Bethany Joy Lenz Says Cult Watched Her During Filming & Took Millions From Her

Bethany Joy Lenz

Heavy/Getty Bethany Joy Lenz has written a memoir about the decade she spent in a cult.

Months after first revealing she was part of a religious cult while she was starring on the hit TV show “One Tree Hill,” frequent Hallmark actress Bethany Joy Lenz is ready to tell the full story of how the group infiltrated her life, including sending “minders” to watch her every move on set and draining millions from her bank account.

On February 29, 2024, Lenz announced that Simon & Schuster will publish her tell-all book, “Dinner With Vampires,” on October 22. Now available for pre-order, the publisher said Lenz’s book will detail her “quest to break free” from the cult, revealed for the first time as a group called The Big House Family, and provided several stunning insights about her experience.

In an Instagram post about the forthcoming book, Lenz wrote, “As difficult as this subject matter is to untangle, I’m grateful I get to share my story, my way. It’s a story of forgiveness and a roadmap to how manipulation works, with heartache and humor along the way. We all make mistakes and I hope Dinner for Vampires reminds you that, no matter what weird roads you’ve gone down, you’re not alone.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Bethany Joy Lenz Joined Cult Thinking It Was a ‘Bible Study Group With Other Hollywood Creatives’

In July 2023, Lenz, 42, shocked fans during an episode of the “Drama Queens” podcast, which she co-hosts with former “One Tree Hill” castmates Hilarie Burton and Sophia Bush, by revealing that she’d been in a cult for nearly a decade, living a double life that her fans knew nothing about.

In her early 20s, Lenz joined what she thought was “a Bible study group with other Hollywood creatives” according to Simon & Schuster’s description of her forthcoming book.

“However, the group soon morphed into something more sinister—a slowly woven web of manipulation, abuse, and fear under the guise of a church covenant called The Big House Family,” per the description.

It went on to say that cult leaders assigned “family minders” to follow Lenz to the show set to watch her, and conducted “regular counseling” sessions to brainwash the young actress into staying loyal to the group.

“Piece by piece,” the description continues, “Lenz began to give away her autonomy, ultimately relocating to the Family’s Pacific Northwest compound, overseen by a domineering minister who would convince Lenz to marry one of his sons and steadily drained millions of her TV income without her knowledge.”

Lenz was married to Michael Galeotti for six years until their divorce in 2012, according to Us Weekly. The year before their split, they had daughter Maria Rose. Realizing she didn’t want her daughter to grow up in The Big House Family, Lenz left the cult, per the book’s description, thanks to “the unlikely help of a ‘One Tree Hill’ superfan.”

Bethany Joy Lenz Told Tamron Hall Last Fall How She Wound Up in a Cult

During an October episode of “The Tamron Hall Show,” Lenz explained that she was lured into The Big Family House, which she called a “high demand group,” and how its leaders isolated her from friends and family as she was skyrocketing to fame.

The “A Biltmore Christmas” star told Hall that, looking back on her move at age 22 from New York to Los Angeles, she now sees she was a prime candidate for cult leaders to prey upon. Once in LA, she joined a weekly Bible study circle that felt “natural and normal” to her.

She recalled, “It really just felt like, ‘Oh! Community! God just dropped this community in my lap and it seems really lovely.’”

But, she explained to Hall, “These kinds of malignant narcissists that are in these positions of power, often they know what to look for. So they know how to target people based on, you know, within a few conversations, they’re able to dissect who’s going to be susceptible to their gaslighting and love bombing and all those things — and who’s gonna catch on. So they target people intentionally.”

Slowly but surely, Lenz told Hall, the group convinced her to isolate herself from her friends, family  and anyone else “who is not a part of or supportive of the group.” When her parents questioned why she was spending all of her time with those in the group, Lenz said she felt very defensive and unwilling to listen. The same thing happened when her “One Tree Hill” castmates expressed any concern.

Lenz told Hall that the leader of the cult, would often remind her that she just needed to “pray for them because they just don’t understand.”

Missing out on life events in her loved ones’ lives has been “the most painful, shameful, difficult parts,” Lenz told Variety last fall.

“Knowing that I missed nieces and nephews growing up, weddings, birthdays, funerals, major events,” she said. “As a survival mechanism, when you fully are dependent on this social structure, you have to shut off the part of your heart that cares deeply.”

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