Insiders called it a cult. To others, it was a family — until it turned on itself

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They were once a family.

They lived in a mansion. They prayed together. They cooked and ate and did chores together. They worked side by side and shared their earnings and expenses. They cared for one another’s children and vacationed together.

Some insiders say it was a cult.

They called it The Family, and a former pizzeria owner and martial arts teacher named Mohan Jarry Ahlowalia was its unlikely charismatic leader.

For decades, the communal living arrangement seemed perfect. Ideal.

Until allegations of sexual and physical assault, death threats, human trafficking, extortion and gun violations tore the Burlington household apart. The ugly accusations pitted Ahlowalia’s followers against each other.

Details of The Family’s strange life became evidence in a long, complicated criminal trial that had Ahlowalia fighting for his freedom.

Thirty charges were laid against him. For three years the case meandered through the justice system. Eventually 14 witnesses testified at a trial that took 57 days spread over a year.

In the end, Ahlowalia was found guilty of absolutely nothing.

The judge eviscerated the Crown’s case.

Key witnesses, she said, were discreditable at best. At worst, some may have colluded to frame their former leader.

The judge even suspected guns were planted in Ahlowalia’s bedroom and car.

“This case turns on the credibility of the witnesses,” Ontario Court Justice Jaki Freeman wrote in her judgment.

The Family, a seeming hub of nurture and love, had turned on itself.

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1 comment

  1. Followers of this leader reportedly worshipped him and he was the defining element and driving force of the group. An all powerful totalitarian leader without any meaningful accountability is the single most salient feature of a destructive cult.

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