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Witness Claims Fraud in $9 Million Meditation Suit

December 12, 1986 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ When Robert Kropinski first came in contact with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s transcendental meditation in 1972, he thought he had found the key to a new life. Later, he says, it didn’t turn out that way.

The 36-year-old Kropinski testified Thursday, the first day of a civil trial, that he first heard about TM in a radio commercial on his favorite rock station in Philadelphia where he lives.

″I was content with myself,″ he said. ″I just wanted to better myself, further my education when I heard about free introductory lessons ...″ He said he went to a session out of curiosity.

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Kropinski said he was told that TM ″would improve every aspect of my life″ and that ″in five years, you could achieve a perfect state of life.″ He said he began taking lessons in earnest, even becoming a TM teacher.

Last year, he and six other people filed suit against the Mahesh Yogi, the Maharishi International University and the corporate headquarters, World Plan Executive Council-United States, charging them with fraud, negligence and intentionally inflicting emotional damage. Kropinski is seeking $9 million.

Kropinski’s suit’s, being tried before a jury in U.S. District Court before Judge Oliver Gasch, is expected to last for several weeks.

Mahesh Yogi has since been dismissed from the case because his former students were unable to serve him with the legal papers even though lawyers sought him out in India and Switzerland.

Kropinski charges that the guru’s followers told him the practice of TM was scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve memory, reverse the aging process, enable individuals to achieve their full potential, confer perfect health, reduce inner strife and promote world peace.

In addition, Kropinski said the followers promised to teach him, in an advanced course, to ″fly,″ or self-levitate, and to attain the ability to manipulate the physical world and the laws of nature.

He said he spent 11 years attempting to realize the promised benefits, including four years working full-time for the Mahesh Yogi and his organization for little or no pay.

Kropinski told a jury the guru and his followers used ″fear and intimidation to prevent me from discontinuing his involvement with TM.″ He said he was alienated from his family and friends who were not associated with the TM practice.

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Dwight James, one of the guru’s lawyers, told the jury that Kropinski was not defrauded in taking the TM courses.

″Fraud is an intentional lie,″ he said. ″You will find that there was a sincere belief on the part of the defendants on what they thought and what they taught.″

He said there have been hundreds of scientific papers that show TM improves the memory, the learning capacity and the ability to readjust from stress situations.

But, he said to the jury, the defendants ″are not asking you to believe anything about the benefits of transcendental mediation - that it can bring world peace or reduce the crime rate or teach you to fly.

″They just want you to know they are sincere in what they believe.″