Two more Fargo Master Path followers [talk with] 'deprogrammer'

The Forum (Fargo-Moorhead)/July 24, 1990
By Paul G. White

Two more Fargoans have [spent time] with Rick Ross, a cult deprogrammer from Phoenix, Arizona, in a successful effort to [to better inform them about] a group called The Master Path, Ross said Monday.

Ross, who has recently worked with three other young Fargo residents to separate them from the Detroit Lakes, Minnesota-based group, said he deprogrammed Naomi Thompson, 19, and [met with] Dan Haugh, 17, both of Fargo.

This was Ross's third trip to Fargo to help people leave what he terms a "destructive cult."

In June, Ross deprogrammed Brock Satter and Beth Silver, both 19, after their parents commissioned his services. He returned to Fargo in July to work with Fargoan Jill Hutchinson, 23. However, Hutchinson's deprogramming session was disrupted during the fourth day when her 23-year-old boyfriend, Andy Haugh, another Master Path follower, called authorities [Note: both Hutchinson and Andy Haugh left the group some months later].

Ross said he was hired by Thompson's parents, Jan and Norris, to draw her away from the teachings of Gary Olsen, the spiritual leader of The Master Path, who spends summers in Detroit Lakes and winters at his home in Glendora, California.

"I want to stress that during this trip [to Fargo], I brought no security with me and that this deprogramming was totally on a voluntary basis," Ross said. "Naomi to leave at any time."

Ross spent two days with Thompson and [spoke] with Dan Haugh, who is Andy Haugh's younger brother.

"Dan Haugh voluntarily attended a session with his mother's consent and stated he does not want to be involved with the group," Ross said.

Olsen has denied that his group is a cult and says his followers are spiritual truth seekers.

But Ross, who has been working with cult group victims since 1981, said he has "absolute proof that Gary Olsen is the leader of a destructive cult."

He said he has letters and discourses written and signed by Olsen that provide the "proof" that The Master Path attempts to quell the minds of its followers and strips them of their personalities.

Ross, 37, is considered to be one of the top deprogrammers in the nation and has been featured on several nationally syndicated talk shows.

"Deprogramming is intervention in a crisis situation," Ross said. "It is comparable to a drug intervention; but in this case instead of drugs I am dealing with the effects of Olsen's discourses."

He said followers of The Master Path are taught that the mind and emotions are to be ignored and that they should follow the master (Olsen) without question.

He added that Olsen's discourses denigrate Christianity and claim that other religions are limited in scope.

Ross said that within Olsen's publication, "A Profile of the Master Path," Olsen claims the teachings of Jesus Christ "were relegated and interpreted through the physical and mental senses, and lost all of their divinity."

And because Christ is no longer alive, "Christianity has no Living Master in which to initiate the true seeker," the profile states.

Olsen claims to be a Living Master or on the same level with Christ, Ross said.

"It's obvious to me that Gary Olsen is a very dangerous man," Ross said.

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