PHOENIX - The leader of the Phoenix Goddess Temple spoke exclusively with ABC15 on Thursday night for the first time since she was arrested.
Phoenix police searched the temple earlier this month and determined that it was essentially a brothel.
“I feel responsible, like I did something wrong,” said Tracy Elise, 50, the temple’s leader, “but I don’t know what I did wrong.”
In a 45-minute interview with me, Elise spoke mainly about religious history and the suppression of women in sexual history.
“I don’t believe [police] understand our religion,” she said.
Elise said the temple was used to help people in need—a place that combined spirituality and sexuality.
She told ABC15 that after investigators review the lectures and teachings on her computer, they’ll understand that the temple was not a brothel.
“I really am a follower of Jesus,” she said.
The church is $60,000 in debt, according to Elise. She said most of the donations received from temple visitors went to payoff that debt.
More than 20 people have been arrested in connection with the temple.
In 2009, Scottsdale police investigated the temple after neighbors suspected it to be a brothel, but nothing ever came of the allegations. The temple then relocated to its current address in Phoenix.
According to the Phoenix Goddess Temple website, they "seek to help women, men and couples discover their own divine connection between soul, light body and sacred vessel." The center offers courses in sexual education.
The website goes on to state, "We cannot say for sure that you will have sex with anyone here in the temple, although you will have a sensual adventure."
The sessions can cost $366 for an hour of "touch time" with two healers, according to the website.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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