Group’s members have been subject of gossip, harassment, and even violence
It’s prevalent enough that some of the kids have a name for it. They call it a “Rama Run.”
Some teenagers in the area have been known to occasionally drive slowly past the Frailing Road property owned by Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy, sometimes doubling back in a suspicious manner and in some cases shouting taunts.
A representative of Samanta Roy’s religious group, Darlene Sense, has called the sheriff’s department hundreds of times over the years to report suspicious activity. She also reportedly keeps a log with license plates and videotapes some of the vehicles.
In the last two years, since Oct. 2, 2002, the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department log shows 199 incidents, according to Chief Deputy Steve Conradt.
Many of the complaints have been unfounded but deputies have responded when warranted. However, there have been legitimate complaints of harassment, vandalism and, on one occasion, a shooting.
Some time around midnight on April 5, 1978, shots from a .22 caliber weapon were fired through the bedroom window of Samanta Roy’s home, according to an article in the Shawano Evening Leader. The article included a photo of the bullet holes made.
Group member Darlene Sense also noted the incident in her affidavit and stated that the shots narrowly missed Samanta Roy’s wife, Julaine. According to the Leader article, she was in a chair reading the Bible at the time.
Most incidents have been far less serious and have included numerous episodes of firecrackers being tossed out, squealing tires, and other acts aimed at irritating the people in the group, Conradt said. Bottles and beer cans have also been thrown. Some of those cases have resulted in arrests for disorderly conduct and other citations.
“They are a target by some individuals for harassment,” Conradt said. “A lot of it is kids.”
One incident, which took place on Aug. 10, 2002, resulted in an investigation that was assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
According to the complaint filed with the sheriff’s department, someone had apparently stuffed a roll of paper from a paper company with gun powder, filled one end with either plastic or concrete, and set it off in a field on Samanta Roy’s property.
“It was a thick cardboard tube, like a roll for industrial paper,” said Sheriff’s Investigator Randall Giese, who investigated the incident with the help of the BATF.
“It appeared there was some type of firework device in this tube with some paper rammed into it to make it a tighter seal and make more of an explosion,” Giese said. “We found some indications of shotgun or rifle powder that also may have been placed in this tube to facilitate the bang.”
Giese said the intent appeared to be harassment and not to cause injury.
“If you were sitting on it or it was tied to you, it might have hurt you but my opinion was it was something to make noise,” he said, adding that he felt if it was meant to physically harm anyone it wouldn’t have been placed in a farm field.
“There was an area where you could see something went off, but there wasn’t a massive crater or anything like that,” Giese said.
Investigators interviewed people on the property to find out what they might have seen or heard.
“We were given several license plate numbers of various people who had driven by or slowed or had been in the area,” Giese said. As a result, five or six people from various parts of the state who had been in the area were interviewed, he said.
“Basically, we couldn’t arrive at who might have been responsible for it,” Giese said.
Giese said he was not aware of any other incidents involving exploding devices, other than firecrackers, at the Samanta Roy property.
“I know there have been a lot of suspicious vehicle complaints and things from people driving slow, and some are actually harassing the people that live within the area,” he said. “When I was working traffic, some of the ones I stopped were issued citations for various things but others, too, were just driving down the road looking.”
There has also been vandalism at other Samanta Roy properties, including a broken window at one of the vacant downtown buildings and a vending machine broken into at the racetrack, according to police and sheriff’s reports.
During a 2002 lawsuit against WBAY-TV, members of the group detailed a long history of harassment they maintained was caused by negative media coverage.
According to one of the briefs filed in the case, members lost their jobs and received threatening letters; business owners were forced out of their businesses; members’ homes and property were vandalized; and children were verbally and physically harassed in public schools.
Affidavits were filed in the case by members of the group who said they had been harassed and subjected to public scorn in the community.
“The ‘religious association’ that I am a member of is a very small minority in a town dominated by Catholics and Lutherans,” stated the affidavit of a member whose name was not made public during the court proceedings. “Every time I, or my mother, or my family goes out into the community, people recognize us as belonging to this particular religious group. We are often subject to snide remarks because of our association with this group.”
Another affidavit made similar claims.
“We live in a small community dominated by Catholics and Lutherans,” Taberah Benson’s affidavit stated. “The few people that worship the same way as my family and I do, are readily recognizable in the community. For years we have been harassed, called names, bullied and made the laughing stock in public places.”
The harassment has not always been so direct. The group has for years also been the topic of gossip and rumors. A Leader reporter, talking to community members about the group, found that most of what people had to say – almost always off the record – involved things they’ve heard, or said they’ve been told, without any personal eye-witness accounts.
Urban legends about tunnels and bunkers, storehouses of weapons and even chemical storage tanks persist despite the lack of any evidence supporting the claims. Neither has anyone who has made such claims been willing to go on the record.