Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds /Milk Tea Alliance

ATS and Sexual Misconduct

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Caption: Not that I’m into sitting on thrones or anything….buut, if it’s there, why not?

Against the Stream/Refuge Recovery has suspended the teaching activities of Noah Levine for allegations of sexual misconduct. A letter from the Board of Directors says that “Levine has taken a leave of absence from his role as president of the Refuge Recovery board. It also states that the Los Angeles Police Department has conducted an investigation into the allegations, but results have yet to be released.” You can read about the issues with Noah in this Lion’s Roar article, “Refuge Recovery addresses sexual misconduct allegations against founder Noah Levine.”

I found out through this Reddit post that Noah was not the only ATS teacher accused of sexual misconduct. A ‘Frank Uyttebroeck’ teacher was dismissed for sexual misconduct. ATS has allowed [did not allow, reports vary] Ken McCleod to teach at ATS after alleged sexual misconduct involving two women in earlier teaching roles. ATS has a serious problem with the role of women in these organizations.

In this recording, a woman who worked at Refuge Recovery as the Marketing Director, tells her story about what it was like to work for Noah, the ‘dharmalebrity’ (their term, not hers) and the general disarray of the organization. She was told that Noah doesn’t like “strong women”. It did not end well.

I’ve read Dharma Punx and Against the Stream, both by Noah Levine. Dharma Punx is Noah’s Buddhist autobiography, how he got off drugs in 12-Step programs and early on began practicing Buddhist meditation. I noted in his autobiography that he had a terrible relationship with his mother, and a couple of troubled relationships with women. Details are few, but he explained the difficult relationships in that he tended to be attracted to ’emotionally broken women’, like his mother. Red flag.

I have always had a conflicted relationship with Dharma Punx/Against the Stream and what I call its “macho bullshit” mentality. What I have observed and the vibe I got was that the leadership at the top was dominated by men and most local groups were run by male teachers. These organizations were run by particular kinds of men—men who ascribed to a kind of punk machismo, heterosexist white men who liked punk rock, tattoos and skateboard fashion.

The big exception seems to be Dharma Punx NYC’s Josh Korda, who has stated in many of his talks that he feels really uncomfortable with the macho bullshit of the punk scene that he grew up in, and has a fear of macho men who push him around. Josh also expresses a lot of empathy for homosexual men whose queer masculinity is not tolerated by mainstream heterosexist culture.

Obviously, the scandal involving Noah Levine, spiritual leader of Dharma Punx/ATS/Refuge Recovery is causing tremendous stress and disruption in all three of those organizations. You can hear Josh Korda speak about the tension and distress this causes the sangha in his latest talk: “I just don’t know what to make of it and that’s Ok.”


Josh’s clinical practice and many of his dharma talks deal with the trauma of violence and sexual abuse. He’s aware of how situations like Noah’s can trigger painful feelings of trauma, fear and shame in members of the sangha. To his credit, and the credit of Dharma Punx NYC, Josh has set up a safe space for people to discuss the impact of these traumas. From the Dharma Punx NYC website:

I’ve asked two key facilitators in our sangha, Sydney and Kathy, to lead a ‘safe(r) space’ evening, this Thursday, April 5th, 7pm at 302 Bowery, and then more in the future when they deem worthy, where people can express their experience in the sangha, especially focusing on issues relating to rape culture, patriarchy, racism and all other forms of systemic oppression and exclusion. I hope you’ll support this endeavor.

Although I feel a certain affinity with Dharma Punx and Refuge Recovery (as a sober person), I have always been wary of participating in either organization. As a trans-masculine person, I have always felt that my queer spin on masculinity and gender issues in general is not a good fit with either of those organizations. Although I came of age in the punk generation (70s-80s), I don’t identify with the punk aesthetic, especially its violence and toxic masculinity. I’m really a post-punk, queer-core, closet goth type, which had its heyday in the 90s with the whole explosion of gender queer. I also associate the ‘macho-bullshit’ ethos with a kind of authoritarianism in Buddhism, which I reject completely. So that’s why I started Queer Dharma Circle, with the emphasis on queer genders and spiritualities, with an anarchist peer-led style of governance.

Ultimately, however this works out for Noah personally, this massive shake-up of the leadership will be good for all three organizations. Noah has complained that ATS/RR suffers from ‘founder’s syndrome’, as overly dependent on the charisma of the lead teacher. It would be really good if ATS/RR and affiliated Dharma Punx groups took a good hard look at the macho authoritarian culture that dominates these groups and developed a more feminist, communal approach to group leadership.



54 comments on “ATS and Sexual Misconduct

  1. Vance Chatel

    great response. I often listen to Josh Korda and find myself cringing through the parts that seem a bit aggressive Is it aggressive masculinity? Aggressive well-adjustment?
    It’s hard to put a finger on, and I continue to listen, but there is something. Aggressiveness is pervasive in our culture and in me too at times. It comes out at times of insecurity.

  2. josephrogers3

    a few points of clarity. ken mccleod was specifically asked NOT to teach at ATS following public revelations of sexual misconduct. despite the statement that Frank and Noah have been asked not to teach when allegations of misconduct have been brought to the ATS teacher’s council, you say that ATS has a “serious problem with the role of women.” isn’t that a sign that ATS, unlike generations of other sanghas we could name ad infinitum, has healthy mechanisms in place to deal with a problem that has plagued all spiritual communities?

    you say that ATS is dominated by “macho bullshit” which you define as leadership and facilitators being dominated by men (although Josh is cool i guess). Yet our long-standing director is a woman, the guiding teacher of the original community here in los angeles is a woman, and 29 of the recent 64 recipients of an ATS email to all those in a teaching role within the community were women. not bad for an organization that has focused on recognizing this issue and then addressing it. i think this is an old, easy to rely on critique of the community that fits the current narrative.

    and finally. i am a white, cis-gender, heterosexual male. i like loud, aggressive, punk rock and metal music. i skateboard and wear vans with a backwards trucker hat. i found in my community a place where the dharma was spoken in a way that landed in my heart. and i hope that all beings hear the dharma in a way that speaks to them.

    i am heartbroken by what is transpiring in my community. you are right, it will be good for our organizations. because we are facing it and standing in it with transparency, openness, and compassion.

    WordPress.com / Gravatar.com credentials can be used.

  3. Shaun Bartone

    @josephrogers3 (1) thanks for the correcting the record on Ken McCleod and ATS. (2) My point about Josh Korda is that I think the way he is handling the situation is exemplary. Josh recognizes that people are traumatized by situations like this and the response he and DP NYC are taking is the best course of action–setting up a group where people can process the situation.

    Look at what this group is set up to deal with: “especially focusing on issues relating to rape culture, patriarchy, racism and all other forms of systemic oppression and exclusion. Ok? So Dharma Punx NYC is facing these issues head on, both within the sangha and the larger society.

    I listen to Josh’s podcasts almost weekly, and I donate to DP NYC on a regular basis to support his teaching. So I’m not against ATS categorically. Josh’s teaching speaks to me the way that DP/ATS punk culture speaks to you.

    • I don’t know the answer to any of this. I am glad that Josh is holding a healthy container to look at these issues. I am also saddened and confused by what appears to be a ready willingness to write about things we are not sure about. Also just for the record: I am not as described the sangha and environment, although i do agree it tends to weigh that way. I am a 56 year old white hetero male, zero tattoos, jazz and Blues musician, happily married to a strong latina woman and with two sane and healthy boys. I have been practicing and studying Buddhism since 1974. Having lived with Allen Ginsberg, studied with trungpa, and with Cheri Huber and trained by Noah to be a DP facilitator after which I spent a year developing Meditation for musicians at the Musician institute and hosting the weekly DP sit at Naropa University for 4 years.. I have gone on hundreds of retreats and workshops, dharma talks and lectures and thousands of hours on the cushion. For me spirituality has become this corporatized industry and teachers are held in high esteem beyond merit, almost everyone wants to be the guru, and everyone also forgets we are all subject to the same human frailties. (To be honest the only person I have heard speak accurately about matters spiritual is Christopher Hitchens and his perspective is simply that no human being can realistically have access to information that we don’t all have access to.) Too often people put too much faith in the projections on to teachers and forget that we are all humans with the same delusions. The Regent gave people AIDS thinking his metaphysical training made him immune, Trungpa drank, Suzuki Roshi had horrific family issues, way too many teachers sleep with students ad infinitum, because of the transference and projections of wisdom and power and liberation, delusion abounds. To be honest in the more than 40 years i have been practicing I have yet to see anyone really significantly transformed. To paraphrase james Hillman: “We have had thousands of years of Spirituality, and the world is getting worse.” All that said, I will say that I experienced Noah as a gifted teacher and someone who seems to have an integrated and pragmatic practice. I can say he also has shadow and seems to be open and accountable and willing to be held that way. I have no idea of what happened and no way of knowing what happened. I do know that the world is getting progressively more fractured and aggressive. That the responsibility of each individual is to “diligently seek his or her own salvation”, and that any sense of certainty and judgement should be looked at carefully as we are all capable of being and acting deluded. May we all find relief from the root causes of suffering.

  4. Anon

    I wote the below in referrence to the following article . I’m re-posting here because it’s about the same subject: Noah Levine.

    Wow, love to see how you guys protect the real pervert, the jerk known as Surya Das, and turn on one of your own. Surya Das loss 90% of his sangha because he started screwing one of the women in his sangha during a retreat. During a phone call, Lama Willa Miller told me that she considered the female Das seduced the “most vulnerable” of all the women in the sangha. She also said the female was not what she would “expect” Das to be “attracted too.” That the female wasn’t the “type of women” Das been with before. But of course Lama Miller is speaking of women Das openly dated – oh by the way – that also includes 3 women that I know of from his sangha prior to all this going down. But the women Das sexually took advantage of was hidden away and used for sex during retreats not openly dating. Of course Das was married during all of this and his wife – a non-Buddhist – left him due to his sexual misconduct becoming public. Once Das was done with his victim, she observed another woman heading into Das’ bedroom during another retreat. She then told Lama Miller about the sexual abuse (Oh and by the way, surprise, surprise, Lama Miller is now, once again a supporter of Das!). Lama Miller and ALL the other teachers associated with Das left him behind and took most of the sangha. They formed Natural Dharma Fellowship without Das. Das is a master manipulator and I believe he’s a sociopath.

    You’re all hypocrites! Das tried to bed me for years. Following me. Calling me. Sending me emails pretending to be someone else. They guy’s a mess. He used to literally follow me around. After years of this, his behavior became predictable. So, I have witnesses! He just doesn’t understand no! Nothing deterred him. Year after year, I had to deal with this pig and no one helped me, no one turned on him. He was married during this time. You guys don’t give a crap about women as long as you continue to support Das. Ask yourself, how many other women like me are out there? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been harassed by Das.

    In your article you speak of “Kornfield” and his “investigation.” Kornfield is a close friend of Das. One time I rejected Das’ invitation to give me a ride. I guess he finally realized he was never going to get anywhere with me, it took years to convey this message. The next day, Das sicced Kornfield on me during a Dharma event. In fact, Kornfield singled me out to have a talk with me. I’d never met or had spoken to Kornfield. Kornfield tried to intimidate me and tried to force me to leave the Dharma event. When I stood my ground, Kornfield called me a “demon” and referred to Das as his “close friend.” Kornfield is no saint. ALL YOU PATHETIC HIPPIES protect each other. Maybe it’s all the time you addicts spent/spend consuming drugs together.

    Wake up! Here’s a clue for all you Vipassana teachers. During a 2 week retreat w/Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche he told two thousand attendees to not bother with American Vipassana teachers. He told us you’re all leading your students nowhere. Your students are like lambs to the slaughter.

    Noah’s not my teacher but he’s a good and effective teacher. Look at the amazing sangha he’s created. Think of how many people he’s brought to the Dharma who would never be with us today. There is no way he’s anywhere as bad as Das. Das has a known history of bedding his female AND male students due to his inclination of bi-sexuality. You hypocrites will not escape your Karma.

    • Shaun Bartone

      Thank you for telling your story. It’s quite believable as far as I’m concerned. I saw LSD give a talk at a Buddhist Geeks conference and I saw and heard him make make a sexually suggestive remark at a young woman in the audience who had stood up to ask a question. I was totally shocked—I mean this was in public in front of hundreds of people. So his reputed sexual stalking seems quite plausible.

      The film that shows him making this remark was posted in my blog; see for yourself: https://engagedharma.net/2015/10/21/lama-surya-das-the-death-rebirth-and-future-of-buddhism-in-the-west/

      However, I have never defended Surya Das. I have quoted him a couple of times, early on in my Buddhist studies, because he said something relevant to me. But I have never ‘defended’ him. If I had known what I know about him now, what you’re saying about him, I probably would have never posted anything about him at all. So thanks for bringing this to my attention.

      Also, I’m not a Vipassana teacher. I don’t teach Buddhism. I’m a sociologist; I conduct social research on Buddhism and other New Religious Movements in the West.

  5. Shaun Bartone

    @ Anon But just because someone has been a great teacher, like Noah, doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of also doing harm. Chogyam Trungpa almost singlehandedly started Buddhism in the West (outside of the Zen tradition) and yet he sexually abused scores of both women and men. I don’t know what Noah has been accused of, nobody does except the accuser and the LAPD. And I certainly don’t know if he is guilty or innocent of any charges. We won’t know that for months or perhaps years.

    But for me the bigger issue is the whole role of ‘teachers’ in Buddhism. I have written about this numerous times on this blog, that we don’t need teachers except for short periods of time to teach us the dharma. Then once we’ve learned it for ourselves, we don’t need teachers anymore. We most certainly don’t need ‘gurus’, not even punk gurus like Noah. I am categorically against the whole guru phenom in Buddhism.

    Against the Stream/Refuge Recovery calls Noah a ‘Dharmalebrity’, which is a term THEY invented. ATS markets itself and its offshoots like a brand. That’s why they hired a marketing director, to market their Brand and their ‘Dharmalebrity.’ Dharma Punx is a Brand. ATS is a Brand. Refuge Recovery is a Brand, part of the DP/ATS Family of Brands. Lots of other Buddhist sanghas and organizations are Brands, and they all have their Brand Leaders. Like Nalandabodhi is a Brand and its Brand Leader is Dzogchen Ponlop, and believe me, he has a very carefully sculpted Brand Image.

    I’m against this whole phenom of Buddhist Brands in the West. I’m against the hierarchy and the teacher/guru power trips; I’m against the head games and the sexual abuse. THAT’S WHY I LEFT BUDDHISM. I don’t practice with any Buddhist groups any more, and haven’t for years.

  6. Shaun Bartone

    @Anon But I do take issue with one thing you said, “hippies”. If this is ‘hippies’ vs. ‘punks’, I’m not interested in that kind of culture war, because I’m neither. First of all I’m not a hippie. I’m a flaming faggot and trans person and advocate for queer lives. I come out of the Drag culture of New York City, which has its own music and fashions. So that puts me in an entirely different culture than either ‘hippie’ or ‘punk.’ That’s why I started Queer Dharma Circle for queers into queer spirituality, which is not just Buddhism, but blends in Radical Faerie culture. I’m as much a Radical Faerie as I am a Buddhist, maybe more so. Maybe I’ll write a blog post on what it’s like to be a fag in an uber straight world like American Buddhism, especially Dharma Punx/ATS. You can start by reading this:

  7. James Flynn

    Good Lord, what a mess. The five precepts of Buddhism, especially the one about sexual misconduct are not that easy to practice. We slip up, make mistakes, and learn painful lessons from them. None of us are perfect, none of us are exempt. To borrow from another religion…let the person who is without sin caste the first stone.

    The problem seems to be when we place another person on a pedastoll, or they allow themselves to be placed there. (Guru status) Now people expect perfection, or at least exemplary behavior or a role model.
    If you don’t Project an Image, you don’t have to protect an image.

    Refuge Recovery is being tested, experiencing growing pains, may not survive this scandal. May I suggest that you take a closer look at the 12 traditions of A.A. to what you might be able to learn from them?

    May I also suggest that you stop identifying so strongly with the punk vs. hippy or more acurately “hipster” subcultures that you seem nauseatingly immersed in and try to come more into the mainstream.

    Thanks, Jim F.

  8. Hanuman

    Beware of anyone anonymously using forums as slander campaigns. Sounds like false news to me. May you be happy.

    • Shaun Bartone

      Hanuman: I totally agree with you, but this is a matter that has been affirmed as an issue of genuine concern by the Board of Against the Stream. ATS hired their own investigator to ascertain the truth of these allegations. These are not just ‘third-hand rumors’ as some people have said. It is also under investigation by the L.A. Police Dept. who, according to ATS, have already completed their investigation, but have not released their findings as yet.

    • James F.

      What sounds like false news?

  9. Hanuman

    I was referring to Anon’s comments. Hijacking a forum to anonymously rant about someone else is slander, harassment and libelous. I suspect he/she knows this already and that’s why the comments are anonymous. As for Noah Levine, if it is the care of the police and the Sangha, what benefit are these posts to all beings everywhere?

    • Shaun Bartone

      @Hanuman: Strangely, if I read ‘Anon’s comments correctly, she/he is defending Noah Levine.
      What benefit is it? I see it as identifying the problem of ‘teacher devotion’ in Buddhism, which puts teachers on an impossible pedestal, people who are only flawed human beings. But it’s not just the fault of the sangha; many teachers love the adulation, and that’s often what motivates them on a subconscious level.
      This blog has covered sexual exploitation of practitioners in various sanghas, not just ATS. It’s an aspect of ‘cult’ behavior, and many Buddhist sanghas are in danger of becoming cults. We need to develop different dynamics in our Buddhist groups that are non-hierarchal, non-exploitive, models of power-sharing rather than power-over. So that’s the benefit as I see it.

  10. Hanuman

    I just don’t understand it as a Bodhisattva path to search for other’s short comings. It seems to me this view is just as being “caught in the doorway” the teacher opens as putting them on a pedestal. Peace.

    • James F.

      It seems to me the problem begins when we allow others to view us as an all knowing teacher. To borrow a phrase from a well known 12 Step Program, “we are all here because we are not all there.”

      If you don’t project an image you won’t have to protect an image. If we try to be seen as spiritual giants, we maybe setting ourselves up for a fall.

      None of us are perfect, we all have short comings, we all make mistakes. We would hardly be Human if we didn’t. The trick is in learning how our mistakes can be used to benefit others.

      Jim F.

  11. James F.

    A couple of examples of off shoots of 12 Step Recovery that went off the rails when they allowed certain members to attain “guru status” are Synanon, and the Midtown Group. Several books 📚 have been written on the rise and fall of Synanon and their charismatic leader. In addition several articles have been written about the Midtown Group and their self-appointed leader Mike W.

    Just a suggestion, but Refuge Recovery might want to take a closer look at these groups and try to make a determination on where they went wrong, and what pitfalls they might try to avoid going forward.

    • Shaun Bartone

      Wow, thanks for bringing this to my attention. Syanon’s history is a nightmare, a chilling example of how a recovery community can become a cult.

      “The Synanon organization, initially a drug rehabilitation program, was founded by Charles E. “Chuck” Dederich, Sr., (1913–1997) in 1958 in Santa Monica, California. By the early 1960s, Synanon had also become an alternative community, attracting people with its emphasis on living a self-examined life, as aided by group truth-telling sessions that came to be known as the “Synanon Game.”

      “One of the most distinguishing practices of the Synanon community was a therapeutic practice commonly referred to as “The Game.” The game was a session during which one member would talk about themselves and then endure violent criticism by their peers.[16] During this practice, members were encouraged to be critical of everything, using critical and profane language.”

      “Synanon ultimately became the Church of Synanon in the 1970s, and disbanded permanently in 1991 due to many criminal activities, including attempted murder of which members were convicted, and legal problems, including losing its tax free status retroactively with the Internal Revenue Service due to financial misdeeds, destruction of evidence and terrorism. It has been called one of the “most dangerous and violent cults America had ever seen.”


  12. James F.

    Whoops I mean’t to write Mike Q. Not Mike W. in my previous post.

    • Shaun Bartone

      Here’s the lowdown on Mike Q., pretty nasty stuff involving sexual abuse of young women in the program; http://aacultwatch.blogspot.com/2011/12/so-whatever-happened-to-midtown.html

      Occasionally I would hear someone in meetings say that ‘AA is a cult.’ I had never experienced those conditions in the 27 years I have been sober. My experience was just the opposite: that most meetings I went to were SO loosely organized they barely held together from week to week. Often times we weren’t sure if someone was going to show up with the keys to open the meeting. But I understand that there have been certain meetings that developed cult-like behaviors. And there have been definitely many cults that took advantage of the vulnerability of addicts.

      • James F.

        Yes, that’s what I am concerned about, not A.A. as a whole. Like you, the fellowship as a whole has served me well for over thirty years, and has been an extremely positive influence in my life. But I am aware of factions within A.A. that have exhibited strong cult like tendencies and have been harmful to some of the participants.

        This is of particular concern to me because one, I love Alcoholics Anonymous, and two I have strong aversion to cults having been practically raised in one. As an ex-cult Member, (The Divine Light Mission aka Elan Vital) I am familiar with some of the warning signs. I know first hand how charismatic leader can inspire and then imprison you. How they exploit one’s desire to have a greater sense of meaning and purpose in one’s life. I hope that neither A.A. nor any off the other Pathways to Recovery that are starting to emerge ever devolve into another Syanon or Midtown Group.

        I believe that the twelve traditions and the principles they are based on provide quite a few fail safes against this sort of thing for those that observe them. That’s primarily why they were written. But also think that having an idea of what the characteristics of a cult are helps to identify problems before they get out of hand. Sometimes I think it’s a matter of studying history so we are not condemned to repeat it.

  13. Kate J

    Josh Korda did eventually take the actions described above, but not before posting on Facebook (now removed) that he doubted the accuser, was in disbelief about his friend, and cited some misconstrued “statistics” on false accusations of rape.

  14. TL

    It looks as if Noah Levine is sceduled teaching again, both with Refuge recovery as well as ATS. I wonder if there has been an update from the ATS Grievance Council with the awaited review of the results of their investigation, and recommendations based on their findings. https://www.againstthestream.org/noahs-2018-events/

    • James F.

      Maybe he was cleared by the investigators.

      • Shaun Bartone

        I don’t know any more about the situation than what is publicly available on the web, whatever ATS makes public. No statement has been released by ATS that I’m aware of.

    • Shaun Bartone

      I don’t know any more about the situation than what is publicly available on the web, whatever ATS makes public.

      • James F.

        It would be nice to know if the allegations of misconduct were determined to be unsubstantiated. I would like to be able to make referrals to this support group and maybe even check it out for myself but this whole situation has made me reluctant to do that.

  15. TL

    Thank you, Actually at closer inspection in noticed the most recent ATS event listed in the link i copied mentions still that currently Noah Levine is on administrative leave and will not be teaching this retreat. The most recent Refuge Recovery event listed doesn’t mention him teaching either. Sorry for any confusion I may have caused. I assume a further update following the outcome of their investigtion will soon be made.

    • Shaun Bartone

      I’m on the ATS mailing list and I haven’t seen anything new.

  16. TL

    Well it seems to me it would be wise they publically share an update before Noah Levine’s talk coming monday streaming live on his facebookpage. As it is under the umbrella of Refuge Recovery it seems appropiate they also do so.

  17. TL

    Noah seems to have deleted his statement concerning the accusaions from his FB page. This happened shortly after he resumed teaching with RR. The ATS has not yet given an update on their investigation. It seems concerning Noah has resumed teaching this way and equally concerning how he seemingly gets supported to do so.

    • Shaun Bartone

      Thanks for letting us know. I’m not on Facebook so I miss some things.

    • Jim F.

      ATS if I am not mistaken is treatment center and is bound by a set of professionals ethics that prohibits sexual and other types of “dual relationships” between professional helpers, (including peer support staff) and clients. It seems unwise from a liability standpoint to allow anyone who stands accused of any type of sexual misconduct to interact with the recipients of alcohol and drug treatment without being fully cleared first. But hey, what do I know? Sounds like a matter for their legal department.

      • Shaun Bartone

        First, Jim, I’d like to make one little correction for clarity’s sake: Refuge Recovery Treatment Centers is the addiction treatment center; it is a separate corporation from both Refuge Recovery and ATS. ATS is Against the Stream Meditation Society, the Buddhist organization that grew out of Dharma Punx. (If anyone has any corrections to this, please post here.) ATS seems to have some tangential relationship to Refuge Recovery. The ATS letter posted in Lion’s Roar mentions that Noah took leave as President of the Board of Refuge Recovery, so I’m not sure of the organizational relationship between ATS and RR; it’s a little confusing.

        You’re right that the law prohibits intimate relationships between service providers and clients, even if ‘consensual.’ Someone who is under active investigation would be prohibited from providing direct services, or working in an administrative capacity, such as sitting on the Board of Directors. Clearly there would be a conflict of interest there.

        I just checked the Refuge Recovery website, and Noah Levine is still listed as being on the Board of Directors. I don’t know if he is on the Board of ATS.

        If Noah has resumed teaching for Refuge Recovery, that is separate from the treatment centers, but no from members of RR. It’s arguable whether someone still under active investigation who has not been cleared should be teaching as the representative of an organization, such as Refuge Recovery, that serves a very vulnerable population.

        But at this point, there is nothing I know of that prohibits him from teaching on his own as a ‘Buddhist teacher.’

  18. TL

    Thank you. I noticed just now RR’s Board of Directors actually publishes its meeting reports on their website, at the bottom left here: https://refugerecovery.org/board-of-directors. They include current course of action regarding shared copyrigt over RR material and previous information that ”Noah will continue as President of the Refuge Recovery Board and will continue to teach at Refuge-affiliated workshops” and that they intend to ”revisit the issue in May when investigations by other parties are complete.” So that seems quite transparant at least. Hopefully the ATS board will be able to create more clarity in the near future.

  19. Eric B.

    I have been involved with RR in Denver for about 8 months, including attending my first “Refcon”, their annual, national conference this past June 8-10 (my first, their fourth). Noah’s troubles were not really focused on in depth, because of the ongoing investigation. I am searching around today on the web for any update on them. I will say that it was shared, by the top RR leadership, that RR had existed for the past 4 years under ATS financial umbrella, and that that had changed and RR was spreading its’ wings as an independent organization. And that the issue of RR being too centered on Noah was already an issue that was being discussed in the organization, prior to the accusations/investigation. The investigation only adds weight to the sense of separation going on….

    • Shaun Bartone

      Eric, thanks for the clarification of the relationship between RR and ATS. I still haven’t heard anything official from ATS or RR on the status of their investigation. The only thing I will say, and this is only an indirect inference, is that the LAPD has finished their investigation and has not filed any charges against Noah. So that means that at this juncture there is insufficient evidence that he committed a crime of sexual assault, or any other crime. That’s about the only inference I can draw from this, and all one can do at this point is make an informed guess. We’ll have to wait for official statements.

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  21. Daniel Scharpenburg

    I got an email from ATS saying JoAnna Hardy was resigning from ATS. She was the co-guiding teacher. She claimed that her resignation had nothing to do with what’s going on with Noah.
    Additionally ATS Nashville has rebranded, giving up the name ATS.

    I think it’s crazy that there have been no updates on this right now.

    • Shaun Bartone

      “I think it’s crazy that there have been no updates on this right now.”

      I totally agree with you. The last email I got was in mid-April saying that ATS’ independent investigator would be finished with the investigation in 3 to 4 weeks, ie late May. It’s mid-August, and there hasn’t even been an update. I have no idea what’s going on. What happened to the police investigation? (LAPD). Thanks for the update. We’ll see how the cookie crumbles.

  22. Shaun Bartone

    This email from ATS was forwarded to me on April 18:

    The ATS Grievance Council has convened and collected information relating to the concerns. We have retained an independent investigator to conduct the investigation and make findings of fact which will be provided to the Grievance Council. We currently anticipate that the investigative process will be complete in approximately three to four weeks, and a report will be provided by the investigator shortly thereafter. The Grievance Council will then review the report and make recommendations based on the findings. This is the information we can share at this time while maintaining the integrity of the investigative process and respecting all involved in the process. We will let you know if anything in this projected time frame changes.

    • Eric Belsey

      I finally messaged the Executive Director of RR on FB and she got back to me pretty quickly, this past Sunday, saying. “hiya Eric! I expect we’ll have news from ATS in the next week or so, barring unforeseen circumstances. that said, if there ever have been unforeseen circumstances, this would be it. thanks for checking in and you’ll see something from Refuge once we hear from ATS. appreciate you! Jean” IMHO, this situation is hopelessly murky, but I’m staying tuned anyway…

      • Shaun Bartone

        Right, thanks Eric. Please keep us updated.

      • Shaun Bartone

        FYI: Against the Stream Nashville is now called Wild Heart Meditation Center. https://www.againstthestreamnashville.com

      • Daniel Scharpenburg

        I think Wild Heart Meditation Center is a really cool name.
        I don’t know if they switch to get away from Noah’s brand OR because ATS is going to get rid of Noah.

      • Shaun Bartone

        I don’t know the reason for the change. But taking a look at their website and programs, they do so much more than just ATS. So maybe Wild Hearts is more inclusive of their many programs and constituencies. It will be interesting to see if other ATS groups do the same.

  23. weathervaneconcert

    I finally got in touch with the executive director, Jean Tuller, on FB, this past Sunday, and she responded pretty quickly, “hiya Eric! I expect we’ll have news from ATS in the next week or so, barring unforeseen circumstances. that said, if there ever have been unforeseen circumstances, this would be it. thanks for checking in and you’ll see something from Refuge once we hear from ATS. appreciate you! Jean”

  24. Willow

    Thank you for having an update (semi) here – current info on the situation is difficult to find.

  25. Eileen Y.

    “. It would be really good if ATS/RR and affiliated Dharma Punx groups took a good hard look at the macho authoritarian culture that dominates these groups and developed a more feminist, communal approach to group leadership” I will say this: the issues with patriarchal culture are not untrue. However, the erasure of women teachers and women facilitators like myself isn’t fun to read about either. We exist and to have our presence ignored in articles like this is hurtful in it’s own right. The work in creating women’s groups started years ago in ATS and they continue to exist in ATS SF and ATS L.A. Every women’s group that I facilitate I introduce myself with this truth: I am a feminist. I believe it’s important to have spaces where people who identify as women, in ways that are significant to them, and have their voices centered in ATS. Against, not saying ATS was totes cool on these issues all the time, but ignoring the work of women in ATS communities isn’t cool either. That work being done by women includes sitting upfront in classes teaching.

    • Shaun Bartone

      right on, Eileen, I totally support that. I live on the East Coast so I don’t see that as much here. But I’m glad there are women’s groups and that women are coming forward as teachers. Makes a big difference.

    • Shaun Bartone

      Unfortuntely, ATS SF and ATS LA are shutting down as of Sept. 30, 2018. Women’s groups will have to take other forms. Perhaps the Meditation Coalition with Stancavage and Slean?

  26. Pingback: Jezebel Reports Noah Levine Investigation Ongoing – Engage!

  27. pemalungta

    I wasn’t aware there are teachers in Refuge Recovery, The literature and guiding principles indicate that Refuge is peer led. I can’t find anything that says there are teachers in Refuge Recovery, not Noah… not anyone.

    • Shaun Bartone

      Very true. But Noah was up until recently on the Board of RR. He leads RR retreats, and he personally directs the RR treatment center now in Venice Beach. But you’re right, no one in an RR group is a teacher. It’s peer-led.

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