NCCG Critics : The Deprogrammers - Their Abusive Techniques
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Recommend  Message 1 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator  (Original Message) Sent: 6/24/2006 4:09 PM

Verdict in a "Cult" Deprogramming Case

My Introduction and Opinion

When a loved one joins a religious group that is different from the family's, the family members may feel concerned about their loved-one's welfare. In extreme cases, parents or other family members may resort to drastic means to convince the person that the new group is harmful psychologically and in error theologically. For example, some families have even arranged to have their loved one kidnapped, transported to an unfamiliar location, and forced to listen to sermons, watch videotapes and undergo other attempts at persuasion. This controversial technique is often called "deprogramming."

Such a case occurred in 1991, when Laverne Collins-Macchio began to consider moving from Boise Idaho to Livingston Montana so that she could be closer to the headquarters of the Church Universal and Triumphant, a new religious movement that combines Christianity with "new age" and other beliefs. In order to persuade Collins-Macchio that the Church Universal and Triumphant was harmful, her mother, Laverne Coelho, hired a group of "cult deprogrammers." Pretending to deliver a pizza, the deprogrammers kidnapped Collins-Macchio and held her for one week as they preached, sang and otherwise tried to demonstrate that her religious beliefs were in error. At the end of the week Collins- Macchio remained unmoved, and was released by her kidnappers.

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When she returned to her home, Collins-Macchio contacted the police. Four of the people involved with the deprogramming were charged with kidnapping. In explaining their actions, the deprogrammers used a "necessity" defense. By this, the deprogrammers' attorneys argued that the harm caused by kidnapping Collins-Macchio was less severe than the harm she would have experienced by joining the group. In other words, they claimed that it was neccessary to kidnap her in order to avoid more severe harm. In the first trial, the deprogrammers' use of the necessity defense was successful. The case was appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that the necessity defense was insufficient. The court said that the deprogrammers were in error, and that there was no evidence that Collins-Macchio faced impending harm from the Church Universal and Triumphant. As a result of this judgment, the deprogrammers were found guilty of felony kidnapping charges. Their sentence included seven days in jail, the same length of time that Collins-Macchio was held against her will, fines, and community service.

This is a fascinating case. Although some of the court's ruling is legal jargon (and therefore difficult reading), the background of the case is quite interesting and clearly explains the facts as the court saw them. Here is the court's ruling. (Note that the formatting of the text differs from the original, but to the best of my knowledge this is an accurate transcription of the text. Footnotes in the ruling are indicated by an asterisk, and placed immediately following the relevant paragraph.)

You might also be interested in reading an account written by one of the people who was involved in this case. Joe Szimhart, not named in this court document, was acquitted in a separate trial. He offers an interesting perspective on the matter. Read Szimhart's story here. Note that my inclusion of his viewpoint is not an endorsement of it or of the actions that he and others undertook in this case. I simply believe that when studying an issue such as this, it is very useful to learn from a variety of perspectives.

Finally, I strongly urge you to read The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion's resolution on new religious groups.


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Recommend  Message 6 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 4:33 PM
What pagans have to say about the deprogrammers:

Recommend  Message 7 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 6:31 PM
The New Cult Awareness Network (New CAN) exposes the old one:

Recommend  Message 8 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 6:41 PM

The Anticult Network<O:P></O:P>

© Lowell D. Streiker, PhD.<O:P></O:P>

Posted on May 2002 <O:P></O:P>

With permission of Dr. Streiker<O:P></O:P>



On 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.<O:P></O:P>


Such 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.<O:P></O:P>


The 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.<O:P></O:P>


Public, 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 fundamentalist sects.<O:P></O:P>


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 . . .<O:P></O:P>


In 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 cult."<O:P></O:P>


If 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."<O:P></O:P>



1. Cult Awareness Network<O:P></O:P>


Cult 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 Yolk, 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 drop.<O:P></O:P>


CAN publishes a monthly newsletter which consists, for tile most part, of reprints of newspaper articles which are unflattering to cults, sects, et al.<O:P></O:P>


A 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 without explanation.<O:P></O:P>


There 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.<O:P></O:P>


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.<O:P></O:P>


Some 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).<O:P></O:P>


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.<O:P></O:P>


The 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.<O:P></O:P>


The following story illustrates how CAN works:<O:P></O:P>


A 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.<O:P></O:P>

I 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:<O:P></O:P>


Despite 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 devastated.<O:P></O:P>

 Continued in Part B


Recommend  Message 9 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 6:41 PM

This 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 sues.<O:P></O:P>


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.<O:P></O:P>


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 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.<O:P></O:P>


Both 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.<O:P></O:P>


2. Deprogrammers<O:P></O:P>


Allied 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 father 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 persuasion fail.<O:P></O:P>


3. Cult-concerned mental health professionals<O:P></O:P>


There 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.<O:P></O:P>


4. Anticult attorneys<O:P></O:P>


Working 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<O:P></O:P>


Litigation 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.<O:P></O:P>

 Continued in Part C<O:P></O:P>


Recommend  Message 10 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 6:42 PM

I 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.<O:P></O:P>


Since 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.<O:P></O:P>


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?<O:P></O:P>


The 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.<O:P></O:P>


To 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 religious communities.<O:P></O:P>


I 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.<O:P></O:P>



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.<O:P></O:P>


Scarcely 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.<O:P></O:P>


Over 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<O:P></O:P>


Citing 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.<O:P></O:P>



For six years, Lowell Streiker served as executive director of<O:P></O:P>

Freedom Counseling Center in Burlingame, California,<O:P></O:P>

Which assisted families and individuals disturbed by cults.<O:P></O:P>


(c) 1988 Lowell D. Streiker Ph.D.<O:P></O:P>

Recommend  Message 11 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 8:10 PM
A new religious vilification group formed in Sydney Australia in late 1992. Its tentative name, CultAware , was among several put forward by a small number of members at this first meeting. The fledgling organization was made up of an odd but predictable assortment of people dedicated to the edicts of America's deprogramming industry as embodied in the then Cult Awareness Network (CAN) .

Supporters of CultAware at its inception included deprogrammers, a couple of psychiatrists, satanic ritual abuse theorists, some former members of religious groups, a software salesman and his wife.

Deprogramming in Australia

Over the past two decades New Religious Movements in Australia and persons who are members of these religions have been the target of hate campaigns, harassment, coercion and at times kidnap and unlawful restraint. Deprogramming in Australia has had the support of a small number of anti cult groups over the years which spring up from time to time. Most of these groups fade away. Some remain to become good examples of organized bigotry.

Largely deprogrammers have come into Australia from the USA charging enormous fees and expenses to kidnap, falsely imprison and generally abuse a targeted person's rights to religious freedom and belief; not to mention endangering their physical and emotional well being. Often family and personal relationships are destroyed by deprogrammers and their agents.

Deprogramming as a practice was developed in the USA by several mental health professionals and anti religious extremists. Although the justifying theory on which deprogramming was developed has since been discredited it still finds popularity with some in Australia.

In 1996 some three years after deprogramming reportedly ceased , four deprogrammers entered Australia from overseas to attempt a forced intervention or deprogramming of a young man in Ipswich Queensland. Deprogramming is still current despite statements to the contrary.

Known cases of either deprogramming or exit counselling attempts can be reported to Victims of CultAware. (Any known criminal act should be reported as soon as possible to the police in the locality where the incident occurred.)

Reported cases of deprogramming attempts by CultAware members and associates are being catalogued on this site and can be viewed here.

Recommend  Message 12 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:04 PM

Excerpted 8 page statement (23/11/92) of Lucy :

...I am 29 years old.

...On the 29th April 1992, a Cyril Vosper, also known as Fred Delacey, attempted to "deprogram" me non stop for eleven hours.

...Mr. 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 Germany.

... 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 false.

I 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.

...Vosper 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 here today."

I 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."

...A 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.

...I 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.

...I 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.

Recommend  Message 13 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:07 PM
Statement of Jacinta :

Further to an affidavit I signed on January 10, 1992, this statement gives some details pertaining to the deprogrammers involved in the kidnapping and attempted deprogramming of myself in September 1991.

The ringleader was Joe (though he called himself by the name "Peter"). He is an ex-member of the Church Universal and Triumphant, is tall (height approx. 6 feet) has dark hair, aged late thirties/early fourties and is of slight to normal build. I sighted a ADA County Jail photograph of Joseph Szimhart on April 18, 1993 and I testify that he is the deprogrammer referred to here.

Joe travelled to Australia from the United States with Pat (who called himself "Tom"). Pat is an ex-member of TM (Transcendental Meditation). He is of normal height (approx. 5'9") and build, has a receding hairline and is around the same age as Joe. I sighted several photographs of Pat Ryan in April 1993 and saw him recently in Sydney outside a courtroom in the Downing Court building and I testify that this is the deprogrammer referred to here.

The third American involved used the pseudonym "Sara". She is an ex-member of The Way International, being deprogrammed out of this group by her parents. She has a Southern American accent and indeed back in 1991 she was based in Texas but was thinking to move up to Boston since most of her cases involved members of the Boston Church of Christ. She expressed interest in returning to Australia to "counsel" members of the affiliated Churches of Christ here. "Sara" was slightly overweight and had blond hair. I recently sighted a photo of Mary Chrnaloger who appeared in court in America together with Joe Szimhart concerning the illegal restraint and deprogramming of a mother of four children. While the quality of the photo was not good the features of this woman are consistent with those of "Sara". She came to Australia for my case about a week before I was kidnapped (ie end of August 1991) to help set up the house where I was held against my will and to glean information from my mother about myself and my family relationships. She left Australia on Saturday, September 14, 1991.

The British deprogrammer was Jane Allison (who called herself "Liz"), an ex-Unification Church member, as mentioned (sic) my earlier statement. In 1991, she and her mother had a strong connection with an "anticult" organization based in the U.K. called F.A.I.R. and it was through this connection that she became involved in my illegal restraint. She arrived in Australia a day or two before my kidnapping and left on Friday September 20, 1991.

There was an Australian man involved in my kidnapping and deprogramming who called himself "Ron". He is an ex-Scientologist, is quite short (approx. 5'6") and his age is about early fifties. I have seen quite old photos of Cyril Vosper and I believe him to be the same person as "Ron" though I would like to see a recent photo to be absolutely sure.

Finally, there was an Australian lady involved who called herself "Sylvia". She was about in her late fourties and is a teacher by profession.

"Sara", Jane, "Ron" and "Sylvia" were physically present during my abduction from my parents' home on September 6, 1991. Jane told me of how she had prevented one person in a similar situation from escaping because of her abilities in martial arts. This was an implied threat to myself not to resist being taken away. When I first entered my parents' house, she was hiding in one part of the house, and "Ron" and "Sylvia" were hiding in the other side of the house, in case I made a dash through the house to escape. The four of them accompanied me in the back of a van with blackened-out windows, two positioned either side at the back of the front seat. They asked me to lie down in the middle of the back of the van en route to the rented holiday home in Mornington where I was illegally restrained for nine days.

Every night during my stay there, I was guarded by my mother who slept in the same room with me on the floor, by Jane who slept on the floor just outside my bedroom in the ensuite area, and then for the first four days by "Ron" who slept the other side of the ensuite door which led out to the rest of the house. This door had been fitted with a hook and eye lock expressly for the time of my stay.

Joe Szimhart and Pat Ryan were on stand-by to receive a call on Friday night to come to Australia. They arrived on Sunday September 6, 1991 and left late evening Saturday September 14, 1991.

For the first 8 days of my captivity in this house, I was never left alone except for about an hour every morning while I was getting up. Even then my bedroom and ensuite area was always watched by at least one of the deprogrammers. Most of the "counselling" took place in the main living room of the house which had a whole wall of windows and one door out onto a courtyard. There was always at least one deprogrammer between me and this door out onto the courtyard at all times. Usually Joe Szimhart, Pat Ryan, Jane Allison and "Sara" were in this room with me. The first counselling sessions were actually held in my bedroom which had the windows boarded up (the adjoining bathroom also had its window boarded up). However on Saturday September 7, 1991, the day after I arrived, I ran from this bedroom saying I did not want to hear anything that they wanted to tell me and that I just wanted to talk to my family (this is the reason I had come from Sydney to Melbourne the day before). "Sara" called out to "Ron" who ran to the door leading out to the courtyard in case I tried to escape.

During the period of my illegal restraint in this house, my mother had a visit from Mrs. Joan McClelland who recently co-founded with her husband the "Cultaware" group in New South Wales. My mother later explained that Joan McClelland had been the one to put her in touch with the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) in the United States. It was through this connection provided by Joan McClelland that my parents came to organise my illegal restraint and unsought-for "provision of information and resources for 'affected' individuals" - the professed aims of "Cultaware" - for a five figure sum.

I am writing this statement some time after the episode in question because of the recent increase in "cult education" which in my case was not voluntarily sought-for. Individuals with connections to the Cult Awareness Network in the U.S. and the F.A.I.R. group in the U.K. have entered Australia recently, expressly for involuntarily "exit counselling" as described above.

Recommend  Message 14 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:12 PM
I Sara Verrier of (deleted) Glebe 2037 NSW, do solemnly declare:

That I have followed the religious philosophy of Scientology since May 1992, and have received many benefits from the courses and counselling I have received. In August 1992 I chose to work on the staff of the Church of Scientology to help bring Scientology to other people, and I commenced work in the Sydney church at this time.

In early 1993 I became aware that my mother had been in contact with Tony McLelland of Cultaware, and a `deprogrammer` from the United States, Patrick Ryan. This was in relation to getting me `deprogrammed` from my religion. This was done without my knowledge at the time and was a violation of my right to religious freedom. My mother did not talk to me about this; she only said she wanted me to come home for a visit. I later discovered by reading documentation from Cultaware that my mother had been told not to mention it to me, and had been advised to get me to come home so that I could be deprogrammed (deprogramming was referred to as `exit-counselling`)

My mother was unwilling to talk to me about this and our relationship went from good to very strained and uneasy. She was very concerned about me being in Scientology after she had told lies about my religion by Mr. McLelland and Mr. Ryan. She had also read a book by Steven Hassan, an American deprogrammer which also contained lies, distortions and false data about Scientology. She had been led to believe that I had in fact undergone a form of `brainwashing`, so that my attempts to let her know that I was doing well and not in any danger were not able to reassure her.

Patrick Ryan was in the country at this time, and on the advise of a chamber magistrate I applied for a restraining order. This was based on my knowledge from reading affidavits that deprogrammings were performed without the person`s consent and there had been instances of kidnapping and being held against the person`s will. Mr Ryan lied in court about his work saying he did not perform `deprogrammings` and the Restraining Order was not granted. He did say on the record though that he would not come near me unless I asked him to. Thus I could feel secure that I would not be deprogrammed against my will by Mr. Ryan.

However, the effects on my relationship with my mother have continued, particularly as Tony McLelland is still in communication with her and continues to spread lies about Scientology. He has created a rift in our relationship through his misinformation and by instilling fear into my mother for my well being.

Recommend  Message 15 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:13 PM

According to a UN Declaration; "....each person has the absolute right to believe whatever she or he chooses to believe free from any kind of undue influence and coercion."

In practice unfortunately, many people do experience undue influence and coercion, and I narrowly escaped this treatment myself.

I am 34 years old and happily married with two children. My wife Julie is a second generation Scientologist. I chose Scientology as my religion about 6 years ago. We both have never wavered from our beliefs and find that our lives are benefited in many ways.

A couple of years ago my parents began to seek information about my religion which of course they were entitled to do. Unfortunately, however, they did not seek this information from the Church or its religious literature, but less propitiously from biased self-styled "experts". Unbeknownst to myself and Julie they made a few contacts of this nature, primarily with Tony McClelland of CultAware in Sydney and a Raphael Aron of Gateway Counselling in Melbourne.

Julie and myself were staying with my parents at the time and one day while looking for a household item I came across binders of anti-Scientology material in a cupboard. It was clear from the contents that my parents had been gathering misinformation secretly for some time. I later learned that Tony McClelland had told my parents to keep the fact of their "research" from me and not antagonise me as if they did I would cut ties with them forever. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet this advice from Mr. McClelland had a devastating effect on the communication in our family. We still see each other frequently and talk; but sadly, I have not succeeded in getting the relationship quite back to the easy give and take of the days before McClelland and CultAware intruded.

When I confronted my parents on the material I had found, my father asked me to meet with some people to find out the "true story" about my religion. I declined, and was infact quite fearful both for myself and Julie and our young baby, as although I realised that my parents meant well and were deceived, I had heard about these "meetings with people".

My parents then began to behave in an odd way towards Julie and myself. Everything I said, even in casual conversation, was questioned. I found my mother, to whom I had always been close, questioning quite ordinary comments from me as if she thought they were unusual or that I had changed in some way. I later learned that my parents had been instructed to look for "personality changes".

In my opinion the ring leader behind this was Tony McClelland. At one point I phoned him and told him explicitly that I did not appreciate his interference and asked for it to cease. His response was blasé and to the effect that he would do as he pleased. He continued communication with my parents and it was not until some time later after he asked my parents to "pound the pavement" doing anti-Scientology demonstrations that my father decided that there was something not quite right about Tony McClelland and expressed the view that he was "a bit of a nut".

I was lucky in that my experience could have been much worse. Others have not been so fortunate. We need legislation in Austraila which will effectively stop organisations like CultAware and individuals who would violate the human rights of others by interfering with their chosen religious beliefs. Based on my own experience and research and what I know of the experiences of others, I think anti-hatred laws at a national and state level are definitely warranted.

Recommend  Message 16 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:22 PM

The 'deprogramming' of Stephanie Riethmiller

Richard Raskin

MS Magazine
Sept 1982

This 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.

In 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.

Thus 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.


Before 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.'

At 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.

The 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.'

Thus 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."

Recommend  Message 17 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:23 PM

Stephanie Riethmiller Saga: She says it was abduction; her parents say it was a rescue

Cheryl Lavin

Colorado Gazette Telegraph
19 Nov. 1982

This article shows how the same mind-control rhetoric as for cults is being used: demonization of the cult leader (her partner), change of personality, "glassy eyed", "it's not the sex we object to but the mind-control", she "gave up a 'fantastic' social life". Then we have the classical anti-cult story that "parents turned to all officials for 'help' and after finding none turned to Ted Patrick."


"I was in total shock. I mean I was afraid for myself because, you know, I had reason to believe that I was in danger," Stephanie says of that night. "I knew I didn't have a friend in the world. ... I didn't know what they were going to do to me."

What they did to her - again, according to Stephanie - was to drive her to Alabama and keep her there for seven days. To deprogram her. To cure her of lesbianism. To reintroduce her to men. During the day the women, Naomi Goss, 25, yelled at her and ridiculed lesbians, especially Patty. At night the white man, Jim Roe, 25, made love to her. They pulled a variation of the old good cop/bad cop routine on her. Goss was strident and tough. Roe was tender and loving. The implication was obvious: Women were butches and dykes; men made better lovers.

All this was done with the full knowledge of her mother, according to Stephanie, who says she heard her mother and Roe discussing whether she was taking birth control pills. [...]

Stephanie says she was held against her will in a locked house with the windows nailed shut. She was handcuffed periodically, threatened, denied food, harassed, raped. She had no privacy, no freedom. After just two days, she said, "I was so messed up I didn't even think I would know my name. If someone had told me to jump out of the window, I probably would have jumped out the window, I did not have any thoughts of my own. Everyting I did I was told to do. ... I was totally at their mercy." [...]

The Riethmillers tell a different story, of a different Stephanie, of an emotionally disturbed girl, [...] who gave up a 'fantastic' social life and fell under the spell of Patty Thiemann [...]

The Riethmillers were horrified. Stephanie was losing weight; she wasn't taking her iron medicine (she is anemic); her personality was changing.

"I didn't know the person inside my daughter's body," says Mrs. Riethmiller.

"It was as thought I didn't recognize her at times," her father says. "She wasn't my daughter anymore. ..."

Mrs. Riethmiller refers to Patty as "that lesbian," but she says sex was not the issue: "I don't approve of it (homosexuality), but the main concern was the control that Patty had over her. ... My daughter became like a robot. She was glassy-eyed."

The Riethmiller contacted a priest, a rabbi, a religion reporter and various counselors. No one could help them. Then they called Ted Patrick. Patrick is a deprogrammer who usally works with cult members. He is black and his nickname is "Black Lightning." Mrs Riethmiller told him that her daughter was "in a lesbian situation and she was being totally controlled, and we had no contact with her, and we were frantic." They were willing to pay $8,000 to have her deprogrammed. They would pull the money from their IRA account.

Patrick said he couldn't help. He was on probation on a kidnapping charge, and if he engaged in another deprogramming, he would go to jail. But he said he might be able to put them in touch with some people who could. A few days later the Riethmillers got a call telling them where to send the money. They were told to purchase handcuffs, plastic gloves and Maces.

[follows the account of the deprogramming from each viewpoint: complete different versions. But this is not the issue here.>

Charges of abduction and assault were brought against the Riethmillers, Ted Patrick, Jim Roe, Naomi Goss and the black man, known as "Ray". In addition, six counts of sexual battery were brought against Roe.

Heading the prosecution case was Simon L. Leis Jr., 48, a former Marine, and the Hamilton County prosecutor for nearly 12 years. He is against pornography; the ERA - "it undermines God's law of authority" - and homosexuality - "an unnatural act." He is for the Moral Majority and the familty. If his daughter got herself involved in a situation like Stephanie Riethmiller's, "I'd grab that daughter of mine myself," he has said.

Yes, as prosecutor, Leis' duty was to represent the victims, Stephanie Riethmiller and Patty Thiemann, and to prosecute the defendants. He granted immunity to the Riethmillers, whom he identified as "concerned parents" and referred to Stephany and Patty as lesbians. Leis could never bring himself actually to say the word "lesbian." Throughout the eight-day trial in April he referred to the women as liz-bians.


After 16 hours of deliberation, the seven woman and five men of the jury acquitted all the defendants on all charges except the abduction charge against Roe and Goss. They could not agree on it, and it is scheduled to be retried Nov. 22.

But the case is far from over. Stephanie is suing her parents and the other defendants for $2.75 million in a civil suit set to be tried in March 1983. She charges them with 'assault, battery, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.'"

[Note: I don't know the final issue of the case. It's another story anyway. Large discussion is also possible on the fact that the deprogramming actually worked initially, but the victim 'snapped out' of it too soon by being interrogated by the police. Also another story. For those interested.]

Recommend  Message 18 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:23 PM

Her Roommate Isn’t Gay, Stephanie Riethmiller Says

Georgene Kaleina

Cincinnati Enquirer
16 Apr. 1982

Shows that, like for cult deprogramming victims, the mind-control rhetoric has for effect to put the victim on trial rather than the aggressors.

Stephanie Riethmiller testified Thursday that her roommate is not a homosexual and repeated that she didn’t think her sexual conduct should be part of the trial of those accused of kidnapping her.


The issue of homosexuality continued to dominate the trial [...].


Judge Gilbert Bettman decided Wednesday not to allow questioning about Miss Riethmiller’s sexual activity prior the abduction, reversing his own earlier ruling.

But on Thursday, Hellings, representing Mrs. Goss, again tried to determine the intimacy between the two.

What is your relationship with Patty Thiemann? he asked. Patricia is my roommate. She is my friend, Miss Riethmiller said.

What is your sexual relationship with Patty Thiemann? he asked. She said: There is none.

You have had no sexual relationsip with Patty Thiemann? he continued.

I don’t think I have to answer that, she said. I think that’s an invasion of privacy, and that’s not what I’m here for, I don’t think.


Patrick indicted on Ohio Sex, Kidnap Counts

Mitch Himaka

San Diego Union
3 Oct. 1981

Shows Ted Patrick indirect involvement.

"Jailed cult deprogrammer Ted Patrick was indicted by a Cincinnati grand jury yesterday for kidnapping, assault and sexual battery charges involving an alleged plot to remove a woman from a lesbian relationship.

Patrick currently is serving a one-year jail term here after Superior Court Judge Norbert Ehrenfreund revoked his bail earlier this month because of the reports coming out of Ohio.

Hamilton County, Ohio, authorities said Patrick; two of his employees, James Roe and Naomi Kelly Goss of Center, Ala., and a fourth individual identified only as John Doe, were indicted [...]

[...] Ehrenfreund revoked Patrick's appeal bond when Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard D. Huffman presented evidence that Patrick had cashed an $8,000 cashier's check the woman's parents had made out

Recommend  Message 19 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:40 PM
Revisiting the Jonestown tragedy

Recommend  Message 20 of 20 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameCommunity_Moderator Sent: 6/24/2006 9:51 PM

New Dawn #21, Sep/Oct 1993, p11-12

US Deprogrammer On Kidnap Charge, While "Cult Busters" Organise Here

Rick 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.

Ross 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.

According 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 fellowship.

Deprogramming 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.

During 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.

Scott 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.

Scott 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.

Ross's Psychiatric & Criminal Records

Ross's background of personality disorder and crime is extensively documented in court and psychiatric reports.

His 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 attempted break-in.

At 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.

Ross 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 Librium.

Between 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."

Ross's 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."

Several 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.

Ross, 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" session.

His victims have routinely been held hostage against their will and brutally intimidated in attempts to force them to recant their chosen religious beliefs.

Despite 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."

"Rick 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."

The head of CAN's Los Angeles affiliate lauded him. "Rick has helped me with all kinds of questions, situations and problems," she said.

CAN 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.

Australia's CAN

Brisbane 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:

"After 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 helping."

One 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."

Another "cult expert" is Dr. Rachel Kohn of Sydney University's School of Studies in Religion and producer of ABC Radio National's religion program.

According 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."

The 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."

The 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.

The 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.

Cult Aware

No 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.

Main 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.

Other speakers will include Australian "cult experts" and "exit counsellors".

In 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.

The 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.

Freedom 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.

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