AUGUSTA (AP) — The state has entered into a consent decree with The Gentle Wind Project that dissolves the organization and forbids its founders from making false claims about its so-called “healing instruments,” officials said Monday.
The Gentle Wind Project contended the devices ranging from small laminated cards to hockey puck-like disks are based on the principles of Tibetan and Asian medicine and can help improve people’s emotional, mental and physical health.
But the state Attorney General’s Office contends the Kittery-based nonprofit violated the Unfair Trade Practices Act by making false claims about its products. The defendants, who include five members of the board and their bookkeeper, agreed to pay fines and to stop making claims about the products. Furthermore, The Gentle Wind Project will be dissolved and assets will be distributed as restitution, officials said.
Attorney General Steven Rowe said the consent degree represented a fair resolution to a case that violated the trust of consumers. “People who give money to a Maine charity should be able to trust in its integrity, and in the integrity of those who are charged with its operation. This charity damaged the public’s trust and it should not be allowed to continue,” Rowe said. The consent decree and order were filed in the York County Superior Court late last week. They will become final once approved by a judge. Although it has little scientific evidence to support its claims, the project contends it has received “thousands of reports from people around the globe who feel the instruments may have been helpful in alleviating emotional stress.”
The Gentle Wind Project announced in a statement Monday that it intends to continue its efforts in 49 other states and around the world.
The problems for Gentle Wind began when former members Judy Garvey and her husband Jim Bergin of Blue Hill published autobiographical essays about their 17 years in The Gentle Wind Project, which they compared to a “mind control cult.”
Gentle Wind sued the couple for defamation in 2003, but the lawsuit was tossed out by a federal judge. Gentle Wind contends it is still pursuing the defamation lawsuit in state Superior Court.