08. Letter of Appeal to
PON - Pressensopinionsämd
104 22 STOCKHOLM
26 July 2006
Against the Decision of Allmänhetens Pressombudsman Dnr 208/06
This letter is an appeal against
the decision of PO of 4 July 2006 in which my
complaint against the conduct of Nya Wermlands
Tidningen (NWT) was overturned by Kersti Söderberg on the grounds
ethical procedures had in fact been properly observed (¶6).
This appeal will provide conclusive evidence that press ethical
procedures were not only not observed but systematically abused.
This letter should be studied in
conjuction with the original 5-part Dossier (which shall hereafter
simply be referred to as 'Doss.') containing five Sections (A-E)
(hereafter simply referred to as 'Sec.') sent on 22 June 2006 to PO to
which I shall be extensively referring and which should therefore be at
hand whilst this document is studied.
I contend that journalist Gustav
Sjöholm and photographer Marcus Bryngelsson of NWT have failed to
observe the Rules on Publicity stated in the Code
of Ethics for Press, Radio and Television in Sweden, on several
counts, which shall be detailed hereafter. The principle objections and
their headings are listed in the 7 paragraphs below in bold face.
The material evidence, with references, is indented beneath in ordinary
type face. Because I do not read or speak Swedish, I shall be referring
to the English translations of the case documents that have been made
for me. The Nya Wermlands Tidningen (hereafter referred to as
NWT) newspaper article in question may be
found in Doss.Sec.C in both Swedish and English and when
referred to, will simply be cited as NWT, the headers and
paragraphs of which (¶) I have numbered for easy reference.
Where ambiguity may possibly be
present in the Swedish Rules of Publicity, and leave loopholes
for journalists to escape from the otherwise clearly stated rules of
PO/PON, I have taken the liberty of borrowing further ethical indices
from the Code
of Ethics - Canons of Journalism from the University of
Tennessee (copy attached), which closely resembles its Swedish
counterpart, as these and other Codes may be referred to in any
upcoming court case which I may initiate in Sweden or the EU if I am
not given satisfaction here. These I have distinguished from the
Swedish Code as sub-paragraphs and clearly indicated their
separateness by indenting them and referencing them as U.Tennessee.
One possible loophole, which might give journalists carte blanche,
and which I believe has been exploited by Sjöholm in my case, is
an inadequate definition of the concept of what "the public interest"
actually means (e.g. Code of Ethics, I.7).
#1. He fails to give an "accurate
and objective news report" (§I.1, Provide accurate news);
1a. "Partisanship, in
editorial comment, which knowingly departs from the truth, does
violence to the best spirit of American journalism; in the news columns
it is subversive of a fundamental principle of the profession" (U.Tennessee,
1b. "By every consideration of
good faith a newspaper is constrained to be truthful. It is not to
be excused for lack of thoroughness or accuracy within its control, or
failure to obtain command of these essential qualities" (U.Tennessee,
§IV.1, Sincerity, Truthfulness, Accuracy).
This section is concerned with
purely factual inaccuracy and misinformation.
1.1. Lie #1. "She [a
'deprogrammer'] has made an attempt to deprogram one of the members
who has been enticed to Glava" (NWT ¶19). The young man in
question is not a member, has never been a member, and was never asked
to be a member of NCCG or NCCG's Swedish cooperative, either by baptism
(the ordinance for entrance into the church), unspoken understanding,
or by written or verbal agreement of any kind. He was a guest of the
cooperative, at his own request, for one week in December 2005, and
returned (again at his own request) as as a prospective member in May
2006. He remained for about three weeks, returned home to see the World
Cup (as we have no TV) and decided, because of homesickness, not to
return here. He remains a good friend and in occasional contact. The
journalist has herein created the false impression that the young man
was a full and active member of NCCG and/or the cooperative, which he
1.2. Lie #2. The young man in
question was "enticed" (tempted, allured). This is a purely subjective
speculation without any factual evidence or warranty (see #1.1 above).
1.3. Lie #3. The cooperative is
not a "compound" as Sjöholm writes (NWT ¶26,38) which is an
loaded word commonly used of cults in the USA but which Sjöholm
nowhere attempts to define or explain (he translates the anti-website
use of 'compound' as 'gård'). The dictionary says that a "compound n. 1. A building or
buildings, especially a residence or group of residences, set off
and enclosed by a barrier. 2. An enclosed area used for
confining prisoners of war". My
home is open on all sides and anyone can walk into it without any
hindrance by means of a road, across open lawns and through numerous
public forest paths. This is deliberate deception to make it appear
like some restraining camp with a wall or fence around it. Indeed, as I
mentioned in my complaint against NWT, all kinds of people come in and
out of here all the time, including parties of former Swedish pupils on
nostalgia trips and trippers in the summer collecting berries
(Doss.Sec.D, ¶B4.5, p.3).
1.4. Lie #4. Sjöholm
liberally refers to an American so-called 'sect-deprogrammer' in such a
way as to give the false impression that such a category of person has
authority in society, in scientific circles or in the legal
establishment. He fails to inform his public readership that not only
is 'deprogramming' regarded by the psychiatric establishment as a
'pseudo-science' but, because of numerous court cases in the
United States, has been shown to be a form of brainwashing itself and a
violation of human rights. The whole thrust of his article relies
on the 'tesitimony' and 'authority' of so-called 'cult-deprogrammers'
who have historically often been known (as is well documented in court
records) to kidnap and physically and psychologically abuse adults.
He fails, for instance, to note that in 1977 the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) published a paper in which they concluded
that all 'deprogramming' is a violation of
constitutional rights [See Endnote #1, p.11] Indeed, he used
this presumed 'authority' even after I had supplied him with a Swedish
case study (Doss.Sec.A, ¶9, p.2) and references to psychiatric
watchdog organisations who recommend that 'deprogrammers' be carefully
monitored alongside the genuine cults because of their record of human
rights abuses (Ibid., ¶10). His article, if it had been
balanced and honest, would have included information for the readers on
these matters so that they could see that 'deprogrammers' are not
regarded as having any scientific, ethical or legal authority in the
USA where they are best known and have been tested over a long period
of time. These facts practically invalidate everything Sjöholm has
to say against us using this 'deprogrammer' as an 'authority', which
she isn't, a published book notwithstanding. Indeed, as this particular
victim of 'deprogramming' informed me, what the 'deprogrammer' was
in fact trying to do was reprogram him into her own belief
system by misrepresenting our actual beliefs to him. In all but one
item she misquoted us and deceived him that he raised with us.
1.5. Lie #5. Sjöholm quotes
a 'deprogrammer', on her authority alone, as saying that we "do
everything which is typical of a sect" without contextually telling the
readers what these 'things' are or what a 'sect' is (see #1.7
below) (Doss.Sec.D, ¶15).
1.6. Lie #6. Sjöholm also
quotes the 'deprogrammer' as implying that we teach that we are the
"one true way" (¶21) when in numerous writings, articles
and discussions on our website and discussion boards we have
emphatically said the very opposite - we have consistently
published that whilst there is only one truth that one can arrive at
that through many groups or churches or through no group or church at
all. Sjöholm has not done his research properly or has
deliberately ignored evidence.
1.7. Lie #7. Sjöholm
repeatedly and consistently uses the word 'sect' in a misleading,
deceptive and dishonest way without ever definining the term, playing
on popular associations, as well as clearly using it in the minority
dictionary meaning of a 'cult'. This I exposed in my complaint to NWT
(Doss.Sec.D, ¶B5, p.4).
1.8. Lie #8. Sjöholm states
in his article (Doss.Sec.D, ¶33) that we believe that certain
activities lead "demons to possess people". The word "possess" means
'total control' which we have never claimed. Unlike others (like
Catholics) who believe in 'possession', we do not, but rather in
1.9. Lie #9. Sjöholm claims
that I have "killed forty-some satanists" (Doss.Sec.D, ¶38). I
have never physically hurt, injured or killed a living soul in my whole
life. We are pacifists. We believe, along with other Christians, that
God intervenes both to protect and cut off people in His own sovereign
will by means of His own choosing. We do not seek to 'aid' that, were
that even to be possible.
1.10. Lie #10. Sjöholm
implies (Doss.Sec.D, ¶39) that police have been out hunting for
missing satanists. I have never said anything of the sort. The police
have never been contacted by us once in all our years in Sweden - save
to once find a missing old person with Alzheimers who had wandered
away, and on another occasion when a vandal threw a rock through a
window in our house - and we have never claimed that we have caleld
them for any other reason.
1.11. Lie #11. We have never
taught that people will "lose out on something if one does not move to
headquarters" (NWT ¶16). Quite apart from the fact that we could
never support more than a few people at any one time, or have the space
for them, on our cooperative, we encourage all converts to build up the
church in their own home country or place where they live. No more than
about a dozen or so members and investigators have ever visited our
cooperative of all the thousands that hold membership.
1.12. Lie #12. We do not "control
people's lives" (NWT ¶16) but encourage people to be critical
thinkers, find out the truth for themselves, engage in free discussion,
view the pro's and con's of all matters, and arrive at intelligent and
informed decisions over a period of time. This is consistently stated
in our writings and discussion groups over and over again but
Sjöholm has ignored these or not bothered to do proper research.
1.13. Lie #13. We do not go
around "creating a paranoia against satanists" or anyone else (NWT
¶16). "Paranoia is a mental disorder characterised by any of
several types of delusions, as of grandeur or persecution" or "an
intense fear or suspicion, esp. when unfounded". A distinction must be
clearly made between a genuine, false or suspected case of 'paranoia'.
Having a firm opinion or belief about a matter where there are two sets
of contradictory evidence or views does not make someone 'paranoid'. A
careful study of satanism will reveal that there are both proponents
and opponents as to the existence of their views and violent activities
with evidence produced by both sides of the debate. The fact that one
party does not believe the evidence does not mean that the other party
is 'paranoid' where proof is not absolute, otherwise a person having a
belief in any kind of religious system could be accused of being
'paranoid' or 'delusional' by those who do not, for example, believe in
the supernatural (as it happens, atheists or naturalists occupy a
minority position in the world). This is an example of using loaded
words without proper qualifications.
1.14. Lie #14. I have never
called anyone at "four o'clock in the morning" to ask for help when
"satanists were attacking" (NWT ¶22) let alone the unnamed person
in the article. The reason for the 'deprogrammer's' "failure" was
because she had given so much misinformation to our investigator that
he could see for himself that she was either lying or deceived. It must
be remembered also that most 'deprogrammers' don't 'deprogram' for love
but for money (because it's their profession), and in this case the
employer, the victim's mother, was expecting 'results' because she did
not wish her son to go abroad.
1.15. Lie #15. "They are obsessed
with satanists taking over the world" (NWT ¶24). To be "obsessed"
with something is to be "totally pre-occupied" with that matter, which
I absolutely am not. And whilst I most certainly believe in conspiracy
theory, as do many people from many religious and non-religious
backgrounds, I am not "obsessed" with it. In fact, the matter occupies
a tiny fraction of my time and interest, as my many on-line articles
and posts amply attest.
1.16. Lie #16. The official
position of this church is that monogamy is the 'natural state of man'
and that polygamy is a minority and permissive practice which will
become the natural state for the nation of Israel in the
millennium. We do not believe that polygamy "will be the natural state
of the human race" (NWT ¶30). That is in any case a demographical
1.17. Lie #17. I do not believe
in slavery, and whilst Sjöholm adds my qualifier, viz. that we
believe in "servanthood" (NWT ¶30), the damage is done simply by
inserting a very loaded word ('slavery'). Not until much later in the
article (¶63) do we find him quoting me as saying I believe
slavery is disgusting, by which time, of course, the original concept
that I believe in "slavery" has already been planted into the reader's
mind to add to the cacophany of lies elsewhere. This is a well known
psychological conditioning trick. We believe that everyone is a
'servant' - a servant to truth or a servant to error, since we all
serve (or are slaves to) what we believe and love.
1.18. Lie #18. Sjöholm
quotes the 'deprogrammer' (who remember has never met a single NCCG
member) as implying that members of NCCG are so controlled that they
take no interest in anything except the 'sect' itself and that this is
"a technique that NCCG is applying" (NTW ¶17). This is complete
and utter nonsense and is partially exposed in my complaint to NWT
(Doss.Sec.D, ¶B4, pp.2-4). An interview with any of the members of
NCCG in our cooperative or elsewhere in our congregations would have
revealed a tremendous diversity of personal interest and activity
including the pursuit of secular education at universities and colleges
without any sort of 'control' whatsoever. We encourage our people to be
knowledgeable, to examine all sides of an argument (which is why we
post contrary opinions on our discussion boards), and to apply logic to
their reasoning. Half an hour studying some posts in our main online
Bulletin Board would have established that beyond all doubt. Since it
is acknowledged that NTW employees are monitoring our group, they have
1.19. Lie #19. Sjöholm
quotes the 'deprogrammer' who insinuates that we "undermine people's
free will" (NWT ¶46). The truth of the matter is that we teach and
practice that freedom of choice is one of the most important cardinal
principles of life and should be defended at all costs (see #1.18
above). That Sjöholm could get something so fundamentally wrong
demonstrates his total lack of professionalism and skills in
#2. He has failed to be
"critical of news sources", has failed to "check facts as carefully as
possible in the light of the circumstances", and has failed to
"distinguish between statements of facts and comments" (§I.2, Ibid.);
2a. "So-called news
communications from private sources should not be published without public
notice of their source or else substantiation of their claims to
value as news, both in form and substance" (U.Tennessee,
This section is concerned with
the authority, credibility and accuracy of the sources cited in the
2.1. The sources used by the
journalist, as detailed in his own article, are as follows:
2.1.1. My own letter
(Doss.Sec.B) to him in response to his printed list of questions (Doss.
Sec.A) which he has selectively summarised to suit his particular bias.
He does not, for example, include any information on our humanitarian
work in India over the last 16 years (¶C, p.3) or our
belief in absolute free agency and choice (¶M, p.5 - cp.
#1.18,19 above), the latter of which is critically important to our
beliefs relative to the accusations that are being made against us but
which the journalist wishes to hide;
2.1.2. An American woman
called Marie Alice Crapo (née Chrnalogar) who has never
met me or a single member of our church or community, has unknown
and/or undeclared academic or legal qualifications (NWT ¶45-46,
66), who has supposedly attempted to 'deprogram' one of our 'members'
(who is in fact, not a member at all and has no formal association with
us of any kind - see #1.1 above), and who supports and is associated
with, by her own admission and as reported by NWT, a criminal
organisation called the Rick Ross Institute (NWT ¶66)
whose founder has been successfully prosecuted for fraud, kidnapping,
and abusive behaviour [See Endnotes 2,
p.11, esp. Part D on p.19]. I have shown in #1 above that most
of the things this 'deprogrammer' has said are lies (see #1.4,5,6,11,
2.1.3. Unnamed and unnumbered
'parents' with unknown ethical or moral background of unnamed and
unnumbered children allegedly 'brainwashed'. The statements of alleged
parents have been accepted uncritically and there is no evidence that
these parents been subjected to the same criteria of examination as I
supposedly have. Indeed I have information on two parents that suggest
they are psychologically unbalanced themselves which is reported in my
letter of complaint to NWT (Doss.Sec.D, ¶B5.3, p.5). He
fails to point out the many documented cases which may be read
online where parents have been involved in the kidnapping and
physical and psychological abuse of their own of-age children,
including assenting to sexual molestation, with the help of
'deprogrammers' because they violently disagreed with the new beliefs
of their children [See Endnotes 2, Parts
B1-2 on p.17]. There is one extensively reported case of
deprogrammers, with the consent of parents, violently trying to
'deprogram' a lesbian to 'turn' her into a heterosexual through
repeated rape [See Endnotes 2,
Part C on p.18]. There are numerous documented examples
of parents involved in violence with 'deprogrammer' cooperation which
demonstrates that parents' testimony cannot just be uncritically
accepted. In many cases the parents are the ones who show definite
signs of paranoia, often fuelled by 'deprogrammer' misinformation and
scare tactics, remembering the 'deprogrammers' make a lucrative trade
out of easily frightened parents (some charge up to $30,000 per case).
Sometimes it is obsessional control by parents who won't allow their
children to grow up. Additionally, many victims of 'deprogramming' have
been forced to make confessions under extreme psychological and/or
physical duress reminiscent of the practices of the secret police of
some totalitarian nations. These victims have later withdrawn their
forced confessions when placed in a free enviornment. None of this
is reported by Sjöholm;
2.1.4. An unnamed American
'researcher' (NWT §37) with an unconcealed atheist background
and contempt for religion, who runs the only anti-NCCG website on the
internet that appeared earlier this year at a time when our work in
exposing an underground network of satanic ritual abuse was coming to a
head. A professional investigation into his website, which will be
published in due course, reveals that he is not an 'independent'
investigator but is being 'fed' information, most of it false, from
outside sources who have been collecting unsubstantiated and unprovable
rumours from the internet. We also have evidence, which will likewise
be published, that recently this material, which, apart from our own
website, is the primary source of material of both the so-called
'deprogrammers', Sjöholm and the secretive author of this
anti-website, is being obtained illegally from hacked E-mail and
Internet Messages (IM's) which may then possibly be re-written. Much of
this material has been used latterly to fuel the suspicion, fear and
paranoia that this anti-website is deliberately and maliciously
creating. It should be stressed that the researcher remains unnamed and
therefore unaccountable and refuses to be identified. Considering this
is the primary source of the slander being aimed against us, this
should be born in mind. As we shall also show, the author of this
website, whilst using pseudo-scientific language, almost certainly has
no professional qualifications or experience to make an authoritative
analysis on something as complex as a large group of people with an
extensively developed philosophy of life which Sjöholm seems to
have little or no understanding of.
2.1.5. Unnamed persons from
our local village (who have no complaints against us);
2.1.6. Charlotte Hartwig Lundh,
the local Lutheran vicar (NWT ¶43-44) whom he either misunderstood or
misquoted because he tried to paint a false picture of the cooperative
and it's supposed 'isolation' with her alleged words, which I exposed
fully in my complaint to NWT as being quite absurd in the light of all
our photographed social contacts (Doss.Sec.D, ¶B4,
2.1.7. The Information
Officer at Swedish Immigration (Migrationsverket), Inger
Lagerström who, influenced no doubt by the misinformation supplied
her by Sjöholm, went and understandbly concluded that the job
offer made by us to a trainee teacher was "confidence trickery" (NWT ¶27).
We see from this how the tangled web of misinformation and lies cooked
up by the anti-NCCG website and the anonymous suppliers of its
misinformation, the twists and misinterpretations made on our true
beliefs giving the impression we believe and practice the opposite of
what we actually do, have led a great many lives being damaged,
including the refusal by Migrationsverket, as a result of
Sjöholm's biased journalism, to grant a residential visa to the
trainee teacher concerned who has set her heart on being involved in
homeschooling, and who was made to say things she has never said
because she is being kept under house arrest by her paranoid parents
(NWT ¶26) and will probably be subjected to the
abuses of 'deprogrammers' quite soon.
#3. His headlines and
introductory sections are not "supported by the text" (§I.3, Ibid.);
3a. "Headlines should be fully
warranted by the contents of the articles which they surmount"
(U.Tennessee, §IV.2, Sincerity, Truthfulness, Accuracy).
3.1. This section is concerned
with the legitimacy of the newspaper article headers, and in particular
the leading header on Page 1 which says:
3.2. With this leading caption,
the intent of the journalist is clearly laid out: he will henceforth
try to prove that we are "destructive, dangerous and isolated". This is
his goal. In order to do this he must lay out clear factual and
verifiable (as opposed to subjective) criteria as to what constitutes
being "destructive, dangerous and isolated". If he does not, then he is
perpetrating a slander, and his honesty and integrity are open to
serious doubt. By contrast, it has been demonstrated in courts of law
in the United States that 'cult-deprogrammers' are the "destructive and
dangerous" ones [See Endnote #1, p.10],
one or more of whom Sjöholm has consulted and used, as his
'authoritative' basis, for the creation of this header.
3.3. As I have shown, the
journalist Sjöholm has simply repeated uncritically and
unobjectively the distortions and subjective opinions of a so-called
'deprogrammer' whose 'trade' has been thoroughly discredited in her
home country. I have demonstrated that she supports and sustains a
'deprogramming' organisation that has been found guilty of fraud,
kidnapping and abuse in courts of law in the United States and in the
process has been thoroughly discredited. I have shown that the
psychiatric profession by and large views the methodology of these
'deprogrammers' as 'pseudo-science' - i.e. that which appears to be
scientific but isn't.
3.4. I have shown that there
are no grounds to show that we are either 'destructive', 'dangerous' or
'isolated' in any kind of objective sense, and that these are
subjective opinions based largely on misinformation, lies and
3.5. Therefore the headers in
this instance bear no relation whatsoever to the assertions
that follow and are misleading and harmful to the persons they purport
to be exposing.
#4. He has failed to ensure
that the "pictures and graphical illustrations" are "not used in a
misleading way" (§I.4, Ibid.).
4.1. This section is concerned
with the propagandistic manipulation of photographic images by NWT's
photographer Marcus Bryngelsson as previously reported in my letter of
complaint to NWT (Doss.Sec.D, ¶B1, p.2) which reads:
4.2. "Your journalist could
have taken an ordinary full-frontal picture of our house in daylight
instead of going deep into the surrounding woods at twilight so that
the house, barely visible, was obscured by dark trees and deliberately
made to look sinister (see picture above). We know your reporter* could
have done so because he drove up close to the house and photographed
the banners over our front door. Instead, he deliberately created a
'mood' to match the false atmosphere he conjured up in his article". [*This was an unintentional error on my part - I meant
comparison, the photograph below (p.8) shows an ordinary daylight shot
of my home which is what the hundreds of ordinary people see on a
typical day, which stands in sharp contrast to the propagandistic image
taken by NWT's photographer. This is taken from an internet site run by
me which Sjöholm would have seen if he had checked up the
references I gave him.
4.4. You have
before you, therefore, clear evidence of intentional psychological
manipulation of the readers by the photographer and the journalist who,
with premediation, have shaped a false view of myself and NCCG, based
on uncritical examination of sources, and created a photograph, with
specific lighting, background and mood, to 'match' the artificial
construct in the text. PON is referred to our online website which has
many pictures of my home inside and out as well as to the photography
made by an honest photographic journalist from another Swedish
newspaper (Värmlands Folkblad) of our homeschooling
"factual errors" which I have written and pointed out to Nya
Wermlands Tidningen (NWT) since the publication of the
article have not, to my knowledge, "been corrected", and certainly no
further publication has been mailed to me since the original newspaper
article. Neither have I been given the opportunity to "rebut a
statement" or "given the opportunity to do so" (¶I.5, Ibid.).
This section is
concerned with NWT's ethical responibility to correct and publish any
factual errors that have been proven.
5.1. There are a
great many factual errors in the newspaper article by NTW which could,
and should, have been corrected by now (Doss.Sec.D). Simple and obvious
errors about our being "isolated", which can be checked up in a matter
of minutes, should at the very least have been corrected while PO/PON
has been examining all the other allegations of dishonest journalistic
practice I have made.
has been a complete violation of my right to "privacy" and, as I shall
demonstrate, there are no legitimate grounds, based on the violations
of #1-5 above, for claiming that such a publication was in "the public
interest" or that there was any need for "public scrutiny" (§I.7, Respect
section is concerned in establishing what is legtimately in the "public
interest" as far as my privacy rights are concerned in the light of the
material provided in the sections above. Kersti Söderberg
of PO states in her letter of 4 July 2006: "Common interest
motivated an investigation into the movement's [NCCG's] activities."
6.2. In view of
the information which I have provided, the question must be begged: whose
interests are being served by the publication of the newspaper article?
A discredited 'profession' of 'deprogrammers'? Certainly, though they
have been dismissed in the USA, they stand to gain from such publicity
in Sweden where there is money to be made. The professional career of
the journalist Sjöholm and his newspaper? Certainly, Sjöholm
will acquire notority and the newspaper he works for will presumably
get increased circulation. And the satanists, who are concealing ritual
abuse, theoretically stand the gain the most (whether you believe they
exist or not) by a campaign of defamation of one of the principal
opponents. What of the readership of NWT and the public in general? The
public will have been misinformed and believe lies about myself and our
small church which will be stigmatised in the process. The journalist,
photographer and NWT have compromised the standards of the journalistic
profession in Sweden and brought it into disrepute. PON may be assured
that neither I, nor fellow members of NCCG, will allow this injustice
to stand but take matters to the highest authorities in the EU and UN
if corrections and a public apology are not made by NWT. It is only a
matter of time before the writer of the anti-NCCG site is fully exposed
and the true motives revealed showing what some of Sjöholm's
ultimate sources are.
#7. In the
light of #6, it is evident that "careful consideration to the harmful
consequences that might ensure for persons if their names are
published" has not been given as "the public interest" has not been
established (§I.15, Be cautious in publishing names);
newspaper should not publish unofficial charges affecting reputation or
moral character without opportunity given to the accused to be heard:
right practice demands the giving of such opportunity in all cases of
serious accusation outside judicial proceedings" (U.Tennessee,
§VI.2, Fair Play).
This section is
concerned with the harmful effects caused by the NWT newspaper article
both to myself, my reputation and my career, and the integrity of NCCG.
7.1. Quite apart
from the harm done to my reputation and the reputation of other NCCG
members and our organisation as a whole, wrong impressions have been
created at Migrationsverket whose decision-making processes
have been negatively influenced for applicants wishing to migrate to
Sweden for shorter or longer periods of time to assist us; moreover,
our local kommun has, we believe, been adversely influenced in
the decision-making processes affecting the homeschooling that we do,
and our good relations with the local villagers will also have been
damaged to some extent, especially with those who do not know us.
7.2. It is quite
obvious that anything but "careful consideration" was given by
the NWT editors and journalist Sjöholm of the "harmful
consequences" that might ensure for myself as evidenced in particular
by the initial list of questions sent to me by Sjöholm
(Doss.Sec.A). It should be obvious as you look at these 20 questions
(where such cult-associated words as "compound" (Q2) are used, where it
is implied we practice "polygamy and slavery" (Q12), where is is
implied that to join NCCG you have to "move to [live in] the
'compound'" (Q15), that we are a "dangerous and destructive sect"
(Q18), that a "deprogrammer in America has the same opinion" (Q19))
just what the agenda and influence is, and that those making the
allegations (a so-called 'deprogrammer', some understandably hysterical
parents influenced by an anti-website full of misinformation, etc.),
and some with psychological issues of their own, have already been
believed a priori.
7.3. This is not
a small matter. I am a professional man with a high standing in the
communities I have worked in in England and Norway, known and respected
in the international milieu in Oslo, including the embassies
(Doss.Sec.E) I am not only a pastor but also an academic, educator and
writer, as well as having responsibility for orphanages abroad and
looking after old people in our cooperative (the medical staff of the
local kommun and vårdcentrala know us all very
well because of this work we do, and respect us for it).
7.4. I retired
in 1999 owing to illness and therefore live a very quiet lifestyle. The
Folketrygdekontoret for utenlandssaker in Oslo, which pays
my sick pension, reiterates in its most recent letter to me of
2006-07-11, that it is important that I have a "stress-free environment
around" me. I retired in 1999 because of chronic fatigue and
fibromyalgia owing to a high-pressure job as a teacher and department
head (working from 0800-2200 four days a week) and commuting between
Norway and Sweden at weekends. I previously led a very active life. The
reason that I appear to have a 'low profile' is because I am ill and
don't move about much, not because I am trying to 'hide' something as
the journalist accused. But then he was not really interested to find
out the truth, was he? He could have spoken to my doctor, Dr.
Arnór Egilsson, and found out if he had wanted to.
7.5. I repeat,
ours is an open cooperative, local people (non-members) come and go all
the time and have access to who ever they want, whenever they want. If
PON wants to come and meet us and see for themselves, they are most
welcome, but it will understand as a result of this gutter-press
article by Sjöholm why, (a) I was suspicious of Sjöholm when
he sent me his list of questions and why refused a direct interview,
and (b) why we will never welcome him or NWT to our home again.
I am therefore
asking PON to do us justice, confirm the ethical standards of the
Swedish Press and good journalism, and direct NWT to make a public
correction and apology to me and to my co-workers, and inform us, by
sending us a copy of the newspaper edition in which it is printed, when
this has been done. As I told the editor of NWT, Steffan Ander, when I
made my complaint to him on 21 June 2006 (who has never replied):
"I have no
problem with people holding contrary views to my own, or even holding
those contrary views passionately provided they do so in a civilized
manner and observe certain codes and standards of decency common to
all. We live in a pluralistic society where minorities are protected
and where people with contrary views are allowed to live their lives in
peace. Sadly, we also live in a society where those with dishonest and
unscrupulous intent are also, at times, tolerated while their lies are
believed" (Doss.Sec.D, ¶A3, p.1).
Since we now
find ourselves in a situation where "dishonest and unscrupulous intent"
has now been advertised by NWT and believed in NWT readers, it now
falls upon PON, which has a position of responsibility and influence,
to ensure that justice is done. Whether Sjöholm and the editorial
staff of NWT had malice aforethought or were themselves deceived by the
'deprogrammer', and anti-website with its anonymous author who have
motives of their own, or hysterical parents lacking sound information,
is not so important to me as the fact that my name and reputation, my
family, and that of my ministry, are publically cleared in what has
been a very distressing and debilitating time healthwise for me
"ACLU opposes the use of mental
incompetency proceedings, temporary conservatorship, or denial of
government protection as a method of depriving people of the free
exercise of religion, at least with respect to people who have reached
the age of majority. Mode of religious proselytizing or persuasion for
a continued adherence that do not employ physical coercion or threat of
same are protected by the free exercise of religion clause of the First
Amendment against action of state laws or by state officials. The claim
of free exercise may not be overcome by the contention that
'brainwashing' or 'mind control' has been used, in the absence of
evidence that the above standards have been violated." (as cited in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deprogramming)
We have extensively documented the
activities of 'deprogrammers' on our on-line Discussion Board. As this
information is extremely important and little known except to serious
researchers, I have extracted some informative academic and newspaper
The Anticult Network
Lowell D. Streiker, PhD.)
on www.cultawarenessnetwork.org May 2002
a regular basis, colorful stories appear in the media, setting forth
the claims that Mr. X or Ms-Y has been "brainwashed" and otherwise
harmed by a "dangerous cult group. Mr.X and Ms.Y, we learn from such
stories, had lost their freedom of will and had to be "rescued," that
is, abducted and deprogrammed. Shortly thereafter, additional stories
inform the public that Mr. X or Ms. Y is bringing a lawsuit for several
million dollars against the group in question.
stories do not appear spontaneously. The negative opinions of cults,
sects, and awareness training groups appearing in the media are often
placed there by individuals and groups belonging to "the anticult
network" (ACN). The accounts of harmful effects of destructive cult
involvement offered to the press and TV by disgruntled ex-members are
often the result of anticult network orchestration. From my point of
view, ACN groups are essentially propagandists who seek to justify
extralegal and questionable practices as a means of suppressing
individuals and groups who exert parentally unacceptable influences on
their adult children. In addition, ACN groups front for dozens of
deprogrammers, anticult mental health professionals, and anticult
attorneys who make a substantial part of their living from the attack
on nontraditional groups. Although the media rely on the ACN, their
clients, and their allies, the data provided by them is scarcely
reliable. To regard the ACN as a source of objective data or sound
criticism of any group or form of influence is like regarding the KKK
as a source of objective data or sound criticism of blacks.
anticult network (ACN) is a loose-knit confederation of parents'
groups, deprogrammers, dissatisfied former group members,
cult-concerned mental health professionals, attorneys, and evangelical
religious propagandists. The ACN began about ten years ago with the
efforts of parents opposed to their offsprings' involvement with the
Children of God, a fundamentalist sect. COG having been driven out of
the United States within a short time as the result of Ted Patrick
kidnappings and anti-COG publicity, a new target or targets were
required. As with any newly emerging institution, the deprogrammers and
the anticult parent groups had too much invested in the ACN to simply
fade away. The Hare Krishnas, tile Unification Church or the "Moonies.
and Divine Light Mission soon became the foci of anticult efforts.
These efforts won very little public support and had practically run
out of steam by late 1978.
media, and legislative bewilderment at the mass murder and
suicide of more thin nine hundred U.S. citizens at the Peoples Temple
enclave in Guyana in Central America revivified the spirit of the ACN.
For about two years the chief targets remained the Moonies, the Hare
Krishnas, and DLM. Since 1982, new targets have included Transcendental
Meditation, awareness traiining seminars, various New Age groups, and
The ACN exploits the media to spread hatred and fear, to
solicit business for deprogrammers and their suporters, and to
poison the public's perception of nontraditional groups . . .
an effort to avoid appearing anti-religious and to attract proponents
of conventional religions into the fold, the ACN has been careful to
attack their enemies on mental health grounds rather than theological
ones. Allegations of thought reform, mind control, brainwashing, or
mental manipulation have proved the most effective weapon. For a mother
and father to accuse an unscrupulous group of having brainwashed their
son or daughter has several advantages. Mom and Dad need take no
responsibility for their child's rejection of them and their values.
Further, they are able to regard their child as a helpless dupe or
victim rather than as a willing rebel. When their child finally defects
from the group - as the vast majority do even when no intervention is
undertaken on their behalf - the apostate is able to blame the group
rather than himself for his actions while still in the group. Under the
brainwashing explanation, no one is ever to blame except for the "evil
it is influence rather than theology that makes a group an evil cult,
it is a short step from condemning a handful of unpopular religious
sects to condemning any group or experience. If a parent or a spouse
feels that newly adopted values, attitudes, vocabulary, or
social affiliation is somehow weird or threatening, they can readily
explain it away as a manifestation of thought reform or brainwashing.
Once again, neither the individual in question nor his or her concerned
loved ones nor society nor anyone other than the evil brainwashing
group is to blame. The ACN quickly adopted this point of view and began
to accuse large group awareness training seminars, human potential
groups, multi-level sales organizations, mental health professionals,
and other sources of interpersonal influence of brainwashing. The
absurd culmination of the brainwashing myth is the deprogramming of
young men and women whose selected marital partners are unacceptable to
their parents. Such unacceptable (to the parents) relationships are
spoken of in ACN circles .cults of one."
1. Cult Awareness Network
Awareness Network (formerly Citizens Freedom Foundation) is not one but
about fifty-one organizations. At the top is the national organization
with its office in suburban Chicago. There is a national board of
directors which meets quarterly. CAN is poorly financed and essentially
volunteer staffed. In the past ten years, it has been
headquartered in southern California (various places), Virginia,
upstate New York, and Illinois, and has been beaded by a succession of
executive directors. After CAN went through three executive directors
in one year, the then president became executive director and located
CAN in her home ill New Yolk. CAN moved to the Chicago area with
Reginald Alev serving termporarily as executive director. The current
executive director is Cynthia Kisser, who holds a master's degree in
American Studies from Bowling Green University. I have been told that
the address appearing on CAN literature is merely a commercial mail
publishes a monthly newsletter which consists, for tile most part, of
reprints of newspaper articles which are unflattering to cults, sects,
major activity of CAN is a national conference that draws between 400
and 800 attendees. The CAN conference was held in Los Angeles in 1983
and Washington, D.C. in1982. The 1987 annual meeting was held in
Pittsburgh; this year's is scheduled for Portland, Oregon. Major
anticult figures speak and direct workshops, and anticult literature is
sold. Most major deprogrammers attend and many deprogrammings are
arranged in informal gatherings. A subsidiary, FOCUS (Former Cultists
Support Network), consisting of former members or "victims" of cult
groups, holds its annual meeting in conjunction with CAN's. All
sessions of the CAN /FOCUS annual meeting are semi-public. The public
is invited, but CAN reserves the right to exclude anyone at any time
are approximately fifty affiliated chapters of CAN. The national
organization has very little control over them. When there have been
policy disputes in the past, the CAN board has found some way to
disaffiliate troublesome chapters.
a counselor of families disturbed by so-called cults and an opponent of
forcible deprogramming I would estimate that eighty percent of all
deprogrammings that have been reported to me were set up by CAN
national headquarters or its chapters.
chapters (e.g. CAN/New York, New Jersey) have many active volunteers
who answer phone inquiries, arrange public forums, distribute
literature, "educate" the media, provide speakers, and lobby
incessantly against "destructive cultism.. Many chapters exist in name
only. A single pair of parents of present or former cult members
attempt in a hit-or-miss manner to coordinate local anticult
activities. Several chapters are substantial anticult groups which
antedate the national confederation. Some have retained their original
names and publish their own anticult newsletters. Examples include Free
Minds (Minneapolis), PAC (Positive Action Center in Portland, Oregon),
and PAIF (Pittsburgh Association for Individual Freedom).
groups front for dozens of deprogrammers, anticult mental health
professionals, and anticult attorneys who make a substantial part of
their living from the attack on nontraditional groups.
official policy of the national CAN on deprogramming states that CAN is
opposed to kidnapping. Yet CAN executive directors and presidents have
been regular referral sources for deprogrammers. At the chapter level,
CAN is basically an informational and referral service for
deprogramming. Many CAN chapters are headed by deprogrammers. As a
counselor of families disturbed by so-called cults and an opponent of
forcible deprogramming, I would estimate that eighty percent of all
deprogrammings that have been reported to me were set up by CAN
national headquarters or its chapters. For example, Jon Ruth, a
university graduate student in Colorado, was recently kidnapped by
deprogrammers hired by his patents, who did not approve of the young
woman he was about to marry. Using the fact that Jon had attended a
Lifespring workshop as a pretense he was kidnapped and forced to
renounce his fiancé. A private detective retained by Jon's
fiancé was able to determine Jon's location by phoning CAN in
Chicago, claiming to have a relative involved in Lifespring, and asking
for a referral to someone ill Colorado. The person to whom the
investigator was referred was a deprogrammer, who, at that very time,
was holding Ruth.
following story illustrates how CAN works:
client of mine, who later became a personal friend, had a son who had
for a few days been with the Golden Realization Church (a fictional
name chosen to protect the anonymity of the individuals involved). Her
descriptions of him convinced me that he was ill suited to any
structured lifestyle and that he would probably leave the group on his
own or be expelled in a matter of days. This in fact happened. The
mother told me that, in the meantime, she contacted the national office
of CAN and was told that her son had suffered possible brain damage as
the result of the Golden Realization Church's uses of "mind control."
The mother was warned that if her son were not deprogrammed he would
probably go insane and kill himself. When the young man returned home,
the Mother had him committed to a mental hospital - even though he
manifested no evidence of any form of mental illness- and deprogrammed
by the president of the local chapter of CAN.
do not know how much the mother paid for the deprogramming. Current
fees (or abduction-style deprogrammings are $15,000 to $25,000 and
more. To continue:
the pseudo-psychiatric opinions with which they were barraged by the
anticult network, the hospital staff soon came to the conclusion that
the young man was not suffering from any form of mental illness and
ordered his release. Shortly after he returned to his mother's home, he
became deeply depressed. Since he no longer trusted his mother, he went
to live with his father. (His patents were divorced.) Unable to shake
his feelings of despondency and rejection he committed suicide.
Remembering the predictions made by the anticult network, the mother
blames the Golden Realization Church. I suspect his sense of having
failed as his mother's son was the greatest contributing factor. The
young man and his mother had always been very close. But when he turned
to her after his short stay with "a cult," she opted to listen to the
deprogrammers rather than to her own son, had him locked up, forced to
listen to anticult propaganda, and drugged. He must have been
story illustrates a common pattern. A family phones a CAN chapter
seeking information. CAN regales the concerned relatives with atrocity
stories, provides them with newspaper clippings and videotapes filled
with more exaggerated accounts, puts them in touch with apostates with
chips on their shoulder, offers to arrange for
kidnappings/deprogrammings or other forms of 'exit counseling'. In
typical cases, when the family member has been successfully
removed from the group, he or she is introduced to anticult mental
health professionals who convince the deprogrammed individual that he
or she was the victim of brainwashing techniques that have caused
irreparable harm. Soon the former adherent is being urged to bring a
lawsuit against the cult group or leader and to make media appearances
to warn the public. The deprogrammers and the anticult mental health
professionals often reap huge fees either directly from the
deprogramming or later as expert witnesses when the former group member
Two deprogrammers are former truck drivers; one is a
convicted felon (drug-related charges); one is a private detective;
many are ex-cultists who themselves were deprogrammed.
has been instrumental in having conservatorship bills introduced in
various states which would allow courts to suspend the civil rights of
adult cult members so that they could be placed in their parents'
custody in order to be deprogrammed. Such bills have twice been passed
ill New Volk but were vetoed by then Governor Carey.
the Canadian group, COMA (Council on Mind Abuse), and the Boston-based
American Family Foundation are "associate" members of the CAN family.
It is estimated that the total number of individuals involved in CAN
activities throughout the country is less than one thousand. CAN annual
conferences, which drew eight hundred a few years ago, now draw about
four hundred. Most of those involved in "cult" groups, particularly the
Unification Church, Divine Light Mission, the Church of Scientology,
The Way International and various smaller Bible-based sects and "guru"
groups. Approximately two-thirds of those actively involved in CAN are
vehemently in favor of coercive deprogramming and most of them have
used the services of such big name deprogrammers as Ted Patrick, Joe
Alexander, Jr., Galen Kelly mid more recently Mark Blocksom and Joe
Szimhart. CAN's parallel organization, FOCUS, is a council of former
cult members, most of whom have been successfully deprogrammed from
such groups as those mentioned above.
to CAN in the anticult crusade are appproximately forty individuals who
work fulltime or part-time as active agents of deconversion. Popularly
known as deprogrammers, this group is available for hire by concerned
parents for fees averaging fifteen thousand dollars per case. (Parents
have spent as much as $50,000 in an individual case.) The activities of
deprogrammers typically consist of abducting "cult" converts, forcing
them to reconsider their allegiances, and creating a stress-overload
situation which is eventually resolved in successful cases by the
subject's renunciation of the group. Two deprogrammers are former truck
drivers; one is a convicted felon (drug-related charges); one is a
private detective; many are ex-cultists who themselves were
deprogrammed; several are born-again Christian zealots who participate
in the coerced deprogramming of born- Christians whom they regard as
influenced by the devil. There is a category of noncoercive or
"voluntary" deprogrammers who usually refer to themselves as "exit
counselors." "Exit counselors" include some mental health
professionals, a large number of former coercive deprogrammers whose
wings have been clipped by civil and criminal court cases, former cult
members who are opposed to force, evangelists for various evangelical
Christian groups clergymen of various faiths etc. However, it
should be noted that noncoercion is the exception rather than the rule
among the practitioners of the ACN. Further many individuals who
claim too participate only in voluntary deprogrammings have long
records of involvement in kidnappings. Other "exit counselors"
routinely make referrals to deprogrammers when less forcible means of
3. Cult-concerned mental health professionals
is a small company of anticult "shrinks". These psychiatrists,
psychologists, and social workers are extremely important to ACN
because they provide a professional legitimization for deprogramming,
the advocacy of anticult legislation and for anticult propaganda. The
chief role of these professionals within the ACN is to describe as
"psychologically harmful" the conversion to lifestyles which parents
find socially unacceptable. Accusations of brainwashing, mind control,
trance induction and hypnosis thus become the basis for extralegal and
religiously suppressive ACN activities.
closely with deprogrammers and anticult mental health professionals are
lawyers who specialize in litigation against cults, sects, and human
potential groups. In a typical case, an individual who has been
deprogrammed is referred to in anticult attorney. The attorney then
retains all anticult mental health professional to offer "educative
therapy" to the ex-cultist and to testify against the group in question
is seen by the anticult network as the chief means of suppressing
groups deemed guilty of practicing "thought reform." To date, lawsuits
have been brought against cults, sects, fundamentalist churches,
awareness training seminars, and even a men's clothing store.
am a sympathetic critic of manifestations of religious experience,
group processes, and awareness training having studied such phenomena
for nearly thirty years. I am appalled by the reliance the media
place on anecdotal accounts of defectors and professional anticultists.
the ACN's only source of information is what they have learned from
deprogrammers, former adherents who have been deprogrammed, and
sensationalized stories in the popular press, their information is of
very little value. Apostates are notorious for telling unreliable
and self-serving stories. Would we trust a man's former wife as our
only source of information about his personality? The ACN is composed
of controversialists whose efforts are aimed not at understanding but
at suppression. The ACN spreads atrocity stories about their
targets in much the same manner as government ministries of propaganda
publish exaggerated and accounts of enemy nations. Like all
propaganda, the tales of the Anti Cult Network must be taken with a
large grain of salt.
are notorious for telling unreliable and self-serving stories. Would we
trust a man's former wife as our only source of information about his
ACN exploits the media to spread hatred and fear, to solicit business
for deprogrammers and their supporters, and to poison the public.s
perception of nontraditional groups so that when ACN-promoted lawsuits
are brought, fair hearings before juries are impossible.
accept the word of the ACN is to court the destruction of our most
fundamental rights-freedom of religion, freedom of association, and
freedom of the press. By spreading propaganda to justify its own
deprogramming activities, the ACN subverts the integrity of the press
and tramples oil the basic liberties of followers of nontraditional
have kept a file of media stories dealing with so-called cults during a
recent one-year period. The stories were culled by a commercial
clipping service and fill an entire six-foot bookcase shelf. I would
estimate that approximately ninety percent of the coverage is negative
and that approximately ninety percent of the negative material was
based on allegations against groups made by deprogrammers, individuals
who had been deprogrammed, the anticult network, and the attorneys of
ex-cultists engaged in litigation against groups.
CAN has been instrumental in having conservatorship bills
introduced in various states which would allow courts to suspend the
civil rights of adult cult members so that they could be placed hi
their parents' custody in order to be deprogrammed.
ever is a story based on first-hand investigation or participative
observation of the group in question. The few positive or neutral
observations that do appear are often taken verbatim and uncritically
from standard library sources or group handouts. Essentially the
media allow the enemies of the groups in question to do all their
spadework for them.
a period of years, many investigative reports on television have been
set up by the ACN as follows: an individual is deprogrammed; the local
ACN representative approaches the news or reporter with a pre-packaged
story about the alleged "mind control," financial manipulation and
sexual misdoings within the 'cult' offering the deprogrammer and his
'client' in support of the claims. Having been prejudiced by the
exaggerated accounts offered by the ACN, the reporter then approaches
the group in a 'have you stopped beating your wife!' spirit. The
results are distortion and hate-mongering.
cult-bashers and deprogrammers as experts on the harm caused by
so-called cults is like quoting leaders of the American Nazi Party as
experts when they claim that the American economy is harmed by what
they view as the Jewish control of banking. Not only is the uncritical
acceptance of ACN dogma unfair, but it is devastating to our most
cherished constitutional rights and antagonistic to the pursuit of
spiritual truths by citizens of a pluralistic society.
For six years, Lowell Streiker served as executive director of
Freedom Counseling Center in Burlingame, California,
Which assisted families and individuals disturbed by cults.
(c) 1988 Lowell D. Streiker Ph.D.
Some Case Studies #1
the 29th April 1992, a Cyril Vosper, also known as Fred Delacey,
attempted to "deprogram" me non stop for eleven hours.
Vosper, whom I now know to be a convicted criminal , and who withheld
this information from my parents, had me falsely imprisoned in my house
and verbally, in a violent manner, denigrated my beliefs and stopped me
from leaving my own home. He has been convicted of related offences in
Mr. Vosper stirred up my parents and family to act against me and my
religious beliefs and to even endanger my physical well being. Through
Vosper's instigation, my parents imprisoned me in my own home and
forced me to be subjected to a lengthy period (11 hours in total) of
spiteful denigration of my religion by him. My own parents and family
held me against my will and put more faith in Vosper's view of my
religion than my own statements to them.
His raving persisted for hours, with not a decent thing being said; he
denigrated everything he could and gave me information I knew to be
became tired, weary and eventually exhausted by his persistent
harassment ... At least five times I tried to leave and each time, Mr.
Vosper would become very angry with me and had my father convinced I
had to remain, whereupon my father held me there. He has never done
this to me before or ever held me against my will. It was an outrageous
and humiliating experience.
said he wouldn't let me go until I was convinced my beliefs were "evil"
and made out this was similar to a "doctor deciding for his patient".
He said "I am the deciding factor here. I've got to be convinced that
you are never going back. I don't want you telling them what occurred
told him at least four times: "I am angry because you are holding me
against my will." He became very antagonistic and was yelling at me.
This arguing with him went on for about an hour at the front door; he
told me "This process takes as long as it takes and depends on your
co-operation. It can take days and I've done it for three days before."
police car turned up and [deleted] knocked on the window and the
police officer stepped out of the car. He asked me if I was Lucia and
wanted to know my age. When he heard I was 29 years old he told my
father I had the right to leave.
told the policeman that there was a man in the house named Cyril Vosper
who had been there all day and he had tried to deprogram me and would
not allow me to leave the house. I asked the policeman if he would
accompany me into the house so that I could get some decent clothes, as
I was still in my track suit pyjamas. He and I went into the house
whilst I collected a suitcase of clothes. I found Vosper hiding in the
house; he jumped back when I raced around the corner of our L-shaped
hallway. I left at approximately 8:30 p.m.
later went to the Oakleigh police at around 11 p.m. to file a complaint
against Cyril Vosper. I was told by a police officer that the police
had spoken with my family whilst Vosper was still there and told them
that what had occurred was not legal as I could press charges of false
imprisonment, however I do not hold my family responsible.
Some Case Studies #2
The 'deprogramming' of Stephanie Riethmiller
MS Magazine, Sept 1982
article shows how the "mind-control" allegation is used despite the
fact that Riethmiller wasn't part of any group, she was just engaged in
an alleged lesbian relationship. As for cult deprogramming victims, the
mind-control rhetoric succeeded to get the deprogrammers acquitted
despite the fact that they kidnapped her, raped her, and tried to
forcefully impose their own values to her.
October, 1981, two young women were walking to their suburban
Cincinnati home when they were approached by two men. One of the men
asked directions; as the women responded, one woman was Maced, the
other seized and thrown into a van that whisked her away from the scene.
began the bizarre 'deprogramming' of Stephanie Riethmiller. Suspected
by her parents, Marita and William Riethmiller, of becoming a lesbian,
Riethmiller, then 19, was driven to a house in Alabama where, she
claimed, she was subjected to seven days of forced captivity, verbal
harassment, and rape. Last April, the Hamilton County Common Pleas
Court in Cincinnatti heard the criminal trial of Riethmiller's captors.
In proceedings that drew the attention of gay and women's rights
observers from across the country, controversial deprogrammer Ted
Patrick and two of his associates - James Roe and Naomi Goss - were
variously charged with abduction, assault, and sexual battery. Patrick
has built a reputation as a deprogrammer of converts to religious sects.
a packed courtroom [...] testified that James Roe raped her on the
second night in Alabama and every night thereafter. Terrified, she
could not scream or offer resistance, she said. Insisting that everyone
in the house was fully aware of what was happening, she quoted her
mother as later saying that 'it was all right I was raped and anything
was better than what I was doing.'
the house in Alabama, her treatment included nearly constant yelling
about her roommate, Patty Thiemann. Defense witnesses at the trial
portrayed Thiemann as a dominering lesbian bent on controlling
Riethmiller's lifestyle and mind. They focused on Thiemann's footwear
(boots), her car (a pickp truck), and dog (Doberman pinscher) as
evidence of her overbearing style.
prosecutor in the trial, Hamilton County's Simon L. Leis, came under
criticism for his unsympathetic treatment of the victim's lifestyle as
well as for granting immunity to her parents who had paid $8,000 for
the deprogramming. It was reported that Leis in the past had called
homosexality immoral, and in addressing the jury, he said that though
her lifestyle wasn't at issue, "I'm not going to represent to you that
I approve of the victim's sexual preference." He referred to lesbianism
as "unnatural." Although he said the parents' action was 'totally
wrong', he declared: 'I don't think there's any question that what the
parents did in the matter was done totally out of love for their
daughter.' As to the deprogrammers, Leis described their tactics in
court papers as 'sexual intercourse to detract [...] from her
lesbianism and attract her to heterosexual activity.'
observers were only moderately surprised when, after two weeks of
testimony and 16 hours of jury deliberation, none of the criminal
charges under consideration was upheld. The jury, however, deadlocked
on the abduction charge for Roe and Goss, and a retrial was scheduled."
Historical Update on Cult 'Deprogrammer' Rick Ross:
#21, Sep/Oct 1993, p11-12
On Kidnap Charge, While "Cult Busters" Organise Here
Ross, self-confessed "cult deprogrammer" and ATF advisor in the
Waco holocaust has been charged, in the United States, with the 1991
abduction of a Christian teenage boy.
and his accomplices, Mark Workman and Charles Simpson, were charged in
July with unlawful imprisonment in the abduction of Jason Scott. If
convicted they face a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. The charges
against the three were the most recent in a string of legal actions
brought against deprogrammers by U.S. law enforcement officials.
to police reports, Ross, of Phoenix, Arizona, and his accomplices
violently abducted the teenager from the Seattle suburb of Kirkland on
January 18, 1991, handcuffed and gagged him and drove him to Ocean
Shores and held him prisoner to 'deprogram' him from his Church. Scott
is involved with the Life Tabernacle Church, a Pentecostal Christian
is a form of brainwashing which uses kidnapping, forcible restraint,
assault, battery and even rape in an effort to get an individual to
recant his or her chosen beliefs.
the abduction, according to a police report, the victim was bound and
gagged with heavy-duty tape and handcuffed so tightly his wrists became
bruised and swollen, and an ankle restraint was attached to him so he
could not walk.
stated that Ross "ridiculed me about me Church, my pastor, our worship
... the Bible, our salvation, our baptism ... me and my self worth. He
degraded me ... and tore apart everything that I was and stood for."
Scott also said that for 10 to 14 hours a day the men used videotapes
and insults until he broke down and cried.
escaped after five days because he pretended to go along with the
deprogrammers. In his statement to Ocean Shore police, he told of being
threatened by Ross, who said, "If you give me trouble I'll cuff you to
the bed frame." Scott said that for four days he did not leave the room
where he was imprisoned.
Psychiatric & Criminal Records
background of personality disorder and crime is extensively documented
in court and psychiatric reports.
arrest record stretches back to 1975, when he was convicted of grand
theft embezzlement for stealing $100,000 worth of diamonds from a
Phoenix department store. He was on probation at the time for an
his sentencing his own lawyer pointed out Ross's "record of
anti-social, criminal conduct, and even his earlier failure at
probation" and cited his "clear background of serious psychological and
emotional problems," which were detailed in the public court documents.
was seen regularly by psychiatrists and counsellor from the age of six.
At the age of 10, he was put on the psychiatric drugs Deaner and
August and November 1975, he was examined by psychiatrist Thomas P.
O'Brien. O'Brien's report stated that Ross "has a tremendous capacity
to deny the seriousness of problems which he faces ... in his second
jailing, he eventually made quite a serious suicide attempt ... When he
is thrown on his own resources and opportunism is unavailable, and
crying foul produces no changes, his own lack of self-worth and sense
of emptiness overwhelm him and a near suicide resulted."
medical condition was evaluated by Dr Domiciano E. Santos of the
Arizona State Hospital after 15 psychiatric interviews in late 1975.
Dr. Santos stated that "Ricky has a personality disturbance
which started even as a child. He does not seem to profit from his past
experiences and cannot realize that he has a responsibility to society
to control his behaviour ... He does not seem to identify himself with
society and its laws, and believes that punishments are an injustice."
years later, Ross became involved with the notorious Cult Awareness
Network (CAN), after a "radical Bible-based group" began operating at
the Arizona nursing home where his grandmother lived.
who freely admits having carried out as many as 300 deprogrammings
since 1982, mainly against Christian denominations, is known to
charge up to $20,000 for a single kidnapping and "exit counselling"
victims have routinely been held hostage against their will and
brutally intimidated in attempts to force them to recant their chosen
Ross' past and present criminal activities, members of the Cult
Awareness Network continue to praise him. CAN's national executive
director, Cynthia Kisser, has described him as "among the half dozen
best deprogrammers in the country."
has cooperated extensively with the national office of this
organization," said Reg Alev, a director of one of CAN's affiliates.
"We recommend him highly."
head of CAN's Los Angeles affiliate lauded him. "Rick has helped me
with all kinds of questions, situations and problems," she said.
is currently under scrutiny by the FBI and federal prosecutors,
stemming from the conviction and jailing in May of another of its
deprogrammers, Galen Kelly.
housewife and professional "cult buster", Jan Groenveld, boasts of her
association with Rick Ross's buddies in the Cult Awareness Network.
Back in her May 1991 newsletter, Groenveld waxed lyrical about CAN's
organisational ability, stating:
attending the Cult Awareness Network convention in the USA last year I
could see the benefit of having a co-operation between the Christian,
Jewish and secular community here in dealing with the cults and occult.
I have since been contacted by the Jewish community with that in view.
The secular community (medical and legal) are also interested in
of Mrs Groenveld's fellow "cult busters", Melbourne private
investigator David Lentin, admitted in an interview with New Idea,
"We have to resort to kidnapping to get people out. And it is a very
long and difficult process to deprogram them."
"cult expert" is Dr. Rachel Kohn of Sydney University's School of
Studies in Religion and producer of ABC Radio National's religion
to the newsletter Christian Jewish Scene, "Dr. Kohn's interest
in the interaction between social, political and religious issues
extends beyond the academic arena. She was among the pioneers who
established the Anti-Defamation Unit within the Jewish community
organisation B'nai B'rith."
Anti-Defamation Commission of B'nai B'rith (ADC) is connected to the
U.S. based Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL). A recently
released special report titled Is The Anti-Defamation Commission
Spying On You says, "The ADC in Australia is modelled on, and
closely linked to, the US's Anti-Defamation League, which is now facing
criminal prosecution on 48 felony counts, including illegal access to
police computers, spying and theft."
New York newspaper Village Voice has called the ADL's criminal
spying "a massive violation of civil liberties," and has termed the ADL
the "Jewish thought police." While former U.S. congressman Paul
McCloskey has initiated legal action against the ADL for domestic
spying activities against private citizens.
Anti-Defamation League has a long history of working closely with the
Cult Awareness Network. Both the ADL and CAN co-operated in providing
U.S. authorities with sensational and distorted intelligence gathered
on the Branch Davidians. This disinformation ultimately prompted the
murderous assault on the Waco religious community.
doubt, with the help of her new found friends, Mrs Groenveld went on to
found the "Cult Awareness & Information Centre - Australia".
Currently she is organising a week-long conference on "cult busting" at
Queensland University from September 22.
speaker at the conference is American psychologist, Steven Hassan, who
like Rick Ross, is a deprogrammer active with the Cult Awareness
Network. Hassan is the author of one of CAN's central texts, Combating
Cult Mind Control.
speakers will include Australian "cult experts" and "exit counsellors".
conference promotional literature, Mrs Groenveld states that
psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, lawyers, Barristers,
media representatives and medical practitioners are just a few of the
people who can "benefit" from the get-together with professional
deprogrammer Steven Hassan.
Brisbane conference is a public relations exercise designed to firmly
establish "Cult Aware" networks in Australia. Part of a carefully
planned strategy to indoctrinate government agencies, the media, church
leaders, community workers and opinion makers with disinformation about
alternative religious movements.
of religion is under threat in Australia. Unless action is taken to
expose this anti-religion movement, Australia will see an increase in
vicious deprogrammings and assaults on minority religious groups. We
cannot allow Australia's "cult busters" to unleash an army of Rick Ross
hate criminals on peaceful, law abiding citizens.