By Ruth Graham
Why is she glued to Michael’s side?
What lies behind her dead eyes and gloating, ice-cold, self-satisfied grin?
Why would she grin wickedly when her rottweilers would growl at anyone who came near?
I don’t have all the answers, but I know Sharon Ward better than most.
I knew Sharon better than Swami Chetanananda. I saw her one on one much more than the Swami.
Former members of this cult said they fear her because of her “high” standing among law enforcement and rescue operators.
Sharon told me she never mentions her spiritual practices, or that she lives in a commune to “redneck,” “republican,” people she works with in law enforcement. They wouldn’t understand, she explained, because they are beings of lower vibration.
I was a “being of lower vibration” too since I was a low-level laborer at the ashram under her control.
Sharon Ward is also an attorney. I understand she became an attorney to serve her master, Swami Chetanananda, and help him cover up his fraud, drug binges, and abuses of women.
Her name is the notify party and executive of shell businesses set up to serve this cult in
She sometimes travels with the Swami and sometimes stays behind to oversee the ashram when he is gone. She oversees the intake of “new” students and handles expulsions.
She bullies and scares people who want to speak out against them. She gets women to sign NDAs after the Swami rapes or strangles them.
Sharon reminds me of Osho’s right-hand woman, Ma Anand Sheela.
Ma Anand Sheela, 72, managed the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh ashram in Wasco County, Oregon from 1981 through 1985. In 1986, she was convicted for attempted murder and assault for her role in the 1984 Rajneeshee bio-terror attack. She served 29 months in federal prison.
At one time, I admired Sharon for being one of the few female spiritual teachers.
I tried to connect with her.
I’m grateful she was cold, odd, off-putting and cruel. She was pivotal in me waking up from the cult. Her emotions are shallow, with limited range. She is different from the Swami, since he is known for his dramatic, raging tantrums.
The Swami beats, rapes and strangles women and has a drug habit as wide and deep as the Columbia River. His lieutenants do drugs with him. But not Sharon.
In the ashram, I was tasked with cleaning her lavish apartment. I would have to clean her bathroom and scrub down her Jacuzzi.
I had many duties, including preparing meals for the entire ashram, cooking for 70 to 100 people, sometimes alone.
I did maintenance work also. I removed and poured concrete, mowed the lawn, chainsawed stumps and rotten trees, cleaned gutters, did roofing, flooring, masonry, dug ditches and electrical work.
I smelted copper wires. I ground metal to prepare surfaces for welding. I operated a bore with a bit as big as my hand to drill holes in concrete.
I ground the stump of a tree – at a credit of $8 hours toward my rent and tuition.While Jimi was my direct manager, Sharon decided how much my labor was “worth” and how much my room – about the size of a walk-in closet – about 14 x 7 – was supposed to be per month.
She would come down on me if I missed meditation class. Lower level members were not allowed to miss classes.
The Movement Center where I spent eight years of my life.
She decided to credit me $8 per hour for a certain number of hours I worked doing whatever they ordered me to do. I did not get the money in cash. It was applied to my rent and tuition.
She gave me papers to sign, telling me I had to sign. I had no workers compensation, health insurance, legal protection or representation.
She told me that my work was done not for payment, but part of an internship. She told me I could be replaced at any time, that I had no right of possession of my room. I could be asked to leave any time, because I was not an employee or tenant.
I learned many things I did were illegal as a volunteer/intern including OSHA violations and job safety rules, such as no helmet, no rope, no spotter.
I cut rotten poplar trees from a cherry picker, alone, 60 feet in the air, leaning over precariously, holding a chain saw dangling over the side, cutting the giant trees chunk by chunk.
I worked on old scaffolding with metal frames with old wood planks with rickety feet on the ends holding it in place. I was four stories high, without a tie in, reglazing and repainting windows alone.
They gave me a blow torch with a propane tank for blow torching weeds.
I cleaned gutters alone, with a boat rope and harness. I scooped out rotten leaves from the utters on the four story building.
I had to carry the bag of leaves over my shoulder as I pulled myself up and down the steep part of the roof – sometimes in cold rain. I wore cheap gardening gloves carrying a wet sloppy bag as I climbed up the slippery and steep roof.
The rope was long enough that if I had slipped, I probably would not have fallen all the way to the ground.
Cool as a cucumber
Sharon Ward often told me I had no rights under the ashram system. The only time I ever saw her close to angry is when she would rant about people not being “grateful” for the opportunity to live in the community.
Swami Chetanananda with Sharon WardI was motivated to write about her due to an interview she did with OPB about being a cadaver dog search and rescue operator – and how she obtains human remains and bodily fluids.
Sharon eventually became an “official” Swami.
Attorney Sharon Ward AKA Sadhvi Parananda with her guru Swami Chetanananda.
Even before she became a Swami, she was a spiritual teacher at the ashram and would give talks.
One of those talks was about faulty human perceptions. This “talk” she gave many times. She told me the same talk one on one more than once, like she forgot she told me or was eager to tell it again.
To summarize her talk:
A study was done on the limits of human observation, especially when asked to do complex tasks.
Subjects in a research study were asked to watch a video of basketball players running around while passing a ball (practicing their passes). The subjects are asked to count how many passes are made in a video about seven minutes long.
There are random people walking across the room. At one point in the video, a man wearing a gorilla suit walks between the players, from one side to the other.
After the video is done, the subjects of the study are asked if they saw the man in the gorilla suit.
Most in the study did not see the man in the gorilla suit.
She would then pepper in stuff about how “our practices” would increase our abilities beyond normal humans. We would spot the man in the gorilla suit.
The Swami with Sharon Word and Valli.
I have come to think Sharon probably thinks she is the man in the gorilla suit. Getting away with it. Or she is walking around in a human suit, and people are not seeing the gorilla inside.
I wonder if any law enforcement officers or rescue workers she works with know she thinks they’re stupider than her dogs, and thinks of them as uneducated “yokels” and “rednecks”.
But law enforcement and rescue operators are not alone in her low opinion. I have to grapple with the fact that she duped me for years. I was a severely stressed young adult from a very isolated and neglected childhood. I came there as a teenager.
Sharon acted as my spiritual teacher, confidant and overseer. Yet in her role as a spiritual guide, she convinced me I was a small, disappointing charity case, while she worked me like a beast doing all kinds of dangerous jobs.
She was my Dolores Umbridge.
Dolores Umbridge [played by Imelda Staunton] in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ is “High Inquisitor” assigned by the government’s Minister of Magic to control the school.
I worked six, sometimes 7 days a week, asking for the barest minimum, and often getting less.
Sharon does rescue work
Sharon was the first woman I knew who worked in rescue/medical/law enforcement. I was interested in EMT work. So I tried to get more information about her job.
Besides the icky cadaver stuff, she would talk about liability in rescues and first aid care, and how careful you have to be not to get sued.
At the time, I thought her obsession with legal liability was normal. She would constantly talk about how if you administer first aid, you better have your gloves on, not because of protecting yourself, but because of legal liability.
Later, when I became certified in first aid, I found that liability wasn’t emphasized that much. Sure, it was mentioned, but nobody was obsessed with the fear of being sued by the person who is not breathing whom you’re trying to revive.
Sharon would talk about if you administer a shot to someone, you never directly put the shot into their body, rather you “put their hand around the syringe and guide their hand into their own thigh.”
Why did Sharon say this over and over? What liability was she trying to avoid?
The Swami supposedly stuck B-12 shots into women without their consent, after ordering them to do drugs with him and strangling them. But is there something more?
I know Sharon covered up violent abuse and drug abuse.
I am suspicious about one girl.
The Swami’s office on the first floor was where he allegedly committed numerous assaults on women and girls. I saw a girl/young woman named Krystyn Wong go in his office daily. She was his “puja assistant.”
[Editor’s note:Ruth originally thought Krystyn was a teenager, but she may have been in her early 20s.]
Wendy slept in the basement, while the Swami mentored her daughter.
Her mother, Wendy, lived in the basement underneath, while Krystyn slept next to the Swami’s office. She didn’t have to attend meditation like lower ranking members. She was always hurrying from one room to the next, never eating with other members in the common area. She was one of the few people allowed to keep a pet, besides Sharon.
Later, Krystyn had her college and medical school paid for by the Swami.
I wonder is she was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
I also think Sharon covered up for sexual abusers besides the Swami.
One is Jesse Sweeney. He sent ‘dick pics’ to a 13 year old girl and thought he was going to be arrested. Not long after, he was shipped to Nepal to try to rehab him purportedly from pedophilia and drug addiction. He was allegedly caught having sex with underage prostitutes in Nepal and sent back to the USA.
It is well known that he likes to urinate in women’s mouths. He asks them to role play as underage girls. He likes to ask women who had underage sexual trauma to reenact that trauma in sex with him for his gratification.
He demanded to orgasm on women’s faces while requiring them to keep their eyes open – which can be stingingly painful and damage the eyes. He is known to have consensual sex, then turn it violent and rape women anally without their consent.
One of his girlfriends told me that he keeps a secret hard drive known to contain photos of 12 year old girls. He is also a domestic abuser with a propensity toward rage outbursts.
He would hurt women, destroy their property, beat and strangle them, then cry and apologize and beg for forgiveness. He put one woman in a cast.
He has a rich mother, Mary Grace, who makes large contributions to the Swami. The Swami and Sharon are prepared to forgive and forget Jesse’s transgressions.
I understand the Swami says he has child porn, which he can prove is Jesse’s. He is holding this over Jesse’s head as blackmail – if Jesse ever decided to blow the Swami in on his own offenses.
Sharon almost certainly knows all about this.
Another abuser is Govind C., who assaulted me in the laundry room while folding the kitchen laundry. He came in, hugged me and kissed me on my cheek. Then he started kissing me on my lips, against my wishes. I pushed him away. I moved to the linen closet. He followed me and hugged me again, cornering me. He started kissing me – his breath reeked of alcohol – and tried to put his tongue inside my mouth. I shouted, ready to scream, which startled him enough to let go. I managed to escape and ran out the door.
I reported Govind’s attack to Sharon and asked for help. She knew how distraught I was, and that I never wanted to speak to Govind again or be in the same room.
Govind was one of the lead chanters at the ashram. I was a good singer, so I sometimes lead chants. I quit chanting after that.
Govind, the Swami and Govind’s wife, Claudia. Govind has been with the Swami since 1968. Claudia was an original hire at Intel.
I would leave the room if Govind came near me, and not speak to him or greet him during the meditation programs.
After this, Sharon ordered Govind to quit drinking, and it worked out for him. He lost about 30 pounds.
But my determination to stay away and not speak to Govind made Sharon summon me to her office.
She said, “We need you to remain publicly friends with Govind for the sake of our public programs.”
I refused. Sharon was not pleased.
I asked Sharon if she would kick me out because of my refusal. She said, “We shall see.”
I was kicked out not long after. Sharon said I was “spiritual poison.”
But what really sealed my expulsion was that Sharon asked me, while I worked six to 7 days a week for the ashram to apply for SSI.
Sharon told me that my “internship” work was unacceptable as “tuition” and I was there only by their good graces. I didn’t pay them rent in cash. No matter how many hours I worked – and it was usually over 50 hours per week – I still owed them more tuition.
Sharon told me that even though my work was insufficient to pay for my room and tuition, they are generous human beings, and their mission was to help me.
So she told me to get SSI by claiming I was mentally disabled. They would keep my check as partial payment toward my tuition and rent for my room.
I remember Sharon trying to convince me I was mentally ill. Though she is not a doctor or therapist, her training with the Swami as a spiritual teacher gave her greater insight into the human mind than a mere paid professional.
Sadhvi and the Swami at Gold Beach.
She used my private childhood trauma – which I had told her about – to convince me that I needed to accept I was mentally disabled.
I knew I was not physically disabled. I worked every day in the kitchen to prepare food. I knew the construction and maintenance work I did was competent. I was capable of being a healthy member of society.
I did not need to be on SSI.
However, I made the application – applying based on mental disability – with Sharon guiding me to make signed statements under penalty of perjury.
SSI assigned a case worker and lawyer. I was afraid to tell them what kind of life I lived at the ashram. Eventually, I told my lawyer I was not disabled. I felt that committing SSI fraud would ruin my life. The lawyer suggested I was being used, and told me it could backfire if I “committed federal fraud.”
I declined to go to the court hearing for my SSI.
But I nearly did what Sharon demanded. I was desperate to please her and thought so low of myself.
The narrative around anyone like me put to work there was how little money the ashram has, and “how lucky you are to be here to have this opportunity to grow.”
I’m glad I didn’t do SSI fraud. They could have convinced the world I wasn’t fit to represent myself, and stole my SSI check forever. They would have collateral on me for the rest of my life, and used that to control me.
Around the time I refused to lie to SSI, the ashram got a new crop of young people. Dan and Jessica were coming in. So was Natacha and her sister, Marianna.
Young people were sucked in. While they were being love bombed, I was discarded.
Not long after, they were discarded.
The Govind incident, plus my refusal to lie to the government to get SSI, led to me being expelled from the ashram.
I am lucky to have left, and I am now gainfully employed in a management position with an international company – and making a lot more than $8 per hour.
In my next article, I will tell more about the secret life at the ashram that I observed during my eight years living there.