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A Mother & Daughter Who Were Both Married to Cult Leader David Koresh | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

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OPRAH WINFREY: These two women were both married to one of the most notorious men in the news today... WINFREY: ...Waco, cult leader David Koresh. Not only were they part of his harem, Jeannine and Robyn Bunds are also mother and daughter. WINFREY: Robyn had a son with David Koresh named Sean. And her mother, Jeannine, believes her former lover is not the evil man that he has been made out to be. WINFREY: Later on, we're going to go via satellite to Australia and meet this family. They are talking for the first time, publicly, about their own involvement in Koresh's cult. WINFREY: Word from inside the compound is that their 24-year-old son Peter, whom we've heard about, was killed in the Waco shootout. WINFREY: Their daughter Nicole is still inside the compound. And just like Robyn, Nicole also has a child with David Koresh. Michelle and Robyn were best friends at the Waco compound; they haven't talked for more than two years until today. Also standing by at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, is this mother whose son David also remains inside. And she's been holding vigil for his safe release. Another cult captured the world's attention, you may remember this, when Jim Jones--do you all you remember? WINFREY: We all do. Led more than 900 members of the People's Temple to mass suicide in Jonestown. We're going to be talking to Jim Jones' former right-hand man to find out what really does go on inside the mind of a cult mem--leader. And one of the things, I guess, we're all wondering is, when you are inside, you know, living this life in--you know, being his wife--and we want to say that being--to him, being a wife is just having sex. So there was no official marriage ceremony? Ms. ROBYN BUNDS: No. No, ceremonies. WINFREY: Yes. But did you consider yourself to be his wife? Ms. R. BUNDS: Yes, we a--when we--when we would have sex, we were considered to be his wives. And you know, you couldn't--you couldn't be with anybody else or even look at any other man. You would get in trouble. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And so--you felt the same way, Jeannine? Ms. JEANNINE BUNDS: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: That you were his wife? Ms. J. BUNDS: We would be... WINFREY: But you knew your daughter was also his wife? Ms. J. BUNDS: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: And that was OK with you? Ms. J. BUNDS: Well, it was--you have to understand, this was done in a very gradual way. At first it was just like the single women. And then he eventually went through scriptures and told us why he was going to take the other men's wives, too, because of the House of David he was building and he needed to have more children. And so he was doing it that way. WINFREY: I know. But where--what or where in the scriptures can you justify breaking up married people--married couples. Because we're going to talk to this family in Australia--how could he justify, in your own mind, breaking up married couples to take their wives? I mean, how did that make sense to you? Ms. J. BUNDS: Well, it did make sense to me at the time because he would start with Psalms 45 and he would go into the seven seals and he would go into Revelations. He had a whole Bible study. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. I hear he's very good at quoting scripture. Ms. J. BUNDS: Very good. Excellent. And it's not like this happened overnight. And the people were affected very deeply. It's not like we said, `Oh, yeah. Fine. You can have my wife.' It was--we all went through a very hard time. WINFREY: About the splitting up of wives? Ms. J. BUNDS: Yeah. Because I was married to my husband for 25 years. WINFREY: And had you leave your husband? Ms. J. BUNDS: Well, yes. Uh-huh. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. This is what we're trying to understand. We're trying to really--today, understand what goes on in the mind of a cult leader. And you all probably know him better than anybody else does at this point. And also what happens to you, because I want to know how you were raised that you could end up in a place like that, believing a man like Koresh. So were you--did you have sort of a, quote, "normal upbringing?" Ms. J. BUNDS: Very normal. I was raised a Catholic... WINFREY: You were raised a Catholic. Ms. J. BUNDS: ...for 20 years. WINFREY: And how did you raise your daughter to... Ms. J. BUNDS: My daughter was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist. WINFREY: As--as--and so you all did, quote, "the same things that everybody else does in life?" Ms. J. BUNDS: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: You went to school. Ms. J. BUNDS: Very normal lives. Lived in California. My husband and I both worked; my kids within the school; everything was normal. Then in 1983 when David Koresh came into the group, he was Vernon Howell then. We kind of--we kind of went with Vernon because we felt he had the new ...(unintelligible). We were--we were advancing in the scriptures. WINFREY: Advancing in the scriptures. Ms. J. BUNDS: We were looking for more prophecy to happen. WINFREY: So had he come, like, to your church to speak or what? Ms. R. BUNDS: She says I was raised Seventh Adventist, but we were in a group called the Branch--excuse me.

WINFREY: And? Ms. R. BUNDS: And the group was led by two different leaders, first Benjamin Rodin, and then when he died his wife took over, Lois Rodin. WINFREY: And? Ms. R. BUNDS: And the group was led by two different leaders, first Benjamin Rodin, and then when he died his wife took over, Lois Rodin. And then Vernon came along and took over from Lois Rodin. And that--that's the religion I was raised in. So it was very normal to me for the--because these people claimed to be living prophets. So to me, well, hey, you know, another living prophet. Hey, that's normal. So, I mean, it was just normal to me. WINFREY: But what was normal about him saying, "I want to take your daughter back to Texas," which he did? Ms. J. BUNDS: Well, you've got to understand when David took Robyn for his wife, I did not know. WINFREY: Uh-huh. He took her back to Texas and you were 14 years old. Ms. R. BUNDS: I was--I was 14. But I came back home several times because I just couldn't take it. The time that I... WINFREY: What couldn't you take? What was going on? Ms. R. BUNDS: It was just hard. You don't--when I went there the first time, I was 15. And we didn't have any heat, and we didn't have any hot water and it was winter. And I was freezing my butt off. So I called my parents and said, `I want to come home.' And they came and got me. WINFREY: Was he having sex with you at 15? WINFREY: Had you been taken as his wife at 15? Ms. R. BUNDS: Uh-uh. Ms. R. BUNDS: No. Not until I was 17. WINFREY: Not until you were 17. Ms. R. BUNDS: That's when I really started really getting into it, when he started sleeping with me. Because by then, you kind of feel stuck. You know, you're having sex with this man and he's really got you by your mind, your body. You know, it's really... WINFREY: So one of the questions, I--I think, we all want to know, is--we all see this as a cult. We all see this as somebody who's taken over your mind. Ms. J. BUNDS: We didn't. WINFREY: Did you, at the time, recognize that--that it was indeed a cult and that you were being brainwashed? Ms. J. BUNDS: No. I didn't feel that way. WINFREY: You just believed him? Ms. J. BUNDS: I didn't feel that way at all. WINFREY: Do you believe he's evil? Ms. R. BUNDS: I believe he's lost his mind. I don't believe that he's evil. (Applause) WINFREY: So what kinds of things would you have to go through there within the--the cult compound? Ms. R. BUNDS: Well, life is pretty normal, I mean--to me, anyway, when I was there. WINFREY: As cults go. (Laughter) Ms. R. BUNDS: Yeah, as cults go. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. R. BUNDS: We'd get up in the morning and we would have breakfast. And either you had kitchen duty and you fixed breakfast, or you just--you know, you ate breakfast, you had studies, and you ate lunch, and you had another study, and you ate dinner, and you had another study and you went to bed. And started all over again. So it was... WINFREY: Were you aware of the, quote, "other wives?" Ms. R. BUNDS: Oh, yeah. WINFREY: Yes. When did you become aware that your daughter was a wife, Jeannine? Ms. J. BUNDS: She told me when I went down, I believe, when--at Passover time, shortly afte--maybe six months after she had become his wife. And she told me and I was very upset because I didn't know that he was going to do that. It upset me very, very much. WINFREY: So if you were so upset, why didn't you then say... Ms. J. BUNDS: Because you have to know him. He's very convincing. He has--he has an ability to talk to you and he takes his Bible and--he doesn't even need the Bible. He can remember it. WINFREY: So you were upset about your daughter being his wife, being, you know, used sexually by him. And yet you ended up... Ms. J. BUNDS: Because he said this is the House of David; she's going to have a baby for God. All these babies are being born for God. They're God's children. They're going to be in the kingdom. Ms. R. BUNDS: Let me explain something. He claims to be Christ. And he tells you who wouldn't want to be married to Christ; he's perfect. Why would you want a mere human being when you could have Christ. WINFREY: OK. Ms. R. BUNDS: So that's what he would say. WINFREY: So this is--this is where you all leave me here. Because the point--the point we're all trying to understand is, you were raised Catholic and you were raised Seventh Day Adventist. I have friends that are Seventh Day Adventist and except the fact that they have church on Saturday, they're just like I am. So--and believe many of the same things I believe. How does a woman who is raised to be Catholic and you raised your daughter to be, quote, "a normal American citizen," end up believing this guy who says he's Christ? Ms. J. BUNDS: All I could tell you is you had to be there. What can I say? It's not--it's like a drop of water falling on your head a little bit at a time. Ms. J. BUNDS: It's not like you just accept it. It takes a while. WINFREY: So, did you believe that he was Christ? Ms. R. BUNDS: Well, when he first started, he was just claiming to be a prophet. He--it--he progressively changed and decided, you know, that `Now I'm Christ.' And so it was like she said, it's a progressive thing. And right before I left... WINFREY: So something's happened to your mind that you don't say, `Well, what happened to the prophet you used to be?' (Laughter) WINFREY: You know, so something's hap... Ms. J. BUNDS: Oh, she did. She questioned him very deeply. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. R. BUNDS: Oh, yeah. I questioned him. I was one of the ones that--one of the reasons why I left. You know, I'm--I'm always asking questions. Troublemaker, you know. But... WINFREY: Did he--did he encourage separatism between the two of you? Did he like... Ms. J. BUNDS: Oh, he wouldn't even let us talk to each other. Ms. R. BUNDS: He separated us. We couldn't talk to each other. Ms. J. BUNDS: We were all in different places because he was afraid of what we would say to each another. Ms. R. BUNDS: He wouldn't let us talk to each other. Ms. J. BUNDS: It was like we were bad influences on each other. WINFREY: So when you--when you found out about your daughter, you also went down there. Did you go down there to get her? Did you go down to say, `What's going on?' Or... Ms. J. BUNDS: Well, my husband and I were really upset. But, like I said, Vernon just kept talking to us and he convinced us that this was the way it was supposed to be. And life went on. And Robyn had Sean. And then it wasn't until, like, three or four years later that the other light came where he started taking wives of married members. WINFREY: So you and your husband went down there? And... Ms. J. BUNDS: We went down there because--we go down there every Passover. And we lived in LA. My husband and I worked. WINFREY: Right. And then you became one of his wives also? Ms. J. BUNDS: I became one of his wives in '89. WINFREY: How--you didn't question that at all? Ms. J. BUNDS: I questioned it deeply. It was very hard for us to go through all of this. My husband and I talked about it a lot.

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