Cult Awareness Network

From XFamily - Children of God

The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) was originally a clearing house for information about cults. It was founded in 1974 as the Citizen's Freedom Foundation and in the early 1980s changed its name to Cult Awareness Network. Its main mission was to educate the public about the effects of mind control as used by destructive cults, and to provide support to victims of cults and their families. Organizers included cult deprogrammer Ted Patrick, who had previously been involved with the formation of FREECOG, the first organized anti-cult group.

In 1990, an unpaid CAN volunteer in Washington state, Shirley Landa, allegedly referred former Life Tabernacle Church member Kathy Tonkin to cult expert and deprogrammer Rick Ross as someone who could help her deprogram her three children (including two minors and Jason Scott) who refused to leave the cult. Ross later sucessfully deprogrammed her minor children. In 1991, he also unsucessfully attempted to deprogram 18-year-old Jason Scott. Represented by long-time Scientology lawyer Kendrick Moxon, in 1994 Scott filed a civil suit against Ross, CAN and others. Criminal charges were also filed against Ross, who was acquitted of all charges. In September 1995, a jury awarded Scott $5.8 million in the civil suit (including $1.8 million to to be paid by CAN). In 1996, after leaving the Life Tabernacle Church, Scott fired Scientology lawyer Moxon and hired a new lawyer, Graham Berry. In December 1996, he settled with Ross for $5000 and 200 hours of exit counseling. He also planned to settle with CAN. However, by then CAN had already filed for bankruptcy due to the judgment in the Scott case and more than 50 other civil suits plaintiffs represented by Church of Scientology lawyers filed against it. In 1997, Scientologist Steven L. Hayes bought the organization's name and assets at a bankruptcy auction for $20,000.

The new Cult Awareness Network describes itself as "a mediatory organization" whose only agenda "is to help bring people together and keep families, and therefore society strong regardless of religious differences and by any legal, ethical means available to us." Critics describe the new CAN as a front for the Church of Scientology. "This is like Operation Rescue taking over Planned Parenthood. It's a massive fraud upon the public," Herbert Rosedale of the New York law firm Parker Chapin Flattau & Klimpl was quoted as saying in a June 1997 American Lawyer article.

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