Let's begin with who Rick Ross really is. Ross violently deprograms people out of their religions after taking them against their will and holding them until they recant their religious beliefs. This is the truth, and this was found true in a recent court case in the state of Washington. A jury found that Ross had violated the civil rights of Jason Scott, who was violently abducted and held against his will for several days. The jury ordered Ross to pay Scott $3.1 million.

Rick Ross and Cult Awareness Network protested the original verdict, and the judge responded with "the Court again notes that there was ample evidence supporting the finding that Mr. Ross acted with the purpose to deprive Mr. Scott of the right to interstate travel due to discriminatory feelings towards his religious affiliation."

The decision also stated, "The Court notes each of the defendants' seeming incapability of appreciating the maliciousness of their conduct towards Mr. Scott. Rather, throughout the entire course of this litigation, they have attempted to portray themselves as victims of Mr. Scott's counsel's alleged agenda. Thus, the large award given by the jury against both CAN and Mr. Ross seems reasonably necessary to enforce the jury's determination on the oppressiveness of the defendants' actions and deter similar conduct in the future."

Rick Ross has been arrested two times, once for grand theft by embezzlement, at which time he broke into a Broadway store in the Valley and stole jewelry valued at $100,000, while threatening to detonate a bomb that he said he was carrying in a bag. Ross was convicted of second-degree grand theft and fined $1,100, with four years' probation. Ross did this while still on probation for an earlier attempted burglary in December 1974.

New Times' article prints information that was supplied to writer Tony Ortega by criminals and ex-members of the Church of Scientology, even after I gave him the true information, both in person and over the telephone.

The Church of Scientology is known internationally for the work that is done in the community. The Scientology religion was founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1951, after Hubbard wrote Dianetics. The full body of Hubbard's works includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures about Dianetics and Scientology. There are tens of millions of individuals whose lives have been demonstrably bettered because L. Ron Hubbard lived.

Locally, in the Valley, the church works with the Salvation Army to provide food to the needy, toys to the Children's Nursery Center, and first-aid supplies to the American Red Cross. As I told Ortega over the telephone, I went to Oklahoma City after the bombing to assist victims along with business owners to get another start. There is not a day that goes by that Scientologists aren't assisting people in our own community and in communities all around the planet. The next time Ortega wants to start bashing someone's religion, he'd better look at who the so-called facts are coming from, because, in this story, he was way off base in listening to a criminal whose only interest is himself, without the regard of another human being.

Ginny Leason,
director of special affairs
Church of Scientology of Arizona

Urchin Message
I am proud that we have a little life in Tempe, a little culture, a little grunge (Screed, Peter Gilstrap, December 7). So, there are happy people in the streets playing drums. What's wrong with that? If the city wants to sterilize everything, maybe we all should wear surgical gloves when we go out. As for panhandlers, they've never hassled me, and I have never heard anything negative from anyone else. I guess the people who run this city can't stretch their imaginations far enough to think what it might be like to have to split from home. As long as these kids don't steal, or get involved with drugs, why should anybody persecute them?

Colleen O'Donnell

December 7's Screed was one of the best columns about the homeless I've read in a long time. In my opinion, they should be able to hang out and crash where they want; it's not like they are hurting something. If they are happy on the streets of Tempe, let them stay! Everyone wants to feel safe and loved and happy. They are happy right where they are, so please, let them stay.


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