The Damage from Scofield’s Blog Post
As ludicrous as her accusations were, Be Scofield’s article insinuating that Aaravindha Himadra was somehow involved in Carla Shaffer’s wounding and death succeeded in damaging his reputation.
Although people who already knew Aaravindha continued to support him and attend his seminars, the malicious gossip that Scofield gleefully splashed over the internet caused strangers to shy away from attending his gatherings. And some students who embraced his teachings no longer wanted to be associated with Sambodha.
After Scofield published her article, vehicles belonging to Aaravindha’s associates were targeted. Tires were slashed on some, and screws were drilled into tires on others. The couple has received threats to set their home on fire and even to kill Aaravindha.
Anyone who works in legal defense or in the legitimate media can tell you that it’s very hard to recover from an accusation, no matter how nonsensical it may be. You can prove this yourself: paint a big RAPIST sign on your front door and watch people run away from you in droves. Even if your friends and neighbors and your employers are certain the accusation is baseless, a percentage of them will no longer admit they know you, and they certainly will not want their names associated with yours. You may even lose your job.
In the same way that we avoid someone with a contagious disease, everyone is wary of being contaminated by a scandal.
The damage done by even the most senseless accusation is real, and Be Scofield distributed her nasty insinuations against Aaravindha on the internet via her gurumag.com and bescofield.com websites, Facebook page, and her multiple online personas.
As previously mentioned, the internet loves a scandal, and people who had never met (or even heard of) Aaravindha were happy to join Be Scofield in screaming “cult!” on a variety of social media sites.
Sadly, it is human nature for a certain percentage of the population to join any organization that attacks others. Consider all the antagonistic organizations that persist around the globe. Go to Google and type the prefix “anti-” in front of almost any noun or adjective, and you’ll find groups that subscribe to that “anti” message: anti-LBGTQ, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-Islam, anti-Catholic, anti-atheist, etc.
Any hate-monger willing to step into the spotlight will always attract enthusiastic followers, and as noted throughout this report, Scofield relishes the “heroic” “cult-killer” role she has designed for herself. She is always more than willing to shine the spotlight on herself.
Be Scofield’s writings are not journalism. They are ignorant, harmful gossip.
What would you do if Be Scofield came after you?
In April of 2019, Aaravindha and Ashayrah (Janis Briedis and Jil Peterson-Briedis) filed a lawsuit against Robert J. Scofield, now known as Be Scofield, charging that individual with libel.
Scofield immediately retaliated by enlisting a law firm to defend her, calling the charge “a frivolous lawsuit” of the type “designed to harass and intimidate journalists.” She proudly posted the information on her website, gurumag.com, her Facebook page, and everywhere else she could think of. Be Scofield called it a SLAPP lawsuit, but she was apparently ill-informed or simply manufacturing the term, because the anti-SLAPP statutes in Washington State were declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme court in 2015, and her attorneys should have told her that she was not protected by those rules. Scofield writes about herself as if “The Guru Magazine” were an independent entity reporting on the story, when as usual, it’s again Be Scofield reporting on Be Scofield:
Several attorneys contacted by The Guru Magazine stated the article in question is not defamatory…
However, Scofield says “like any other article I’ve written, I used professional discretion, carefully researched the story and used critical judgment when interviewing people. It’s standard journalistic method.”
Scofield is confusing the “standard method” of gossip publications like National Enquirer with actual journalistic ethics. As Alexander Vera stated in his “Cult Mania” article:
Here are the 7 codes of ethics established by the Society of Professional Journalists which she (Scofield) blatantly violates in her reporting:
- Provide Context. Take special care not to oversimplify in promoting, previewing, or summarizing a story
- Identify Sources Clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivation of sources
- Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public
- Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant
- Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences shape their reporting
- Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments
- Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness
Be Scofield routinely and proudly violates every one of these ethics in her blog posts. That’s why she’s forced to publish on her own websites.
After months of frustration and legal bills during which time it was clear that Scofield was using the lawsuit for her own propaganda purposes, the Briedises voluntarily withdrew the lawsuit. They had concluded that it was more worthwhile to make an attempt to set the record straight through a proper investigation than to spend money on a lawsuit.
Scofield immediately boasted on her gurumag.com website, bragging about herself again in the third person, that the Briedises and their attorneys “were handed a defeat today when they were compelled to dismiss their defamation lawsuit against prominent cult reporter Be Scofield.”
This is yet another untruth from Scofield; nobody “compelled” the Briedises to dismiss the case, and the case was not “defeated.” In fact, the court awarded the Briedises a stipulated dismissal without prejudice, which includes the right to pursue the case again for up to a year afterward. This type of stipulation only occurs when the court believes a defamation case has merit. That is not a defeat.
Note that Scofield never misses an opportunity to advertise her “prominent” status, which seems to exist only on her own websites, especially gurumag.com and bescofield.com, and her Facebook page. And she never misses the chance to insert her favorite word, cult, as she again repeats her unfounded insinuations, saying that she was sued for “her investigation into Aaravindha’s Orcas Island cult and the suspicious death of his student.”
She also wrote “Once the lawsuit was filed it garnered local media attention with both the San Juan Islander covering it and the Islander Sounder as well.” It’s telling that Scofield feels compelled to note the coverage in the tiny county newspapers, which routinely publish the Sheriff’s Log of all traffic accidents, as well as stories on road closures and local literary contests and anything else that is happening in the area.
Be Scofield lusts after any coverage she can get, anywhere, even if she has to fabricate it herself.