Founder of est sells assets afteer abuse is alleged

February 13, 1991|By San Francisco Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO -- Stung by a series of damaging allegations by family members and business associates, est founder Werner Erhard is selling off the assets of his human potential movement empire.

Mr. Erhard, whose much-lampooned weekend workshops became synonymous with the "Me Decade" of the 1970s, is selling the assets of Werner Erhard and Associates to a group of employees.

Spokesman Bill Barnes said the holdings include real estate in California and New York, computers, furniture and an 18-year licensing agreement for the "technology and intellectual property" used in the weekend workshops.

Werner Erhard and Associates reported U.S. revenues of $45 million in 1989.

Mr. Erhard's problems began early last year after the San Francisco Chronicle reported allegations by former employees of the pop psychology guru. The employees said they were forced to obey Mr. Erhard in a manner "akin to God" and to submit themselves to "numerous instances of verbally and physically abusive behavior."

Those allegations, contained in affidavits filed in San Francisco Superior Court, were followed by statements from two of Mr. Erhard's daughters, Adair, 26, and Celeste, 28, who told of family "meetings" at which est staff members kicked and choked their mother and Mr. Erhard's former wife, Ellen.

This week's Newsweek contains a full-page article headlined "The Sorrows of Werner," and the CBS television show "60 Minutes" is expected to air its version of the story in the next few weeks.

Mr. Erhard could not be reached for comment.

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