Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:32 pm

Scientologists Convicted of Fraud in France
by Dorothee Moisan
October 27, 2009


PARIS — French judges fined the Church of Scientology almost a million dollars on Tuesday for fleecing vulnerable followers but stopped short of banning the group from operating in France.

Scientology's Celebrity Centre and its bookshop in Paris, the two branches of its French operations, were ordered to pay 600,000 euros (900,000 dollars) in fines for preying financially on several followers in the 1990s.

Alain Rosenberg, the French leader of a movement best known for its Hollywood followers Tom Cruise and John Travolta, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined 30,000 euros on the same charge of fraud.

Five more Scientologists were give fines ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 euros for fraud or the illegal practice of pharmacy.

France regards Scientology as a cult, not a religion, and has prosecuted individual Scientologists before, but this case marks the first time the organisation as a whole has been convicted.

"Religious freedom is in danger in this country," declared Celebrity Centre spokesman Eric Roux after the verdict, urging France to recognise a movement that claims 45,000 followers in the country.

The Church of Scientology said it was the victim of a politically-motivated "witchhunt" and its lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve announced he would appeal.

But a statement from the group also said the court, by stopping short of an outright ban, had acknowledged that "there is a large community of Scientologists who are happy to practice their religion".

The Paris case followed a complaint by two women, one of whom says she was manipulated into handing over 20,000 euros in 1998 for Scientology products including an "electrometer" to measure mental energy.

A second claims she was forced by her Scientologist employer to undergo testing and enroll in courses, also in 1998. When she refused she was fired.

The Scientologists were ordered to publish the Paris court's ruling in half a dozen newspapers and magazines in France and abroad.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Olivier Morice, welcomed "a historic decision" that would help "future victims to be warned about the methods of Scientology".

Prosecutors initially asked the court to order a ban on the movement's French operations.

But last month the court was alerted to a little-noticed legal change voted in by parliament in May, the month the trial began, which barred judges from dissolving an organisation convicted of fraud.

Although this rule change has since been dropped, it forced the court to downgrade its sentence in the Scientology case.

Critics of Scientology had accused it of "infiltrating" the National Assembly to lobby for the legal change -- a charge they angrily denied.

The head of France's interministerial body on cults, Georges Fenech, said the ruling was an important milestone, but said he was sorry that judges were prevented from tougher action.

"I strongly regret that the law was changed discreetly during the trial, just before the trial, without anyone knowing," he told France 24 television.

But Judge Sophie-Helene Chateau argued "a very heavy fine" would be more effective than a ban that would risk driving the group underground.

Catherine Picard, of the anti-cult pressure group UNADFI called it "a fairly subtle and intelligent judgment that will undermine the organisation and allow greater control over it".

Founded in 1954 by US science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology is recognised as a religion in the United States and claims a worldwide membership of 12 million.

But officials in France, Germany, Greece, Russia and elsewhere accuse it of tricking vulnerable members out of large sums.

The French ruling marks a new chapter in a global battle over the group's image, one that forced Wikipedia to block known Scientologists from editing entries at the communally-crafted online encyclopedia earlier this year.

"We will not give up," the movement said in a statement after the verdict. "We believe that no one has the right to tell the French people what to think and what to believe on matters of religion."

Copyright © 2009 AFP.
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:34 pm

Scientology: Anatomy of a Frightening Cult
by Eugene H. Methvin
Reader's Digest
May 1980

In the late 1940s, pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard declared, "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."

Hubbard *did* start his own religion, calling it the "Church of Scientology," and it has grown into an enterprise today grossing an estimated $100 million a year worldwide. His churches have paid him a percentage of their gross, usually ten percent, and stashed untold riches away in bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere under his and his wife's control. Surrounded by aides who cater to his every whim, he reportedly lives on church-owned property, formerly a resort, in Southern California.

Scientology is one of the oldest, wealthiest -- and most dangerous -- of the major "new religions" or cults operating in America today. Some of its fanatic operatives have engaged in burglary, espionage, kidnapping and smear campaigns to further their goals. Says Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Banoun, who directed a massive investigation that resulted in conspiracy or theft convictions of nine top Scientology officials in Washington, D.C., last October: "The evidence presented to the court shows brazen criminal campaigns against private and public organizations and individuals. The Scientology officials hid behind claims of religious liberty while inflicting injuries upon every element of society."

In 1950, Hubbard, then 39, published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. In 1954 he founded the first Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C. By 1978 the organization claimed 38 U.S. churches, with 41 more abroad, and 172 "missions" and 5,437,000 members worldwide. These claims are highly doubtful; critical observers have estimated a hard core of around 3000 full-time staff and no more than 30,000 adherents in the United States.

Even so, Hubbard may live more regally than did the Maharajah of Jaipur, whose 30-room mansion and 57-acre estate in England Hubbard bought in the late 1950s as "world headquarters" for his growing movement. His retinue includes young women, known officially as "messengers," who light his ever-present cigarettes and catch the ashes. They record every word he says, including his frequent obscene outbursts of rage. They help him out of bed in the morning, run his shower, dress him. They scrub his office for a daily "white glove" inspection and rinse his laundry in 13 fresh waters. (Former members say he erupts volcanically if he sniffs soap on his clothes.)

Hubbard attracts and holds his worshipful followers by his amazing capacity to spin out an endless science-fiction fantasy in which he is the supreme leader of a chosen elite. He tells them he is a nuclear physicist who was severely wounded while serving with the U.S. Navy in World War II. "Taken crippled and blinded" to a Naval hospital, he claims to have "worked his way back to fitness and full perception in less than two years." In the process, he developed the "research" that led him to discover "Dianetics" and Scientology, the answers to most of mankind's ills.

The truth is something else. Hubbard did take a college course in molecular and atomic physics, which he flunked. He served in the Navy, but Navy records do not indicate he saw combat or was ever wounded. He was discharged and later given a 40-percent disability pension because of an ulcer, arthritis and other ailments. About this time he was petitioning the Veterans Administration for psychiatric care to treat "long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations." He was also arrested for petty theft in connection with checks. When he wrote to the FBI that communist spies were after him, an agent attached a note to one of his letters: "Make 'appears mental' card."

Since Dianetics, Hubbard's bizarre "philosophy" has expanded into a 25-million-word collection of books, articles and tape-recorded lectures. Hubbard claims to have traced human existence back 74 trillion years, suggesting it began on Venus. Today's earthlings are material manifestations of eternal spirits who are reincarnated time and again over the eons. But, Hubbard claims, our earthly troubles often result from ghostly mental images which he calls "engrams" -- painful experiences either in this life or in former incarnations.

Hubbard's original book created a sensation; he claimed to have "cleared" 270 cases of engrams, thus greatly increasing the subjects' I.Q.s and curing them of assorted ills from arthritis to heart troubles. Later Hubbard said that Scientology eradicated cancer and was the only specific cure for atomic-bomb burns.

To detect engrams, Hubbard adopted a battery-powered galvanometer with a needle dial wired to two empty tin cans. Charging $150 an hour, a Scientology "minister" audits a subject by having him grip the tin cans and answer detailed questions about his present or past lives. The needle's gyrations supposedly detect the engrams. By causing the subject to "confront" the engrams, the minister claims to "clear his memory bin," thus raising both body and mind to a superhuman state of "total freedom."

The Scientology auditor also carefully records any intimate revelations, including sexual or criminal activities or marital or family troubles. According to the church's own documents and defectors' affidavits, such records are filed for blackmail purposes against any member (or member's family) who becomes a "potential trouble source" by threatening to defect, go to the authorities, or generate hostile publicity.

Of course, new prospects are never asked to swallow the whole ridiculous story at first gulp; they get it in timed-release capsules. The process transforms them into what one who went through it calls a "robot-like" state.

Typical was the experience of 17-year-old Julie Christofferson, a high-school honors graduate who was invited by an acquaintance -- actually a shill -- to take a "communications course." (The church advertises that these "field-staff members" get ten-percent commissions on all money their recruits pay.) Unknowingly, Julie hooked herself onto a mind- scrambling conveyor belt of hypnotic "training routines" developed by Hubbard. The recruit, cynically referred to as "raw meat," sits knee to knee with a "coach" for hours, her eyes closed. Next she sits, eyes open, for hours. Then the coach tries to find "emotional buttons." Hours of commands follow: "Lift that chair." "Move that chair." "Sit in that chair."

As Margaret Thaler Singer, a University of California psychologist who interviewed Julie and over 400 former members of cults, observes, "These routines can split the personality into a severe, dissociated state, and the recruits are hooked before they realize what is happening."

Julie found that the next step, auditing, continued to erase the boundary between reality and fantasy. In this phase, Julie exhausted all $3000 of her college savings. Then she was told she could take college-level courses while going "on staff" and working full time to recruit and process new raw meat. She ended up working 60 to 80 hours a week, at a maximum salary of $7.50. She had now reached the "robot-like" state.

Julie felt superior, one of the chosen elite of this universe. She was one of the faithful who are promised they will "go with Ron to the next planet." Thus, they are conditioned to the "us against them" outlook that characterizes so much religious and political fanaticism.

Julie Christofferson was among the lucky, however. After nine months, her parents removed her from the cult and snapped her out of her zombie-like trance. Last August, a Portland, Ore., jury found the church's conduct so fraudulent and outrageous that it awarded her $2,067,000.20 in damages.

Less fortunate was Anne Rosenblum, who spent nearly six years in Scientology. During her last 15 months she was in the church's punishment unit, the "Rehabilitation Project Force." There, prisoners are guarded constantly, never left alone or allowed to speak to any outsider without permission. They eat leftovers, sleep on the floor, and fill their days with strenuous physical and menial labor, classroom study of Ron's works and grueling auditing to detect "crimes against Ron" in "this or past lives."

As defectors have attested, subjects become hysterical and psychotic in their auditing. Then they are locked in isolation. Not surprisingly, suicides occur. Last January in Clearwater, Fla., for example, a Scientology member hurled herself into the bay and drowned.

Through the years, Hubbard has continually added new grades and "levels" of belief. The "clearing course" costs $3812, but to get to the highest level, the devotee shells out $14,295. Hubbard has punctuated his policy letters to staff with exhortations to MAKE MONEY, MAKE MORE MONEY, MAKE OTHER PEOPLE PRODUCE SO AS TO MAKE MONEY. When numbers of recruits and receipts fall off, Hubbard orders staffers onto a diet of rice and beans.

But revenues appear to have been consistently high. In 1974 the church spent $1.1 million for an old Jesuit novitiate in Oregon. In 1976 the IRS turned up $2.86 million in cash aboard Hubbard's 320-foot flagship Apollo. Moving secretly, the church paid another $8 million for a hotel and other properties in Clearwater, Fla. A top Hubbard lieutenant who recently defected has attested that the Clearwater organization alone last year was grossing as high as $1 million per week.

In 1966 Hubbard created his own "intelligence" organization, called the "Guardian Office" (GO). He had convinced himself that a "central agency" was behind attacks against Scientology, and his suspicion focused on the World Federation for Mental Health. "Psychiatry and the KGB operate in direct collusion," he declared. He seemed to think they worked through the FBI, CIA, various newspapers and other groups. He named his third wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, to direct his own counterattack from the Los Angeles headquarters. She defined the GO's objective: "To sweep aside opposition sufficiently to create a vacuum into which Scientology can expand."

The GO training program included instructions in how to make an anonymous death threat to a journalist, smear an antagonistic clergyman, forge phony newspaper clips, plan and execute burglaries. Public-relations spokesmen were drilled on how to lie to the press -- "to outflow false data effectively." A favorite dirty trick: making anonymous phone calls to the IRS, accusing enemies of income-tax cheating and thereby inducing the IRS to audit them. Big targets were organizations that investigated Scientology or published unfavorable articles about it -- newspapers, Forbes magazine, the American Medical Association, Better Business Bureau and American Psychiatric Association.

Individuals were also targeted. In 1971 Paulette Cooper, a New York free-lance writer, published a book called The Scandal of Scientology. The church responded with an elaborate campaign of litigation, theft, defamation and malicious prosecution. She got death-threatening phone calls. According to church documents later revealed, this campaign was aimed at "getting P.C. incarcerated in a mental institution or in jail."

It came incredibly close. Miss Cooper and her publisher were sued in several U.S. cities and foreign countries. In order to call off the Scientology legal war, her publisher agreed to withdraw the book. "It just wasn't worth the legal expenses," he explained.

The worst thrust, Miss Cooper says, came after a Scientology agent stole some of her stationery, faked bomb-threat letters and framed her. She was indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of making bomb threats. She went through two years of torment until she volunteered to take a Sodium Pentothal "truth" test. Only after she passed did the government drop the charges. Defending herself cost her $28,000.

In 1976 the FBI discovered that two Scientology agents were using forged credentials to rummage through a Justice Department office at night, and thereby uncovered the tip of a widespread espionage operation in Washington. One agent, Michael Meisner, after nearly a year as a fugitive, offered to cooperate with the government. Meisner said that in 1974 Scientology had mounted an all-out attack on U.S. government agencies the church thought were interfering with its operations. He himself supervised Washington operations. With another agent, he broke into the IRS photographic- identification room and forged the credentials that they used to enter various government buildings, steal and copy keys left carelessly on desks, pick locks, and steal and copy government files.

With Meisner's testimony, the FBI obtained search warrants and, on July 8, 1977, raided Scientology headquarters in Washington and Los Angeles. Agents in Los Angeles seized 23,000 documents, many stolen from the U.S. government, plus burglar tools and electronic-surveillance equipment. The scope of the espionage operation was staggering. In a Justice Department agency, a Scientology employee-plant actually worked in a vault containing top-secret CIA and defense documents. Other Scientologists entered on nights and weekends and ransacked offices, including the Deputy Attorney General's, stealing highly secret papers and copying them on government copiers.

On October 26, 1979, nine high Scientology officials stood before a federal judge and were found guilty of theft or conspiracy charges arising from their plot against the government. Heading the list was Mary Sue Hubbard, 48, who had supervised the operation. Hubbard himself and 24 other Scientologists were named as unindicted co-conspirators.

Since the convictions, many former Scientologists have come forward to tell stories they had previously kept secret for fear of Hubbard's Guardians. In Boston, attorney Michael Flynn has filed a $200-million federal class-action suit for fraud, outrageous conduct and breach of contract on behalf of a former Scientologist and others who have been abused by the cult.

But Hubbard and his Scientologists have not been deterred. After last fall's convictions, they issued an appeal for volunteers for the Guardian counterattack, "to ferret out those who want to stop Scientology."

The lessons of Hubbard's Church of Scientology are many. As history demonstrates, when a fanatical individual employing powerful communication skills gathers an entourage of followers, infects them with his own delusion, persuades them that the outside world is hostile and they alone can save the world, and exacts blind obedience, the collective may break the fabric of civilized restraints and descend into terrifying crimes. Convictions, seized church documents, stipulated evidence and defectors' affidavits demonstrate that Scientologists have already indulged in burglary, espionage, blackmail, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and conspiracies to steal government documents and to obstruct justice; some have committed suicide. The parents of a teen-age girl, after following her into Hubbard's entourage for several weeks, issued an urgent appeal last January to help prevent "what we believe could be another mass murder or suicide."

Above all, the 20th-century record of leader-cults demonstrates that such collectives need watching. Nothing in our legal tradition requires us to shut our eyes to a racket religion simply because it masquerades and claims immunity under our First Amendment. As the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson pointed out, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:38 pm

Part 1 of 2

Scientology: Is This a Religion?
by Stephen A. Kent, Ph.D.
The revised and corrected version of a shorter presentation given at the 27th Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag, June 20, 1997, Leipzig, Germany
July 1, 1997

Stephen A. Kent (Ph.D.)
Department of Sociology
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA
T6G 2H4


Although some social scientists insist that Scientology is a religion, the more appropriate position to take is that the organization is a multi-faceted transnational that has religion as only one of its many components. Other components include political aspirations, business ventures, cultural productions, pseudo-medical practices, pseudo-psychiatric claims, and (among its most devoted members who have joined the Sea Organization), an alternative family structure. Sea Organization's job demands appear to allow little time for quality child rearing. Most disturbing, however, about Sea Organization life is that members can be subject to extremely severe and intrusive punishments through security checks, internal hearings called "Committees of Evidence," and a forced labour and reindoctrination program known as the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) and its harshest companion, the RPF's RPF. Taken together, these harsh and intrusive punishments likely violate a number of human rights clauses as outlined by two United Nations statements.

June 30, 1997


Rarely, if ever, in the post-war period have diplomats from the superpowers troubled themselves over questions about the alleged religious nature of a transnational organization. Consequently, the current debate between Germany and the United States over the alleged religious nature of Scientology is remarkable, and probably unique in recent history. The fact that German officials, institutions, and citizens are seeking additional information about this organization is commendable, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share insights that may help to clarify the issues in this debate.

For the record, I did not have any contact with German parliamentary officials as I was preparing my talk. For about ten minutes I spoke by telephone with one German professor who is involved with the current discussion about the organization, but we only touched briefly on issues related to Scientology. The German Kirchentag paid my air fare and my hotel in Leipzig, and Berliner Dialog is covering some of my expenses, but they are not paying me a fee or honorarium. I prepared my talk while in Canada, and did not consult with anyone in Germany or elsewhere about its content. I had complete freedom to write whatever I wanted around the general topic of the debate about Scientology's religious claims.

As a person trained in religious studies, I find the debate about Scientology's alleged religious nature to be an interesting and important one. It should not be, however, the only issue over which we evaluate the German-American debate over Scientology's religious claims. Intimately related to the religious question are human rights questions. Some people assume that religious practice is a guaranteed human right, but even a superficial examination of world events shows that many atrocities occur in the name of God or religion. Universally, therefore, religious belief must receive absolute protection, but religious practice stemming from that belief must receive protection only until it begins to violate the rights of its members or nonmembers. Following from this last point, I argue that even if Scientology contains a theology and cosmology that some members interpret religiously, its organizational actions and behaviours raise serious human rights questions. Without wanting to review the pronouncements from all German officials about the organization, I conclude that the German government has good reason to investigate Scientology's activities in this country. It also has compelling reasons to inquire about the well-being of German citizens in Scientology facilities in the United States and elsewhere. I will share just a few of the documents that led me to these conclusions, and some of them are available in numerous world wide web sites on the "internet."

Is Scientology a Religion?

For a number of my social scientific colleagues around the world, the debate between Germany and the U.S. revolves around the question of Scientology's religious claims. Many of my social scientific colleagues have examined some Scientology documents and possibly participated in some Scientology events, and they have concluded that the organization is religious in nature. Bryan R. Wilson (b. 1926), for example, who is a respected British sociologist of religion, concluded "that Scientology must indeed be regarded as a religion" (Wilson, 1990: 288). He reached this conclusion after comparing Scientology's belief system with twenty characteristics usually found within what he called "known religions" (Wilson, 1990: 279). Significantly for the current debate in this country, he dismissed historical information from the early 1950s about Dianetics presenting itself as "a mental therapy and Scientology a science." Specifically with these early self- representations in mind, Wilson insisted that "even if it could be conclusively shown that Scientology took the title of 'church' specifically to secure at law as a religion, that would say nothing about the status of the belief-system, and it is with the belief system that we are specifically concerned" (Wilson, 1990: 282-283).1

In fact, I have made precisely the argument that Wilson dismisses. In a study that Berliner Dialog (Heft 1-97) translated into German, and in another study that I hope to publish soon, I show that L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology's founder) claimed that Scientology was a religion because he saw the claim as a marketing device to make money and avoid taxes (Kent, 1997b: 25ff; Miller, 1987: 199-203, 220) as well as a way "to reduce the likelihood of governmental interventions against it for allegedly practising medicine without a license" (Kent, 1996: 30). Moreover, Scientology denies its reputedly religious nature if it is attempting to enter a country that might react adversely to religious proselytization (such as Japan or Greece [Kent, 1997a: 18-19]). Nevertheless, the historical reasons behind Scientology's religious claims, as well as the organization's selectivity in making the claims, do not diminish the probability that many Scientologists view their commitment as a religious one.

From a social scientific perspective, and probably from a legal one as well, the objective "truth" of an ideology is not the determinant of a group's "religious" designation. Mere belief in supernatural beings or forces may be enough to get an ideology designated as religious, even if the origins or doctrines of the belief system are highly suspect. Along these lines, the inspirational figure in the sociology of religion, Max Weber, refused to exclude charlatans from his identification of charismatic figures, since the devotion of followers was a far more salient fact than authenticity. After mentioning two types of charismatic figures, Weber added that "[a]nother type is represented by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonisn, who may have been a very sophisticated swindler (although this cannot be definitely established)" (Weber, 1968: 242). Similarly, from a social scientific perspective, a belief system is religious if it contains supposedly supernatural elements, regardless of the accuracy of those elements. Perhaps unlike Joseph Smith, Hubbard's sophisticated swindle has been definitely exposed by a number of critics (for example, Atack, 1990; Kent, 1996; Miller, 1987) who have shown that his religious alignment was purely expedient, but now many of his followers see their lives in the context of the doctrines that he developed.

Scientology as a Multi-Faceted Transnational

Even if we grant the point that Scientology cosmology and soteriology have supernatural elements that classify the belief- system as religious (regardless of these elements' suspect history), neither government officials nor society at large should necessarily grant Scientology religious status for purposes of receiving societal benefits. Rather than struggling over whether or not to label Scientology as a religion, I find it far more helpful to view it as a multifaceted transnational, only one element of which is religious. Coinciding with supernatural claims are equally important secular dimensions relating to political aspirations, business operations, cultural productions, pseudo-medical practice, pseudo- psychiatric practice, social services (some of which are of dubious quality), and alternative family structures. A few examples of each dimension will suffice, but countless examples of each one exist throughout both Scientology's literature and the social behaviour of its members. The most salient aspect of Scientology, however, is the totalitarian, some would say fascistic, use of power that holds the organization together. I will speak about some of these totalitarian uses of power, and in doing so it will be very clear that the German government has taken the only appropriate avenue open to it.


Scientology's political aspirations have surfaced at various times throughout its nearly fifty year history, with the organization involving itself with politicians or political structures in Rhodesian (in 1966), Greece (in 1968 to 1969), Morocco (in 1972), and in the Russian city of Perm (where it was training city officials in Hubbard Management ideology). Observers wonder about the fate of Scientology training to Albanian government officials after the recent popular uprisings and social collapse (see Kent, 1997a: 17-18).


At times related to its political aspirations (as in Perm) are Scientology's programs designed to train business executives and professionals often in medically related areas. Through an organization named WISE (World Institute of Scientology Enterprises), Scientology offers a business consultancy and management program. A recent publication claims that "WISE [m]embers form a network of highly trained consultants in Hubbard Management Technology who can provide you with tailor-made training programs to suit your company's needs" (WISE International, 1994b). WISE programs target various clients through numerous companies, and in Germany and other parts of Europe the best known WISE company is U- Man (see, for example, WISE International, 1994a). For all practical purposes, this dimension of Scientology is secular, regardless of how the organization portrays it.


Culturally, Scientology has an entire industry devoted to the production and dissemination of Hubbard's writings and ideological material to both members and outsiders. The Scientology owned and operated (and now tax exempt) Bridge Publications, for example, produced a volume solely dedicated to The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard (Widder, 1994), which discusses his writings of Westerns, adventure stories, mystery and detective stories, romance, fantasy, science fiction, plays, and screenplays (among others), and makes little if any mention of his supposedly "religious" writings. The actor and Scientology public relations officer, John Travolta (Anderson, 1980: 3; Church of Scientology International, 1994), is working on a movie version of Hubbard's science fiction work, Battlefield Earth, while a team of Hollywood producers is developing a film version of the Hubbard pulp novel, To the Stars (Reuters, 1997).

As these current film productions suggest, Scientology is eager to be involved with projects that disseminate its ideology to nonmembers through high profile cultural undertakings. One vital aspect of this dissemination effort involves cultivating the conversion and support of society's cultural celebrities. Beginning in 1955, Hubbard's "Project Celebrity" targeted what he called "prime communicators" with the hope that they would "mention" Scientology "now and again" ( Hubbard], 1955). By 1992, thirteen "celebrity centres" existed around the world (Church of Scientology International, 1992: 353), and their purpose was "[t]o fully utilize opinion leaders and Scientologists to permeate society and get all the different publics utilizing LRH's Technology in every aspect..." (Jentzsch and Foster, 1977: 1). This organizational push to get everyone using Hubbard's so-called technology has dramatic secular implications for such issues of how to organize an office, how to generate and handle money, and how to measure office growth. It presumably also may have implications for people's supernatural belief systems, but it is understandable that critics see Scientology celebrities as participating in the dissemination of secular Scientology goals.

In addition to free publicity for Scientology, celebrities also give large financial contributions back to the organization. Had Scientologist Chick Corea, for example, received money from the Baden-Wurttemberg state culture ministry for performing at state-sponsored events, then some of that income may have become part of his contributions to the International Association of Scientologists. The avowed purpose of this organization is "[t]o unite, advance, support and protect the Scientology religion and Scientologists in all parts of the world, so as to achieve the Aims of Scientology as originated by L. Ron Hubbard" (International Association of Scientologists, 1995: [back cover]). In one of the Association's 1995 magazines, both he and actress Kirstie Alley each appeared as having contributed US$100,000 (Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International, 1995: 8; International Association of Scientologists Administration, 1995: 49, see 60). By comparison, the $2,000 contribution that John Travolta made seems small (Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International, 1996: 8; see International Association of Scientologists Administration, 1995: 60). What Germans will want to know, however, is that this organization provided grants to the Church of Scientology International in order to fund the series of anti-Germany ads in the New York Times and the Washington Post (both beginning, I believe, on September 15, 1994). Utilizing cultural productions and prominent cultural figures, therefore, to disseminate all aspects of Hubbard's so-called tech is an intimate aspect of the organization's overall public relations and (it would seem) financial strategies.


A glimpse into Scientology's pseudo-medical practices -- in this case one that also relates to a social service effort of dubious effectiveness--is its Narconon program. This program purports to rid the body of drug and radiation residues, and a 1996 Scientology publication told a story about an American Gulf War veteran suffering from Gulf War Syndrome who "arrived to do the detoxification program... complain[ing] of disorientation, dizziness, memory loss and muscle and joint pain. He finished the program and has no more dizziness, memory loss OR muscle and joint pain--ALL his symptoms have been handled TOTALLY" (Church of Scientology International, 1996: 68 [original emphasis). You may have read recently that Scientologists applied the Narconon program to children suffering from radiation-related illnesses in Chernobyl (Bev, 1997).

Regardless of how Scientology portrays these claims, they are medical ones that purport to offer a social service, but one about which experts remain highly critical. In the American state of Oklahoma, for example, a 1991 mental health board examined a Narconon program and concluded that "there is substantial credible evidence, as found by the Board, that the Narconon Program is unsafe and ineffective" (Mental Health Board, 1991; reproduced in Lobsinger, 1991: 58).


Another dimension of pseudo-medical claims are pseudo-psychiatric ones. Scientology's hatred of psychiatry is worthy of a study in itself, and some of its own documents very clearly indicate that Scientology's primary social purpose is the destruction of psychiatry and its replacement with Scientology techniques. In, for example, a confidential document written for Scientology's intelligence branch (then known as the Guardian Office), the unidentified author, who most certainly was Hubbard himself, had a section entitled "The War." The text in this section stated that "[o]ur war has been forced to become 'To take over absolutely the field of mental healing on this planet in all forms.'" The next sentences have significant implications for the current religious debate. "That was not the original purpose. The original purpose was to clear Earth. The battles suffered developed the data that we had an enemy who would have to be gotten out of the way and this meant we were at war" ([Hubbard], 1969: [5]). The central target in Scientology's efforts to "take over the field of mental healing" is psychiatry. Indeed, several Scientology organizations, including the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, the International Association of Scientologists, and Freedom magazine are working diligently in attempting to achieve the goal of "Eradicating Psychiatry" (Weiland, 1990: 21).

One aspect of Scientology's efforts to eradicate psychiatry and replace it with its own techniques is that members can take a course (called a rundown) that claims to teach members how to cure psychosis. Called the "Introspection Rundown Auditor Course," this course supposedly "factually handles the last of the 'unsolvable' conditions which can trap a person--the psychotic break. And end forever the 'reason' psychs were kept around with their icepicks and shock machines" (Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, 1992: [2]). This course is based upon what Hubbard described as "a technical breakthrough which possibly ranks with the major discoveries of the Twentieth Century." The consequence of this alleged breakthrough was that "THIS MEANS THE LAST REASON TO HAVE PSYCHIATRY AROUND IS GONE" (Hubbard, 1974: 346). The self- proclaimed "breakthrough" involved isolating the person having the psychotic breakdown while not speaking to the person, giving the person particular vitamins and minerals, determining what incident triggered the illness, then putting the person through a long and complex series of Scientology "counselling" sessions (called auditing) that focus on the triggering incident Hubbard, 1974: 353).

Currently this course is at the centre of controversy involving the December 5, 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson in Clearwater, Florida. After a minor car accident, McPherson exhibited bizarre behaviour--publicly undressing, speaking in monotone with a fixed stare, exhibiting forgetfulness and confusion, and crying. Against medical advice, she signed herself out of a hospital and into the care of visiting Scientology "friends" who took her to the organization's Fort Harrison Hotel. Seventeen days later, Scientologists took her back to a somewhat distant hospital where a doctor was working who was a Scientologist, and he pronounced her dead. A police investigation continues over her death, but McPherson's estate launched a lawsuit that accused Scientology "of allowing McPherson to languish in a coma without nutrition and liquids while she was in isolation as part of an Introspection Rundown" (Tobin, 1997: 12A). In this context, a Scientology lawyer acknowledged "that the Introspection Rundown remains 'part of church services'" (Tobin, 1997: 12A). Undoubtedly, therefore, Scientology practices pseudo-psychiatry, and the lawsuit over McPherson's death may establish the extent to which at least one of these practices can have potentially fatal consequences.

Scientology as an Alternative Family Structure

Finally, Scientology is an alternative family structure, at least as it is lived by its most devoted followers who are members of a Scientology organization called Sea Org[anization]. Scientology portrays the Sea Org as "a fraternal organization existing within the formalized structure of the Churches of Scientology. It consists of highly dedicated members of the Church [who] take vows of service" (Church of Scientology of California, 1978: 205). (The organization downplays the fact that these people sign billion year contracts.) Many indicators point to the fact that Scientology structures the Sea Org in a manner that damages parent-child relations if not the well-being of children in general. In essence, Sea Org becomes one's new family, often at the expense of spouses and children.

Indication of organizationally influenced damage caused by Sea Org parents to their children formed the basis of a critical article that appeared in a major newspaper of the Florida city near to where the Scientology organization called Flag is based. In November, 1991, the St. Petersburg Times ran a long article entitled, "Scientology's Children," and it contained an excerpt about a German mother and her son:

Eva Kleinberg moved from Germany to Clearwater with her 9-year old son, Mark, in 1986. She had joined a group of Scientology staff members called the 'Sea Org.'

Eva was told she would have two hours a day for family time. But with her travel time from work, she said she actually had only one hour with her son. Because of the 12-hour workdays, she couldn't always stay awake for the full hour.

'I would compromise with my son,' she said. After eating, she and her son would divide the remaining half- hour of their family time. 'I would play a game with him for 15 minutes, and I would go to lay down for 15 minutes and sleep.'

While Eva worked, Mark cleaned up around the motel or played with friends.

About a year later, Eva and Mark left the church.

Asked what he thinks of Scientology, Mark, now 14, said, 'I don't think it's good 'cause the people... they don't get to spend time with their family and it's real expensive.'

Church spokesman Richard Haworth said staff Scientologists actually spend three or four hours a day with their children, which he said is more than the average family (Krueger, 1991: 12A).

I believe the Kleinbergs' account rather than the one by the Scientology spokesperson because I had heard the same scenario (about parents having little time to spend with children) during an interview with a former Sea Org member that I conducted in December, 1987. At Flag in Florida during the late 1970s and early 1980s, infants stayed in a Scientology- un nursery during the day when parents worked, and usually parents would return from work at about 6:00 in the evening and spend about an hour-and-a-half with their children before taking them back to the nursery at 7:30 for bed. Parents then caught a bus back to the Sea Org, and finally did not leave for the night until 10:30 or later. In the morning, they would pick up their children from the nursery, have them dressed and in the dining room by 7:30 AM, drop them back at the nursery, and be on the bus going to work by ten minutes past 8. This informant added, however, that "there'd be some people who had kids who didn't go home for two or three days in a row. They'd be working all night" (Kent interview with Fern, 1987: 44, see 43).

The Kleinbergs' account about limited family time also rings true because of a series of internal memos (of which I have copies) from Scientology's Pacific Area Command (in Los Angeles, California) beginning in early November, 1989. These memos centre around an Executive Directive that the commanding officer issued which abolished the one hour nightly family time. He cited two reasons for doing so. First, he claimed, "[a] thorough research [sic] revealed that there is no LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] reference covering Sea Org members taking 1 hour family time per day. Also to have such break in schedules in the middle of production has been found to be detrimental to production...." Instead he wanted people to work the extra hour a day in order to build up their production output so that they would receive a "liberty day" (Gouessan, 1989) once every two weeks (Shapiro, 1989).

Several parents objected, and their objections were revealing. One person asked rhetorically, "[h]ow can one keep track of one's child without even an hour a day with the child? I HAVE seen staff distracted by NOT caring for their children and this time could be well utilized for this" (Swartz, 1989). Another person cited the text of a Hubbard tape where Scientology's founder complained about a condition that he had seen (and which he said had existed in the Pacific Area Command): "I wish somebody would tell me why we consistently had to ORDER parents to see their children when they hadn't seen them for weeks" (Hubbard, Transcript of LRH Taped Briefing to CS-& and Pers Comm 22 Sept 73; attached to Shapiro, 1989). This same person acknowledged in his letter of protest that "[i]n the 19 years I have been in the Sea Org in PAC this condition (parental neglect, etc.) has several times been the source of major upset and enturbulation [agitation] on Church lines" (Shapiro, 1989 [round brackets in original]). Taken together, the interview material, media accounts, internal policy directive, and responses point to the fact that parents' time with their children is severely constrained and sometimes eliminated because of the organizational pressure and job demands under which Sea Org members work. It seems that Scientology, in its Sea Org manifestation, becomes something akin to an alternative or "fictive" family structure to its members (see Cartwright and Kent, 1992: 348-349), receiving more time and commitment than their own children.

On a related point, the new Sea Org family to which adults devote their lives may at times place children in medically detrimental situations. This fictive family may not always be a medically responsible one. The informant whom I interviewed in 1978, for example, complained to me that "the nursery conditions were terrible." She complained that, in one nursery room, "there were, I think, sixteen babies in the room, all under a year old, and throughout the whole day, there were three nannies who did shifts in that room, looking after sixteen babies all under a year old" (Kent interview with Fern, 1987: 48). Under these conditions, children developed medical problems (according to my informant, Fern), because the facility did not have an isolation nursery. Consequently, common childhood illnesses (such as ear infections) spread rapidly among the children and remained in the nursery population for a long time. To support her assertion, this informant showed me medical records that she kept of her child's visits to doctors while the child was under nursery care, and compared them with similar records from after the time that she and her child left Sea Org and the nursery arrangement. The child made seventeen visits to the doctor's office during an eight month period while in the nursery, then only four visits in the twenty-nine months following the family's departure from the organization (Kent interview with Fern, 1987: 49-50).

Researchers always must be cautious in accepting as fact the account of a single person, but I heard similar stories about the condition of children's facilities in Scientology's child care program on the other side of the American continent--Los Angeles, California. The person who related the account had occasion to visit the children's facility (called the Cadet Org) in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and she saw an infant who was the child of a man she knew. This child, she stated:

was very, very ill and she was laying in a urine soaked crib and she was--she just had her diaper on.... She had lots of like little fruit flies and gnats on her body and she had been so ill that she had tremendous amounts of mucous plugging her nose and her eyes were, like, welded shut with mucous and I, I just snapped in my head (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997: 34).

After this incident of allegedly witnessing severe child neglect, the person began plotting how she would leave the organization.

The final example of alleged child neglect is documented in a report filed by the commanding officer of the Cadet Estates Organization in late October, 1989, concerning the hygiene of three children--ages 4, 8, and 10 or 11. Two of the children had lice, and for one of them it was a recurring problem. A guardian was in charge of them, but she "is herself on mission quite often." [That is to say, the organization frequently sent her away on assignments.] The report continued by stating that, "[w]hile the guardian was on a mission, the kids were picked up at night by another staff member that [sic: who] lives next door, and the little one would be brought in in the morning while the other two older once [sic: ones] would walk to the Cadet Org by themself [sic]. The children would dress themself [sic] and we have no data who does the laundry or room hygiene for the children" (Gabriele, 1989: 1). We must be careful when interpreting this data on possible child neglect or endangerment, since none of it is current. Sufficient indicators exist, however, that investigative officials in the United States and elsewhere should examine Scientology's treatment of Sea Org children.

Because the attitude among some Sea Org leadership appears to be that children hinder adults from performing their vital assignments, researchers should not be surprised to learn of pressures that Sea Org women felt to either abort pregnancies or give-up children for adoption. My 1987 informant told me that when Sea Org operated on ships during the mid 1970s, women knew that they were not allowed to raise children on the vessels. Consequently, they experienced pressure to have abortions. She told me that, "on the ship, I know of a lot of people that [sic: who] had abortions, because they didn't want to leave the ship. It wasn't like anybody said 'You have got to get an abortion.' It was more an implied thing. If you don't you're going to leave" (Kent interview with Fern, 1989: 41-42). Years later I saw the same pressures described in a 1994 legal declaration by Mary Tabayoyon, who became a Scientologist in 1967, joined Sea Org in 1971, and stayed in it until her departure in 1992. She stated that in 1986, while on the Scientology base in Hemet, California, "members of the Sea Org were forbidden to have any more children if they were to stay on post[,] and the Hubbard technology was applied to coercively persuade us to have abortions so that we could remain on post" (M. Tabayoyon, 1994: 2). The pressure came partly through what Scientology called "ethics handling," which involved the organization pressing people to conform to Hubbard's policies and the organization's directives. Tabayoyon herself "gave up my child due to my greatly misguided obligation and dedication to the Sea Org" (M. Tabayoyon, 1994: 4). She relinquished her child after being "indoctrinated to believe that I should never put my own personal desires ahead of the accomplishment of the purpose of the Sea Org" (M. Tabayoyon, 1994: 5).

Taken together, the interviews, legal declarations, media accounts, and internal documents present troubling glimpses into the lives of Scientology's most committed members. Sea Org obligations override many personal and family obligations and responsibilities, and devotion to the Scientology cause often appears to take priority over the needs of children. Equally disturbing, however, are accounts that some older children and teenagers have had to endure, along with Sea Org adults, the abuses of Scientology's forced labour and reindoctrination programs. Although several labour and intensive instruction programs have operated within the Scientology organization over the years, among the most intense ones is the Rehabilitation Project Force--usually just called the RPF.

The Rehabilitation Project Force--Forced Labour and Reindoctrination

When Sea Org members commit what the organization considers to be serious deviations (such as dramatic e-meter readings, unsatisfactory job performance, or job disruption [including challenges to senior officials]), then they likely wind up in the RPF. Even discussing the policies and techniques that Hubbard wrote by using ideas other than his own was called "verbal tech" and apparently was a punishable act (see Hubbard, 1976: 546). Begun in early 1974 while Hubbard and his crew still were at sea, it now operates in several locations around the world. Currently RPFs are running at the Cedars of Lebanon building in Los Angeles; on the Scientology property near Hemet, California; in the facilities in Clearwater, Florida; and in the British headquarters at East Grinstead, Sussex. I cannot confirm the existence of RPFs in or near Copenhagen (Denmark), Johannesburg (South Africa), Sydney (Australia), and several other American locations.

In a phrase, the RPF program places Scientology's most committed members in forced labour and re-education camps. The operation of these camps raises serious human rights questions, and their continuation reflects badly on nations that allow them to operate unchecked. Particular blame must be placed on American state and federal authorities, since at least three RPF programs have operated for years on American soil. Moreover, the American Internal Revenue Service granted Scientology tax exemption despite what almost certainly are illegal conditions under which RPF inmates must work, study, and live. Extensive material about RPFs in the United States has existed for years in various court cases, and now most of this information is readily available on the World Wide Web. German government officials know about the RPF, and almost certainly this knowledge played a major role in the government's continued opposition to the Scientology organization.

Getting assigned to the RPF is a traumatic event for most people. Procedurally, what is supposed to happen is that leaders call a hearing, known as a "Committee of Evidence," to evaluate a person's performance or attitude. A former member described this body as "a Scientology trial, where the Committee [members] act as prosecutors, judges and jury rolled into one" (Atack, 1990: 306). Committees sometimes obtain evidence against the person from security checks (called sec checks [see Kent interview with Young, 1994: 49]), which the organization portrays as "Integrity Processing" or "Confessional Auditing," but which is really a form of interrogation (Atack, 1990: 147). In fact, in 1960, Hubbard wrote a policy called "Interrogation" about how to use the device known as an e-meter as an interrogation device rather than merely as a spiritual aide in counselling or auditing sessions as the organization represents it to the outside world (Hubbard, 1960).

Hubbard had used security checks on his followers since 1959, but the most notorious sec check probably was the "Johannesburg Security Check," published April 7, 1961. It consisted of over one hundred questions, almost all of which inquire about previous or current participation in a wide range of deviant and criminal acts including spying, kidnapping, murder, drugs, sex, and Communism. The most revealing ones, however, involved people's thoughts about Hubbard and his wife, Mary Sue Hubbard. The sec check specifically asked, "Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about LRH?," and "Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about Mary Sue?" Not only, therefore, were people forced to reveal personal information about serious transgressions, but also they were forced to reveal the existence of any negative thoughts about the leader or his wife. One former member-turned critic, Robert Vaughn Young, reported that he was sec- checked for several hours a day for about two weeks (Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 50).

An even more severe form of sec check was the "gang bang sec check," a process that presumably takes its name from group rape (a slang term for which is gang bang). Gang bang sec checks involve two or more interrogators rapidly firing questions and verbal abuse at a victim who is hooked up to or holding an e-meter. A brief description of this practice occurs in a legal declaration (sworn under oath) by former member Stacy Young. She declared that her repeated protests about the way that (the now-current head of Scientology) David Miscavige treated staff led Miscavige to send her to the RPF in September, 1982 (S. Young, 1994: 8, 65). The specific incident that triggered her assignment was that Miscavige learned that Young had reacted to his (alleged) screaming fits by telling someone that he was "a brutal, tyrannical bully" (S. Young, 1994: 65). In response, Miscavige:

ordered me to submit to what was known as a 'gang bang sec check.' Two very large, strong men... locked me in a room and interrogated me for hours. During the interrogation, they screamed and swore at me. They accused me of crimes against Scientology. They demanded that I confess to being an enemy agent (S. Young, 1994: 66).

Soon Young found herself in the RPF's 'Running Program," which involved "running around an orange pole for 12 hours a day" (S. Young, 1994: 66).

When Committees of Evidence find Sea Org members guilty of serious crimes, then they send many of them to RPF programs. Inmates are not sentenced to the programs for specific lengths time. Instead, they remain in until they complete a rigorous program of hard physical labour, constant verbal abuse from immediate superiors, social isolation, intense co-auditing and sec checking, and study of Hubbard policies and techniques.

A series of policies about the RPF began appearing in January, 1974 when Hubbard was aboard ship, and a few revised versions of them have leaked out of the organization. One of these early documents revealed the totalistic nature of the program when it said that "[a] member of the RPF is a member of the RPF and of nothing outside of it, till released" (Walker and Webb, 1977: 3). Part of the program consisted of hard physical labour--building structures, cleaning, renovating, garbage disposal, and moving furniture. Typically work projects of this nature took about ten hours a day, since people were supposed to get "around 7 hours sleep, 5 hours study or auditing, 30 minutes for each meal, and 30 minutes personal hygiene, per day" (Walker and Webb, 1977: 4). They were dark worksuits and were prohibited from speaking (unless necessary) with persons outside the RPF, and they ate and slept separate from other Sea Org members (Walker and Webb, 1977: 10). They had to run everywhere they went, and often they had to run extra distances for punishment. On a ship, running punishments usually meant laps around the deck (Pignotti, 1997: 18-19). On land, running punishments sometimes meant running around a pole for hours at a time, often in hot sun (see Kent Interview with Pignotti, 1997: 22; S. Young, 1994: 66). Severe restrictions were placed upon visitation rights with spouses or children (Walker and Webb, 1977: 10).

Accounts from former inmates indicate that RPF life can be extremely harsh, degrading, and abusive. Certainly experiences varied somewhat according to year and location, but Hanna Whitfield's description of RPF at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida in 1978 captures many common elements from other accounts that I have heard and read:

Some of us slept on thin mattresses on the bare cement floor. Some had crude bunk beds. There was no place for clothes, so we lived out of suitcases and bags which were kept on bare floors. Some privacy was maintained by hanging sheets up between bunk beds and between floor mattresses. The women and men had separate bathrooms and toilets but they were small. We were not allowed to shower longer than 30 seconds. We had only to run through the shower and out the other end. There was no spare time for talk or relaxation. We awoke at 6:30 A.M. or earlier at times, did hard labor and heavy construction work and cleaning until late afternoon. After [a] quick shower and change of clothing, we had to audit each other and 'rehabilitate' ourselves until 10:30 P.M. or later each evening. There were no days off, four weeks a month. We ate our meals in the garage or at times in the dining rooms AFTER normal meals had ended. Our food consisted of leftovers from staff. On occasions which seemed like Christmas, we were able to prepare ourselves fresh meals if leftovers were insufficient (Whitfield, 1989: 7-8).

A similar, but more passionate, description exists of the Fort Harrison RPF in the account written by a woman using the pseudonym Nefertiti (1997), who in turn reproduces excerpts from ten other former Scientologists who related RPF experiences aboard two Scientology ships, FLAG at Clearwater, Florida, Pacific Area Command in Los Angeles, and Happy Valley near Hemet, California.

Certainly the amount of work that RPF members performed varied according to era and circumstances, but in some instances conditions became unbelievably bad. For example, In a California RPF, former inmate Pat reported that her RPF crew "worked shifts of thirty hours at a time" (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997: 25). Her RPF team would "start working in the morning and we would work all night into the next morning and then we worked through the next day until we got our thirty hours and then we'd go to sleep" (Kent Interview with Pat, 199: 25).

The most extensive description of the RPF at Scientology's facility near Hemet, California appears in a sworn declaration by former Sea Org member Andre Tabayoyon (1994). From comments that Bavaria's Minister of the Interior, Dr. Gunther Beckstein, made in a January 15, 1997 press release, it is clear that he is familiar with this declaration. Tabayoyon stated that he spent approximately six years in the RPF during his 21 years in the organization (A. Tabayoyon, 1994: 7, 8). In the RPF program that he was on beneath Scientology's Cedars Sinai Hospital building in Los Angeles, he allegedly slept on "a slab inside the vault of the morgue." In the RPF in the property near Hemet, he stayed in "the chicken coop dormitory... which still smelled of chicken coup droppings [sic]" (A. Tabayoyon, 1994: 18; see Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 20).

While nearly all RPF accounts speak of guards who were posted to prevent people from escaping the program, Tabayoyon reported that the guards at the Gilman Hot Springs facility (where Sea Org staff lived and an RPF operated) were armed (A. Tabayoyon, 1994: 25). Indeed, he helped to construct the facility's security system, which included "the perimeter fence, the ultra razor barriers, the lighting of the perimeter fence, the electronic monitors, the concealed microphones, the ground sensors, the motion sensors and hidden cameras...." He also said that he trained guards in the use of force, including the use of weapons, many of which had been purchased with "Church" money and not registered (A. Tabayoyon, 1994: 15, 16).

This facility (which sometimes is called "Gold" and other times "Hemet" in various documents) is less than a two hour drive from Los Angeles and Hollywood, and on its property apparently are a number of facilities that Scientology's celebrities use. Part of the labour used to build an apartment for Scientologist and actor Tom Cruise allegedly was from the RPF (A. Tabayoyon, 1994: 53). As Tabayoyon himself stated, "[u]sing RPFers to renovate and reconstruct Tom Cruise's personal and exclusive apartment at the Scientology Gold base is equivalent to the use of slave labor for Tom Cruise's benefit" (A. Tabayoyon, 1994: 53). In one instance, when Cruise's apartment was damaged by a mud slide, "prison [i.e., RPF] slave labor" were "worked almost around the clock" to repair it (A. Tabayoyon, 1994: 53).
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:38 pm

Part 2 of 2


More extreme than the RPF is the RPF's RPF, an institution even described in one of Scientology's own dictionaries. According to the dictionary definition, the first inmate sent to the RPF's RPF was because the person "considered their [sic] RPF assignment amusing" (Hubbard, 1976: 451). Various accounts, however, also suggest that people who did not perform according to acceptable RPF standards ended up in this extreme program.

Hubbard succinctly outlined the ten restrictions under which inmates on the RPF's RPF operated. Six of the ten were:

(1) segregated from other RPF members with regard to work, messing, berthing, musters and any other common activity.

(2) no pay.

(3) no training.

(4) no auditing.

(5) may only work on mud boxes in the E/R [engine room]. May not work with RPF members. [Elsewhere Hubbard identified mud boxes as "those areas in the bilge which collect the mud out of the bilge water" (Hubbard, 1976: 341)].

(6) six hours sleep maximum (Hubbard, 1976: 451).

Andre Tabayoyon, who spent 19 days on the RPF's RPF, summed up the program by saying that it "is designed to totally destroy any individual determinism to not want to do the RPF" (A. Tabayoyon, 1994: 9).

Accounts both about people who were on the program, and from inmates of the program itself, are chilling, and they reinforce Tabayoyon's summation. Monica Pignotti, for example, spoke to me about her five days in the RPF's RPF in 1975. She related that:

[A]t that point I was in a horrible depression and I was crying almost all the time all day long and I'm sure I was in a state where I probably would have been hospitalized if... any mental health profession had seen me then 'cuz I was severely depressed. But they sent me to the RPF's RPF and I was made to go down and clean muck from the bilges. That was my job all day long was to do that, getting up at four in the morning and--it was all day long. And then I was allowed a short meal break to eat by myself and then I had to go right back down there and I had to clean all this sludge out and then paint, paint it.... [The person in charge of the RPF's RPF] would make the prisoners write these essays until they got it right, until they were saying what the group wanted them to say. So that was where I really snapped--where I went into this state of complete-- where I didn't feel anything any more after that. I was completely numbed out and I'd do whatever they said and I didn't rebel any more after my experience on the RPF. I stopped rebelling for a while (Kent Interview with Pignotti, 1997: 26; see Pignotti, 1989: 28-29).

Nefertiti reported speaking with a woman in her 'thirties on the RPF's RPF whose ankles were chained together while she was performing a "nasty" job in the basement of the Fort Harrison Hotel in Florida (Nefertiti, 1997: 3). Finally, Dennis Erlich reported that, for the first day or two of his time on the program in the basement at the Fort Harrison, he was locked in a wire cage and had a guard outside the room (Kent Interview with Erlich, 1997: 8).

A final word must be said about the RPF, the RPF's RPF, and children. Some evidence exists that children may be subject to these programs. Monica Pignotti, for example, reported to me that she was an RPF inmate along with a twelve year old girl (Kent Interview with Pignotti, 1997: 30), and a posting in the <alt.religion.scientology> news group by Martin Hunt stated that "I have seen children on both the RPF and the RPF's RPF" (Hunt, 1997: 1). Finally, a poorly reproduced document from Scientology's Pacific Area Command (circa 1989) spoke about the "need to re-institute the Children's RPF" (Cohee, n.d.).

One hardly has to point out that the RPF and the RPF's RPF are brainwashing programs. Scientology operates them to break the wills of, and correct deviations of, its most committed members, and then to reformulate them into persons whose personalities directly mimic the organizational mould. That mould is itself a reflection of Hubbard's troubled personality. I am fully aware that many of my social scientific colleagues insist that researchers should restrict using the controversial brainwashing term only to situations where there is incarceration and physical maltreatment (Anthony, 1990 : 304). The RPF and the RPF's RPF meet these criteria. These two programs also used forced confessions, physical fatigue, intense indoctrination through extended study of the leader's policies and teachings, humiliation, and fear. Persons familiar, however, with the early history of Scientology are not surprised to see that Hubbard sanctioned a brainwashing program for his followers, since he almost certainly is the author of a brainwashing manual that Scientology printed and distributed for years beginning in 1955.


The manual that Scientology distributed was entitled, Brain-Washing[:] A Synthesis of the Russian Textbooks on Psychopolitics ([Hubbard?], 1955). Purported to be an address by the noted Soviet spy, Lavrenti Beria, it was exposed as a fake in 1970 by debunker Morris Kominsky (1970). As Kominsky noted, much of the book was "a vicious attack against the sciences and professions of psychology and psychiatry, as well as against the entire legitimate mental health movement" (Kominsky, 1970: 538). Attacks of this nature remain a central element in Scientology's secular activities, and one former member-turned-critic was almost certainly correct when he stated that the brainwashing book or manual " w]as secretly authored by L. Ron Hubbard in 1955...." The former member also was absolutely correct about the importance of the brainwashing manual when he concluded that Hubbard "incorporated its methods into his organization in the mid 1960s and beyond" (Corydon, 1996: 107). One thinks automatically of the RPF, but we know for certain that Hubbard had the manual as required reading for members of the Guardian Office (Anonymous, 1974).

One chapter of the brainwashing book is especially pertinent to understanding Scientology's contemporary tactics against Germany and its officials. The organization's attacks on the national character of the country; its continual attempts to paint current events in the context of 1930s Nazism (for example, Freedom Magazine, [1996?]); its efforts to discredit current German government officials by linking them to Nazism through (so I was told) their older relatives; and charges that German churches campaign against Scientology for fear of losing members to it (Church of Scientology International, 1997: 101); all seem to have general parallels with tactics advocated in the brainwashing manual.

I will read the relevant passages, but I will do so making similar substitutions of words in the text that Kevin Anderson made in his 1965 report to the Australian Parliament (Anderson, 1965: 198- 199). By doing so, Anderson dramatically illustrated his claim that "a great part of the manual is almost a blue print for the propagation of [S]cientology" (Anderson, 1965: 84). Whenever the manual says "psychopolitics" or "psychopolitical," I will say "Scientology." I replace "psychopolitician" with "Scientologist," and I replace "Communist Party Members" with "Sea Org members." With these substitutions in mind, I now quote excerpts form Chapter VIII entitled, "Degradation, Shock and Endurance:"

Defamation is the best and foremost weapon of [Scientologists] on the broad field. Continual and constant degradation of national leaders, national institutions, national practices, and national heros must be systematically carried out, but this is the chief function of [Sea Org Members] in general, not the Scientologist ([Hubbard?], 1955: 41).


The officials of government, students, readers, partakers of entertainment, must all be indoctrinated, by whatever means, into the complete belief that the restless, the ambitious, the natural leaders, are suffering from environmental maladjustments, which can only be healed by recourse to [Scientology] operatives in the guise of mental healers.

By thus degrading the general belief in the status of Man, it is relatively simple, with co-operation from economic salients being driven into the country, to drive citizens apart, one from another, to bring about a question of the wisdom of their own government, and to cause them to actively beg for enslavement.


As it seems in foreign nations that the church is the most ennobling influence, each and every branch and activity of each and every church must, one way or another, be discredited.... Thus, there must be no standing belief in the church, and the power of the church must be denied at every hand.

The [Scientology] operative, in his programme of degradation, should at all times bring into question any family which is deeply religious, and should any neurosis or insanity be occasioned in that family, to blame and hold responsible their religious connections for the neurotic or psychotic condition. Religious must be made synonymous with neurosis and psychosis. People who are deeply religious would be less and less held responsible for their own sanity, and should more and more be relegated to the ministrations of [Scientology] operatives.

By perverting the institutions of a nation and bringing about a general degradation, by interfering with the economics of a nation to the degree that privation and depression come about, only minor shocks will be necessary to produce, on the populace as a whole, an obedient reaction or an hysteria ([Hubbard?], 1955: 43- 44).

With only a little imagination, one can see that the brainwashing manual seems to provide an outline for Scientology's battle plan against Germany.

Through, for example, innumerable publications such as Freedom magazine, Sea Org members and other Scientologists produce a barrage of material that denigrates the nation and its leaders. German Scientologists are now able to label its political leaders as violators of human rights, thanks in part to criticism that the United States Department of State levelled against the country's attempts to curb the organization and boycott films starring American Scientologists (Lippman, 1997). On the economic front, critics might see events in the Hamburg real estate market as evidence of Scientologists' attempt to cause what the brainwashing manual called "privation and depression" among apartment renters. Reportedly Scientologists bought rental properties and turned them overnight into cooperatives. The chairperson of the Hamburg branch of the German real estate agents association, Peter Landmann, told the New York Times that these Scientologists were "'using disreputable methods to frighten and coerce the renters into buying them back at high prices'" (Whitney, 1994: A12). Finally, of course, Scientology continues to blast psychiatry, attempting to link it with both Nazism and current German efforts against it. Hubbard, or whomever wrote the brainwashing manual's instructions about how to degrade a country, undoubtedly would be proud of his followers' public relations successes thus far.

Indeed, from a public relations perspective, Scientology may be winning the battle, at least back in North America. When, for example, the prestigious New York Review of Books published an article on "Germany vrs. Scientology," the German reporter (who writes for the Suddeutsche Zeitung) strongly implied that government officials were scapegoating Scientology. His argument seems to be that attacks against the group have become part of a moral panic, when in fact other social issues, such as double-digit unemployment, declining state generosity, tensions over European union, and problems with national identity, should be the real areas of concern (Joffe, 1997: 20). This argument, however, as well as the American State Department human rights criticisms, shows a profound and increasingly inexcusable ignorance of disturbing if not dangerous abuses that occur as routine Scientology policy against many of its members.

Scientology and Probable Human Rights Abuses

Even to concede that Scientology may be a religion to many of its adherents, the basis for German governmental opposition to it has nothing to do with what people believe. It has everything to do with what German government officials know that the organization does. Consequently, this presentation concentrated heavily on the organization's social-psychological assaults on many of its most committed members, and I barely mentioned Scientology's ideological system. The assaults that I described are ones that German government officials seem to know about, and with that knowledge they have no choice other than to see Scientology as a threat to the democratic state. Were officials to grant Scientology religious status, then even more citizens than already now do, would increase their involvement to the point of becoming Sea Org members, and then at least some of them would be subject to the brutal conditions and programs that I described. With Germany's unique experiences with both National Socialism and Communism, it is unthinkable that responsible officials would facilitate the operation of a totalitarian organization that throws its members into forced labour and reeducation camps.

One of the tragedies in this debate is that normal Scientologists will feel persecuted and threatened. These people likely know nothing about RPF conditions, and they genuinely feel that Scientology involvement has benefitted them. The organization to which they belong, however, appears to be committing serious human rights abuses. Consequently, I conclude my presentation by highlighting areas of concern raised by examining the United Nations' 1948 resolution entitled The International Bill of Human Rights (United Nations, 1996b), and the 1996 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (United Nations, 1996a).

First, Scientology's procedures involving committees of evidence, sec checking, gang bang sec checking, and the two RPF programs almost certainly violate Articles 9 and 10 of the Bill. Article 9 protects people against "arbitrary arrest, detention or exile" while article 10 guarantees "a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his [sic] rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him" (United Nations, 1996: 23).

Second, Scientology's punishment of members for merely discussing the merits of Hubbard's teachings, as well as its invasive probing into people's thoughts though sec checking, almost certainly violate Articles 18 and 19 of the Bill that deal with both "the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" and "the right to freedom of opinion and expression" (United Nations, 1996: 25).

Third, the various Scientology practices and procedures that I discussed may violate Article 17 of the Bill, which states that "[n]o one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation" (United Nations, 1996: 49).

Fourth, the conditions of the RPF and the RPF's RPF almost certainly violate Article 7 of the Covenant, which discusses "the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work..." (United Nations, 1996a: 38). The article specifically identifies fair wages, "[a] decent living for themselves and their families..., [s]afe and healthy working conditions..., and [r]est, leisure, and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay...." (United Nations, 1996a: 38). Indeed, many Sea Org jobs themselves may not meet these reasonable standards of propriety, safety, and fairness.

Fifth and finally, the extreme social psychological assaults and forced confessions that RPF and RPF's RPF inmates suffer almost certainly violate Article 12 of the Covenant, which recognizes "the right of everyone to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health" (United Nations, 1996a: 18).

These and probably other serious human rights issues swirl around Scientology programs that have tax exemption and operate within the boundaries of the United States. With these serious issues in mind, the American human rights criticism of Germany's opposition to Scientology is the height diplomatic arrogance. By granting Scientology tax exemption, the United States government is cooperating with an organization that appears to put citizens from around the world at significant mental health and perhaps medical risk. While in no way do I want my remarks today to be taken as a blanket endorsement of the German government's rhetoric or tactics, on the battle with Scientology the government has the high moral ground.



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------. 1976. Modern Management Technology Defined. Copenhagen: New Era Publications.

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------. 1997a. "The Globalization of Scientology: Influence, Control, and Opposition in Transnational Markets." Unpublished Mss., 56pp.

------. 1997b. "The Creation of 'Religious' Scientology." Unpublished Mss., 49pp.

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------. 1997. "Interview with Monica Pignotti." (April 6): 31pp.

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------. 1996b. The International Bill of Human Rights. Geneva: United Nations.

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Whitfield, Hana. 1989. "Affidavit." (August 8): 11pp, downloaded from <alt.religion.scientology>.

Whitney, Craig R. 1994. "Scientology and Its German Foes: A Bitter Conflict." New York Times (November 7): A12.

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------. 1990. The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism. Sects and New Religious Movements in Contemporary Society. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

------. 1994. "Expert Opinion Submitted to "Church of Scientology International vs. Steven Fishman and Uwe Geertz, United States District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. 91-6426 HLH (Tx), (November 26): 10pp.

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______. 1994b. "The Purpose of WISE." Prosperity Magazine, Issue 36: [Inside Front Cover].

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1 Undoubtedly because of this interpretation, Wilson has become a champion of Scientology's religious claims (see also Wilson, n.d.: 35) and the organization alludes to him ("[t]he foremost sociologist in the world") as an academic who concluded "that Scientology was setting the trend for the 21st century for all religions--as it offers practical solutions for people's problems in the real world" (International Association of Scientologists, 1995: [10]). Scientology also employs his opinion in arguing before an American court that the organization has the right to keep secret its upper level materials (Wilson, 1994: 11).
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:39 pm

Scientology: The Sickness Spreads
by Eugene H. Methvin
Reader's Digest
September 1981

Eighteen months ago, the U.S.-based Church of Scientology launched a global -- and unsuccessful -- campaign to prevent publication of a Reader's Digest report called "Scientology: Anatomy of a Frightening Cult." The church engaged a detective agency to investigate the author, Digest Senior Editor Eugene H. Methvin. Digest offices in a half-dozen nations were picketed or bombarded with nuisance phone calls. In Denmark, South Africa and Australia, the church sued unsuccessfully to prevent publication.

In the months since the article appeared, in May 1980, a flood of reader reaction both here and abroad has convinced us that our article only scratched the surface. Indeed, there is every indication that Scientology's international operations are at least as chilling as the U.S. operations described in our May '80 article. And they continue to grow at an alarming pace.

Here, then, is a follow-up look at Scientology worldwide.

Scientology: The Sickness Spreads
by Eugene H. Methvin

• In Brescia, Italy, radio-station owner Rodolfo Zucca receives repeated personal threats. His car is vandalized. Twice, the wires from his broadcasting studio are cut, forcing him off the air.
• In Paris, university professor Yves Lecerf learns that all the neighbors in his apartment building have been telephoned by someone posing as a health-ministry official. The bogus official has told them that Professor Lecerf is a danger to his neighbors' children.
• In St. Petersburg, Fla., Andrew Orsini, executive director of the Easter Seal Society for Crippled Children and Adults, is accused in anonymous letters to newspapers and state and city agencies of criminal misconduct in the charity's financial and administrative affairs. The letters demand Orsini's arrest and prosecution.

These diverse people share one common connection: each had attracted the enmity of the "Church of Scientology" -- which in 1978 claimed more than five million adherents, with thousands more joining yearly.

Scientology is far more than mere religion. An analysis of sworn testimony and the findings of official tribunals in 12 nations, plus independent investigation, reveals it to be a multinational racket masquerading as a religion.

Operating from centers in Clearwater, Fla., Los Angeles, Calif., Saint Hill Manor in Sussex, England, and Copenhagen, Denmark, an elite corps of "missionaires" shuttles between 79 Scientology churches and 172 missions and "study groups" in 34 nations -- from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Operating with 19 volumes of manuals on how to bamboozle the unwary, they administer what amounts to franchises-for-fraud -- schemes based on a largely secret hocus-pocus dogma.

The church in 1978 claimed 6559 full-time staffers throughout the world. They live mainly off "ministerial" counseling services for which naive converts pay a minimum of $175 per hour. Advanced courses of enlightenment and salvation cost as much as $16,100. The profits? Enormous. According to U.S. government information, the church has been grossing more than $150 million a year in the United States alone.

Just what *is* the cult called Scientology, and how did it reach its present proportions?

In the beginning, founder L. Ron Hubbard, a science-fiction writer, touted his theories not as religion but as "the most advanced and most clearly presented method of psychotherapy and self-improvement ever discovered." In 1950, he published his theories in Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, a supposed cure-all for the ills of mankind. Two years later, he published another, Scientology: A History of Man. In 1954, Hubbard, then 42, established the first Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C.

He had, he said, scientifically established that the personality is an immortal spirit, called a "Thetan," that can separate from the body without death or derangement. Using an "E-meter," Hubbard claimed he could "audit" or "process" recruits into supernatural "Operating Thetans" who can make vast space journeys and return to their bodies at will.

Hubbard's E-meter is no more than a battery-powered galvanometer. Using a needle dial wired to two tin cans, it functions as a crude "lie detector." Candidates for indoctrination grip the cans and supply the most personal details of their lives (which former Scientology officials have sworn are recorded and filed away for possible future blackmail use). Skin perspiration causes the needle to jump, and, when this occurs, the candidate is told that an "engram" -- a recall of unpleasant experiences either in this life or in former incarnations -- has been detected. When these experiences are confronted, he will become "totally free," restored to a superhuman state.

The true believer is told he is an elite Thetan -- a hero of a long-lost intergalactic civilization slaughtered by evil forces on the planet Helatrobus some 40 trillion years ago. The defeated Thetans were then exiled to the planet Earth, where they remained, in ignorance, until Hubbard summoned them to resume their rightful place in the Galactic Confederation.

A genius at propaganda and organization, Hubbard reveals these secret doctrines only in stages. "If they were to tell you that stuff at the start, you'd just laugh and walk out," explained one "auditor" who defected after ten years in Scientology. "It seems incredible now, but I came to *believe* it."

Hubbard attracts recruits by preying on their anxieties and loneliness with an unholy brew of hypnosis, Pavlovian conditioning and twisted psychotherapy. In monthly magazines and "personal" letters, he advertises that Scientology can remedy ailments from cancer to the common cold -- and even promises that his "auditing" will increase I.Q. one point per hour. Scientologists, Hubbard brags, are "the upper tenth of the upper tenth in intelligence."

Hubbard also directs Scientology "ministers" to watch newspapers for stories of accident, illness or death. "As speedily as possible, make a personal call on the bereaved or injured person," he orders. "Unless you have bodies in the shop, you get no income. So, on any pretext, get bodies in the place."

In Vancouver, Wash., Alan Wilson, recovering from a mangled hip suffered in an auto accident, met a Scientology "field- staff member" working on a ten-percent commission. Promised a cure, he took some courses and soon found himself fleeced of his $7000 accident-insurance settlement. Vibeke Damman, a Danish woman who spent six years in Scientology, explained: "You get this blaze of attention. You're important, but only -- you discover later -- because you have money."

And Hubbard's moneymaking machine succeeds phenomenally. One French Scientologist spent $200,000 for a few weeks' "services" at the Florida center. A son of a former U.S. ambassador to London poured in $123,000. A German couple took out a $125,000 mortgage to pay for "advanced" enlightenment in Copenhagen.

And at the end of this galactic fantasyland of salvation? Once Hubbard is firmly in control of mind and money, he reduces converts to emotional serfs working 16 hours a day for $10 or $20 a week, fervidly proselytizing and delivering more recruits and more money to "help Ron clear this planet" of insanity, crime and evil.

The result is an international trail of tragic victims. In Australia, a woman subjected to more than 60 hours of Scientology "processing" had to be committed to a mental institution. In Germany, a young man who struggled for two years to free himself from the cult's hold left his parents' home on Christmas Day and lay down in front of a train. A young man in Paris who underwent the cult's processing quit his job, closeted himself and slashed his veins. As he bled to death, he scrawled on a memo pad: "Go to Scientology and you will understand all!"

In 1966, as the uproar over Scientology grew, Hubbard created a clandestine enforcement arm called the World-Wide Guardian Office to silence it. His third wife, Mary Sue, and Jane Kember, a fanatically loyal South African, were named to head the Guardians. "Don't ever defend. Always attack," Hubbard's standing orders exhort. "*Find or manufacture* enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace. Originate a black PR campaign to destroy the person's repute and to discredit them so thoroughly they will be ostracized. Be very alert to sue for slander at the slightest chance so as to discourage the public presses from mentioning Scientology. The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win."

When Hubbard secretly moved his Scientologists into Clearwater, Fla., Mayor Gabriel Cazares denounced them for "lying" about their covert multimillion-dollar property acquisitions and for deceiving local ministers. From Saint Hill in England, Jane Kember telexed Guardian Program Order 398, a "Mayor Cazares Handling Project," to their U.S. operatives.

The Guardians sued Cazares for one million dollars for violating the Scientologists' "freedom of religion." They staged a fake hit-and-run accident in a plot to smear him, then infiltrated and disrupted his campaign organization at election time. Ultimately, a federal judge ruled the cult's suit "frivolous, unreasonable and groundless," and made the Scientologists pay Cazares's legal costs of $36,022.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Los Angeles Times were compelled to spend thousands of dollars to defend investigative reports into Scientology activities. The newspapers were ultimately upheld by the courts. According to former Guardians, their agents burglarized law firms representing the St. Petersburg Times and penetrated and stole papers from another firm representing the Boston Globe to obtain information about the newspapers' actions on Scientology.

"Suits filed by the church were for the sole purpose of financially bankrupting its critics and to create an atmosphere of fear so that they would shy away from exercising their fundamental rights of free speech," declared Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Banoun in court. Banoun has prosecuted to conviction Hubbard's top 11 Guardian aides on charges of conspiracy, burglary or theft of secret documents from U.S. government offices. (The cases are on appeal.)

But Guardians do not deal solely with Scientology detractors. In 1975, Hubbard ordered his troops to cash in on government grants for mental health, education and other social causes by setting up a series of front groups that would qualify for taxpayer support. To this end, a "Social Coordination Bureau" was added at Saint Hill and in Guardian offices throughout Europe and America.

In Copenhagen, the church operates two schools to exploit the Danish government's subsidy of up to 85 percent of the cost of private schooling. In America, 22 so-called Apple Schools operated under concealed Scientology management, subjecting children to Hubbard's intergalactic processing.

But Scientology's biggest social-reform gimmick to date has been the "Narconons," fronts that allegedly rehabilitate drug addicts. Guardian legal experts at Saint Hill designed a whole package of "correspondence" and phony minutes of directors' meetings to make the Narconons appear independent and justify government cash payments for "consultation" fees. Ignorant of the Scientology connection, at least one political figure and several Hollywood stars were persuaded to lend their names as endorsers; last September the celebrities were touted in a Congressional hearing in Washington. Narconon charges $530 for its basic two-week detoxification program, and more for advanced courses. And they claim an 86-percent "cure" rate.

Impressed, two Idaho school systems hired Narconon "experts" to lecture their schoolchildren on drugs. Michigan's Department of Corrections paid Narconon more than $100,000 to rehabilitate its prisoners. (Only later did its study of 29 Narconon subjects show that they did *worse* than other prison parolees after six months in the community.) And in West Berlin, city authorities wasted an estimated $700,000 before press and television exposed the Narconon operation. A West Berlin senate investigation found only about ten percent of those treated really cured.

Hubbard reportedly lives in seclusion on a Southern California resort ranch. According to a former member of his retinue of "communicators," he has bought and sold gold, silver and other precious commodities with the millions of dollars harvested by his worldwide missions. Meanwhile, he directs an army of lawyers in appeals designed to keep his 11 convicted aides out of jail while holding other law-enforcement agencies and civil suits at bay. Last December, in his traditional Christmas Day "Executive Directive," he declared: "I am as well as can be expected for anyone several trillion years old ... The future *is* ours."

But the future may instead belong to cult victims and their families. In Europe and America, they have joined to provide legal and psychological help for those still entrapped, and to take their fight to courts and legislatures. In Paris, the Association for Defense of the Family and Individuals helped a victim bring criminal fraud charges that resulted in the conviction (in absentia) of Hubbard, a top French executive and a former French executive. If he ever shows up in France, Hubbard faces four years in prison and a $7000 fine. (A fourth defendant was convicted but the conviction was reversed by the appeals court on grounds of his youthfulness, sincere beliefs and peripheral involvement.)

Lorna Levett of Calgary, Alberta, founded a Scientology mission and headed it for six years until she came to realize "we are involved in an international conspiracy." In 1974, she led a mass defection of 43 fellow members. Despite smears, harassment and a $100,000 lawsuit, they have successfully resisted every Scientology effort to silence them. Speaking for disillusioned cult members and their families everywhere, Ms. Levett declares: "Psychological coercion by dangerous mind-bending cults under cover of religion can only occur, like disease, when there is no immunization against it. In this case, the immunization is freedom of speech. The cults, using tax-free dollars, can violate human rights only when the truth is allowed to go unpublished."
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:46 pm

Scientology: The Truth Rundown
by Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin
St. Petersburg Times
June 21, 2009

Scientology: The Truth Rundown, Part 1 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology
By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Sunday, June 21, 2009

After L. Ron Hubbard died, David Miscavige became Scientology's leader. Former church executives say Miscavige beat his staff. Church officials say the defectors are lying.

The leader of the Church of Scientology strode into the room with a boom box and an announcement: Time for a game of musical chairs.

David Miscavige had kept more than 30 members of his church's executive staff cooped up for weeks in a small office building outside Los Angeles, not letting them leave except to grab a shower. They slept on the floor, their food carted in.

Their assignment was to develop strategic plans for the church. But the leader trashed their every idea and berated them as incompetents and enemies, of him and the church.

Prove your devotion, Miscavige told them, by winning at musical chairs. Everyone else — losers, all of you — will be banished to Scientology outposts around the world. If families are split up, too bad.

To the music of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody they played through the night, parading around a conference room in their Navy-style uniforms, grown men and women wrestling over chairs.

The next evening, early in 2004, Miscavige gathered the group and out of nowhere slapped a manager named Tom De Vocht, threw him to the ground and delivered more blows. De Vocht took the beating and the humiliation in silence — the way other executives always took the leader's attacks.

This account comes from executives who for decades were key figures in Scientology's powerful inner circle. Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are speaking out for the first time.

Two other former executives who defected also agreed to interviews with the St. Petersburg Times: De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, and Amy Scobee, who helped create Scientology's celebrity network, which caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

One by one, the four defectors walked away from the only life they knew. That Rathbun and Rinder are speaking out is a stunning reversal because they were among Miscavige's closest associates, Haldeman and Ehrlichman to his Nixon.

Now they provide an unprecedented look inside the upper reaches of the tightly controlled organization. They reveal:

• Physical violence permeated Scientology's international management team. Miscavige set the tone, routinely attacking his lieutenants. Rinder says the leader attacked him some 50 times.
• Rathbun, Rinder and De Vocht admit that they, too, attacked their colleagues, to demonstrate loyalty to Miscavige and prove their mettle.
• Staffers are disciplined and controlled by a multi¬layered system of "ecclesiastical justice.'' It includes publicly confessing sins and crimes to a group of peers, being ordered to jump into a pool fully clothed, facing embarrassing "security checks'' or, worse, being isolated as a "suppressive person.''
• At the pinnacle of the hierarchy, Miscavige commands such power that managers follow his orders, however bizarre, with lemming-like obedience.
• Church staffers covered up how they botched the care of Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who died after they held her 17 days in isolation at Clearwater's Fort Harrison Hotel.
• Rathbun, who Miscavige put in charge of dealing with the fallout from the case, admits that he ordered the destruction of incriminating evidence. He and others also reveal that Miscavige made an embarrassing miscalculation on McPherson's Scientology counseling.
• With Miscavige calling the shots and Rathbun among those at his side, the church muscled the IRS into granting Scientology tax-exempt status. Offering fresh perspective on one of the church's crowning moments, Rathbun details an extraordinary campaign of public pressure backed by thousands of lawsuits.
• To prop up revenues, Miscavige has turned to long-time parishioners, urging them to buy material that the church markets as must-have, improved sacred scripture.

Church officials deny the accusations. Miscavige never hit a single church staffer, not once, they said.

On May 13, the Times asked to interview Miscavige, in person or by phone, and renewed the request repeatedly the past five weeks. Church officials said Miscavige's schedule would not permit an interview before July.

At 5:50 p.m. Saturday, Miscavige e-mailed the Times to protest the newspaper's decision to publish instead of waiting until he was available. His letter said he would produce information "annihilating the credibility'' of the defectors. Beloved by millions of Scientologists, church spokesmen say, Miscavige has guided the church through a quarter-century of growth.

The defectors are liars, they say, bitter apostates who have dug up tired allegations from the Internet and inflated the importance of the positions they held in Scientology's dedicated work force known as the Sea Org. They say it was the defectors who physically abused staff members, and when Miscavige found out, he put a stop to it and demoted them.

Now they say the defectors are trying to stage a coup, inventing allegations so they can topple Miscavige and seize control of the church.

The defectors deny it. They say they are speaking out because Miscavige must be exposed.

Rathbun says the leader's mistreatment of staff has driven away managers and paralyzed those who stay. "It's becoming chaos because ... there's no form of organization. Nobody's respected because he's constantly denigrating and beating on people.''

"I don't want people to continue to be hurt and tricked and lied to," Rinder said. "I was unsuccessful in changing anything through my own lack of courage when I was inside the church.

"But I believe these abuses need to end … This rot being instigated from inside Scientology actually is more destructive to the Scientology movement than anything external to it.''

BEATINGS: Random, whimsical

At 49, Miscavige is fit and tanned, his chiseled good looks accented by intense blue eyes. His frame is on the short side at 5 feet 5, but solid, with a matching, vise-like handshake.

The voice, resonant and strong, can transfix a crowd of thousands. Many call him "COB," because he is chairman of the board of the entity responsible for safeguarding Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1954.

"He is one of the most capable, intelligent individuals I've ever met," Rathbun said. "But L. Ron Hubbard says the intelligence scale doesn't necessarily line up with the sanity scale. Adolf Hitler was brilliant. Stalin was brilliant. They were geniuses. But they were also on a certain level stark, staring mad."

Rathbun, Rinder, Scobee and De Vocht say they participated in and witnessed madness, from musical chairs to repeated physical abuse.

What triggered Miscavige's outbursts? The victims usually had no clue.

"If it wasn't the answer he wanted to hear, he'd lose it," De Vocht said. "If it was contrary to how he thought, he'd lose it. If he found it to be smart aleck, or it was a better answer than he had, he would lose it."

Rathbun and Rinder list the executives they saw Miscavige attack:

Marc Yager: At least 20 times.

Guillaume Lesevre: At least 10 times.

Ray Mithoff: Rathbun said Miscavige "would regularly hit this guy open-handed upside the head real hard and jar him. Or grab him by the neck and throw him on the floor."

Norman Starkey: "Right in the parking lot, (Miscavige) just beat the living f--- out of him, got him on the ground and then started kicking him when he was down,'' Rathbun said.

He said he saw Rinder "get beat up at least a dozen times just in those last four years … some of them were pretty gruesome."

Said Rinder: "Yager was like a punching bag. So was I."

He added: "The issue wasn't the physical pain of it. The issue was the humiliation and the domination. ... It's the fact that the domination you're getting — hit in the face, kicked — and you can't do anything about it. If you did try, you'd be attacking the COB.

"It was random and whimsical. It could be the look on your face. Or not answering a question quickly. But it always was a punishment.''

Scobee said Miscavige never laid a hand on her or any other woman, but she witnessed many attacks, including the time the leader choked Rinder until his face turned purple. Rinder confirmed that account.

De Vocht estimated that from 2003 to 2005, he saw Miscavige strike staffers as many as 100 times.

Rathbun, Rinder and De Vocht admit that they, in turn, hit others. In January 2004, Rathbun pummeled Rinder and had to be pried off by several church staffers.

"Yes, that incident happened," Rinder said. "It wasn't the only time that Marty or I was involved in some form of physical violence with people."

He recalled holding a church staffer against a wall by the collar and pressing into his throat.

Rathbun said he attacked many people, many times, including throwing Lesevre across a table, boxing Starkey's ears, and tackling Yager down a flight of stairs — all, he said, on Miscavige's orders. He said he threw another staffer against the hood of a cab at Los Angeles International Airport. As a crowd gathered to watch, he cocked his fist and told him to improve his attitude.

De Vocht said he "punched a couple of guys" during one of many sessions where managers confessed their wrongdoings to their peers, a gathering that got raucous and physical. Embarrassed about it now, he says he easily rationalized it then: "If I don't attack I'm going to be attacked. It's a survival instinct in a weird situation that no one should be in."

The four defectors each said the leader established a culture that encouraged physical violence.

"It had become the accepted way of doing things," Rinder said. "If COB did it, it was okay for everybody else to do it, too."

Rinder said Rathbun was Miscavige's enforcer. "If Dave didn't want to go do any dirty work himself, he sent Marty to do it for him."

Rathbun doesn't deny it. It's difficult to get the truth, he said, "unless you talk to somebody who's got some dirt on their hands. And I freely admit I got dirt on my hands, and I feel terrible about it. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing."

Rathbun wasn't exempt from Miscavige's attacks. "He once grabbed me by the neck and banged my head against the wall.''

Nobody fought back.

"The thing is, he's got this huge entourage," Scobee said. "He's the 'savior' of everything because he has to bail everybody out because we're all incompetent a-------, which is what he repeatedly tells us.

"You don't have any money. You don't have job experience. You don't have anything. And he could put you on the streets and ruin you."

Church spokesman Tommy Davis said the defectors are lying. Responding to Rinder's contention that Miscavige attacked him some 50 times, Davis said: "He's absolutely lying.''

Yager, Starkey, Mithoff, and Lesevre all emphatically told the Times that Miscavige never attacked them.

Davis produced court affidavits in which Rathbun and Rinder, while still in Scientology's top ranks, praised the leader as a stellar person and vigorously denied rumors he had abused staff.

Davis pointed to a 1998 Times story in which Miscavige denied the same rumors. Rathbun backed him, saying that in 20 years working with Miscavige, he never saw the leader raise a hand to anyone.

"That's not his temperament,'' Rathbun said then. "He's got enough personal horsepower that he doesn't need to resort to things like that.''

Says Rathbun now: "That was the biggest lie I ever told you."

Davis played video of a confrontation between Rinder and a BBC reporter in London in 2007, just before Rinder left the church. The reporter repeatedly asked about the Miscavige rumors, which Rinder heatedly denied as "rubbish."

Now Rinder says that he lied to protect the church, and that his loyalty to Miscavige was misplaced. He said he did then what Miscavige's staff is doing today: "Just deny it. Nope. Not true. Never happened."

The Church of Scientology describes itself as working for "a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights."

Scobee says Miscavige does not practice what Scientology preaches. He liberally labels church members as enemies, which forbids any contact with family and friends still in Scientology.

"You cannot call yourself a religious leader as you beat people, as you confine people, as you rip apart families," she said. "If I was trying to destroy Scientology, I would leave David Miscavige right where he is because he's doing a fantastic job of it."

Character assassination

That's what the defectors are doing to Miscavige, according to a team of two church lawyers and two spokesmen.

Rathbun, Rinder, De Vocht and Scobee: All of them failed at their jobs, broke Sea Org rules and were ethically suspect, the team said. Stack these four failures against a man of Miscavige's stature and it's clear who is credible and who is not.

"It's not a question of they have a version and we have a version. It's that this never happened," said Monique Yingling, a non-Scientologist lawyer who has represented the church for more than 20 years. "There is a story here, and it's not what you've been told."

As the lawyers and spokesmen defended Miscavige and sought to discredit his detractors, they produced materials from the four defectors' "ethics files'' — confessions, contritions, laments that the church keeps to document their failures.

The documents illuminate a world of church justice outsiders rarely see. This ethics system keeps Scientologists striving to stay productive. It relies on the notion that at any given time, every human activity can be reduced to a statistic and everything — a group, a person, someone's job or marriage — can be measured and placed in one of 12 "conditions."

The lower conditions include "Confusion," "Treason" and "Enemy." The highest condition is "Power," followed by "Power Change" and "Affluence."

Moving up the ethics ladder requires that the subject pen confessions or soul-searching memos called "formulas," which are said to better the individual as he or she examines what went wrong. These memos also can give the church a ready source of written material to use against members who would turn against Scientology.

More documents are generated when a person wants to leave, or "blow."

In 1959, Hubbard wrote a policy stating that a person leaves as a kind of noble gesture when he can't help himself from injuring the church. To justify leaving, Hubbard believed, the person thinks up bad things to say about the church.

Anyone who leaves has committed "overts" (harmful acts) against the church and is withholding them. The church is obligated to make such people come clean, Hubbard said, because withholding overts against Scientology can lead to suicide or death by disease. They must write down their transgressions to remain in good standing when they leave.

Yingling and Davis said the church doesn't relish using documents from ethics files. But after the four defectors spoke out against Miscavige, the lawyer and spokesman said they had no choice.

They produced documents showing Scobee violated Sea Org rules on "romantic involvement outside of marriage." Scobee said the church is exaggerating.

She acknowledged violating the rules by committing a sexual act in a supervisor's room, but noted the man involved was her future husband. Another document said she "started a relationship" with a man not her husband in 1988. Scobee said it was a non-Scientologist electrician who asked her to run away with him. She said she declined and reported it to a supervisor but was disciplined anyway.

A document from July 2003 cited poor performance and declared her unfit to work at the California base.

Scobee counters that the church kept her in positions of responsibility for more than 20 years. She was pictured in a 1996 church magazine as one of the "most proven" and "highly dedicated" senior executives in Scientology.

"The point is, it doesn't matter if I was God or if I was a sloppy janitor," Scobee said. "What I saw is what I saw."

De Vocht was in a condition of "Treason" when he authored a memo in 2004 saying he made a land deal in Clearwater that lost the church $1 million. In a 2002 letter to Miscavige, he confessed to squandering $10 million in church funds through waste and overspending on two projects.

Asked about those documents, De Vocht said the writings in the ethics formulas reflect the distorted culture created by Miscavige, not reality. "You say whatever you have to, to appear to be cooperative. It's not a voluntary action. It's a cover your a--, get with the program thing or you're going to get beat up.''

Praising Miscavige was part of the formula, De Vocht said. "He's our pope, our leader, and he can't do wrong. … If you say, 'I'll do everything I can to get it right,' then you can be okay. You don't have an option other than to bow down and say, You're right and I'm wrong.''

The church says that Rinder, Scientology's top spokesman for decades, is an inveterate liar. In its ethics files, the church says, Rinder admits that he lied 43 times over the years.

"It was a real problem, Mike's propensity to lie ….Obviously he had an issue with the truth,'' said Davis, Rinder's successor as spokesman.

After denying Miscavige hit him or anyone else, Rinder is lying now, Yingling said. "He left because he was demoted … He is bitter now and he has in his bitterness latched on to the one allegation he so vehemently denied for so many years.''

Added Davis: "One of the things he was known for saying was, 'Well, if I'm so bad, why keep asking me to do things?' You know the answer to that question?... The ultimate answer to that question is 'Mike, you know what, you're right. Why keep asking.' And we stopped asking. And then he left and nobody came for him.''

Like the other defectors, Rinder says he's sure he wrote whatever is in the ethics files, but he says the admissions are meaningless, they were just whatever his superiors wanted to hear. "All of these things were written to try and get into good graces or curry favor."

Davis said Rinder has not been able to deal with his fall from spokesman for an international church to his current, workaday job.

"Mike left. I think we can all agree he is bitter,'' Davis said. "This is a guy who ran with the big dogs in the tall grass … it's a very exciting life. And now he is selling cars, and it must be a hell of a shock.''

The church released numerous pages of files it kept on Rathbun. Among them: a 1994 letter that said he had completed a Truth Rundown — one of many types of confessionals — and apologizing for leaving the church briefly the year before; three confessions for striking and verbally abusing staff dozens of times; and documents where he admits that he mishandled situations.

In a 2003 document, Rathbun writes a "public announcement" detailing two decades of flubs, including: making himself out to be more important than he was, making more work for Miscavige, mismanaging staff and messing up major assignments, including the church's long-running battle with the IRS.

Rathbun says he wrote what Miscavige wanted to hear.

The church made special note of an affidavit dated June 6, 2009 — after the Times asked the church about Rathbun — authored by a Sea Org member whose name the church blacked out. She criticized Rathbun for being violent and abusive and playing a role in her family's recent effort to wrest her out of Scientology.

Rathbun says yes, he tried to help the family, because the woman voiced strong doubts about returning to Scientology.

Like De Vocht's, many of Rathbun's confessions are marked by bountiful praise of Miscavige. He writes, for example, that the leader "single-handedly salvaged Scientology."

Scientology's international management cadre lives and works on the church's 500-acre compound in the arid hills opposite Mount San Jacinto from Palm Springs.

Rathbun orchestrated a "reign of terror" there in 2002 and 2003, church representatives say, masquerading as an ethics officer while Miscavige was in Clearwater handling legal and other matters. They say the leader returned in late 2003, summarily demoted Rathbun and began to clean up his mess.

Rathbun says he was away from the base for almost all of 2002 and 2003, handling lawsuits and other sensitive matters at Miscavige's behest. When he returned to the base in late 2003, he said, it was Miscavige who had established a "reign of terror.''

The church said Rathbun has inflated his importance in Scientology; they say that after 1993, he never had a title.

But in a 1998 Scientology magazine, Rathbun is featured as the main speaker at a major event at Ruth Eckerd Hall attended by 3,000 Scientologists. The magazine said he was "inspector general" of the entity charged with safeguarding Scientology. Also, the church provided the Times a court document from March 2000 that listed Rathbun as a "director'' of the same entity.

If Rathbun's responsibility was as limited as the church says, the Times asked, how did he get people to submit to a reign of terror? Davis, the church spokesman, erupted.

"He's the one who's saying that Dave Miscavige beat these people,'' Davis screamed. "And he's saying that Dave Miscavige beat the exact same people that he beat. And that's what pisses me off. Because this guy's a f------ lunatic and I don't have to explain how or why he became one or how it was allowable.

"The fact is he's saying David Miscavige did what he did … And now I'm getting a little angry. Am I angry at you? Not necessarily. But I'm g-- d--- pissed at Marty Rathbun. Because he knows that he was the reign of terror."

Landing in Clearwater

Fall 1975. An outfit calling itself the United Churches of Florida announced it would rent the Fort Harrison Hotel from the Southern Land Development Corp., a company with plans to buy the historic building.

No one — not even lawyers for the seller — could find out anything about Southern Land. Not even a phone number.

When the sale closed on Dec. 1, Southern paid $2.3 million in cash for the landmark property, where for 50 years locals held weddings, New Year's bashes and civic events.

The newcomers promptly closed the hotel to the public. Uniformed guards armed with mace and billy clubs patrolled the entrance.

On Jan. 28, 1976, a public relations team from Los Angeles came to Clearwater and announced that the real buyer was the Church of Scientology of California.

The deception put a scare into the sleepy town with gorgeous beaches. Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares was incensed by the group's evasive and then heavy-handed tactics.

"The Fort Harrison has been here for a half century and now, for the first time, it is actually a fort," he lamented. "It's frightening."

Locals grew anxious as they heard that Scientology was a cult with a belligerent streak. It had sued the State Department, the Justice Department, the IRS, the CIA, the LAPD — any agency that pried or denied its requests.

Why did Hubbard choose Clearwater? He had run the church for years from a ship, the Apollo, and wanted a "land base.'' He sent scouts on a mission: Find a big building, near a good airport, in a warm climate.

A property in Daytona Beach made the short list. So did the Fort Harrison.

It was to be Scientology's "flagship." Hubbard sent dispatches on how "Flag'' should be run, everything from marketing plans to the staff's grooming and dress. It would be "huge, posh and self-supporting,'' Hubbard wrote, "a hotel of quality that puts the Waldorf Astoria to shame."

Hubbard trademarked a motto for the hotel: "The friendliest place in the whole world."

He would die a decade later, but already the next generation of church leaders was forming.

The Young Turks

Hubbard called it "fair game.'' Those who seek to damage the church, he said, "may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.''

Mayor Cazares raised questions about the new group inhabiting the Fort Harrison, calling it a cult and trading lawsuits with the church. The Times and the Clearwater Sun investigated.

Scientologists followed Hubbard's playbook and went after enemies. They tried to frame Cazares in a fake hit-and-run accident. They intercepted Times' mail and falsely accused the paper's chairman, Nelson Poynter, of being a CIA agent.

By the spring of 1976, Hubbard — the "Commodore" — was realizing his vision for the Fort Harrison. Scientologists from around the world checked in for long stays. They spent thousands on counseling called "auditing," which seeks to rid the subconscious mind of negative experiences, leading to "higher states of spiritual awareness."

Mike Rinder, a 20-year-old Australian, ran the hotel telex, sending and receiving dispatches from Scientology outlets around the world.

David Miscavige, a 16-year-old from suburban Philadelphia, dropped out of 10th grade on his birthday that April and came to work at the Fort Harrison. He tended the grounds, served food and took pictures for promotional brochures.

In no time, the cocksure Miscavige was supervising adults. In 1977, after just 10 months in Clearwater, he was transferred to California, where he joined the Commodore's Messenger Organization, an esteemed group of about 20 who took on "missions'' assigned by Hubbard.

Late in 1978, Miscavige was put in charge of the crew remodeling Hubbard's home on a Southern California ranch. Among the group was a 21-year-old former college basketball player who had joined the church a year earlier in Portland.

Thirty years later, Marty Rathbun says he can picture the first time he laid eyes on the teenage boss, strutting about, "barking out orders.'' No mistaking David Miscavige.

The early power plays

In the mid 1970s, the IRS hired a clerk-typist named Gerald Bennett Wolfe. What they didn't know was that he was a Scientology plant — code name "Silver.''

He broke into an attorney's office at IRS headquarters in Washington and copied government documents for months, with help from the Guardian's Office, the church's secretive intelligence arm.

The IRS had revoked Scientology's tax exemption some 10 years earlier, saying it was a commercial enterprise. Scientology fought back, withholding tax payments, unleashing its lawyers and using Silver to infiltrate the agency.

But his undercover mission backfired. On July 8, 1977, the FBI raided Scientology headquarters in Washington and L.A., seizing burglary tools, surveillance equipment and 48,000 documents.

In October 1979, Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue, who directed the Guardian's Office, and 10 other Scientologists were convicted on charges of conspiring to steal government documents or obstruct justice. Her husband, named an un­indicted co-conspirator, went into seclusion at his ranch near La Quinta, Calif.

By then, two of the young men from the remodeling detail were trusted aides to the self-exiled church founder. Rathbun delivered Hubbard's mail and messages; Miscavige was his "action chief.''

In January 1981, Miscavige asked Rathbun to join him on a road trip to the Super Bowl. Driving eight-hour shifts from L.A. to New Orleans, they got to know each other along the way.

Later that year, Hubbard gave Miscavige a critical assignment: Resolve the crush of lawsuits and investigations that threatened the church. Miscavige chose Rathbun and three others to help handle the job.

Rathbun says he spent six months prioritizing cases and developing strategy.

"I put together units to handle cases, one in Clearwater, one in New York, one in Boston, one in Toronto,'' he said. "They would answer to me. I was sort of becoming in charge of the legal operation.''

Miscavige, meanwhile, was disposing of internal rivals and building power. At age 21, he talked Hubbard's wife into resigning.

It didn't hurt to have Hubbard's approval. His son had filed a lawsuit claiming that the company overseeing Hubbard's assets, headed by Miscavige, was siphoning his fortune. Hubbard responded with a declaration stating that he had "unequivocal confidence in David Miscavige, who is a long-time devoted Scientologist, a trusted associate and a good friend to me."

Rinder, in turn, became a trusted associate to the emerging leader. Miscavige pulled his childhood acquaintance out of Clearwater to help dissolve the Guardian's Office, the arm of Scientology that had stolen the IRS files and committed other offenses.

He installed Rinder as head of the new international Office of Special Affairs. Part of Rinder's new job was to spread a revised narrative about Scientology: The church's new leaders were appalled to learn of the Guardian Office's dirty tricks. That was not, they said, what Scientology was all about.

Besting his rivals

On Jan. 27, 1986, thousands of Scientologists gathered at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, where a solemn Miscavige delivered the news: The founder had moved on to a new level of research that would be "done in an exterior state … completely exterior of the body.''

At 74, L. Ron Hubbard was dead.

Miscavige yielded the microphone to church attorney Earle Cooley, who did not mention Miscavige by name, but helped cement him as future leader. Cooley disclosed that Hubbard, who had died of a stroke, left the bulk of his estate to Scientology, giving final instructions that were "his ultimate expression of his confidence in the management of the church.''

He left no explicit succession plan, leaving open the question of who would lead the church.

Months later, Miscavige, Rathbun and another executive took control of the Religious Technology Center, the RTC, which Hubbard created as the highest ecclesiastical body in the church. They dismissed the staff and pressured the head of the office to step down.

Miscavige became the RTC's chairman of the board, a title he still holds. Rathbun took the high-ranking post of inspector general for ethics.

The last rivals for control of Scientology were Pat and Annie Broeker, who had assisted Hubbard in his last years. The founder had elevated them to "loyal officer" status, a higher rank than Miscavige, a captain.

The Broekers also had custody of Hubbard's last writings, the cherished upper levels of Scientology auditing that he wrote by hand while in seclusion. For a church that depends in large part on auditing fees, the papers were a gold mine not only spiritually, but financially. Miscavige wanted them.

Rathbun reveals what they did:

The day Pat Broeker and Miscavige flew cross-country to meet church lawyers in Washington, Rathbun positioned a team of about 20 men outside the Broekers' ranch in Barstow, Calif.

During a layover in Chicago, Miscavige called with the signal for Rathbun to phone the ranch caretaker. Rathbun told her that Miscavige and Broeker had called with a message: The FBI planned to raid the ranch in two hours. If they didn't get Hubbard's papers out, they might be lost forever.

The woman let Rathbun and his guys in.

"It worked like a charm," he said.

Miscavige's rise was complete. At 26, he answered to no one in Scientology.

For Rathbun, the point of the story is that Miscavige maneuvered his way to the top, he was not the chosen one. But Scientologists believe he was anointed. "And when they believe that, they're willing to do almost anything."

It was a conversation days after getting their hands on Hubbard's last writings that Rathbun says showed him that Miscavige saw himself not as a political climber but as a chosen leader.

Miscavige seemed in awe of his new responsibilities, so Rathbun tried to buck him up. "I said my basketball coach in high school had these inspirational sayings. One, from Darrell Royal of the Texas Longhorns, stuck with me. He said, 'I don't worry about choosing a leader. He'll emerge.' ''

"That's false data!'' Miscavige shot back.

Said Rathbun: "He rejected that so fast. Boy, when I suggested he was anything other than anointed, he jumped down my throat.''

Scientology vs. the IRS

By the late 1980s, the battle with the IRS had quieted from the wild days of break-ins and indictments. But Miscavige was no less intent on getting back the church's tax exemption, which he thought would legitimize Scientology.

The new strategy, according to Rathbun: Overwhelm the IRS. Force mistakes.

The church filed about 200 lawsuits against the IRS, seeking documents to prove IRS harassment and challenging the agency's refusal to grant tax exemptions to church entities.

Some 2,300 individual Scientologists also sued the agency, demanding tax deductions for their contributions.

"Before you knew it, these simple little cookie-cutter suits … became full-blown legal cases," Rathbun said.

Washington-based attorney William C. Walsh, who is now helping the church rebut the defectors claims, shepherded many of those cases. "We wanted to get to the bottom of what we felt was discrimination,'' he said. "And we got a lot of documents, evidence that proved it.''

"It's fair to say that when we started, there was a lot of distrust on both sides and suspicion,'' Walsh said. "We had to dispel that and prove who we were and what kind of people we were.''

Yingling teamed with Walsh, Miscavige and Rathbun on the case. She said the IRS investigation of Miscavige resulted in a file thicker than the FBI's file on Dr. Martin Luther King. "I mean it was insane,'' she said.

The church ratcheted up the pressure with a relentless campaign against the IRS.

Armed with IRS records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Scientology's magazine, Freedom, featured stories on alleged IRS abuses: lavish retreats on the taxpayers' dime; setting quotas on audits of individual Scientologists; targeting small businesses for audits while politically connected corporations were overlooked.

Scientologists distributed the magazine on the front steps of the IRS building in Washington.

A group called the National Coalition of IRS Whistleblowers waged its own campaign. Unbeknownst to many, it was quietly created and financed by Scientology.

It was a grinding war, with Scientology willing to spend whatever it took to best the federal agency. "I didn't even think about money,'' Rathbun said. "We did whatever we needed to do.''

They also knew the other side was hurting. A memo obtained by the church said the Scientology lawsuits had tapped the IRS's litigation budget before the year was up.

The church used other documents it got from the IRS against the agency.

In one, the Department of Justice scolded the IRS for taking indefensible positions in court cases against Scientology. The department said it feared being "sucked down" with the IRS and tarnished.

Another memo documented a conference of 20 IRS officials in the 1970s. They were trying to figure out how to respond to a judge's ruling that Scientology met the agency's definition of a religion. The IRS' solution? They talked about changing the definition.

Rathbun calls it the "Final Solution" conference, a meeting that demonstrated the IRS bias against Scientology. "We used that (memo) I don't know how many times on them," he said.

By 1991, Miscavige had grown impatient with the legal tussle. He was confident he could personally persuade the IRS to bend. That October, he and Rathbun walked into IRS headquarters in Washington and asked to meet with IRS Commissioner Fred Goldberg. They had no appointment.

Goldberg, who did not respond to interview requests for this story, did not see them that day, but he met with them a week later.

Rathbun says that contrary to rumor, no bribes were paid, no extortion used. It was round-the-clock preparation and persistence — plus thousands of lawsuits, hard-hitting magazine articles and full-page ads in USA Today criticizing the IRS.

"That was enough," Rathbun said. "You didn't need blackmail."

He and Miscavige prepped incessantly for their meeting. "I'm sitting there with three banker's boxes of documents. He (Miscavige) has this 20-page speech to deliver to these guys. And for every sentence, I've got two folders'' of backup.

Miscavige presented the argument that Scientology is a bona fide religion — then offered an olive branch.

Rathbun recalls the gist of the leader's words to the IRS:

Look, we can just turn this off. This isn't the purpose of the church. We're just trying to defend ourselves. And this is the way we defend. We aggressively defend. If we can sit down and actually deal with the merits, get to what we feel we are actually entitled to, this all could be gone.

The two sides took a break.

Rathbun remembered: "Out in the hallway, Goldberg comes up to me because he sees I'm the right-hand guy. He goes: 'Does he mean it? We can really turn it off?' ''

"And I said,'' turning his hand for effect, " 'Like a faucet.' ''

The two sides started talks. Yingling said she warned church leaders to steel themselves, counseling that they answer every question, no matter how offensive.

Agents asked some doozies: about LSD initiation rituals, whether members were shot when they got out of line and about training terrorists in Mexico. "We answered everything,'' Yingling said, crediting Miscavige for insisting the church be open, honest and cooperative.

The back and forth lasted two years and resulted in this agreement: The church paid $12.5 million. The IRS dropped its criminal investigations. All pending cases were dropped.

On Oct. 8, 1993, some 10,000 church members gathered in the Los Angeles Sports Arena to celebrate the leader's announcement: The IRS had restored the church's tax exemption, legitimizing Scientology as a church, not a for-profit operation.

"The war is over," Miscavige told the crowd. "This means everything.''

Recharged on the Freewinds

The euphoria was short-lived. With the tax cases ended, court records became public. Newspapers wanted to know why Miscavige and his wife together made around $100,000 while at the time most church staffers made but $50 a week. Miscavige was furious, and got angrier still when Rathbun argued it would be an insignificant story.

Shortly after, Miscavige's wife, Michelle, came to Rathbun's office and, without a word, removed the gold captain's bars from his Sea Org uniform. Miscavige called him an SP, a suppressive person, and Rathbun was forced to confess his sins before his own staff.

Rathbun was done. "I thought to myself: You know what? That's it. What am I doing here?''

From the safe in his office at the California base he took three 1-ounce pieces of gold, worth about $500 each, slipped on a bomber jacket, ate breakfast in the mess hall and drove east toward Pensacola, to visit a friend. Miscavige tracked him down and arranged to meet in New Orleans.

"He begged me to come back,'' Rathbun recalled, adding that Miscavige offered the carrot of a two-year stint aboard the Freewinds, a Scientology cruise ship where parishioners get the highest levels of counseling while sailing the Caribbean.

Rathbun said Miscavige told him:

You've worked hard, you deserved a reward. Go spend time on the ship. Get yourself right, get in touch with what made you love the church in the first place. Hone your skills, come back as the best auditor on the planet.

It was just what Rathbun needed to hear: "I couldn't have been more thankful.''

He came aboard the Freewinds late in 1993. He worked odd jobs, devoured Hubbard's writings and spent eight to 10 hours a day receiving counseling and training to be an auditor.

After two years at sea, he reported to Clearwater, to Flag, where the church bases its best auditors and offers upper levels of training. But the quality of auditing had slipped. Rathbun's assignment was to help bring it back up.

Late in the summer of 1995, a woman exited an auditing room at the Fort Harrison Hotel, raised her arms above her head and shouted with delight — a breach of the all-quiet protocol on the auditing floor.

"Who's that?'' Rathbun asked a supervisor.

"That's Lisa McPherson.''
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:49 pm

Death in slow motion: Part 2 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology
by Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs
Times Staff Writers
Monday, June 22, 2009

At a ceremony at the Fort Harrison Hotel in September 1995, Lisa McPherson was designated “clear,’’ meaning that through Scientology counseling, she had rid herself of all interference from troubling memories buried in her subconscious. Two months later she had a nervous breakdown. After 17 days in Scientology’s care, she was dead.

The night after Lisa McPherson died, the leader of the Church of Scientology sent word for one of his top lieutenants to wait by a pay phone at the Holiday Inn Surfside on Clearwater Beach.
When Marty Rathbun answered the ringing phone in the lobby, David Miscavige let him have it:

Why aren’t you all over this mess? The police are poking around. Do something.

“Yes sir,” Rathbun said.

McPherson, a 36-year-old parishioner in apparent good health, had spent 17 days in a guarded room at the church’s Fort Harrison Hotel. Scientology staffers tried to nurse her out of a mental breakdown, but she became ill. She drew her last breaths in the back seat of a van as they drove her to a hospital in the next county.

Her death on Dec. 5, 1995, triggered nine years of investigations, lawsuits and worldwide press coverage. Alive on the Internet, it stains Scientology’s reputation still.

Now, for the first time, comes an inside account from the upper ranks of Scientology — from the man who directed the church’s handling of the case.

Rathbun, who defected from Scientology’s staff in late 2004, admits that as prosecutors and attorneys for McPherson’s family prepared subpoenas, he ordered the destruction of incriminating evidence about her care at the Fort Harrison.

He and others who have left the church disclose for the first time that Miscavige was involved in McPherson’s Scientology counseling. Just weeks before her mental breakdown, they say, it was the leader himself who determined that she had reached an enhanced mental state that Scientologists call “clear.’’

For years Rathbun was adamant that the church did nothing wrong. Now he says that McPherson’s care was a debacle from the start. It was a “perfect storm of incompetence and irresponsibility” within the church, he said. “You couldn’t justify it.’’

He disclosed that the church was prepared to pay almost any price to make the case go away. He said he sent an emissary to McPherson’s funeral in Dallas with authority to give her mother, Fannie, whatever she wanted. The approach was rebuffed because the family didn’t trust the church.

“Whether it was financially or any other thing, we’re taking care of that woman because it was on our watch. If she needed $5 million, we would have come up with $5 million.”

Church officials say Rathbun is a bitter ex-member who inflated his importance in Scientology and whose motives are suspect. They say Miscavige demoted Rathbun in 2003 in part for missteps he made in the McPherson case.

A settlement agreement with the woman’s family forbids them from providing specifics, said Monique Yingling, a long-time Scientology attorney and friend of Miscavige. Still, she said that Rathbun botched the case from the start, and “possibly caused the whole thing.”

A little fender-bender

McPherson joined Scientology in Dallas, her hometown, when she was 18. She worked for a marketing company owned by Scientologist friends; the company moved to Clearwater in 1994 to be near the church’s spiritual headquarters, and McPherson came, too.

Shortly before 6 p.m. on Nov. 18, 1995, her Jeep Cherokee ran into a boat trailer stopped in traffic on S Fort Harrison Avenue.

McPherson, frantic, walked up to the driver pulling the trailer, put her hands on his shoulders and asked, “Where’s the people? Where’s the people?”

Firefighters had her move her car to the side of Belleview Boulevard. She signed a statement saying she did not want medical care. As officers and paramedics tended to other duties, they saw McPherson had stripped off her clothes and was walking along Belleview.

They took her to Morton Plant Hospital, where doctors discussed having her committed for psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act.

But Scientology considers psychiatry and psychiatric drugs evil. The church believes it offers less intrusive and more humane treatment for problems of the human mind.

Adamant that McPherson not be exposed to psychiatry, about 10 church members showed up at the hospital and said they would take care of her. She said she wanted to leave with her friends and signed out against a doctor’s advice.

Church staffers checked her into the Fort Harrison and assigned her to Room 174 of the cabanas, a group of less formal rooms facing the street behind the hotel. Four members of the church’s medical office were assigned to watch McPherson. Staffers from various departments were pulled in to help — including a payroll officer, a file clerk, a secretary, a personnel director, security guards and two librarians.

Supervising was Janis Johnson, a doctor unlicensed in Florida, who was a church medical officer.

For more than two weeks, they tried to calm, feed and medicate McPherson. They gave her chloral hydrate, a mild sedative. A staff dentist, unlicensed in Florida, mixed aspirin, Benadryl and orange juice in a syringe and squirted it down her throat.

The staffers kept logs of what they did. Trying to calm McPherson, a staffer tried to force three Valerian root caplets down her throat, but McPherson spit them out. “My idea of closing her nose so she has to swallow so she can breathe through her mouth is only marginally successful,” the staffer wrote.

McPherson slapped and screamed at her caretakers. She babbled, she vomited her food. She destroyed the ceiling lamp and broke glass in the bathroom. She jumped off the bed, fell on the floor, ran around the room.

She pondered a light bulb, saying, “You have to follow the light, as light is life.”

“She was like an ice cube,” one caretaker wrote. “She refused to eat and spit out everything she took. Her breath was foul … had a fever to my touch.”

By the evening of Dec. 5, McPherson had lost about 12 pounds. Johnson, the church doctor, telephoned David Minkoff, a Scientologist and a doctor at Columbia New Port Richey Hospital. Minkoff said to take McPherson to Morton Plant Hospital down the street.

But Alain Kartuzinski, a church counseling supervisor, told Minkoff he feared that McPherson would be exposed to psychiatric care at Morton Plant, and Johnson assured Minkoff that McPherson’s condition was not life-threatening.

What they didn’t tell Minkoff: McPherson was limp and unable to walk. Her breathing was labored, her eyes fixed and unblinking. Her face was gaunt, a sign of severe dehydration.

Minkoff agreed to see her. With McPherson in the back seat of a van, her caretakers drove 45 minutes to the Pasco hospital, passing four other hospitals on the way.

They rolled her into the ER splayed across a wheelchair. She had no pulse, no heartbeat and was not breathing. Minkoff pronounced McPherson dead.

He took Johnson aside and yelled at her.

“I was shocked out of my wits,” he said later. “I really wasn’t in the mode of finding out what happened. I was more in the mode of, ‘How could you bring this person up to me like this?”

Miscavige’s role

Scientology employs a unique brand of counseling called auditing. In a quiet room, an “auditor’’ asks the parishioner prescribed questions while monitoring a device called an electro­psychometer, or e-meter. Scientologists say there is a “charge” associated with areas of upset in a person’s life, such as marital conflict or a childhood accident.

When such topics come up, the e-meter’s needle responds. The act of locating the troubling episode dissipates the charge and the needle floats back and forth. The person is supposed to feel better.

One goal is to reach “clear,” a state where the mind’s negative images are gone and the person is said to be rid of all fears, anxieties and irrational thoughts.

John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Tom Cruise are among the celebrities who have extolled the benefits of Scientology. Parishioners from around the globe travel to Clearwater to be audited by the best. Scientologists come for the deluxe accommodations and the top-flight, “Class 12” auditors, whose services, Rathbun said, cost $1,000 an hour.

But back in 1995, Rathbun says, even the church thought most of its Class 12 auditors were not worth the money. They were burned out, their sessions rote and uninspired, like a doctor with a poor bedside manner.

“These guys are all overweight, they’re obese, they’ve got back problems. They don’t sleep enough,” he said. “And one of the problems, I realized, is for 15, 20 years they’re cash cows.’’

He said they were “just getting milked nonstop.”

Rathbun and others say Miscavige was in Clearwater in 1995 to launch “The Golden Age of Tech,” an initiative aimed at raising the quality and precision of auditing at Scientology’s mecca.

Rathbun said he was assigned to help. Miscavige would look in on parishioner auditing sessions from a control room with video feeds from multiple counseling rooms.

One of the parishioners was Lisa McPherson.

“He’s watching live with the videocameras every session that she’s in and (supervising), saying ‘Do this next, do that next’ and so forth,” said Tom De Vocht, a top church executive in Clearwater who has since left the church and is speaking out for the first time.

The folder containing records of McPherson’s auditing history came in and out of Miscavige’s office, said De Vocht, whose office was next door and who had overseen a renovation of the leader’s living quarters.

Don Jason, then a high-ranking officer at the Clearwater spiritual headquarters, said he saw Miscavige take off his headphones and say McPherson had achieved the state of clear in a previous session. Jason, 45, said he saw the leader write a note that McPherson’s auditor would read to her, informing her of her new status.

Scientologists who are “clear’’ don’t go psychotic, Jason said, so for a person to have a breakdown so soon after was a “huge problem.’’

Church officials say De Vocht and Jason are wrong. “I can tell you that’s utterly, totally false,’’ said Angie Blankenship, a top administrator in Clearwater from 1996 to 2003.

“I was here. Chairman of the board (Miscavige) wasn’t even here at the Flag land base during that time. He’s a liar. Never happened.”

Yingling and church spokesman Tommy Davis also said Miscavige was not in Clearwater at the time, and they say they have minutes of meetings he attended in California to prove it. They also question how De Vocht and Jason, almost 14 years later, could remember anything about a woman who then was just another parishioner.

Jason said the moment stood out because staffers require special training and refresher training to be able to identify when someone becomes clear. “So it did strike me as like, ‘Wow’?” that Miscavige had that expertise.

Not only that, “I was standing right next to him when it happened,’’ said Jason, who left the church in 1996 but still finds Scientology valuable.

“This is a huge deal,” De Vocht said of Miscavige’s involvement. “There’s no way not to remember it.”

De Vocht said he worked closely with Miscavige during that time. He said the leader zeroed in on McPherson because she was having issues with her counseling and was the friend of a prominent church member.

He said he saw Miscavige view McPherson’s auditing sessions through a video feed and write notations in her counseling folder.

“I watched him personally,” De Vocht said. “A whole bunch of people watched him personally.”

The church’s representatives said there are no notations by Miscavige in McPherson’s file. In any case, they say, Miscavige would have been qualified to supervise McPherson’s case had he been so inclined. “He is an expert in every field,” said Jessica Feshbach, a church spokeswoman.

Rathbun recalled walking through a hallway to the auditing rooms at the Fort Harrison and a woman bursting through a door.

“She’s going, ‘Aaaaaah! Yahoo!’ She’s screaming at the top of her lungs,” he said.

It was McPherson, cheering about the news that she had been deemed clear.

Her accomplishment was celebrated in a ceremony at the Fort Harrison in September 1995. By mid November, she would be back at the hotel, babbling to her caretakers.

Introspection rundown

When Rathbun learned that McPherson had died, he interviewed the 15 to 20 Scientologists who had cared for her.

“It was like walking into a disaster area,” he said. “They all looked devastated. They lacked sleep. Some of them had scratches and bruises from getting hit by Lisa. All of them were extremely emotionally distraught because each one of them put it on their shoulders that they had done something wrong.”

Their feelings were justified, Rathbun said. “The whole thing was done wrong. I can’t tell you what a technical crime this was’’ in terms of Scientology methods.

The caretakers had given McPherson an “introspection rundown,’’ a procedure created by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The goal is to isolate and calm a psychotic person enough to be audited. She is to be kept in a silent environment with no one around to “re-stimulate” mental images that might upset her.

Yet church staffers came and went from McPherson’s room, as did guards using walkie-talkies, Rathbun said. One staffer cried in a corner. Others held McPherson down while trying to medicate and feed her.

Instead of calming, McPherson grew agitated and self-destructive during her 17-day stay.

Rathbun said he has participated in several introspection rundowns, and none lasted more than a day or two.

He said it was obvious to him that McPherson was the victim of “out-tech,” a term for Scientology malpractice.

Rathbun had another problem: Kartuzinski, the auditing supervisor, and Johnson, the medical officer, had lied to Clearwater police. They said McPherson had not received an introspection rundown, and they said there was nothing unusual about her stay.

“That’s the hand I’m dealt,” Rathbun said. “I’ve got two false sworn statements to law enforcement agents’’ on top of how badly the Scientologists handled McPherson.

It was such a “dog’s breakfast” of facts, he said, his first instinct was to do something entirely out of character.

“I really truly, sincerely wished that I was in a position where I could just follow my heart,” he said. “Because my heart in December 1995 was to go straight to the state attorney’s office and say, ‘My God. There’s been a terrible accident … We want to take responsibility?'”

But that wasn’t in the playbook. His nearly two decades immersed in Scientology culture had taught him: When under siege, close ranks, never admit fault.

He said he wrote an internal report that concluded church procedures had been violated, but the mistakes did not contribute to McPherson’s death.

He put the report in a manila envelope and sealed it the way he learned years earlier as a 20-something newbie handling Hubbard’s correspondence. Slice the seams with a razor, cover them with tape and melt the tape so no one can open the envelope without tearing it. Then off the envelope went to the church’s California base.

For a year, not a word about McPherson’s death had appeared in the media.

But in mid December 1996, details of the Clearwater police investigation leaked to reporters. An autopsy report from Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Joan Wood concluded that McPherson died of a blood clot in her left lung caused by “bed rest and severe dehydration.”

Rathbun coordinated the public response, which he now acknowledges began with lies. Church spokesmen said McPherson had been at the Fort Harrison for rest and relaxation. They said she could come and go as she pleased. They denied that she had received an introspection rundown.

McPherson “suddenly fell ill’’ and participated in decisions about her care, church officials said. Her death was an unfortunate accident, unrelated to anything Scientology did.

Wood spoke out, saying her autopsy contradicted the church’s statements. The veteran medical examiner said there was nothing sudden or accidental about McPherson’s death. Her health deteriorated gradually over about 10 days, and she probably was unconscious toward the end.

The church sued Wood for access to her records. A Scientology lawyer called her: “Liar. Liar. Liar. Liar. Liar. Hateful liar.”

McPherson’s family sued the church for wrongful death.

And the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office investigated whether to file criminal charges.

Destruction of evidence

In early 1997 as investigators closed in, Rathbun met with church staff at Scientology offices in Hollywood, Calif. They combed the daily logs that McPherson’s caretakers kept during her 17 days at the Fort Harrison.

Three entries particularly troubled Rathbun.

One contained a bizarre sexual reference McPherson had made. Another revealed that no one thought to remove the mirror from the room of a psychotic woman bent on harming herself. The third was one caretaker’s opinion that the situation was out of control and that McPherson needed to see a doctor.

Rathbun concluded the notes had to go.

“I said, ‘Lose ’em’ and walked out of the room,” he recalled, adding that the decision to destroy the records was his own.

“Nobody told me to do it and I did it,” he said. “The truth is the truth and right now I’m going to confession, and I really think it’s something that hurt the church more than it hurt the people that were trying to get recompense.

“But it is what it is, and I know it could potentially be a crime.”

In a recent interview, State Attorney Bernie McCabe said it was clear the records were missing because the church handed over entries for every day of McPherson’s stay except the final two before she died. That the church appeared to be hiding something only fed McCabe’s sense that something was amiss.

Prosecuting Rathbun is not an option, because the time to bring destruction of evidence charges expires after three years, McCabe said. “We’re done.’’

Stress ratchets up

On Nov. 13, 1998, McCabe’s office charged the church’s Clearwater entity with two felonies: criminal neglect and practicing medicine without a license.

The church now faced the prospect of trials and embarrassing testimony in both criminal and civil court.

Miscavige delegated dealing with lawyers and reporters to Rathbun and to Scientology’s chief spokesman, Mike Rinder. But the church leader kept hold of the controls, working to forge Scientology’s message from behind the scenes.

Rathbun revealed that while he and Rinder conducted phone interviews, Miscavige often was at their side, directing what to say and gesturing wildly when he thought they got it wrong.

A key legal issue in the McPherson family’s wrongful death lawsuit was whether Miscavige could be added as a defendant. Church lawyers argued that he should not be named in the suit because he dealt only with ecclesiastical matters. The family countered that Miscavige “totally controls” and “micromanages all of Scientology.”

In December 1999, a Tampa judge ruled that Miscavige could be added as a defendant.

For the church leader, it was “a big snapping point,’’ Rathbun said.

“That was like the explosion of all explosions that he was now potentially going to get deposed and his name would be embroiled in that litigation. He became progressively more antagonistic, violent, irrational.”

William C. Walsh, a Washington, D.C., human rights lawyer who has represented Scientology for years, said the account is far-fetched.

“One thing I do know is Dave Miscavige, and I’ve known him from December 1999 on and way before that,” Walsh said. “And I never saw any change in his personality when he became a defendant in the case. He didn’t become more antagonistic. He did not become more violent. And he’s never been irrational.”

Said Yingling: “He wasn’t happy to be a defendant. That’s true. But he took it in stride with everything else that was happening in the case.”

Rinder and Rathbun recall an afternoon on the third floor of a small office building overlooking N Fort Harrison Avenue, when they say Miscavige attacked Rinder. They say the leader shouted obscenities at Rinder, grabbed him and, while holding him in a headlock, twisted his neck and threw him to the floor.

Of the dozens of attacks Rinder says he endured, this one was the most painful.

“I remember my neck was out of place, and for maybe 30 minutes I couldn’t speak because my larynx had been squashed against the back of my throat,’’ he said.

Clamped in the headlock, Rinder said his thoughts tracked a familiar arc: What did I do to cause this?

When Miscavige dresses you down or, worse, punishes you physically, “You get into trying to figure out what you have done to him,’’ Rinder said. “And that’s the thing with the beatings. What did I do to cause this to happen to me?’’

Overprepare. Attack, attack

Reminiscent of how Scientology fought the IRS to restore its tax exemption, the church would not be outworked defending itself from the criminal charges in the McPherson case.

Scientology spent millions of dollars, and church lawyers filed thousands of pages of medical studies and consultant reports that said McPherson’s care at the Fort Harrison could not have caused her death.

The case collapsed after Wood, the medical examiner, unexpectedly changed her official finding on the manner of McPherson’s death. Previously “undetermined,’’ she changed it in February 2000 to an “accident.’’

Prosecutors dropped the charges four months later, citing Wood’s conflicting and confused interpretations of the evidence.

Conspiracy theorists suggested that the church somehow “got to’’ Wood.

Rathbun denies it. He says the medical examiner changed her conclusions in the face of the reams of scientific information from church experts.

“There was no blackmail on her,” Rathbun said. “There was no intelligence. It absolutely was all evidence. I swear to God.”

Wood, reached at her home, declined to comment.

McCabe said it was his impression that evidence and expert testimony swayed Wood. “One thing you quickly come to realize when dealing with (Scientologists) is that they are persistent,” he said. “And they were persistent with her.”

In May 2004, four years after the criminal charges were dropped, the church settled with McPherson’s family, ending their lawsuit. The terms remain secret.

In a speech to the International Association of Scientologists, Miscavige proclaimed victory over government officials, over the press and over others who he said tried to use McPherson’s death to bring down the church.

He said the roots of the attack stretched from the German government, which opposed Scientology, to the Clearwater police, which investigated the church for two decades.

“They were just looking for anything to get us,” he told the crowd. “We always knew we’d win.”

Quoting Hubbard, he listed the qualities that would always hold Scientology in good stead. “Constant alertness, constant willingness to fight back.”

Winning but losing

Though Scientology prevailed on the legal front, the McPherson case set back a long-running effort by the church to cultivate a benign, mainstream image.

Among the details that emerged: In McPherson’s last five years, she had spent at least $176,700 on Scientology services and had $5,773 in the account she kept at the church. She died with $11 in her savings account.

The case reignited passions about Scientology and its practices, bringing pro- and antichurch protests back to the streets of Clearwater after years of relative calm.

Some people paid a price.

Minkoff, the Scientologist doctor who pronounced McPherson dead, was disciplined by the state of Florida. Without having met McPherson, he had written prescriptions for her during her stay in the Fort Harrison.

Kartuzinski, the supervisor in charge of her stay at the Fort Harrison, was banished for years to work in the church’s laundry in Clearwater.

Scientology parishioners were called on to dig deeper into their pockets. The church’s Clearwater entity, the Flag Service Organization, typically took in $1.5 million to $2 million a week, Rathbun and others said, providing a picture of Scientology’s revenues never before disclosed.

Miscavige decided the exorbitant legal bills from the McPherson case were to be paid from the Flag operation, Rathbun said, so church registrars urged parishioners to come in for more auditing and other services.

“It was a matter of, ‘Step things up, get people in?'” he said. “They brought in a lot of money during that period.”

Yet another group would pay in a different way. According to Rathbun and other high-ranking defectors, Miscavige grew more violent and erratic as the McPherson case wore on.

Said Rathbun: “Working under David Miscavige from 2000 forward was a steadily deteriorating situation.”
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:51 pm

Scientology: Ecclesiastical justice, Part 3 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology
by Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs
Times Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The four high-ranking executives who left Scientology say that church leader David Miscavige not only physically attacked members of his executive staff, he messed with their minds.
He frequently had groups of managers jump into a pool or a lake. He mustered them into group confessions that sometimes spun into free-for-alls, with people hitting one another.

Mike Rinder, who defended the church to the media for two decades, couldn't stomach what was happening on the inside.

The tactics to keep executives in line "are wrong from a Scientology viewpoint,'' said Rinder, who walked away two years ago. "They are not standard practice of Scientology. They are just not humanitarian. And they are just outright evil.''

Church spokesmen confirm that managers are ordered into pools and assembled for group confessions. It's part of the "ecclesiastical justice'' system the church imposes on poor performers.

Rinder and the other defectors couldn't cut it in the tough world of Scientology's Sea Org, a group whose members dedicate their lives to service of the church, the church says. Rather than accept their own failings, the defectors are putting a sinister twist on something that is normal.

The Sea Org is a "crew of tough sons of bitches,'' said church spokesman Tommy Davis, an 18-year veteran of the group.

"The Sea Org is not a democracy. The members of it agree with a man named L. Ron Hubbard. They abide by his policies . . . and we follow it to the T, to the letter, to the punctuation marks. And if you disagree with that and you don't like it, you don't belong. Then you leave."

A better thetan

The order came about 10 p.m. on a winter's night: Report to the swimming pool.

From around the church's postcard-pretty base in the mountains east of Los Angeles, some 70 staff members turned out in their Navy-style uniforms. David Miscavige was unhappy with the troops, again.

The punishment the leader had in mind was not new to members of the Sea Org. Hubbard, the church's late founder, "overboarded" Sea Org members in the 1970s when he ran Scientology from a ship named the Apollo.

Miscavige had the staffers line up at the diving board in their uniforms, and one by one, jump into the pool. Before each person went in, Norman Starkey, once the captain of the Apollo, called on them to be better spiritual beings. He recited a traditional Sea Org saying:

We commit your sins and errors to the deep and trust you will rise a better thetan.

Miscavige ordered the group to go to an office in their wet clothes and stay put until they figured out where they had failed.

Tom De Vocht says he can't recall what angered Miscavige that chilly night early in 2005. But he well remembers the doubts that crept into his head as he sat wet and shivering.

What am I doing here?

De Vocht had joined the church with his mother when he was just 10 and rose to a top executive post at Scientology's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater. But in the months after that mass dunking, he no longer recognized the organization.

Neither did Rinder, who went into the pool that night with De Vocht.

Two others already had acted on their doubts. Marty Rathbun, one of Miscavige's top lieutenants for years, left in 2004. Amy Scobee, who held several executive posts, left in 2005.

The four defectors, speaking publicly for the first time, each served more than 25 years in the Sea Org.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, I felt I was doing something for the good of man, and I'll never give that back," said De Vocht, who left in 2005. "But the longer I was in it, it got crazier and crazier as Dave took over."

Normal vs. abnormal

Confession is ingrained in Scientology culture. Admit all your bad thoughts and transgressions, leave nothing out, and you will feel free, unburdened, joyful.

The four defectors say Miscavige took the practice to a new level. They said he convened group confessions that came to be known as "seances."

The executives would confess sins they had committed against Miscavige, reveal their bad thoughts about Scientology and make personal disclosures, including sexual fantasies. If someone couldn't come up with a transgression, the others bullied him into admitting something. Anything.

"And Dave would sit there and listen to it and enjoy the hell out of it," said De Vocht, who recalled one seance when he said Miscavige struck executive Marc Yager and threw him to the floor, then singled out Faith Schermerhorn, a midlevel administrator who is black.

"He goes, 'By the way, (Yager) thinks black people are n------, and he doesn't want Scientology to help blacks. Go kick him.' So (Yager) is down on the ground and she's kicking him,'' De Vocht said.

"Everybody in that damned room — people are wild and out of control," he said. "I punched somebody. Everybody was punched. And screaming and yelling. It just got like, What the hell is going on here?

Like COB [David Miscavige], does he want $300,000,000 million? Is that what it is? Does he want a billion dollars? Is that it? Is it just his power hard-on? Or is it just insanity?

Like if I wanted money, if I wanted a billion dollars or something like that, I couldn't do that. I'd probably kill myself. I just couldn't live with myself like that.

Me, personally, I look at David Miscavige, that's my definition of 1.1. He's good at it. To lie to people like that? To have no sense of responsibility when you rip people off for hundreds of millions of dollars, and then make them happy about it afterwards? You must be giggling!

-- "How I Got Into Scientology And Why I Got Out," -- Illustrated Interview with Jason Beghe

The church provided the St. Petersburg Times with sworn declarations from Yager and Schermerhorn denying that the incident happened. In Yager's declaration, he said he is not prejudiced and Schermerhorn is a friend.

Schermerhorn wrote that she has never heard Miscavige use the n-word: "As a matter of fact, I know that Mr. Miscavige has been the person in Scientology who has done the most for black people.''

Rinder said a group confession early in 2004 stands out for him because Rathbun, his longtime friend, ended up attacking him.

"You stand up and there's 50 people in the room all screaming and shouting, 'What did you do? And you did this and you did that.' And I'm standing there saying, 'No, I didn't do that,' '' Rinder said.

The group ganged up on him. He had to have done something: Come on. Own up. Come on.

"And then when I said nothing, that's when Marty leaped on me,'' Rinder said. "And that's psychotic. There is a term for it in Scientology. It's called Contagion of Aberration. . . .

"When you get a group of people together, they will stimulate one another to do things that are crazy."

Davis, who succeeded Rinder as church spokesman, said the term "seance'' is not used in Scientology and Miscavige never encouraged violence. But it's not surprising that Rathbun attacked Rinder, Davis said, because Rathbun physically attacked other managers all the time.

Rinder said the ugly moment was an example of the corrosive atmosphere at Scientology's base near Los Angeles. "There's an attempt to play people off, one against the other. And you know that and you see it," Rinder said.

Rathbun's attack "wasn't motivated by hatred toward me, it was motivated by some attempt at preservation for him."

Davis cited church founder Hubbard's policy that encourages members to confront and "come clean" when they have done something to bring down their group. It's one hallmark of a successful organization.

"It's not for the purposes of punishment,'' Davis said, "and it's certainly never for the purpose of trying to make the person feel guilty for it."

The church says Rathbun and De Vocht acted so inappropriately — roughing up staffers — that they were required to confess publicly. "They were definitely guilty, definitely in violation of the mores of the group,'' said spokeswoman Jessica Feshbach.

"And were they confronted by peers and asked, What's going on? Absolutely. Because that is the responsibility of the group.''

Letting down the group also can result in overboarding, church spokesmen said. It's a Sea Org ritual akin to traditions in other religious orders.

Starkey, the 66-year-old former captain of the Apollo, said plenty of people have been overboarded in his 50 years in Scientology.

If a Sea Org member messes up, "you throw him over the g-- d--- side of the ship," Starkey said.

"He falls into the water, he swims around, climbs up the ladder, gets off at the dock, walks back in again. He never does that again. He knows that that is the way we operate. That is what the Sea Organization is like."

Church lawyer Monique Yingling said overboarding is part of ecclesiastical justice. "They're not backing away from it or ashamed of it,'' she said. It has been done hundreds of times, with precautions taken to make it safe.

In the example De Vocht and Rinder recounted, church spokesmen said, the pool was heated, towels were provided, a lifeguard was present. And Miscavige wasn't even there.

De Vocht and Rinder say he was. "He was standing right there, laughing,'' Rinder said. "It was very entertaining for him."

Rinder said he doesn't remember any towels at the ready, that night or any of the 10 or so other times he says large groups of staffers were escorted to the lake under guard and required to jump in fully dressed.

He disputed Yingling's contention the "overboarding" incident as described, with a large group of people, is accepted church practice. He said it's meant to address an issue with an individual.

Which is how church spokesman Davis said he punished a subordinate.

"It was a guy who was blowing it and kept blowing it and kept blowing it — making mistakes, underperforming," he said. "It was my responsibility to uphold the ethical standards of the Sea Org. Yeah, absolutely, I tossed the guy in.''

If the defectors could not hack such punishments, Davis said, they could have left years ago. "The g-- d--- front door wasn't locked. And if they had a problem with it they could have walked out."

Intense and hands on

The defectors were not only soft, they couldn't maintain the accelerated work pace Miscavige established, the church says. Rathbun flubbed so many assignments, such as his handling of the Lisa McPherson wrongful death lawsuit, that Miscavige had to take over, distracting him from more important duties, spokesmen said.

With Rathbun gone, Miscavige focused on growth plans: "2004 was a paradigm shift, the point where everything changed,'' Davis said. "Where Mr. Miscavige was able to get on to what he always wanted to get on to.''

Davis played DVDs of Scientology ads now on cable TV. He outlined a multimillion-dollar international expansion program to open an array of "ideal orgs," each with course rooms, displays that explain Scientology to the uninitiated, facilities for community outreach groups, and rooms for auditing, the core counseling of Scientology.

The church revamped its Web site, improved the books that are the foundation of Scientology and restored the grainy films of Hubbard's landmark lectures. All of this accomplished in the past four years, all led, planned, designed and created by Miscavige.

The spokesmen described him as a "hands-on" leader working in video editing bays, proof­reading manuscripts, helping write scripts, staying up each night to listen to every one of Hubbard's 3,000 lectures and setting up a construction office to outfit the 66 new buildings the church has acquired since 2004.

Miscavige is intense, church spokesmen said, but he never behaves in degrading, crude or violent ways, and he never altered church policy. The church brought more than a dozen international managers to Clearwater to speak to the Times. All said they worked with Miscavige for years and spoke of his kindness and compassion.

All of them deny the defectors' allegations that Miscavige hit them.

"They're such lies," said Ray Mithoff, his voice shaking. "I've known the man for 27 years."

Said Mark Ingber, a Sea Org member since 1968: "I've never been beaten to a pulp in my life. Mr. Miscavige is my friend."

The best and worst

One night before Christmas 1997, Miscavige's wife, Michelle, telephoned Rathbun and Rinder. The leader wanted to see them. Right away.

From different parts of the California compound, they jogged to his quarters.

They say Miscavige bustled through the screen door in a terry cloth bathrobe and without a word grabbed Rinder around the neck, slapped him, slugged him and threw him against a tree.

Rinder ended up in ivy, mud on his uniform, his lip bleeding. Miscavige led them to the officers' lounge, poured Rinder a glass of Scotch and said it would make him feel better.

The leader of Scientology turned and walked toward his quarters.

People would flinch when Miscavige walked by, De Vocht said.

"That's how routine it was," he said. "His whole entire outlook was that everybody was out to get him. Anything and everything anybody else touched was going to be screwed up, and he had to do it himself. He didn't trust anybody.''

Scobee described working in her office cubicle along the wall of a large conference room. Miscavige was seated alone on one side of the table facing several staffers, including Jeff Hawkins.

"So I'm not paying attention and all of a sudden I see David Miscavige jump up on top of the table — the conference room table," Scobee said.

He lunged at Hawkins, she said, and the two of them landed at her feet. Miscavige "stayed on top of him and was choking him and hitting him and grabbing his tie. Buttons were flying and change falling out of Jeff's pockets. And I'm sitting here going, 'Oh my God!'"

Hawkins has spoken and written publicly about the 2002 incident.

Church executive David Bloomberg tells a far different story. Bloomberg said that he was seated next to Hawkins that day and that Hawkins became belligerent with the leader. Hawkins fell out of his chair and ended up putting a scissor lock on Miscavige's legs.

"Mr. Miscavige did not touch Jeff Hawkins,'' Bloomberg said.

At his best, Miscavige inspires staffers, Rathbun said, recalling times the leader invoked a dispatch Hubbard wrote in the 1980s: The planet's fate rests on the shoulders of "the desperate few."

Miscavige used it to stir a sense of mission and make you feel special, Rathbun said.

"He'd make you feel like you were really important. And that's why you would do stuff for him.''

But the defectors said Miscavige's tendency to change plans, micromanage and undermine the chain of command paralyzed the management team and stifled growth in the years before they left. To pump up revenue, Rathbun said, Miscavige repackaged old Scientology books and services and marketed them to parishioners as must-have, new products.

He cited the church's recent blitz urging members to buy new versions of "the basics," a collection of Hubbard books that are the foundation of Scientology. In 2007, Miscavige told Scientologists who had bought and studied the books for decades that the volumes were flawed, with whole passages missing, out-of-order or written by editors.

No wonder people complained about not being able to understand them, the leader said. The church put the volumes in their proper state and was selling them anew.

Said Rathbun: "He's telling (parishioners) literally to their faces, 'You didn't understand the first thing about Scientology because you couldn't possibly have because the books were screwed up.'"

The 18-volume set now sells for $450, down from the 1986 price of $738.

Davis, the church spokesman, describes the reworked collection as a sensational development, a historic recovery of Hubbard's work comparable to the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.

Said Yingling, the church attorney: "It was received with such joy by the Scientology public at large.''

Rathbun, De Vocht and Scobee said they were privy to weekly internal data reports that showed a gradual decline in key statistics, including the value of church services delivered and the number of auditing hours and courses completed.

"These are the statistics that are supposed to matter," Rathbun said. "All that stuff's been going down."

De Vocht described Miscavige's decisionmaking as erratic. He said the leader often changes course, resulting in situations like Scientology's multi­million-dollar "Super Power" building in downtown Clearwater. The mammoth structure, finished on the outside, has sat vacant for six years.

After repeated design changes, work on the interior restarted this month.

Davis and Yingling trumpet Scientology's worldwide expansion. The past five years, the church has acquired 80 properties; three new churches — called orgs — opened this year, with five more on track to open by year's end.

Is this the real life?

They called it the Hole.

For months, the small building at the California base was like a prison for more than 30 of the highest-ranking officers in the Sea Org.

They could leave only once a day, for a shower, otherwise they stayed put. Food was brought in. They slept on the floor, men around the conference table, women in the cubicles and small offices ringing the room.

Miscavige called meetings at odd hours, 2 a.m., 4 a.m. Day after day, the exhausted executives puzzled through management structure and the pricing system for church services, trying to guess what their leader wanted.

He rejected their ideas, cursed them, branded them "suppressive persons" who put their church at risk. He demanded they go back at it; they could not leave until they got it right.

Sometimes Miscavige would let someone out of the Hole or throw in somebody else. Rinder says he was there from the start. In January 2004, Miscavige added De Vocht to the mix.

"Everyone gathered around the table. He's throwing things, yelling at people, beating people up," De Vocht remembered. "It was a weirdo scene, let me tell you."

Later that month, Miscavige threw a bigger name into the Hole: Marty Rathbun.

The leader told the others not to listen to a word Rathbun said, he was not to be trusted: I know you all have come to respect this guy over the years, but he is the guy that's f----- me up.

A few days earlier, Rathbun says, Miscavige had pushed his head against a wall and slapped him hard across his left ear for not being tougher on the staff. He figures that must be what landed him in the Hole.

The building consisted of small offices and a conference room tucked into two double-wide trailers. When Miscavige tramped down the corridor, the hollowness of the floor made a klunk, klunk, klunk sound.

Four days into Rathbun's stay, the klunking signaled Miscavige's arrival, flanked as always by his wife, who took notes, and an assistant with a recorder so that everything the leader said could be transcribed and distributed across the base.

Miscavige announced that they were going to play musical chairs to determine who among them was the most committed to the tasks at hand. All but the winner would be reassigned to Scientology's far-flung outposts.

Some staffers cried at the thought of being separated from family. Others made ready, positioning chairs around the 30-foot long, maple conference table.

Miscavige used a boom box to play Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen.

Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide

No escape from reality

When the music stopped, the uniformed Sea Org members jostled for chairs, knocking each other aside. Two men fought so hard a chair came apart in their hands.

Losers were told where they were being assigned, husbands and wives finding that they were to be thousands of miles apart. Rinder said Miscavige taunted one husband for showing a soft side by consoling his tearful wife.

"Oh yeah,'' Rinder said. "It was fun and games.''

Again, church officials said, the defectors are making the normal seem abnormal. Miscavige was merely trying to make a point, they said, citing a Hubbard policy that says frequent personnel transfers are like "musical chairs" and can harm a group's progress. Miscavige wanted the group to see for themselves how destructive that can be.

Yingling said Miscavige had been away from the base and returned to find that in his absence, Rathbun had transferred hundreds of staffers. "That's why nothing was getting done," she said.

Rathbun and Rinder said it was the opposite: Nothing was getting done because Miscavige took top managers from their posts and ordered them to the Hole. Rathbun said Miscavige berated him for not transferring more people.

From evening into the wee hours of the next day the game of musical chairs dragged on, sometimes interrupted by the leader lecturing the group on their incompetence.

"It's like Apocalypse Now," Rathbun said. "It's bizarre."

The game ended with two women competing for the last chair.

"It was definitely a physical struggle and they were grappling and wrestling," Rathbun recalled. "Then (Miscavige) leaves and says, 'Okay, good. We'll see you f------ tomorrow.' "

Miscavige never carried out his threat of mass transfers.

One beating too many

The next night, Miscavige ordered his executives to jog from the Hole to a building where staffers made CDs of long-ago lectures by Hubbard.

With the group still huffing from their 400-yard run, Miscavige grilled De Vocht, who had overseen renovations to the building. He slapped De Vocht, threw him to the floor and began to choke him.

De Vocht can't recall why he was attacked. Maybe he hesitated with an answer. Maybe he gave a look the leader didn't like. Whatever the reason, he accepted his drubbing in silent, degrading submission.

Miscavige grew angrier if you expressed pain or resisted, the defectors said.

"You're literally sitting there thinking, I'm not going to hit this guy," De Vocht said. "It happens so suddenly, what do you do? And then if you want to go after him, how many other people are going to pummel you? You've got to realize this place is so cultish it's scary."

Scobee says the executives at the California base were trapped. They dared not speak to each other about Miscavige's behavior, afraid they would be found out in confessions known as "security checks."

A person who said something negative about Miscavige might withhold it in her own confession, Scobee said, but someone else would invariably report it in theirs.

"So you don't want to go against him," she said. "It wasn't even an option, as amazing as it seems. Now, after being out, I would so do everything different."

For Sea Org members, there's a personal struggle as well. "You put your life into the church and you do think that is your route to freedom," Scobee said. "There are a lot of great things about it … and you don't want to throw that away. You don't want to risk it."

Why not just leave?

Easy to say, according to Rinder.

Scientology preaches self-reliance. You alone control your environment, your condition in life is no one else's doing but your own.

But just as strongly, Scientology holds that if you leave the church, something is wrong with you. Somewhere in your past is an "overt," a transgression.

"It becomes a big sort of dichotomy," Rinder said. Staying in an unhappy situation is no way to control your environment. "But if I leave, I'm doing something wrong, too. It's like a catch-22."

For Rinder, the Scientology experience he knew and loved had become something foreign, a work climate increasingly strange and abusive.

It also was at crosscurrents with the kinder, gentler public posture the church sought to build over the past 20 years, a message that Rinder, as chief spokesman, conveyed time and again: The church purged the lawbreakers and dirty tricksters of the 1970s and reinvented itself.

"We just stopped doing things that I and others considered to be foolish and harmful and off policy,'' Rinder said.

Except at home.

"Now, the irony is what's being done on the inside is foolish and harmful and abusive,'' he said.

Rathbun saw and delivered many beatings over the years. But he said Miscavige's attack on De Vocht the night after the musical chairs game clarified his thinking.

Four days earlier, when Miscavige put Rathbun in the Hole, he instructed everyone not to talk to him. But De Vocht quietly defied that order, asking Rathbun to help them figure out what to do to please Miscavige. Now De Vocht was being beaten.

"I'm watching this go down, and I just had this incredible connection … this humanity connection with Tom," Rathbun said. "I subscribe to the Popeye philosophy: 'I can take so much but I can't takes no more.'

"I still have a thread of dignity and I see it being crushed in people around me. What am I going to do? Am I going to become one of them, too?"

As the rest of the group herded back into the Hole, Rathbun broke off and ducked into some bushes. He went for his motorcycle, a Yamaha 650, wheeled it to the back gate of the compound and hid in the brush for about 20 minutes. When the gate opened for a car, he sped away.

Rathbun said he felt rage and loss, mixed with an odd excitement.

"I'm kind of exhilarated that I've made the step, and I'm hauling a-- because I'm thinking someone's following me."


Mark C. "Marty" Rathbun left the Church of Scientology staff in late 2004, ending a 27-year career that saw him rise to be among the organization's top leaders. For the past four years, he has lived a low-profile life in Texas. Some speculated he had died.

In February, Rathbun posted an Internet message announcing he was available to counsel other disaffected Scientologists.

"Having dug myself out of the dark pit where many who leave the church land," he wrote, "I began lending a hand to others similarly situated."

Contacted by the St. Petersburg Times, Rathbun agreed to tell the story of his years in Scientology and what led to his leaving. The Times interviewed him at his home in Texas, and he came to Clearwater to revisit some of the scenes he described.

Seeking to corroborate Rathbun's story, the newspaper contacted others who were in Scientology during the same period and have left the church: Mike Rinder, one of Rathbun's closest associates for two decades; Tom De Vocht, whom Rathbun named as key to his decision to leave; and later, Amy Scobee.

Rathbun and Rinder were well known to the reporters, who had interviewed them dozens of times, sometimes combatively, through years of controversy in Clearwater. They also hosted the reporters in Los Angeles in 1998, when Miscavige granted the only print media interview he has given.

Two reporters met Rinder in Denver, where he now lives, but he declined to be interviewed. About a month later, two Washington-based lawyers who work for the church showed up unannounced in Denver, informed Rinder that they had heard about the newspaper's visit and asked what he had revealed.

They reminded him that as one of the church's top legal officers, attorney-client privilege did not end when he left the church. They told him he could hurt the church by going public.

Weeks later, after the church provided the newspaper with a 2007 video of Rinder heatedly denying that Miscavige hit him and others, Rinder decided to talk to the Times.

De Vocht was interviewed in Winter Haven. Scobee was interviewed in Pinellas County, when she and her husband came to visit relatives.

The reporters interviewed the four defectors multiple times, and met with church spokesmen and lawyers for 25 hours.

Joe Childs, Managing Editor/Tampa Bay, ran the Times Clearwater operation dating to 1993 and supervises the newspaper's Scientology coverage. He can be reached at

Thomas C. Tobin has covered the Church of Scientology off and on since 1996. He can be reached at
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:56 pm

Scientology's Crushing Defeat: A Previously Unpublished Saga of an $8 Million Check
by Tony Ortega
The Village Voice
June 27, 2008

Scientology leader David Miscavige, in full Sea Org regalia. Miscavige's status as "captain" of the Sea Org was central to a court case that resulted in the largest court penalty in Scientology history.

Six years ago, when I was a reporter at New Times LA, I’d written several stories about Scientology (Los Angeles is one of its headquarters), and I was about to uncork the longest one yet—a 7,000 word piece about an embarrassing, $8 million defeat Scientology had just suffered, when the weekly paper suddenly folded.

That unpublished story has been sitting in storage ever since. Fast forward to 2008, and the world of reporting on Scientology has changed radically, thanks in part to the lunacy of Tom Cruise, but also in part to a worldwide, leaderless movement that calls itself Anonymous. Ravenous for any information about L. Ron Hubbard’s strange organization, Anonymous scours the world for the least tidbit about Scientology.

Well, here was a pretty meaty morsel just sitting in my hard drive. It’s still a substantial bit of reporting, and it fills in some gaps in the historical record of one of the most humiliating court losses Scientology has ever suffered.

Originally scheduled to be printed in October 2002, the piece follows. (It’s unchanged except for updates in [brackets].) This material may come as a revelation to some readers, but even for the know-it-alls at Anonymous, there are juicy bites.—Tony Ortega

What Scientology Paid $8 Million To Hide: With an hour to spare, Hubbard’s minions settle a debt they vowed never to pay
by Tony Ortega
Prepared for publication in October, 2002

Even before it started, the 1986 trial of Lawrence Wollersheim v. the Church of Scientology of California caused a mob scene at L.A.’s downtown superior court.

When a judge decided during pretrial motions that documents describing confidential Scientology beliefs should be put in a file open to the public, 1,500 Scientologists swamped the court clerk’s office to keep anyone else from requesting them. The next day, the judge resealed those records. But an L.A. Times reporter managed to get past the crush of Scientologists and copy the file. Newspapers around the country had a field day with what the Times reported: the documents showed that high-level Scientologists are taught that each human contains the souls of alien creatures banished to Earth 75 million years ago by a galactic overlord named Xenu.

Scientology’s process of “dianetics,” developed by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard over a period beginning in the late 1940s, was supposed to rid the body of those alien creatures. But Lawrence Wollersheim, who had defected from Scientology after serving 11 years and making about $50,000 in payments, claimed that the organization’s pricey rituals instead had made him insane and drove him to the brink of suicide. He filed suit in 1980, and six years later his trial was a sensation. Still the most expensive civil trial in L.A. court history, [This was true even in 2002, post-Simpson—T.O.] it made headlines almost daily in the spring and summer of 1986 as Scientologists jammed the courtroom and protested outside of it, complaining that their religious freedoms were being trampled on. For many in the public, reports of the trial gave them their first detailed description of Scientology, which today counts such celebrities as John Travolta and Tom Cruise among its members. Travolta himself made a visit to the trial that May which was widely reported.

In the lawsuit, Wollersheim claimed that after he left Scientology in 1979 the organization retaliated by destroying his business and attempting to destroy him. In five months of testimony, Wollersheim, his psychologist, and former Scientologists described the coercion he was subjected to, sacrifices he was expected to make, and bizarre teachings he was fed, which made Hubbard’s outfit sound more like a mind control cabal out of The Manchurian Candidate than the mainstream faith it claimed to be. Scientology’s attorneys countered that Wollersheim had come to the organization with a preexisting mental condition and was a drug user. Wollersheim was seeking $25 million in damages.

The jury awarded him $30 million.

It was a stunning blow to Scientology, but probably the most lasting impression that many took from the trial was the reaction of Scientologists themselves, who continued to protest at the courthouse day after day for more than a month after the verdict. Staging their demonstrations from a tent city set up across the street, the members wore pins made from ten cent coins and chanted over and over: “Not one thin dime for Wollersheim!”

It was a vow that Scientology kept for 16 years.

In 1989, an appellate court upheld the verdict but reduced Wollersheim’s award to $2.5 million. But even before the original trial started, and for years afterward, various Scientology entities hit Wollersheim with other lawsuits, exhausted every possible appeal, filed mountainous legal briefs, claimed that the particular entity he had sued was broke and could never pay him, and found other ways to put off paying the money.

Even after the case had twice been to the U.S. Supreme Court and the last possible appeal had been denied, Scientology seemed determined that it would never go back on its promise to deny Wollersheim even one thin dime.

And then, suddenly, Scientology threw in the towel.

On May 9 [2002], the Church of Scientology of California, an entity which had once been considered the “mother church” but for a decade was supposed to have been dormant and broke, submitted a check to the superior court for $8,674,843 to cover the $2.5 million judgment and the interest it had accrued.

A Scientology spokeswoman says that the organization was simply tired of the case.

But the timing of the payment suggested another reason.

The very morning that Scientology paid to end the case, superior court judge Robert L. Hess was scheduled to begin a new hearing in the 22-year-old case—a hearing Wollersheim’s attorneys had been preparing for, and demanding, for years.

Wollersheim’s attorneys were about to present evidence that they believed would not only show how Scientology had juggled assets to avoid paying Wollersheim in the past, but would also convince Hess that Scientology’s complex corporate structure itself was an elaborate sham. Contrary to what it had assured the IRS when it regained its tax exempt status in 1993, the “church” and its affiliated organizations, Wollersheim’s attorneys assert, was really a dictatorship with power centered in one man, Hubbard’s successor David Miscavige, who had directed all of the litigation against Wollersheim and had ordered documents key to the case altered or destroyed.

Scientology’s attorneys had managed to keep Miscavige out of the proceedings, but the organization’s nominal president, Heber Jentzsch, was facing cross examination by Wollersheim’s attorneys if the hearing came off as planned.

In the final days before the scheduled event, Scientology attorneys continued to argue for delays and outright dismissals, but Hess denied them and would not budge on the May 9 date. After inheriting the case three years earlier, Hess, in transcripts, appeared determined to turn over his courtroom to a live hearing.

Scientology’s $8.7 million check arrived just an hour before the proceeding was scheduled to begin.

In the months since, the court has gradually released the money to Wollersheim for him to dole out to numerous attorneys to pay for years of service. Those fees will eat up much of the money, but Wollersheim expects to end up with between $1 to $2 million of it. [That hasn’t turned out to be the case—see the update at the end of the piece.]

He is fond of noting that that’s a lot of dimes.

His attorneys are relieved that their client has finally received the money he had won 16 years earlier, but they admit to disappointment that the evidence they collected for so many years was never presented to the public in a live court drama.

They were happy, however, to share it with New Times. [And now, the Voice.]

A central contention in Wollersheim’s case was that even sixteen years after Hubbard’s death, his writings provided an unalterable blueprint to how the organization of Scientology really operated.

And to understand what happened to Wollersheim and others who have defected and now regret the time and large sums they spent learning about Xenu and other dubious concepts, they say, you have to have a working knowledge of Hubbard’s jargon and policies.

Wollersheim got his first taste of it while walking on a street in San Francisco in 1969. He had grown up in Milwaukee and was attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison when he took a summer trip to California. A young woman approached him and made him a pitch, telling him that she had something he’d like to see.

“You’re 18. You think you’re going to get lucky,” Wollersheim says in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location.

Today he’s 51, and he spends much of his time in Nevada and Utah. But the telephone number he provided New Times suggested that he was in Colorado this day. He claims that even after collecting his award, and more than 23 years after leaving the Church of Scientology, he still must be careful about his personal security by staying on the move. [Six years later, he’s still cagey. I spoke to him on the phone the other day—he was in Nevada.]

That day in 1969, Wollersheim followed the young woman to an office and she handed him over to other Scientologists, who asked him to take a “personality test.” It seemed innocent enough, but later he ended up convincing many others to do the same thing. “No matter how you answer the test,” he says, “they tell you you’re screwed up and that they can fix you.”

He was soon hooked. “I decided to quit school, make a bunch of money, and pay them to get all these secret levels of ability.” New recruits are told that advancement in the religion can bring them all sorts of benefits—high level members are said to experience raised IQs, clairvoyance, an immunity to disease, and are able to leave their bodies.

Scientologists believe they can attain these abilities through a process called “auditing,” which enables them to remove “engrams” from their “reactive mind,” something akin to talking away the scars left over from life’s traumas. When all of those scars are removed, a Scientologist is said to be a “clear,” and can attain amazing powers. Like other low-level Scientologists, Wollersheim was kept in the dark about much of Scientology’s true core beliefs. Only through attaining far more experience and going through increasingly expensive auditing could he hope to “go clear.”

He found himself making good money, however, and he gave nearly all of it to Scientology, which attracted the attention of a recruiter for the Sea Organization, an elite order of followers that originated on a ship with Hubbard in the 1960s. Wollersheim was convinced to join the Sea Org, and he signed its standard billion-year contract, agreeing to come back, lifetime after lifetime, to serve Hubbard and Scientology. He was told to sell his candle business and come to Los Angeles where he would be more useful.

Wollersheim continued to excel, and was eventually made a supervisor at the “Celebrity Centre” on 6th Street. (Today the Centre inhabits a historic building on Franklin Street.) Put in charge of 15 employees, Wollersheim found himself responsible for attracting new celebrities to the religion.

“They have a belief that if they control Hollywood, they will be able to create a mass recruiting phenomena,” he says. Finding new celebrity recruits was a serious endeavor, and required lots of planning and research, sometimes with the use of private investigators. “We’d develop a battle plan and rehearse drills of how we were going to surprise the celebrity,” he says, often making use of actors they had already attracted to the religion.

“If we needed them for bait for another celebrity, we’d go with them to an event. Karen Black, for example, would bring over someone to us, and we’d already have rehearsed a pitch for that person.” Actors on the declining side of their careers made easier targets, Wollersheim says. “We’d invite them to a very controlled event without the public present. Movie premieres were our best bets.”

Still, with all of their preparations, they failed nearly all of the time. “Even at that time, the mid 1970s, the word was out that Scientology was weird.”

Wollersheim remembers his staff targeting Richard Kiel, the tall actor who played “Jaws” in the James Bond movies. “They worked on that guy 50 different ways. I worked on him myself, trying to get him in. Kiel suffered chronic pain, and he was promised that Scientology could make it go away. We worked on him and worked on him, but he gave it up. We had him in the communication course...but we never got the big win.”

As a Sea Org member working at the Celebrity Center, Wollersheim was paid $18 for a six day work week, and was supplied food and meager lodgings, and all the while paid for his own auditing, which was becoming more and more expensive. But if the organization’s “stats” were down—if the numbers of new recruits or money taken in for auditing or other criteria that were measured weekly had dipped—then a Sea Org member’s food and pay was cut, Wollersheim says. “You found a way to get them their cash. You didn’t give a damn, after a while, what you told other people—or the bank—to get your money to the org. It was a continual crisis. And it was a calculated thing. It was Orwellian. You had to have a constant crisis to keep people in fear. If it wasn’t that the money was down, then it was that the inspectors were coming. It was like living in a gulag in a free country, and the bars existed in your own head.”

Wollersheim says the threat of retaliation kept him from bailing out. It was known among Scientologists that defectors were hit with large bills for services they had received at discounted prices—called “freeloader debt”—and could also find themselves the target of aggressive private investigations and legal action, a policy Hubbard had called “fair game.”

Wollersheim feared leaving the religion more than he did staying in.

“As you’re going through it, you’re told this is the secret of the universe. You hear legends about results that other people are getting. Many people are telling you about their euphorias. After hundreds and hundreds of hours of training, you have no questioning, critical mind left at that point. There’s no concept in your mind that it couldn’t be true. You are so far gone by that point.”

And that’s when Wollersheim learned the secrets of OT III.

Hubbard claimed that he had nearly paid with his life learning the revelations of OT III, the third level of materials that Scientologists must master after going clear and becoming an “operating thetan,” or OT. The information in OT III was so explosive, Hubbard said, he believed its secrets must have been designed to kill anyone who discovered it. The danger those secrets posed to the uninitiated was one of the ways Scientologists justified not telling newer members about them. (Today they are available on the Internet for perusal, if you know where to look. This reporter suffered no ill effects from reading them.) Former members say that today the typical Scientologist must spend several years and about $100,000 in auditing before they find out on OT III that they are filled with alien souls that must be removed by further, even more expensive auditing.

“OT III totally shatters the core sense of identity. The central concept of mind control is attacking the core personality, the threat that you are not who you think you are. At OT III, you find out that you’re really thousands of individual beings struggling for control of your body. Aliens left over from space wars that are giving you cancer or making you crazy or making you impotent. The reason for every bad thing in your life is these alien beings,” Wollersheim says. “I went psychotic on OT III. I lost a sense of who I was.”

Years can be spent removing these aliens—called “body thetans” or “BT’s”—by talking to and about these supposed hitchhiking entities while holding onto a device called an “e-meter.” “You’re talking to thousands of beings. They have histories. And anger. They’re complex personalities. I started drinking heavily to drown out the voices. I was non-functional, irrational, filthy. I wandered the streets of L.A. for three days. Finally I came enough to my senses to get in touch with Scientologists I knew.” He was cleaned up and calmed down, but Wollersheim was told that the solution to his troubles was just more auditing.

He now sold art to businesses, and employed 132 people in seven different cities. Nearly all of his employees were Scientologists, and so were nearly all of his clients.

Wollersheim says he paid $28,000 for classes in Clearwater, Florida that were supposed to help him locate alien beings that had been a part of him during past lives. “It induced another psychotic episode. I went so raving nuts, I tore down a fence at the center. I thought I was an alien warlord who couldn’t be stopped. After about a day and a half, they came and got me.”

Eventually, however, Wollersheim graduated to a level where he believed he had finally eradicated all of the thetans from his body. “You think you’ve made it. You’re free of all these beings. But then Hubbard releases the second big secret [on a level called “New Era Dianetics for Operation Thetans,” also called “NED for OTs” or “NOTs.”] He tells you there are far more of these beings than anyone ever dreamed of. Inside those original thetans are clusters of other beings. Beings that are eight feet from you, floating near you all the time. Beings miles away from you that are still connected with you. Beings in the television, and you’re told that watching television will wake them up, so you’re told not to watch TV. If OT III made some people nuts, NOTs really drove them over the edge,” he says.

While auditing NOTs, Wollersheim had his third psychotic break. Back in Los Angeles, he remembers lying in a dark room with a .45 revolver, thinking about killing himself. A friend discovered him and took him to a Scientology center for more auditing. Once again, he went back to Clearwater. But when his friend saw that it wasn’t helping him, she told him to get away.

“Those were the magic words,” he says. He decided to leave. Word traveled quickly, however, that Wollersheim was going to leave Scientology after 11 years.

At a restaurant in Clearwater, he says, he was approached by a member of the Guardian’s Office, Scientology’s intelligence bureau. “He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t you ever tell a doctor, lawyer or priest anything that ever happened to you in Scientology.’”

The organization then declared Wollersheim a “suppressive person” (or “SP”)—in other words, an enemy of Scientology—and commanded other Scientologists to “disconnect” from him, he says. His customers stopped paying bills, and 80 percent of his employees quit their jobs within three days. Weeks later, his business had collapsed, leaving him with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts and no way to pay them.

For several months, Wollersheim went into hiding, worried that harm would come to him. “You’re told in Scientology that if you reveal their secrets, bad things will happen to you,” he says. His parents, however, were thrilled that he was out, and they gave him some money to live on.

“At some point in that six months I realized that something bad had happened to me, and I needed someone else’s perspective.” He returned to Los Angeles, looking for others who had left Scientology. On a hunch, he went to the downtown superior court and asked to see the names of people who were suing Scientology. “I was shocked to find a whole list of people,” he says. Some he recognized. He decided to call the attorney handling their cases.

“The church’s conduct was manifestly outrageous,” the California court of appeals wrote a decade later, in 1989, after Wollersheim’s trial had resulted in a $30 million award. (Despite its affirmation of the lower court’s ruling, however, the appeals court lowered the award to $2.5 million, citing Scientology’s supposed meager financial state.)

Scientology claimed that its practices were protected by freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment, but the court rejected that argument by pointing out that Wollersheim had been coerced to remain a Scientologist through the threat of freeloader debt, the use of “fair game,” and the use of confidential information in his files.

The opinion by the appellate court remains one of the most damning in a long history of court denouncements of Scientology which have occurred worldwide.

“The Wollersheim case is among the most important decisions against Scientology in its history because it showed that the organization’s standard practices used against a member were harmful,” says Stephen Kent, a sociologist of religion at the University of Alberta who is one of the few academics who studies Scientology in depth.

Frank Oliver, a former Scientologist who once gathered information on perceived enemies as part of Scientology’s current intelligence wing, the Office of Special Affairs, explains why the decision was so repugnant to the organization, and why paying even a cent of it would be considered by Scientologists a horrendous defeat: “Scientology’s entire premise is that the Hubbard technology is infallible,” he says. “The underlying concept of the Wollersheim judgment is that the Hubbard tech is harmful. If they pay, they validate the argument that the tech is toxic.”

And for that reason, Oliver and other former Scientologists say, Scientology was willing to spend vast amounts of money in legal costs to avoid paying Wollersheim.

Even before the trial had started, Scientology had begun a long campaign of separate lawsuits, court motions and other tactics meant to derail the case.

In 1985, Scientologists filed a separate lawsuit based on federal anti-racketeering laws (a RICO action) in U.S. district court against Wollersheim, his attorneys, and his expert witnesses. The suit claimed that, in essence, Wollersheim’s attempts to wrestle documents out of Scientology for his trial was akin to a criminal enterprise.

The federal court threw out the lawsuit (dubbed Wollersheim 2), calling it frivolous and “bordering on malicious.”

While that suit was pending, Scientology filed another RICO action, claiming that the entire L.A. superior court was prejudiced against it. In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals not only denied the appeal when this lawsuit, Wollersheim 3, was rejected, but even had it stricken from the court’s record.

Meanwhile, the particular entity Wollersheim had sued, the Church of Scientology of California (CSC), was mysteriously shrinking.

In 1985, the year before Wollersheim’s trial, in a suit brought by another disgruntled former member in Oregon, an official for CSC claimed that it had assets of more than $350 million. But during Wollersheim’s proceedings just twelve months later, CSC officials testified that it was worth only $13 million. (And one of Wollersheim’s attorney’s, Dan Stein, used CSC’s own documents to show that even this amount was ephemeral. By the time Wollersheim won his verdict, CSC was essentially broke.)

Wollersheim and his attorneys suspected where the money had gone.

In 1981, a year after Wollersheim had originally filed his lawsuit, Scientology had gone through a major, and very complex, reorganization. CSC had been splintered into many separate entities, including a new “mother church,” the Church of Scientology International (CSI), and something called the Religious Technology Center (RTC), a sort of ecclesiastical clearinghouse which held all of the copyrights and trademarks of Hubbard’s religious writings and was charged with making sure other Scientology entities kept Hubbard’s “tech” pure.

It was RTC and CSI that had brought the Wollersheim 2 and Wollersheim 3 actions, the frivolous lawsuits that had been aimed at derailing Wollersheim’s original suit against CSC.

Wollersheim has long argued that to avoid paying him, Scientology effected its highly complex reorganization, gutted CSC, and moved its assets to other entities such as RTC and CSI, which in turn used their financial muscle to go after Wollersheim in other actions.

And in 1997, he got proof that his theory was correct. The supposedly dormant CSC had filed yet another lawsuit against Wollersheim (eventually dubbed Wollersheim 4), but after Wollersheim successfully defeated it with a “SLAPP” motion—a California legal strategy that defendants can use to have frivolous lawsuits thrown out of court and be awarded attorney’s fees—CSI admitted that it, not CSC, was really behind the action and paid Wollersheim’s lawyers nearly $500,000.

“My client believes that it doesn’t have a leg to stand on in terms of we are responsible for this amount of money owed and we are going to pay it,” CSI’s attorney Samuel Abelson said in court, an admission that the new organization, CSI, was really behind a lawsuit filed by the old one, CSC.

Wollersheim’s attorneys explain that it was nice to get the attorney’s fees they had coming in the SLAPP action. But more importantly, they say, the victory provided a blueprint for how Wollersheim should seek his original court judgment.

They spent the next five years—until this past May [2002]—trying to prove that the alphabet soup of CSI, RTC, and CSC was a sham, and that Scientology, under whatever name, should have to pay the $2.5 million plus interest that Wollersheim had won in his 1986 trial with CSC.

They gathered evidence to show that despite the confusing profusion of names and acronyms, Scientology was really a single enterprise, and its actions and litigation were directed by one man, Hubbard’s successor David Miscavige. Former high-ranking officials declared that they had witnessed Miscavige—who supposedly had no position or standing at the time with CSC, the corporation being sued—directing the litigation against Wollersheim and ordering the destruction of key evidence in the case. Special intelligence operations, they declared, were formed to target not only Wollersheim and his attorneys but even the judge, witnesses, and their family and friends. When the jury awarded Wollersheim $30 million, one former official testified, Miscavige vowed that it would never be paid, even if it cost more than $30 million to avoid it. CSC, meanwhile, was purposely ransacked of all assets to make sure that Wollersheim couldn’t reach it, two former officers declared.

One of the most damning accounts came from one of Scientology’s own attorneys, a man named Joseph Yanny, who was hired in 1984 and left in disgust three years later. In his court declaration, Yanny testified that the lead Scientology attorney in the Wollersheim case, Earle Cooley, had “personally ordered the destruction of evidence relating to Cult litigation in my presence.” Yanny also witnessed the gathering of information from parishioners’ confidential files for use by the legal team. He was told that using such confidential files to prepare for court was standard practice. And Yanny also was present when a blackmail campaign was planned against Wollersheim’s original attorney, Charles O’Reilly. “The medical records of O’Reilly were to be stolen from the ‘Betty Ford Center’ and another location in Santa Barbara, to show that he was using cocaine, discredit him, and possibly blackmail him into easing off on his 30 million dollar verdict now on appeal. I objected to this as illegal and an alternative plan was quickly arrived at to ‘settle my nerves.’”

These declarations and other documents, Wollersheim’s attorney say, painted a clear picture: the jumble of organizations—CSC, RTC, CSI and many, many others—meant little when it came to defending Scientology against claims that its technology was harmful. Miscavige, they claimed, was in firm control, which ignored corporate and legal niceties.

“If it had been shown in court that the 350 organizations of the church of Scientology were all controlled by David Miscavige, it doesn’t look like a legitimate religion but the authoritative cult that it is. It would have been terrible public relations, and they still would have had to pay the money. And that’s why they paid the money when they did, to avoid the bad PR,” says longtime Wollersheim attorney Ford Greene.

But Dan Leipold, another Wollersheim lawyer, says that Scientology had even more to worry about than bad PR from the documents and testimony they had gathered.

“I think all of the evidence could have threatened the church of scientology’s tax exempt status,” he says.

Hubbard organized Scientology as a religion in 1954. But in 1967, it was stripped of its tax exempt status by the IRS. For the next 25 years, the U.S. government repeatedly turned down Scientology’s appeals to regain its exemption on the grounds that Scientology was not so much a religion as a money-making venture benefiting one man, Hubbard.

Scientology retaliated in an extraordinary way. With Hubbard’s knowledge and direction, agents of his intelligence unit, the Guardian’s Office, began infiltrating IRS and other government offices in the mid 1970s. Dubbed Operation Snow White by Hubbard, the illegal operation netted stolen government documents by the yard, and went undiscovered until a 1977 raid of Scientology offices by the FBI. Eleven Scientologists, including Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue, were sentenced to prison. Hubbard himself was named an unindicted co-conspirator.

Scientology subsequently disbanded the Guardian’s Office, claiming that it was a rogue outfit. But its war with the IRS did not stop.

Even after Hubbard’s death in 1986, the IRS continued to deny the organization tax-exempt status, and Scientology fought back by siccing personal investigators on individual IRS employees and filing more than 2,000 separate lawsuits against the agency.

Despite the harassment, however, the IRS continued to win victories against Scientology in court. In 1992, A United States Claims Court upheld the IRS denial, citing “the commercial character of much of Scientology” and its “scripturally based hostility to taxation.” Tax exempt organizations, the claims court wrote, “simply do not exhibit the financial complexity or the phenomenal preoccupation with money displayed by Scientology’s management churches and organizers.”

By then, however, the IRS had already, secretly, caved. In 1991, under the first George Bush presidency, the IRS had reversed itself and began a process that wasn’t made public until 1993, under the Clinton administration, when the IRS revealed that it was giving nearly every Scientology entity the tax exempt status it coveted.

It was a stunning turnaround and one that, [more than] a decade later, still has tax experts shaking their heads.

Former IRS exempt organizations specialist and tax journalist Paul Streckfus says that the IRS simply cracked from the pressure Scientology had been applying for so many years.

“The IRS found that Scientology was more than they could handle,” Streckfus says. “We think of the IRS as so powerful, but by 1991, the commissioner of the time, Fred Goldberg, decided that the case was tying up the IRS. Scientology seemed to have limitless money, so I think Goldberg decided he wanted to get rid of the case and to hell with it. He directed his people to get the best deal that they could.”

Miscavige, announcing the victory to his flock at a gathering in Los Angeles, bragged that in 1991 he had simply dropped by the IRS headquarters and, without an appointment, asked to speak to Goldberg. (After this was first reported, Scientology took out a full-page ad in the New York Times denying that Miscavige had said it.) Soon after the impromptu meeting, Goldberg established a special committee to examine the Scientology cases—a move that tax experts say all but assured that the exemptions would eventually be awarded. In court testimony, IRS officials have admitted that during the process of granting the exemptions, they were instructed not to look into Scientology’s business-like ventures. The final agreement called for Scientology to pay $12.5 million.

“To them, it was a pittance,” Streckfus says.

Goldberg has refused to discuss the matter since he left the IRS. A New York Times analysis of the affair estimated that Scientology saved tens of millions of dollars in taxes.

“The war is OVER!” Miscavige said in his Los Angeles speech, and at one point referred to a “billion dollar tax bill” that Scientology would not have to pay.

“It’s a sad commentary,” says Streckfus about the IRS cave-in. “You or I would have been sent up the river. But if you have enough resources, you can beat off the IRS.”

The IRS no longer describes Scientology as a money-making dictatorship headed by one man, but a religion which contains many separate, legally distinct entities, each with its own board of directors and corporate officers.

For tax reasons, in other words, it is important for Scientology that David Miscavige, Hubbard’s successor, describe himself merely as the chairman of the board of one particular entity, RTC, and not, as Wollersheim labels him, the iron-fisted ruler of a vast empire mixing tax and non-tax exempt purposes.

“They caved because we had the goods on these guys in direct contravention to their tax exempt status. Miscavige has been running the church since 1986,” says Wollersheim attorney Dan Leipold. And it was one declaration in particular, penned by a dying man, that Leipold believes scared Scientology the most.

Today, Vaughn Young lives in Ohio, and is dying of cancer. But for 20 years, he was a Scientologist, worked directly with Miscavige, and at one time was Scientology’s most senior public relations officer. He was an insider who understood both how Scientology worked behind the scenes, and how it presented itself to the public. He left in 1989 and has been a key figure in numerous court battles since then. [Young passed away in June, 2003.]

“Vaughn gave a declaration that was unimpeachable,” says Leipold. “He took 80 different internal documents, and various publications from L. Ron Hubbard and official Scientology texts. He laid them out and showed how the entire organization operates outside the corporate lines of authority.”

Using Scientology’s own internal documents—many of which, penned by Hubbard and considered sacred, cannot be altered and must be followed to the letter—Young shows that Scientology has a rigid, paramilitary chain of command. Even non-religious entities that market themselves to the public as having no obvious tie to Scientology fall under the strict rubric. The Way to Happiness Foundation and Applied Scholastics, for example, are two organizations that market non-religious Hubbard writings to school districts and avoid mentioning a tie to Scientology. Narconon and Criminon, meanwhile, try to convince prison officials that they are effective methods for turning inmates from drugs and crime. “To the non-Scientology world,” Young writes, “they will say they are not Scientology and try to appear secular.” But internal documents, he shows, are explicit that these organizations fall under the command of the Scientology’s hierarchy.

Unique among all of Scientology’s entities, however, is the Sea Organization, the naval-uniform wearing men and women who have all signed billion-year employment contracts.

“Scientology’s own documents show that the Sea Org is a tough, elite, tight-knit organization that has the authority to move into and take over any organization...regardless of corporate lines,” Young writes. According to its own publications, the highest ranking positions in Scientology entities can only be held by Sea Org members.

Numerous documents describe Hubbard’s wish that his elite Sea Org members could be sent to any Scientology organization, secular or religious, and take over on the spot. “Sea Org Missions are used to cross corporate lines and to control all Scientology organizations and corporations, even into the private business sector,” Young writes. Numerous documents describe Sea Org members showing up at far-flung Scientology enterprises to take control, fire executives, and obtain payment for their work.

In 1987, Miscavige signed a directive which reiterated the Sea Org’s power to take control of any other Scientology entity.

But when he has been asked about the Sea Org’s power, and about his rank today as the captain of the Sea Org, Miscavige plays down his role.

Miscavige has said that the Sea Org is just a fraternal religious order—something akin to the Jesuits in the Catholic religion—and that he is only one of several Sea Org “captains.” The Sea Org has no legal or corporate status.

But Young argues that Scientology’s own documents show that Miscavige, as captain of the Sea Org, wields ultimate power over every single Scientology entity. In a sworn document submitted to the IRS in 1991, Scientology provided a telling description of how rank works in the Sea Org, admitting that “captain” in the Sea Org is, for all but one person, an honorary rank. Only David Miscavige himself, the document shows, holds the true earned rank of captain, and sits alone at the top of the Sea Org’s pyramid of power.

“David Miscavige is, by their own sworn document, at the top of the rankings and the only person holding a [non-honorary] rank of Captain. And this list is, according to them, the highest ranking officers in the Sea Organization,” Young writes.

Miscavige is wearing his naval Sea Org uniform in several photographs gracing the latest copy of International Scientology News, a publication mailed to advanced members. Taken aboard the Freewinds, a cruise ship that houses Scientologists while they audit the highest levels of OT materials, Miscavige is seen handing out awards, plaques, and giving a speech “of the past year’s stellar accomplishments and breakthroughs.” [The Freewinds is now sailing nowhere, after Caribbean officials discovered earlier this year that it was contaminated with asbestos and ordered it docked until it can be rehabilitated.]

There’s no mention in the magazine of the Wollersheim payment among the year’s accomplishments or breakthroughs. Despite Scientology’s $8.7 million cave, however, Miscavige may still have plenty to beam about.

Wollersheim, Leipold and others may believe that Scientology paid the $8 million to prevent a court hearing that could jeopardize its standing with the IRS, but tax experts say that it’s hard to believe that even the most damning evidence, as well as a definitive judge’s ruling, would sway the IRS to reopen an investigation of an enemy it battled for so long.

“The IRS wrongly, as I believe, entered into a closing agreement with this cult,” says Donald C. Alexander, a former IRS commissioner. “I don’t think the IRS is going to go back and unravel that closing agreement as much as it might be in the public’s interest to do so.”

Alexander was commissioner in the 1970s, when Hubbard’s agents were breaking in and stealing from government offices. His conference room was bugged and he was unnerved by 2 am phone calls on his unlisted home number. But while he was commissioner, he says, he vowed never to give in to Scientology’s harassing tactics. “One of my successors didn’t feel that way,” he says. “Maybe [Fred Goldberg] actually believed this thing was a church. Stranger things have happened, but I can’t think of any.

“I’m glad Scientology had to come up with almost $9 million. I wish it had been $90 million,” he says.

New Times made repeated requests to speak with Miscavige and other high-ranking members of Scientology to ask about the $8.7 million payment and why it was made. All calls were returned by a local spokesperson, Linda Hight.

“The Church of Scientology of California has been trying to end this for a very long time,” Hight says. “They just raised the money somewhere and paid to be done with it.” Asked where the money came from, Hight says she doesn’t know. “I don’t know who put up the money. But there are millions of Scientologists in the world, and I’m sure some of them would have been happy to end the whole thing.” (Scientology often claims to have six million members worldwide, a number derided by critics, who put the membership much lower, usually less than 100,000. In a videotaped deposition, Scientology president Heber Jentszch admitted several years ago that the six million number does not represent current membership but the total amount of people who have ever, since the founding in 1954, taken even a single Scientology course.)

David Chodos, attorney for the Church of Scientology International, says that the $8 million check didn’t come from either CSI, RTC or the old, dormant CSC. “I just handled the transaction. I didn’t arrange for the funding. Funding had been made available. I don’t know where it came from, really...I wasn’t concerned where the money came from.”

When Hight was asked about Young’s analysis of Scientology structure, Miscavige’s position, and honorary versus earned rank in the Sea Organization, she replied, “I can’t fathom what the significance of what that would be.”

Tory Christman, a former Scientologist who helped handle Scientology’s PR, says that most parishioners, who avoid reading or watching the news, are probably unaware that the payment to Wollersheim has even been made.

The defeat has certainly not seemed to affect business.

In the most recent issue of Advance!, the magazine of the Los Angeles headquarters, Scientologists are encouraged to begin their advanced training on the OT levels after “going clear.” To entice them, the magazine contains stories by other Scientologists, identified only by initials, who have already attained advanced OT levels and have used their new abilities in what they call “OT phenomena.” One man writes of two gravel trucks bearing down on his automobile in what would have been a sure collision and his possible death—until, using his OT abilities, he slowed down time and made beams come out of him to hold back the screeching trucks. Another Scientologist took over the body of a man who was losing control of his car on the freeway, righted the car, and calmed the driver down. Another man pacified a ghost that, unseen to others, was bothering workers in his office building.

Also in the magazine is a price list for Scientologists anxious to attain their own extraordinary OT powers. A compact disc with some of L. Ron Hubbard’s lectures lists for $1,623.75. The Super Mark VII Quantum E-meter retails for $5,280.00. The OT III materials, which tell the Xenu story and reveal the alien nature of the soul, is discounted at $7,040. And packages needed for high-level solo auditing (done by oneself at home), vary from $24,222 to $63,888. [More recently, Jason Beghe, an actor who announced in April that he had left Scientology after twelve years, revealed that he’d paid about $160,000 for a single set of procedures called “L Rundowns,” and over his entire career gave Scientology about a million dollars.]

Such lavish amounts for religious instruction, Scientology’s critics say, is what allows it to spend so much fighting its foes. Or offering to buy them.

Years ago, Wollersheim was offered $8 million to walk away from his judgment. “They hinted they would go as high as $12 million,” he says. But he refused the money. He says he had seen too many other former members accept settlements and the confidentiality agreements that came with them.

Wollersheim is glad that he turned down those offers. His judgment is the first Scientology has ever paid outright, attorneys familiar with Scientology litigation say. And now, Wollersheim hopes, his victory will encourage others to leave Miscavige’s fold and expose it for what it is.

“I blazed the trail,” he says. “Now others are going to come and turn it into a four-lane highway.”

[Six years later, Wollersheim is still fighting over the money Scientology finally paid. A woman who worked as a paralegal on his case, Leta Schlosser, sued Wollersheim (in a lawsuit named Wollersheim 6) for $5.3 million of the Scientology cash. In a trial presided over by Judge Hess, a jury awarded her $313,000, which Wollersheim says he immediately paid. But Schlosser appealed, saying she was owed more, and is asking for yet another trial. Exhausted, Wollersheim has retired from the day-to-day operation of, an Internet clearinghouse for information about Scientology.

“I have a good life in the sense that I’m a minister. I have satisfying work. And I know that the work I’ve done [fighting Scientology] will help others,” he says.

As for getting his ‘one thin dime,’ he says: “A lot of it has gone to lawyers, it’s going to litigation, it’s going to taxes. I’m working a 40-hour job. It was never about the money.

“I never thought I’d get paid. It took 30 years,” he adds. But despite his own experience, Wollersheim encourages others who feel they’ve been harmed by Scientology to pursue litigation: in almost all other cases, he says, Scientology settles. “Victims of Scientology should take advantage of it and get their lives back,” he says.

Scientology, meanwhile, has much bigger headaches than Larry Wollersheim these days, now that Cruise’s antics have helped bring a new level of media and Internet scrutiny. Scientology continues, however, to maintain its tax-exempt status.]
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Re: Journalism: Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard's Brainchild

Postby admin » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:11 am

Scientology's War Against Judge
by James B. Stewart, Jr.
The American Lawyer
December 1980

On September 5, 1980, as U.S. District Court Judge Charles Richey was recuperating from two pulmonary embolisms and exhaustion, lawyers for the Church of Scientology and the Justice Department gathered before Judge Aubrey Robinson, Richey's successor in the two-year-old conspiracy case against 11 members of the Church of Scientology. Judge Richey had already convicted and sentenced nine of the original 11 defendants, but the remaining two, recently extradited from England, were about to go on trial. "Particularly from the standpoint of your Honor's feelings about these defendants who are members of the Church of Scientology..." began John Shorter, Jr., a lawyer for one of the defendants. He was interrupted by Judge Robinson. "You want to raise a motion to recuse?" the judge asked. He knew what Shorter's remark foreshadowed, having witnessed the Scientologists campaign to drive Judge Richey off the case. "Is this a fishing expedition?"

Robinson is the fourth D.C. district court judge to preside over the Scientology case and the latest target of the Scientologists' self-proclaimed "attack" litigation strategy. Their strategy amounts to an all-out war against the D.C. district court judges, a war much more sophisticated, better financed and more successful than the bizarre tactics used by some other groups against their courtroom adversaries, such as Synanon's attempt to murder an opposing counsel by putting a rattlesnake in his mailbox.

Unlike Synanon, the Church of Scientology has long sought to distinguish itself as a legitimate religion. Founded in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard, a Science fiction writer, philosopher and author of the bestselling book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, the church claims five million adherents to its self-help philosophy. The Church of Scientology has called itself the spiritual heir of Buddhism in the western world, and focuses on what it calls "pastoral counseling" to increase its members abilities and awareness. But in the past few years, the church has been accused of brainwashing and harassing its members, and it has become embroiled in dozens of lawsuits (see sidebar, page 32), including the 1978 criminal conspiracy charges against 11 of its members. Such setbacks have triggered increasingly militant responses, which focused, in the conspiracy case, on the federal judiciary. The Scientologists legal strategy has been to force the recusal of Judges lie at the root of the pending criminal charges against the Scientologists. In 1976. D.C. District Court Justice George Hart, Jr., casually proposed a deposition of Hubbard in conjunction with one of many Freedom Of Information Act suits filed by the church. Hart's remark (no deposition ever proved necessary) caused Scientology officials to believe that the government knew something incriminating about Hubbard. As a result the church intensified its efforts to learn what information the government might possess.

At the same time the church was issuing "Guardian Programme Orders" (directives to church members telling them to use "standard overt sources" and "any suitable guise interviews" to monitor the activities of all district court judges presiding in the FOIA suits. In 1977 that directive was extended to all 15 active judges in the D.C. federal district court.

Posing in some instances as students and journalists, Scientologists interviewed the judges, researched their careers and backgrounds, followed them and prepared dossiers. According to Scientology documents, their goal was to determine "tone level" and "buttons on" -- indicia of personal vulnerability. in the parlance of Scientology. But the church's operation went far beyond legal surveillance. Members of the church were caught breaking into the offices of the IRS and the Justice Department, stealing and copying documents and eavesdropping. On August 15. 1978. l1 Scientologists were indicted on charges of electronically intercepting oral IRS communications, forging government passes, illegally entering government buildings, recruiting Scientologists to infiltrate the government, stealing records belonging to the IRS, Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney and conspiring to illegally obtain documents in the possession of the United States and to obstruct justice.

The Scientologist defendants hired some well-known defense counsel. Mary Sue Hubbard, the wife of church leader L. Ron Hubbard and the highest ranking defendant on trial, retained Leonard Boudin of Rabinowitz, Boudin & Standard and Michael Hertzberg, a solo practitioner, both activist lawyers now practicing law in New York City. Two other defendants, Henning Heldt and Duke Snider, retained Alexandria, Virginia, lawyer Philip Hirschkop, who had been counsel for the "DC. Nine." antiwar protesters arrested in 1970. In all, 12 lawyers were hired to defend nine defendants (two others had fled to England where they faced extradition proceedings). Boudin and Hirschkop soon assumed the leading roles in the defense.

Boudin and Hirschkop won't discuss why they were selected, but their public identification with radical and unpopular causes was undoubtedly attractive to church members, This was Boudin's first association with the church, but Hirschkop had handled a search and seizure matter for the church in 1977.

One lawyer who represents Scientologists and has worked with Boudin and Hirschkop offers this ideological defense for their taking the case: "It is a simple case of government overreaching." he says. "The government just can't tolerate an organization with nonconforming beliefs. The Scientologists stand up for their rights -- aggressively." Another lawyer who has worked on the case adds a financial motive for their taking such a case: "These people pay their bills -- top dollar and on time -which is more than I can say for most of my unpopular clients. This case will finance a lot of pro bono work." Hirschkop won't say what he has received in legal fees from the Scientologists, but the church is a prosperous client In one instance a member paid the church $30,000 for the required series of counseling sessions.

Whatever their reasons for taking the case, high-minded principles have not characterized the campaign of the Scientologists' lawyers against the District of Columbia judges. In August 1978 the cases were assigned to Judge Hart,. the judge whose comment had originally intensified the intelligence operation and who, like all of his fellow D.C. district court judges, had been investigated. He became the first victim of the Scientologists' recusal strategy.

Boudin filed the first recusal motion in January 1979. His theory was a novel one: by telling Judge Hart that the judge himself was a target of the Scientologists' own possibly illegal activities, he would cause the judge to be biased, or appear to be biased, against them. In his motion, Boudin quoted a Scientology document ordering an "overt" and "covert" data collection operation against Judge Hart, which, in Boudin's words, "possibly [included] the use of methods violative of the judge's privacy and other rights and possibly violative of the criminal laws." Boudin concluded that "the sitting judge is revealed to the jury and the public as a victim of possibly illegal actions," and "the judge has an obvious interest which may be affected by the outcome of the case." Notwithstanding documents to which government and defense counsel had access ordering similar operations on all the District of (Columbia district court judges, Boudin declared that he knew of no other such campaigns.

Although government lawyers, led by chief prosecutor Raymond Banoun, protested vigorously, arguing that the Scientologists were using their own possibly illegal activities to disqualify the judge, Hart granted the recusal motion and stepped down. Hart denied that he was biased, but he agreed that the appearance of impartiality had been tainted by the Scientologists' surveillance operation against him. "I was afraid a jury would be prejudicedagainst the defendants because of their alleged threats against me." Hart said recently. The case was assigned next to Judge Louis Oberdorfer, who in light of Judge Hart's recent experience asked for memoranda and oral arguments from both sides at the outset indicating potential grounds for disqualification. Government lawyers pointed out in their memo that Oberdorfer was formerly an assistant attorney general in charge of the tax division of the Justice Department, which had prosecuted a case that ended the tax- exempt status for the founding Church of Scientology in Los Angeles in 1969. Oberdorfer concluded that he had "personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts," and on February 5. 1979. he too stepped down. Shortly afterward the case fell to Richey, 57, a 1971 Nixon appointee whose liberal record -- especially in the area of defendants rights -- surprised early critics. The assignment initially pleased the Scientology defendants. In a pamphlet called "The Trial of the Scientology Nine," prepared by the Scientologists, Judge Richey was described as having "a very fatherly visage . . though crippled with a congenital defect in his hip, one does not notice either his limp or his shortness. His glasses glinting from the lights of the courtroom add to the picture of a man of deep intelligence and sympathy." And when Richey, too, asked at the outset for a recusal motion if one were planned, Boudin and Hirschkop said they were satisfied with his assignment to the case. That attitude was soon belied by a campaign of harassment that took place in and out of the courtroom.

During the summer of 1979, court sessions were held for about three weeks in Los Angeles, where Richey scheduled testimony on the Scientologists' motion to suppress evidence seized by the FBI in its 1977 raids of the church's headquarters. The thousands of documents seized in those raids constituted the core of the evidence against the alleged conspirators. The hearings had been moved to Los Angeles to accommodate the Scientologists' witnesses.

Prior to his departure for Los Angeles, Richey received several death threats. The judge has never publicly alleged that those threats came from Scientologists and has said they were unrelated to the case, but he flew to California escorted by two federal marshals, and elaborate security precautions were implemented at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.

During the hearings, defense lawyers repeatedly interrupted the proceedings with objections, motions and audible commentary, including insults to the judge. For example, Hirschkop and other counsel repeatedly and loudly ordered co- counsel to place adverse evidentiary rulings in a mythical "error bad." On several occasions, Hirschkop accused Richey of lying. At times, Richey left the bench and walked out rather than hold defense counsel in contempt. Only once, at a later hearing, did the judge seem to boil over: speaking to Hirschkop, Richey said, "I want to tell you right here and now, I resent it because I have done nothing to hurt you or your clients. And this record is replete with insults and everything else, when I have not done it to you and don't intend to." Banoun, the prosecutor, says Richey was too accommodating. "He should never have tolerated such behavior, " Banoun says.

Hirschkop claims that he was the one who was insulted. "Richey showed contempt for me," Hirschkop says, recalling the time when, he claims, Richey tried to "force-feed" him French fries in court. (Banoun says the judge simply offered all the counsel some French fries he had not finished at lunch.) "I called Banoun a liar," Hirschkop continues, "and the judge admonished me. But Banoun could insult me with impunity." Banoun denies that this was true. Hirschkop concedes that he frequently became "heated" in his dealings with Judge Richey but says, "I never called him dirty names."

In September 1979, after the Los Angeles hearings, Richey denied the Scientologists' motion to suppress the evidence seized by the FBI. The defendants eventually entered into a stipulation of facts, which amounted to an admission of the principal charges against them, and waived a jury trial. In return, the government agreed to drop 23 of its 24 criminal counts.

Judge Richey explicitly warned the Scientologists that the stipulation was likely to result in their conviction: he subsequently conducted his own review of the evidence, which he said was "overwhelming evidence of guilt," and on October 26, he convicted all nine. On December 6, two days before they were to be sentenced, a recusal motion against Richey was filed.

In this recusal motion, Boudin and Hirschkop again took the extraordinary position that Richey's response to their courtroom tactics and to the threats showed that Richey was prejudiced against Scientologists. For example, without saying that the death threats were made by Scientologists, Hirschkop said that "upon information and belief, the security in Los Angeles was related to the court's apprehension with regard to the defendants in this case or their church," adding that "it is impossible to imagine a stronger --or more clearly 'extra-judicial' --source of bias than fear for one's life or wellbeing."

Whatever its merits, the recusal motion was patently defective in at least two technical respects. The judicial recusal statute requires a "timely" motion supported by an affidavit signed by a "party." This motion was filed four months after the events complained of-- and after nearly 120 defense motions had been resolved against the Scientologists --and was supported by Hirschkop's affidavit, not one of the defendants. ("I should have filed it much sooner," Hirschkop concedes. "Richey was grossly prejudiced from the start.") In response to the motion, Judge Richey defended his security precautions, noting that "the court may accept reasonable security precautions without risk of tainting its rulings in the case." He denied the motion and that same day sentenced the nine defendants to prison terms of from six months to four to five years. Eight pulled out checks for $10,000 the day of their sentencing, and all nine are now free on bail pending appeal.

The denial of their first recusal motion and the sentences, which the Scientologists regarded as unconscionably harsh, led to a redoubling of defense efforts to drive Richey from the case. Six months later, in June 1980, defense counsel were ready with another recusal motion, more damaging and threatening to Judge Richey than the first. The groundwork for that motion had been laid nearly a year before, shortly after the Los Angeles hearings.

That summer, Thomas Dourian, Judge Richey's official court reporter who accompanied him to Los Angeles, was approached by Hirschkop soon after their return to Washington. In a sworn affidavit filed in response to the second recusal motion, Dourian says Hirschkop wanted to know if the security precautions in Los Angeles resulted from Richey's fear of Scientologists. In the affidavit Dourian swore he denied that the judge was afraid but confirmed that before leaving Washington, the judge and his wife and two sons had received two death threats.

Soon after this encounter, in December 1979, a Scientology lawyer hired Richard Bast, a private detective who had worked for Hirschkop several years before, to investigate Judge Richey's security precautions. Bast's fee: $321,000 plus expenses. One of Bast's first steps was to infiltrate Richey's inner circle at the courthouse. In the spring of 1980, a few months after the Scientologists' sentencing, Fred Cain, a Bast employee and retired police officer, approached James Perry, one of two U.S. marshals who had accompanied Richey to Los Angeles. Cain explained to Perry that he had been retained by a European industrialist whose daughter had committed suicide, allegedly as a result of her involvement with the Church of Scientology, and that his assignment was to uncover information that could be damaging to the church. According to Bast, Perry told Cain that he wanted to write a book on the Scientology case, and Bast offered him a $2,000 advance. Bast says that Perry took the money, and they agreed to work together.

The evening of May 23, Perry and Cain met Dourian, the court reporter, at his home in Washington. According to Dourian's affidavit, Cain introduced himself as a private investigator for International Investigations, Inc., Bast's detective agency, and told him the same story about the European industrialist.

Dourian says in his affidavit that he found the story improbable but that because his home had been burglarized and he had received threatening phone calls, which he suspected came from Scientologists, he was curious about what Cain and Perry were doing. According to the affidavit, Dourian met with Cain three more times, and each time he was questioned about Judge Richey. At a meeting at his home on May 31, 1980, Dourian says he realized that the conversation was being recorded. Cain had been drinking heavily, Dourian says, and as a result, the court reporter was able to slip a small tape recorder and three cassettes out of Cain's pocket. Dourian's last meeting with Cain was on June 19, when they met with Bast and then dined at a nearby Pizza Hut. Again, Dourian was asked about Richey, and the conversation was recorded.

The recordings of Dourian, along with tape-recorded statements made by Hirschkop -- all collected by Bast -- formed the basis for the next recusal motion against Judge Richey. The motion, largely incorporating an earlier recusal motion filed by Hirschkop, was filed on June 20, 1980, as proceedings were beginning against the two defendants recently extradited from Great Britain. For some of the Scientologists' counsel, however, the recusal strategy had gone too far. There was apparently opposition within the ranks to these motions and the way they were prepared. One lawyer, Michael Nussbaum, who represented two of the defendants, didn't sign the papers and withdrew as trial counsel.

The affidavit in support of this motion was filed by Morris Budlong, one of the extradited defendants, after he listened to various tapes and spoke to Hirschkop. Among the prejudicial remarks that Budlong attributed to Judge Richey were: that Richey's death threats emanated from Scientologists; that Jim Jones and Scientologists were "all the same"; that it would be a "feather in his hat" to convict the Scientologists; and that Richey had told another judge that Scientologists were spreading rumors about him as part of a "plot" to discredit him. A cryptic footnote to the affidavit declined to provide details of the alleged rumors about Richey, citing "respect for the court as an institution." But Hirschkop and other defense counsel knew the details of the plot Richey alluded to. They had gotten them from Bast, who says he had combed the Los Angeles area for information about Judge Richey's personal habits, interviewing motel and restaurant employees and making videotapes and recordings. The information not revealed in the motion was taken by Bast to political columnist Jack Anderson. The central figure in bast's story was a self-professed Los Angeles prostitute who worked the Brentwood Holiday Inn, the motel where Richey stayed during the Los Angeles hearings. In a video recording shown to Gary Cohn, a reporter for Anderson, the prostitute recalled "in titillating detail," according to Cohn, an encounter with Judge Richey at the motel and his procurement of her services. According to Cohn, Bast also showed results of lie detector tests conducted by Cain to demonstrate that the prostitute was telling the truth; a tape recording of Perry, the U.S. marshal, claiming Judge Richey said, "Let's go get a woman"; and a tape recording of Dourian, the court reporter, saying Richey "was always picking up girls."

Cohn says that he was initially skeptical of the story because he was aware that Bast was employed by the Scientologists. But he says he had often worked with Bast and trusted him. He says he considered but rejected the possibility that the prostitute was herself a Scientologist, planted to entrap the Judge. Bast says only that his discovery of the prostitute was "accidental," that he paid her $1,200, that she is not a Scientologist and that she is no longer streetwalking.

Cohn wrote the column, which later appeared under Anderson's by-line, focusing on Bast's investigation and Richey's procurement of a prostitute. Cohn adds that he is now "not happy" with the way the column was written. In his affidavit, Dourian, the court reporter, who has heard the tapes he stole from Cain's pocket, denies the remarks attributed to him.

Newspapers that subscribe to Anderson's column received the Judge Richey story around July 11, a week before its release date of July 18. Some of them balked at running it -- the New York Daily News decided not to publish it -- and The Washington Post used it only after extensive conversations with Cohn. Cohn says he never reached Richey for comment, and although Post editor Ben Bradlee says he is sure "we did call (Richey) about the column," no comment from Richey appeared in the Post's version, either.

On July 16, Richey issued his opinion. Evidently referring to the upcoming Anderson column, which Richey might have known about from reporters' calls and messages, Richey characterized the recusal motion as "this latest effort in the escalating attack on the court" and found the grounds for the motion to be "insufficient as a matter of law," resting only on "hearsay, rumor and gossip."

But, the judge continued, "defendants and their counsel have engaged in groundless and relentless attacks on this court. Their motive is transparent. It is an attempt to transform the trial ... into a trial of this judge." Though he labeled the attempts to remove him a "classic example" of abuse of the recusal statutes, he wrote that "the time has come for the proceedings in this case to proceed on the merits with the attention of all directed at the real issues in this case." As a result, Richey withdrew from the case in a state of exhaustion and near-collapse, according to associates.

On July 18, Jack Anderson's column appeared in newspapers throughout the country. Five days later, Judge Richey was hospitalized with exhaustion and pulmonary embolisms. He has since declined all comment on the case, citing the code of judicial conduct.

Judge Richey's ordeal may not be over. Hirschkop vows that his campaign against the judge will continue, and he claims that the prostitute affair is "only the tip of the iceberg." Although Hirschkop declines to disclose details, he says if necessary he will expose additional damaging information uncovered by Bast.

Apart from the delays, the campaign against Judge Richey has had negligible legal impact on the proceedings against the Scientologist defendants. Though an appeal is pending on a conventional search and seizure question, the convictions of the first nine stand. Trials of the remaining two defendants started in late October under Judge Robinson and are still in progress.

The activities of the Scientologists and their counsel in this case seem destined only to satisfy a commandment L. Ron Hubbard once wrote:

"The DEFENSE of anything is UNTENABLE. The only way to defend anything is to ATTACK, and if you ever forget that, then you will lose every battle you are ever engaged in, whether it is in terms of personal conversation, public debate, or a court of law. NEVER BE INTERESTED IN CHARGES. DO, yourself, much MORE CHARGING, and you will WIN."

In its July 1980 issue the American Lawyer named Judge Charles Richey runner-up to the worst District of Columbia federal district court judge. The lawyer who most vehemently denounced Richey was one of the Scientologists' defense counsel, and this same lawyer also referred our reporter to other lawyers who have represented Church of Scientology defendants. The reporter, who has since left our staff, says he was unaware of Scientologists' efforts to discredit and recuse Judge Richey. Without the lawyer's vehemently derogatory remarks and his referrals to other "sources," our reporter says he would not have named Richey in the survey.


The Church of Scientology has been involved in almost constant litigation since its founding nearly 30 years ago. Besides periodic clashes with the government, the church has filed scores of suits against the media to inhibit the news coverage of its activities.

Among the more recent cases involving the church and the media:

Fourteen libel suits have been filed against Paulette Cooper, New York freelance writer and author of the 1971 book, The Scandal of Scientology, and her publisher. Church documents seized in the 1977 Los Angeles raid and made public last year revealed "Operation Freakout," a campaign of harassment directed against cooper that included death threats, obscene phone calls, phony letters about her sexual behavior and a forged bomb threat against the church that resulted in Cooper's indictment in 1973. The charges against Cooper were dropped in 1975. Cooper has now retaliated with a $55- million suit against the church.

A 1977 suit against the San Diego Union asked $10,000 in damages for invasion of privacy from a reporter who had registered for a Scientology course in order to write a story about the church. The church offered to drop the suit if plans to publish the story were dropped, but after the story ran, the church increased its damage claim to $??,000 and added charges of fraud and deceit against the paper. The case was dismissed on summary judgment.

In 1976 the church sued the Clearwater Sun in Florida for $1 million and threatened to sue the St. Petersburg Times for a series of stories on the church. Scientologists spread rumors linking Times officials to the CIA, the FBI and the Communist Party, and harassed reporters. The Sun countersued the church for abuse of process, and the Times sued for an injunction barring the church's harassment of its reporters. The church subsequently dropped its suit against the Sun and never followed through on its threat to sue the Times. In March 1979 the church sued two New York writers, Jim Siegelman and Flo Conway, after they criticized Scientology on the "David Susskind Show" while discussing their book, Snapping. After the Scientologists' suit against them was dismissed, the pair countersued, charging the church with malicious prosecution.

The church has lately found itself on the defensive in a flurry of suits filed against it by disgruntled former church members and recruits. Currently pending against the church are:

a suit filed October 21 by Lawrence Stifler, a Boston marathon runner, asking 41.25 million for damages sustained after he was allegedly physically attacked by a Scientology recruiter. Stifler says that due to the injury, he may never run again;

a $16-million suit filed in April by Tonja Burden, a 20-year-old former church member who claims she was deceived and forced to remain in the church, used as slave labor and kidnapped after she escaped;

a $21-million suit brought by jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo in February, accusing the church of embezzlement, kidnapping and forcing him to undergo a "life repair course";

a class action filed last December by former church staff member Lavenda Van Schack, seeking $200 million on behalf of church dropouts. Her suit accuses the church of mind control, unlawful electronic surveillance and leaking details of her private life to the media.

Last year, Julie Titchbourne, a former Church of Scientology member, was awarded 42 million by a Portland, Oregon, jury, which found that the church's promises of a better life were fraudulent. The church as subsequently sued four "deprogrammers" for $2 million collectively, claiming that they induced Titchbourne to turn against the church.

-- J.B.S.
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