Anti-Cult and Proud

The Boston Phoenix/August 23, 1996
By Rick Ross

Dan Kennedy's article "Paper Trail" (Don't Quote Me, News, July 19), about Scientology's efforts to obtain, edit, and maintain the archives of the Cult-watch-dog group CAN (the Cult Awareness Network) was revealing. Allowing the "Cult of Greed" (Time magazine's phrase) to supervise such files would be like letting the fox watch the hen-house. Hopefully, common sense will prevail, and the materials in question will be put beyond the group's grasp.

Please allow me to clarify some important points concerning this story. Jason Scott was a member of the United Pentecostal Church International. This group is regarded by most evangelical and fundamental Christians as a "cult." The Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination, has denounced them.

No charge of "kidnapping" was ever filed in the Scott case. I have never "kidnapped" anyone or been charged with such an offense. Jason Scott and his brothers were not allowed to leave. There was a criminal trial concerning the Scott case: the charge was "unlawful imprisonment" and I was found "not guilty." Scientology was involved in promoting both the criminal case, which was not filed for almost three years, and the civil suit. The civil-suit judgment against me is now under appeal.

It seems important to note that out of more than 300 deprogramming cases, only a handful were involuntary. Many of those included minors under the direct supervision of their custodial parent. The Jason Scott case is the only time I have ever been charged or sued regarding an intervention.

The reason many parents attempt involuntary deprogramming is that some destructive cults train members to run whenever a family wants to discuss their concerns, especially with the assistance of a professional. This can be alarming when their concerns include such things as medical neglect, physical abuse, financial exploitation, arranged marriages, or overseas assignments. Some interventions are life-and-death situations. A few examples from my own work: stopping Davidians from returning to the Waco compound, blocking a possible sterilization, ending a violent plan to bomb abortion clinics, and convincing a cult member to resume taking anti-convulsion medication.

Jason Scott, when he was 18, was influenced to marry a woman in the church. There was also talk of sending him to South America on a "mission," and one of his younger brothers was allegedly sexually abused by a man in the church. Jason's mother did not feel the church was a safe place for her children, and she felt that the group's leader exercised undue influence through coercive persuasion. Jason later left the church, but he became the pawn of Scientology in its campaign of harassment. His marriage produced two children, but it was punctuated by numerous separations and domestic violence. He was arrested and convicted for domestic violence and currently is expected to divorce.

Many realize it is not always possible to sit down and chat with cult members, and the consequences of doing nothing can be catastrophic. However, because of litigation, professionals like myself can no longer afford the risk of a failed intervention, possibly resulting in years of litigation and huge legal bills. Scientology's costs in the Scott case alone were more than a quarter of a million dollars.

Scientology hoped to put me out of business with the Scott case, but families keep calling for help and reporting cult abuses both inside and outside the United States. If Scientologists want to end my work, they can, by simply treating their members reasonably and encouraging similar groups to do the same.

Rick Ross, Phoenix, Arizona.

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