Ex-Cult Member Will Testify Against Woman She Said Asked Her to Kidnap Mexican Child: 'Cathartic'
Monday could be the beginning of the end of the nightmare for Julie Gudino.
That day, Deborah Green — the matriarch of the cult Gudino left years ago — will go on trial on several charges, including kidnapping and sexual penetration of a minor, child abuse and failure to report a birth.
For decades, Deborah and her husband, James, reigned over the New Mexico-based religious sect the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps, which they co-founded. Gudino says they controlled the lives of their dozens of followers, imposed harsh punishments to members who disappointed them and worked to distance believers from their families.
Nine alleged members of the cult that called itself “God’s Army” were arrested during an early-morning raid on their compound in mid-August 2017. The Greens’ 55-year-old son-in-law, Peter Green, faces 100 counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child.
“It will be cathartic for me, because the Greens have convinced themselves that they are innocent and that they haven’t done anything wrong but the relationship I had with Deborah — she knows I know,” Gudino tells PEOPLE.
On Sunday, she will leave California for New Mexico to testify.
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“I know everything that she did,” Gudino continues, telling PEOPLE she’s looking forward to “that feeling, of being able to face her, so I can look her in the eyes from the stand and say, ‘I know what you’ve done.’ I’ll be closing the door on this part of my life. Testifying will help.”
Among her allegations is that Deborah Green ordered her to kidnap a little girl from Mexico. She told PEOPLE she was instructed to wait until dark and then to just “grab” a child. Green allegedly reasoned that children “shouldn’t be on the street, so if we were to take them, we would be giving them a better life.”
Gudino told PEOPLE she was just about to grab a child but stopped herself.
Deborah Green maintains her innocence, as do the rest of the cult’s members, who are all still awaiting trial this fall. James Green’s trial is set to begin in November. He faces charges of kidnapping, child abuse and tampering with evidence.
“I was nervous all week about the trial but now I’m actually getting excited,” Gudino tells PEOPLE. “I don’t know what to expect, but I am ready to tell my side of the story.”
Gudino says she will be traveling to New Mexico’s Cibola County with fellow Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps. defector Maura Schmierer, who is also testifying.
Schmierer successfully sued the Greens years ago for forcing her to live for months in a storage shed with no bed or bathroom — punishment for putting the needs of her children before her commitment to the cause, she says. Although she won a $1 million settlement, she has not received any money.
The woman the Greens allegedly kidnapped as a child during the 1990s and forced into slave labor will also be taking the stand. She is an adult now and is the person Deborah and Peter Green are accused of sexually abusing.
Gudino tells PEOPLE she is not anxious about being in the same room as Deborah Green, the woman she once referred to as “General Deborah.”
“I am actually more worried about all the emotions that will surface from all the pain I have endured from them for all these years,” Gudino explains. “It was a traumatizing experience and I have spent years suppressing those feelings and rebuilding my life.”
She continues: “I am prepared for this experience to take me back to a really dark place, but I know will be able to handle it, even though it will be deeply painful.”