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Rick Alan Ross (born 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio, United States as Ricky Alan Ross) works as a consultant, lecturer and intervention specialist, with an interest in exit counseling and deprogramming people from cults. He runs a blog at CultNews.com, and in 2003 founded the Rick A. Ross Institute, which maintains a database about controversial groups that contains press articles, court documents, and essays. He has worked as an expert court witness and as an analyst for the media in cases relating to such groups.
Paul and Ethel Ross adopted Rick Ross in 1953 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Ross family moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1956, where Ross grew up and attended school. Ross completed high school in 1971 and subsequently worked for a finance company and for a bank. In 1974 a court convicted Ross for the attempted burglary of a vacant model home and sentenced him to probation. The following year he was sentenced to five years' probation for his involvement in a jewelry embezzlement scheme at a retail store in Arizona. Ross later said "I had been in trouble as a young man, and I turned my life around ... I never again in my life made another mistake like that." In 1983 the Maricopa County Superior Court vacated both judgments of guilt in the absence of any opposition, dismissed the charges and restored Ross's civil rights. In 1975, Ross began work for a cousin's car-salvage business, eventually becoming company vice-president. He continued working in this field until 1982.
Ross says he first became concerned about controversial religious groups in 1982. Jewish Voice Broadcast, a missionary group founded by an Assembly of God minister named Louis Kaplan, specifically targeted Jews for conversion to Pentecostalism. The group infiltrated the Jewish nursing home where Ross's grandmother lived. After bringing the matter to the attention of the director and of the local Jewish community, Ross successfully campaigned to have the group's activities stopped. He then began working as a volunteer, lecturer and researcher for a variety of Jewish organizations. He worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) appointed him to two national committees focusing on cults and inter-religious affairs. During the 1980s Ross represented the Jewish community on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Arizona Department of Corrections. Later the Committee elected him as its chairman, and he served as chairman of the International Coalition of Jewish Prisoners Programs sponsored by B'nai Brith in Washington D.C. Ross's work within the prison system covered inmate religious rights and educational efforts regarding hate groups. Ross also worked as a member of the professional staff of the Jewish Family and Children's Service (JFCS) and the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) in Phoenix, Arizona.