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Sandy Frost Newsvine: Filings Fly Prior to Tills Sentencing for Jester Prostitution

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Editorial: Filings Fly Prior to Tills Sentencing for Jester Prostitution

Thu Aug 6, 2009

By Sandy Frost

us-news, prostitution, shriners, royal-order-of-jesters, masons, child-sex-tourism, richard-schair, ronald-tills

Former Judge Ronald Tills is being sentenced tomorrow for pleading guilty to violating the Mann Act. He was caught with two others in a FBI human trafficking sting for taking illegal alien prostitutes to weekend meetings of the Royal Order of Jesters so their Master Mason brothers could have sex.

The Jesters, like their parent organizations, the Shriners and Masons, are nonprofit groups, so it's like partying with prostitutes at taxpayer expense.

In his defense, pre-sentencing memoranda and letters of support have been submitted and are available on the United States federal court record system AKA PACER.

A few things bear discussion here but let's first review what happened.

The FBI had been watching four massage parlors near Buffalo, New York that were fronts for prostitution except that the girls working there were Asian illegal aliens. As agents watched and listened to phone conversations, they heard then Judge Ronald Tills calling the boss lady for appointments with the girls and to giving advice on how to keep them from talking because one had discovered that if she was arrested, she could become a legal resident.

Not only did Tills frequent the prostitutes, he began taking them to weekend meetings of the Royal Order of Jesters, a secret sub-group of the Shriners.

Yes, the Shriners.

They're best known for their red fezzes and driving goofy little cars in parades as they raise money to support their network of 22 hospitals that provide free medical care to burned and crippled children.

Most people can't wrap their heads around the fact that this secret group, the Jesters, descends from Freemasonry, a group of men who try to make themselves better while preaching brotherly love, tolerance and family values.

So, Judge Tills was busted with two other Jesters who have already been sentenced to probation, fined and must now register as sex offenders.

He's being sentenced tomorrow, Friday, August 7 and most likely will spend about two years in the slammer.

Either way, if he's in prison or somehow sentenced to probation like the other two, he's pretty much screwed.

Or maybe the better way to put it is marked for death.


As a judge, he sentenced many of the guys he might be hanging out with if he's sent to prison. His pre-sentencing memorandum states that he's had quadruple bypass surgery, has high blood pressure and is in poor health overall.

No one will need to shank him.

All they'll have to do is scare him to death.

I've been investigating the Shriners for over three years now and one of the most shocking things I've learned is that their bylaws state that Shrine law does not include the law of the land. And, like the Masons, if their secrets are revealed, bad things will happen.

Masonic secrecy vows state "I swear... binding myself under no less a penalty than that of having my throat cut from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots..."

The Masons swear to protect each other and even lie except in the cases of murder and treason. Other than that, anything goes. If you break them, they will cut you in half and burn your intestines and scatter you to the wind or something equally warm and fuzzy.

The Shriners will pierce your eyeball with a three bladed knife and flay your feet and send you out to walk the burning sands.

Judge Tills has cooperated with the government's investigation into the Royal Order of Jesters for sex trafficking and child sex tourism, much like the articles that have been written about Richard Schair, the former fishing tour operator who's close to being prosecuted in Brazil for rape, operating a prostitution network and corruption of minors. Schair came to my attention because he filed a defamation lawsuit against a competitor who produced a witness list in his defense that named 19 members of the Royal Order of Jesters who, as Schair's customers, were expected to testify about their first hand knowledge of sex with minor prostitutes.

Tills' pre-sentencing memorandum states that when he joined the Royal Order of Jesters, "the group's practice of inviting women, called 'Jester girls,' to the meetings for sexual activities was already a long-standing tradition. Every few years, a letter was sent out advising members that women should not be brought to Jester functions, but everyone knew that the letters were window dressing and not to be taken seriously. Indeed, women always were at Jester functions. The behavior was not isolated to the Buffalo group of Jesters. In fact, it was reported to have occurred at Jester meetings across the country. The motto taught to newcomers 'What you hear here, what you see here, stays here when you leave here' evidences the sort of activity expected at Jester meetings."

According to the memorandum, the judge recognized that what he saw at the time as friendship and camaraderie in a national organization really was morally bankrupt and often criminal. The judge arranged for women to travel to the various Jester meetings not to make money for himself or even for the organization but only because it was part of his "job description" as the Director of the Buffalo Chapter of the Jesters.

Judge Tills is the first to testify this extensively against this group and for doing so, is risking his life.

His attorneys probably should have asked for witness protection because there are 24,000 Jesters wishing he'd never been born.

Or if you look at it another way, Tills may have helped uncover the biggest front for prostitution ever, with over 20,000 potential "Johns" neatly recorded in membership rosters filed away at national headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. If these Jesters didn't participate in or arrange for the prostitution, they at least knew about it and, as such, are accessories who should have reported these crimes.

Instead, these Master Masons have protected each other.

Tills cooperation has opened up the floodgates and if the FBI continues investigating, they will find Jesters as deputy directors of law enforcement commissions, high ranking elected officials and even among their own.

One would think that there would be a huge outcry among the leaders of Freemasonry for the Jesters bringing such shame and bad PR to their doors. But the problem is that many of them attend the same weekend prostitution parties and even arrange for the girls to be there, just like Tills admitted to.

There is a good part in all of this and that is he's getting help for his alcoholism.

This next Saturday, I will celebrate 27 years of sobriety.

I know that we do things we're not proud of while drunk.

One of the most interesting things from Tills' memorandum is a letter from a service coordinator who works with Alcoholics Anonymous.

This is an unusual break from tradition but speaks highly of Tills dedication to living sober one day at a time. It's guys like this, who hit rock bottom, who can help other alcoholics recover more than anyone else.

More than doctors and chemical dependency counselors, it's the reaching out to another alcoholic, sitting down with them and a cup of coffee and letting them know they're not bad, just sick, and by going to meetings and living lives of service and gratitude, there is hope for recovery.

The United States position is that Tills didn't take prostitutes across state lines once or twice, like the other two he was caught with, but that he did it for years and should spend a couple years thinking about it in prison.

But what about his cooperation to help investigators uncover a nationwide network of prostitution that is part of the biggest nonprofit fraud of our time?

Even the U.S. Attorney's office describes the Royal Order of Jesters as an organization that "maintained chapters throughout the United States, including in Western New York, and it was the custom of these chapters to host periodic meetings, usually on weekends, for their members. At most of these meetings, some members of the organization would be tasked to arrange for the presence of women at the meetings, for the specific purpose of utilizing the women to engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activity with the organization's members in exchange for money."

Judge Tills has risked his life and the lives of his loved ones by standing up to a group of men who want to see him dead for betraying their dirty little secret.

Remember, the Jesters are invited from the ranks of Shriner leaders who ruthlessly retaliate against those who expose the fact that they have long abused their positions of public trust for personal gain.

Yes, Judge Tills should indeed pay his debt to society.

But society will be better off if he's made an example of by suffering in public as the one who exposed the Royal Order of Jesters instead of spending the rest of his life locked away to suffer in silence.

Public Discussion (10)

#1 - Thu Aug 6, 2009 4:54 AM EDT.Bill Iken

You assume that all 24,000 members want to see Judge Tills go away and remain silent. As a former Jester who worked for 23 years within the organization to effect the changes that need to be made (no more prostitution, no more drinking until you are falling-down drunk, no more high-stakes poker games where tens of thousands of dollars change hands), my estimate is that between 95% and 98% of the membership truly want reform.

As with any organization, there are a few that spoil it for everyone else. "My father's Jesters" was a relaxing getaway, stag weekend where prominent men could "let their hair down", have a high-ball and tell a joke without fear of a political operative or a reporter lurking with a camera. Card games were $1 and $2 with table limits ... and some card games were literally penny and nickle games. Friendship was the byword.

By the time I got in, a few guys were bringing their girlfriends , using the weekend as a dodge for their infidelity. Some guys just told their wives they were at the out-of-town affair, but never actually showed up, spending the weekend with their paramor closer to home. It was about this time that I noticed the "no limit" card games.

Most importantly, my local group changed from political and business leaders, professionals and civic leaders to a blue-collar group. We went from meeting in 5-Star hotels for our monthly meetings to having "steak cookouts" at remote locations ---- gun clubs, private farms, private hunt club grounds.

After the shift in membership demographics, prostitutes began to frequent the monthly meetings as well as the weekend Books.

This change in demographics was not limited to the Jesters. 20 years ago, the local Shrine Potentate was a leader in the community. Today, we have had a succession of retired Navy Chiefs, Firemen, Policemen, building contractors and an insurance salesman (not an insurance executive, but a salesman). Since the Jesters draws its membership from the leadership in the Shrine, the change in demographics is hurting both groups.

Please do not think that I am an "elitist", looking down my nose at tradesmen and small businessmen ... nothing could be further from the truth. But there is a difference in perspective between an insurance executuve and an insurance salesman ... a Navy Admiral and a Navy Chief .... an electiced Sheriff and a patrolman. One reason the Shriners Hospitals are in dire financial shape is because the Board of Directors was chaired by the owner of a bowling alley, and not the Chief Executive of a multi-billion dollar financial institution. With almost $9 Bilion in the Shriners Trust a mere 30 months ago, and less than $4 Billion today, I do believe that the difference in perspective and experience led to this drastic decline.

(Sorry about this digression)

Going back to ROJ ... while some Jesters are whore-mongers, not all Jesters are. There are many, like myself, who would leave the hospitality room immediately --- in mid-sentence --- when a prostitute entered. It was not unusual for there to be 50 men in the room when a whore arrived, and 5 men left in the room less than a minute later.

Please do not tar all Jesters with the same brush. Many are fighting for change. I just got too old and too infirmed to continue the fight.

#2 - Thu Aug 6, 2009 10:26 AM EDT Sandy Frost Bill Iken,

How are Shriner and/or Jester demographics somehow diminished by including retired Navy Chiefs?

As a U.S. Navy vet myself, I served along side some of our country's finest after I finished the Navy's tough Advanced Electronics training to maintain a wall of crypto gear at COMOCEANSYSLANT, located in the low two-story windowless building that Tom Clancy wrote about in "Hunt for Red October."

I also served as an omudsman to support the wives and families while my husband's ship was deployed for six to seven months at a time and had the distinct honor of working closely with the Master Chief of the USS Belleau Wood.

The Navy is run by these dedicated men AND women who deserve your honor and respect, not disdain and judgement.

Thank you,


1 vote#2.1 - Thu Aug 6, 2009 3:38 PM EDT .Paul Andrew Billikin,

Great points BUT if you saw the prostitution going on and kept quiet about it are you not an accomplice?

You saw a crime (prostitution is illigal in most states) being committed yet said nothing. You stated "It was not unusual for there to be 50 men in the room when a whore arrived, and 5 men left in the room less than a minute later", you all saw it happening but again you did not stop it, you did not speak out against it, you did not call vice, you sat back and covered it up.

You imply that it's just the "Blue Collar" guys that go for the prostitution and have lead the ROJ to this point? Are you serious or are you wearing your clown hat??? The Brazil trip Jesters were made up of business owners, doctors, lawyers, etc. and they sure were enjoying the girls (some were fathers and sons participating together-what type of father would get his son involved in this type of activity?).

Oh, and welcome to Newsvine.

1 vote#3 - Thu Aug 6, 2009 11:43 AM EDT Bill Iken

Thanx for the welcome --- but you make some assumptions that are not so. First, all BUT 5 men would leave. So the vast majority left.

Next, since I did not see money change hands or sex acts being performed, I could not "call the cops". What would I say? A gal walked into a stag hospitality room? Since I had no desire to participate and every desire to express my distain, leaving was the best course of action. Do not think that I did not complain loud and long to the host court officers. Also, be aware that I never returned to a book the following year where these activities took place. My feet and my pocketbook did the talking, accompanied by my letters of explanation.

Next, in order to achieve change, you have to work within the system. I made motions that were passed on voice votes that our court boycott the courts books where prostritution existed. Then I made a motion in our local court that passed unanimously that we would not participate in any way with prostitution. I even had our bylaws changed to spoecifically prohibit expenditures by the court for any activity that was "against the law of the land." Alas, these votes and bylaws changes were ignored by some.

When I talked of the blue collar guys, i was talking about my specific court. True that the 19 Jesters were affluent enough to take the trip ... but that was 19 out of 24,000. It is undeniable that the quality of the membership in the ROJ and Shrine has slipped considerably from even 25 years ago.

As to the father/son aspect of the ROJ ... there are father/son hunting trips, father/son fishing trips, father/son camping trips, father/son trips toi the ballpark and father/son traditions within the Shrine and ROJ. I don't hunt, fish or camp, but I do go to the ball games with my sons and grandsons, and my sons and I have an "act" in the Shrine Clowns Unit and we have room to add my grandsons when they come of age and join the Shrine. Even though my father and I enjoyed many, many pleasurable times together at ROJ meetings and books until his death some 20 plus years ago, I would not allow my sons to join the current ROJ.

I hope this clears up any confusion I may have caused by my original post.

#3.1 - Thu Aug 6, 2009 12:25 PM EDT Sandy Frost Bill Iken,

Thank you for your comments. You're right. It's not the 24,000 Jesters who want to see the judge no more. It's probably more like 2 million Masons who want his hide for naming names and testifying how Master Masons are involved in sex trafficking and child sex tourism.

These are misogynistic crimes against women.

Kind of like institutionalized sexual harassment.

No wonder the Shriners were lectured about this at one of their treasurer's meeting and told not to touch the help because it's against the law.

You might want to ask Shriner HQ how many sexual harassment lawsuits they've been hit with and how much they've paid to keep the women quiet?

That's a misuse of charitable donations, don't you think? People give money to the Shriners to help the kids, not defend those who think it's OK to disrespect and sexually abuse women.

I keep wondering why Shriner and Masonic leaders aren't up in arms about these worst case scenario sex crimes. Maybe because the past three Imperial Potentates have been Jesters, including the new one, Jack H. Jones. Why raise hell when you're part of the problem?

In other words, the head Shriner guy is setting the fine example of not only being a Jester but is also sticking his head in the sand and ignoring the fact that the FBI is investigating a group he's proud to be a member of.

When weighing your comments against the words of the U.S. Attorney, who's more believable? The guy on the inside who kept his mouth shut and stuck his head in the sand about crimes for which Tills is to be sentenced or the prosecutor who knows as much as Tills, if not more?

Shame on you for minimizing a group of men, the "cream of the crop," who use their power and influence to exploit the most vulnerable of our society. Those illegal alien women came here to live the American dream, not be sex slaves.

There is no good reason for the Royal Order of Jesters to be classified by the IRS as a nonprofit group. Once taxpayers learn that they've been subsidizing and making up for the taxes that the Royal Order of Jesters don't pay so they can throw $600,000 weekend parties and authorize trips so their members can do little girls overseas, everyone should be asking "Why didn't you just quit?"

Thanks again,


#3.2 - Thu Aug 6, 2009 1:57 PM EDT .Paul Andrew

Thanks Bill, I understand your point. You still were aware of the criminal activity taking place. What about the ROJ email news letters that seem to encourage sex with minors ("Play Dumb, if she looks TOO young... just assume she is 18")? If you look at the courts where the "Brazilian" Jesters came from you will see that they were from across the US. The Father/Son activities on the Brazil trip that I was alluding to were with the girls. How could a father/grandfather look his wife, daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters in the eye after taking his son a trip like this?

1 vote#4 - Thu Aug 6, 2009 1:12 PM EDT.JEANINE364

I would like to know what about all of the defendents that he sent to prison for sex crimes while he was engaged in this activity, do they have any recourse in having their sentences thrown out or at least reduced? He should have gotten a longer sentence especially when he usually gave the maximum sentence for a sex crime when he was on the bench.

#5 - Fri Aug 7, 2009 3:28 PM EDT.Curtis Rickman Master Mason

Setting aside the numerous and egregious generalizations in which you impugn the integrity of 2 million men, I would like to point out one heinously inaccurate point or at least one unsubstantiated in the body of the article viz:

The Jesters, like their parent organizations, the Shriners and Masons, are nonprofit groups, so it's like partying with prostitutes at taxpayer expense.


IF the Jesters used money earned in their fundraisers for their bacchanalia then it's considerably worse than if they privately funded their debauchery, however, it is still far short of "partying with prostitutes at taxpayer expense."

I'm afraid your bias is all through this article. What this guys did was wrong, very wrong, but you give me any 2,000,000 member organization and I will find among them the most vicious and depraved acts known to mankind. No organization, no matter how benevolent or well intentioned is immune. Hell, Jesus only had 12 disciples and one of them sold Him out, that trumps a few 17 year old illegal hookers in my book, even if they had actually been paid with taxpayer money.

1 vote#6 - Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:52 AM EDT Sandy Frost Curtis,

Thank you for your comments.

Keep coming back.


#6.1 - Sat Sep 5, 2009 4:17 AM EDT

Further Reading:

The Royal Order of Jesters - The Shriners Secret Society Secret Society - 'Mirth is King'

The Shriners - The 'Krafty' Klowns