Court order keeps spiritual leader's videos off the Internet

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A self-proclaimed spiritual leader from Yelm won a legal victory in her attempt to keep politically damaging videos of her off the internet.

The ruling, which was handed down at the Thurston County Courthouse, means no more videos of JZ Knight can be posted online. It's a victory for Knight and the Democratic candidates she has endorsed, but those who want to expose her say they have their own victory because the damage has already been done.

In the videos that have made it online, Knight claims to be channeling an ancient warrior named Ramtha while she rails against the Catholic church.

A conservative Olympia think tank called the Freedom Foundation spliced together clips of Knight's ranting with local Democratic candidates she endorsed at her Yelm compound.

Those candidates and others seeking statewide or national office have since given away the $70,000 Knight contributed to their campaigns.

Knight went to court to block more videos from coming out. She and her attorney zeroed in on Virginia Coverdale, one of Knight's former students, as the source of the tapes.

"We're not trying to shut the defendant down," said Jeffrey Grant, Knight's attorney. "We're not trying to make her limit her ability to say things."

Grant said Knight's students signed an agreement not to let the tapes out, but Coverdale said she's simply acting as a whistleblower about what she saw as wrongdoings at Knight's school of enlightenment.

"Whistleblowers have been annihilated. I am one that is not going away," Coverdale said.

In the end, the judge sided with Knight, issuing a temporary restraining order against Coverdale and other former followers from putting any more of Knight's videos online.

A spokesperson for Knight said her comments on the Freedom Foundation video were taken out of context and are being used for political reasons. Both sides will be back in court in two weeks to argue over a permanent restraining owner.