Author Topic: Colin Garland AKA Medicine Owl, Global Classroom  (Read 9787 times)

Offline educatedindian

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Colin Garland AKA Medicine Owl, Global Classroom
« on: September 12, 2018, 02:16:58 am »
Deer Tribe exploiter. Bolding is mine.

He Led Female Students On Trips Abroad. Then, He Introduced Sex ‘Ceremonies.’
Alleged abuse and cult-like brainwashing. “Magic” crystals. And a self-proclaimed healer with unfettered access to young women for decades.
By Dana Liebelson and Melissa Jeltsen 09/11/2018
Laura Quinn, a rock climber with sober blue eyes, was writing the hardest letter of her life. It was 2016, and she was parked in her van overlooking Leavenworth, Washington, a tiny town nestled in steep, jutting mountains. She was 29 years old.

Her letter was addressed to Colin Garland, a man she’d met on an adventure trip abroad when she was a senior in high school. He was 25 years her senior, but regardless of their difference in age and life experience, they clicked. Garland headed a travel company in Massachusetts and took students on guided trips abroad, exposing them to nature and teaching them about wildlife conservation. He also fashioned himself as a kind of New Age shaman, and for years, Laura convinced herself he’d been a trusted spiritual mentor.

Though more than a decade had passed since she traveled to Costa Rica with Garland’s company, The Global Classroom, her memories of him were still vivid. Garland, who called himself “Medicine Owl,” was lanky and catlike, with an intense gaze and wavy graying hair. Funny and infectiously enthusiastic, he also had a talent for making ordinary interactions seem almost magical.

On the day he singled her out, she was 18, hammering nails into a new structure they were building as part of a trip project.

“Do you have any idea how strong you are?” he asked, his head surprisingly close to hers. Laura felt like he had recognized a hidden well of potential inside her, something special she hadn’t yet discovered.

Now, as she addressed him as a full-fledged adult, she did indeed feel strong ? but despite him, not because of him. “I was in need of a hug, some advice, maybe a hiking partner who could help me understand that I was a good, lovable and beautiful person,” she wrote. “Instead, you sexually, spiritually and emotionally abused me in ways that are too dark to divulge the details of.”

Laura gathered the courage to post her letter online not long after, linking to it on Garland’s Facebook page, then her own.

Soon after, she received a Facebook message from a stranger, a 27-year-old Massachusetts woman who grew up 60 miles from Laura’s hometown. “I know we don’t know each other, but I stumbled upon your website about Colin,” the woman wrote. “I was also victimized by him. Reading your letter was like reading about my own experience.”

Laura was stunned. Then she got a message from another woman. And another.

As of the publication of this article, Laura has counted more than three dozen women who shared their own stories with her; HuffPost has spoken with 18. Many of the women met Garland as high school or college students and traveled with him to isolated locations with the blessing of their schools. Looking back, many also now see his conduct as unprofessional, harmful and in some cases, abusive, even likening it to cult-like brainwashing.

Multiple women claim he used his power as a trip leader ? and a self-proclaimed mystic — to gain their trust, and later pursued sex once they reached the age of consent under the guise of spiritual mentorship.

In conversations with HuffPost over months, women described how they were initially enchanted by Garland’s energy and flattered by the sustained attention he lavished upon them. He made them feel special. They believed his intentions were pure: He wanted to help, not harm. Until they got older, and the spell wore off.

Eagle feathers and sharing circles

Laura’s parents, Anita and Kevin, thought sending Laura to Costa Rica in 2005 would be a healthy learning experience. Garland’s company came recommended by people they trusted. They’d met with him, and the youngest of their three daughters, Liz, had already traveled with Garland to Mexico. She came back raving about the trip.

It was hard for HuffPost to verify much about Garland’s background, and he did not respond to multiple interview requests. What we do know is this: He grew up in western Massachusetts, and after graduating high school, he claims to have worked in a local factory ? many people described him as a gifted handyman ? which he eventually decided wasn’t for him. On an archived website, he claimed he attended a one-year outdoor leadership program and traveled extensively, backpacking through 32 countries on a budget of $800. In 1986, he founded Raven Adventures, an ecotourism company he described as “practicing minimum-impact travel while introducing people from all walks of life to the natural world.” A few years later, he started The Global Classroom, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation. He raised donations to preserve an initial 100 acres of land in Costa Rica.

Over the years, he was welcomed into Mohawk Trail Regional High School, where he gave presentations and recruited students for trips, and he also advertised in colleges around Massachusetts and New York.
That spring, when Laura arrived at the airport of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, she was overwhelmed by local taxi drivers calling out to her in Spanish, asking her where she was going. She spotted Garland and instantly felt safe.

Garland was soon guiding his new cohort on a wild adventure through a nature reserve, winning them over with fantastic stories about his far-flung travels. He appeared deeply at ease in the natural world and claimed he knew how to stay so still, wild cats would come right up to him. But despite his worldly experiences, he was endlessly curious about the inner lives of his students – what they thought about, the struggles they were experiencing, what it was really like to be a teen. Although he was so much older, to Laura, he felt more like a peer.

After days of exploring the cloud forest and volunteering, the students would gather for evening sharing circles. Garland, who claimed he had Native American grandparents, would wave an eagle feather, burn sage and cleanse the students with the smoke. Then he’d ask them to divulge their deepest, most secret fears.

“Three days into a trip, I have people sharing stuff that you would never believe,” Garland said in a video interview posted on Facebook in 2014. “It creates this environment of compassion and understanding and empathy, and maybe a young person saying, ‘Oh, my God, I’m not the only one that suffers this.’”

The circles felt like a nonjudgmental space, where students could express anything they were going through in their lives. “There was a lot of crying,” one boy on Laura’s trip said. Laura, too, opened up about her insecurities: worries about going to college, how she didn’t feel pretty enough. After one of the circles, Garland silently appeared on the mist-shrouded porch of the cabin and told her that her “share” had been very powerful, she recalled. After the trip, Laura was surprised when Garland wanted to stay in touch with her over email. She even boasted about it to her younger sister, Liz.

Liz, who went on three trips with Garland, casually mentioned he’d emailed her too. As Laura left home and began her freshman year at the University of Vermont, her email correspondence with Garland grew more intense, she said. (Laura did not have her emails for HuffPost to review.) He seemed wise, caring, in possession of secret spiritual knowledge. In a dorm, on the laptop her parents bought her for school, she confided in him regularly about low self-esteem and romantic jealousy — how she felt she’d never be with someone who believed she was beautiful.  Having such a close confidant willing to talk with her about her most private feelings was addicting. Every time she logged on and had a new message from him, she got an electric charge.

Her parents didn’t know about the growing friendship. She didn’t tell her friends much either. Some of the content of the emails felt too personal. Garland would steer their conversations to explicitly sexual topics, she said, like whether she’d had an orgasm. But it didn’t feel weird. She thought of him as a healer who was asking personal questions as a kind of spiritual intake form, gathering information to help her. In other cultures, it was normal to talk about sex, he explained. America was uptight. And he said it was OK if she didn’t want to talk about it anymore, she recalled.

A lot of people weren’t ready for what he had to show them — the magic. Garland often promised that people who fully tapped into their power could be free of problems of the ego and do things that sounded incredible, like shapeshift into animals or even cure cancer. He seemed to have all the answers.

I do want to be ready, Laura thought. In 2006, the summer after her freshman year, Laura, then 19, returned to her hometown. She was depressed and exhausted. School was hard. She worried that her college boyfriend found other women more attractive than her. She felt unnoticed, and that her freshman-year friends were cooler than she was, more artistically creative and smart. She was partying too much. In some ways, these were typical freshman concerns, but to Laura, they felt severe at the time. What she really needed, she suspects now, was a therapist.

She planned to spend the summer months lifeguarding at a local swimming pond ? a boring job she’d had for years ? but she also hoped to meet up with Garland. Garland was staying on and off at The Center at Westwoods, a nonprofit spiritual education center that hosts yoga classes, psychic readings and reiki workshops south of Boston. He was helping to build a labyrinth and trails on the grounds, while also leading a student trip that summer to Siberia.

Laura was enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting up with her mentor again. In his emails to Laura, Garland had alluded to mysterious ceremonies, where he could draw up ancient energies to heal her problems, she said. He even had a term for them, she said: quodoushka, or “Q.” She imagined the ceremonies might be something like the sharing circles in Costa Rica, meditating and calling on ancestors.

One May evening, after receiving an invite from Garland, she said, she drove more than an hour from her parents’ home to Westwoods and arrived after dark. Once again, she found herself with Garland in what felt like a secluded and magical place: more than 70 acres of conservation land scattered with beautiful gardens, trails and prayer rooms.

When Garland opened the door, Laura was so relieved, she started crying. Finally, she was in a place where she could heal. “I want you to help me get better,” she recalled telling him.

Garland was crashing in the basement of the main 9,000-square-foot house on the grounds. She took his bed for the night and fell asleep alone, she said, but abruptly woke up later. As she recalls it, Garland was rubbing her body, telling her that “the Aboriginal elders” were communicating with him and they wanted to deliver some ancient power to her. Was this a ceremony like the kind Garland had always talked about?

She froze, her veins icy. Despite all their emailing, she never imagined that meant sexual activity with him, her trip leader, a man decades older, someone she thought wanted to help her. But she didn’t fight or run away. “You don’t run from someone you trust,” she said. 

He pushed her head down for oral sex, she recalled, and urged her to swallow his semen in order to receive the most energy. In that state of shock, “you [can] be forced to do things that you wouldn’t otherwise be forced into,” she said. It happened so fast, and she didn’t say a word.

The next day, Garland treated what had happened between them like it was a real ceremony that had laid the foundation for powerful healing to begin. Laura had done big work, she recalled him saying, and he assured her that her feelings of discomfort were normal.  But Laura wasn’t sure what to make of the incident. Had she experienced a genuine healing ceremony? Or had she been victimized by her trusted mentor? One of those options was just too painful to comprehend. 

“If I can go back and learn more things from Colin about magic,” she told herself, “I’ll be OK.” Laura now believes her long email correspondence with Garland primed her to trust him. She wasn’t the only one. HuffPost reviewed dozens of emails and messages that Garland sent to seven other women ? the youngest starting when she was 14.

Several women HuffPost spoke with now consider Garland’s intensive emailing a form of grooming, a process used by sexual abusers to gain access to victims. They believe Garland leveraged his position of power as a mentor and confidant to achieve his real goal: sex with young women.

The messages reveal a pattern: Garland would shower women with attention, encouraging them to fully open up, before turning the conversations sexual. “You have an incredible body that can and will feel so, so much,” he wrote one college student, Elizabeth, whom he hadn’t yet met in person. “Sadly, much of it has been hurt and pain. It is time to start replacing those cellular memories with memories of joy, pleasure and light.” (Like most of the women in this story, Elizabeth asked HuffPost to withhold her last name to protect her privacy.)

Once he’d developed trust, he would begin asking sexually explicit questions and introduce the concept of healing ceremonies that involved sexual energy. Although he could be flirtatious, he suggested that his interest in the women’s sexual lives was for spiritual or teaching purposes ? to help them in their quest for self-growth ? rather than physical attraction on his part.

Laura’s younger sister, Liz, engaged in an emotionally charged correspondence with Garland for years. She emailed with Garland when she was 14, after she joined one of his student trips to Mexico. Their early messages were friendly, dealing with travel logistics. But over time, he grew affectionate. By the time Liz was 16 and 17, Garland was sprinkling his emails with pet names, calling her the “shining one,” “gorgeoususususususus,” and “my sweet,” and signing off with declarations of love.

When Liz, then 17, opened up about her struggles with self-confidence, he hinted at knowing secret ways to heal her, though he said she was too young. “Because it would be a dangerous thing in this society for me to share ways to move that energy around with you in the sexual world, I do not,” he said. “If we lived in other cultures, you would already know all that stuff and it would be no big deal,” he added. “But, we live in messed up America and have to walk softly...Around sexual stuff anyway.”

A few months later, when she was still 17 and he was 45, Garland sent Liz a sexually explicit email brimming with personal questions. “What about orgasms. Can you have them when you are getting oral? If so, was it possible at first.. Or did it take a while? ... What about giving oral? Do you? If so, do you like giving? Is that considered Ok and acceptable by your peers? And orgasm. Can you make him orgasm? ... Do you like it? Do you pull away or let him do it in your mouth? Do you swallow If not, Why?”

Garland emphasized that he was asking these questions for research purposes. In the fall of 2006, he and Liz talked about meeting up for a walk, where he said he would introduce her to a ceremony to help her with her self-confidence. She had previously told him she wasn’t comfortable with any ceremonies having to do with sex, and he reassured her that wasn’t what they were about.

“Don’t worry.. No blow up dolls and [huge] sex toys,” he wrote. She can’t remember now if the timing didn’t line up ? or if her gut knew something was wrong. Either way, she decided not to go.

After Laura posted her letter in 2016, many of the women started looking at their own experiences with Garland in a new light. Now mature adults, they were struggling with how differently they perceived Garland when they were young, and how they now felt he’d taken advantage of them.

Elizabeth (not the same individual as Liz) met Garland in 2010, when she was a junior at Stony Brook University in New York. A friend connected them online when Elizabeth was going through a particularly tough year, she said. She eventually confided in him extensively over email, initially about spiritual matters. Their conversations turned to sexual ceremonies, which he said could help her. 

“I hope you continue ... finding the light and power of your body, heart and spirit. And this means sexually too,” he wrote to Elizabeth in April 2010. “Even if we never meet, I would be so happy you are out there,” he added.

 They did meet, on her 21st birthday. She knew she didn’t want to get drunk to celebrate the milestone like most people her age. Instead, she traveled to Garland’s home, a ferry and bus ride from her school, with the hopes of finding grounding and peace. In past conversations, he had made his property sound idyllic, almost like a place of rehabilitation. She was eager to check it out.

He did a reiki-like healing without touching her, she said, and they fell asleep in his bed. (He made it clear, she noted, that they could sleep on opposite sides.) She said she woke up to him sitting on top of her, positioning her body so she could perform oral sex on him. “There was no, ‘Yes, I want to do this,’” she said. “There was no sense of me being initiated into any kind of spiritual healing.”

Afterward, she felt ashamed and spun the experience into a positive one. She was fighting with her parents, so when Garland and a friend invited her to stay with them, she said, she accepted. She was searching for a spiritual home, as she felt disconnected from her Catholic roots and her family. The ceremonies Garland offered seemed like they might fill that void. But she described his behavior over the summer as controlling, in terms of what she ate, when she left the house and whether she contacted her parents. Her mother told HuffPost that she was concerned enough to call the police. Garland called the cops too, complaining in June 2010 that Elizabeth’s mother was harassing him, according to a police report.

Elizabeth said she internalized her time with Garland in a way that made her feel good about it. But seeing Laura’s letter prompted her to re-examine what happened through a more critical lens. She now feels that Garland is a “predator of insecure young women” who is sexually, not spiritually, motivated. “What happened to me was not right,” she said.

Another woman, Caitlin, met Garland when she was a student at Binghamton University. Caitlin joined Garland on an informal trip to Baja, Mexico, through the winter of 2009-10, when she was 21. On that trip, he showed her a crystal skull that he claimed was magical, and encouraged her to imbue it with energy by masturbating with it. She did not. “I’m still not quite sure what to make of the crystal skull ? does it really have powers and energy or no? … I have no idea, but I’ll continue to keep an open mind,” she wrote in her journal at the time.

Later, in online chat messages after the trip, Garland encouraged Caitlin to send him naked photos, telling her it would help her come into her power.

“When you take those pictures, spread yourself open to show your pink,” he wrote, claiming that the practice was part of Aboriginal teachings. “How I would love to see that image to know where you sit on the medicine wheel.” She declined to send him photos. (Another woman, Isidra, who traveled with Garland as a college student at Binghamton, also told HuffPost that Garland had asked her for naked photos.)

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Colin Garland AKA Medicine Owl, Global Classroom
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2018, 02:17:29 am »
Pt. 2

When Caitlin learned of the other women’s stories, she reread her lengthy correspondence with Garland and was appalled. “I know logically that I was brainwashed by this man in a very calculated way ? the parallels between my own story and the stories of all the other women who have come forward are impossible to ignore ? but I can’t seem to overcome this feeling that if I had been sensible enough to realize that I was being manipulated, things could have been different,” she told HuffPost.

Yet another woman, Lauren, said that she went on group trips with Garland to South Africa and Namibia starting in 2011, when she was a 21-year-old student at Binghamton. While traveling, she said, she would go on walks with Garland that started out friendly, but eventually, he made sexually explicit comments. She recalled, for example, Garland giving her a Herkimer diamond and telling her to hold the diamond while she masturbated to draw out energies. She did not. She was initially intrigued by their conversations and tried to suppress any reservations, but soon felt uncomfortable, especially considering their respective roles: She was dependent on him in a foreign country. “You have no idea where you even are half the time,” she said. “I felt like I had to play nice.”

A woman named Michaela said she went over to Garland’s house in 2014 to learn more about his international trips, as she was interested in volunteering. After dinner, he offered to give her a massage and she agreed because she understood he was a healer. During the session, she said she was shocked when Garland groped her breasts under her shirt. She’d had many massages in the past, and that had never happened before. Later, she confronted him over email. He apologized, but noted that if it was a “trigger” to have a “full massage,” then it was her “responsibility to mention this right at the get go.” He added, “finding your voice is always a good thing.”

By all accounts, Garland was a gifted storyteller who spun tales about his exhaustive travels around the world and the ancient teachings he said he encountered abroad. While some of his stories seemed far-fetched, many of the women he confided in were open to believing them. They were themselves searching for meaning, in that transitional time between late teens and adulthood. When he spoke about how they could become more confident and harness their inner power as women, he seemed to be talking to their deepest desires and fears.

Some stories he told were more outlandish than others and played into harmful and offensive stereotypes about native people. Garland told multiple women that, during a trip to Australia, he was taken in by a clan of Aboriginal people who were isolated from the outside world. They knew he was coming, he said, and welcomed him in. It was Aboriginal people who taught him how to use sexual power for healing ceremonies, he claimed. In messages with women, Garland often used the word “abo,” a highly derogatory term, and said he drummed with Aboriginal people every full moon, in spirit.

There are no Aboriginal sexual healing ceremonies anywhere in Australia, as far as Dr. Richard Davis, the acting manager of anthropology for the Central Land Council, which represents Aboriginal people in Central Australia, was aware. When HuffPost asked Davis about Garland’s claims, he said that Garland sounded like “the latest in a long tradition of Westerners trading in a pretty disgusting idea of primitiveness and ... quite happy to disrespect Aboriginal people in his misrepresentation of them.”

Garland’s terminology for Aboriginal people “is so offensive, I can hardly begin to describe the parameters of this offensiveness,” Davis added, calling his claim of finding a clan with no contact with the outside world a “bizarre fantasy” that conveniently allowed him to claim sole access to the knowledge.

Garland said that his grandparents were Native American. He loved the book The Education of Little Tree, multiple women said, identifying with the protagonist, an orphan boy who is raised by his Cherokee grandparents. The book, which was originally presented as an autobiography, was later exposed to be a literary hoax, and the author was outed as a Klansman and high-profile pro-segregationist.

Similarly, “quodoushka,” the sexual practice Garland advocates in dozens of emails with women, has been falsely connected to the Cherokee Nation, but it’s not a legitimate Native American practice. Rather, it’s credited to a New-Age group called the Deer Tribe Medicine Society. Cherokees do not practice any such ceremonies, a spokesperson for the Cherokee Nation told HuffPost.

“He is misappropriating indigenous cultural traditions in order to lure young women to have sex with him,” said a former girlfriend of Garland’s who asked to remain anonymous. “I’m concerned about the impact of the ‘sexual ceremonies,’ if you want to call them that, on the women, and I feel horrible about not speaking up about it earlier.”

Over the course of the summer at Westwoods, Laura participated in many sex ceremonies that Garland claimed would help her heal spiritually, she said. They often happened quickly, she recalled, with a sense of missed opportunity if she didn’t immediately partake. For one ceremony, he asked her to masturbate with a vibrator while he watched, she said. She understood she had to orgasm for it to work ? which left her with a lot of anxiety and dysfunction around sex in subsequent relationships. On another night, she had sex with him in the labyrinth while holding a crystal.

When she expressed any reluctance, she said Garland would frame her apprehension as a spiritual shortcoming. She was too closed off, he told her. But when she participated, she said, she was commended for her personal growth.

A person who knew Garland and Laura at the time and wished to remain anonymous said that Laura seemed “impressionable, spiritually searching, and eager to please.” Garland “groomed Laura to the extent that she was unable to think for herself and unable to see the warning flags for what they were. Instead, Laura did whatever Colin asked of her and was rewarded with further manipulative praise.”

From the outside, it wouldn’t necessarily seem like anything was wrong. They went skydiving together, Laura said, and she did odd jobs around the center like mulching; she even attended a women’s group. But as the summer wore on, she began to disassociate during sexual acts, she said, feeling as though she was detached from her body. Dissociation, often reported by sexual abuse victims, is a defense mechanism to survive a traumatic event. When she told Garland about leaving her body, he praised her for “shapeshifting,” she said. She hoped that the ceremonies were working. She had to be getting better, she told herself. She didn’t have low self-esteem anymore. She couldn’t feel anything at all.

There was a part of her that even wanted to tell her friends what was going on. But Garland warned her that she had to be careful who she confided in, because others might view their time at the healing center skeptically, she said, and doubt would drain the pool of magic.

One close friend of Laura’s, Patrice, was concerned about the changes she saw in Laura that summer, as well as all the time she was spending with Garland. Laura didn’t seem like herself and appeared disconnected from reality. She talked, for example, about Garland having out-of-body experiences. “You know that he wasn’t actually flying, right?” Patrice asked her. Laura clammed up.

Alarmed, Patrice secretly read Laura’s emails and told her own mother she feared Laura was involved in a cult. Patrice tried to gently raise her concerns to Laura, questioning whether she and Garland might be sexually involved. But to Laura, Patrice’s questions only confirmed what Garland had told her: No one would understand.

Laura’s parents believed she had spent her time at Westwoods making extra money and attending women’s groups. But when Laura’s father, Kevin, drove her back to school for her sophomore year in the fall, he sensed something was off. In the car, she asked him if he knew anything about shamans, he recalled. He tried to answer the question — explaining that shamans were a kind of healer — but he was puzzled about why she was asking. “Laura might have been looking for something, and he tapped into it,” Kevin said. “When I was a kid, I was looking for that. You’re looking for the answers to the world.”

Garland did not respond to HuffPost’s repeated requests for comment over the course of six months. He has claimed in messages to others that his relationships were consensual. In emails with one student, he insisted he would “NEVER” pressure anyone sexually. “The joke was that I missed out on a lot of good sex because I was way TOO considerate,” he wrote, adding he has the largest “self control and consideration of others in that area.”

Still, he seemed aware of how his interactions with young women, even if they were over 18, might be perceived. In 2013, he also told Laura he wasn’t “doing too much kiddy things” anymore, as he was burned out and focusing on research. “Keeps me from getting arrested,” he joked.

Laura and one other woman told HuffPost that they went to the police to discuss their interactions with Garland years after their encounters with him. No charges were filed. States define sex crimes differently, weighing factors like age, force, consent, physical and mental capacity and impairment due to alcohol and drugs. Some states even look at whether there was “therapeutic” deception — like when a therapist abuses a patient. But even in cases where conduct may not rise to a criminal level, that “doesn’t make it any less traumatizing for the victim,” pointed out Jennifer Long, CEO of AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women.

Running his own companies, Garland operated with few checks and balances. He thrived in spiritual communities and among open-minded people who may have been prone to trust his unusual claims with minimal skepticism.

The healing communities where Garland operated are now grappling with the allegations. A spokesperson for The Center At Westwoods, where Laura spent time over the summer, said the community supports “those who have spoken out against Colin Garland,” and “did not know of his alleged misconduct during his brief time at Westwoods.” The spokesperson added, “we were horrified to learn of it. Westwoods will continue its important mission as a place of healing and peace in spite of him.”

In the 90s, Garland also lived and worked out of Earthlands, an environmental community in Petersham, Massachusetts. After a programming partner at Earthlands complained about Garland having an inappropriate relationship with her 18-year-old daughter, he was asked to leave. “For nearly a decade, I have been puzzled by your personal relationship with others, particularly younger women,” the founder of Earthlands, Larry Buell, wrote in a letter to Garland in 2001 that he shared with HuffPost. “I would brush it off as ‘oh, that’s the way Colin is.’”

Now, looking back, Buell said he feels bad about not doing more. “Upon more reflection, I see how I should have been more responsible for the protection of women and the damage of those beyond the borders of Earthlands.”

As far as HuffPost was aware, no one complained to the schools Garland recruited from prior to the publication of Laura’s letter. In 2016, a former Mohawk Trail Regional High School student contacted superintendent Michael Buoniconti to voice her concern about Garland’s close contact with young students in the past. Buoniconti told her he contacted a local district attorney’s office to pass along the information. But it’s unclear whether there was any legal follow-up. “To my knowledge, Mr. Garland has not stepped foot in the Mohawk Trail Regional School for many many years,” Buoniconti told HuffPost in an email.

Some in the community still support Garland. Jeanne Ciampa, a writer and musician who is a friend of Garland’s, said she thought the claims against him sounded like consensual sexual relationships that women now regretted. She worried about harm to Garland’s reputation and to his admirable conservation efforts. “He is absolutely not capable of hurting a soul,” she said, describing herself as a progressive liberal who supports the Me Too movement. “Imagine building your business and having some pissed-off girls ruin it.”

In more recent correspondence, Garland appears shaken by the accusations. In a 2016 Facebook message obtained by HuffPost, he wrote that Laura was “placing a lot of blame on me in some very dark and inaccurate ways.” But he acknowledged, “I fucked up bad and I know it and knew it for sometime now. I was so sure my teachings could help Laura and I sincerely with all my heart had the best of intentions.” He added that he had nothing to hide or lie about. “I was just as swept up in wanting to believe in other ways,” he wrote.

When HuffPost began to report this story in 2017, Garland’s company was still recruiting students online for overseas trips. During the course of reporting, the website was taken down; it’s unclear if he has stopped running trips. A search for Colin Garland or Raven Adventures brings up Laura’s letter and Facebook page in the top results. In October 2017, a user posted on TripAdvisor asking if anyone had heard of Raven Adventures because their daughter had received information about a trip. 

“Google threw up a name [and] shame Facebook page that makes some disturbing allegations against the owner,” a user responded. “And while name [and] shame on social media is an exceptionally bad decision-making tool, if I were a parent, I’d be concerned all the same.”

Laura is now 31 and lives in a vehicle that’s as old as she is, a 1986 Toyota van that she bought with only 57,000 miles on it. She’s been on the road since 2011, spending winters in El Paso, Texas, and summers in Colorado, Washington and California, rock climbing and working in gear shops.

On a sunny afternoon in May, she was parked in a clearing in Coconino National Forest, near Flagstaff, Arizona. Her rat terrier was curled up in the van. Laura looked like the climber she’s been for many years, fit and lightly sunburned. She was quick to laugh and came across as strikingly self-sufficient, casually rattling off the ways she fixed up the van, with a tongue-and-groove cedar ceiling, a catalytic heater, a sink that drains out the floor, and an early-1900s Griswold cast iron stove.

She finds solace in the outdoors, a coping skill she developed after her time with Garland. Hiking in Arizona, in a quiet canyon called Priest Draw, she nimbly sidestepped poison ivy and pointed out “problems,” or bouldering routes. She also noted stumps not far from the trail — trees intentionally cut down to prevent forest fires from spreading — and the blackened skeletons, where the fires had been.

“The big trees are left by the forest service because they can withstand wildfires,” she said. “They can be burned and still live.” When she spoke about what happened that summer at Westwoods, she occasionally punctuated the story with knowing asides, like, “If I talked to him now, I’d be like, ‘You’re such a fucking creep.’” But she didn’t always feel so comfortable speaking out.  For years, she didn’t process what had happened at Westwoods, she said, but had lingering trust and sexual dysfunction issues. Once she began having panic attacks, she entered therapy. She estimates she’s now spent thousands of dollars on it, which she couldn’t afford without her parents’ help. Not a day goes by where she doesn’t think about what happened with Garland.

Laura still tries to actively warn other women about Garland. She and the other women have already made it difficult for him to operate trips in the future without scrutiny. There’s real power in knowing that she’s not alone, that what she experienced was also shared by others. But it’s also been a wound: Garland never thought she was special, she realizes now; she was just one of many women taken in by the same well-rehearsed story. “The spell he casts, it makes you feel so unique,” she said. “It was really hard to let that go.”


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« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 05:05:00 pm by Smart Mule »

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Colin Garland AKA Medicine Owl, Global Classroom
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2018, 12:10:28 pm »
Received this account about Garland.

I encountered Colin Garland at Townshend State Forest in Townshend, Vermont while camping with my partner's daughter who was 14 at the time. The campground offered live music on Saturday nights in a relaxed family atmosphere. Garland, who was there with extended family, showed keen interest in my partner's daughter which made me incredibly uncomfortable. He talked about how he was a shaman and other egotistical banter which I attempted to shut down. He tried to explain this away with obvious fake claims of indigenous ancestry which I made clear I did not believe. I asked him politely to leave us alone. He wandered off and began talking to relatives of his and didn't return. At one point he got up and played a cedar flute. Badly.

At some point I got up to use the restroom. When I came back Garland was again speaking to my partner's child. I overheard him telling her that she had an old soul and that he could tell that other adults really didn't understand her. At this point we packed up our stuff and went back to our tent.

She encountered him the next day when she went to buy wood at the rangers station and a second time when she went to the rangers station to grab our phones which had been charging there. Our tent was within site of the station. At the second encounter I ran over and caught him passing her his business card which I immediately took. I told him to leave us alone and let the rangers know how he was repeatedly trying to interact with my partners child. They told me he was checking out so they couldn't do anything and that he had not done anything they felt warranted him being banned from the camp grounds. This was the last time I camped there but to the best of my knowledge both he and his extended family continue to camp there every summer. My partners daughter said the encounter made her feel very uncomfortable and that Garland was really trying his best to flatter her.

Offline Smart Mule

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Re: Colin Garland AKA Medicine Owl, Global Classroom
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2018, 12:18:30 pm »
Garland has ties to Earthlands The agent address for his non-profit is the same.

Earthlands has a long history of pay-to-pray events. There is a heavy involvement with ALisa Starkweather who runs Red Tent programs as well as other gatherings and workshops that involve cultural appropriation.

eta - One of my sources just confirmed that Colin Garland still has a house at Earthlands.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 03:49:34 pm by Smart Mule »

Offline Smart Mule

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Re: Colin Garland AKA Medicine Owl, Global Classroom
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2018, 12:36:17 am »
Garland is out of the country again, back in Costa Rica.

CONTENT WARNING - abuse, trauma, manipulation

new content -

Most Recent Co-Leader Comes Forward
Posted Dec. 5, 2018

My name is Sabrina. I am Colin Garland’s most recent co-leader, and I am a survivor of his abuse.

I grew up dreaming about Africa, and I shared that dream with anyone who would listen. I wanted to see wildlife in the wildest places. I started saving money to go when I was twelve years old, and by the time Raven Adventures fell into my lap, I had already been twice before. I was born in love with it.

I was handed a pamphlet for a trip to South Africa that, later on, neither Colin or his then co-leader claimed to remember sending out. I put down my deposit that same day. When weather delayed my flight to New York, I nearly missed my connection to South Africa, driving from Michigan to JFK to make it. I embraced the feeling that I was supposed to be on that trip for a reason.

It was the summer of 2014. Colin was 53. I was 20. I was stunned by the beauty of South Africa, and Colin struck me as an amazing leader who was living the life of my dreams. From the first day, I was sold on Raven Adventures.

Colin told us stories about working hard to achieve his goals, describing himself as underestimated and all the more motivated for it. He had walked with cheetahs and been chased by rhinos. He was incredibly knowledgeable. That Colin didn’t have an advanced degree encouraged me; I felt bored and trapped at school, and textbooks were not where I wanted to explore my passion for wildlife. I didn’t feel that anyone at home truly understood why Africa was so important to me, and right away I felt that I could relate to Colin.

Some of Colin’s stories were about his magical experiences in Australia, and his co-leader at the time said that our group was special to hear them. She said that he did not share those stories with just anyone.

At the end of the trip I told Colin and his co-leader that we would be traveling together again in the future, but I didn’t feel that I had made a unique impression on Colin. I was captivated by his stories, but I had no reason to think that he had noticed.

When Colin was interested in keeping in touch after the trip, I was surprised and happy to. A few months later he offered me a volunteer internship that would begin the summer of 2015, and I became even more convinced that the original trip had been serendipitous. Colin agreed that it was. He told me that depending on my performance, I might become a co-leader.

I felt like I had hit the jackpot. My peers were beginning the arduous search for entry-level positions in competitive STEM fields, and this experienced professional had picked me out as someone who could do as good of a job as he could.

Between being offered the internship in October 2014, and attending the internship in August 2015, Colin’s description of what it would consist of evolved. Raven Adventures would be my first "job" out of college, and I had a limited professional frame of reference and did not recognize this as suspicious. I viewed Colin as a credible professional. I knew that fieldwork could be unpredictable and wanted to show that I could be flexible.

Colin told me, among other things, that he had a long-term wild dog project established and that I would be collaring elephants by bush plane. I later learned that by this point, Colin had already been expelled from the wild dog project and the wildlife center where it was based. We never once, throughout the approximately two-month internship, encountered anyone conducting elephant research.

Colin began to introduce the concept of "coming into your power" and using your energy to serve the world at large and accomplish your own goals. I was encouraged to agree to participate, but it sounded abstract, and I had no clue what that meant. When I asked, Colin sidestepped the question. He offered colorful but uninformative statements about energy and the power of women.

This is where the abuse began.

Many abusive relationships start out like a dream come true, as mine did. I’ve since learned that a uniquely intense and idyllic beginning is an integral part of the cycle of abuse. Colin remembered details that I felt were unlikely for a man to notice about me. If I mentioned in passing that I wanted something, weeks later he might surprise me with it as a gift. He remembered even fleeting insecurities that I might mention and asked careful questions to understand them. My words felt like they carried a weight and importance that I had never imagined they would to him.

Colin’s victims, and any young women who meet him in the future, should be aware of red flags that are indicative of the start of the cycle of abuse. I’ve outlined a few that I experienced with Colin here.

Claiming that the target is special and unique and the relationship moving quickly. This is an integral part of grooming, when an abuser prepares his victim to comply with future abuse by treating them with grandiose attention and affection. Colin showed an intense amount of interest in me that developed over an extremely short period of time – within weeks of getting to know me he was making declarations that he had "never met anyone like me" and that we had "already met in a past life". Colin introduced me to a friend of his who agreed that our relationship had spanned many lifetimes and encouraged me to see sexual healing as a widespread, legitimate practice.

Indicating that he would do anything for the target. This reinforces grooming and is meant to convey to the target that they are so special that their abuser will go to any lengths for them – even if they never follow through. Colin made outlandish claims which he could not support with any clear plan, such as that he intended to pay my student loans in full. This was despite my insistence that my loans were not his responsibility, and also despite his claims that he generates no excess income from his trips. When asked, he was unable to explain how this would actually be possible.

Developing trust while identifying vulnerability. Colin encourages his targets to disclose their vulnerabilities to him early on. In my case, this process began through the "sharing circles" that Colin facilitates on his trips. During my internship he showed particular interest in learning everything he could about me. Colin’s victims have noticed that he pays particular attention to insecurities, past trauma, long-term illnesses, and family issues, searching even if none are immediately apparent. Throughout the internship Colin encouraged me to disclose any past sexual trauma to him – even after I told him that I had none. Under the impression that Colin and I were genuinely connecting, I divulged stories that Colin later used to manipulate me. There are likely women still out there who, like I once did, feel bound to Colin by the intimate stories they shared with him.

Alienation and isolation. Colin invited me to move into his home and volunteer full-time with his companies. He is very good at framing this as a generous offer, and for a long time, that was how I saw it. Ultimately, Colin creates financial dependency and isolates the victim from their support networks. By the time I was having doubts about Colin, had quit volunteering for his companies and was refusing to run new trips, I still felt so isolated in my experience that I did not leave. I felt that no one could understand me like Colin did and that I could never make enough sense of my situation to explain it. Colin insisted that he never meant for me to feel this way, yet he suggested that my friends were unlikely to relate to me anymore and was unhappy when I visited home. As part of a larger pattern, these behaviors are alarming.

Throughout my internship, Colin coerced me into sexual "ceremonies" that were designed to wear away and violate my boundaries. Colin assessed my resistance to his behavior as "very unusual" and claimed this indicated a larger, hidden problem within me that had nothing to do with him. He claimed that many people facilitated sexual healing privately, in workshops, at healing centers, and cited online sources, media, and people within his own circle to reassure me that he had not made up the concept himself. He assured me that our relationship, mainly his involving a former student in his sexual ceremonies, was not typical for him.

Colin contrasted his sexual pressure with shows of generosity, treating me to fancy hotels and weeks in expensive national parks. I oscillated between feeling intensely grateful and intensely uncomfortable, even afraid. I had never experienced anything like my trip with Colin and rapidly felt close to him.

I shared the emotional details of my life with Colin, including managing a chronic illness that deeply affected my quality of life. I had seen dozens of doctors, all of whom had sent me away without answers. Colin claimed that he understood me, sharing with me his struggle against cancer. He told me that my cooperation in his ceremonies could alleviate my suffering, and that ceremony had cured his cancer. Colin rewarded me with infatuation when I was cooperative and was cold and unresponsive when I resisted him sexually or was not enthusiastic enough.

Colin theorized that my illness was psychosomatic and claimed that the fastest way to heal would be by "pushing my edge", which he explained as exposing myself to situations I did not want to be in and things I did not want to do. In the instances when I confronted him about ignoring my boundaries or pressuring me, he insisted that I was "sabotaging" my own healing. He suggested that I was throwing away an amazing opportunity, that he was just trying to help me, and I was pushing it away. My resistance, he said, demonstrated a psychological and spiritual shortcoming that would hold me back in life if I continued to refuse to address it.

Colin encouraged me to think of ceremony as something totally separate not just from the rest of our life, but even from the feelings that he claimed to be developing for me. Publicly he referred to me as his student. In private, he told me that he had come to see me differently.

Colin seemed amazed by me – except when I questioned his ceremonies. Dispersed within the abuse were emotional discussions about my potential in the world. I had never experienced anything like Colin’s totally unwavering belief in me. It felt so unconditional that I hardly noticed as Colin introduced conditions, one by one.

Yet I became frustrated that none of what Colin had suggested was possible through ceremony seemed to be happening. I grew increasingly skeptical. Colin called this proof of my "demons" and warned me that doubt could kill magic. Still, I didn’t seek any outside perspectives. I was embarrassed and thought no one would understand. I was also afraid of what their understanding might suggest.

I was told that I was the "most hateful person" who Colin had ever attempted to heal. He told me that he was here to help me process my experience, but only if I agreed to do it "productively" – naturally, he would be deciding what constituted a "productive" train of thought and what did not.

I made no connection between how Colin treated me and how he managed his trips. From my perspective, he appeared to be a genuine and competent leader. The sharing circles seemed to add legitimate meaning to his programs, rarely reaching the level of depth that had drawn me in as a student. I believed him when he said that his ceremonies were part of our personal life that in no way involved the trips.

Over time, the nature of Colin’s battle against cancer began to evolve. Initially, he had been unwavering in his claims that ceremony had cured his cancer. Now, he began to emphasize that healing was actually gradual. His miraculous recovery had taken years, apparently, before he had even noticed a change. He insisted that I should be patient.

Victims are often asked to explain why they stayed with their abuser and are usually unable to in a way that makes any rational sense. I couldn’t either. I believed that Colin was genuinely trying to help me, and that he had poured time, energy, and resources into me.

Despite telling me initially that I could "cut cords," i.e., end my ongoing sexual healing at any time, Colin was resistant to the idea in practice and unhappy when I decided that was what I wanted. I noticed a change in Colin’s behavior immediately afterward. He became aloof, as if he couldn’t remember who had invited me on his trips and wasn’t sure why I was still around. He seemed bored of me but denied it when I asked. I sensed that Colin no longer felt "connected" to me. I suspect that if nothing had changed, maybe I would have left then. But it was at that point that Colin finally offered for me to co-lead my first trip.

My struggles felt validated. I loved leading the trips. I felt that I was making a positive difference, and participants who followed up afterward told me that I was. From my perspective, Colin treated participants on the trips that I was co-leading appropriately and with respect. My relationship with participants ended once the trips were over, at most exchanging a few emails. Several got in touch with Colin for letters of recommendation, but he seemed to maintain a professional distance. I never knew him to keep in touch with the participants of my trips, and he never seemed excessively interested in any of them.

The trips were the part of my life that made absolute, unshakable sense, even when – especially when – I could not make sense of Colin.

I began cultivating a "normal" relationship with Colin, one that didn’t involve his ceremonies. He stopped calling me his student. Colin told me that he could not imagine having a relationship like we had with anyone else my age – I was especially mature, he said. I viewed the way Colin had followed up with me and pursued me on my internship as unique, something that neither of us had been expecting.

It was only a few short months after "cutting cords" that Laura Quinn published her original open letter, and Colin immediately began to minimize the importance of what he had previously claimed were life-changing ceremonies. He insisted now that what he had always wanted was a strictly normal, romantic relationship with me. I panicked at Laura’s letter and what it meant for my experience with ceremony.

The Exposing Colin Garland Facebook page was published, and in private, Colin countered their claims that his ceremonies were fake. He began to stress the high regard in which he claimed to hold my thoughts, values and contributions. Colin told me that if I stayed, he would do everything possible to "protect" me from the humiliation that would follow a group of strangers exposing my involvement in his ceremonies. He encouraged my fear that Laura Quinn and her supporters would not respect my story or my privacy, and that I should not risk any communication with them.

I couldn’t read Laura’s letter without shaking, but my distress was punctured with the relief that Colin seemed to be back to his "old" self – he was attentive and charismatic again, the same man who had promised me a dazzling internship in Africa and had been so deeply interested in me. Colin said that he was concerned for my mental health regarding Laura’s letter, and wanted to help me process my experiences with him safely. Laura Quinn was confused, he said, but he knew that I was tough and open-minded.

On some level, I felt that Colin was finally realizing my worth. But I didn’t think of it in those terms back then. All that I was completely sure of was that Colin and I were connecting again.

Colin showered me with affection. He shared with me stories of how misunderstood he had been in the past. He emphasized what a good fit we were for each other. I was no longer the most hateful person he had ever attempted to heal, but a valued equal, a critical thinker, a scientist with a rich career ahead of her. Colin seemed to regret the sexual pressure that he had subjected me to. In writing, he named specific incidents and spoke as if they had been innocent mistakes that he felt "horrible" about now. I assumed they were out of character for Colin and looked past them.

Inevitably, I began to get uncomfortable with the idea that I had somehow proved myself. I noticed that Colin’s actions even months before totally contradicted what he was telling me now. His previous claims that he and I had a greater purpose, that we were creating some kind of magic, seemed to have died out. I was still totally desensitized to what had happened but for bouts of panic, where I would demand explanations from Colin. But ceremonies were now "small beans" and Colin told me that I needed to move on.

I wanted to believe him. Yet I recognized Laura’s feelings as outlined in her letter not only as valid, but in some ways similar to how I remembered feeling not all that long ago. These now unimportant ceremonies had supposedly been deeply meaningful to Colin – conveniently, only when he was coercing me into participating.

I led several more trips and saw no reflection of our personal conflicts in how he led them. I still trusted him and never doubted that his programs were safe. I believed that any harm he had done to me had not been intentional, and though I was not convinced anymore that Colin’s ceremonies actually worked, I was wholeheartedly convinced that he believed they did.

Though some members of the community seemed outraged online, this was not reflected in the way I saw Colin received in person. Most people, he told me, clearly knew the allegations against him were bogus. He told me about how much he had tried to help Laura Quinn and how he had cared about her. He said that he regretted how Laura felt, but that she should leave his businesses out of it.

I heard nothing more about Laura Quinn or the accusations for months. In the meantime, Colin had made me an offer to sit on his Board of Directors for his nonprofit, The Global Classroom, in an interim position while he searched for someone permanent. He needed someone, he said, who he knew he could trust with the care of the property in Costa Rica, Aula Global Biological Reserve. I was someone he knew would do the right thing, he said, and act in the best interest of the rainforest no matter what, and I agreed to take the position.

I wondered if more would come from Laura Quinn, but nothing did until November 2017, when the Facebook page updated with the accounts of fourteen anonymous women.

Our relationship quickly began to unravel. I found the update disturbing and alarming, and Colin turned to devaluing traits that he had once praised in me. He spun blatant lies about his past victims to discredit them to me. He said that these women were angry about other things and they were trying to make his ceremonies look bad on purpose. He was misunderstood, and now, he said, I was starting to misunderstand him too.

We became unable to discuss our own history. Colin often insisted that I was misrepresenting his ideas, even if I repeated them back verbatim, and suggested that I had "manifested" Laura Quinn’s change of heart by being so difficult throughout his ceremonies. I tried to approach the situation logically, but Colin rarely offered a straight answer to any question. I did not recognize this as intentional deflection.

The Facebook page was claiming that Colin’s co-leaders were brainwashed, and reading this, I believed that the page had already discredited me. Colin discouraged me from reaching out and I believed that anything I said would be disregarded by the community. Though Colin and his victims were diametrically opposed, I felt that they both agreed that I couldn’t understand my own experience. From both Colin and his accusers, I heard the same message: You are crazy, you do not remember what happened to you, and we do not believe you. I felt like the only person on the planet who knew that I was sane.

Colin insisted that by holding him accountable for his behavior towards me, I was making him feel just as bad as he had made me feel and was therefore just as guilty as he was. Colin seemed to think that describing ceremony as abusive was an overreaction, and I finally sought an outside perspective through an abuse hotline chat. I was told that my situation did not constitute an emergency and took this to mean that Colin was right – without having been threatened with physical violence, our relationship did not count as abusive. I was overreacting.

Though in my experience co-leading with Colin he had appeared to treat participants respectfully, with the update I no longer felt that I could guarantee that this had always been the case or always would be. Fifteen days after the updated allegations were published, I quit volunteering for Raven Adventures and refused to co-lead any further trips. Colin refused to run them without my cooperation, and so they simply stopped.

Colin berated me throughout my time on his Board, but I made excuses for him, telling myself that he didn’t realize how he was treating me. Eventually I realized that Colin had chosen me for the position not for my potential, but because he had wanted to maintain control without being listed as a member.

I resigned from The Global Classroom’s Board after just over four months but had already been issued a legally binding permit that required me to be present on Colin’s property in Costa Rica from March until May. I knew that our relationship was fast falling apart but was still certain that it had been meaningful to him. I was embarrassed at how bad things had gotten and obsessed over coming across as though nothing was wrong.

Throughout the season, Colin’s emotional abuse worsened. He told me that if I broke up with him he would abandon the project we were in the midst of entirely, throwing away the work myself and other volunteers had put into it over the course of several years. Colin threatened to professionally slander me if I did not conduct our research using methods he preferred, telling me that only he was invested enough to deserve an opinion.

He began to change the content of stories he had already told. Previously Colin had bragged about my memory, which he had claimed to be impressed by. Now that I was keeping track of his evolving stories, he called my memory into question.

This is known as gaslighting – which is the act of using lies, denial, and contradictions to disorient the victim and create an environment where victim doubts their own perceptions and memories. I began journaling to keep track of Colin’s claims and our arguments. Colin belittled my journaling, telling me that any therapist would think it was "so sad" that I had used my time this way. He told me that I was not as "innocent" as I "pretended" to be and that he knew that I "had a past" but refused to elaborate on these claims when asked what he meant.

With his permission, I even recorded several of our arguments on my phone, thinking that this would help us communicate more clearly. He went on to deny what was said on one such recording literally while it was being played back to him.

With hours to myself in the rainforest, I asked what Colin was bringing to my life. I couldn’t think of a single good thing except "love", which I could no longer actually define. I recognized that I still felt bound to Colin but had no respect for his behavior and was no longer impressed by him. Other people seemed to be engaged in healthy, supportive relationships and I couldn’t come up with any reasons why that wasn’t possible for me, too. I had to ask myself what I honestly deserved. The answer was definitely better than this.

At the end of the season, I told Colin that I would be flying home to Michigan. He told me that he did not know why I thought that I needed to go home and that I actually would not be leaving the country at all. Instead, he would be taking me on a vacation. I told him that I would not be going. He said that I was "ruining" things and offered to drive me into town, only if I would promise that I would not use the internet to communicate with anyone while we were there. I refused, so he refused to take me into town. The argument came to a head when Colin told me that even if he did choose to drive me, I still had no money, and couldn’t afford a ticket without his credit card anyway.

Colin left on a hike. I walked an hour and a half before being picked up by the reserve caretaker and driven the rest of the way to town, where I bought my ticket.

I went home to Michigan. I drove back to Massachusetts to collect my things and move out. Colin and I broke up. I left, rationalized my time with Colin as purely emotionally abusive, and largely ignored any memories of ceremony. I rejected the idea, though their stories echoed mine, that I could be anything like Laura Quinn or the anonymous women who supported her. I bought a journal and wrote quotes about forgiveness in it. I saw a therapist and left out all the important things (P.S. – this is not how effective therapy works).

I told myself that Colin had really loved me and that we had both tried our best. I felt that I had no claim to the word "survivor" without bruises, and admitting to being a victim would mean accepting that after years of hard work and emotional investment, Colin had accrued zero respect for me as a worker or a person. I convinced myself not only that I was healing, but simultaneously that I really had nothing to heal from. I hadn’t yet learned that denial sometimes pretends to be strength.

Everyone felt like a threat to me. I didn’t want to meet new people, but I didn’t want to be alone. I needed to be with my people, make them laugh, annoy them, watch bad TV, offer stupid one-liners, and tell the same tired stories and laugh like we’d never heard that one before. I needed everyone to treat me exactly how they always had. If that changed, what would be left? Where would I pretend to still be me? What would happen if I realized that I was just pretending?

I saw strangers with their friends or their partners. They all seemed so connected, and I knew I would never be like them again. I had fleeting thoughts of going back to Massachusetts, just so I could feel known by someone. I lived with the fear that Colin was right – that no one would ever understand me like he did. I feared that people would truly see me just as much as I feared never being truly seen again.

Meanwhile, Colin and I stayed in touch. As the summer wore on, our emails became less frequent. At first Colin seemed committed to winning me back. But so much had transpired that it was nearly impossible for us to have a lighthearted conversation for long. In writing, we argued about ceremony.

When the HuffPost article was published, I felt both validated and beyond devastated. The article included women that I had asked about directly, who Colin had outright claimed he had never spoken to outside of the context of a trip. For me, the article was pivotal not because it was proof that Colin’s ceremonies, companies, and stories were bogus – but because it was proof that he had always known they were. All the time I had spent "fixing" things he had spent breaking them on purpose.

I wrote to Colin last on September 24th, 2018, in regard to the publication of the HuffPost article. I have not heard from him since.

Until that point, I had never understood how anyone could fear Colin. But I learned. For me it wasn’t a physical fear. It was visceral. It was almost like a fear of the unknown, except worse, because everything had already happened, and I still didn’t know what any of it was. It was the memory of Colin and I pigging out on junk food, watching some police drama on TV. The criminal in question was a man who had been happily married for years, with two kids who he treated well. The twist was that he had a secret apartment where he had been holding women hostage. I looked at Colin in awe and said: "How can you live with someone for years and not even know them?"

It was less a fear of Colin and more like one of all the cruel possibilities in the world that I had never even suspected. Anyone, I thought, could be capable of anything, no matter who you thought they were. It was the deepest, darkest sense of betrayal.

I now believe that Colin’s transformation after Laura’s letter had nothing to do with me. I believe that Colin chose to break his pattern of pursuing female students intentionally to keep me in the dark, convince me that I was special, and provide me with "proof" that Laura Quinn was making unfounded assumptions about his intentions. Colin’s pattern depends on his victims never learning any more than he intends for them to learn, and – if they do – that they feel so embarrassed they don’t dare admit it. Maybe not even to themselves.

I didn’t leave Colin until June of 2018. He won’t read my letter, but this letter is not for him. It’s for you. It’s for survivors of Colin’s abuse, potential future victims, and for any women who have gone through similar experiences. Maybe you’re reading it now the same way I once read other women’s stories, trying to put together a puzzle I didn't know I was in.

Offline Smart Mule

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Re: Colin Garland AKA Medicine Owl, Global Classroom
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2018, 12:37:49 am »
Continued -

From my experience, I may be able to share with you some of what I learned, and some of what Colin shared with me.

Colin wants you to believe that Q is your secret, too. It isn’t.

I was told of Colin’s magical time at a healing center, the women who "just got it" and how I should have more faith in him, like they did. But one of these women turned out to be Laura Quinn, who doesn’t remember "getting it". If you have been victimized by Colin, there is a high probability he has co-opted your experience to encourage other women to trust him. I choose to come forward so that Colin can never use my story in support of his behavior.

Colin suggested that he is willing to slut-shame his victims into silence when he told me that any woman who might think they have a story about him should "think carefully" about what they want their parents to know about them. It’s 2018 and this bullshit is cancelled. I would say that being a sexual predator is far more shameful than being intimate with someone you love and trust.

Colin wants you to believe that if you dare to think of yourself as a victim of his ceremonies, you hold an equal blame for not immediately reporting him. Colin is afraid of you. He knows that if he can shame you into fearing the same things he does, you will speak less, or not at all.

Colin is good at convincing his victims that his "professional life" is in no way tied to his ceremonies. For those involved, the work itself can easily become the only positive outcome of their experience with Colin, making it even harder to understand that his trips are in fact part of his abusive pattern.

Colin wants you to believe that you are alone, and it does not matter how. Believing that you are special to him or that no one could ever understand you both serve him the same way: You’re not breaking his rules. The feeling of isolation you may be experiencing is a myth. I know this because I believed it too.

At the supposed height of his devotion, Colin continued to lie and minimize while "apologizing" to me. In his written response to Laura Quinn, he stated that ceremony was "so far from my life right now and has been for a long time…" while they were only a few short months in our past. He claimed that that he had "walked away from that time and way" and had "never wanted to look back" despite expressing great displeasure with me only weeks before for not being more cooperative.

Colin told Laura: "I don’t know what I believe in" – and yet, he had seemed pretty confident in his beliefs until someone had the nerve to call him out on them in public.

To heal, I had to let ago of the hope that Colin hadn’t lied to me and that he hadn’t meant to hurt me. I had to let go of Colin’s insisting that I shared an equal responsibility for what had happened to me. It is not possible to be equally responsible for a decision you made while the other person was lying to and manipulating you in order to get the answer they wanted to hear.

Colin is not going to offer a genuine apology. Colin does not think he has done anything that he cannot justify. He is going to continue playing the victim, telling anyone who will listen that he is misunderstood. The truth is that Colin cannot allow you to understand him. He must rely on gaslighting, obfuscation, circular arguments and blatant lies because he knows that if you did begin to understand him, you would never put up with his behavior.

Colin knows that he is peddling bullshit. This is why he targets people in vulnerable transitions – like a trip abroad, at the end of a college career – and why he paid such attention to my fears, hopes, and dreams. This is why he pretended to support me. This is why he sold me half a story.

I know this because I asked him. We were still together, and I was in the early stages of processing my experience. I felt tricked but didn’t know why, or how to put it into words. I asked him why he had not been more upfront about his intentions when we had first met, why in retrospect it looked like he had made simple things confusing on purpose. He said: "If I had told you everything, you would have said no."

Colin knows that you have the right to say no. But he feels entitled to your yes.

It is impossible to consent to sexual activity under coercive circumstances.

Colin likes to think of himself as someone with a gift. He’s actually telling the truth: Colin is an incredibly gifted liar. Colin’s magic is that he can be so convincing. He even does his research when it's called for – the version I was given of his battle against cancer was backed up with facts that check out in real life. He claimed to have been diagnosed with parathyroid cancer and his referenced symptoms lined up with the literature. He even went so far as to point out the hospital where he said he was diagnosed, but never received any treatment, as we drove past it.

Later, I learned that Colin’s battle with cancer, which he compared to my own chronic illness and used to manipulate me, is largely if not entirely fictional. Colin has told other victims that he had oropharyngeal cancer; that doctors couldn’t determine what kind of cancer he had at all; that a mass had been removed from his neck; that he had undergone chemotherapy; and that he had undergone radiation.

In 2016, while volunteering on one of Colin’s trips, I became upset over the chronic pain and worsening condition of my illness. By then, Colin seemed to have largely abandoned the idea that his ceremonies should have alleviated my condition and was instead just kind of irritated that I was still bringing it up. Colin – who has been documented claiming to women that he will die of cancer if they do not have sex with him – responded by saying: "The world doesn’t revolve around you being sick, Sabrina."

I asked Colin to show me his copy of the medical record where he was diagnosed with parathyroid cancer. He told me that he didn’t have it, and that he couldn’t remember what hospital he had gone to. I reminded him that not even weeks before he had pointed out BayState as we drove by it, offering me that detail of his diagnosis completely unprompted. Colin insisted that his diagnosis was "so long ago" that BayState would no longer have those records, and that he just did not have the time to look into it.

Colin is right when he says he is an amazing storyteller. He's also telling everyone a different amazing story.

I was afraid of this letter. Though I looked, I found no other way that I could provide truth to the community, validation to other victims, and a warning to other women. My fear is not more important than equipping women, who might not otherwise have it, with the wisdom to recognize a potential predator and the awareness that Colin Garland without question is one. He is not going to stop or change.

Part of the success of Colin’s pattern is that women have left believing that they can somehow martyr themselves, and with their silence protect others from the pain of truth. But no one can protect anyone. My story is the most powerful thing I can offer anyone who might encounter him, or men like him, in the future.

Lying may be Colin’s gift, but speaking is mine. I refuse to be part of a cycle of silence that keeps predators like him safe.

Colin has conned good, genuine people into endorsing his companies, donating money, volunteering time, investing energy, loving and supporting him, and trusting him with their children. Raven Adventures and The Global Classroom were never Colin’s career. They are his stage. They are what he uses to surround himself with young women, part of how he dazzles them, and how he creates excuses to keep in touch with them that seem professional or innocent. With them, Colin is a con artist. Without them, he is just an old man who fixes cars.

I can’t stress enough what a dream come true Raven Adventures looked like to me. Colin saw that and used it to manipulate and use me. I now believe that Colin used his female co-leaders, including me, to create an image of trustworthiness. He wears the credibility of the women in his life like a costume. Colin is a coward, who hid behind my character to protect himself from scrutiny. For him, it was never about the trips. Raven Adventures is to my knowledge no longer Colin’s focus, but I have no doubt that Colin uses The Global Classroom to this day to attract future victims.

I once believed that The Global Classroom would ensure the safety of Aula Global. I now believe that Colin has no intention of protecting the rainforest and is happy to use it to further manipulate victims like me, who fell in love with it, and discourage us from pursuing justice.

You were right about me, Colin, when you said that I am someone who will do the right thing for the rainforest, no matter what. I believe that it is in the best interest of the public and Aula Global Biological Reserve that The Global Classroom be formally dissolved. Until then, Colin Garland will continue to hide behind it and abuse the image of professional authority that it provides to attract future victims.

For all the preaching he does against living in fear, that is exactly how Colin wants his victims to live. Colin wants me to fear for my career and for my reputation, fear that I cannot remember what happened, fear that I am overreacting, fear that no one will care. Colin spent an astounding amount of time and energy trying to train me to doubt myself and forget who I am – and it didn’t even work. The survivors of Colin’s abuse are creating change. Every single story is a crack in his foundation of bullshit.

My letter is for every woman who is quiet, unheard, or has chosen self-preservation instead of speaking out. I understand that choice and I respect it – I almost chose it for myself.

I do not care if you are not a "good enough" victim. Maybe you’re "too" loud; you swear "too much"; you have a mental illness; you were "too" quiet; you feel you should have "known better"; you are "too" sexual; you were "naïve"; you wanted to be his girlfriend; you wanted a job; you wanted a mentor; you didn’t protest enough; you were vulnerable and human. There is no level of perfection you must attain before your experience matters "enough". It already does.

Like anyone, I have human vulnerabilities, and Colin is an experienced predator who is looking for these. Colin’s abuse is not proof that you are somehow damaged or weak. He is an expert at using anything you care about against you – I care deeply for the reserve and the birds we studied together on that property. Colin used my dedication and love for the wildlife as manipulative tools. Africa was my childhood dream, and for Colin to exploit that is the purest form of cruelty.

Yet the very things Colin used to take advantage of me are some of my greatest strengths. My passion, heart, and dreams all carried me to Colin, and maybe they even gave him the tools to hurt me. But they also carried me all the way home, and if I could give them up for the promise of never meeting anyone like Colin again, I wouldn’t do it. I’ll take the risk. I love who I am too much.

To Colin: You’re not reading this letter. If you tried, I know you didn’t make it this far. You can lie about me, threaten me, and try and discredit me all you want, Colin. Throw your fit. You know you can’t change that Sabrina Storm wrote this letter, and that you know I’m not afraid of you.

Colin may choose to never read my letter. But you did. And it’s going to make a difference.

To everyone abused by Colin: I believe you. Your voice is powerful.

Colin knows that, and he’s hoping that you don’t.


  • Guest
Re: Colin Garland AKA Medicine Owl, Global Classroom
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2018, 09:17:55 pm »
His full name is Colin Keith Garland. He was born in 1961

Another complaint about him:

Date Occurred: 08/02/2014
    Reported Damages: $2,000.00
    Username: Colin Garland

Colin Garland (Raven Adventures) promoted and solicited trips to Africa during a presentation to a Biology Club at the College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry (S.U.N.Y. ESF) in the fall of 2011. My daughter, a student at ESF expressed interest and I paid $2,000.00 towards a round-trip ticket to Africa. Mr. Garland e-mailed a numberless SwissAir itinerary with the wrong return date, promised to fix it, did not fix it, then claimed that my daughter would have to board the plane before the return trip date could be corrected. Mr. Garland misrepresented his efforts to correct the error, and then stated that the ticket could not be changed until the price of the ticket came down. Mr. Garland claims that because my daughter refused to go to Africa without a valid return ticket, she cancelled the trip, so the deposit is not refundable. Clearly, the purchased tickets were never delivered, and contrary to his own claims, no effort was made to fix this. We have full documentation.

The upshot:

Colin Garland:

-made an error in booking the return flight

-failed to detect this error before forwarding the numberless itinerary to my daughter

-failed to correct his error

-did not have anyone else fix this error, as he claimed

-provided contradictory facts to cover his error

-having received a $2,000.00 deposit, failed to provide valid tickets$2,000.00