Ruth Graham’s story about Sharon Ward and Jess Sweeney caused a stir. Some readers attacked Ruth’s right to be a victim based on her life and beliefs.
The arguments they make are:
Ruth did not disclose that Jesse Sweeney was once her boyfriend.
She owns a rifle
She is not transgender friendly
She is polyamorous
Critic #1 wrote:
Ruth, you made intense allegations about Jesse Sweeney. I think you need to disclose that you dated him. Not doing so damages your credibility, especially with community members who know your history with him.
It looks like you are just trashing an ex-boyfriend in the worst way possible. This is life-ruining. Did Jesse do the things alleged in your story to you? Are you the ex-girlfriend you speak of in this piece?
I was with Jesse when I was 18 until 21. He was about 10 years older.
I was young. Jesse was violent. There was a power imbalance due to the fact that Jesse is well placed in the ashram (due to his rich mother). I never was.
Jesse with his mother
The message was constantly “surrender surrender surrender.”
I’m 36 now.
I dated Jesse in 2004-2006. I left the ashram in 2014. Around 2010, I heard from other ashram people that Jesse was “sorry” and he had changed [although he never said sorry to me].
Hearing that he changed, I went to see him. He was staying in a house his mother bought him in the Portland area.
He was with his then-young pit bull, Dorje. The dog jumped up on me in a friendly way several times, and, as I recall, barked in a happy joyful way.
Jesse grabbed Dorge by the throat, shook it violently in the air, and threw it hard on the ground, causing Dorge to yelp in pain.
I literally saw red. I was so shocked, I got out of my seat and challenged him on it.
He said, “No, this is how you train pit bulls. You need to show them who is dominant. They don;t feel pain like we do.”
I left enraged and never saw Jesse alone again.
I heard from Jesse’s recent ex-girlfriend (whose identity I’ll protect for now). She said Jesse had not changed. He was worse.
By the way, Jesse’s ex told me Dorge was neurotic, full of anxiety, hard to control and unpredictable. She said Jesse claimed he had no idea how the dog got that way.
It may be, as Jesse said, in the way you train pit bulls.
Critic #2 wrote:
I thought Ruth was in a relationship with Jesse and stayed with him after some hard stuff.
I thought she bought a semi-automatic weapon online from another country, so that she could avoid the psychological evaluations one must go through when buying a gun in the USA.
Didn’t she also buy that semi-automatic weapon to heal herself from her neglect and difficulties at the ashram?
Didn’t she bring that gun down to that beach town where all the people from the ashram moved to after the Portland ashram closed?
Didn’t she walk up onto this guy Jesse Sweeney’s property at like 3 in the morning with her semi automatic weapon? Why exactly would she go on his property? Why would she bring her semi-automatic weapon to the town where all these people who wronged her moved?
Is she stable enough to have any gun, let alone a SEMI- AUTOMATIC GUN???
I don’t know where you got this information, but it isn’t correct.
Yes, I went to Gold Beach with Jessica Becker. According to her, she contacted Jesse Sweeney and notified him we were coming. Jessica insisted it was OK to show up late.
She and I went there, hoping Jesse would do the right thing and share with law enforcement what he knew about Swami Chetanananda.
Jessica believed in Jesse more than I did, but I was willing to meet him.
Nobody wanted revenge or to cause any harm. Jesse lived in the deep woods in land with bears, wolves, coyotes and mountain lions. Jessica insisted I bring my rifle, when we were to walk into the woods at night to get to where Jesse lived.
I drove legally with my rifle. I carried it legally. The parts you must register with the government are 100% legally registered and US made.
FYI, saying a rifle is semi-automatic is silly and perhaps an attempt to make me seem dangerous.
All guns, except revolvers, shotguns, and bolt action rifles, are semi-automatic these days. Even a little purse gun is semi-automatic.
I exercised my 2nd Amendment rights as a woman in a remote part of the state, and at the request of another woman.
Your comment makes me think you’re not one of the ashram higher-ups, because they know their gun rights. Sharon Ward carries a gun. Swami has many guns. Jesse probably has guns too.
Critic #3 wrote:
Isn’t Ruth Graham with a married man, and she tells people that she and her mate are polyamory’s, but did not sit down with her married boyfriend’s wife to confirm she was okay with this arrangement?
Doesn’t she point fingers at many others, yet she is doing so much damage in her own right to many others?
Having that online presence speaking out against trans people trans-women specifically – we aren’t “real” women, and she is afraid to use a bathroom with us. That alone says she believes any person who is, or was, a man, would rape if given a chance.
Pretty fearful of something that isn’t true at all. Rapists rape. Period.
I encourage Ruth to answer this and the other comment directly, and with her online commentary on Trans women. Make sure your hero is the person you truly want as a hero.
I think I know who wrote this, and it makes me sad to hear this from you. I encourage you to come forward with your real name and face. You are certainly not a trans woman, as you showed me pictures of your naked body. You are 100% female, not male.
You showed me these pictures without my consent, which I took as a red flag about your boundaries. You also sent me fully nude pictures of your ex-boyfriends without my consent, another boundary violation.
I assumed this was part of your lack of sobriety and trauma history, and asked you not to do it again.
One should not throw stones in glass houses. When you were an escort, how much were you paid to sleep with married men, not caring if their wives knew? Didn’t you confess to me that you sent naked pictures to a 14 year old boy a few years ago?
I had no opinion about trans issues when I lived in the ashram. So if I do now, does that make my story retroactively unworthy? Should victims not be believed due to political views?
But to clarify, I believe in your right to call yourself whatever you want, do whatever you want with your body, and dress accordingly.
But I am against compelled speech, forcing others to insist on your reality of yourself. It is my right to believe or say whatever I want about this issue.
Anyone can go on my Facebook and Instagram and see my views.
I’m not here to be a hero. I’m here to share my story. This cult is venomous, it has poisoned many, it has attracted many poisonous minds.
You can disagree with my ideologies, you can disagree with my private life, but none of that is relevant.
Note for the above though: It’s polyamory and the adjective is polyamorous. And EVERYTHING in my private life was explicitly consensual. ALWAYS.
Critic #4 wrote:
This is 100% false. When Jesse went to Nepal, I moved to another floor in the Movement Center, away from him.
I quit being his friend by the time he returned from Nepal, because he promised to email me to update me on how he’s doing (affirming he’s not abusing women and girls) and he wouldn’t do that.
I was also very angry. I was a virgin before Jesse. It hurt to face that the first person I was intimate with was such a dark person. It also hurt that there was such clear favoritism regarding him.
It hurt to find out what he did in Nepal second hand, that he wasted every opportunity he was given and couldn’t reach out to a friend he promised to talk to for help.
There was a public incident of me calling him out, yelling at him, when he came back.
Critic #5 wrote:
Ruth and Jesse dated when she first came into the community. She behaved like an obsessed teenager and was extremely angry Jesse left to go on a trip and it resulted in him breaking up with her.
This article is riddled with inaccurate intel.
Like the fact Ruth didn’t live there 8 consecutive years. She lived there two separate times in an eight year span. Stretching the truth will not help anyone uncover the TRUTH about what has been going on. Blurring facts are only re-traumatizing the victims.
I behaved like an obsessed teenager? Well, as a point of clarification, I was a teenager. I was 19.
Jesse was significantly older. But which one of us was the drug addict caught sleeping with prostitutes?
You say I didn’t live at the Movement Center for 8 consecutive years. It is true. I was in the cult for 10 years, but lived in the ashram for 8 years, but not consecutively. At one point, they kicked me out because I owed them $600. When I paid it, they were “so compassionate” they let me back in.
A note to Jesse Sweeney from Frank Parlato:
Jesse, the time has come for you to save yourself. The bricks are falling out of the building that once was the Swami Chetanananda. You know what he has done. He tried to fashion you in his image.
You can get immunity. You can help bring justice to the women Chetanananda hurt.
I gave this same advice to Allison Mack. She did not listen.
Do not make the same mistake. Call me, [305-783-7083] and I will help you get immunity. But, do not wait until it is too late, like poor Allison.
Your call will be absolutely confidential.
Allison Mack with her mother before reporting to prison.
Save yourself Jesse….