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Wednesday, January 19, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Pacific Northwest

`Cult Buster' Acquitted In Abduction

Seattle Times Staff: Seattle Times News Services

ABERDEEN - "Cult buster" Rick Ross shouted for joy yesterday after a Grays Harbor Superior Court jury acquitted him of unlawfully imprisoning an 18-year-old Bellevue man to deprogram him of his religious beliefs.

The jury deliberated just two hours.

Ross, a nationally known opponent of cults, had been accused of abducting Jason Scott from his mother's home Kirkland in January 1991 and holding him against his will in a house on the Washington coast for five days.

His defense lawyer, Jeff Ranes, argued that Ross of Phoenix, Ariz., was hired to deprogram Scott but that others who restrained Scott were not under Ross's control.

Scott's mother, Kathy Tonkin, had hired Ross to deprogram her son because she thought he had been brainwashed by the Life Tabernacle Church, a United Pentecostal church in Bellevue.

Two other men in the case were sentenced yesterday. Mark W. Workman, 39, of Sedona, Ariz., and Charles Simpson, 46, of Phoenix, had pleaded guilty last week to reduced charges of coercion. They were sentenced to one-year jail terms with all but 30 days suspended.

Clark Rotroff of Flagstaff, Ariz., testified for the state and was not charged.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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