Daughter of Deep Throat is shadowy, too

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W. Mark Felt and Joan Felt are like many fathers and daughters. Their roles have been reversed by time. The 61-year-old daughter takes care of the 91-year-old father as his health falters, his twilight deepens.

They have found familial common ground and emotional space together. A former home health aide for the elder Felt describes how Felt would light up with a smile while talking to his doting daughter. A friend and university colleague of the younger Felt describes how she would scramble to make sure her father had the proper care.

But as fathers and daughters are wont to be, they were estranged once upon a time, and a study in extreme contrast.

He was the FBI man, the company man hunting down and spying on radical or countercultural movements of the kind that attracted his free-spirited daughter. She lived in a commune back in the 1970s, and her father disapprovingly told her she reminded him of the radical activists his agency was chasing, according to the Vanity Fair article that revealed her father as Deep Throat.

But who is Joan Felt? And where was she while her father was skulking in a parking garage confirming hunches about the Watergate scandal? Much remains unknown about this woman who has been catapulted into the national limelight at the center of the most riveting of political mysteries.

Some of what is known adds to the mystery: Joan Felt is a devotee of an unusual and controversial self-proclaimed guru who, in two California lawsuits and several public statements 20 years ago, was accused of sexual abuse, slavery, false imprisonment, assault and brainwashing that was said to include persuading people to give him all their money.

Asked about the guru today, Joan Felt says, “None of this has anything to do with the Deep Throat story.” She won’t talk about the guru’s group, known as Adidam as well as the Johannic Daist Communion. Nor would she discuss the length and scope of her role within it. Earlier this month, when asked about it in a brief encounter outside her house, she said Adidam was like Buddhism.

Her name and home phone number are listed on the Internet as a contact for an Adidam Study Group in Santa Rosa, Calif., where she lives with her father and sons. Whether Joan Felt ever lived at any of Adidam’s many communal households and sanctuaries throughout California and elsewhere is unknown.

She finds the questions about Adidam troubling. Her pleasant disposition turns testy when she is pressed to discuss past allegations against the guru.

‘This is 20 years ago’

“That’s all way far in the past,” she says by telephone. “This is 20 years ago, 20 years ago, that you’re digging up stuff.”

She would like us to focus, instead, on 30 years ago — on the Deep Throat story. She has three sons, and the youngest, Nick Jones, 23, is in law school. There are bills to pay, and she has been quoted as saying she hopes the story will make some money for her family.

But neither she nor her family nor their lawyer, John-O’Connor — the author of the Vanity Fair article — will discuss any aspect of the family’s background or the Deep Throat secret.

College, then travel

Joan Felt and her younger brother, William Mark Felt Jr., 57, were born as their father’s career was taking him to FBI field offices all over the United States, from the District of Columbia to Seattle, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas.

By the time he returned to headquarters and settled down with his wife, Audrey, to begin his ascent up the FBI ladder, Joan was off to college.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish at Stanford University in 1965, then took off as a Fulbright Scholar in Chile. She extended her Chilean stay from one to two years with a Rockefeller Foundation grant.

Back at Stanford, Felt earned her master’s degree in Spanish in 1970, then taught at the University of California at Santa Cruz until 1972, according to her current boss, Suzanne Toczyski, chair of modern languages and literature at Sonoma State University. Felt has taught Spanish there for 13 years, as well as an occasional world literature course.

Her friends at Sonoma State know Felt as a diligent, admired, well-respected and organized lecturer. Because she does not have a doctoral degree in her field, she cannot be on a tenure track.

A surprise to her colleagues

As for Felt’s past as a commune dweller, revealed in the Vanity Fair article — well, that was something new to her colleagues. Toczyski called it an “Oh” moment, a “surprising” thing to learn.

Little is publicly known about Felt’s life between 1972 and 1990. Whether she has been married or is divorced is not clear. In addition to Nick Jones, the law student, she has two other sons: Rob Jones, 27; and Will Felt, 31, a musician.

Mark Felt Sr. eventually retired and moved to Santa Rosa in 1990, where he and Joan took up residence on Redford Place in a quiet middle-class neighborhood.

There, he lives in a garage renovated as residential quarters. Because he uses a walker, this ground-level arrangement makes it easier for him to enter the house without navigating stairs, says a former home health aide, Atama Batisaresare.

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Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Washington Post, via Kentucky.com, USA
June 13, 2005
Lynne Duke
www.kentucky.com

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