15, 2000 that he removed the web-site that same day, March 15, 2000, because of the letter from Michael Flynn. Additionally, in correspondence dated March 15 and 16, 2000, Mr. Nerode also made the following admissions regarding removal of the web-site: that he only had "one half of the story" from his mother; that she was elderly subject to failing memory; that he only had "half the documents", that his comments were "only ... a draft not designed for external readers"; that he knew there was another side to the story that he didn't have, that he has a "high opinion of the way the fellowship has conducted its business"; that the statements on the site were only "collective memories" of "an elderly person"; that in the future edits of his web-site he will be more objective when he gets all of the documents and the other half of the story; and that Mr. Nerode never professed any personal knowledge about Yogananda's personal life stating that he was "simply relating facts and rumors as I heard them as a child."
In correspondence dated April 19, 2000 Mr. Flynn informed Mr. Nerode of the following:
"I have prepared a list of some of the documents in the possession of SRF which strongly refute the statements contained in your web-site, which statements are addressed in my March 10, 2000 letter. These documents are either in the handwriting of, or signed by your father and your mother. For example, in numerous letters and documents both your parents, express guilt and remorse for committing various "wrongs", "sins", "breaches of faith", "infidelity", "affairs", "writing filthy letters", "cheating", "contemplating suicide", having "abortions", etc. Etc. At the same time, both your parents write to Paramahansa Yogananda with highly laudatory expressions of loyalty, fidelity, love and admiration, including said expressions from your mother in a series of letters in 1936-37 that Yogananda is the epitome of a "God-realized master" exemplifying "renunciation", "purity and bliss". There are hundreds of such expressions contained in 12 years of correspondence, which refute the contents of your web-site."
Please be advised that on April 27, 2000, approximately eight days after receiving the foregoing letter from Mr. Flynn, and after being advised to prevent third persons from distributing the contents of his web-site, by faxed letter Mr. Nerode stated as follows:
"I will cooperate with you to use every legal means to force any party circulating this copyright draft material in any form. No one had permission to copy or distribute. In contacting third parties, I authorize you to represent me as well as SRF in eliminating this unauthorized distribution."
The republication by New Times of the Nerode web-site material, together with direct statements made to Mr. Russell, as set forth in the Nerode letter and its attachment, both of which are attached hereto and made a part hereof, constitutes actual malice. Pursuant to the foregoing statutes, SRF, its members and monastics and Michael Flynn hereby demand a retraction of the republished material as well as a retraction of the direct statements of Mr. Nerode. Pursuant to the authority vested in the undersigned by Mr. Nerode, as explicated above, I hereby demand on behalf of Mr. Nerode and on behalf of SRF, as directed by Mr. Nerode, that you cease and desist from all "unauthorized distribution" of the Russell article. In the language of Mr. Nerode, I am authorized to engage "in eliminating this unauthorized distribution".
FLYNN SHERIDAN & STILLMAN
Michael J. Flynn
cc w/o attachments: Ron Russell
Anil & Agnes Nerode