For the first time a judgment has been awarded to the paying client of a cult intervention professional.

A judgment in the amount of $2,000.00 plus court costs was awarded against Patrick L. Ryan, a Philadelphia “Thought Reform Consultant” closely associated with the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), formerly known as the American Family Foundation.

The title “thought reform consultant” is used to describe professionals once called “exit counselors,” a term that historically replaced the most common title given to cult intervention specialists, which is “cult deprogrammer.”

CultNews previously reported that a producer from “Judge Judy” inquired about featuring the then pending litigation on the popular show, but the plaintiff was not interested in making a private matter public, though eventually she did appear within the confines of a courtroom in downtown Philadelphia.

The proceeding that finally took place in February was originally scheduled for December, but was postponed because Ryan was initially a “no show.”

The court ruled specifically regarding the matter of Mr. Ryan refunding a $2,250.00 deposit, which was paid to the plaintiff for work she said was never done.

According to the summary submitted to the court “each time the discussion of cost for the counseling was brought up [Ryan]…couldn’t even give…a clear idea of how long it would take or how much it would cost.” He eventually told his former client that the bill for his services might run “upwards of $10,000.00.”

At this point she decided to terminate their working relationship.

“I felt he just wanted to drag things out so that he could squeeze more and more out of us,” she said.

But getting her deposit back from the thought reform consultant proved to be difficult.

“I asked him if he would send the money back and he said ‘yes,'” she told the court.

However, Ryan never did send her money back and he allegedly “changed his story” every time the plaintiff called.

When his day in court finally came in February Patrick Ryan did not appear personally though counsel represented him. The plaintiff appeared pro se on her own behalf.

Interestingly, despite this seeming imbalance at court the plaintiff prevailed. It seems the judge didn’t believe Ryan’s story and ordered him to pay back all but $250.00 of the deposit plus court costs.

But Mr. Ryan still has not paid back his former client and instead filed an appeal of the judge’s decision late last month.

CultNews contacted Patrick Ryan for comment, but has received no response.

And it seems Mr. Ryan has no meaningful accountability through his professional affiliations.

Ryan belongs to a group of thought reform consultants, which essentially operates under the auspices of the ICSA. Each member of the group supposedly subscribes to “Ethical Standards,” which are sold at the ICSA Web site and posted at the Web page of fellow Thought Reform Consultant Carol Giambalvo.

As CultNews previously reported Ms. Giambalvo recommended Patrick Ryan to the client that later sued him, but then said it was “none of [her] business” when problems arose.

Patrick Ryan apparently violated the very ethical standards he helped to write, which state that “a subscribing consultant recognizes the importance of clear understandings on financial matters with clients. Arrangements for payments are settled at the beginning of the consultation relationship. Each consultant will provide a written and dated schedule of fees to potential clients.”

However, one reason cited by the judge for the subsequent decision against Mr. Ryan was that the thought reform consultant had no “written and dated schedule of fees” nor any formal written agreement whatsoever. And per the complaint by the plaintiff there were no “clear understandings on financial matters.”

After the judgement was ordered against Patrick Ryan CultNews once again contacted Ms. Giambalvo and also Michael D. Langone the Executive Director of the ICSA and that organization’s President Alan W. Scheflin, a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University in California.

They were asked to comment regarding the court’s decision and if they foresaw any consequences through a disciplinary action to be meted out concerning the matter.

There was no response.

But according to the standards penned by Patrick Ryan and his colleague Ms. Giambalvo “when information is possessed that raises doubt as to the ethical behavior of professional colleagues…the member should take action to attempt to rectify such a condition.”

This provision would seem to directly contradict Ms. Giambalvo’s statement that Mr. Ryan’s behavior is somehow “none of [her] business.”

And doesn’t a court judgement against Ryan in favor of his former client raise “doubts as to [his] ethical behavior”?

Shouldn’t Ms. Giambalvo “attempt to rectify” this by getting Mr. Ryan to pay back the money he owes his former client as ordered by the court?

It must be noted that according to the published guidelines a subscribing consultant “voluntarily agrees to abide by a set of ethical standards.”

And it seems that enforcement is likewise not only voluntary, but also apparently arbitrary.

This raises the troubling question of how Ms. Giambalvo and Mr. Ryan, both connected professionally and also organizationally through the ICSA, can be expected to essentially police themselves and/or each other?

Patrick Ryan is the ICSA Webmaster, a member of its Cultic Studies Review Editorial Board and a regular workshop and panel presenter. He also helps to organize and facilitate the organization’s conferences.

Carol Giambalvo is an ICSA board member, director of its recovery programs and often serves as a referral source through that organization for other thought reform consultants.

The Ethical Standards authored by Mr. Ryan, Ms. Giambalvo and others cautions against “dual relationships” with clients, but perhaps this pair should consider their dual relationships through the ICSA?

Is there a conflict of interest here?

Not since the days of the first cult deprogrammer Ted Patrick during the 1970s has any cult intervention professional been sued by a his or her paying client, let alone lost in such an action, resulting in a recorded judgment.

Patrick L. Ryan now has the dubious distinction of being the first.

Note: The judgment against Patrick L. Ryan was recorded at the Philadelphia Municipal Court First Judicial District of Pennsylvania (Claim number SC-04-09-23-6469)

Update: Ryan appealed the judgment. See “‘Cult deprogrammer’ Patrick L. Ryan loses in court again


no comment untill now

Sorry, comments closed.