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OneTaste: The Truth About “Don’t Call the Police” (BBC Podcast)

Published March, 2024

In November 2020, the BBC published an inventively titled podcast, “The Orgasm Cult,” a ten-part “True Crime” style audio drama on OneTaste narrated by Nastaran Tavakoli-Far. The podcast includes a number of false and distressing allegations that build on false allegations originally published by Ellen Huet of Bloomberg Businessweek in June of 2018.

BBC Podcast Allegations

The podcast’s darkest moments come in Episode 9, which features a source referred to as “Max,” an anonymized character read by a voice actor whose listeners are told “worked for OneTaste.” Max tells stories about another anonymized female character, referred to as “Cassidy,” and her anonymized boyfriend, “Sam.” Because no verifiable information is shared and because the individuals are anonymized, the listener cannot tell if these stories are secondhand, thirdhand, or simply urban legends. See our post here for details on how the BBC removed the sole piece of documentary evidence originally presented in the podcast.

The BBC podcast “The Orgasm Cult” purports to relate incidents that partially took place at the same time as OneTaste’s 6th Coaching Program in 2013, in which Sam, one of the people described by a pseudonym, was a student. Ruwan Meepagala, a source in every major piece of media done on OneTaste since 2018, also took part in this program. In one purported incident related to Episode 9, Max tells the listeners that Nicole Daedone told participants to “never” call the police:

Misinterpreted Statement

From Episode 9

Interviewee (“Max”):

“Nicole talked at length about never calling the police and how other “games” have been shut down because someone had gotten scared and called the police, and how basically that was something we were never to do.”

This statement comes directly after allegations that Cassidy’s boyfriend was raping and abusing her. A reasonable listener would naturally assume that this statement about not calling the police was regarding Cassidy and that not only did OneTaste staff know Cassidy was being raped and abused, but also specifically told people not to call the police about it.

Clarifying OneTaste’s Stance

What actually happened? What did Nicole actually say about calling the police?

OneTaste has never had a policy of telling people not to call the police. OneTaste’s staff and students were expected to operate lawfully.

There has only been a single incident we are aware of where the police were called by students of a OneTaste program. This was during a Coaching Program 6 weekend in 2013, where an incident occurred between Sam and another participant, who we will refer to as “Charles,” at a private residence outside of class hours.

The Misunderstood Game

Charles had been a OneTaste customer for some time and later became an employee who had intimate knowledge of company policies. Sam had invited Charles and a number of other fellow students who were from out of town to stay at his house overnight. When the group got back to Sam’s house that evening around 11 pm, Sam told them that they had to leave in order to make room for another OneTaste participant whom Sam had invited to stay over. Sam and these participants were part of the same small project group within Coaching Program 6. Charles and the original group of guest students were surprised and protested that it was far too late at night for Sam to expect them to leave without notice.

When Charles refused to leave, Sam called the police on Charles, who happens to be a black man, for trespassing. When the police arrived, Sam told them that the man who was trespassing had left, even though Charles was still in his apartment. Sam then told Charles that he had called the police on him as part of “a game” and that Sam had actually booked alternative accommodation for Charles and the other students he had promised to accommodate for the night.

The True Nature of “Games”

In this context, “games” were one of the teaching techniques taught in the Coaching Program, drawing on James Carse’s seminal book on the subject “Finite and Infinite Games”. They were a way of learning more about yourself in the safety of OneTaste’s experimental learning environment with enough guard rails in place and a shared rigor and practice that would enable people to create a completely lawful experience for each other they would not otherwise be able to create. For instance, in one Coaching Program, a student who didn’t feel like she was acknowledged or understood by her classmates had a surprise potluck thrown in her honor.

Upon becoming familiar with the accusations in the BBC podcast, Charles submitted a written declaration in support of the suit against the BBC, affirming that the only time he had ever heard anyone at OneTaste say that participants should not call the police was in regards to this incident when Nicole called out the reckless and potentially deadly act of a false report to the police.

Clarification from Charles

About the incident, Charles has said,

“Once of the students brought it up to the staff… once Nicole got wind of it, she kind of brought us all in and next to the next class. And you know, basically, she was like, ‘It’s not okay to be calling the police, trivially especially on black folks.’ Like, it wasn’t like don’t call the police. It was like, in this specific scenario, like Sam called the cops on me for the sake of the game, basically. And this is before really the social awareness around, you know before all the camera phones were on and you were seeing all the interactions with cops and black folks on TV. This is kind of before a lot of that was popping off. And so yeah, [Nicole] was like, you know, ‘don’t do dangerous things,’ was kind of the message not like, ‘don’t call the cops.”

Instead of using law enforcement for its right purpose–to report a crime–it was misused as part of an ill-conceived prank that did not in any way account for the dangerous possibility of police violence. Nicole Daedone, upon hearing about the circumstances surrounding this incident, was deeply concerned that Charles’ life had been so recklessly placed in danger by his fellow classmate and used her next available lecture time at that course weekend to talk about the incident.

Prioritizing Student Safety

Over the next few weekends, Nicole spoke with other classmates who were present at the time of the incident inviting them to examine their reasons for standing by while it happened and, to the whole group, expressly communicated that the police should never be called frivolously and in particular frivolously on a black man in Harlem. Charles made it clear that Nicole’s words were taken completely out of context and distorted her message of great care for his well-being:

“Soon after that event, Nicole and the staff really slowed down our program. They kind of like, okay, we have to figure out to make sure the students are safer here. They brought in someone who did a lot of work in reconciliation. And it was like, there was a lot of focus on student safety after that.

The fact that [the BBC] turned it into [Nicole] didn’t want them to ever call the police, that’s not I’ve never heard her or any of the staff say anything like that. And at that point, I was like, quite involved, like, I mean, I was a student and I was doing a lot of volunteering. At that point. I wasn’t working for the company yet. But even then, I was pretty involved. And then later, I worked with a company I still never heard anybody say anything like never call the police.”

“There wasn’t any official or unofficial policy to not call the police. That just wasn’t the case.”

Nicole’s attitude was echoed by another course participant who was not present for the July weekend and posted about what she heard on social media:

“There is one part of the weekend I’m struggling to make sense of.

I heard that [your small group project team] called the police on Charles as part of a nighttime game of evicting specific CP6 housemates in preference for consolidating your Team.

I grew up in a predominantly black public school system. I’ve lived the past 18 years in a predominantly black community. I’ve sung for the past five years in a choir that preserves the music of African American spirituals. I’ve seen how hard it is for young black men to navigate around needless harassment by police, even the most academically privileged and high-achieving straight arrows.

You may call me a racist for saying this, but why in the world would you call the cops on a black man for no reason? Where I live, you don’t play slop ball with race, privilege, and beat cops — things still easily go awry with that kind of game. Is New York so different?

If the outcome left everyone feeling ok, great. But still, please help me understand your intent. If I have the facts wrong, please correct me.”

OneTaste Email Misused

These facts contradict the false narrative that the BBC develops in Episode 9. In the original broadcast of Episode 9, a portion of an email was read that purported to show that OneTaste staff were pressured not to call the police while witness to sexual abuse. See our post here for details on how the BBC removed the sole piece of documentary evidence originally presented in the podcast.

The full email actually demonstrated that OneTaste was conscientious and proactive in protecting individuals. This email concerned a real-world situation unrelated to the fictitious events of Episode 9, where a contested allegation of inappropriate behavior was made.

BBC’s Response to Legal Challenge

When legally challenged regarding the misuse of the email, the BBC removed the email portion of the broadcast without public explanation while leaving up other falsehoods. It is notable that the deleted email segment was the sole piece of documentary cited to support the entirety of Episode 9. The remaining falsehoods are recollections and “stories” from obscured sources presented without evidence.

While that may suffice for “True Crime” audio drama, it is legally challengeable when broadcast as investigative journalism. OneTaste has supplied the BBC with copious documentary evidence, witness statements, and video interviews to demonstrate that the events related to Episode 9 did not, and could not, have happened.

Ongoing Legal Proceedings

As of February 2023, The BBC has shown itself to be unwilling to engage in a discussion of facts regarding the podcast series while engaging in a protracted procedural legal defense. As a result, a multi-party lawsuit against The BBC for defamation and misuse of private information continues towards trial, where the claimants will be able to present their evidence in the UK High Court.

Related Posts:

OneTaste Podcast Documentary: BBC Retracts Evidence

OneTaste: The Truth About The Beast and Male Predation

OneTaste: The Truth About Being a Cult

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