Although Rick Ross promotes himself as a professional "cult expert", a review of his educational background shows that quite apart from being anti-Christian (he refers to Christians as "Bible bangers") has no religious educational credentials whatsoever. To the contrary, his only formal education is a high school diploma. Self-aggrandizement and personal financial reward seem to be Ross' primary motive for his attacks on Christians and members of other faiths.

As documented herein, an unbiased review of Ross' activities overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that Ross systematically engages in anti-social and often illegal activity and disguises this in the name of "help." "Deprogramming," which appears to be his main source of income, is such an activity.

Ross specializes in garnering media attention to create fear and suspicion in the family members of individuals in minority religious groups. He then exploits this fear to get them to pay him thousands of dollars in fees to coerce people out of their chosen religious affiliation. Close scrutiny of Ross' "successful" deprogrammings very often finds broken families and dehumanized individuals who were coerced, lied to, brainwashed and degraded by deprogrammers into renouncing their religious beliefs.

Public records reveal that Ross has been the subject of at least three arrests, including an attempted burglary, embezzlement of $100,000 worth of jewelry from a jewelry store, and kidnapping. Two of these arrests resulted in convictions. In the third, Ross' co-conspirators plead guilty to lesser charges while Ross evaded being found guilty. Ross was sued civilly by the victim in the same kidnapping incident and was punished by the jury for over $3 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Although Ross claims in media interviews that his criminal activity ceased with the 1975 jewelry heist, which he brushes off as an act of his youth for which he has taken responsibility, Ross has continued his pattern and practice of criminal activity against others.

For example, in the above mentioned civil kidnapping case, the verdict issued by the jury stated that Ross had:

"acted recklessly in a way that is so outrageous in character and so extreme as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community."
As a further note on Ross' predisposition to criminal behavior and violation of the rights of others, when Ross challenged the finding in the civil kidnapping case, the Court upheld the punitive damages award and observed:

"A large award of punitive damages is also necessary under the recidivism and mitigation aspects of the factors cited in Haslip. Specifically, the Court notes that Mr. Ross himself testified that he had acted similarly in the past and would continue to conduct 'deprogrammings' in the future."
Ross' criminal activity in this kidnapping case single-handedly brought about the demise of the Cult Awareness Network, which was exposed to be a criminal referral network for kidnappers. The jury also issued a finding against CAN for $1.8 million, which bankrupted the group.

Rick Ross' character was further demonstrated when he filed for personal bankruptcy in the face of the $3 million judgment against him. As part of the bankruptcy, Ross discharged a $17,500 debt to his elderly mother.

Despite these arrests and censure from the courts, Ross has not reformed and has continued to commit criminal and anti-social acts. For example he blatantly admits on his web site that he has committed over a dozen involuntary deprogrammings (kidnappings) on adult individuals, mainly Christians, and at least that many more on minors. Ross neatly omits these matters when establishing himself with media and instead focuses only on the 1975 arrests which he attempts to dismiss as "his youth" although he was 22 years old.

The Ross Institute is Ross' latest money scam. The "Institute" is actually a mail drop just across the street from Ross' apartment in Jersey City, which he shares with a Haryonto Soedarpo. Though Ross and Soedarpo have shared the same apartment since at least 1998 in New Jersey and earlier in Phoenix, Soedarpo's role in the Ross Institute is nebulous. Soedarpo, like Ross, has no degree in religious studies or counseling. While Ross promotes the "Institute" as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization and solicits donations from the public, the "Institute" is clearly a front and promotional arm for Ross' deprogramming business.

Ross' Lack of Credentials

One of Ross' claims to fame and legitimacy is that he has acted as a source for the media in stories about "cults" or groups that he wishes to label as such. For example, Ross claims to have acted as a behind-the-scenes "consultant" for the FBI in the Branch Davidian tragedy at Waco, Texas.

Nancy T. Ammerman, a visiting scholar at Princeton University's Center for the Study of American Religion, was one of the outside experts assigned by the Justice Department to evaluate the BATF's (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and FBI's handling of the Branch Davidians. In her September 3, 1993, report on the tragedy to the Justice and Treasury Departments, Dr. Ammerman was particularly critical of the government's consultation of Rick Ross and the now defunct Cult Awareness Network.

Ammerman stated, In their attempt to build a case against the Branch Davidians, BATF did interview persons who were former members of the group and at least one person who had 'deprogrammed' a group member. Mr. Rick Ross, who often works in conjunction with the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), has been quoted as saying that he was 'consulted' by the BATF. ... The Network and Mr. Ross have a direct ideological (and financial) interest in arousing suspicion and antagonism against what they call 'cults.' These same persons seem to have been major sources for the series of stories run by the Waco newspaper, beginning February 27. It seems clear that people within the 'anti-cult' community had targeted the Branch Davidians for attention. Although these people often call themselves 'cult experts,' they are certainly not recognized as such by the academic community.

The activities of the CAN are seen by the National Council of Churches (among others)

"as a danger to religious liberty, and deprogramming tactics have been increasingly found to fall outside the law."
Thus, instead of providing factual data and constructive advice, which might have defused the situation and saved lives, CAN and Ross exploited tensions to further their own anti-religious agenda. In the end, dozens of men, women and children died unnecessarily.

Yet, Rick Ross continues to attempt to profit from spreading lies and hatred against new religions and continues to hold himself forth to the press and public as an "expert." Anyone contacted by Ross or contemplating contacting him for any reason is encouraged to get fully informed regarding Ross' true intentions and background to avoid being taken in by his lies and thus unwittingly furthering his operation.

Continuing Pattern and Practice of Criminal Activity

Rick Ross has a long-term criminal record. The following is by no means a complete picture, and investigation of his criminal activities continues.

On December 22, 1974, Rick Ross and Jeffrey Ward Nuzum attempted to commit a burglary by kicking in the door to a building in Phoenix. They were caught in the act by the Phoenix police and were arrested. Ross was 22 years old at the time and was employed as a bill collector for the American Credit Bureau. He plead guilty to a charge of Conspiracy and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on probation for a period of one year.

On July 23, 1975, at 11:00 p.m., Rick Ross robbed Kay-Bee Enterprises, a jewelry store located in the Broadway department store at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix, Arizona. Ross made off with approximately $50,000 worth of diamonds and "precious paraphernalia" by presenting the clerk at the store with a note demanding the diamonds be placed in a box or Ross would detonate a bomb that he had brought into the store with him. The clerk, Daniel Schroeder, told police that he had followed the robber's instructions and that while the jewelry was valued at $50,000, its retail value was approximately $100,000.

It was later discovered that Ross and Schroeder together had in fact set up the robbery and that they had later split the stolen property. Ross and Schroeder both confessed to the crime after police overheard their conversations in which they bragged about having pulled off the heist.

Ross eventually confessed to the police that he had been discussing this crime with Schroeder for three months prior to the robbery and that during this time, he had associated with many criminals. Ross admitted that previous to the jewelry store robbery, he had bought and used stolen credit cards and had also stolen furniture and appliances from model homes.

Ross and Schroeder were arrested and charged with the crime of Grand Theft by Embezzlement for the jewelry store heist.

Ross' probation from his previous arrest was revoked on July 29, 1975, for failing to conduct himself as a law-abiding citizen. Ross admitted to this violation of his probation in open court on November 17, 1975. His probation was then extended to four years.

Reports attached to court documents relating to the incident show that Ross was described as an individual who has sociopathic inclinations and cannot see that what he does is socially unacceptable and dangerous.

In a plea agreement, on April 2, 1976, Ross was found guilty of Conspiracy, 2nd Degree, to Commit Grand Theft, a felony, and was sentenced to four years probation and a fine of $1,100.

In a civil matter, on May 23, 1979 a suit was filed by Jack Grodzinsky accusing Rick Ross of having ripped him off based on an agreement that Ross would repair two cars that Grodzinsky paid for. The Court ruled against Ross and ordered him to pay Grodzinsky $8,464.65, including his legal fees. Ross presumably paid this off from his earnings in the deprogramming business.

Also in 1979, another lawsuit was filed against Ross, this one for failure to repay a loan to his own aunt for $4,000. Ross had borrowed the money from his relatives, David and Emma Katz, on November 10, 1977, and when their attempts to collect on the loan failed, they filed suit.

In the 1980s, Ross became involved in a new scheme to make money. He became involved with a network of criminal deprogrammers called the Cult Awareness Network. In a letter from Rick Ross to the Cult Awareness Network executive director, Priscilla Coates, dated July 30, 1987, Ross complained about not getting deprogramming referrals from CAN and that

"some parents are so cheap they prefer to let their kids 'bang the bible' than pay."
This letter clearly shows that Ross was using CAN to drum up business for his personal benefit, it also shows his demeaning contempt for Christians.

In another letter from Ross to Coates, dated April 28, 1988, Ross describes his strategy to manipulate the media to promote his business as a deprogrammer. He told Coates about his idea to get on television as someone that:

"had deprogrammed fundamentalist Christians" in order to "stimulate some [deprogramming] cases in California."
Rick Ross' criminal activity extends to the violent kidnapping of Christians. One particular kidnapping incident occurred on January 18, 1991. Jason Scott, an 18 year-old member of a Pentecostal Church in Bellevue, Washington, drove to his family home in Bellevue. At the front door, Jason was jumped by three men hired by Ross who wrestled him to the ground and dragged him inside. The three men were Mark Workman, Chuck Simpson, and Clark Rotroff.

Jason's mother, Kathy Tonkin, who was also in the house, came outside and told witnesses watching the incident that Jason was going to be okay 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, including Rick Ross, climbed into the van, where Jason was pinned face down by Clark's knee in his back and a nylon strap placed around his ankles. Clark, who told Jason to "stop praying and shut up", fastened a strip of two-inch duct tape over Jason's mouth. Jason was not allowed to look out of the van windows to see where he was being taken.

The kidnappers 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 kidnappers proceeded to ridicule Jason's religious beliefs. The next morning, the kidnapper's brainwashing procedure began again. 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.

On January 22, Jason learned that he was at Ocean Shores, Washington. When Jason broke into tears at one point in the barrage by his captors, the kidnappers assumed that they had succeeded in "breaking" his faith in his religion.

On January 23, Jason observed his mother on the phone scheduling plane tickets for Jason to go to Wellspring "Rehabilitation Center" in Ohio and for the kidnappers to return to Phoenix. Wellspring has been called "a concentration camp for Christians." It is run by psychologist Paul Martin who receives individuals and keeps them there until their faith is "broken."

On January 23, the kidnappers took Jason to eat at the Home Port Restaurant to celebrate Jason's "deprogramming" from the Pentecostal Church. Jason fled across the street and called the police. A policeman arrived, took Jason's story, and put him in the back of his jeep. This is described in detail in the police report made by Jason Scott and in a separate report written by Jason about the incident, entitled, "Testimony of Jason Scott".

Mark Workman and Chuck Simpson were arrested that day. Rick Ross once again evaded criminal charges but he was the recipient of a civil suit for the attempted deprogramming.

In 1994, Scott filed a civil lawsuit against Ross (and including the Cult Awareness Network) for the "involuntary deprogramming" for Conspiracy to violate his civil rights as well as Outrage and Negligence.

A jury found Ross and the other defendants liable for civil rights violations and negligence. The victim, Jason Scott, was awarded $875,000 in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages. An additional award of $1 million in punitive damages was levied against the Cult Awareness Network. CAN lost their appeals and later filed bankruptcy and closed down its operation.

Instead of honoring the court judgments resulting from his criminal behavior in the Jason Scott case, Ross filed for bankruptcy. This even included disposing of a $17,500 debt to his own elderly mother.

Ross appears to be without remorse for his acts of kidnapping and involuntary imprisonment, which are crimes as well as human rights violation. In his own words, Ross admits to the illegal kidnapping at least 12 adults since the "wrongdoing" he engaged in in his twenties.

In an August 2003 news article, Ross answered allegations of his lack of credibility due to his previous convictions, including conspiracy to commit grand theft for embezzlement of property from a jewelry company, by stating:

"I regret what I did in my youth. I admitted my wrongdoing and restored everything to those who lost something."
Ross omitted mention of the Jason Scott kidnapping and two dozen other kidnappings for which charges or suits were not filed.

On his web site, Ross justifies his actions and uses it as part of his sales pitch:
"Have you ever done involuntary deprogramming?""Yes. I have personally been involved in about two dozen involuntary cases. However, about half of those cases involved minors under the direct supervision of their custodial parent. And as Steve Hassan, who also once engaged in such involuntary efforts recognized, "Forcible intervention [was only used] as a last resort if all other attempts fail[ed]." - Rick Ross
In a notable example of Ross' doublespeak, he redefines defense of the constitutional right to individual liberty as "harassment of professionals" involved in kidnapping:

"If you are sympathetic to the families that do involuntary interventions, why don't you continue to do such work?"

"It is no longer possible for me - because as one cult intervention professional observed, 'the truth is that [involuntary] deprogramming is extremely risky in legal terms'. Specifically, destructive cults, groups and leaders today often maintain teams of lawyers to harass professionals involved in such work. I cannot afford the expense and time to fight these efforts." - Rick Ross
On August 6, 2003, NXIVM Corp. filed a multi-million dollar suit against Ross for trademark infringement in connection with Ross' complicity in violating the group's trademarks.

Mental Instability

Ross has an extensive history of mental instability and dangerous conduct dating back to childhood, which psychiatrists concluded stems from his anti-social, manipulative behavior and his sexual problems.

A report on Rick Ross dated March 29, 1967, by Dr. Harold McNeely, a clinical psychologist, describes Ross' mental and emotional problems as a child.

A September 10, 1975, report from Dr. Jerome J. Kaye, stated that Rick Ross had been under his care from 1957 through September 1971. In 1965, at age 10, Ross was put on the psychiatric drugs "Deaner" and "Librium" which he took daily in an attempt to suppress his anti-social behavior.

A November 26, 1975, report by Dr. Thomas O'Brien states that Ross is "an opportunist" and that during Ross' second jailing, he showed "many signs of serious psychological decompensation". Apparently during his second jailing (for the jewelry theft) Ross made a serious suicide attempt.

The January 14, 1976, "Pre-sentence Investigation" of Rick Ross for the jewelry store embezzlement describes the July 23,1975, incident and states that he has spent six weeks in jail since being arrested. Ross stated that he was seeking help from the Fillmore Mental Clinic.

This report recommended Ross serve a maximum term in the state prison. A March 25, 1976, Arizona State Hospital report on Rick Ross by Dr. Domiclano E. Santos states that Ross sought help at the Fillmore Mental Health Services because of "anxiety, depression and sexual problems."

Dr. Domiclano reports that he saw Ross as:

"an arrogant, self-centered individual with some hostile tendencies" and as "an individual who has sociopathic inclinations"
He further stated that:

"Ricky has a personality disturbance which started even as a child. & He does not seem to profit from his past experiences and cannot realize that he has a responsibility to society to control his behavior & [H]e does not seem to identify himself with society and its laws, and believes that punishments are an injustice."
The "Intervention" Con

The con job perpetrated by so-called "deprogrammers" on the public goes like this: After frightening their marks with vicious, blatant lies about a family member's religious beliefs, "deprogrammers" insist the parishioner in question must be "deprogrammed" or suffer dire consequences at the hands of their religion. In this way they manage to extort thousands of dollars in fees from a now-desperate family.

For these "services," Rick Ross came highly recommended by the Cult Awareness Network, whose executive director touted him as one of the half-dozen "best" deprogrammers. Through violence and intimidation, Ross and his cohorts kidnapped parishioners of various faiths and held them for days against their will in an effort to force them to recant their religious beliefs. By the time Ross and CAN were finally called to account for their actions in a court of law, the damage to the individuals and their families was devastating.

From all outward indications, the Ross Institute is performing precisely the same function as the old Cult Awareness Network. By promoting intolerance and hatred on the Internet and to the media, Ross attempts to establish himself as a "credible source" for at least one gossip columnist, Jeannette Walls at This in turn promotes his deprogramming business.

The death of Deborah L. Malone

Jacobsen associate & Ross client commits suicide

"Debbie has progressed greatly over these past few years. She has become stronger and continued to be involved in a counseling program."

- Rick Ross, Debbie's "Counselor"
The truth is Debbie is dead. On January 28, 2002, Deborah L. Malone (formerly Christensen) - a friend and associate of Jeff Jacobsen and a former client of Rick Ross - took a deliberate overdose of anti-depressants and narcotic painkillers, and died seated in her car at a lakeshore. She left a suicide note in her vehicle. The only explanation the medical examiner could find for her suicide was her complaint of depression. Debbie was 35 years-old.

Jeff Jacobsen was a member of a so-called anti-cult group that Christensen founded in Arizona in the late 1980's, several years after she ended her involvement in her parent's religion. During this period, Jacobsen hooked up with convicted jewel thief Rick Ross and became involved in Ross's newest profiteering enterprise, "exit counseling" - a euphemism used by deprogrammers to legitimize the days and sometimes weeks of mental and physical abuse that they force on individuals in an effort to force them to give up their faith.

Jacobsen was anxious to turn his hatred of religious groups into a career and, while a member of Christensen's group, wrote to the old Cult Awareness Network apparently looking to advance himself within the network of anti-religious hate groups. At that time, CAN President was Michael G. Rokos, who was convicted in 1982 of attempting to solicit sex from a young male police officer who was posing as a teenage prostitute. In his 1989 correspondence with Rokos, Jacobsen cited such stellar academic credentials as having completed "5 hours of independent study on brainwashing and conversion," and field work comprised almost entirely of "having chased Moonies out of the K-Mart parking lot."

Jacobsen and others attempted to expand Christensen's group to include attacks on numerous religions but Christensen insisted on confining the group to its original purpose. Still Jacobsen and Ross remained closely involved with Christensen. In a 1992 affidavit, Ross claims that, shortly after they met in 1988, Debbie Christensen sought counseling from him and that Ross spent "many hours" counseling her and her husband, Carl. Debbie also received psychiatric counseling, and a newspaper article hailing her alleged "recovery" still appears on Ross's website.

"My net impression," Ross swore in his affidavit:
"is that she [Debbie] has confronted her pain and problems in an effort to face them and become better. She seems to have succeeded."
By 2002, after years of such "counseling," and whatever poor assistance "friends" like Ross and Jacobsen chose to offer, Debbie took her life, having used her psychiatric drugs and narcotic painkillers for the only thing they proved good for.