(FOX 9) - The Bad Rooster is seeking a temporary injunction in its defamation lawsuit against two sisters that would prohibit them from saying the Minnetonka-based food truck is financing a New Age cult led by its co-owner, Soulaire Allerai.
But attorneys for Kelly Abedi and Angela Hummelgard, whose estranged mother, Mary Ring, is a member of a group led by Allerai called Soulful Journey, are asking the judge to deny the injunction.
Their defense, laid out in eight sworn affidavits from estranged family and former members of Soulful Journey, is that the allegations are true.
Truth is considered an absolute defense in defamation cases. If something is true it can’t be considered defamatory.
Most of the eight affidavits are from people who spoke to the FOX 9 Investigators last month about allegations the Bad Rooster is financing a cult centered around Allerai and her ability to channel a spiritual being known as "G," who exists in a parallel dimension.
More than a dozen people associated with Soulful Journey have changed their names to match so-called spirit identities in another dimension known as "The 99."
The group also operates the Soulful Journey Wellness Center in Minnetonka, which houses various New Age businesses offering massages, crystals, and healings. There is also a non-profit group, Living Faith Spiritual Community, based out of the center.
‘The Journey’ Comes First
One of those affidavits is from Amber Yanes, whose father, Terrance McCabe is a co-owner of the Bad Rooster. Yanes says her four sisters, one of whom is 15, also work for the food truck.
Her father and stepmother began attending "G" channeling sessions in late 2007, driving two-and-a-half hours from their family farm in Iowa.
In 2009, her father sold his share of the family farm and moved to Minnetonka with her four sisters to be closer to the group.
Yanes says to support her father and sisters she began attending Soulful Journey sessions where "Soulaire channels ‘G,’ who identifies as God." The sessions would frequently continue into the early morning hours.
In the last 13 years she says contact with her family has "continuously dwindled."
"The largest change in my family is that ‘The Journey’ comes first. Always. So much so, that my father has expressed to me that ‘The Journey’ is more important to him than his children," Yanes says in the affidavit.
Yanes says her father was "giving money to the group that should have been used to feed his children." She believes the family has relied on food banks in the past.
Despite selling his share of the Iowa farm in 2018 for nearly $1.5 million, Yanes worries her father has given his life savings to the group.
"It is my concern that he does not feel he can retire due to the financial implications of being in the group. This is incredibly disheartening, as he has worked very hard all his life," Yanes says in her affidavit.
Yanes says she is also concerned for her three youngest sisters who in 2018 enrolled in an online public school.
"When I questioned my dad about it," she says in the affidavit, "he made a comment about how the girls had a hard time waking up for school due to how late their nights get at the center. The group felt that attending online school would solve that problem."
A Teenage Follower
Another affidavit is from Gretchen "Fai" West, who now lives in London, and previously spoke to the FOX 9 Investigators.
West and her mother met Allerai in Maryland when she was 9-years-old.
West moved to Minnesota in 2013 when she was 15, and began living with Allerai and other members of Soulful Journey while attending the Perpich Center for Arts Education.
Soulaire’s domestic partner, Laira Allerai, became her legal guardian, and West lived in a Minnetonka home with the couple and other members of the group.
In the affidavit, West describes a chaotic living situation without privacy.
West says she was often sleep deprived because of the late-night channeling sessions.
"Soulaire claimed that she channeled God and many other masters and so-called enlightened spirits. She said she had lived in other dimensions and on other planets, and that we did too," West says in the affidavit.
"This was one of the many techniques she used to control us. She claimed she knew our lives on these other planets and these other dimensions. She used this to influence our decisions in our day to day lives," West says.
West says she was not allowed to get together with friends and Allerai discouraged a close relationship with her mother.
She couldn’t even attend a doctor’s appointment alone, she says, and was not allowed to visit out of state colleges.
And even though she was underweight, and struggling with an eating disorder, she had her weight taken every week as part of Soulful Journey’s "weight management" class.
West says her mother, who was still living in Maryland, sent Allerai money for rent, bills, and food, but she never saw any of the money and had to work part-time jobs to support herself.
"This money was supposed to go to supporting and feeding me, however it did not," West says in the affidavit. "I was given only enough money to fill my gas tank so that I could drive myself to and from school each day."
"All of the food in the home and at the center was for Soulaire ONLY; it was often labeled as such, and I was not allowed to eat it. I was provided no breakfast or lunch for school ever," she continues.
In her affidavit, West makes additional allegations that Allerai provided unlicensed chiropractic care for members of the group. West was diagnosed with severe scoliosis at 15.
West says Allerai claimed she could "tap into" a spirit that was a chiropractor, and "download their knowledge" to do weekly chiropractor adjustments.
West left the group and moved out of the home they shared the day after she graduated from high school. No one from the group attended her graduation because Allerai was in the hospital with a "health issue."
"G" and Me
Kelly Abedi, one of the defendants in the defamation case, also filed an affidavit detailing the struggles with her mother, Mary Ring, who legally changed her name earlier this year to Cianna LaJoie.
Abedi, who attended Soulful Journey sessions with her mother when she was 18 and struggling with addiction issues.
"Soulaire openly shares she is a recovering drug addict. She claimed that I didn’t really need AA or NA groups and instead just needed to attend Soulful Journey," Abedi says in her affidavit.
Abedi says "G" was purported to be God, or "God-like energy."
"Not God in the Christian sense as Soulaire did not ascribe to any kind of organized religion. In addition to G Soulaire also claimed that her "higher master self" was King Solomon. She made claims that KING SOLOMON lived in her body for big chunks of time while Soulaire was supposedly hanging out with her spiritual masters in another plane/dimension," Abedi says in her affidavit.
'Started to weird me out'
Nicholas Johnson began attending Soulful Journey with his mother and sister in 2003, but they all left the group in 2015.
In his affidavit, Johnson says the gatherings became less about spiritual teachings and more about things happening in "other dimensions aka ‘The 99.’"
"I was increasingly incredulous about these things, and they started to weird me out," he says.
FOX 9 reached out to a spokesperson for Bad Rooster and Allerai and has yet to hear back.
A hearing on the injunction is scheduled in Hennepin County later this month.
In their lawsuit, Bad Rooster claims the social media postings from Abedi and Hummelgard are untrue and have financially damaged their business. They claim the food truck can bring in $9,000 a day.
A number of exhibits offered by the defendants show Allerai’s overlapping ownership interests in Bad Rooster, Soulful Journey, the Soulful Journey Wellness Center, and Living Faith Spiritual Community non-profit.
In social media postings entered into the court record as exhibits, Allerai says on May 11, 2020, "Our wellness center has been closed due to COVID-19, and we’re using the food truck as a way to help cover the rent for 13+ small businesses that rent space at the Soulful Journey Wellness Center."