Anticult Group to Appeal Court Ruling

The Christian Century, January 31, 1996 | Go to article overview

Anticult Group to Appeal Court Ruling


The Cult Awareness Network will appeal a recent U.S. District Court ruling upholding a federal jury's decision to award nearly $5 million to Jason Scott, a Seattle man who charged that CAN and an independent counselor violated his civil rights during an attempt to "deprogram" him.

U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour in November denied CAN's request for a new trial, ruling that "considering the extensive testimony on the destruction of Mr. Scott's family life as well as his physical and emotional problems after the deprogramming . . . evidence does not justify a new trial or a reduction in compensatory damages."

The Chicago-based CAN and Rick Ross were ordered in October to pay $4.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Scott, 23, a member of the United Pentecostal Church. Scott was abducted by Ross and two other men during an attempt in 1991 to convince him to leave the church. The three deprogrammers were hired by Scott's mother, Kathy Tonkin. Scott is represented by Kendrick Moxon, a member of the Church of Scientology who has previously represented other Scientologists in civil cases against CAN.

CAN is a victim of the Church of Scientology's "skillful propaganda," said CAN executive director Cynthia Kisser. "I am surprised the jury did not sort through Moxon's propaganda." According to Moxon, "CAN has taken the word cult, which used to be a common word in the English language, and has made it into a very dirty word. They try to tar minority religions just out of hatred."

Tonkin called a hotline four years ago to voice her fear that one of Scott's two younger brothers (both of whom were minors) was being sexually abused by a youth pastor at the Life Tabernacle Church, an affiliate of the United Pentecostal Church. …

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