Supreme Court Denies Appeal By Anti-Cult Group

Reuters/March 22, 1999

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected an appeal by an anti-cult group that has been held liable for abducting a Pentecostal Christian church member in a bid to"deprogram" him.

The high court without any comment or dissent let stand a ruling that upheld the award of $1 million in punitive damages and $875,000 in actual damages against the Cult Awareness Network in the case of Jason Scott.

Rick Ross, one of the defendants and a "deprogrammer" who was hired by Scott's mother, tried to get Scott to renounce his membership [and break the influence of Harold Kern pastor]of the Life Tabernacle Church, a branch of the United Pentecostal Church International.

The anti-cult group was held responsible for the act of one of its unpaid volunteers, who referred Ross to Scott's mother.

A federal appeals court [in a controversial decision] upheld the damage award last year. In its Supreme Court appeal, lawyers for the anti-cult group said, "A decision that silences the message of an advocacy organization has serious nationwide consequences."

But [Scott's former attorneys] urged the Supreme Court to deny the appeal, dismissing the anti-cult group's argument as "factually and legally without merit."

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