St. Lucie Minister Drops Suit Over Web Site

Palm Beach Post/February 22, 2002

By Kathleen Chapman

A St. Lucie County minister who sued a national cult expert in July, claiming that he had defamed her group on his Web site, recently decided to drop the suit. Circuit Judge Cynthia Angelos signed an order last week dismissing the case in civil court.

The Rev. Judy Hammond, head of Pure Bride Ministries Inc., said in her suit that Rick Ross had libeled her group with a "false and scandalous" description on his Web site.

She asked for $15 million, saying that false claims made by Ross had forced her group from its original headquarters in South Carolina and made it difficult to recruit new members.

Ross denied that charge, saying that his Web site profiles a variety of organizations that have been controversial or have attracted notice.

In the case of Pure Bride Ministries, he said, he listed the group on the site and made available documents from a South Carolina custody case.

A disclaimer on Ross' site explains that organizations listed there are not branded as cults.

Ross, who assisted the FBI in their investigation of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, said this week that he was pleased, but not surprised that the suit had been dismissed.

"I just think this was a ridiculous lawsuit -- completely unfounded," he said.

Hammond could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Note: At no time was the information Ms. Hammond alleged as "libel" ever removed from this database. Specifically, this included her "Pure Bride Ministries" listing at Other Groups.


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