Sunday, January 19, 2014

May 20, 1995, The CAN Reform Group, An Indictment of the Cult Awareness Network,

May 20, 1995, The CAN Reform Group, An Indictment of the Cult Awareness Network


  1. Introduction
  2. CAN Officials
  3. CAN Operations
  4. CAN Deprogrammers
    A. Blocksom Declaration
    B. Streiker Declaration
    C. Kent Vaughn Declaration
    D. Kay Rambur Robb Statement
    E. Sarah Hutchins Declaration
    F. Bithia Sherman Declaration

  5. Historical Background of CFF/CAN

  6. Deprogrammings 1982-1992
    A. Coates Deprogrammings
    B. Kisser Deprogrammings
    C. Boland Deprogramming
    D. Mason Deprogramming
    E. Simpson Deprogramming
    F. Adolfsson Deprogramming
    G. Alexander Deprogramming
    H. Jacobs Deprogramming
    I. Rommel Deprogramming
    J. Crockett deprogramming
    K. Lever Deprogramming
    L. Ponella Deprogramming
    M. Scott Deprogramming
    N. Frith Deprogramming
    O. Schenker Deprogramming
    P. Collins Deprogramming
    Q. Staggs Deprogramming
    R. Lewis Dupont Smith Conspiracy to Kidnap
    S. Debra Dobkowski Kidnapping
    T. Additional Kelly Deprogrammings

  7. Conspiracy between CAN Officers and Deprogrammers
    A. Use of CAN Conventions to Forward the Conspiracy
    B. Phone Calls re Deprogramming Referrals
    C. Deposition Testimony Regarding Deprogramming Referrals

For more information:

CAN Reform Group Home Page

Membership News


May 20, 1995


"Deprogramming" is the name which has been given to the forcible kidnapping of adults for the purpose of subjecting them to imprisonment while battering them with verbal assaults on their religious or other beliefs, and even subjecting them to physical abuse. It more properly could be termed "reprogramming" as the "deprogrammers" use all the techniques ascribed to "brainwashing" that they claim to be undoing.

Ted Patrick, who invented the term and was its foremost practitioner, gives the following definition of "deprogramming" in his book Let Our Children Go : "Deprogramming is the term, and it may be said to involve kidnapping at the very least, quite often assault and battery, almost invariably conspiracy to commit a crime, and illegal restraint."

Officers of the Cult Awareness Network/Citizens Freedom Foundation (CAN/CFF, originally called CFF and since 1986 called CAN) are or were conducting the affairs of the Cult Awareness Network, through a pattern of planning, arranging and staging of kidnappings-for-hire. They have done this on multiple occasions in the last ten years which are related in terms of separate instances of similar conduct and are continuous in that the individual episodes occur regularly throughout the relevant period, both in this country and abroad.

Various persons operating the Cult Awareness Network, have conspired with deprogrammers to operate a kidnapping-for-profit ring, making the facilities of CAN available for the arranging of kidnappings, while at the same time hiding behind their claim to be engaged only in legitimate activities. According to ex-deprogrammers, CAN officials use "cut-outs" to set up the kidnappings and claim to have no direct involvement, while actually acting in concert with the deprogrammers.

CAN and its officers and deprogrammers up to recently have avoided prosecution because when the "deprogamming" is "successful" and the victim renounces the contested beliefs, no complaint is filed. When the "deprogramming" is unsuccessful the victim is usually happy just to get away and reluctant to file charges against anyone involved in the kidnapping because close family members are typically complicit. Thus CAN's agents have been able to continue their pattern of racketeering activity while only infrequently feeling any threat from law enforcement or civil courts and to reap large financial gains at the expense of family members.


In the last ten years, the following individuals have been officers of the Citizens Freedom Foundation/Cult Awareness Network:
Executive Director
Cynthia Kisser, Wonder Lake, Ill., 7/87 to present
Mary Krone, Chicago, Ill., 1/87 to 6/87
Reginald Alev, Chicago, Ill., 1/85 to 12/86
Priscilla Coates, Hannacroix, NY. 10/82 to 12/84
Tim Berry, Springfield, Va., 1/82 to 9/82
William Rehling, Chicago, IL, 10/93 to present
Patricia Ryan, Washington, D.C., 10/90 to 10/93
Michael Rokos, Joppa, Md., 10/89 to 10/90
Ron Loomis, Ithaca, NY., 10/84 to 10/90
Ann Lindgren, Washington, D.C., 10/83 to 10/84
Hope Evans, Colleyville, Tx., 10/81 to 10/82
1st Vice-President
Arnold Markowitz, New York, NY, 10/93 to present
William Rehling, Chicago, IL, 10/91 to 10/93
Rachel Andres, Los Angeles, Ca., 10/90 to 10/91
Patricia Ryan, 10/89 to 10/90
Michael Rokos, 10/88 to 10/89
Paul Engel, Oceanside, NY., 10/87 to 10/88
Anne Greek, Portland Ore., 10/84 to 10/87
Irv Heller, Akron, Oh., 10/83 to 10/84
Priscilla Coates, 10/81 to 10/82
2nd Vice-President
Corey Slavin, Los Angeles, CA, 10/93 to present
Paul Martin, Albany, Ohio, 1992 to 10/93
Sandy Andron, Miami, Fla., 10/89 to 1992
Michael Rokos, 10/88 to 10/89
Anne Greek, 10/87 to 10/88
Paul Engel, 10/84 to 10/87
Dr. William Svoboda, Wichita, Ks., 10/91 to present
Reginald Alev, 10/90 to 10/91
Rachel Andres, 10/89 to 10/90
Nelda Neale, Dallas, Tx., 10/87 to 10/89
Louise Hudson, Cedar Grove, NJ., 10/83 to 10/87
Estelle Long, Atlanta, Ga., 10/81 to 10/82
Edward Lottick, Kingston, PA, 10/94 to present
Ron Zimmerman, San Francisco, CA, 10/93 to 10/94
Kent Burtner, Portland, OR, 2/93 to 10/93
Rosemary Dreihaus, Philadelphia, Pa. 10/90 to 2/93
Josie Zelov, Bryn Mawr, Pa., 10/89 to 10/90
Virginia Hulet, Hutchinson, Ks., 10/87 to 10/89
Kathryn Resner, Islamorada, Fl., 10/84 to 10/87
Marlene Levite, 10/83 to 10/84
These officers have been responsible for and, in fact, have conducted the daily business affairs of Cult Awareness Network during the relevant time periods.


CAN's stated purpose is to operate as a non-profit educational organization which is exempt from federal taxation under 26 U.S.C. \S 501(c)(3). According to its newsletter, "The Cult Awareness Network is a national, non-profit corporation founded to educate the public about the harmful effects of mind control as used by destructive cults."

As stated in the articles of incorporation, CFF/CAN was organized to educate the general public on religious rights, freedoms and responsibilities.

As part of its legitimate enterprise, CAN offers literature and books to the public, publishes a monthly newsletter, handles queries about various religions and other groups by providing critical information, provides speakers, conducts seminars, conferences and conventions, and promotes its ideas through the media.

CAN operates a national office in Barrington, Illinois, staffed by Executive Director Cynthia Kisser and both paid and volunteer staff.

CAN national office services some 21 affiliates around the United States who are engaged in the same activities. CAN receives money from sales of publications, membership fees, profits from conventions and from individual donations. Deprogrammers are some of the donors. While the office itself is located at 301 East Main Street, Barrington, Illinois, CAN conceals its actual location behind a mail drop at 2421 W. Pratt Boulevard, Chicago.


CAN is a clearinghouse for deprogrammers and "deprogramming." These kidnappers are invited to the annual CAN conventions, often as speakers, where they meet with local CAN affiliates and potential clients who are seeking kidnappings. Parents who call the Cult Awareness Network are given referrals to kidnappers or to a person designated by CAN to be the "cut-out" who will give the actual referral to the kidnapper. CAN officers have been directly involved in these kidnappings, have worked out security arrangements, have set up the kidnappings, or have given guidance during a kidnapping.

In return, the deprogrammers "donate" a portion of their fees to CAN and the grateful parents become regular donors to CAN. CAN officers deny any direct connection to the deprogrammers.

The following deprogrammers have documentable links to CAN and/or CAN arranged deprogrammings within the past ten years:
Ted Patrick, San Diego, CA
Galen Kelly, Esopus, NY
Bob Brandyberry, Columbus, OH
Mary Weeks, Portland, OR
Joe Szimhart, Santa Fe, NM
Karen Reinhardt, Fort Atkinson, WI
Robyn Kliger, Berkeley, CA
Randall Burkey, Akron, OH
Mark Blocksom, Akron OH
Mary Alice Chrnalogar, Chatanooga, TN
Patrick Ryan, Philadelphia, PA
Carmine De Sanctis, Adelphia, NJ
Joy De Sanctis, Adelphi, NJ
Rick Ross, Phoenix, AZ
Paul Martin, Albany, OH
Diane Benscoter, Portland, OR
Garry Scarff, Portland, OH
Steve Hassan, Boston, MA
Several former CAN deprogrammers and others who are familiar with CAN's deprogramming activities have prepared and signed declarations under penalty of perjury with respect to CAN. The following summarizes those sworn statements.


One of CAN's most prolific deprogrammers was Mark Blocksom, who worked full time as a deprogrammer from 1979 to 1989.

Blocksom states in his July 18, 1992 declaration that the standard way that he got referrals was through the "good old boy" CFF/CAN Network, which would refer a caller into CAN to a non-CFF/ CAN person, which would then make the arrangements with Blocksom. This "cut-out" system was specifically designed to insulate CFF/CAN from the unlawful conduct. Blocksom states that it was an unwritten quideline that deprogrammers did not directly affiliate themselves with CFF/CAN to avoid legal repercusssions and so that CFF/CAN could maintain the fiction that it was not aware of the kidnapping activities while, in fact, CAN's officers were participating in them. Blocksom estimates that 100 of the 200 deprogrammings he did were referred directly or indirectly from CFF/CAN.

Blocksom states that payment to deprogrammers was made in cash so that there would be no record of the event. The average cost of a deprogramming was $10,000 to $20,000.

Blocksom received "deprogramming" referrals from Coates, Kisser and Loomis while they were officers of CAN, though they took pains to distance themselves from the actual kidnappings. He has personal knowledge that deprogrammers Kelly, Brandyberry, Ryan, Szimhart and Burkey, all of whom he worked with, were closely affiliated with CFF/CAN.

Blocksom states that many deprogrammers would attend the CFF/ CAN events and conventions where they would speak with families to solicit business and make their availability known. Many deprogrammers were actually guest speakers at the events and conventions. Blocksom states that claims by CAN officials that they were unaware of "deprogrammings" being set up through CFF/CAN are untrue.

Rokos, CAN vice-president in 1988 and 1989 and president in 1989 and 1990, was involved in a meeting held with top deprogrammers at the 1983 CAN National convention in Los Angeles to standardize the actions of deprogrammers due to the bad publicity generated by the arrest of several deprogrammers.

Blocksom worked frequently with Szimhart, and understood that Szimhart was running a local CAN affiliate in New Mexico.


Streiker, who holds a Ph.D. in religion, was an active deprogrammer from 1979 to 1985.

In his declaration, Dr. Streiker states that though the "official" policy of CAN is opposed to "deprogramming," CAN Executive Directors and Presidents have regularly referred members of the public to deprogrammers. He estimates that 80% of the "deprogrammings" that he was told about by deprogrammers and CAN members were set up by the CAN national office or its locally-affiliated chapters.


Kent Vaughn was involved with CFF from approximately 1982-1984, and he was on the Board of Directors of CFF from September 1983 until early 1985 when he resigned from the Board.

In his declaration, Kent Vaughn states that he was aware of deprogrammings taking place across the country and he knew that the other CAN board members were aware of these matters. Mr. Vaughn raised the issue of CFF-CAN's relationship to involuntary deprogrammers with the CAN Board, and attempted to get the Board to do something to regulate the activities and handle the legal and ethical violations of these deprogrammers. Mr. Vaughn states in his declaration that the other CAN Board members refused to discuss the issue or do anything about it, and that furthermore he would see active involuntary deprogrammers meeting in small groups with other board members and affiliates at the annual CAN conferences.


Kay Rambur Robb, daughter of William Rambur, the first president of the Citizen's Freedom Foundation in 1974, wrote a statement on October 12, 1994 which details three attempts by Rambur to kidnap and deprogram her in 1971.

In the first attempt she was forced into a car by Rambur with the plan of kidnapping her, but even the deprogrammer who was hired did not want to cooperate with a violent kidnapping. In the second attempt, she was dragged out of a hotel, pushed into a car and taken to an airport. She only escaped when the media arrived. On the third attempt, she was locked in a room for over an hour and when she protested over the deprogramming attempt, she was punched in the face, and Rambur attempted to have her admitted into a hospital, but the hospital refused to cooperate with him.


Sarah Hutchins, the owner of The Albany House, a Bed and Breakfast house in Albany, Ohio, executed a declaration on November 2, 1994 which details her knowledge of deprogrammings conducted at the Wellspring center which is located nearby. Wellspring is owned and run by Paul Martin, a board member of CAN National up until 1994.

Her declaration states that between 1988 and 1993, approximately 20 different families who stayed at The Albany House have told her they were having a family member deprogrammed at Wellspring. These family members told her they had been referred by the Cult Awareness Network to use Wellspring as a deprogramming center.

Members of about 10 of these families stated that their adult child had been kidnapping during the deprogramming, upon the advice of the Cult Awareness Network. They stated that CAN also referred them to various safe houses to which they could forcibly take their kidnapped adult child for deprogramming.


Bithia Sherman, a former member of the Cult Awareness Network, states that she became very familiar with CAN's deprogramming activities through her affiliation with Priscilla Coates, head of the CAN chapter in Southern California, and other members of CAN.

She states, "Ms. Coates was very much behind the scenes coordinating and networking, and exchanging information with deprogrammers. I know this based on my personal knowledge and conversations with Priscilla Coates."

She goes on to say that, "Among persons who I have observed in close association with Ms. Coates is Sam Ajemian. Mr. Ajemian used to visit Ms. Coates' home for bi-monthly get-togethers, and he was in regular phone communication with her..."

"Because I was formerly a trusted member of the Cult Awareness Network, when I became disenchanted with CAN's activities of breaking up families and degrading groups they characterized as 'cults," I received threats against my person."

Click here to go to Part II.



From its inception, CFF/CAN was organized privately to promote and facilitate kidnappings while publicly pursuing a front of educational purposes.
  • Citizens Freedom Foundation ("CFF") was formed in September 1974 when a meeting was organized by Ted Patrick in Denver, Colorado. Patrick had coined the term and was among the pioneers of "deprogramming." Patrick, a thrice convicted felon, has been arrested numerous times for kidnapping and/or illegal detainment, and has had his probation revoked 3 times for continuing his kidnapping activities.
  • Approximately 25 individuals attended the meeting, some of whom had been involved in the "deprogramming" of their adult children or the adult children of others, and others of whom had been the victims of such "deprogramming."

    Parents have been extorted through fear tactics to pay professional "deprogrammers" as much as $50,000 and expenses for the conducting of such violent attacks against their adult children.
    CFF was incorporated in San Diego, California on February 21, 1975 with its first president and secretary being William and Betty Rambur respectively. The Ramburs had previously attempted on three separate occasions to have their adult daughter deprogrammed, and had as well attempted to have her committed to a San Diego mental health facility or hypnotized due to their disagreement with her religious beliefs. With Patrick, Mr. Rambur had also previously formed and been president of The Parents Committee to Free Our Sons and Daughters from the Children of God Organization, which was involved in literally hundreds of "deprogrammings." Rambur also was involved in setting up deprogramming teams.

    On March 1, 1977, although it never legally changed its name, CFF merged with five other similar groups to form the International Foundation for Individual Freedom (IFIF).

    In 1979, after IFIF had failed as a national organization, John Sweeney, who became the head of Citizens Freedom Foundation in Los Angeles in early 1979, successfully lobbied to have CFF become a national group-- CFF-IS, or Citizens Freedom Foundation Information Service. He organized the first CFF national convention, held in Chicago in October 1979, and then held the position of executive director of CFF-IS until he tendered his resignation on January 29, 1981 over conflicts with the CFF board, including the handling of CFF's connection to "deprogramming." He was voted out by the board before his resignation was activated. During his tenure CFF-IS expanded to 50 affiliates.
  • Sweeney and other officers of CFF were involved in the arranging and staging of "deprogrammings." His recent declaration and deposition and the memos he wrote while CFF-IS Executive Director show that operating CFF/CAN as a clearinghouse for kidnappings-for-hire has been the pattern since CFF's inception.Sweeney himself was involved in setting up the massive River of Life "deprogramming" in San Bernardino County involving some 20 deprogrammers, according to the police investigation done of that crime.

    According to the Sweeney declaration, executed on March 17, 1992, CFF frequently referred members of the public to deprogrammers during the time that he was executive director.
    Sweeney recalled that CFF referred people to deprogrammers such as Steve Hassan, Ted Patrick, Cathy Mills (who later was head of the Minneapolis CFF affiliate), Erica Heftman, Gary Sharf, Ken Connor, Cliff Daniels, Joe Alexander, Mark Blocksom, Joe Szimhart and David Clark.

    In a deposition on April 14, 1992, Sweeney testified that one of the reasons he resigned as CFF's Executive Director was the Board of Directors' refusal to adopt a code of ethics. One of the standards of such a code of ethics would have been to cease involvement in any illegal acts of kidnapping or "deprogramming."

    Sweeney also testified that another reason the Board had for not adopting a code of ethics was the fear that parents would go elsewhere to find kidnappers if CFF adopted too strict a code.
    In an early undated memo that shows the conspiracy between CFF officers and deprogrammers, Sweeney stated that deprogrammers were always appealing to CFF for clients and noted strong opposition to his proposal for a code of ethics as CFF, on the surface, pretended not to be involved in "deprogramming."

    One of the deprogrammers that Sweeney remembered well was Erica Heftman. She wrote Sweeney on April 29, 1980 about a group she was investigating. On February 5, 1981, Sweeney answered a query about Heftman saying she was a full time deprogrammer and his favorite deprogrammer. He told how she had gone to Australia to kidnap a member of the Unification Church and ended up under arrest when the young man managed to escape. She was detained in Australia and unable to return to the United States. Sweeney was looking for "high up Auzzie [sic] contacts" to help and claimed to have gotten the State Department, two United States Senators and Senator Dole involved in this. The January 1, 1981 CFF-IS newsletter urged members to contact sympathetic CBS-TV individuals for whom Heftman was working as a technical consultant for an upcoming TV show, and tell them that Heftmann was being kept in Australia and needed their help to win her early return to the United States.

    Showing the continuing CFF/CAN support for Ted Patrick, on May 10, 1980, Sweeney sent out a memo on the Write for Patrick Campaign to CFF affiliates, applauding them for the letters written so far and urging them to write more letters to protest Patrick's recent arrest.

    Sweeney also wrote a memo directly to four active deprogrammers on June 25, 1980. In it, he states that every week he gets a call from some parent complaining about a deprogrammer. He further states that CFF-IS is an educational organization but is involved in this area of concern to its members and that a problem with "deprogramming" is a CFF-IS problem. He asks that they come up with a workable code of ethics and a good referral list so that CFF can feel safe in referring parents to two or three potential deprogrammers.

    On February 18, 1981, Sweeney wrote to CFF Board member Joan Capellini, asking her why she was involved in a Christ Family kidnapping and why she condoned fellow board member Shirley Landa's actions. Landa was the subject of a suit for her participation in a "deprogramming." On the same day Sweeney wrote to Landa regarding her involvement in the kidnapping that caused her to be sued.
Since the inception of the enterprise, CFF/CAN officers have promoted "deprogramming" and deprogrammers.

In its July 1978 Statement of Purpose, Functions and Activities, provided to the IRS in support of an application for tax exempt status (which was subsequently granted), CFF stated:
"Because there was no established method of helping their children and no other place to turn for help at this time, many parents resorted to the 'deprogramming' process of rescuing their loved ones. If improperly done by unqualified personnel, the deprogramming experience could be very traumatic especially since the legality of deprogramming is often questioned. It is therefore a function of CFF to recommend established professional personnel and facilities to those who believe that deprogramming is their only hope ." (Emphasis added)
In a June 8, 1980, memo to affiliates from John Sweeney, he states that radio station WIVS, Crystal Lake was trying to interview Ted Patrick. He went on to say, "If you contact him ask him to call Cynthia Kisser (815) 459-7000. WIVS is doing us much good in educating the Chicagoland public about destructive cults."

In the October 3, 1981 issue of the St. Petersburg Times , CFF president Adrian Greek says that "deprogramming" should not be classified as kidnapping as it may be the only way to "rescue" the target.

The American Family Foundation printed a booklet in 1982 entitled "Destructive Cultism - Questions and Answers." The booklet was reprinted in 1984 by Cult Awareness Council, Washington D.C. area affiliate of Citizens Freedom Foundation. It included a section on the pros and cons of "deprogramming," listing "Rescue" (forced "deprogramming") as one alternative for parents of cultists. Due to legal and psychological risks, the booklet states that parents who select this alternative ought to do so only after careful deliberation.

A 1983 information booklet authored by Henrietta Crampton, one of the founding CFF members, states, "CITIZENS FREEDOM FOUNDATION favors legal means for individuals to learn the commitment required by a group before they become members. We also favor deprogramming. " (Emphasis in original.)

The summer 1983 FOCUS newsletter (FOCUS is a group of former members of new religions who, for the most part, were deprogrammed and are now affiliated with CAN) promoted a defense fund for deprogrammer Bob Brandyberry, who was coming up for trial on kidnapping charges.

It stated that the defense fund had raised enough for the hearing but not the trial. Members were to send money to "Exit Counselors Defense Fund" in Iowa City, Iowa.

At the 1987 AFF/CAN convention, Dr. Louis Jolyn West, of the University of Califoria at Los Angeles, told the media, "AFF and CAN kidnap and deprogram cult members to free converts from the religion's grip. While less kidnapping occurs today than in 1973 when AFF was founded, "deprogramming" is still part of the process. The technique currently is referred to as 'exit counseling.'"

A Los Angeles CAN affiliate newsletter from 1988 promoted tax deductible donations to Cult Awareness and Education Committee Inc. to finance court costs of deprogrammer Dennis Whelan and to the Denver Defense Fund for deprogrammer Bob Brandyberry, arrested in the same case.

In July 1988 Executive Director of the Cult Awareness Network, Cynthia Kisser, stated in a letter that CAN's National Board had formed an Ethics Committee for Deprogrammers the previous October, but the committee had been disbanded on the advice of CAN's legal counsel because of potential liability problems that could arise for CAN.

In 1989 CAN National maintained a "secret" referral list of deprogrammers which included Bob Brandyberry, Mary Alice Chrnalogar, Joe Szimhart and others.

In August 1989, a call was made to the national office of CAN in Chicago asking for information on the Church of Scientology. "Anne" from the office volunteered to give the caller a list of deprogrammers and offered the names of Dave Clark, Joe Szimhart, Randall Burkey, Bob Brandyberry and others with phone numbers for each.

In April 1989 Cynthia Kisser, Executive Director of the Cult Awareness Network was quoted in the press stating that the deprogrammers in her files tended to be the best and worst. She mentioned Rick Ross as one of the best and very knowledgeable about cults. Rick Ross then quoted Kisser's favorable comment in his biographical summary


Following is a short history of more than 20 known kidnappings / "deprogrammings" involving CAN and deprogrammers between 1982 and 1992. These incidents show a continued pattern of related incidents involving CAN and deprogrammers. There are undoubtedly many more that can be found through investigation.


According to the declaration of deprogrammer Mark Blocksom, on at least two occasions kidnapping victims were held against their will while being deprogrammed at the farm home of Priscilla Coates.

Blocksom used the farm as a safe house for these "deprogrammings." At that time, Coates was the Executive Director of Citizens Freedom Foundation/Cult Awareness Network (she was Executive Director from 1982 to 1984 and vice-president 1981-82). Coates is now the head of the Los Angeles affiliate of the Cult Awareness Network.

One of these kidnappings occurred in 1981 or 1982. A "deprogramming" team which included Blocksom had kidnapped a young Puerto Rican girl from the Hare Krishnas and held her against her will at the Coates' farm house. The "deprogramming" team consisted of Mark Blocksom, Danny Graham and Tim Lush, associates of Blocksom.

After the "deprogramming," the girl was taken to a "rehabilitation center" in Akron, Ohio that was run by Debbie Heller. Debbie Heller was very active in Citizens Freedom Foundation at the time.

As was customary at the time, Blocksom paid Priscilla Coates approximately $250 - $300 for the use of her home. (para. 11)

Blocksom also stated in his declaration that Priscilla Coates gave him referrals for "deprogrammings" prior to CFF becoming CAN (1986). It is Blocksom's belief that Coates was fully aware that the parents she sent to him as referrals were planning to have their children/family member kidnapped or unlawfully detained. (para. 13).


According to the declaration of deprogrammer Mark Blocksom, Cynthia Kisser, who is now the national director of the Cult Awareness Network, assisted Blocksom on at least two kidnappings of members of The Way International.

Per the declaration of Blocksom, on one of these "deprogrammings," which occurred on or about 1981/1982, a person was being held against his will in the basement of a home in Wisconsin.

Cynthia Kisser arrived at the home from Chicago and spent two days helping with the "deprogramming" and it was because of Kisser's involvement that they were able to complete the "deprogramming." The victim had struggled quite a bit during the "deprogramming."

Cynthia Kisser gave referrals for involuntary "deprogrammings" to deprogrammer Blocksom, while the organization was still named Citizens Freedom Foundation (before the name was changed to Cult Awareness Network). Blocksom believes that Kisser was fully aware that the parents they sent to him as referrals were planning to have their children/family member kidnapped or unlawfully detained.


In approximately September 1983, CAN deprogrammer Garry Scarff was requested by Anne Greek to assist in the "deprogramming" of James Boland. Within a few days of the request, Scarff met with Greek and fellow deprogrammers Vince Tarquini and Ray Collins at the Positive Action Center, a CFF/CAN affiliate in Portland, to plan the "deprogramming."

Several days later Greek, Scarff, Tarquini and Collins met with Boland's family in Seaside, Oregon, where Boland was also present. There, Mrs. Boland informed Scarff that she and her husband had been counseled by Greek that Boland was under mind control, in a religious group that could hurt him badly and required "deprogramming" if he was to be helped. Boland was then prevented from leaving the house by Scarff and Tarquini. After Tarquini physically attacked Boland, Greek decided to call in another deprogrammer, Bob Brandyberry, without even advising Boland's parents. She called Brandyberry in Iowa and had him fly to Oregon to join the deprogramming.

A day after Brandyberry's arrival and participation in the "deprogramming," which was marked by Boland twice attempting to escape and being forcibly restrained each time, Scarff returned to Portland. The "deprogramming" terminated soon after his departure with Mr. and Mrs. Boland very upset over what they considered to have been a very poorly performed "deprogramming." Although Mr. Boland initially refused to pay for the failed "deprogramming," he paid Greek after learning that she intended to sue him for such payment. Mr. Boland also paid Scarff $100 for his participation in the "deprogramming."


Kathy Mason in 1985 was a 30 year old single mother of a seven year old son, living in Seattle, Washington. At her mother's request, Ms. Mason permitted her son to stay the night at the house of her mother, Eloise George, on October 22, 1985.

The next morning while preparing to go to work, Ms. Mason was visited by her mother, her sister Laura Kay O'Neal, and her brother David B. O'Neal. She was told that her son was ill and at the Children's Orthopedic Hospital and that she needed to go to the hospital to sign her son in for treatment. Ms. Mason got in the car with her mother, sister and brother but was taken not to the hospital but to a house at 1263 N.W. 195th Street, Seattle.

Ms. Mason was lured in to the house on the pretext that she should meet her sister's boyfriend. Once inside she was introduced to deprogrammers Mary Weeks and Glenn Robertson employed by her mother to get her to leave her faith.

Mary Weeks is a deprogrammer from Portland who has been an advisory board member to the CFF/CAN affiliate in Portland, the Positive Action Center, run by Anne and Adrian Greek, and deprogrammed her own son with the help of Ted Patrick and engaged in other forcible "deprogrammings."

When Kathy Mason asked to leave she was not permitted to, but was held at the house, which her mother had borrowed from a friend, from the morning of October 23, 1985 to the morning of October 26, 1985.

During this time she was subjected to sarcastic statements about her faith and was read negative documents about her religion. She was closely watched during her stay, was escorted to the bathroom, and always had someone with her while she ate and slept. She was told she would be tied up if she tried to leave.

She was finally released when she appeared to show some signs of cooperation, however was later seized by the police and taken to a local mental hospital based on an attempt by her mother to get her committed, but was immediately released by the hospital.

On February 27, 1986 an information was filed charging the deprogrammers and Ms. Mason's mother, brother and sister with unlawful imprisonment.

On July 23, 1986, the 5 people involved in the "deprogramming" pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of coercion.


On February 6, 1986, at 8:00 a.m., the Bellingham, Washington police were contacted by Roxanne Pacheco, who stated that she was in the company of Jamie Simpson, the victim, walking from a residence toward their place of employment, a restaurant. They were attempting to hitchhike to work. They accepted a ride with the occupants of a blue van which was followed by a blue station wagon. The van drove into Cornwall Park. The man in charge stated he wanted to talk to Jamie and Roxanne was told to exit the van as Jamie was held by the arms.

Roxanne heard Jamie say he did not want to talk to them but they restrained him. Roxanne saw a person lying in the back of the van start to rise and made the comment that they had awakened someone; Roxanne heard Jamie say "Mom why are you here?" The van and the station wagon drove away.

During the police investigation it was found that on January 31, 1986 two men checked into the Best Western Motel, one of whom was Dennis J. Allen. The parties checked out on February 4, 1986.

During the police investigation Judy K. Hillis, employed by a rental car company, related that a blue van matching the description of that used in the abduction was rented on February 3 and returned on February 5 at approximately 9:00 AM, paid using a Visa card in the name of Marilyn C. Simpson by Marilyn Simpson's son David Simpson. Ms. Hillis stated that members of the party renting the van indicated they were interested in removing one of the seats so that they could haul cargo, that the renters were evasive about the type of cargo and said that it would be very "fragile" cargo.

On February 5, when David Simpson turned the van in to the rental car company, Ms. Hillis asked David Simpson if he needed a ride and he said he had a car down the street. Ms. Hillis recognized the blue station wagon driving by but saw David Simpson walking in the opposite direction. Ms. Hillis saw the blue station wagon being driven by Mrs. Simpson in a circuitous route as if to determine whether or not there was any detection of David Simpson and picking him up later down the street.

Contacts with various rental agencies confirmed that a man meeting Dennis J. Allen's description was involved in attempts to rent residences or condominiums in Whatcom County and during these contacts he made reference to a room for a mother and appeared to be evasive in terms of the people he was acquiring the rental for.

On February 8, 1986 a search warrant was executed on a residence in Whatcom County and defendants were arrested out of that residence or nearby. The defendants included Dennis J. Allen, Marilyn C. Simpson, David R. Simpson, Billy R. Sheppard, Charles McMickle, Mark A. Luke, and Cult Awareness Network (CAN) deprogrammers Randall M. Burkey and Mark E. Blocksom.

Lt. David MacDonald said that when police arrived (at the residence), Simpson was being kept in a room at the house, with tape over the windows and the door removed.

Police said they believed the family spent about $18,000 on the "deprogramming" attempt.

On February 11, 1986 the defendants each entered pleas of Guilty of Coercion stating each was involved in "deprogramming" Jamie Simpson and that this involved restraining Jamie from participating in activities he had a right to participate in.

On February 11, 1986 the defendants were sentenced on the charge of Coercion to a one year deferred sentence conditional upon the following terms and conditions: 1) the defendant is on inactive probation until all financial obligations have been paid in full, 2) pay court costs of $70, 3) pay Victim Fund Assessment of $50, 4) Court appointed attorney's fee of $225, 5) Serve 90 days in the Whatcom County Jail with 88 days supended and with credit for time served on this charge, 6) each defendant shall pay $2,000 immediately to the Bellingham Police Department for the investigation involved, on a joint and several basis; 7) the defendants shall pay $1,000 collectively to the Watcom County Superior Court Clerk's Office against their court-ordered financial obligations.

Blocksom and Burkey were both regular attendees and speakers at CFF/CAN conventions.

Mark Blocksom has been associated with CAN since at least 1985 when he appeared as a speaker at the annual CAN convention as an "exit counselor". Burkey has also been an active CAN member.

The February 1988 CAN newsletter announced that Burkey would be appearing with Cynthia Kisser on a WEWS-TV talk show. In June 1989, the CAN newsletter announced that CAN Akron member Randall Burkey gave a speech on cults at the City of Cleveland Department of Mental Health. In February 1990, he was featured in the CAN newsletter as appearing with Dr. Margaret Long on a program on cults.


On May 26, 1987, Britta Adolfsson Hitchler was forcibly kidnapped by deprogrammers Dennis Whelan and James Hilzendeger in Denver, Colorado and taken to a home owned by another deprogrammer, Linda Miller, located in Douglas County, Colorado. Brandyberry was present in Miller's home upon their arrival, which he had been awaiting. Hitchler was held in Miller's home for two days before being forcibly transferred on May 28, 1987 to a remote mountain home also owned by Miller, located in Grand County, Colorado. Also immediately thereafter, Hitchler was transferred to a nearby mountain cabin. Hitchler was held under close supervision in the cabin until June 1, 1987, at which point she was driven from the cabin to Denver and from there taken across state lines to the home of Robert Tucker in Lyons, Kansas, arriving on June 2, 1987. Tucker had prepared a second story room for Hitchler by removing all furniture except a mattress, removing the door knobs and covering the windows with wood or plywood. Although confined to the bedroom, Hitchler was able to escape on June 2, 1987 by removing the screen from a second story bathroom window and jumping to the ground.

Tucker had been a CFF Board member in 1982-83, and according to the declaration of Mark Blocksom, had been involved in "deprogrammings" during that time. On one occasion Blocksom arrived at Tucker's farm and found someone tied up in the middle of a "deprogramming."

Subsequent to the issuance of the indictment, as a result of deprogrammer Diane Benscoter's appearance on a telethon broadcast by Greek, Benscoter, of Portland, Oregon, was also identified by Hitchler as having been involved in the attempted "deprogramming." Following Benscoter's arrest, her bail was paid by Anne Greek. The September 1987 CAN Washington, D.C. Newsletter announced the arrests of deprogrammers Whelan and Hilzendeger and the need for CAN to support them. The newsletter directly linked support of these deprogrammers to support for CAN.


On February 19, 1987 Laurie Alexander arrived in Eureka, California from Montana to visit her mother. She was told by her mother that she had hired a "counselor" (deprogrammer) to get her out of her church. She was taken to a house outside of Willow Creek, California, where she met deprogrammers Bob Brandyberry and Nan Henderson.

Brandyberry said that he wanted to give her some information which Laurie said she didn't want to hear and demanded to be let go. Brandyberry and Henderson said that they would not let her go until they had delivered their information. Later she met the third deprogrammer, Joseph Szimhart. She was forced to watch videos and listen to attacks on her beliefs the rest of that day and for two more days.

A trellis was placed over the window of the bedroom that Laurie was given to use and a guard was placed by the window as well.

On the afternoon of February 22, Laurie managed to run out of the house and to the river which was close by. When she arrived at the river Szimhart was standing right behind her and said that he was not going to let her go. She jumped in the river and began to yell for help. As she was drifting down the river she noticed that Szimhart was running alongside.

Laurie then started swimming across the river to the other side. After struggling with the currents of the river and nearly drowning, Laurie finally made it to the other side. She then climbed out and went to a house that she saw.

Within 10 minutes of being let into the house by the owners three police officers arrived and she told them what had occurred, i.e. , being kidnapped and held against her will. One policeman then said that he was flagged down by Laurie's mother and was told that Laurie had run out of the house and she would probably be violent as she was psychologically disturbed. After finding out Laurie's age, twenty-eight, he said that he could not turn her over to her mother as she was legally an adult and had the right to do what she wanted to. The police then got Laurie's belongings from the house where she had been held, put her up at a police officer's house, and drove her to the airport the next day.

Brandyberry and Szimhart were regular attendees and speakers at CAN conventions. According to a statement by Brandyberry to a licensed investigator, he received 80% of his referrals from CAN.

Click here to go to Part III.



Ted Patrick was first contacted by Cathy Rommel's mother, Dorothy Thompson, on March 11, 1988. Mrs. Thompson called Mr. Patrick sixteen times before the first incident on March 26 and another five times between that incident and the second incident on May 5, 1988. Dorothy Thompson told Mr. Patrick she had been referred to him, both in books she had read about cults and by the Cult Awareness Network, as the best qualified expert to assist families in rescuing loved ones from dangerous cults.

Phone records offered by the defendants show that Dorothy Thompson called CAN National three times on March 9, and once on March 10th.

According to Richard Hansen, the attorney for Patrick, Patrick had done extensive study and had personal experience in more than 2,500 "deprogrammings" from religious cults.

According to Norm Maleng, King County Prosecuting Attorney, it is believed that Dorothy Thompson paid Patrick approximately $10,000 dollars for his services.

On March 26, 1988, at the apartment of Cathy and Greg Rommel, Ted Patrick and certain family members held Cathy captive for 3-4 hours in an attempt to start the "deprogramming." On more than one occasion Cathy demanded that they leave and tried to leave herself without success. Kathy Carbone and Connie Smith arrived later that afternoon and Cathy was able to escape with their assistance.

According to defendants phone records, Dorothy Thompson called CAN National on April 6th and April 13th.

On May 5, 1988, a second "deprogramming" was attempted without success.

On May 5, 1988 at approximately 9:00 pm Kathy Carbone and Cathy Rommel heard the sound of breaking glass coming from the rear bedroom of the apartment. Patrick's assistants bodily carried Cathy Rommel kicking and screaming to a waiting car. Greg Rommel, Cathy's husband, attacked and struggled with Ms. Carbone and kept her from calling the police. Cathy was taken to David Rommel's summer home in Sumner, Washington.

On May 6, 1988, Patrick appeared at David Rommel's residence and attempted to deprogram Cathy. Later that day the defendants moved Cathy to a motel in Puyallup, Washington. She was held in this location until late afternoon May 7, 1988, when she escaped from her captors as they were attempting to move her.

On March 25, 1991, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Ted Patrick in this case.

On November 21, 1991 regarding the King County Cause No. 91-1-01639-5, the State dismissed all cases.

Despite his long record of arrests and convictions, Ted Patrick is still active in the deprogramming business. In May 1993, a member of the Abundant Living Center in Bellingham, Washington was abducted and held against his will for 3 days until he was finally released. Ted Patrick was one of the deprogrammers. No charges have yet been filed in this case.


Ronald Loomis of Ithaca, NY, President of CAN from 1984 to 1989, was involved in "deprogramming" while holding that position.

In April 1987, as spokesman for a conference held by CAN in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, Loomis stated that CAN "favors" "deprogramming" to remove people from what it considers religious cults.
In the spring of 1988, Robert Crockett, President of CAN's Boston affiliate office, hired deprogrammers Jonathon Nordquist, Mark Blocksom, Joseph Szimhart of Santa Fe, New Mexico and Patrick Ryan of Philadelphis, Pennsylvania to "deprogram" his son, William. William was then forcibly kidnapped in Boston by these deprogrammers, and was held for approximately six days before being released on the basis that the "deprogramming" had been successful.

During those days, Blocksom and Crockett discussed the ongoing "deprogramming" with Ron Loomis and obtained advice from Loomis.


On May 27, 1990, Karen Lever, 34-year-old president of a computer consulting company based in Redmond, Washington was abducted while unloading luggage from her car at the parking structure at the Seattle Airport. A van pulled up, three men got out, and two grabbed her. A fourth man helped force her into the van and a fifth man drove the van off. Karen was forced to lie face down. One man sat on her and clamped his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming.

The men told Karen that her parents, Dr. Ronald S. Lever and Doreen Lever of Encino, CA, were following in a car behind the van.

The van arrived at a large two-story house next to a lake, surrounded by woods with no other houses visible. A man in his late fifties referred to as "Diablo" was waiting at the house and was said to be the head of security. Her parents were waiting for her at the house.

Karen was led to a room on the lower floor of the house which contained only a bed and a table. The door to the room had been nailed open. A woman came into Karen's room introduced as "Jo." Jo searched Karen looking for weapons and any items she could use to hurt herself.

Deprogrammer Joe Szimhart of New Mexico then arrived and introduced himself. She recognized Szimhart from a television program she had once seen which featured several people affiliated with the Cult Awareness Network. Szimhart told her that he and Karen's parents believed that she was a "cult victim" because she had attended lectures and seminars given by Dr. Frederick Lenz. Szimhart said that he was Karen's "deprogrammer" and the men in the van were the "security team."

Szimhart and the deprogramming and security teams kept Karen Lever captive for eight days. She was guarded 24 hours a day, with guards accompanying her to the bathroom. The bathroom door had been nailed open. Szimhart lectured about cults and made her watch a number of videotapes. At other times, 4-5 others harangued her about her mental condition and immaturity.

In addition, two other women arrived during the week to join in the "deprogramming" - Karen Reinhardt of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin and Robyn Kliger of Berkeley, California. Robyn Kliger, who had been a fellow student of Lever's at the Univerity of California at San Diego, had been abducted and deprogrammed by Reinhardt and Szimhart at the hire of her mother, Eunice Kliger, head of the northern California CAN affiliate. Reinhardt was a frequent assistant of Szimhart at "deprogrammings" and organized CAN conferences at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, where she worked.

Szimhart told Lever that he rarely practiced "involuntary deprogramming" as it risked going to jail and he had a family to support.

On the evening of June 3, the "deprogramming" ended and Karen was transported in another van by Szimhart and Robyn Kliger to a truck stop, where the security team left. Szimhart, Kliger and Karen then transferred into Karen's parents' rental car where Karen was transported to her car at the Seattle airport parking lot.


On January 8, 1991 Barbara Ponella, a 26 year old, was abducted from the Grand Master of Tai-Zen Jiu-Jitsu Academy of Self-Defense in Long Island where she worked as a receptionist. Her parents, Charles and Constance Ponella, hired deprogrammers Randall Burkey, Joe Szimhart and others to deprogram her because they thought that karate instructor Howard Tague had a "cult-like" influence over Barbara.

During the kidnapping, Barbara's mother sprayed mace in Barbara's face while three men grabbed her and threw her into a van. Howard Tague fired three warning shots into the air and one at the van tires as they sped away.

Barbara was transported across state lines to Allentown, Pennsylvania by her abductors where deprogrammers Randall Burkey and Joe Szimhart were waiting.

After being "deprogrammed," Ponella was taken to the Wellspring retreat in Albany, Ohio, which is directed by CAN board member Paul Martin. On January 27, Barbara Ponella's parents arrived at Wellspring to take her home.

The police detectives who worked on the case were Detective Doug Jones and Detective Carmine Sessor. No indictments were issued because Barbara has not been willing to cooperate.

According to the diary of Joe Szimhart, which was seized in his Boise, Idaho arrest, Szimhart was paid on January 4, 1991 for the Ponella "deprogramming."

Information learned from Howard Tague the karate instructor, is that Barbara's parents had taken Barbara to Chicago for a "deprogramming seminar" during the November 1990 CAN convention. This is also referenced in a news article covering the abduction.


On January 16, 1991, Jason Scott, an 18-year old member of the Life Tabernacle Church in Bellevue, Washington, received a phone call from his brother, Thysen, inviting him to his birthday party.

On January 18th, Jason drove to his family home in Bellevue to deliver carpet scraps to his brother. At the front door, Jason was jumped by three men who wrestled him to the ground and dragged him inside. The three men were Mark Workman, Chuck Simpson and a man named Clark, all from Arizona.

Jason's mother, Kathy Tonkin, who was also in the house, came outside and told the witnesses watching the incident that Jason was going to be OK and that he was going to be taken out of a cult.

Chuck Simpson placed handcuffs on Jason, and the men dragged him down the stairs on his back, into the downstairs living room and into a van. The men climbed into the van, including Jason's brother Thysen and "deprogrammer" Rick Ross of Phoenix, Arizona.

Cynthia Kisser, Executive Director of the Cult Awareness Network, has publicly endorsed Rick Ross as "one of the best" deprogrammers in the business. Ross was a highly visible participant in the Cult Awareness Network annual conference in November 1990, where he denied that he ever uses criminal violence to force his victims to listen to his "counseling."

Jason was pinned face down in the van by Clark's knee in his back and a nylon strap around his ankles. A strip of 2" duct tape was fastened over Jason's mouth by Clark who told Jason to "stop praying and shut up." Jason was not allowed to look out of the van windows to see where he was being taken.

The van pulled into a gravel driveway and was backed into a garage. The van remained in this position for about 10 minutes while Workman and Ross secured the house for Jason's arrival. The ankle restraint was moved up Jason's legs to his knees and he was led into the house by the leash on his ankle restraint.

The deprogrammers informed Jason that his church was a cult. Jason asked them if they were going to force him to not go back to his church by making him change his mind. Rick Ross answered "yes." The deprogrammers proceeded to ridicule Jason's religious beliefs, but Jason did not break.

A guard slept at each of the two entrances of the room and accompanied him to the bathroom.

The next morning, the "deprogramming" procedure began again and Rick Ross ignored Jason's request to have his rights read to him by the police, saying that if Jason did not cooperate, he would be handcuffed to the bed frame for two days. He was verbally abused and mocked by Rick Ross.

On January 22, Jason learned that he was at Ocean Shores. Jason broke into tears on this day, and the deprogrammers assumed that he'd broken his previous faith.

On January 23, Mrs. Scott was observed by Jason talking on the phone scheduling plane tickets for Jason to go to Wellspring Rehab Center in Ohio, run by CAN Board member Paul Martin, and for the deprogrammers to return to Phoenix.

On January 23, the Scott family and deprogrammers took Jason to eat at the Home Port Restaurant. Jason fled out the door to Barnacle Bills Restaurant across the street and called the police. A policeman arrived, took Jason's story and put him in the back of his jeep.

On January 23, Rick Ross, Mark Workman and Chuck Simpson were arrested.

On January 24, Ross, Workman and Simpson appeared before Judge Steve Brown in Montesano and were released on their own recognizance pending the filing of formal charges.

The Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Grays Harbor County, Joseph Wheeler, filed charges against Ross for false imprisonment on June 30, 1993. An article that came out in the Arizona Republic on July 2, 1993, by a reporter who interviewed Jason's mother Kathy Tonkin, states that, "Tonkin learned about Rick Ross through a Washington affiliate of the Cult Awareness Network." Ross and the other kidnappers are currently facing trial.


Amy Frith was abducted when she was driving her mother to the Greater Cincinnati Airport in Kentucky on January 19, 1991, and was taken across the state line into Ohio. Her mother said she wanted to stop and see a friend. They drove to a house and Amy was not permitted to leave. Present at the house were her parents, sisters, John Thomas, the owner of the house, and deprogrammers Randall Burkey and Mary Alice Chrnalogar, and Donna Adams who assisted the deprogrammers. Amy was forcibly confined at this location and deprived of food and drink and finally drugged.

She was taken to Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Albany, Ohio, which is run by Paul Martin, a board member of the Cult Awareness Network, on January 23, 1991. At Wellspring, Amy was held against her will for 7 days, during which she was kept awake for numerous hours and badgered in an attempt to get her to denounce her religion and her husband. She escaped on January 30, 1991.

On July 2, 1991, her parents, Georgene and Robert McFerren, were indicted for abduction. The case went to trial on April 20, 1992. However, Amy failed to appear in court, and the judge dismissed the case for want of prosecution. She is currently pursing a civil case against the kidnappers.


On September 17, 1991, Cara Louise Schenker was grabbed by several men as she was about to leave her apartment in New York City. These men knocked her to the ground and one of them flashed a badge, and they told her it was a drug bust. She gave up screaming as she thought she was under arrest and was afraid she might be charged with resisting arrest. They dragged her into a van, where the guards held onto her ankles with her legs spread apart on the floor of the van.

Cara was taken to a cabin where she was held down as she was fighting and screaming to be let go. She recognized one of the men, referred to as "Galen" by the others, as a man who tried to enter her apartment several months before. She was driven to another cabin in Pennsylvania where she was held against her will until September 20, 1991. A man whom the kidnappers referred to as "Rand" (CAN deprogrammer, Randall Burkey) was brought in for the deprogramming. Cara was forced to stay despite repeated demands to be released. She was driven to another house in upstate New York where she was held against her will until September 24 when she was driven to a home in Hazlet, New Jersey. The kidnappers finally released her, when the deprogramming was found to be unsuccesful, on September 26, 1991.

The kidnapping was sponsored by the parents of Cara Schenker, who wanted to get her away from the influence of her boyfriend. According to the FBI report on this, released in the Lewis Dupont Smith case, Cara was not a member of a cult but her parents disagreed with how she was living her life.

When Galen Kelly was brought to trial in December 1992 in the Dupont Smith case, his attorneys stipulated that if called in that case, witnesses would testify to the facts of the Cara Schenker kidnapping by Galen Kelly and his accomplice, Anthony Russo.


On November 20, 1991, a man pretended to deliver a pizza at the house of Laverne Collins in Boise, Idaho. The "pizza man" grabbed Laverne and a struggle ensued. Laverne started screaming and in front of her three children was physically dragged out of the house, across the yard and put into a vehicle which took her away. The oldest son attempted to call the police but was prevented by Laverne's sister, one of the conspirators in the kidnapping, who arrived at the house. The incident was reported to the police by another member of her church, the Church Universal and Triumphant.

Deputy Sheriff McShane was despatched to Laverne's house and spoke with Laverne's sister, Patricia Cox of Visalia, California, who confirmed that Laverne had been taken by a deprogrammer. The sister said Laverne was fine and would be staying with some friends outside of Cascade, Idaho for 4-5 days.

Laverne told Detective Gary Raney of the Ada County Sheriff's Department that she was driven to a mountain cabin by Carmine DeSanctis and two of the "security" team. Joy De Sanctis joined them at the cabin. The next day she was taken back to the Boise area and moved to various local motels.

On November 21, she met Joseph Szimhart, Kenneth Paolini, and Mary Alice Chrnalogar. Laverne was held against her will for days and on November 27, 1991, was released after members of her Church held a press conference demanding her return.

Detective Raney called Adrian Greek, former president of CFF, and from him obtained the phone number of Joe Szimhart.

On December 19, 1991, the deprogrammers and Laverne's mother and sister were indicted on kidnapping or aiding and abetting kidnapping and arrest warrants were issued for each. All the defendants pleaded not guilty. The deprogrammers went to trial in April 1993 and were acquitted; however the kidnappers, including Joy and Carmine DeSanctis, face trial on September 20, 1993.

All four deprogrammers had been at the CAN national convention three weeks earlier.


On March 12, 1992, 21-year old Stephanie Staggs, a member of The Way International, was abducted from outside her apartment in Madison, Wisconsin. She was grabbed by her father, Steven Staggs, and Scott Linscheid, and forced into a van. She was then taken to a remote farmhouse owned by William Baar in Rock County, Wisconsin.

At the farmhouse, Randall Burkey attempted to deprogram Stephanie. Dennis Simpson, who was the coordinator of the "deprogramming," was in and out of the farmhouse, according to Stephanie's testimony. An old friend of Stephanie's, Tracy Clarke, was also present during the "deprogramming" and she slept in the same bedroom where Stephanie was detained. Karen Reinhardt arranged for the use of the farmhouse for the "deprogramming" to take place.

Stephanie was rescued from the farmhouse on March 15, 1992 by Rock County deputies and other Madison police officers. Steven Staggs had notified the Madison Police Department in advance, saying that he would be kidnapping his daughter from a "cult house" and taking her to a safehouse for a "deprogramming." Scott Linsheid, who was present during much of the "deprogramming" but then decided it was wrong, reported her whereabouts to the FBI. When the police arrived Stephanie told them she was being held against her will and wanted to leave.

The police arrested Randall Burkey, Karen Reinhardt, Steven Staggs, and Tracy Clarke. They appeared before the judge on March 16, 1992. Burkey and Clarke were charged with false imprisonment. Steven Staggs was charged with kidnapping and Karen Reinhardt was charged with failure to summons officers or assist victim. Burkey was released for $1,000 bail and appeared at his preliminary hearing on March 27, 1992 where he pleaded not guilty. He is scheduled to go to trial on October 29, 1992.

Karen Reinhardt has been active with the Cult Awareness Network since at least 1987 when she organized the first Midwest conference on "cult awareness" at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, co-sponsored by the Cult Awareness Network. She organized a "cult awareness" conference in 1988 and again in 1989. Karen Reinhardt and Cynthia Kisser gave the introduction and overview at the 1988 conference.

During questioning of Randall Burkey and Steven Staggs by law enforcement authorities after the arrests, it came out that Burkey had been paid $1500, by members of Staggs' church congregation in Dallas, Prestonwood Baptist Church.

Karen Reinhardt pleaded no contest and was found guilty on August 21, 1992. She was fined $660.

Steven Clark Staggs went to trial on September 28. He then pleaded guilty to the charges of kidnapping.

Randall Burkey eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of failure to summons a law enforcement officer on November 13, 1992.


On the second of October 1992, the FBI arrested Galen Kelly, C. Newbold Smith, Donald Moore (Kelly's associate) and attorney Robert ("Biker Bob") Point for the planned kidnapping of Newbold Smith's 36 year old son, Lewis Dupont Smith, who is a political follower of Lyndon LaRouche Jr. The charge is conspiracy to kidnap. The arrests were the result of a three-month undercover operation. Kelly posted $250,000 bail, and his movements have been ordered to be electronically monitored.

During the course of the Smith criminal case, Kelly's financial ledgers were released which revealed several other cases that Kelly was working on. Significantly, the ledgers also revealed that during the months from January 1992 through May 1992, Kelly was receiving a $1500 monthly retainer from CAN. Kelly's expenses to cover his trip to LA for the November 1992 CAN convention were also covered by CAN; however by this time Kelly had been arrested in the Lewis Dupont Smith case and was under an electronic monitoring device. Another item found in Kelly's ledgers was a payment for a "safehouse," a term used by deprogrammers to denote remote locations where the deprogramming victims are taken.

Also released during the course of the Lewis Dupont Smith case were some of the tape transcripts made from recordings that the FBI's informant, Doug Poppa, made of his conversations with the defendants during the undercover operation. In one of these transcripts, Donald Moore, states, "Also, I'm working for CAN. I mean, I've got that covered."

These tapes revealed the various plans that were made by the defendants to carry out the kidnapping, including a plan to lure him into an illicit affair with a woman who would cooperate in his abduction. They discussed what they should do if the kidnapping went sour -- they even discussed using the "biker crowd" to help in the snatch.

While Kelly was awaiting trial in the Lewis Dupont Smith case, the President of the American Family Foundation (a sister organization to CAN), Herbert Rosedale, wrote a letter of support for Galen Kelly in which he says: "I have known Galen for about 10 years ... His credibility and trustworthiness have been evident and exemplary... I wholeheartedly vouch for him and would be pleased to give you any additional information you might require to support this."

Newbold Smith, the father of Lewis Dupont Smith and one of the defendants in the case, was asked on the stand whom he spoke to about the choice of using Galen Kelly over traditional psychiatrists to deprogram his son. Mr. Smith replied that the Vice President of the Cult Awareness Network and Priscilla Coates, who heads the Los Angeles chapter of CAN, both recommended that he use Kelly.

The case went to trial in December 1992. Kelly, Smith and the other defendants were acquitted on the basis that the planning for the kidnapping and deprogramming had not progressed far enough to satisfy the elements of the conspiracy to kidnap charge. However, the judge reprimanded the defendants, stating:

"Nothing in the jury's verdict justifies or excuses any parent from trying to kidnap a child
they believe is involved in some kind of cult, political activity, criminal activity, or other
kind of activity. It does not justify a kidnapping, and the government should act with
dispatch and effectiveness in seeking to prosecute and halt such action."

Click here to go to Part IV



Kelly came under FBI investigation concerning the abduction of Debra Dobkowski in Washington D.C. on or about May 5, 1992. Debra was the roommate of a woman whose mother has persistently encouraged her to leave the homosexual relationship in which she now lives with Debra and another female roommate. Debra was forcibly abducted by two men and two women as she left work in Washington, D.C. on May 5, 1992, and taken in a van to an unknown location believed by Debra to be in Virginia. One of the abductors said his name was Galen Kelly.

After the mother of the intended victim informed them that Debra was not her daughter, Debra was transported back to Washington, D.C. and released. As her abductors left, they threw Debra's thermos out of the van. The thermos was recovered by the FBI and subsequent analysis identified a print belonging to Galen Kelly. An analysis of telephone toll records showed that the mother of Debra's roommate placed calls to the Cult Awareness Network in Chicago in the three months prior to the May 5, 1992 abduction.

Kelly was indicted on kidnapping charges in March 1993 for the Debra Dobkowski kidnapping. The case went to trial on May 27, and on May 30, 1993, Kelly was convicted for the kidnapping and sent to jail. On September 24, 1993 Kelly was sentenced to 7 1/4 years in prison.

Kelly has been connected to Cult Awareness Network for many years. During the October 1982 Citizens Freedom Foundation and National Affiliation of Ex-Members annual conference, Galen Kelly was part of a panel discussion on "Deprogramming: A Process of Counselling" along with Ted Patrick.

Kelly was the head of security at the 1990 Cult Awareness Network national convention held at the Marriott's Lincolnshire Resort in Chicago, Illinois from November 1 through November 4, 1990.
Found in deprogrammer Joy De Sanctis' notes, which were seized from her residence during the investigation of the Boise kidnapping, was a February 12, 1991 "intelligence memo" sent to Cult Awareness Network national office from Galen Kelly, giving the information from an investigation he had conducted for the Cult Awareness Network.

Kelly had confirmed pre-registration for the April 1991 Cult Awareness Network conference on destructive cults in Newark, New Jersey.

According to Kelly's own ledger, made public during the court proceedings of his criminal case, he received more than $11,000 from CAN in 1992, during the period the Debra Dobkowski abduction was being planned and organized. This ledger also shows that Kelly paid co-conspirators Randall Burkey and Michelle Brouchansky and paid $1,800 for a "safe house."


Kelly has a very long pattern of kidnappings and "deprogrammings." The following is a list of 22 unsuccessful "deprogrammings" Kelly has been involved in.

In 1976, Kelly did his first reported "deprogramming" with Ted Patrick -- Chris Edwards of the Unification Church.

On May 29, 1976, Michael J. Kellett of the Unification Church was abducted in New York by Kelly, taken to Palisades Park, New Jersey, to Accord, New York and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

On May 31, 1976, Robert Brooks was abducted from the Unification Church in New Jersey by Galen Kelly and others and transported to New York and Pennsylvania before escaping on June 6, 1976.

On August 3, 1976, Marylee Kreshower was abducted from the Hare Krishnas in Queens, New York. She was seized by Galen Kelly, her mother and two others. She was taken to Long Island and Accord, New York. Marylee unsuccessfully pressed kidnapping charges against Kelly and her mother. The tables turned and two Krishna leaders were indicted for unlawful detainment by the use of mind control and attempted extortion. The charges against the Hare Krishnas were later thrown out of court. Kelly (G. Kelly Associates) billed the Individual Freedom Foundation (the affiliated grass roots network which eventually became Citizens Freedom Foundation/CAN), for costs involved in the case.

On January 2, 1977, Willis Witter was abducted by Kelly and others in San Bernardino, California and transported to Torrance, Los Angeles, Dulles and Newark Airports, Kingston, New York and Baltimore, Maryland. He escaped on January 17, in Baltimore. Witter filed a complaint with the Department of State of the State of New York on Galen Kelly's private investigator license.

On October 24, 1977, Douglas Guscott of the Unification Church was abducted in New York by his mother, using a temporary conservatorship order granted by a New Jersey Superior Court. He was taken to Piscataway, New Jersey, then to Galen Kelly's apartment in Kingston, New York, back to his aunt's house, then back to Kingston where he made his escape.

On October 23, 1978, Kelly abducted Joan Stedrack from the Circle of Friends, a Morristown, New Jersey-based communal group. She was thrown into a van by Kelly and escaped five days later. Judge Richard A. Koerner of Hillsborough Municipal Court found Kelly and the father, Anthony Stedrack guilty of assault and battery. Kelly was sentenced to a 60-day suspended jail term, one year probation and a $500 fine. Two civil cases were also filed against Kelly and sixteen others who took part in Joan Stedrack's abduction by Stedrack and the Circle of Friends.

On August 14, 1979 Kelly was seized by New York State Police and charged with assault, unlawful imprisonment and criminal possession of a weapon stemming from an alleged pistol-whipping involving a member of the Unification Church, in connection to the kidnapping of Anthony Columbrito. This matter was submitted to an Ulster County, New York Grand Jury but was dismissed.

However Kelly's pistol licence was suspended for a year as a result of the incident.

Then, on Nov 19, 1979, Anthony Columbrito of Tarrytown, New York, sued Galen Kelly, Galen Kelly Associates, Lew Fedyniak, and Thomas Orosz for an August 13, 1979 forcible abduction and detention against his will.

On August 20, 1979, David and Evelyn Bendersky sued Kelly for $203,000 for fraud, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional harm, in connection to "deprogramming" services he failed to perform.

On May 11, 1980, Ellen Vogel, member of the Unification Church was kidnapped by Galen Kelly and others in New York and escaped nine days later from the unsuccessful "deprogramming" attempt, and filed suit Kelly.

On August 29, 1980 Galen Kelly, his wife, Elizabeth Kelly, Paul Stewart-Kregor and family members of the victim abducted Unification Church member Kevin Vallee and took him to a house in Accord, New York, handcuffing his hands behind him. Vallee was unlawfully detained and guarded until September 4, when he escaped. Kelly, his wife and two associates were charged with second degree kidnapping on September 8.

On October 19, 1980, Krzysztof Hempowicz was abducted in New York City and placed in a van by Galen Kelly and others. Kelly sat on his chest with his hand over his mouth to silence him. After travelling only a few blocks, a police car pulled the van over and released the victim, who gave a statement to the police and returned to the Unification Church.

On Feb 9, 1981, Jim Freda was kidnapped in New York by Galen Kelly from the Unification Church.

In March 1981, Volkert Schau was kidnapped in New York by Galen Kelly from the Unification Church.

On April 19, 1981, Kathy and Michael Jones were kidnapped by Galen Kelly from the Unification Church.

On July 2, 1981, Carol Rawlings was kidnapped in New York by Galen Kelly from the Unification Church.

On July 23, 1981, Mary Leslie Conant of New York was abducted by her father, Omar Diaz and a "Jim" and driven to the Palisades Park, New Jersey home of Melba Knabb, the grandmother of Galen Kelly. She was physically forced into an upstairs room and threatened that her leg would be broken if she did not stop struggling. A pillow was placed over her face. She was visited by Kelly daily over the next week while being held against her will in the house being guarded in shifts. On July 29, she was moved to the Three Penny Motel in New Paltz, New York. The next day, after receiving a phone call from the New York State Police and fearing police intervention, Galen Kelly fled from the motel with the guards and Conant escaped.

On October 2, 1982, Maria De Socorro Azevedo of the New York Unification Church was kidnapped by Galen Kelly and others in a van.

On November 19, 1982, Kelly kidnapped David Polcyn in Connecticut. Polcyn escaped in New York on November 24.

On November 26, 1982, Kelly kidnapped Ginger Parkos Saad from her parents home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On January 25, 1983, Kelly was arrested in New Jersey on a warrant from New York City police who charged that he kidnapped Sandy Zimmerman, a 23 year old Unification Church member, from a Manhattan Street. Also arrested were Elizabeth Kelly, Brad Turck, and Betty Zimmerman (the victim's mother). A fifth suspect, Harlan Kilstein of Levittown, New York, a member of the Jewish Defense League, was arrested in New York and was released on his own recognizance.



Although CFF/CAN maintained a public stance of an arm's length relationship with Patrick, who was the most visible deprogrammer who was frequently involved in civil and criminal cases for his kidnapping activities, Patrick was a frequent attendee at CFF conventions, where parents and deprogrammers would network.

Patrick attended the 1981 CFF conference in Tampa Florida. According to an October 10, 1981, article in the St. Petersburg Times, a panel of ex-members of new religions promoted the need for "deprogramming." Patrick, appealing his 1980 San Diego conviction, was in attendance. The article has a picture of Patrick with his book, which heavily promotes kidnapping. Patrick told the paper that he has deprogrammed about 2600 former members, losing 40 who "escaped before we were finished." At this time Patrick was under a court order to not engage in "deprogramming."

At the 1982 CFF national convention in Washington, D.C., Ted Patrick was a featured panelist on "Deprogramming: A Process of Counselling." On that same panel was notorious deprogrammer Galen Kelly. Patrick in his speech referenced being on probation for his conviction for kidnapping in Denver and also having been sued. He also stated that he videotaped all his "deprogrammings" and has thousands of such tapes.

Patrick attended the 1986 CAN Convention in Kansas City and was treated as a returning hero according to an article published on November 3, 1986 by the New York City Tribune . Robert Morton of the New York City Tribune ran into Ted Patrick briefly in the elevator. Patrick told Morton that he had been released from prison on August 5, 1986, and was attending the conference to get re-established.

Patrick was also seen at the 1987 CAN convention in Pittsburgh with his "deprogramming" assistant, Sondra Sacks. After Patrick complained that he was being alienated from CAN, CAN president Ron Loomis made a special mention of him and his work.

The New York City Tribune published a picture of Patrick surrounded by well-wishers at the 1989 CAN convention held in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Similarly, numerous other deprogrammers have attended and spoken at CAN conventions.

A CAN convention typically spans four to five days in the fall with two or three days devoted to workshops or lectures for the membership and guests (usually family members who are interested in having a relative removed from a religious group) and one or two days reserved for the national board to meet and hold board elections.

At these conferences, deprogrammers often give workshops or are part of panel discussions or help with conference duties. Numerous deprogrammers attend as a recruiting ground for their business of "deprogramming."

On October 10-12, 1980 CFF-IS held its annual convention in Chicago, Illinois. Listed on the agenda under "Information Supply" was Irene Serr. On March 17, 1992, former national director of CFF-IS John Myles Sweeney, Jr., signed a declaration which included the following reference to Irene Serr: "Deprogrammers charge thousands of dollars to perform these illegal services. Because of the large amount of money they make due to referrals received from CFF members, deprogrammers usually kick-back money to the CFF member who gave the referral. I recall that some referrals and subsequent kick-backs were made through CFF member Irene Serr."

The 1982 conference was held in Washington, D.C. from October 22-24, 1982. The agenda for Sunday, October 24, at 10:30 a.m. lists a panel entitled, "Deprogramming: A Process of Counselling." Panel members include deprogrammers Steve Hassan, Galen Kelly and Ted Patrick.

The 1983 conference was held in Los Angeles. That conference is mentioned in an article in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune of March 5, 1984, stating, "several dozen deprogrammers met in November at the annual convention of the National Citizens Freedom Foundation to discuss ways of increasing the professionalism of their activities."

In 1984, the conference of Citizens Freedom Foundation Cult Awareness Network was held from October 26-28 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In August of that year, Priscilla Coates, National Director of CFF, sent a letter to friends of "CFF Cult Awareness Network" regarding the upcoming conference. In the letter she states to contact Mary Alice Chrnalogar for travel arrangements. Chrnalogar's mother ran the Chattanooga affiliate.

The Cult Awareness Network held its 1985 National Conference in Dallas, Texas from October 25 through 27. Deprogrammer Mark Blocksom was listed on the agenda as one of the scheduled speakers in a discussion on "My Relative/Friend May Be In a Cult, What Do I Do?"

For the 1986 CAN conference, which took place October 31, and November 1 and 2 in Kansas City, Missouri, deprogrammers Bob Brandyberry and David Clark were scheduled speakers on "Exit Counseling, The Other Side."

A regional conference of the Cult Awareness Network and the American Family Foundation (AFF) was held in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in May 1987. There were numerous deprogrammers attending this event including Bob Brandyberry, David Clark, Mary Alice Chrnalogar, Steve Hassan and Paul Martin.

Among the deprogrammers attending the 1987 conference in Pittsburgh, PA was Joe Szimhart. He was listed on the agenda as a speaker on "Channeling & New Age Groups."

CAN held another regional conference in April of 1988 called, "Dynamics of Coercive Persuasion." Karen Reinhardt is listed on the agenda as conference coordinator.

A copy of a July 8, 1988 proposed schedule for the CAN National Conference held in Portland, Oregon in October of that year stated for October 19th and October 20th, "*Exit Counselors Meeting *(will not post on hotel meeting sign or brochure)." Deprogrammers listed on the program included Dave Clark giving a workshop on "Shepherding: Obedience in the Name of Christ," and Karen Reinhardt speaking on "We, The Affected."

Deprogrammer Joseph Szimhart was listed as an exit counselor and head of a workshop on "New Age Cults" on the agenda of the CAN National Conference held in Teaneck, New Jersey in October and November, 1989. Also in attendance were deprogrammers Mark Blocksom, Galen Kelly, Bob Brandyberry, and Ted Patrick, shown in photos taken at the conference.

The 1990 CAN conference held in Chicago, Illinois, in November, again utilized well-known violent deprogrammers. Karen Reinhardt was listed on the agenda as the moderator of one lecture entitled, "In Their Own Words: Families and Former Cult Members Speak Out." Deprogrammer Galen Kelly was listed as CAN's "group contact" person in charge of CAN's own security, listed on the hotel's convention resume for the conference. Some of the deprogrammers who attended this conference were Joe Szimhart, Rick Ross, Dave Clark, Steve Hassan and Paul Martin.

For the CAN conference held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in November 1991, numerous deprogrammers again were in attendance including Rick Ross, Cliff Daniels, Galen Kelly, Randall Burkey, Mary Alice Chrnalogar, Joe Szimhart, Dave Clark and Joy DeSanctis. At the 1992 CAN convention held in Los Angeles, deprogrammers Rick Ross, Joseph Szimhart, Mary Alice Chrnalogar and Dave Clark were in attendance.

Photos exist of a number of these deprogrammers at the conventions.


In May 1992, a licensed investigator called the Cult Awareness Network's Akron, Ohio affiliate and spoke to Marion Carroll, head of the affiliate. Carroll referred the investigator to deprogrammers Randall Burkey and David Clark as people who could help with involuntary "deprogrammings." She was aware that Burkey was already facing kidnapping charges.

She warned that such kidnapping had legal risks. She stated that she personally knows Ted Patrick as he had deprogrammed her daughter Marsha out of a cult years ago and Marsha had then gone on to work with Patrick for six months as a deprogrammer. She stated that she had formerly been close to deprogrammer Mark Blocksom but had not seen him in years since CAN stopped using him due to his alcohol and drug use.

The investigator then contacted Randall Burkey with the same story. Burkey informed the investigator that he performs counseling but that other people would have to be brought in for the "other parts." He explained that he was under charges for false imprisonment and had to be careful with what he was doing. Burkey referred the investigator to Galen Kelly as someone who could help. He gave the names and phone numbers of Bill Bowan and Jim Rajnic as local parents whom he had helped.

The investigator contacted Bill Bowan of Gallion, Ohio, who is a board member of CAN Columbus. Bowan explained that his daughter had been deprogrammed out of the Campus Crusade for Christ by Randall Burkey and Mary Alice Chrnalogar and that the "deprogramming" had been a detainment rather than kidnapping. Bowan conveyed the attitude throughout the call that CAN and the affiliates were well aware that kidnappings are a routine and acceptable activity in a "deprogramming."

The investigator contacted Jim Rajnic, the second referral from deprogrammer Randall Burkey, who confirmed that his son had been kidnapped out of a neo-Nazi group by Mary Alice Chrnalogar and Randall Burkey in 1988. Mr. Rajnic had been in phone communication with someone at CAN Pittsburgh at some point during this "deprogramming." The son was also taken to the Wellspring Center near Albany, Ohio, directed by CAN National Board member Paul Martin.

On July 30, 1992, the investigator placed a call to the Indiana CAN affiliate and spoke to the director, Verda Alterkruse, who answered the phone. Verda placed a call to Lois Bell in Virginia, whose daughter she helped to get out of The Way International, to get names of referrals. Bell provided the names and phone numbers of "exit counselors" Joe Szimhart, Mary Alice Chrnalogar and Dave Clark. Verda additionally provided the phone number for Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Albany, Ohio, run by Paul Martin.

On September 23, 1992, the investigator talked to CAN member and former CFF board member Shirley Landa who referred him to Lois Bell in Virginia and deprogrammer Rick Ross in Phoenix, Arizona.

The investigator contacted Lois Bell that same day stating International and that he wanted to get him out. Lois' husband Ray came on the line so that the three of them could talk.
Lois stated that they had been involved with CAN since their daughter left The Way in 1979 and indicated that she knew that the "deprogramming" they did with their daughter was not legal.
Lois and Ray knew that the "deprogramming" the investigator wanted done in regards to his brother was technically kidnapping and that the investigator might have to detain his brother illegally.

Lois told the investigator that he could contact Randall Burkey in Ohio and to mention their names. Both Lois and Ray knew that Burkey would be tried in October, and Lois mentioned that the case was about a failed "deprogramming."

In this phone call the investigator was advised that the logistics (of getting his brother out of The Way) could not be done sloppily "because your business and everything could be jeopardized if it isn't done right."

On Oct 14, 1992, the investigator spoke to Ken Connor, a former deprogrammer and former CFF affiliate head living in West Virginia. Connor stated that he couldn't personally get involved in any "deprogrammings" due to a court order, but indicated that he was still connected with CAN and could get the investigator connected up to people who could do the "deprogramming." He gave a graphic description of how the kidnapping is done.

The investigator interviewed Rhode Island private investigator Maurice Dionne, who specializes in "cult investigations" and said he'd been involved in arranging kidnapping/"deprogrammings" for 13 years and was willing to arrange another kidnapping. Dionne, who had passed out his card at the 1990 CAN convention, made numerous references to CAN and deprogrammers affiliated with CAN in this conversation, and described how he works with a CAN deprogramming team to hold victims against their will after they are abducted.


Despite forwarding the position of CAN officers that they know nothing about the activities of deprogrammers, Cynthia Kisser in deposition has made admissions which show the contrary.

In Kisser's deposition in Hart v. CAN (Los Angeles County, CA Superior Court case BC 043 303) on February 18, 1992 she made the following admissions:
  • If a caller specifically asks for data on "deprogramming," they will provide the names of deprogrammers. (Pg. 318.)
  • Kisser admitted that her office has referred callers to Rick Ross and Joe Szimhart. (Pp. 318, 335.)
  • She admitted that deprogrammers Rick Ross, Joe Szimhart, Bob Brandyberry and Ted Patrick advertise or have advertised their services. (Pg. 353)
  • She admitted knowing Bob Brandyberry, Mark Blocksom, and Carmine and Joy DeSanctis (Pp. 343, 501, 502)
  • She admitted to seeing Joe Szimhart and Carmine DeSanctis at CAN conferences and that Szimhart had spoken at a conference. (Pp. 507, 508.)
In deposition on June 24, 1992, in Nordquist v. Zilliox (Cook County, Illinois case 92 L 1447) she admitted the following:
  • That her office has given out names of deprogrammers and that she personally has done so. (Pg. 83.)
  • She admitted that CAN had received donations from deprogrammers in the time period of 1987 to 1989. (Pg. 102)
  • She admitted the Szimhart was a referral name given out. (Pg. 118.)
In the August 12, 1992 deposition of KISSER in Wisel v. CAN (US District Court Northern District California case C 92 0911 SAW) she admitted the following:

  • That she knows Randall Burkey and has given his name as a referral. (Pp. 125, 131)
  • She knows that Mary Alice Chrnalogar is a deprogrammer and may have given her name out as a referral. (Pg. 132)
  • She has given out the name of Joe Szimhart. (Pg. 132)
  • She has given out the name of Bob Brandyberry. (Pg. 133)
In the October 26, 1994 deposition of Marty Butz in Kisser v. Chicago Crusader et al, (Cook County Circuit Court No. 92 L08593), he testified to the following:
  • Butz has made as many as 500 referrals to deprogrammers. (Pg. 20-21)
  • Before going to prison, Galen Kelly had been to CAN a number of times. He primarily dealt with Cynthia Kisser when he came to CAN.
In the September 27, 1994 deposition of Priscilla Coates, head of the Los Angeles chapter of CAN in Scott v. Ross et al (US District Court, Western District of Washington No. 94-0079), she testified to the following:
    She was present when deprogrammer Rick Ross
  • deprogrammed a Branch Davidian, David Block, at her house. (Pg 108)
  • Coates referred many families to Rick Ross; that she referred people to Ross after she learned he was guilty of second-degree conspiracy to commit grand theft, a felony in Arizona. After reading a psychiatric evaluation of Ross which concluded he had sociopathic inclinations, Coates said that knowing this information would not have affected her ability or willingness to people to him. (Pg 155-156, 201-202)
In the September 28, 1994 deposition of Cynthia Kisser, CAN's Executive Director, in Kisser v. Chicago Crusader et al (Cook County Circuit Court, No. 92 L08593), she testified to the following:
    She did not refute the statement she once made that
  • Rick Ross is one of the country's 10 best deprogrammers. (Pg 189-190)
  • Kisser admitted that Galen Kelly is associated with CAN and with crime, having been found guilty of kidnapping. She knew that Ross had been charged with kidnapping and admitted that Kelly and Ross have frequented CAN conventions. Kisser knew of three others who had attended CAN conventions who have been charged with kidnapping; Joe Szimhart, Mary Alice Chrnalogar and Ted Patrick. (Pg 191-194)
  • Kisser admitted that Galen Kelly had received a retainer from CAN and was being paid by CAN while he was in Arizona "visiting" Catherine Lane. (Lane alleged that she was harrassed and intimidated by Kelly in an attempt to silence her). (Pg 209-213)

In summary, the evidence compiled by the CAN Reform Group proves conclusively that CAN has been operating as a kidnapper for hire referral service in violation of the law.

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