Sharon Gans, who died in January at age 85, ran the 'ultra-secret cult' Odyssey Study Group
Two members of an 'ultra-secret theatre cult' in New York City claim they had to pay to work as unpaid housekeepers, cooks and assistants for founder Sharon Gans and her husband.
Stephanie Rosenberg and Marjorie Hochman filed a lawsuit against the Odyssey Study Group - which marketed itself as a theatrical study group but was in reality, an alleged cult - and estate managers for actress Gans, in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday.
The two women, who defected in 2019 and 2016, say they paid $400 a month in membership dues beginning in 2005 for the privilege of serving as unpaid 'personal assistants, cooks, housekeepers, drivers, and personal shoppers for Gans' who lived in luxury with her husband at the Plaza hotel.
Rosenberg and Hochman say they witnessed physical and mental abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, private adoptions, arranged marriages, and financial crimes during their time in Gans' group.
Examples of the more serious allegations are not spelled out in the 21-page-lawsuit.
'Through methods traditionally utilized by cults to groom, intimidate, weaken, gaslight, and exploit their victims, OSG coerced and tricked its members,' the suit states.
'The members of the cult made Defendants Sharon Gans and others very rich.'
The two women who filed the lawsuit and other members allegedly worked as many as 80 hours a week and paid for things like groceries out of their own pockets as part of their participation in the group.
Gans (left) and her husband Alex Horn reportedly fled San Francisco in the late 1970s after a similar group, Theatre of All Possibilities, was accused of child neglect and physical abuse
The group allegedly treated its members as slaves, using them for free labor and demanding monthly $400 dues that allowed Gans to buy an $8.5 million apartment in the Plaza Hotel
They're asking to have their monthly $400 fees reimbursed along with payment for thousands of hours of unpaid labor.
Gans won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1966 for her performance in Soon Jack November. She then starred in a 1972 film version of Slaughterhouse-Five. She died in January at age 85.
Gans and her husband Alex Horn fled San Francisco in the late 1970s after similar allegations about their first group, Theatre of All Possibilities, were published in the San Francisco Chronicle in December 1978.
Theatre of All Possibilities members told the Chronicle and San Francisco officials