Ambassador Picketer Arrested
A number of Pasadena citizens reacted by encouraging Bagley. Two “little old ladies from Pasadena” crossed the street to tell him they always suspected “hanky-panky” behind the expensive outer facade of Ambassador College. People drove by and honked in support, others yelled “right-on.” Many, who never had the misfortune to be associated with the WCG, stopped their cars and discussed the allegations with Bagley. One AC employee told him, “If it wasn’t for my job, I’d be out here helping you.” Many other employees responded favorably.
A few, however, were more than a little naive. One minister’s wife was furious and approached Bagley, but left in tears when she became convinced his charges were true. Over 100 students questioned him, primarily regarding GTA and his ministerial qualifications. He claims that at least 75% walked away satisfied with his scriptural explanation.
After two days of picketing, a couple of supporters were helping him march. The Los Angeles Times interviewed and photographed him. GTA had to drive around him when he came to work. The biggest worry for AC, however, was the attention he would receive from the guests at the “Gene Kelley special” that was to be taped (for commercial purposes) in the “House of God” later that week.
When the picketing first began, AC attorneys had maneuvered legally, but failed to get him off the street because Bagley was complying with all city ordinances regarding the conducting of a public demonstration. After a few days, however, AC’s attorneys were able to formulate a legal stratagem to force him off the street before he attracted more attention. On Thursday, December 15, only a few hours before the $25- to $100-a-seat audience was to arrive for the “Gene Kelley special,” two men approached Bagley. They represented themselves as Ralph Helge’s assistants and began to discuss monetary restitution as a solution to his grievance with the WCG. He rejected their offer, but after a few minutes of talking they announced they were actually undercover policemen and they arrested him for attempted extortion. Thus, due to close cooperation between AC and the city of Pasadena, an embarrassment for both was averted, and no one picketed the “Gene Kelley special.”
Why had Gary Bagley picketed AC? His story is as pathetic as that of thousands of others. He was a divorce and remarriage (D&R) case. During his first six years in the WCG, he was not allowed by the church to date or marry. When he was finally allowed to marry, his new wife confided that she had had an affair with evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong. For years the Bagleys hid this fact, thinking that his affair was GTA’s one mistake. It wasn’t until about a year ago that they discovered that that affair wasn’t GTA’s only slip, but was only one episode in a lifelong chain of sexual conquests. The shock and suffering that resulted from this discovery prompted Bagley to “go to his brother” to seek restitution for the wrongs the organization had perpetrated in his life. So he gave Attorney Helge “a message to that effect” for GTA. When GTA ignored Bagley’s request, he then decided to “take the problem to the church” (Matt. 18:15-17) by way of his sign, since no other presentation to the church would be allowed.
Mr. Bagley’s trial is set for March 28, but no one seriously believes he will be convicted of anything. Few even believe the case will ever get to trial. In the meantime, however, the picketing has been effectively stopped and another WCG victim who is trying to get justice is being harassed by the Armstrong organization.