Town shows support for 14-year-old 12 Tribes member

Plymouth, USA - They say they feel sadness for the assailant, gratitude for the support of the town.

A young woman assaulted a 14-year-old member of the 12 Tribes religious sect last week. Members of the group have been overwhelmed by well wishes from residents.

"We genuinely feel sad for her," 12 Tribes coordinator Kevin Gadsby said. "What's in our heart for this person is she can live a normal, happy life."

The group held an open forum Sunday night in the vacant Steven's The Florist space on Main Street. They answered some questions, expressed their feelings and showed a video of the incident in Island Pond, Vt., that first brought attention them.

"We wanted to let people know about the anti-cult movement and how it fosters hate and suspicion based on lies," Gadsby said.

He called the town's response to the attack overwhelming.

"Every day since it happened people have come into the store all day long with apologies for the town of Plymouth," Gadsby said.

The group has received flowers, a basket of crafted items from Carver, a pie from the Cape.

The response contrasted with a night four years ago when accusations of child abuse were again raised by opponents to the group. They held an open forum at Plymouth South High School to answer questions from residents.

During the forum, a group of people threw rocks at the 12 Tribes center on Warren Avenue.

"Things have changed since the night people threw rocks at our windows," Gadsby said. "Things have changed for the most part. You can still get on the Internet any day and find all manner of things said about us. You have to wonder, what did this woman hear about us to respond to us in this manner?

"There are the so-called cult experts who speak about us. If I read some of the things about us in ignorance, I would certainly be suspicious. It might even cause some fear of us. But when I read something like that about the life I live, I know it's just absurd."

Plymouth police have called the assault a hate crime. The 12 Tribes doesn't.

"That's what the police said, not us," Gadsby said. "It's difficult to say that when you don't know the motive behind it. We don't know this woman. We see this as a very isolated incident. We know we have the support of Plymouth and we really appreciate that."