Tricia Bishop’s story “Witness: Accused cult leaders had her committed to keep quiet” , The Baltimore Sun, February 26th, 2010 (http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-02-26/news/bal-md.cult26feb26_1_ria-ramkissoon-queen-antoinette-javon-thompson)
A women, Danielle Smith, came out and told about her experiences living with a cult leader. Smith tells about how the cult leader, Toni Sloan, who goes by Queen Antoinette, starved a 16 month old baby, Javon Thompson, and got Smith admitted into the psychiatric ward of Kings County Hospital in order to keep Smith silent of her crime. Sloan, her daughter Trevia Williams, and an associate Marcus Cobbs are all defendants in the case of the starvation of the child, all three of which pleaded not guilty. According to the testimony given by Smith, Sloan allegedly made the decision to starve the child after he would not say “amen”. Sloan told the other members in the apartment that he was rebellious and should not eat until he did say “amen”. Both Smith and her sister moved into the apartment with Sloan and her four children after Smith became friends with Sloan’s daughter. Marcus Cobbs, who has a child with Danielle Smith’s sister moved in after and another friend of Smith, Ria Ramikissoon, who is the mother of the 16 month child, moved in after. No members living in the apartment attempted to save Javon for the days he was starved. In Smith’s testimony she claimed that the front door of the apartment was always locked and it didn’t seem possible for her to escape with the child from the back door. Smith was scared of what Sloan would do if she had seen Smith try to escape with the baby as Sloan turned the Smith sisters against their family with the fact that their family weren’t strong followers of the bible.
The fact that the baby was only 16 months old but Sloan still felt that the baby not uttering the word “amen” was the baby disrespecting their beliefs is hard to believe. I think for most people, it is hard to wrap our heads around an individual punishing a baby for not speaking a word when at this age babies are just starting to talk. The logic of Sloan is almost infuriating as it seems her own ignorance clouded her judgement and an innocent life was lost because of it. Also, she comes off to be unusually defensive of her beliefs which, from a psychological perspective, can lead one to believe that she herself is not one hundred percent assured of her beliefs. It is hard and almost frightening to imagine the influence of Sloan as she was able to convince the mother of the child that her baby should be severely punished for not complying to speak a simple word. She was also able to convince another mother in the household that a child should be punished in this way when in most cases we often see mothers have sympathy for children even if it is not their own. On top of that, she was also able to convince members in household to join her in putting Danielle Smith into the psychiatric ward, which is interesting because she moved into the apartment being friends with one of the daughters and even bought another friend and her sister in. Much like Sloan turned the Smith sister against their own family, she was also able to manipulate most of the members in the household.