On Monday, November 8, 1993, and on Monday, November 15, 1993, NBC aired editions of the Today show which referenced the Unification Church of America (“the Church”). NBC also aired an edition of the Now program, which was essentially a re-run of the first Today show.
Therefore, please be advised that officials of the Unification Church have decided to retain counsel and to file suit in federal court against NBC and the producers of the Today show, together with Peter Heinrich, Cynthia Lilley, Patrick Ryan, Carol Giambalvo, Steve Hassan, and the Cult Awareness Network (CAN).
The cause of action is defamation of the Unification Church. Unification Church officials believe that these programs were maliciously produced in order to undermine the legitimate good standing of the Church as a bonafide religious organization, in order to adversely reflect upon the Church’s honesty and integrity, and in order to impair the Church’s ability to otherwise legitimately function as a bonafide charitable organization.
3. The former national security director of CAN, Galen Kelly, has been convicted, and is currently serving a seven and one quarter year sentence in federal prison, for the kidnapping of a young woman in Virginia in 1992.
Federal prosecutors have at least one additional case pending against Galen Kelly here in New York which also further implicates associates of CAN.
4. CAN has been engaged in the practice of referring callers to hired kidnappers. Former deprogrammer and CAN member, Mark Blocksom, in an affidavit dated July 18, 1992, stated that he received 100 -200 referrals of deprogramming customers from CAN officers and directors. Cynthia Kisser, the executive director of CAN has admitted to referring inquirers to her office to deprogrammers, like Kelly and Blocksom. In return, the deprogrammers pay money for these referrals.
It thus became apparent that Peter Heinrich and Cynthia Lilley adopted this alternative measure to coerce Cathryn to terminate her association with the Unification Church and to extort from Church officials a decision to preclude Cathryn Mazer from associating with the Church. Rather than abducting Cathryn and forcing a deprogramming upon her as first intended, they sought instead to coerce Cathryn to expose herself to the same prospect by an alternative means. In order for them to do so, however, they needed the cooperation of a sympathetic and willing agent, which they found in Ms. Susan Friedman, the Today show producer and ultimately from NBC itself.
Mr. Hassan is a deprogrammer who has received tens of thousands of dollars to deprogram members of new religious faiths. At a CAN conference in New Jersey in 1989, Mr. Hassan described the Catholic Church as “the biggest cult in America.” As a highly paid deprogrammer Hassan has a clear financial stake in perpetuating the myth that members of new religious groups are held under mind control.
During his appearance on the Today show Mr. Hassan refused to allow Dr. Baughman the opportunity to speak. Please be advised that the Unification Church has been reliably informed that NBC paid Steve Hassan’s expenses in coming to New York to appear on this show. Furthermore, Mr. Hassan has publicly boasted of his role on the program and has stated that he was told by NBC to persistently interrupt Dr. Baughman in order to prevent Dr. Baughman from speaking. None of the other participants on this program were treated so unfairly or in such a hostile manner by NBC.